Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘biographies/books’ Category

“The Gardens of Light” by Amin Maalouf (Reviewed in April 19, 2007 and posted in 2008)

“The gardens of light” is translated from French. Amin  Maalouf is currently a French Academician from Lebanese origin who immigrated during the civil war. I read all his books

In the middle of 200 AC, Mani set about spreading his Message and he preached for over thirty years a new religion, a mixture of Christianity (Nazarene), Buddhism and Ahura Mazda (Zoroastrianism and whose priests were called Magi).

Mani was born around AD 216 in Mardinu (Mardin, a town east of present Turkey on the North of the Tigris River, a Syrian region that French mandated power offered to Turkey in 1937).

Mani called himself the “son of Babel“. He experienced the unyielding faith, the teachings and the rigorous life style of the White clad Brethren or monks of a Nazarene sect on the Euphrates River banks, where his father Patek was a member and who adopted the doctrines and teachings of this Christian Nazarene sect..

This sect was called “Halle Haware” or white garment in the Aramaic language.

The members of the sect did Not eat meat or drink wine or leavened bread; the disciples wore white from top to bottom.

This sect was scared of fire, a counter faith to the most common Zaradust faith in the region at the time, and thus would eat only raw fruits and vegetables grown by the community.

Food from outside the community was prohibited and considered “female” food because women were banished from the community and the female names in the scriptures were not mentioned unless the names represented calamities and bad augurs.

(I told my young nephew William, who insists on wearing white garment and who spent three weeks in India at a meditation center in Mount Abu, about this novel and he sounded interested but he claimed that his sect (which he would not give it this label as if it is a bad connotation like cult) is far ancient and going back many thousands of years. William is no longer into these “fashionable” trends)

Mani is now a very close advisor to the Divine King of Kings, the Sassanian monarch Shapur, and managed for 3 years to delay a resumption of war with the Roman Empire.

The Roman Emperor Philip the Arab (Born in Syria) had struck a deal with Shapur to cede Armenia to the Persian Empire and to deliver a tribute of 100,000 sacs of gold every year by a caravan of bedouins of his tribe. 

Philip needed badly a truce in order to celebrate the 1000 years of the creation of Rome.

After Philip was assassinated, his successor resumed paying the tribute but was assassinated two years later and four generals were vying for the throne of Rome and the tribute could not arrive.

Shapur succeeded his father Ardashir, the founder of the Sassanid Dynasty, who defeated the powerful Parthian king Artabanus in AD 226, who had previously defeated the Emperor Caracalla in AD 217.

The Parthian Empire was located in Northern Iran and was comprised of the current Kurdistan territory, part of Anatolia (in current Turkey) and the central Iraqi plains and including Babylon.

The Roman Empire had the Western parts of current Turkey with Cappadocia as the main city and all of Syria (Aram) and Egypt. 

The Sassanid Dynasty had Ctesiphon as its Capital, near Babylon, but on the Eastern shore of the Tigris and which used to be the Capital of the defeated Parthian Empire. The Sassanid Empire expanded to include Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Shapur could have installed his capital anywhere he wanted further to the East but he wanted to be close to the Roman Empire, his arch-enemy.  Shapur succeeded twice more in defeating the Romans and captured Emperor Valerian and made him prisoner in AD 259.

Shapur begged Mani to join him on one of his war expeditions so that he may promote his religion to the conquered territories but Mani declined the offer saying: “My words shall shed no blood. My hands shall bless no blade. My hands shall neither bless the knives of sacrificing priests, nor even a woodcutter’s axe.”

While the Magi were destroying the Gods in the conquered territories of Armenia, Cappadocia, and Syria Mani and his followers “The Sons of Lights” were preaching peace and contempt for all swords and the hands which wield them. 

Mani and his followers prayed at the tomb of his father Patek and his mother Mariam and he felt weak in the natural surrounding of his village.

Patek, the father of Mani, was from a Parthian warrior class and Sittai, and the leader of the White-clad sect had ordered him to go home and bring his son to live within the community after he is weaned.

Mani was 4 years old when he was baptized in the river and lived in the community without knowing who was his father or mother since Patek was not allowed or cared to show affection for his son.

Mani was used to isolate himself and discovered a favorite place for seclusion in a peninsula by the Tigris River surrounded by palm trees. By the age of twelve Mani must have gathered from bits of conversation how he was conceived and his origins and he liked to paint. 

It is at that age that he saw on the surface of the river the image of his “Twin” or “Double” who told him: “Draw what seems right to thee, Mani.  He who sends me knows no rival.  All beauty is the reflection of His beauty”. 

Mani told his close friend Malchos in the community: “Tread lightly on this earth, avoid sudden movements, and do not kill trees or flowers. Pretend to plow the soil, but do not wound it. When others scream and yell, move only your lips.”

When he was 24, Mani’s “twin” told him that it was time for him to get out to the world and spread the Message of tolerance to all religions and bring down the walls among casts and races. 

