Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 9th, 2009

The two most powerful regional powers: Turkey and Iran; (Nov. 10, 2009)

Turkey is the 16th ranked economy and Iran the 17th, with the understanding that Turkey has no oil or gas production while Iran was the second exporter of oil and the second in world’s reserve.

Turkey has a population of 70 million while Iran is about 60 million.

Iran is much larger than Turkey in size, but the two nations are big enough to be considered continent ,self-sufficient and independent nations.

Turkey planned to be  the turnpike for most of oil and gas pipelines originating in Russia, Iran, and central Asia and converging to Europe.  (The upheaval in Syria is mainly due to foiling Turkey strategy). Iran has a strategic access to the Straight of Hermouz.

Russia has borders with both nations that dictated the foreign policies of both countries.  Both countries have over 7 States along their borders.

Both nations share the Kurdish problem for self-autonomy: The Kurds are about over 20 millions and live in inaccessible mountain chains and high plateaus in Iraq; they overflow to vast regions in East Turkey, West Iran, and North Syria.

Turkey is mostly Moslem Sunnis and Iran Moslem Shiaa since the 18th century. Turkey has the least number of Christian  in the Moslem world in proportion to the total population, due to successive genocide policies in the last century that forced the minorities to exit this country. Before last century, the Ottoman Empire was the most lenient empire in matter of religious belief.

Since antiquity, Turkey influence reached to the Euphrates River in Syria while Iran to the Tigers River in Iraq. Both large rivers take sources in Turkey. and the Euphrates River crosses Syria and Iraq.

The good news is that these two most powerful regional powers have many interests in common that dwarf any petty political divergences; they are the cornerstone for a new economic and strategic alliance in the Middle East.

Turkey has cultural and linguistic influence in Azerbaijan, the Caucasus regions, Serbia regions, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Iran has the same kinds of influence in most of these regions in addition to Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Brief history:

Throughout antiquity till our modern days 3 main empires dominated the landscape of the Middle East. Turkey, Iran, and Egypt were vast economic and political empires before the advent of Islam. Turkey and Iran managed to enjoy a semi-continuous existence of empires, but Egypt had large vacuums of many centuries in between empires since the Pharaohs.

Egypt enjoyed special status during the Greek, Roman, Arab, and Ottoman empires and was a world apart as wheat basket and the most advanced in civilization.

Turkey and Iran could benefit from stable “national” entities, but Egypt experienced foreign leaders as kings or sultans and relied on foreign officers to lead its armies, the latest dynasty was from Albania with Muhammad Ali.

The former 3 empires are currently mostly Moslems and they were in general lenient with the minority religious sects.

The three empires have vast lands, rich in water, and have currently about the same number of population of about 70 millions and increasing at high rates.

The Iranian empires relied on Afghanistan’s and the central Asian’s tribes for their armies.  As the frequent Mogul raids descended on Persia its armies went on the defensive.

The Turkish and Ottoman empires relied on the Caucasus tribes from current Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia States, and also from Albania and Romania.

As Russia started to expand southward and occupied many of these regions, then Turkey curtailed most of its vast military campaigns and went on the defensive.

The Caucasus triangle of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia is still a hot spot for domination among Russia, Turkey, and to a lesser extent Iran, especially with the oil and gas pipelines that pass through them.  My post “Cursed Cities: Kars” would shed detailed historical accounts on that tragic triangle.

Modern Status:

In around 1920’s, two military dictators ruled over Iran and Turkey.  Rida “shah” in Iran and Mustapha Kemal “Ataturk” in Turkey were attempting to modernize their infrastructure and civil administrations by emulating the European examples.   Ataturk went as far as changing the Turkish alphabet to Latin.  Both dictators confronted the religious clerics for establishing secular States with unequal long-term successes.  Iran has reverted to religious oligarchy after Khomeini came to power.

While Iran was historically more lenient with its minorities, it appears that Turkey is practically taking steps to outpacing Iran in that advantage; for example, Turkey is translating the Koran into the ethnic languages such as Kurdish.  Women in Turkey are prominent in businesses such as Goler Sabanji; 9% of women are represented in the Parliament.

