Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 11th, 2009

Soothing chimerical resolve: tackling our global problems; (August 10, 2009)

 

Note:  I posted the original essay on June 23, 2009 and I needed to re-edit it.  This post will focus on the global problems. The follow up post will consider viable global resolutions.

 

Fact one:  Climate and environment are quickly deteriorating.

Fact two:  Birth control is not efficient in the mostly under-developed States

Fact three:  Potable water and water for irrigation are dwindling fast.

Fact four:  The middle classes in China and India are expanding alarmingly.

Fact five:  The world economy is experiencing serious deflationary period.

Fact six:  The world is going through deep financial crisis and recession.

Fact seven:  Effective military spending should decrease but it didn’t.

Fact eight:  The identity crisis around the world is destabilizing order and security.

 

Fact One:  Climate and environment are quickly deteriorating.  The ten signs of alert are proven in the following evidences.

 

            Oceans are turning more acid.  At 8 kilometers of the Californian coasts shells and corals are being dissolved. In the Pacific Ocean, 30% of mussel has disappeared.  Planktons, the basic food chain for fishes, small and large, are no longer abundant; 30% has depleted since the industrial age.

 

            The Arctic is changing drastically. Ice field has melted by 27% in the last two decades. Temperature increased by 3 degrees in the last 5 years.  Thus, the more ice melt the larger the surface is exposed to direct sun rays and consequently the more the rate of ice melting increases. The level of oceans is increasing and covering more dry lands.

 

            The Amazon and tropical forests regions are drying up and liberating higher quantities of carbon dioxide.  This equatorial forest is liberating more CO2 than absorbing; absorbing CO2 was their primary function.  More trees are dying and thus liberating more CO2 by decomposition. The higher the concentration of CO2 the lesser trees “perspire” and the more reduced are rains in quantity and frequency.

 

            The climate in Antarctica, the main source of future potable water, is milder; temperature has increased by one degree since the fifties. Salinity of sea water in the southern globe is decreasing.  The Antarctic must be melting faster than observed.

 

            Seasons are in advance of schedule and migratory birds are suffering.  Spring is one week earlier in Europe: 75% of birds studied in Europe have declined in number and migrating further north and seek higher altitudes.

 

            Dry seasons are extending. Monsoons are rarefied; precipitations are decreasing and the desert in North Africa is expanding southward western Africa.  Deforestation might still be the main culprit but the warming up of the environment is catching up fast as the main factor.

 

            Methane gas, present as methane hydrate in maritime sediment, is escaping from oceans. The under layer of pergolas (pergelisol) used to act as a lid but more abundant hot water is being ejected in the Arctic seas; the concentration along the Russian coast is 200 times superior to normal.  Methane gas is far worse than CO2 (20 times more powerful in retaining heat) for the warming up of the environment.   

            Glaciers such as the Himalaya and the Quelccaya (Peru) are losing 0.85 meters in their thickness every year. Around 40 frozen lakes in Nepal and Bhutan are breaking up.

            Sea levels are climbing 3 mm every year on average; the levels in the Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean Sea are reaching the alarming climb of 20 mm a year.

 

            The warming up of the climate is accelerating dangerously. Temperature increased 0.6 degrees just in the last 30 years while it took a century to increase 0.2 degrees before then.  The concentration in CO2 has increased to about 400 molecules per million; it was just 270 before the industrial age.

 

            The liberation of methane gas and the drought of tropical forests are the two major factors that show evidence in the acceleration of environmental degradation.  The fast degradation has overtaken current research data that are no longer suitable for predicting the approaching calamity.

 

Fact Two:  Birth control is not efficient in the mostly under-developed States.

 

            China and India are supposed to have gotten birth rate under control but it is not because of higher educational level and better standards of living.  There are evidence of massive euthanasia practices on females and minorities camouflaged within laws interpreted very loosely and selectively. In the under-developed States political instability, poor security for law and order, unsustainable social institutions, and lack of financial and technical supports are exacerbating an already dangerous trend.  The UN is short on money and manpower in its specialized sections to counter this scourge. Over 50% of the population in Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, and Iran for example are under 15 years of age. (Global viable and alternative resolutions will be developed in a follow up article)

            In Japan and many European States the trend is reversed; over 30% of the population is elderly (above 65 years) and draining the health budgets.

             

Fact Three:  Potable water and water for irrigation are dwindling fast.

 

            Climatic changes, heavy river pollution, accelerated urban centers, high rate of birth, and the early melting of mountain tops are depleting potable resources faster than expected.  Many States rich in rivers, especially those witnessing drought seven months per year, have not be aided in erecting dams for emergency seasons.  More States conflicts are centering on equitable potable water sharing.  The criticality of water supply is one of the main problems facing people in the coming decade.

 

Fact Four:  The middle classes in China and India are at least three times larger than the combined numbers in the USA and Europe and growing quickly.

            China and India are experience much better increases in their GNP than the USA and Europe during this downturn.  Consequently, China and India will focus on their internal markets to grow their economies in the same manner as the USA has been benefiting for over three centuries.  Middle classes demand to have consumer goods available since they have the money to purchase them.  They certainly have this right.  The problem is that purchasing cars is the first priority for middle class citizens with investment in infrastructures and facilities to abuse of these vehicles.  China has already surpassed the USA in the number of purchased car this year. India is making available inexpensive cars marketed at $2,000 in India. The kinds of energy sources that will drive these cars will have great consequences.  Consumerism can drive economies but depletion of natural resources requires a cultural change to accommodate a sustainable earth.

 

Fact Five:  The world economy is experiencing serious deflationary period.

            The world economy is struggling and the downturn is expected to last for at least 5 years.  This might be the best excellent news for a sustainable world production and a strategy for an economy of sobriety in consumption. There is the need for drastic diminishing of redundant and irrelevant consumer goods that can be substituted easily for human survival. Globalization created economic blocks with objective of exercising political pressures on the established developed nations.  The economic or trade blocks such as South-East Asian States, the Southern Latin American States, the Gulf Arab/Iranian States, and soon a few African States are struggling to stay above water and keep up with the fast moving globalization trend.

            The International Monetary Fund extended three quarter of its resources on the already industrialized states since its inception in 1944.  The G20 decided to triple the IMF fund to $750 billions.  The G20 will extended 44% of the funds, the other developed State a third and the over 55 poorer States will cover 17%.  It was hoped the restrictions and conditions for funding projects will be reduced from 17 conditions to 5 but nothing has been materializing so far.

 

Fact Six:  The world is going through deep financial crisis.

            Millions of workers and employees lost their jobs in a few months and that trend is increasing faster than expected.  The infusion of trillions of dollars into banks in order to facilitate the flow of trade transactions did not save banks from declaring bankruptcy.  The meeting of the biggest 20 financial markets that produce over 85% of the world economical transactions has not reached any consensus as to the financial basket reference for money fluctuation or the control of paper money issuing rights of individual power States. Consequently, the financial crisis is opened to dangerous more frequent reversals on a downward trend.  The USA is heavily relying on China for covering its increasing debt by purchasing US Treasury Bills.  China will be facing enormous capital investment inside because of the consequences of rapid economical strategies.  The rivers in China are over polluted, drought seasons are more frequent, and over 30 millions working in urban centers have been forced to relocate to rural areas where no job opportunities are available.  The moment China decides to cut down on financing US debt the dollars will be devalued (for printing more paper money than the economy can support) and another financial crisis will loom on the horizon.

 

Fact Seven:  Effective military spending at the increase.

 

            People expected a rational decision by States in this economic and financial troubled times; people were hopeful that military budgets should decrease to balance other more needy budgets such as health, the environment, creating productive jobs, and education.  The reverse happened:  every major State that exported military hardware increased its military budget and it skyrocketed. The USA expenditure is more than double China and Russia combined and the fields of military operations expanding around the world. Societies are far more unstable and experiencing high unemployment rates and lower quality jobs for the qualified graduates. 

 

Fact Eight:  The identity crisis around the world is destabilizing order and security.

 

            After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Europe had to face up to the identity and ethnic crisis in East Europe such as ethnic and religious “cleansing” and the drive for independence of tiny States within the disintegrating Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. The European Union (EU) is the best representative for projects of unification among States with identity crisis.  The EU is clearly the most advanced union in matter of forging ahead with ethical issues. 

            Gorbachev has declared recently that Europe squandered 20 years of potential opportunities for stabilizing the European continent after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the defeat of communist Soviet Union.  If we revisit the problems that Europe had to deal with in priority then Europe had plenty of excuses.  First, West Germany had to absorb the cost of the re-unification of the crumbling economy of East Germany; then the EU had to battle the consequences of the disaster of 9/11 of 2001 and the frantic pressures of the Bush Jr. Administration to rally Europe to the invasion of Iraq; then the pronouncement of the Christian Conservatives alliance of the US administration of the binary dicta “either you are with us or against us”; then the declaration of an old senile Defense Minister Rumsfeld lambasting “old and senile Europe” and getting hold of the European oil investments in Iraq.  The EU has now to come with a plan for the increased illegal immigration as the ideal destination location.  It must be that Europe was in a rejuvenation phase to have forged ahead in short time to a successful unification program.

 

            Global problems to whom?  These problems affect us all but the “G20 something” think that they are the only one concerned.  Solution for the G20 is lending money to more mega polluting mega projects.  So far, the UN did not propose a program to deal with global problems.  Not a single President of the G5 went public to remind us that there is such a program.  Life is going on leisurely as if dirt is swept under the carpet and that is worrisome; citizens of earth are not asked to contribute and share in the responsibilities. A follow up article will attempt to offer viable global resolution and will tackle the troubles with religious extremism and state ideologies.  All that I am asking is to be offered soothing chimerical resolves of the international community that it is aware of the global problems and that it promises me at least a few plans and directions.

Sacred power: the written words; (August 10, 2009)

For an illiterate person, what is written is in effect a secret method to see without eyes and to hear without ears; these two characteristics can easily be partially compared to the power of a God: religious clerics proffer to the written Books as emanating from their Gods; the Books are the silent residence of Truth. 

An illiterate individual is readier than the literate persons to accepting any opinion or idea once he is told that they are set in writing.  Regardless of how writing was discovered and initially used among societies, its ultimate function was to control and empower the elite classes who could afford to teach their offspring and provide them with the administrative and political functions necessary for running a City or a State. As Claude Levi-Strauss hypothesized, the only tangible and consistent correlations with the creation of writing were the formation of cities and empires in order to administer the citizens by this secret and sacred weapon.

Actually, deciphering the codes (a special writing in itself) of the enemies was always a fundamental function of the elite class; those elites who could master the coding system were the higher-ups in the hierarchical echelon of governance.  Plato had criticized the inconvenience of relying on the written documents because first, the memory lose of its capacity, and second people who can read tends to believe that they should force an opinion and to pretend that they have good judgment even in subjects that they ignore completely, and third, because writing resembles painting which does not offer answers and it is not possible to argument on it: when we write we forget our target audience and communication is deficient.  However, when we rely on oral transmission then we have to rely on what we really know and which was inscribed in our mind.

Nothing has changed much.  The rate of practical illiterates around the world has not increased for five thousand years.  Languages are used as codes for all the professional disciplines; religious or secular.  A professional may submit hundreds of articles in professional publishing mediums and read his head off in professional conferences but that does not make him a literate person in other domains; actually, he may not be capable of transmitting his knowledge to the common people or disseminating his ideas verbally.  True scientists are those who tried their hands at simplifying their writing for people outside the circles of elites: that is the way of investigating the range of his true knowledge, how knowledge changed him, and how he contributed to humanity.

Laws are written in coded forms; medical manuscripts are written in coded forms; nomenclature and classifications are written in an amalgam of ancient Greek and Latin; everything is basically written in foreign languages and we are wondering why the spirit of the democratic systems are not applied by people.  We are wondering why people yearn for dictators and one State political party.

The rate of practical illiterates has actually increased from five thousands years ago.  Audio-visual languages are supplanting the written languages; people have to add faces (smiling, angry, or sad) to what they are writing; effectively meaning “Listen, I cannot articulate my feelings; if you cannot understand what I wrote to you then never mind. Just capture my state of emotions.”  Very few have their cortex still developing; most of us are wallowing in our limbic brain.