Mani shed his white garment and wore colorful cloth and walked to Ctesiphon to find his friend Malchos.  Malchos was originally from Tyre (south current Lebanon) and stayed in the community when his father drowned there and then was excommunicated at the age of fifteen.

Patek joined his son in order to bring him back to the community and ended up becoming his first disciple. 

Mani started teaching that every person or object is a mix of light and darkness and it is through the five senses that individuals need to differentiate the good and beautiful in the world and increase their knowledge, sense of beauty and tolerance.

Mani left for Deb by sea, on the estuary of the Indus River (in current Pakistan). This city was where all the ships from West to East stopped and the Kushan princes and kings were tolerant to all religious beliefs and it is said that Thomas, the twin brother of Jesus, was the apostle who spread Christ’s teachings there and in India.

It used to be a treacherous voyage and took a month under the best monsoon conditions around the month of May.

Deb is no more, and the emplacement of Karachi is very close; Ctesiphone is no more, but current Baghdad was built close by.

Hormisdas, the grandchild of Ardashir, had defeated the Kushan princes and was ready to enter Deb.  Mani met him with a delegation, saved Hormisdas favorite daughter from death, and saved Deb from destruction. 

Instead of gold, Mani asked Hormisdas to give him Denagh, a 13- year old daughter of a martyred officer that Hormisdas has taken under his protection. Denagh has stayed near Mani the whole night healing the little girl.

When later Patek wanted to know the kind of relationship Mani had with Denagh he replied: “Her garments trace the boundaries of my nomadic realm“. 

He indirectly answered the implicit question by stating: “What merit would there be in depriving oneself of a pleasure which one had never enjoyed?”

Back to Ctesiphon, Mani met the Divine King Shapur and secured permission to spread his Message under his protection.  Mani was 26 then and his speech was: “I respect all creeds. The religious sects do not want to listen to the good in the other sects but they assemble the flocks of the faithful around hatred because it is only in confrontation that they show their solidarity. 

When men are tired of rites, myths and curses, they will remember that, one day, during the reign of the great Shapur, a humble mortal sent a cry resounding across the world.”

Mani had a special relationship with King Shapur and the latter was ready to adopt Mani’s Message if he agreed to stay close to him at the court. 

Mani declined the deal and the Magi gave Mani hard times because his message was a threat to their cast.  Hormisdas, Shapur’s younger son and King of Armenia and a follower of Mani’s Message, succeeded in the throne for a short period because the Magi poisoned him.

The next king was Bahram who tortured Mani for 30 days and exposed him shackled for everyone in Beth-Lapat to see. Mani remains were hanged naked for three days at the entrance of the city and no one was to know where he was buried. But the wall became a place of pilgrimage.  

The disciples of Mani wrote everywhere “Mani Hayye” (Mani is alive) which was transformed into “Manichean“.

The Magi and the Catholic Church did their best to annihilate his books, paintings, and any icon of Mani.

The Western and Eastern religions succeeded in deforming Mani teachings and casting him as “The Devil”, the “lying demon” and the “pestilential heresy”. 

For a thousand years, he was called “The Apostle of Jesus” in Egypt and “The Buddha of Light” in China.

It is unfortunate that Shapur was dying when the Romans invaded Palmira (Tadmor) and captured Zenobia prisoner. Zenobia had managed to rule over Syria and Egypt from Tadmor.

Note: Mani message was the predominant religion in North Africa when St. Augustine lived in Tunisia

Who is Shirley Chisholm?

“I ran because most people thought the country was not ready for a black candidate, not ready for a woman candidate. Someday, it was time in 1972 to make that someday come,” she told an interviewer at the time

Before Hillary Clinton. And before Obama. there was Shirley Chisholm

Decades before Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, there was Shirley Chisholm

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

“Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl’.”

“What do we want? What does any human being want? Take away an accident of pigmentation of a thin layer of our outer skin and there is no difference between me and anyone else.”

Forty-four years ago this week, Shirley Chisholm made history as she announced her candidacy for the White House. Her bid for the top job was short lived, but the symbolism is as powerful today as it was then.

Marj Henningsen  shared this link
Robert Reid-Pharr via The Feminist WireFebruary 6, 2016

BBC Newsbbc.com

She was a pioneer for her generation, a woman of many firsts – the first African American congresswoman. The first African American to run for president. The first woman to run for president.

“She paved the way for me to be able to set foot on Capitol Hill,” says 22 year-old Kimaya Davis, who works for a congressional committee.

Davis is black and secured her job after an internship with the Congressional Black Caucus.

Founded by Shirley Chisholm, the Caucus represents black members of Congress.

“It’s because of her that I was able to get that internship – it helps young black students. A lot of kids like me, we don’t have family connections and privilege.”

To those who know about her, Shirley Chisholm is more than a role model, she’s an icon and a trailblazer who deserves greater credit and attention than history afforded her.

Despite her many achievements Chisholm is not a household name in the US.

“She was well known in the late 1960s and 1970s, but if you don’t come from that era, it’s easy to be forgotten,” said Ky Ekinci, a social entrepreneur from Florida’s Palm Coast.