In Iran, Shireen Abadi is Nobel laureate for defending women’s rights; Iranian women represent only 3% in the Parliament though they constitute 65% in universities.

In the 70’s, Iran was flush with oil revenue while Turkey was struggling to establish an industrial infrastructure. It appears that in the long-term, oil in underdeveloped nations is definitely a curse for emerging nations because wealth is not invested on the human potentials and stable modern political structure.

In 2008, foreign investment in Turkey was $14 billions and increasing while it amounted to just one billion in Iran.  Turkey has expanded its representation in Africa by opening 12 new Embassies and 20 new consulates.

Nisreen Ozaimy is from Iran by origin and fled to Turkey; when her family lived in Turkey it was impressed by the confidence that the Turks valued their various ethnic nationalities; they had this implicit feeling that Turkey is in fact a bridge between East and West.  The Turks managed to blend harmoniously the secular and religious inclinations.

Turkey is a member of NATO and has a chance to joining the European Union.  Turkey is out of its 60 years hibernation and is currently very active in Middle East Affairs.  Turkey was on excellent terms with Syria (until 2011): they recently opened their borders to enter without visas and are conducting joint military maneuvers.  Turkey is about to reach a peace agreement with the Kurdish opposition movement.

Iran is struggling to be incorporated in the world community and the nuclear issue is poisoning its relations with the western nations.

Note 1 :  this is a revised and updated version of my post “Turkey and Iran: Same and Different (April 25, 2009)”

Note 2:  Turkey has the potential to normalize its political and diplomatic relations with almost all Islamic and Arab States except Saudi Arabia.  The most obscurantist theocratic and monarchic Wahhabi sect would never forgive Ottoman Turkey to have sent a military expeditionary force in the 19th century that destroyed and erased the Wahhabi Capital in Najd.

The same Wahhabi dynasty would never normalize relation with Shiaa Iran because it is always feeling insecure of this close powerful State that infiltrated the northern regions of Saudi Arabia in the last two centuries.

Advertisements

King cobra may kill female if rebuffed? (Nov. 9, 2009)

I watched National Geographic channel at 10:30 pm on Sunday.  I see a couple of cobras copulating.  The story is that the female was mating with a king cobra and a local male challenged the mating cobra.  The two males engaged in a harmless fight: they are immune to their poisons and just entwine for some time; I see their heads dancing close to one another.  The previous mating cobra gives up the fight and sneaks out of the picture. The female was sneaking away because she was either already satisfied or she felt that she had aversion to the intruding challenging vanquisher.

The winning cobra appeared wanting to mate for a few seconds but the female kept sneaking away. Suddenly, the king cobra changed his mind and decided to kill the female; did he smell his rival’s copulation or was he going crazy for the rebuff? The male cobra killed a female cobra after 45 minutes of an agonizing struggle. Before dying the female spins fast clockwise and counter-clockwise for a last attempt to survival. It seems that the female has less immunity than male to the poison and the male is at least a head longer than female. The male then undertook to swallow “whole” the female. The female snake turned out to be too big and he regurgitated her dead body.

What with this game of male challenges?  Couldn’t the mating king cobra resume his job by forgetting the intruder’s presence?  Anyway, I don’t think that the intruder would have challenged the mating king cobra; at least the mating one has this psychological superiority of being more capable of surviving and finding a female partner.  Why would a tired mating cobra endeavor to take chances and then run the possibility of hard scouring process of finding an agreeable and consenting female?

It seems that female cobra build a nest for around 25 eggs to hatch; she pile up a meter-high of tree leaves so that the eggs enjoy a climate of 25 degrees and then hatch after 3 months; the female fast for 3 months because she would not leave the nest.  Immediately after the first egg hatches then the female is out of her obligations; actually, she leaves quickly in order not to start eating her progeny.