Cicero was the first educated Roman to write in the vulgar Latin while the Greek language was reserved for the Roman elites.  Galileo wrote his scientific observations in the vulgar Italian which had the potential to transmitting his revolutionary discovery (that it is earth that rotates around the sun) more widely; making this fact accessible to the common people forced the Catholic Inquisition to prosecute Galileo and his ideas viewed contrary to the Church dogma. The Emperor Charles V ordered Erasmus to translate Aristotle to German; Martin Luther who translated the Scriptures into German because the Bible should be written in a living language that does not require the interpretation of the priests and the bishops which facilitated the Protestant religious upheaval against the central Papal power.

There are basically two approaches in political philosophy.  First, either you consider the governance of a State as a unity (usually compared to the human body) and thus the function of the government is to unite the divergences of the citizens by alternative means, mostly strong arms tactics by spreading fear and humiliation.  This approach inevitably is concreted simply in a theocracy because the dictator, monarch, or Prince is referred only to a God to control his responsibilities and obligations.  Second, you admit divergences and try means to unite on common denominators, this approach in political philosophy realizes that this process cannot  function unless the elected representatives, for limited duration in governance, give turns to the opposition groups to correct errors and show the effectiveness of their alternative ideas.

Plato described democracy as theocracy because the politicians have to act up before the voters a game that we all learn to perform since childhood at various degrees of convincing effects. It is the responsibility of the people to teach their political officials to act as responsible delegates. The people need to read and write in a language they can comprehend; the coded languages have to be translated to layman languages and in real-time.  Democracy is not feasible before the language is not owned by the common people at large.

 

Trip to the mountains of Kesruwan

 

Note: The description of the trip is extracted from my diary on Sunday, July 22, 2007

 

 

            I woke up at 7:30 a.m. and the weather was sunny and hot; I read the daily “Al Balad” that we received for free for an entire year as a promotion campaign. I performed my exercises and fed the chicken.  Joanna was busy calling: she was programming a walking trip to “Sadd Shabrou7″(the new dam in Lebanon; pumping equipments and canalizations postponed indefinitely) around the ski resort of Faraya.  Joanna was also planning to end the day at Cherries’ for karaoke night in honor of Ashley’s birthday.  She asked me to join and I agreed.

            I packed a spare of undershirt and socks and a light rain jacket and some biscuit and peanuts and I waited for everybody to be ready.  They waited for Ashley to come back from mass because she was not aware of this “surprise” excursion.  Cedric could not go because he hurt his fingers and the skin of his feet while playing wild basketball yesterday.

            We drove off in two cars; Joanna took Ashley and retrieved Tony at St. Elie Movie Theater in Antelias; William took Adrea, Chelsea, David and I.  We met at Aoun supermarket in Zouk and they purchase a few items to eat; Adrea waited in the car in the under ground parking lot because she is pretty lazy.  We resumed our travel around 2 p.m. and William picked up Hanane at her home and we met at Yuhanna’s house in Ajaltoun.  There, Yuhanna drove his car and carried Joanna, Ashley, Tony and Chelsea.

            We arrived and parked our cars in the monastery parking lot and started our walk after getting some information and references from a passerby.  I wore a small towel under my cap and took the lead, hunched in a comfortable stature, and distanced the straggling group for 5 minutes and stopped and took off my top clothes and dried in the sun until they joined me.  It was a rather large dirt, pretty uneven with sparse trees most of the way; this road should end to a small village but we saw no villages as we trekked. I again advanced the group because I felt that keeping a fast and steady pace is relaxing for me, otherwise I will slacken off and my back might ache from slow walking. 

            I tried to investigate a promising path off the beaten road which was starting to bore me.  It was a good path studded with fruit trees on both sides; that is the kind of junctions I like to venture in; it would eventually merge with the beaten road but Ashley urged me to backtrack because she wanted to stay the beaten course.  We waited for the rest to join us and it seems that Adrea had trouble with her tight shoes that she didn’t wear for quite a time.  I took the lead again and decided for another off path and William came after me very frustrated and said that we should stick together as a group and keep to the road. 

            William and I took short cuts to rejoin the group and then Joanna asked a driver for the best place to sit down near fresh running water and he gave her the direction of the path I had already climbed before William came after me.  Thus, we retraced our walk; I suggested a path among the apple groves but they decided to take short cuts and climb a hill which took my breath out and had to sit down for a couple of minutes to recover.