A few months ago, Ekinci organised the inaugural Shirley Chisholm Day. Around 50 people in the area met to celebrate her life.

His goal was to get many of the younger people in the Palm Coast area, where Chisholm retired and spent her final years, to learn about her.

He created a hashtag, #IKnowNow, to spread the word further afield, tweeting out bite-size facts about Chisholm.

Born in 1924 in Brooklyn, New York, Shirley Chisholm, spent some of her childhood years living with her grandmother in Barbados, before returning to her parents in New York to complete her education.

After qualifying as a teacher she worked in childcare, where she developed an interest in politics. She served in the New York state assembly, then made history in 1968, becoming the first African American woman elected to the US Congress.

Shirley Chisholm wisdom

“In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing – anti-humanism.”

Charles Rangel speaks to Witness about Shirley Chisholm

“I have no intention of just sitting quietly and observing. I intend to speak out immediately in order to focus on the nation’s problems,” Chisholm said of her new role.

Her victory, against the backdrop of the civil rights era, was a huge milestone, but with it came challenges.

“Can you imagine being a woman, and black in congress then?” says Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who represents the 13th District of California and is one of 35 African-American women who has served in Congress to date.

The first black woman, and the second ever female on the influential rules committee in Congress, she shattered a lot of glass ceilings, says Lee.

“Some of the men in Congress did not respect her, she just stood out and they didn’t get her. But she wouldn’t back down. She didn’t go along to get along, she went to change things.”

This was demonstrated in the sort of legislation Ms Chisholm worked on as a congresswoman, fighting for the underprivileged and minority groups.

She championed a bill to ensure domestic workers received benefits, was an advocate for improved access to education, and fought for the rights of immigrants.

She sponsored a bill to expand childcare for women, supported the national school lunch bill and helped establish the national commission on consumer protection and product safety.

Shirley Chisholm also worked tirelessly to expand the government-funded food stamps programme so it was available in every state, and was instrumental in setting up an additional scheme, The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (Wic), which provided support for pregnant women

In politics, Chisholm found her gender a particular setback, “I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black. Men are men,” she once said.

She had guts, and she made people believe that they too can be someone, that we are equal, that gender doesn’t mean you can’t achieve the highest office of government,” her goddaughter Marya Boseley says.

That desire to break boundaries was what drove Shirley Chisholm to make a run for president in 1972, seeking the Democratic nomination a mere three years after she became a congresswoman.

Ms Chisholm, whose slogan was “Unbought and Unbossed,” said she never expected to win but hoped her candidacy would “change the face and future of American politics”.

“I stand before you today, to repudiate the ridiculous notion that the American people will Not vote for qualified candidates, simply because he is not white or because she is not a male,” she told supporters as she launched her campaign.

“I do not believe that in 1972, the great majority of Americans will continue to harbour such narrow and petty prejudice.”

Congresswoman Lee first met Shirley Chisholm during her presidential race, and ended up volunteering for her. “She spoke to us in Spanish,” she recalls.

“Then when I said I wanted to work for her she took me to task and made me register to vote first. She told me if I wanted to shake things up, I better get involved in politics.”

The campaign wasn’t easy – Shirley Chisholm survived several assassination attempts and sued to ensure she was included in the televised debates.

She made it as far as the Democratic convention, losing out on the nomination to George McGovern, but leaving a lasting impression.

She served 7 terms in Congress, retiring in 1982, after which she returned to teaching.

She died in 2005, at the age of 80.

Despite her many achievements, those close to her say she never received the place in history she deserved.

“People are ignorant to history,” says Bosely who is 47. “When I was growing up black history was prevalent in schools and now it’s not.”

Congresswoman Lee agrees education around her legacy is lacking, “especially as we are still dealing with many issues as it relates to the inclusion of African Americans in society.”

Lee successfully lobbied for a painting of Shirley Chisholm to be hung in Congress, and for a stamp to be released in her honour.

And, in November of last year, Chisholm was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“There are people in our country’s history who don’t look left or right – they just look straight ahead. Shirley Chisholm was one of those people,” President Obama told the gathered audience at the White House as he presented her award posthumously.

“Shirley Chisholm’s example transcends her life. And when asked how she’d like to be remembered, she had an answer: ‘I’d like them to say that Shirley Chisholm had guts.’ 

And I’m proud to say it: Shirley Chisholm had guts.”

Follow Rajini on Twitter – @BBCRajiniv

THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF THE JFK ASSASSINATION

By JOSEPH P. FARRELL

Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020 – is the 57th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The first thought is that we’ve been living in one long arc of American history from the JFK murder until now, and that Donald Trump will either close that arc, or be just another in a long procession of mediocrities willing to live with the consequences.

We’re living through a major event and debate of a different sort, the evidence (for those that want to bother to look), of massive election fraud and, it would appear on first glance, to steal an election by means of that massive fraud.

And to listen to some “outraged” media personalities, this “just shouldn’t happen” because this is “the United States of ‘Murika,” and not, as we’re constantly reminded, “a banana republic.”