The newly hatched cobras are already venomous and can hunt for survival; usually, only 2 out of 25 live to adulthood.  Cobras are attracted to areas where rat snakes abound; thus, rat snakes are attracted to areas where rats come to eat and then cobras follow rat snakes to feed on!

I got in bed by 12:15 am and was terrified by the program on natures.  Luckily, I don’t recall having nightmarish dreams.  What do I know? May be the bad dreams will strike me tonight; then I might sue National Geographic for late horror emissions.

I demand freedom to pay tribute to my Idol

People are more inclined to be loyal to a saint, a shrine, or an honored Imam, or apostle.

People have need to use their senses to get connected to a spiritual entity: you cannot expect human to think exclusively on abstract notion without the intermediary of their senses of seeing a representative picture, of smelling incense, of touching a bust, or of listening to a hymn.

One God who created man and the universe is fine, but is not sufficient for man.  Several Gods doing the job is more convincing and pragmatic: specialization is highly valued.

Monotheism is a totally abstract concept that no human was yet able to feel physically loyal to a one, all encompassing God.

Ever since man descended from his tree, his prime concern was struggling for his freedom to pay tribute to his favorite Idol God.

Fear of the many dangers threatening his survival forced man to seeking a much more powerful ally to protect him and come to the rescue.  Depending on his wide spectrum of phobia, man wanted the total freedom to worship and be loyal to his “loyal” companions in times of imminent dangers.

Man would not take for granted Idols imposed upon him; he wanted his personal choices that most satisfied his psychological world.  Freedom of belief is not a modern concept; man fought all his life and for millennia for this natural right and is continuing the struggle.

I noticed lately that my dad, at each pass in front of the Virgin Mary or Mar Charbel (a Lebanese National Saint), has to touch these pictures in the house with his index, kiss his index, and then sign the cross.

Dad is 85 years old and has refrained attending mass for years.  Mother is also devoted to the Virgin and all the national female saints such as Rafqa; she never misses an occasion to get in the car or a bus going to pay tributes to shrines; she pay money, that she has not, for the Saint so that the church make “good” use of it.

Obviously, Mar Charbel is in her pantheon too, along with the newly beatified Hardini.  Interestingly, miracles have a way of occurring at election times.

In all ages, whether a religion claim to be monotheist or polytheist people end up selecting a particular idol to pay allegiance to and write ex-votos to Him in order to be cured, enjoy prosperity, safety to the family, and safe travels.

Indeed, people are loyal idolater to whom they perceive to be pretty much handy, accessible, and an excellent intermediary to the One God.

For example, in Latin America people are loyal to the Virgin Mary and cannot think of any other Saint to turn to in time of distress; thus, St. Mary of (name a city or a village), or the Virgin of (name a city or a town) and you have hundreds of Virgin Maries, tailored made to a specific locality, ready to come to the rescue.

The Greek Orthodox Church cannot think of more than three female saints to name girls at baptismal ceremonies: it must be either Mary, Ann, or Elisabeth; as for male kids you have an assortment of complicated and long Greek saints with plenty of X and Ch.

In predominantly Moslem Egypt, and generally in North Africa, you have St. Fatima, Aicha, Ali, Hussein, the Imam of the regional legal sect, or the shrine of the veneered Sheikh of a locality is paid more attention and visits to any other worshiping figures.

Pictures of Moslem saints are prohibited in public places or in mosques but that do not prevent homes to hang pictures of their preferred saint as relevant to current standards of beauty for both genders.

There is this myth that the Jewish religion is the first to adopting monotheism; it is just a myth. 

Ancient civilizations were never monotheists; they all had an overall God, nominally superior to the other demi-gods but that nobody paid much attention to or prayed to Him or even remembered asking his help in ex-votos.

God El was the all encompassing God in the Middle East as was Allah in the Arab Peninsula or Zeus for the Greeks, but He never generated a dime to tribes that had exclusive rights to his worship.

People converged to more palpable and understandable demy-gods; cities and towns adopted one of them as symbol and recognition of their trades or power.  In general, more weight was given to the “messengers of a God” (they were written in plural) than to a specific God.

