Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 7th, 2009

 “Sorry, did you say Human Factors engineering?”

February 20, 2005

 “Sorry, I didn’t hear you. You said that your emphasis was on Human Factors engineering?”

“Wow, do you split genes and factor them in and out the DNA chain?”

“Are you involved in cloning human beings?”

“Could you improve my deficiencies?”

“Can you make me physically attractive and less prone to sicknesses and diseases?”

Negative! Human Factors engineering is interchangeably called Ergonomics which is composed of two Greek words meaning the measurement of work.

As you might know, if this discipline does not involve measurements it would not have been categorized as engineering.

Its main purpose is designing practical interfaces between complex systems and the end users, whether consumers, engineers, workers or employees in order to eliminate human errors.

Again, if these interface designs are not practical, then we would hardly categorize this field as engineering.

I also agree with you that most engineers hate to perform any kind of measurements as much as they hate reading.

Actually, my graduate courses were not restricted to engineering; they were multidisciplinary because I had to take graduate courses in the departments of marketing, economics, and psychology.

If you are interested I might clarify that most of my graduate courses were targeted to statistical modeling for designing and analyzing experiments involving workers and consumers.

This general course in Human factors will initiate you on a few concepts.

It will teach you how to study the risks and errors in the system and deficiency in products that could lead to fatal accidents or serious injuries.

Most of the time, near misses of accidents predominate because of the reflexes, flexibility and capabilities of human to cope and adapt, but ultimately, these missed accidents will occur if no preventive actions are taken or preempting redesigns are ordered on the system.

When accidents happen, this time around, it is because of the limitations and deficiencies of the human for not redesigning the interface, retraining, or revisiting the processes.

This course will encourage you to connect well with employees and workers, to know their predicaments at work, to care for their health from repetitive trauma disorders, or unwarranted shift work schedules, to provide guidelines for handling loads, to insist on placing warning signs in dangerous areas and hazardous machine parts, to make sure that employees notice the signs and instructions and abide by them.

It will ask you to get concerned and investigate the causes of the high rate of turnovers, the increase in absenteeism, or the lack of motivation in performing quality work.

It will teach you methods to design inference experiments, preferably involving employees and workers, in order to study the causes and effects of a problem that is plaguing productivity and profitability.

This approach is important because mathematical modeling of human behavior is at best inadequate and fraught with untenable assumptions.

This course will hammer the concept that the best approach to minimizing pains and health problems originating from the workplace is to redesign a faulty system, mechanically and organizationally.

You will be reminded, frequently, that testing and evaluation of systems should consider the fact that employees work at least 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week for many years.

The course will warn you that an optimum system performance, tested for a period of just a few minutes or hours, may turn out to be catastrophic and a worst case scenario in the long run.

You will learn the capabilities and limitations of humans both physically and mentally. This knowledge will enhance the design of systems and their interfaces that function well for the humans, a system that will eliminate awkward training to fit humans to a badly designed system.

“What is your job?” (December 3, 2004)

When striking conversation, people are not usually interested in the details about your line of work.

This behavior is not conducive to explaining what could be my job because my discipline is a vast field that encompasses a wide gamut of knowledge that renders the graduate more akin to a generalist than a specialist that employers prefer.

For that reason I feel inhibited when the first unsolicited question asked is: “What is your job?”

You may agree with me that in general people are interested mostly in the way you generate money for your survival.

Explicitly, they need to judge your social status from the level of your education.

Implicitly, they want to know whether you are earning plenty of money.

If you are rich enough, then how do you go about making money?

If you indeed are well off, then do you have a job for me?

If not, then: “Nice talking with you, I’ll have to mingle a little; I’ll see you later on.”

People know in advance what the purpose of your opening question is.

They are ready to blurt out:” I am sorry that I cannot help you find a situation.”

Many times, people just want to have a conversation;

They are not that interested in your social status, as long as it is somehow decent.

They need to know what books you read recently;

What are your hobbies that swallow your time and keeps boredom at bay?

What are your opinions on current hot issues that are preventing sleep to visit you?

Anyway, this is my excuse to being basically asocial.

The other nagging difficulty is the responses generated to the question about my profession such as:

“You said that you are an industrial engineer? You mean like a mechanical engineer?”