The bad news is, that if the “deep state” is willing to murder a president, out in the open, in public, and then murder – again in public and live on national television – his alleged assassin, and then after all that to lie about what happened and to foist on the public the ridiculous narrative of “lone assassins” firing a “magic bullet” only to be murdered by another “lone assassin” who just happens to be a Mafioso, and after that, to have the national media – three television networks, radio, and newspapers at the time – all publish and push that narrative on the people, then that tells us that nothing, really, has changed.

If they can murder a president, then murder his alleged assassin, and then concoct a crazy narrative and use the media to sell the story, they can certainly commit massive election fraud, send votes to a CIA center in Germany to be “counted” and push a dubious narrative on the public

(See https://conservativedailypost.com/german-city-is-cia-remote-hacking-base-28-states-sent-election-results-there/ and thank you to S.D. for spotting that one!).

In short, if America had not become a banana republic after the excesses of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, it certainly had by the time of the JFK assassination, and remains so now.

A sharp message needed to be sent in 1963: if you attempt to change the ways of the swamp as President, we will kill you, and if you the people attempt to do so, we’ll simply commit massive fraud until we get the results we want. 

And if the occupant of the White House doesn’t want to leave on account of said fraud, then we’ll just send in the Navy Seals and have him forcibly evacuated (method notably unspecified).

That’s another classic behavior of a banana republic: the good old fashioned “presidential palace coup”.

And for those really paying attention, isn’t it intriguing that some of the same players are involved:

(1) two Presidents with their own independent sources of wealth, and not dependent on running the federal government as a a grift or pay-for-play scheme to increase their family wealth,

(2) the “intelligence ‘community’” in the form of the CIA and FBI, which suppresses relevant evidence for months;

(3) the mafia, which is there to stuff ballots into boxes or murder alleged assasins when needed (think Cook county back then, or Philadelphia now, and see

https://cloverchronicle.com/2020/11/15/how-a-philly-mob-boss-stole-the-election-and-why-he-may-flip-on-joe-biden/embed/#?secret=td0zTiUrHC

That is the very definition of a banana republic folks.

All of which brings us the article de jour:

Thirteen People Who Had Foreknowledge of JFK’s Assassination

There were clear signs and indications before the murder of President Kennedy that there was a plot afoot to do so; there was foreknowledge.

I want to focus on three of the people whom the article cites as having had foreknowledge.

US Army private first class Eugene Dinkin, US military code operator David Frederick Christensen, and US military code operator, Richard Case Nagell.

About Private Dinkin, the article says:

U.S. Army Ordinance cryptographic code operator, Private First Class Eugene Dinkin, was stationed in Metz, France when he intercepted and decoded not one, but two messages regarding the coming assassination of President Kennedy.

Image for post
Eugene Dinkin

The first message he intercepted was in October of 1963, the second was on November 02, 1963 (less than three weeks before the assassination).

No one believed Dinkin’s warnings, and when he discovered the Army was going to (conveniently) require him to undergo psychological evaluation, Dinkin instead chose to go AWOL before reemerging on November 06, 1963, at the United Nations in Switzerland, Geneva where he told reporters of his knowledge of the deciphered plot against President Kennedy.

Dinkin was arrested on November 13, 1963. After his arrest he was sent to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, but not before first being held at a psychiatric hospital.

The assassination still took place, and Dinkin’s attempt to thwart it was ushered down the memory hole, not even earning a mention in the Warren Report.

You can research more about Dinkin and his attempt to warn of Kennedy’s demise here, including Dinkin’s other sobering revelation:

“In September, 1963, Dinkin noticed material in the Army newspaper, Stars and Stripes, and other print publications, that was negative toward the president and his policies and implied that he was a weak president in dealing with the Russians.

The examples that he found became more negative, the suggestion being that if he were removed as president it would be a good thing.” (Emphasis added)

The official narrative, The Warren Report, and a complicit media “Mighty Wurlitzer” propaganda machine swung into full operational mode, and suppressed a story. Sound familiar?

David Frederick Christensen had a similar experience:

Little is know about David Christensen, but like Eugene Dinkin, Christensen was a code operator for the U.S. military in 1963 who happened upon information he wasn’t supposed to know.

Christensen intercepted a communication sometime in October of 1963 regarding the plot to kill JFK, and just like Dinkin, he was ignored and his sanity called into question.

A letter he wrote to a friend mentioning his foreknowledge of the assassination can be read here.

When one clicks on that link to Christensen’s letter, one reads this:

Nick,

Well after 13 1/2 years I finally found out your whereabouts. Dam(sic), its (sic) been a long time since Kirknewton, Scotland, and the beer we drank on the beach and the club. Had to get your address from the outfit in Texas.

Christ, you remember the position I worked at, in Sgt Praters (sic) section, don’t you? You remember about a month or 6 weeks before I left Scotland, when I picked up a link mentioning the assassination of President Kennedy.

How hard I tried to get it sent out, and because of that f**kin Forney and Delaughter they wouldn’t send it to NSA.

Since I have learned that the man’s name, most mentioned was number 4 in a certain branch of organized crime at the time.

Was number 2 last year. I will send you a form for proof of claim…. The “link was” Lisbon to Tangiers you remember.

How I got my ass chewed for not dropping the link. Have learned that this branch of crime will put out a feeler of forthcoming things. By sending it as a practice message.

Nick it really broke me up after Nov. 22, 63. Especially when I had it all before hand.

And so on.

Finally, we have Richard Case Nagell, about whom we read the following:

Decorated veteran of the Korean War, Richard Case Nagell was a U.S. Intelligence operative for the CIA who discovered that there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK, and that Lee Harvey Oswald was marked to be the patsy.

Nagell was tasked with attempting to foil the assassination plot, up to and including killing the patsy, but instead—in an attempt to remove himself from all involvement in the conspiracy—he chose to purposely get himself arrested by firing a gun in an EL Paso, Texas bank and then waiting outside for the police to arrive.

Nagell would later tell author Dick Russell that a few rogues in the CIA (and Texas oil interests) were behind the assassination.

You can read all about Nagell’s story in the book The Man Who Knew Too Much (purchase here) by Dick Russell. (Emphasis added)

So what do we have?

Firstly, we have elements of the military – code operators in two instances – who pick up traffic indicating an assassination plot. This alone indicates that factions within the military-intelligence complex were involved in the planning, but it also indicates that some were not, and if Richard Case Nagell story is to be believed, that some were trying to prevent it.

Secondly, and more importantly, we have foreknowledge. Indeed, it would be difficult if not impossible to keep such a widespread conspiracy quiet and free from all leaks and potential detection.

Indeed, there were reports in some of the lesser-known publications and media at the time that getting rid of Kennedy would be a “good thing.”

In short, the “narrative was prepped,” much like we saw in the run-up to the 2020 election, with both sides warning of fraud, of a contested election, and so on.

The bottom line is: we’re still looking at the same Deep State, the same factions, the same players, and the same playbooks. Mafia, CIA, military, and “Texas oil interests”, meaning the Hunts, the Murchisons, and – yes – the Bush family.

And we’re still looking at a banana republic… with nukes.

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”.

His book The Giza Death Star, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”

57 YEARS AGO TODAY: THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF THE JFK ASSASSINATION (gizadeathstar.com)

Garrett Gee Sold His Startup For $54 Million, Then Gave His Family a Gift of a Lifetime

By Benny Luo . Posted on December 16, 2015

What do you do when SnapChat buys your startup and you become a millionaire?

If you’re 25-year-old Garrett Gee, you pull out all the money in savings, sell everything you own, and take your family on an endless trip around the world.

Gee is the founder of Scan, a QR code-scanning mobile app he pitched on “Shark Tank” in 2013.

He appeared on the show wearing just a hoodie and flip flops, an ensemble he wears when pitching investors.

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“I wore them in every investor meeting before ‘Shark Tank,’ including my meetings with Facebook, Google, Menlo Ventures, Lady Gaga, and more,” he told NextShark in a 2013 interview

“Actually, they were part of a ‘uniform’ I put together while raising money for my company. To me, it was very important for potential investors to see me for who I really am.”

Although he failed to get a deal in the tank, Gee had already raised over $8 million in funding from various venture capital firms prior to getting on the show.

After launching his company in 2011, it was acquired by SnapChat in 2014 for a whopping $54 million, making Gee an instant millionaire.

Gee recalled:

“I kept looking at [my bank account], then looking away, then looking at it to make sure it was still there and that this was all real.

I took a screenshot for my journal — OK, I took like seven screenshots for my journal. I didn’t show my wife — not at first. We were just about to have our second child so I waited about one week until she was literally in labor.

Then, to take her mind off the pain, I pulled out my phone and showed her our bank account. It worked.”

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About a year after, Gee — now a father of two kids, Dorothy, 3, and Manilla, 1, with his wife Jessica, 29 — were trying to figure out what to do next. At that time he was still a student and captain of the soccer team at Brigham Young University.

“A new house and cars didn’t feel right,” Gee told People.

“We didn’t need that stuff. We were young, healthy and really didn’t need much of anything.

So we started joking about putting our money in savings, selling everything and using those funds to travel the world. Where would we go? What would we do? And as we began to add more plans to our bucket list, it just became real.”

After putting their newfound fortune in savings, the couple held a large garage sale and sold literally everything they had except journals, photos and Gee’s lucky sandals.

They made a total of $45,000 in the end, which would end up being the money they used to fund their travels.

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“We will travel until that runs out,” Gee told NextShark.

“We will see how long it lasts. Perhaps some of my entrepreneurial skills will come into play and I’ll figure out a way to make that money stretch further and further.

Or, if I’m really good, $45K will give me enough time to make our travels fuel themselves, or better yet, profitable. Anything is possible, right? Just keep intentions pure and attitudes positive”

On why the couple decided to travel, Gee explained: 

“We hope to learn more about life and become better people. We are excited about the memories that we will surely create together and the opportunities around the world that will help serve others.