Yahweh (God of thunder) was one of the Gods to the Jews after Moses introduced Him during the long crossing of Sinai and the worship of the “golden cow”: the Jews had, before and after Moses, many regional demy-Gods who did exist even if at periods they were forbidden to be worship.

Jews might have converged to a unique God in Judea in the second century BC.  Many of Canaan demy-Gods were far more beneficial and interesting than this newly created Yahweh that came into the picture during war periods. In war time, Jewish mercenaries were asked to support Baal under the banner of the dusted off Temple and bust of Yahweh.

Salomon worshiped Ashtarout (the Goddess of Sidon in Lebanon), and idol Baal had many Temples in Jerusalem while Yahweh had only one.

One common denominator to all salafist or extremist religious sects (Christian, Jewish, Moslems, or cults) is being totally peeved and obfuscated that the One True God is being sidetracked for substitutes.

Joshua offered the Jews choices of keeping Yahweh as sole God or accepting other demy-Gods.  When the Jews decided to keep exclusively a “tribal” God then Joshua ordered all strangers’ Gods destroyed. In ancient time, destroying the bust of a God didn’t mean that he no longer existed, but that the local God was to be more efficient to the survival of the tribe or community.

When Prophet Mohammad entered Mecca without a fight, after 9 years of taking Yathreb as his headquarter for his companions, he ordered all the 160 idols destroyed or effaced (pictures) save two: Allah and the Virgin Mary.

Mary was not bestowed virginity at all but she was veneered as the mother of the latest great prophet Jesus (Issa).  In Islam, idols were no longer Gods and never existed as was the case in ancient cultures.

The early Protestants erased pictures and destroyed busts of all Saints except crucified Jesus.  For the Protestants, erasing pictures of Saints didn’t mean that Saints didn’t exist but they were not that worthy to be worshiped and supplant God through the interceding process.

The most honest monotheists were the “heretic” Christian sects that the Orthodox Christian Church during the Byzantium Empire persecuted relentlessly.  Most of these sects would not even bestow a divine nature to Jesus, and Marie was not virgin by any means; no pictures or drawings were permitted for any Saints.

The farthest that these sects could indulge in is to veneer the apostle whom they claimed to have written the “true” Testament they adopted and read in.  The Nestorian sect proselytized in China and translated its Bible in Chinese in around the year 600; it built churches all along the “silk road”.  Thus, you don’t need to create saints along with pictures and busts to have the faith that travels to China.

I have noticed that:

1. centralized churches promote many saints with pictures and busts; it is a tactic to please the people so that it may enjoy total control over their temporal existence;

2. that these centralized churches inherited pagan religions aided a lot to the widespread propagation of multiple idols for each locality.

Decentralized religions have no urge to promote idols and pictures such as in Islam: it is the temporal power at every state that appoints clergies, Imams, and sheikhs.

I don’t see why all that fuss for monotheism.

If a few tribes still refuse to believe that it is earth rotating around the sun or that earth is flat, why then submerge them with an extra abstract notion?

Killing and committing suicide attacks in the name of a God is not an abstract act; this does not mean that human mind cannot reach a level of distortion that far surpasses the mere abstraction of a One God, creator of man and the universe.

Note 1:  This is a revised version of my post “Mono-idolatry (monolatry) or monotheism? (Nov. 6, 2009)

Note 2: The Christian Greek Orthodox is the church of Byzantium that persecuted the “heretic” Maronites in the year 1,000 and forced them to settle in the northern mountain chains of Lebanon. Decades later, the Maronite allied to the Church of Rome  and has been a steady ally to France since then.

These persecutions took place at a period the Moslem Arabic empire was disintegrating into small fiefdoms and Byzantium re-conquered the coastal portion in Turkey and Syria. The second crusade campaign burned Constantinople and occupied the lands of Byzantium in Turkey, Syria, all the way to Jerusalem.

