Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 3rd, 2009

Article #13, April 10, 2005

 “How basic are task taxonomies in Human Factors?”

The follow up question is: how can we conceive practical human error taxonomies before working out taxonomies for the tasks required in a system, its processes or steps in a method? 

If the type of skills required by an operator to perform a set of tasks are not well defined and studied it might not be that useful to apply a complex error taxonomy that does not delineate the applicable domain. For example, how can we allocate functions to either operators or machines or how can we decided who is better at performing a set of tasks an automated machine or a trained operator if we fail or cannot classify the human capabilities and limitations versus the potential capabilities and limitations of the machine we intend to design?

There is a relationship between task taxonomy and task analysis.  Originally, task analysis methods were conceived to break down a job into work modules and then to elemental tasks that standard time measurements could be applied to in order to maximize profit on human efforts. The purpose of task analysis is to originate an ordered list of all the task that people will do in a system with details on information requirements, task times, operator actions, environmental conditions, evaluations, and decisions that must be made.

Consequently, a task analysis should produce estimates of time and effort required to perform tasks, determination of staffing, skills, and training requirements, pinpointing the necessary interfaces between operators and the system, and to provide inputs to reviews and specifications.  This process enables detailed examination in the evaluation of human functions in terms of abilities, skills, knowledge, and attitudes required for performance of any function from inputs to outputs.  When profits are the bottom line you should also have in mind that reducing errors is a major criterion beside time saved and direct costs.

It seems implicit when allocating standard times that the appropriate conditions of work are explicitly defined, the age and gender of the worker are acknowledged, the duration and frequency of rest breaks accounted for, the eventuality that overtime work is considered and ability to cope with boredom and repetitive tasks because all these variables would affect the standard times for accomplishing a job efficiently with minimum errors for the long haul.

If you were to decide between the two alternatives: either correcting standard times to finish a task based on experiments accounting for the above factors that might affect efficiency, safety and health of workers, or allocating a separate expense fund based on actuarial studies for rate of illnesses, rate of errors, hospitalization cost and overturn among workers if the uncorrected standard times are applied, then which choice would you definitely retain?

A task analysis of a system allow estimate of the likelihood of a certain error (i.e., the product of frequency and the probability of occurrence of a certain error) and how often the error will occur for a duration, thus enabling a numerical estimate for the acceptability level and need for a redesign.

The consequences for lack of a task analysis combined by practical error taxonomies in designing a system are not that futile on operators, end users and the whole performance of systems since time is of the essence for delivering a functional product. 

The fact that current technology can automate the travel of airplanes from take off, to cruising and to landing without the need of a pilot does not guarantee safety or acceptability by airplane commuters.

The obvious problem is who in his right mind would board an airplane without a certified pilot and a co-pilot? It seems that in Japan the fast trains have no train pilot aboard but are controlled before reaching destinations.  In this case, passengers are taking these trains but would rather be doubly secured by having trained pilots on board no matter the extremely high safety records of these automated trains.

Nowadays, most of these functions and task allocations are done by computer programs with the hope that an expert professional is going to take serious time to analyze the printouts and provide a judicious human feedback. These computer programs have, crossing our fingers, the necessary constraints on safety standards, health standards, serious errors restrictions and labor requirements for the least.

A student provided a version of the “Shel” model as a standard task taxonomy that would permit sharing of data among different modes of transportation and other industries.  Apparently, this model can serve as an organizational tool for data collection in the investigation of workplace.  The components of the Shel model are 1) Live ware (the individual to human interface); 2) Hardware (human to machine interface); 3) Software (human to system interface); and 4) Environment (human to environment interface).  The model might relate all peripheral elements to central human live ware and thus focus on the factors which influence human performance.

The best way to assimilate the concept of task taxonomy is by examples.  For the purpose, one of the assignments is to study the job of the bread earner of the family, through questions, observation, and investigation and analyze its task taxonomy. Another assignment is a lecture project analyzing the task taxonomy of an industry or system not covered in the course materials.

Are you wondering what methods could be used in Industrial engineering, Human Factors or Industrial Psychology for improving designs?  Would you be interested at working taxonomy for methods in the next article?

Hezbollah (God’s Party) and Nasr Allah (God’s Victory): Biographies (May 25, 2009)

Note:  This post will be of two parts: biographies and speeches 

Hassan Nasr Allah is currently the Secretary General of Hezbollah.  He was born in August 31, 1960 in the poorest section of East Beirut called Nabaa.  Hassan was the eldest among nine offspring and his father supported this vast family selling vegetable. Hassan refrained from playing soccer with the neighboring kids or joining them for a swim; he was deeply religious and admired greatly Imam Moussa Sadr who gave the Moslem Shiaa sect sense of their pride and potentials in the Lebanese fabrics.  The regions of the Shiaa in south Lebanon and in the Bekaa Valley were neglected by the central government since the independence in 1943.  The Imam of the Mosque where Hassan prayed in Nabaa was Muhammad Fadlallah who is presently the highest Imam of the Shiaa in Lebanon.

 

At the age of 14 Hassan moved with his family to their home village Bazourieh in south Lebanon. He aided Sheikh Ali Shams el Deen opening a small library of religious manuscripts and Hassan started teaching religion in the village and then finished his high school in Tyr.  By the age of 15 Hassan joined the “AMAL” movement of Imam Moussa Sadr and was quickly appointed officer of the Bekaa district and then a member of the politburo.  Sheikh Muhammad Ghrawy facilitated to Nasr Allah higher religious learning in Najaf (Iraq).  Nasr Allah met in Najaf with Abbass Moussawy (later the first Secretary General of Hezbollah).  By 1978, and after two years spent in Najaf, Nasr Allah returned to Lebanon.  A couple of months later Imam Moussa Sadr disappeared after a visit to Libya in August 1978.

 

In 1979, Khomeini came to power in Iran and the Shah went to exile.  The geopolitical condition in the Middle East changed drastically. Iran was now against the USA interests in the region, supported the Palestinian cause, and was the first State to officially allow the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to open and embassy in Tehran.  

Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982; the operation was baptized “Peace in Galilee”.  Israel put siege to Beirut for two months and Yasser Arafat and 11,000 Palestinian fighters left to Tunisia.  The Lebanese President of the Republic Elias Sarkis invited Nabih Berri (leader of AMAL) to join Walid Jumblat (Druze leader) and Basheer Gemayel (leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces) to forming a national rescue team. Many AMAL cadres quit Nabih Berry such as Abbass Moussawy, Sobhi Tuffaily, Hussein Moussawy, Ibraheem Amin Sayyed, Naeem Qassem, and Nasr Allah.  They created Hezbollah and blew up the US Marines and French barracks in Beirut in 1983. Nasr Allah had said that Hezbollah was the consequence of Israel entering Beirut in 1982.

 Hezbollah postponed declaring its formation until 1985 after Israel assassinated one of Hezbollah’s leaders Sheikh Ragheb Harb. The Iranian leaders Ali Mohtashamy was then the spiritual father of the Party and Muhammad Akhtary the military father.

 

Hassan Nasr Allah learned from Ragheb Harb the famous dictum “The word is taking a stand and shaking hands is acknowledgement of assent” and thus Harb never shook hands with any Israeli army officers who were trying hard to win Ragheb over to supporting the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon.

 

In 1987, Nasr Allah was appointed member of the highest legislative order in Hezbollah and chairman of the executive branch.  In 1989, Nasr Allah resumed his religious studies in Qom (Iran) and returned in a hurry to Lebanon when military skirmishes with the AMAL movement spread.  The AMAL party was executing the orders of the Syrian regime to entering the Palestinian camps and disarming the Palestinians of any heavy arsenal.  Hezbollah followed the policies of Iran to leave the Palestinian out of harm.  After many months of fighting both parties settled out their differences as Syria and Iran reached a compromise.

Israel assassinated Hezbollah leader Abbass Moussawy in 1992.  Nasr Allah was the closest aid to Moussawy, had extensive contacts with the base, and studied in Qom.  Hassan Nasr Allah replaced Moussawy as Secretary General; he was only 32 of age.  Nasr Allah said: “A movement that witnesses its leader falling martyr can never be defeated”. Hezbollah evolved into a qualitative phase in organization and political acumen.

 

Israel invaded Lebanon in July 1993 for 7 days under the code name “Settling Accounts and then re-invaded in 1996 under Shimon Peres (Nobel Peace prize winner!) and the operation of total destruction lasted for 17 days under the name “Grapes of Wrath” and shelled a UN compound in Qana where civilians had taken refuge and over 100 died and 300 were gravely injured.  Hadi, the eldest son of Nasr Allah, fell martyr during a resistance operation in September 1997; it was the night before Nasr Allah was to deliver a major speech and he insisted on speaking and said: “In Hezbollah we do not save our children for the future; we honor them when they fight in the front lines against our enemy Israel; we stand tall when they fall martyrs”

 

Israel had to retreat from all of Lebanon, with the exception of Shebaa Farms and the hills of Kfarshouba in May 24, 2000 without pre-conditions or negotiations.  The Arab recognized Hezbollah as the main resistance movement that vanquished Israel and acclaimed Nasr Allah as the Hero of liberation.  In the large town of Bent Jbeil Nasr Allah delivered the Victory Speech and offered the liberation in the name of all the Lebanese.  Nasr Allah said: “Israel has nuclear arsenals and owns the most lethal air force in the region.  Israel is still much weaker than the spider web” (It was a reference of a spider web on a cave that saved the Prophet Muhammad from being caught by the Kuraich persecutors while fleeing to Yathreb)

 

Israel bombarded the villages in south Lebanon in 2003 and then raided Beirut in 2005.  Israel re-invaded Lebanon in July 2006 for 33 days and failed to achieve any of its proclaimed objectives.  Nasr Allah was recognized as the most charismatic and powerful resistance leader in the Arab and Moslem World.  Nasr Allah played the catalyst for the Shiaa in Lebanon to participate in projecting the living messages in the symbolism of the Koran verses and thus be capable of assimilating and accepting changing social and environmental conditions.

 

 

According to the famous journalist Seymour Hirsh, Cheney, Eliot Abrahams, and Bandar Ben Sultan conspired to finance and whisk the members of Fatah El Islam into the refugee camp of Nahr Al Bared with the purpose of destabilizing Lebanon and starting civil war between the Moslem Shiaas and Sunnis and thus immersing Hezbollah into a potential civil war. It didn’t work because the Lebanese army was hurt in its pride after many soldiers were executed by severing their heads in the summer of 2007.  The army lost over 160 soldiers and many hundreds were severely injured but the Moslem extremism objectives were defeated after 6 months of engagement in the camp.  Deputy Bahiya Hariri (sister of late Rafic Hariri) acknowledged that she contributed substantially in financing extremist Palestinian groups in the refugee camps.

 

            The Israelis take very seriously Nasr Allah promises and threats.  The Lebanese Government of Seniora PM failed to understand that “A word is a commitment”.  Nasr Allah had said that Hezbollah will never turn its arms internally excepting when coerced to relinquish its arms; especially its secured communication lines, the most potent arm it had during the war in 2006.  In May 5, 2008 Seniora PM Government, with no Shiaa minister representatives in the cabinet, executed a plan to dismantle Hezbollah secure communication network.  Hassan Nasr Allah delivered a speech demanding the government to retract its decision.  By May 7 the AMAL militias confronted the security forces of the Moustakbal movement in Beirut and quickly closed down those arm caches intended to start civil disturbances. The AMAL forces were controlled by cadres of Hezbollah in order for the confrontation not to degenerate into sectarian infighting. For example, the rioters saved the huge pictures of late Rafic Hariri PM and removed the pictures of Saad Hariri and Seniora PM.  Israel admitted that its patient work of infiltrating Hezbollah for two years vanished within a couple of hours.

            Hezbollah has joined the Parliament since 1992 and has increased the number of its Deputies; it has cabinet ministers since the year 2000.   Lebanon is getting ready for Parliamentary election in June 7, 2009 and all the indications point to victory of the opposition headed by Hezbollah, AMAL, and the movement (Tayyar) of Change and Reforms of General Michel Aoun.  Over 20 Lebanese agents spying for Israel have been apprehended.   Nasr Allah is demanding that the traitors be hanged.

 

 

Note:  The biographical sections were extracted from the recent Arabic/Lebanese book “Shock and Steadfastness” (Sadmah wa Sumoud”) by Kareem Bakradouny.

A Study on the Origin of Islam (April 8, 2009)

 

Note:  I reviwed the Arab/Lebanese manuscript The Parson and the Prophet that was published in 1978 in Lebanon. I am reposting part of it. 

            As usual, I tell the story and leave the documentations, references, and quotations for the curious reader. The story is basically to prove the strong and frequent connections between the Christian-Jew parson (priest) Warkat Bin Nawfal and his nephew the Prophet Mohammad and the fundamental influence of Warkat on the Prophet’s message.

            Among Kureich tribe there are two clans related to their grear grand father Kussai.  The richest clan includes the close relatives parson Warkat bin Nawfal, Othman bin El Howeyress, and Khadija bint Khowayled.  The poorer clan includes the sons and daughters of Abdel Motaleb: Abdallah, Abu Taleb, Al Abbass, Abu Lahab, and Hamza among others.  Muhammad lost his father Abdallah at the age of eight and was cared for by the eldest of the brothers Abi Taleb.  Abi Taleb was the father of Ali who will become the fourth Caliph.

Parson Warkat bin Nawfal bin Assad bin Abed El Azaa bin Kussai was the leading “patriarch” of the Christian-Jew sect of the Epyonites in Mecca; he was of one of the most prosperous clans of Kureich and a leader of Kureich tribe; he translated one the versions of the Aramaic Mathew Testament known as “The Hebrew Testament” into Arabic. This Testament and a version of the Bible were the only Books or sources of the faith of the Epyonites.  There were many other Christian-Jews sects and purely Jewish sects in Mecca and the Arab Peninsula.  Two other Christian-Jew sects were Cerinthe and Elxai (see notes). These sects were recognized in the Coran but they were considered “heretics” by the Church of Constantinople after the conclave of Nicee (Turkey) in 325; they were persecuted within the Byzantium Empire.  Thus, parson Warkat was obviously not a priest since he was not of the Orthodox Christian sect of Constantinople but the lead predicator and administrator of his sect. These sects were known as “Ahzab” (parties or organizations) in the Coran.

It is not correct to claim that the tribes in the Arab Peninsula were only pagans.  The term Jahiliya or Ignorants was created by the Moslem converts as a historical dividing period between Islam and the previous culture. It is not also correct to translate “Ummy” for illiterate; in the Coran it means those who didn’t follow the Bible of the previous prophets; it could be appropriate to translate it as “gentiles” in opposition to Jews.

Parson Warkat took special care of the orphaned Muhamad, one of the youngest relatives in the clan.  He taught Muhammad reading and writing and translating the Bibles from Aramaic to Arabic. The custom was for the learned men to translate and transcribe as often as needed; first, to memorize better the Books and to have spare copies for the initiated who were ready to be transmited the mysteries of the sect.  Thus, it is not correct that Muhammad was illeterate. It was convenient for the early Moslems to spread this myth because first, they were trying hard to prove that Muhammad was indeed a Prophet and second, what better proof that Muhammad is a Prophet if an illeterate could be so wise if not the message was not revealed by God?

As Muhammad grew up parson Warkat invited Muhammad to join the restricted party of ther leaders of Christian-Jews to the retreats at Gor Haraa.  Once a year, during the fasting season of a month before Easter (tahannoth), the party of fasters would survive on vegetables, yogurt, and unleavened bread. The retreat included praying, contemplating, repeating and invoking God’s name, and reading the Bibles in silence and complete isolation from the inhabitants of Mecca. After the fast, they would circle Al Kaba 7 times (like during Palm Sunday the Christians would circle the church 7 times).  This is how the Prophet Muhammad was trained to receive revelations. In addition to parson Warkat this party included: Adel Motaleb, Othman bin Al Howeireth, Abdalah bin Jahsh, Abi Ummaya bin Al Maghirat.

Parson Warkat arranged employment for Muhammad at his cousin Khadija’s caravan business to Damascus and Basra. Muhammad is aged 25 and Warkat asked Khadija to marry Muhammad her employ.  Khadija was over 40 of age and twice a widower with offspring.   Khadija extremely wealthy and had many suitors whom she refused.  The two clans met at the wedding ceremony and parson Warkat performed the rituals and as long as Khadija lived Muhammad did not marry another wife as the Christian marriage requires. Thus, parson Warkat made sure for his protégé Muhammad to become wealthy, prosperous, and a potential leader and successor to his rank as “patriarch” of the sect of Mecca.

Muhammad had several revelations that scared him because he thought it was Satan (shaytan) or bad spirits harassing him; Khadija, aided by parson Warkat, reassured Muhamad of being selected by the good archangel to preach the message and Wakat gave Muhammad his benediction and sent him proselytizing among the people of Mecca.  The poorest and those considered in the lowest rank of society statrted to listen to Muhammad and follow him and perform ablution and praying as initiated.  Muhammad could not be touched by the angry Kureich clans because he enjoyed the support of Khadija, Warkat, and his uncle Abi Taleb.

When parson Warkat and Khadija died, Muhammad was over 40 and he was left without spiritual secour or clan support.  Revelations stopped appearing to Mohamad for four years before Muhammad had to flee to Medina to meet the converts who preceded him there.  A new phase in Islam was unfolding.

 

 

Note 1: The Epyonite Christian-Jew sect was discussed and commented on by the early Christian scholars and Bishops like Irene, Epiphane, and Origene.  The name Epionites refers to the “poor” in Aramaic such as “Blessed be the poor”; this sect considered Jesus one of the great prophets. Jesus was not God or Son of God who received the revelations after John baptized him and thus, the messiah spirit entered him till he was crucified.  Jesus message was teaching and preaching the revelation but didn’t include saving or forgiving our sins. The Aramaic Testament of Mathew is their only book in addition to the Bible; this New Testament of Mathew used by the Epionites was revised slanted and distorted according to Epiphanous. This sect persevered on frequent washing for purification, not eating meat, and to focus on aiding and feeding the needy, widowers, and people of passage.  After the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, many of the priests in Komran immigrated to Hijjaz in the Arab peninsula.

 

Note 2:  The Christian-Jew Cerinthe sect proclaimed that Heaven resembled life on earth where the body will get its fill of every passion it needed to satisfy; that the role of Jesus was to free his people from the Romans; that Jesus message was political and social.

 

Note 3:  The Christian-Jew sect Elxai was Gnostic (knowledge).  It preached that Jesus is another human and the Mesiah in him vacated his body before martyridom.  The Holy Ghost is the mother of Jesus and the Angel Gabriel depending on events. Jesus received the Bible from the angel and Gabriel taught Jesus wisdom and the ability to foreseeing the future.

 

Note 4:  We know that Aicha, the educated and most beloved wife of the Prophet, has dedicated her life into gathering and organizing the revelations.  The third Calipahte Othman bin Affan selected among the revelations and verses and arranged them by order of length and the gathered book was considered the official Coran.  The shortest revelations or verses are the first chronologically and represent the message of Islam in the first 13 years before the relocation to Medina or Yathreb in 633 and the successive civil management and organization of the converts to Islam.

 

Note 5:  In February 5, 2009 I posted “Islam: the two messages of Jesus and Mohammad.  A challenge to all theologians: Islam is one of the Christian sects” I had not read the above manuscript and my hypothesis was based on the content of the Coran in the first 13 years of the message.  The hypothesis can now be confirmed that Islam started as one of the Christian-Jewish “heretical” sects that were scattered outside the Byzantium Empire. After the “hejra” to Medina, the prophet could no longer ask for spiritual councel from anyone and Islam followed an independent direction.


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