            We reached an area with a small waterfall “shallal” and a flat rock with no trees around; Yuhanna and Joanna decided to go down among the apple trees to investigate the area.  It was the same apple grove that I intended to cross before I was desisted from taking and to sticking to plan.  Meanwhile, William climbed the rock opposite the road to check if there is a nice area and I removed my tops and my shoes and washed my face and dipped my feet in the icy trickle of water running across the flat rock.  David stored in the icy stream the amassed the small apples and pears that he gathered from the trees and we also let our water bottles cool in the water. 

            I had a pear and enjoyed it; while the remaining group was anxious to go down to the apple grove where Yuhanna located a “nice place” to have lunch I was as happy as a clam tanning in the sun, walking bare feet and cooling my feet and rubbing lavender flowers on my hands and having a smoke. William was pounding on a stone and it turned out to be of silex and he wanted to transform it into a stone knife; he had found a big silex stone but when he climbed to retrieve it he could not find it again to bring it back.

            Within 15 minutes Yuhanna asked us to join and we went down to another stream of running water among the apple grove and Yuhanna was frustrated with Chelsea because she was venturing far off the group.  We had lunch; the chips were first to go and Joanna prepared us cheese sandwiches and then we ended up with the Oriole biscuits and other kinds of chocolate covered biscuits; I had also raw peanuts and kept belching for the rest of the trip.

            Joanna tried her hands with the kite that she had sent to Yuhanna from London; she failed to make it fly; David and William drenched Hanane with icy water. I had a comfortable nap while people were chatting away. Chelsea was a pain for the group in her wandering off, climbing and jumping off walls and rocks and being “har2a”; obviously a close second to my pain in the ass behavior for discovering new paths. We stayed and rested until 6:30 p.m.

            The return path among the apple groves coincided with the path that I had suggested before we climbed the hill.  I took the lead again with Tony who was anxious to terminate the trip and I never stopped for an hour and a half.  William joined Yuhanna and Joanna to check on a camping area and Chelsea joined them.  After a while we saw Chelsea coming alone grim faced and clutching her right hand and not stopping to talk to us; she had hurt her hand and was furious with Yuhanna.

            Ashley decided to walk with Chelsea for the remaining walking trip; Ashley was even jogging in order to advance me. Tony then started to jog to catch up with Ashley. It was getting dark and even prudish Ashley got lovy, lovy with Tony. I kept my fast steady pace and even jogged for a short distance but could not catch up with Chelsea and Ashley; thus, I arrived third to the parked cars. 

            William gave us a summary of the statistics of this trip collected on his cellular; he walked 17,000 steps and the round trip was 11 kilometers and it took us 5 hours and a half, including the resting period, and the average speed was 5 kilometers per hour as a group.

            At the suggestion of Yuhanna we had dinner at “Istira7at Al 3erzal” in downtown Farayat; I refilled many cups of hot tea. We had labheh, baked potatoes, homus and cucumbers.  I lent Hanane my light jacket to warm up; Chelsea would not relent and never gave the gang peace and quietude.  Tony brought up his dish to where we were sitting William and me, at the other end of the table.  Tony said that he usually sits in front of a wall at home to enjoy what he is eating; that when in groups people eat a lot without noticing; William agreed with Tony and I sat next to Tony and we had a cigarette (the only two smokers).

            By the time we paid the bill of 40,000 LL around 10 p.m. (I didn’t pay a dime: I had none).  Most of the gang members were exhausted and sleepy. They decided to skip the karaoke part and go home.  I sat in the back seat: David needs to feel entirely comfortable; William was driving.  Chelsea made herself comfortable and slept on my lap while Adrea was sleeping in the other corner, all crumpled up; David was sleeping in the front.  I was feeling good and full of energy. William was very sleepy and itchy and trying hard to keeping to the road by slapping his head; the high lights (phares) of cars at night have hypnotic effects on William. We arrived at 11:30 and the public electricity was still out since noon. 

            Mother was awake because she watched the interview with General and Deputy Michel Aoun with Raymonde and Victor till 11:30.  I watched TV till 12:30 a.m. David slept at Ashley’s. Ashley and Joanna gave Tony ride home.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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