“Certainly we don’t have many industries in Lebanon to keep you busy.”

“What are you jobbing exactly? Are you actually a technician or a maintenance man?”

“You are saying that you also majored in Human Factors engineering, like splitting genes and DNA and manufacturing clones? 

“Yes, I heard about ergonomics, like designing comfortable chairs?”

“You said Agronomy? You mean like your specialty is in agriculture or designing gardens?”

People are not aiming at investigating what this profession is supposed to do.

Would you tell them that a sound industrial engineering curriculum is multidisciplinary?

Would you tell them that it should expose you to managerial skills, to marketing, and the importance of knowing your competitors in the same line of business?

Would you tell them that it should make you acquire excellent presentation skills in order to get promoted and writing skills because no company is going to assign you a secretary to help you out constructing a few complete sentences that make sense?

Would you tell them that you may have to gather data on employees’ performance, quality control of products, time measurements to adequately finish a job, minimizing unwarranted inventory expenses and to optimize revenue or profit or cost or time or wastes by using sets of mathematical equations that await validation to see if the result actually works?

Obviously, it is not relevant to venture into the esoteric courses that the undergraduate curriculum forces upon you, like stochastic processes or integer programming or lately engineering reliability that you may never use or have any inkling to approach.

319.  Jerusalem: Ur Salam (City of Peace) (May 2, 2009)


320.  Bi-Weekly Report (#20) on Lebanon and the Middle East (May 3, 2009)


321.  Misleading Legitimacies (May 4, 2009)


322.  Imaginary Certitudes (May 5, 2009)

323.  “A World Adrift” by Amine Maluf (May 7, 2009)


324.  A Way out of History (May 7, 2009)


325.  Move Inland, Son (May 7, 2009)


326.  The Blemish (May 8, 2009)

The Blemish (May 8, 2009)


            The blemish is this emotional feeling that prevents sleep to visiting you.  It is being illiterate among a literate society.  Illiteracy is the surface fact but the deeper felt blemish is that you lacked the courage to overcome what keeps you miserable and mediocre.  You had the mental and physical capability to learn to read (forget writing), you had facilities that were instituted specifically for you but you failed to taking advantage.  The blemish is that you know that you have no credible excuses for failing to wipe out your degrading attitude that ruined your life and the loved ones around you.

            The German judge and author Bernhard Schlink published “The Reader” of an adolescent who used to read aloud to his older lover Hanna after making love. The lady disappeared and he discovered that she was being indicted for contributing to atrocities in concentration camps during the Nazi regime. Hanna turned down a promotion in the industrial complex she worked in and accepted to be a prison guard.  Hanna decided to confess that she wrote a report on a church burning that contained prisoners and nobody dared to open the doors. Hanna was ready to spend her life in prison instead of confessing that she was illiterate.

            Blemish and the feeling of culpability are different. For example, if you feel guilty that another person was indicted or punished because you failed to confess your responsibility is within the realm of your set of moral values.  There are instances where it is hard to distinguish between blemish and guilt when they relate to character flaws that can be rectified but instead degenerated into blemish for cowing to confront and surmount the difficulty.

            The feeling of blemish does not have to be that drastic.  It is any emotional feeling that pressure you to prefer sleeplessness to cover up temporary cowardly attitude in order to hide facts; facts that are benign most of the time and are due mainly to ignorance and archaic traditions.  Late author Mai Ghoussoub admitted not sleeping one night in Tokyo because she did not know how to take the metro there and refused to ask for guidance; Mai’s blemish was not allowing Japanese to thinking that she is not a cosmopolitan girl.

            The blemish must be more prevalent in our modern society.  Technology is progressing at the speed of a bullet train and many positions require that you keep up-to-date.  Catching up with modern consumers’ good and facilities is daunting and discouraging.  I blamed my inadequacy until I learned to email.  I blamed my incompetence until I was shown how to publish on and that this facility was available for free; I blamed my unfitness for socializing until I realized that I don’t have to and that I rather read, write, and publish because that is what I love to do.

I blamed my impotency for accumulating money because I could not suffer a life long job (just to receive retirement compensation) until I realized that I have a choice of switching one type of humiliation (covert real slavery) to another benign imaginary slavery:  lack of money is mainly a blemish in the mind of society that values greed and financial success over anything else.  My new societal blemish is not handicapping my productivity that suits me better mentally, physically, and emotionally.

At a certain age your range of choices are limited and you have to make the effort, while young, to experiment with the available opportunities to learn varied skills that one of them might turn out to be your consolation prize for living longer than expected. Continuing education is no longer a luxury; it is a new created value that refers to individual and nations with dignity.  Failing to pursue educating your mind and elevating your culture to global problems is becoming a serious blemish to mankind.

Move Inland, Son (May 7, 2009)

Sell your beach front residence; keep away from shallow islands, from tiny islands, from large rivers, from tropical regions, from vast pools of stagnant water, stay away from the Arctic regions, shun urban megalopolis, and cover your skin from head to toe.  Within ten years, almost every living person will be afflicted with one of the many viral epidemics sweeping regions considered safe, sanitized, and “civilized”.

The mosquitoes are coming and have climbed to 1,600 meters altitude, and are venturing to improbable locations and have craving for a taste of your blood.  Malaria, dengue, pork flu, aviary flu, and soon fish flue will mutate more cleverly than human mind has affected the environment.   Dengue has got hold of Latin America in Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina; more than 113,000 cases last year and climbing. There are no remedies to these epidemics but conventional medicine of resting, fighting dehydration, and praying that this time around you might be of the lucky ones to care for your neighbor.  I think we should get familiar with the method of incinerating our dead and have an incinerator in every town and village in cases of frequent quarantines.

Climatic change of an earth growing hotter and hotter, more precipitation and for longer duration, the thawing of the Arctic, the ever more violent monsoon, hurricanes, and tidal waves are giving me water nightmares.

Yes, human production of CO2 and greedy deforestation have altered earth environment. The level of CO2 produced in Europe has remained stable because, as a State save on clean energy, it resells its quota to the less performing State within the European Union.  The USA of the last decade was in a state of comatose climatically and in environmental research.  China has more cars on its highways than the USA.  India is producing much cheaper cars and its internal market is ready to absorb million of these less expensive cars.

Industries will have to satisfy the demands of an additional 200 millions middle class families who can afford equal rights for consumer goods as the US, European, and Japanese consumers enjoyed for a century.

A solution can be reached on a global policy; an International Body with mandate to control and manage global problems.  How can this be feasible if the USA cannot “afford” a National Health Care, but can always find money to maintaining and expanding fleets of aircraft carriers in every sea and ocean?

A Way out of History (May 7, 2009)


            The citizens of the developed Nations, within their own boundaries, feel that they have no longer any need to learn history or their own history.  History to the citizens of the developed nations is a drag, a waste of time, of no use, totally irrelevant. They are mostly correct in their feeling and appreciation of the uselessness of history relevant to their nation: first, they have reached as a society a level of social cohesion, awareness, appreciation of human dignity and human rights; and second, they are more concerned about their present state of affairs, maintaining their current level of comfort, consumerism choices, creating diverse opportunities, future availabilities for their desires and wishes.  These modern citizens have institutions to continue the good work; institutions to analyze whatever history is appropriate for the nation, institutions for research, for legitimacy, for governance, for economy, for finance, for strategic studies, for learning, for art, for marketing, and for studying the under-developed States and minorities.

History for the citizens of the developed nation is plainly relegated to the under-developed States. The Third World and Fourth World “citizens”, (we should create another term for citizenship for the under-developed world because it is frankly too pompous and inappropriate any which way you define a citizen), have nothing left but “history” for amusement and to give them reference to an illusory identity. History for the “history citizens” has been written by the vanquishers and then translated and interpreted by the colonial powers. The archeological sites in the land of the “amused archaic citizens” were dug out and investigated by the colonial powers and the artifacts were dusted off, cleaned, and conserved in secured museums that the traveling tourists and immigrants never visit.  The chasm between the developed and the “non-developed” States is huge and growing larger by the day.  History is still being taught in the developed nations simply because more immigrants are flocking in and some sort of integration in commendable.

More likely, a citizen would visit an immigrant friend to fill him in on current news and occasionally get a good laugh on stories of their respective ancestors; yes, the immigrant might know more details on the citizen’s ancestors and the history of the citizen’s country.  In fact, hard copy dailies are published to satisfy the voracious curiosities of the immigrants. Storytelling is a cultural trademark among immigrants and getting together is worthless and devoid of any interest if no bickering accompanies the assembly.

If there are rival “civilizations” it must be in the mind of the immigrants. They are attuned to any gesture, tone of voice, slang, or posturing that remind them of their “indignity”, their frequent humiliations, their total dependence on the host nation for understanding, leniency, forgiveness, compassion, and equal treatments under the laws. The immigrants are overachievers, hard working, on constant alert of changes in behavior and special laws, on foreign policies regarding their “homeland”, on unequal measures doled in foreign policies and moral values.

“Civilization clash” is in the mind of the immigrant: the citizen doesn’t care about the agony and tribulation of his immigrant friend.  The immigrant is a sponge for all kinds of curiosities in art, theater, intellectual life, and any association that invites him to participate.  The immigrant is most likely polyglot and can converse in many languages and he has to suffer being mocked for his accent in the local slang; he has to be corrected frequently because accent is the main avenue for integration and acceptance as a civilized individual.

Discrimination is in the mind of the immigrant.  A citizen would immediately recognize an immigrant for miles if he cared to focus a second on the individual.  The citizen in an administrative position has to call upon the cleric, the community leader, or the father of the immigrant before taking any decision for any kinds of permit application; the immigrant is supposed to be looked after as an immature kid no matter how old he is. Equal treatments are the domain of the citizens and interpretations of the law and customs are appropriate when dealing with an immigrant.  The whole gamut of the UN laws for human rights were targeted for the under-developed States that are shaming human kinds in their state of affairs.  Yet, many “non-citizens” would like to experience a new era when embargoes on military hardware, military trainers, and military experts are imposed on dictators, juntas, and oligarchies who are flaunting the UN human rights declarations in their under developed States.

Seriously learning the language of your immigrant friend is the first sign of real friendship. Blatantly observing the differences in culture and customs is an excellent sign of friendship. Vigorously and unabashedly critiquing divergence in opinions is sign of friendship. Make no mistake: any behavior that smack of covert apartheid is quickly sensed by your immigrant “friend”.  Make no mistake: the next generation of your immigrant friend will be exactly you, when you were younger. If you are serious for integration of your immigrant friend then behave as if you are dealing with the next generation, on a par.

“A World Adrift” by Amine Maluf (May 6, 2009)


            I have already published four posts with themes inspired from this book. I have already reviewed at least three of Amine Maaluf’s books. This French manuscript “Le Dereglement du Monde” is of 314 pages and divided into four chapters: Deceptive Victories, Misleading Legitimacies, Imaginary Certitudes, and A very long Prehistory.  The main quote of the book is from William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) who wrote “Man has survived because he was too ignorant to know how to realize his wishes (desires).  Now that he can realize his wishes, then he must either change them or perish”.

            Amine Maluf is from Lebanon by origin and settled in France during the civil war. He writes in French and has published more ten books, most of them have been translated in Arabic and a few in English; he received the highest honors from the French Academy of Literature.

            Two fundamental premises guide this essay:

            First, the moral ascendance of values is inadequate to catching up with the exponential progress in sciences and technologies.

            Second, most crisis are global and on world level but they are tackled on individual State’s interest, perception, regulation, management, and control.


            The mains problems to analyze and resolve for the next generations are:

First, how the US and Europe reacted to the disintegration of the Soviet Union.


Second, how to brake and then break off the cycle for the disappearing minorities, their particular languages, and literature. (Visit my post on minorities in Iraq).


Third, how to resolve the recurring financial and economical crisis. (Visit my post on Third World War is tolling)


Fourth, how to resolve the climatic changes and environmental degradation.


Fifth, how to satisfy the legitimate desires for consumer goods for the expanding middle classes in China and India.  (Visit my posts on China and India Empires)


Sixth, how to resolve extremist attitude in religion and nationalism (terrorism, genocides, racism, apartheid, weapons of mass destruction).  Please visit my post on “Misleading Legitimacies” and “Imaginary Certitudes”


Seventh, resolving the problem of instantaneous demands, acquisition, communication, information around the world. Visit my post on “instantaneous exigencies”


Eight, the urgency to creating reference values for a sustainable earth because history did not offer us any reference moral values for our modern days global problems..




May 2009

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