Note 3: The various Protestant sects have similarity with the Wahhabi Moslem sect by discarding icons and pictures of saints in their place of worship.  The Wahhabi makes it a trend to demolish any worshiping place that is decorated with pictures, icon, and shrines, whether they are Christians or Moslems…

Learning paradigm for our survival; (Nov. 9, 2009)

Einstein, the great theoretical physicist, confessed that most theoretical scientists are constantly uneasy until they discover, from their personal experiences, natural correspondences with their abstract models.  I am not sure if this uneasiness is alive before or after a mathematician is an expert professional. 

For example, mathematicians learn Riemann’s metrics in four-dimensional spaces and solve the corresponding problems. How many of them were briefed that this abstract construct, which was invented two decades before relativity, was to be used as foundation for modern science? Would these kinds of knowledge make a difference in the long run for professional mathematicians?

During the construction of theoretical (mathematical) models, experimental data contribute to revising models to taking into account real facts that do not match previous paradigms. I got into thinking: If mathematicians receive scientific experimental training at the university and are exposed to various scientific fields, they might become better mathematicians by getting aware of the scientific problems and be capable of interpreting purely mathematical models to corresponding natural or social phenomenon that are defying comprehension.

By the way, I am interested to know if there are special search engines for mathematical concepts and models that can be matched to those used in fields of sciences.  By now, it would be absurd if no projects have worked on sorting out the purely mathematical models and theories that are currently applied in sciences.

I got this revelation.  Schools use different methods for comprehending languages and natural sciences.  Kids are taught the alphabet, words, syntax, grammars, spelling and then much later are asked to compose essays.  Why this process is not applied in learning natural sciences?  

Why students learning math are not asked to write essays on how formulas and equations they had learned apply to natural or social realities?

I have strong disagreement on the pedagogy of learning languages:

First, we know that children learn to talk years before they can read. Why then kids are not encouraged to tell verbal stories before they can read?  Why kids’ stories are not recorded and translated into the written words to encourage the kids into realizing that what they read is indeed another story telling medium?

Second, we know that kids have excellent capabilities to memorize verbally and visually entire short sentences before they understand the fundamentals. Why don’t we develop their cognitive abilities before we force upon them the traditional malignant methodology?  The proven outcomes are that kids are devoid of verbal intelligence, hate to read, and would not attempt to write, even after they graduate from universities.

Arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and math are used as the foundations for learning natural sciences. The Moslem scientist and mathematician Ibn Al Haitham set the foundation for required math learning, in the year 850, if we are to study physics and sciences. Al  Haitham said that it is almost impossible to do science without strong math background. 

Ibn Al Haitham wrote math equations to describe the cosmos and its movement over 9 centuries before Kepler emulated Ibn Al Haitham’s analysis. Currently, Kepler is taunted as the discoverer of modern astronomy science.

We learn to manipulate equations; we then are asked to solve examples and problems by finding the proper equations that correspond to the natural problem (actually, we are trained to memorize the appropriate equations that apply to the problem given!).  Why we are not trained to compose a story that corresponds to an equation, or set of equations (model)?

If kids are asked to compose essays as the final outcome of learning languages, why students are not trained to compose the natural phenomena from given set of equations? Would not that be the proper meaning for comprehending the physical world or even the world connected with human behavior? 

Would not the skill of modeling a system be more meaningful and straightforward after we learn to compose a world from a model or set of equations?  Consequently, scientists and engineers, by researching natural phenomena and man-made systems that correspond to the mathematical models, would be challenged to learn about natural phenomena. Thus, their modeling abilities would be enhanced, more valid, and more instructive!

If mathematicians are trained to compose or view the appropriate natural phenomenon and human behavior from equations and mathematical models, then the scientific communities in natural and human sciences would be far richer in quality and quantity.

Our survival needs mathematicians to be members of scientific teams.  This required inclusion would be the best pragmatic means into reforming math and sciences teaching programs.

Note: This post is a revised version of “Oh, and I hate math: Alternative teaching methods (February 8, 2009)”.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

November 2009
M T W T F S S
« Oct   Dec »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Blog Stats

  • 1,345,910 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 690 other followers

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: