Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 22nd, 2009

 

State Ideologies usurping religions

            The 20th century was characteristic in serious attempts of replacing State religion by State Ideology.  This was feasible simply because most religions have developed into structured ideologies in concepts and in organization.  Soviet Russia was successful for over 70 years in that endeavor because it emulated communism into religious replica in all premises and criteria.  Soviet communism stated what happens after death, it described what is go and what is evil, it structured its hierarchy on the basis of church, excommunicated the “refusnik”, and it created a God, a semi abstract God with a personified representative on earth.  The Gang of Four in China, after the death of Mao Tse Tong, carried that religion a step forward: all ancient manuscripts of Chinese civilizations were meant to be burned.  The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia went several notches further: every educated person was to be burned; the new generation was to start with a blank brain.

            The trend of State ideologies usurping religions is going on even stronger with a reversed strategy.  State ideologies are basing their premises on a religion; they claim that the concepts of their ideology are consistent to the fundamentals of the original religion.  Those extremist State ideologies are found in all religions: Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddha-based religion.  State ideologies are in Afghanistan, Somalia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, India, China, Burma, and in the USA during the George W. Bush two Administrations.

           

            Religions, monolithic or not (it is primarily a mental distinction and never real), did not mushroom spontaneously in specific regions.  Religion is the same and was translated and interpreted into different languages and cultures. Religions were imported/exported along with the material baggage of trade and commerce; they were built upon and modified to correspond to customs and traditions. Religions developed to extreme abstractions in urban centers or reduced to basic common denominators in remote rural areas; they were the primary cultural communication among people based on trust, confidence, and belief that there is always someone more powerful and more knowledgeable than the lot.  

            It is because people need to create a God that religion was the main communicator among nations; religion transcended peculiar customs and traditions and reached straight to the deep fear and apprehension of man.  Fear of the unknown is shared by everyone and all men are similar in that one characteristic.

            There have always been all kinds of civilizations; that the archeologists failed to uncover relics and artifacts is irrelevant to that fact. Every civilization prospered on slavery; whatever names slaves were given.  Slaves had their own God; at day they shared the God of the usurpers of their freedom and by night they unveiled their “True God” and worshiped him genuinely as only desperate souls know how to pay tribute. A few slave “tribes” revolted and confirmed their nightly God at day break and paid retributions.  Most of these “slave tribes” succumbed to the power to be and its social structure (constructed around a religious hierarchy); a few preferred to be chased out and suffer another kind of life hardship.  No, there was no dignity in the daily life of the forsaken slaves who wandered in the wilderness; even their nights were different: they had to reinvent a God compatible to their wretched new life, an altered the God of the One they used to worship at night before the Diaspora.

            Nomadic tribes didn’t need religious clerics to convince them of a “God”: as they sat around by night they could watch the vault of the sky reaching down and they felt they could touch the stars.  There is overwhelming majesty during the peaceful nights in desert like regions, a sky sparkling with millions of beautiful stars twinkling overhead (a few moving, many fixed) that offered reprieve, courage, and hope for another day of desolation, loneliness, and harsh nature.  Nomads appreciate the varieties of Silence: they can feel the God of Silence before major cataclysms and desert storms.

            It is because nomads needed to believe more in a God than other settled people to ward off the persistent and real fears of the days for survival that their God was more powerful and more compassionate than other Gods; the God of the nomads was personified in the one seeking refuge for the night; the visitor was lavished with the respect due to the wandering God paying visit to the tribe members and he was fed with whatever meager substances the clan had saved.  The God of the nomads knew their traditions and customs and refrained from interfering or crossing the lines; otherwise, the visitor was punished for false representation.

           

            There are various God. There is the God of the nomads, the “Night God” of the enslaved, the God of the urban and settled people, and the God of wandering homeless people, rootless, and abandoned because their God refuses to be set free.  My article concerns the God of the stragglers.  This God was created a brute, ruthless, and blood thirsty; an avenger out of ignorance, an insulated, merciless, and uncompromising hatemongering God.  This is the God of Thunder, War, Lightening, Storm, Sword, and Skull.  This is the God who rebuffs any tender offer to mingle with other civilized Gods, to soften His manner, to come to maturity, to associate, to adjust, and to keep pledges.

            This is the God who obeyed his creators; as He started to appreciate modern and civilized habits He was reminded by his creators, called prophets, that He lost his way and the reason why He was created.  This the God who was resurrected countless time from his compassionate leaning and collaboration with other worthy Gods to lead newer generations, whose hearts and minds were burned alive from birth, to take on a chimerical revenge on real people because chimerical stories and myths are truer than reality.

            The Jewish religion is dead.  It was replaced by a State ideology called Zionism. Jehovah (Yahweh) was again called upon to mete out his benediction to countless genocide against the Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Jordanians, and Egyptians. The ancient “prophets” were rejuvenated into modern-day prophets, very much as archaic as Ben Gurion, Menahem Begin, Ishak Shamir, Sharon, Ehud Barak, and all the lot who want their “promised land” that they usurped by the sword, lies, and blasphemy. 

              The Jewish religion is dead as Israel was recognized in 1948.  It is not what the Books say; it is how it is practiced.  It is how Zionism behaved in Gaza, Sabra and Chatila Palestinian camps, the camps in Jenine, Jabalya, the massacres in the villages of Dar Yassine, Kfar Kassem, Yafa, the shelling of the town of Qana, of the UN compounds in Qana, Gaza, and the West Bank, the execution of over 6,000 Egyptian soldiers prisoners in the war of 1967; the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure 8 times, the destruction of the infrastructures in Gaza and the West Bank, the demolition of schools and hospitals, the routine assassinations of leaders, the apartheid Wall of Shame, the refusal of abiding by UN resolution 194 for the return of the Palestinian refugees, the insistence of refusing to share Jerusalem Capital to the Palestine State, the transfer methods of the Christians from Jerusalem, and claiming that Israel should be accepted as State for Jews before any peaceful negotiation.

            The Jewish religion is dead.  It was replaced by a State ideology called Zionism, founded by the Eastern Europe Ashkenazi.

 

Note: The UN described Zionism in mild terms as “a form of racism”.  As the USA pressured the UN to desist of this mild description then Zionist ideology was no longer restricted to Jews; it transformed to an umbrella for the extremist religious fascists, Neo-Conservative, apartheid, and isolationist ideologies.

My Neighbors

 

1.   I believe there are other human intelligences;

            Thousands of them, millions of light years away.

I believe there are other forms of intelligence;

            Billions of them, close, when I hear my heart beat at night;

In the clear wide sky,

            I can see their bright stars;

In the quietude of the night,

            I can feel them fly;

In the early dawn,

            I can hear them chirp, bark, or cry.

 

2.   There are others,

            Near human intelligence, too.

They have not two eyes,

            Blue, black, nor brown.

They have not two ears,

            Feet nor hands.

Some of these physically deficient creatures are

            millions light years far.

 

3.   We search.  We still cannot see those varieties of intelligence.

            We need high tech search machines.

We keep searching,

            Waiting for them to make us see.

Very few are searching,

             Now and then searching.

They are telling me they have found some intelligence.

             They do tell me they might have compassion.

Today, they found most of these sorts of intelligence.

             Yesterday, they have talked to my next door neighbors.

Article #23, April 24, 2005

“What undergraduate students care about university courses?”

In the mid of the spring semester I had finished writing 20 articles that covered most of the topics of the Human Factors in engineering course.

I had more than once asked the following questions in exams: “How would you like to define Human Factors regardless of the various textbooks definitions and how your perception of this discipline could enhance your career?”

Invariably, the undergraduates preferred to rely on textbooks definitions instead of providing me with any meaningful feedback as to how my message was conveyed.

I decided to generate statistical responses through a simple questionnaire.

The experiment was to discover their preferred topics from the titles of the articles and then, when all the articles have been read to class, to acquire their new responses as to their personal interest in the topics.

I then went ahead and submitted to class the 20 titles and asked them to select only three titles they would be interested to read more about and to grade them according to preference such as first, second and third choice.

Before analyzing the gathered data I found it useful to group the current 20 titles according to meaningful dimensions or components which could be reduced to four dimensions; one dimension 1 of career orientation or job market availability for Human Factors practitioners might be represented by articles (1, 5, 6 and 19), dimension 2 of design improvement for engineers represented by articles (3, 8, 9 and 20), dimension 3 related to safety in workplaces represented by articles (4, 10, 15 and 16) and dimension 4 difficulty of the course or related to difficulty of passing the course represented by articles (2, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17 and 18).

After collecting their responses I distributed the articles according to their choices with the following assignment; every student had to recopy the assigned article, reedit it according to his understanding using the words that might suit better his writing skill and style and then to read his version to class.

This experiment was intended to encourage the class to focus on the topics that they are more willing to assimilate and apply in their careers.

Seventeen students submitted their response sheets in class.

A preliminary analysis of the preferred choices generated the following statistics:

Title #19 generated the highest number of 7 responses among the choices; titles #5, 6 and 10 came next with 5 responses, and third in place titles #1, 3 and 4 with 4 responses.

Titles #12, 13 and 14 that concerned error and task taxonomies and methods did not generate any responses although my conjecture is that these esoteric nomenclatures might have generated at least many third preference choices.

Titles #4, 5 and 10 had the highest number of first choice which was 3 responses.

It appears that the majority of undergraduates are interested in career orientation or more precisely they need confirmation that they selected the appropriate major and would like to know how this course can help them secure a job or make a dent in their career behavior with a total of 21 choices.

The safety dimension came second with 16 choices and if we assume that safety engineering was implicitly considered a career alternative then a total of 37 out of a grand total of 51 choices was clustered around anxiety toward their careers.

Furthermore, if the design improvement dimension with 14 choices could be viewed as an affirmation of their career selection then everyone was concerned one way or another with his future job prospect.

Once all the articles have been read I intend to redistribute the titles of the 20 articles and find out if there is any significant change in the responses based on contents.

I provided the class a feedback to the statistics and my own interpretations and did not receive any negative comments.

Thus, for my final take home exam I inserted questions related to their career. 

One question was for them to take stock of their knowledge and training capabilities and limitations as engineers based on 3 job descriptions, then to investigate their deficiencies when they select a graduate major from the catalogue of required courses and then what courses or workshops they would attend in order to strengthen their promotional opportunities.

For their final exam I hinted that a question will deal with how they would teach this course from two perspectives: the first perspective is targeting the diligent students of grades A and B and the second method when targeting the C and D students. 

They were told to be ready to restructure the course materials given that it will be the unique course offered as Human Factors.

I expect from this exam question to receive valuable feedback as to my teaching method and which topics are of interest to the students.

I also expect that the students will start evaluating their potential in a teaching career.

Modern Times Ulysses (June 22, 2009)

 

            Ulysses in the Odyssey was away of his City-State Ithaca for 20 years. The first ten years were spent battling Troy.  The next ten years were disposed of in other kinds of adventures and he was buffeted by storms and sea dangers. Ulysses was very lucky being loved by Calypso for over seven years in a paradise–like island. The love of Ulysses and Calypso were mutual; in fact, Ulysses knew Calypso far better than he knew Penelope; he loved Calypso much more than Penelope.  Ulysses real life was not in Ithaca; he matured and experienced life outside of Ithaca.  That Ulysses’ nostalgia for Ithaca to be so great is not within the realm of reason or of feelings. Homer wanted Ulysses to return for some other purposes.  The stronger nostalgia is the poorer the memory.  Nostalgia is self-sufficient in emotions and absorbed in its sufferings; it does not need any refreshing of reminiscences.

            We find Ulysses sleeping under an ancient familiar olive tree in Ithaca.  How many familiar trees remain after 20 years of absence in our modern times? The harbor is unchanged. A single bulldozer can move a small hill and open a breach into a new horizon, or block another one.  Ulysses realizes that he is in Ithaca. 

            After killing the suitors to Penelope then Ulysses felt bored. His supposedly ancient compatriots are strangers to him; they are telling Ulysses stories of events that happened in Ithaca and people that died or whatever.  Ulysses is not interested in these unilateral conversations; he is waiting for someone to ask him about his adventures and life during the last 20 years. No one was interested in Ulysses’ life in the last 20 years; no one asked him “Tell us your adventure”.  Fortunately, Ulysses was shipwrecked in Pheacie on his way to Ithaca.  The king of Pheacie was interested in the stranger Ulysses and his adventures; Ulysses felt voluble and told his story in four long songs.

            Ulysses realized that his essence and the treasure of his life lay out of Ithaca. At this advanced age the present of Ulysses is figited because the future is no longer a project or a vision to contemplate and plan for.  The only alternative for Ulysses to fill the present is to recount his very alive past 20 years.  No one in Ithaca is interested in the last 20 years of Ulysses.

            People figure out that they will live to be eighty as of the laterst estimates in developed nations; implicitely, they admit that they will die and that they must be living in a developed State.  People always are absolutely certain that they will outlive their best friends by at least a decade; it is a matter of ego.  Youth doesn’t think about future; it is far away and redundant.  When we reach 30 then our present has value with urgency. We live our present according to how we view our future; we spend our present commensurate to our plans and projects expected in a future that will not change but for our specific projects and ideas.  Whatever change is forecasted for the world community is redundant. People over 60 have a chance to re-invent their lives or spend their present recalling their past; it is time to either write the autobiography or leave peacefully. Homer is taking the task of recording “Ulysses Memoirs”.  Ulysses is pretty old for his time and killing the suitors of Penelope must have exhausted the last shred of energy he saved.  The Odyssey is rightfully not interested of what happened before Ulysses went to war against Troy; that period is totally irrelevant to the story: Ulysses had forgotten that part of his early life anyway.

            Immigrants of my acquaintances come to visit after long absence.  As I try to ask about their life abroad there is always someone to interrupt me and divert the subject to local events, especially stupid local politics; stupid because I am no politician. The immigrants do not get back to my question simply because they were no Ulysses in the countries they lived in; over there it is daily toil, a wretched life for stupid survival.  Not many made it rich and their absence had no value or significance.  Returning immigrants were no Ulysses; they did not live with a Calypso on an enchanted Island and served by slaves for every whim they had.  They were the slaves and they did slave.  Nowadays, societies in developed States are not that interested in strangers: strangers are just statistics and grouped haphazardly for the sake of classification and central data processing. Immigrants don’t have much to tell; they fled for greener pastures that turned dry; dollars were not found on the streets. Whatever rich life they had is irrelevant if not supported by actual material riches. In any case, immigrants were too busy to enjoy their present and memorize the good days; whatever they recall are the worst days which are not pleasing for story telling.

            Immigrants who are in their sixties should not think returning “home”; they should banish “nostalgia” from their vocabulary; they should dissociate from people frequently mentioning “nostalgia”.  Home is where they are now; they do not need further exacerbations of realizing that they are strangers in their “homeland”.  Except if they decided to write their autobiography; then this would be the best location to remembering their real life abroad.

            Ulysses would have not found his old familiar olive tree; the unchanged harbor would have been studded with performing monster cranes.  Penelope would have been too old to ward off suitors if any.  Penelope would not have been waiting if she was pretty and intelligent enough in the first place.  Homer is a magician for transforming wretched reality into poetry, for describing nostalgia in its proper meaning, for showing us the period of real life and our inconsiderate valuing of the present.

 

Note:  The theme of this article was presented in the French novel “The Ignorance” of Milan Kundera.


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