Already it has become clear that the world is a big, open place with endless mindsets, cultures, and beliefs, none better than the others — just different.”

(What of people with less enviable passports? What kinds of plans can they fathom with that kind of saving?)

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The couple met in Russia in 2007 while they were serving as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and have been married since 2009.

To make sure their $45,000 travel fund lasts as long as possible, the family is living as frugally as possible.

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“[Being frugal] just comes kind of natural to us. It makes us uncomfortable to be thoughtless with money,” Gee explained.

“We still buy the cheapest flight we can find, even if that means waking up at 4 a.m., and we still only drink water with our meals. I believe the best way to show gratitude for the blessings in life is humility, and one of the best ways to show humility is to live frugally.”

The family has spent the last four month traveling in the South Pacific, Australia, Thailand and New Zealand. They’re currently vacationing on the beaches in Bali, Indonesia.

“My personal favorite adventure thus far was back in Tonga. For over a year I had been researching and preparing to freedive in the waters of Tonga — with humpback whales! It was the most epic moment of my life.”

When it comes to his kids’ future education, Gee is a little hesitant in settling somewhere permanently.

“I’m very open-minded to the option of Not settling down,” he told NextShark.

“I’m open to non-traditional forms of education. I wasn’t a very good student. The typical education system actually made me feel stupid and bad about myself and gave me less confidence in my own ability to be creative and valuable.”

Nonetheless, I loved school for everything else. I loved the social life. I loved sports. I loved the challenges. So, it is kind of a toss-up.

I want the best of the best for my children so hopefully I’ll soon be able to figure out what that may be.”

On whether he credits his success to hard work or luck, he said: “If you were to ask me in person I would say, ‘Oh it’s all luck.’

But, that would be a lie just to get past the question. The truth is it’s all hard work.

There’s a ton of serendipitous and fortunate events where stars have aligned in order for everything to come together. But even each of those ‘lucky’ happenings can be traced back to extra efforts and hard work, extra efforts to network, extra late nights.

So the harder I work, the ‘luckier’ I get.”

Gee also shared three factors to success he believes in:

1) Be impressive: success doesn’t just grace anyone and everyone. It seeks out impressive people — hard-working, talented, sincere, good-hearted people. Basically, be deserving of any success that wishes to find you.

2) Be yourself: it’s fine to learn from others and look up to those deserving, but let it stop there. The Facebook formula worked for Facebook — probably not for you. The Garrett Gee way was kinda cool for him, but not that cool. Always be learning more about yourself and always let that light shine bright!

3) Be successful: realize what success really is. That way, on your pursuit to ‘financial success’ you can enjoy real success. You can enjoy your health, your family, and the things that really determine success.

The couple plans to travel to the Maldives and Switzerland in the coming months, and Gee says he already has a new company in the works that he says is “something like never before.”

He regularly blogs about his family’s adventures The Bucketlist Family

How am I spending my confinement?

Note: I am glad that I posted this article on April 26, 2020 to remind myself how I behaved then to the new emerging situation.

Since then, and in the last 2 months, I undertook to focus on “refurbishing” my home after decades of negligence, as my parents were seriously ill Painting all the house, ceiling, walls, doors, window.., repairing doors, windows… remodeling the previous “interior design“, adding my own “touch” of what makes me more comfortable and more inclined to think, work, “produce”…

Kind of trying to refresh whatever “passions” I might have bottled up since childhood and snatching my “rights” to have my own corner in the “space

That would be since last week of February.

Our building is of 3 floors and a ground floor (now split in two for my married nephews). My parents, as most parents in Lebanon and the Near East, think of keeping all their children in one location in the future. Bad idea since it barely works to keep any sense of harmony among adults.

On January 31st, my mother passed away after one week in intensive care and my aunt also passed away 2 weeks later, in coma and in the ICU. 

Sort of most elderly over 90 have no longer any chance to survive any ICU, and that was before the Covid-19 pandemics was revealed.

We order online products from the nearest supermarket. Since I sold my car many years ago, and refrained from borrowing any car, my nephew used to ask me what he could buy me when he drives away. That lasted 2 weeks, and then everyone forgot about me.

The delivered bags are left outside the main building door until each one get out and alcohol spray the external bags and then the inner bags and eventually the inner-inner bags…

We ran out of potable water that we fill our 10 L gallons plastic containers from a running source in the town of Beit Chabab.

My brother-in-law insisted that I join him to help him fill 20 of these gallons.

He is a retired officer from the army, and I guess he receives detailed procedure on how to disinfect everything.

Consequently, Victor spays alcohol around the floor of the water source and I have to carry the filled gallon straight to the car trunk without letting them touch the ground…

A couple of youth came by and washed their faces after jogging, and the disinfection had to restart from scratch.

Before entering the car, I had to stretch my feet outside so that alcohol is sprayed on my shoes.

The funny part is that I had to spray the 4 tires, on the ground that kids play in the parking lot. Go figure.

My sister came from London on the last airplane before closing the airport and she stayed 2 weeks in total confinement on the rooftop.

After her confinement was over, my sister cleaned up her apartment for an entire week, for hours each day ,until she got backache, and then moved down to my apartment to totally clear up all the accumulated junk that my parents, her daughters and herself stored for over 50 years.

Actually, I had cleared up for an entire month loads of junks after mother had a hip surgery 2 years ago.

Although I had hired a helper to clear pathways among the junks on all balconies and in the dining room in order to be able “travel” around, I ended up with a hernia and had to submit to a surgery a few months later.

Yes, I cleared junks just to make pathways in order to move around in the house and the balconies.

I could do that because my brother-in-law (who is responsible for most of the junks and who refrain from throwing out any useless “object”), was oversea visiting one of his daughters.

The worst part is that he goes ramage in the bags on the curve and we end up with many bags in the garden, on the rooftop and on the stairs leading to the rooftop.

The funny part that highly exacerbate me is when he asks me about a junk part that he “needs” and I have to repeat: “Man, you denied me the joy of stepping out into my garden. Go dig deeper into your trash of junks”. An open air warehouse of junks.

You have no idea what people accumulate in their lifetime, objects that they never used and still believe they might get around to using them.

In the USA, they throw Yard Sales in summer time. We didn’t even got this idea to start with, even once in a lifetime.

Right now, we have 40 extra large bags of fine clothes that have barely been used once, and increasing by the days, with the decision to dispose of them later on, one way or another.

My sister and I reserved my parents sleeping room to “store” these bags.

These bags are deposited on one of the beds and waiting for us to figure out how to dispose of them. Nobody care to pick up clothes, retrieve them and distribute them for the time being, (but conditions will quickly change after the massive atomic explosion in the Port of Beirut).

Actually, my brother-in-law has rented a large warehouse to “sell clothes” after he retired and is still spending more money on this failing “business” than on his family, cars and raising chicken…

He turned out to be just one of those sick persons who hoard stuff and never let go off, Not even selling them. Actually, when a buyer shows up, he raises the price so high so that he doesn’t has to relinquish the object.

Yes, there is this old honda car of 1980 that has been parked for years and nobody is willing to drive it anymore. And yet, this person refuses to sell it and is still occasionally spending money on repairing it.

Our garden has turned into an open “warehouse” of total junks and debris and this person wouldn’t let us clear the garden to make any good use of it.

Besides the extra large bags of great clothes, we gathered 70 extra large bags of good clothes to be left on the curb for the municipality to take as waste. My sister considers to be shameful to give away these 70 bags.

Since the municipality will Not load in its Friday truck that quantity of bags, we have to deposit on the curve about 6 bags a week. Do the math for how long we need to dispose of these bags.

I spread this joke that my nephews need to take videos of the newly cleared and re-designed house.

The joke was that my comfort style will return the house to its original status, after all this revamping and I will clutter the house according to my style of “comfort zones”

My sister got furious and declared that she will not set foot again. The next day, my sister was back to “finish her job

What of people who refuse to wear great fashionable clothes on the ground they look Not “A la Mode” and prefer to buy expensive new clothes that are way beneath the quality and beauty of the older-kinds of clothes?

In the meanwhile, my project is to re-edit and update my old articles, verging on the 9,500 posts, on my blog, and recollecting the wonderful trekking and adventures that I joined my nephews and nieces around Lebanon.

Yes, I created a sub-category “Travel/Adventure” for that task.

Note: The first generation relatives opened a net group to share their confinement conditions. A couple days later 3 people “left” and now barely 4 people continue to post “Bonjour/Good morning”. I prefer to post “Mar7aba/Saba7 el Khair” when I wake up in the morning.

The World: As seen by Albert Einstein

“School failed me, and I failed the school. It bored me. The teachers behaved like Feldwebel (sergeants). I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam.

What I hated most was the competitive system there, and especially sports. Because of this, I wasn’t worth anything, and several times they suggested I leave.

I posted a dozen articles on Einstein, his world view, on theoretical physics, sciences, how he saw the USA, and on Zionism… You may read more from the links in the notes

Christopher Chase posted this Feb. 16, 2014:

Albert

“This was a Catholic School in Munich. I felt that my thirst for knowledge was being strangled by my teachers: grades were their only measurement. How can a teacher understand youth with such a system?

From the age of 12 I began to suspect authority and distrust teachers.

I learned mostly at home, first from my uncle and then from a student who came to eat with us once a week. He would give me books on physics and astronomy.

The more I read, the more puzzled I was by the order of the universe and the disorder of the human mind, by the scientists who didn’t agree on the how, the when, or the why of creation.

Then one day this student brought me Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.

Reading Kant, I began to suspect everything I was taught. I no longer believed in the known God of the Bible, but rather in the mysterious God expressed in nature.

The basic laws of the universe are simple, but because our senses are limited, we can’t grasp them. There is a pattern in creation.

If we look at this tree outside whose roots search beneath the pavement for water, or a flower which sends its sweet smell to the pollinating bees, or even our own selves and the inner forces that drive us to act, we can see that we all dance to a mysterious tune,.

And the piper who plays this melody from an inscrutable distance—whatever name we give him—Creative Force, or God—escapes all book knowledge.

Science is never finished because the human mind only uses a small portion of its capacity, and man’s exploration of his world is also limited.

Creation may be spiritual in origin, but that doesn’t mean that everything created is spiritual. How can I explain such things to you?

Let us accept the world is a mystery. Nature is neither solely material nor entirely spiritual.

Man, too, is more than flesh and blood; otherwise, no religions would have been possible.

Behind each cause is still another cause, and the end or the beginning of all causes has yet to be found.

Yet, only one thing must be remembered: there is no effect without a cause, and there is no lawlessness in creation.

If I hadn’t an absolute faith in the harmony of creation, I wouldn’t have tried for 30 years to express it in a mathematical formula.

It is only man’s consciousness of what he does with his mind that elevates him above the animals, and enables him to become aware of himself and his relationship to the universe.

I believe that I have cosmic religious feelings.

I never could grasp how one could satisfy these feelings by praying to limited objects.

The tree outside is life, a statue is dead. The whole of nature is life, and life, as I observe it, rejects a God resembling man.

Man has infinite dimensions and finds God in his conscience.

[A cosmic religion] has no dogma other than teaching man that the universe is rational and that his highest destiny is to ponder it and co-create with its laws.

I like to experience the universe as one harmonious whole. Every cell has life. Matter, too, has life; it is energy solidified.

Our bodies are like prisons, and I look forward to be free, but I don’t speculate on what will happen to me.

I live here now, and my responsibility is in this world now.

I deal with natural laws. This is my work here on earth.

The world needs new moral impulses which, I’m afraid, won’t come from the churches, heavily compromised as they have been throughout the centuries.

Perhaps those impulses must come from scientists in the tradition of Galileo, Kepler and Newton.: In spite of failures and persecutions, these men devoted their lives to proving that the universe is a single entity, in which, I believe, a humanized God has no place.

The genuine scientist is not moved by praise or blame, nor does he preach. He unveils the universe and people come eagerly, without being pushed, to behold a new revelation: the order, the harmony, the magnificence of creation!

And as man becomes conscious of the stupendous laws that govern the universe in perfect harmony, he begins to realize how small he is. He sees the pettiness of human existence, with its ambitions and intrigues, its ‘I am better than thou’ creed.

This is the beginning of cosmic religion within him; fellowship and human service become his moral code. Without such moral foundations, we are hopelessly doomed.

If we want to improve the world we cannot do it with scientific knowledge but with ideals. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Gandhi have done more for humanity than science has done.

We must begin with the heart of man—with his conscience—and the values of conscience can only be manifested by selfless service to mankind.

Religion and science go together.

As I’ve said before, science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind. They are interdependent and have a common goal—the search for truth.

Hence it is absurd for religion to proscribe Galileo or Darwin or other scientists. And it is equally absurd when scientists say that there is No God.

The real scientist has faith, which does not mean that he must subscribe to a creed.

Without religion there is no charity. The soul given to each of us is moved by the same living spirit that moves the universe.

I am not a mystic.

Trying to find out the laws of nature has nothing to do with mysticism. Though in the face of creation I feel very humble. It is as if a spirit is manifest infinitely superior to man’s spirit.

Through my pursuit in science I have known cosmic religious feelings. But I don’t care to be called a mystic.

I believe that we don’t need to worry about what happens after this life, as long as we do our duty here—to love and to serve.

I have faith in the universe, for it is rational.

Law underlies each happening.

And I have faith in my purpose here on earth.

I have faith in my intuition, the language of my conscience, but I have no faith in speculation about Heaven and Hell.

I’m concerned with this time—here and now.

Many people think that the progress of the human race is based on experiences of an empirical, critical nature, but I say that true knowledge is to be had only through a philosophy of deduction.

For it is intuition that improves the world, not just following a trodden path of thought.

Intuition makes us look at unrelated facts and then think about them until they can all be brought under one law. 

To look for related facts means holding onto what one has instead of searching for new facts.

Intuition is the father of new knowledge, while empiricism is nothing but an accumulation of old knowledge.

Intuition, not intellect, is the ‘open sesame’ of yourself.

Indeed, it is not intellect, but intuition which advances humanity. Intuition tells man his purpose in this life.

I do not need any promise of eternity to be happy. My eternity is now.

I have only one interest: to fulfill my purpose here where I am.

This purpose is not given me by my parents or my surroundings. It is induced by some unknown factors. These factors make me a part of eternity.”

~Albert Einstein

Text Source: Einstein and the Poet: In Search of the Cosmic Man (1983). From a series of meetings William Hermanns had with Einstein in 1930, 1943, 1948, and 1954

PBS TV Special- How Einstein Saw the World

Note 1: Read more on this topic https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/einstein-speaks-on-%E2%80%9Chow-i-see-the-world%E2%80%9D/

Note 2:  On Zionism https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/einstein-speaks-on-zionism/

The book that excited Hillary Clinton to Hate “Arabs” and mindlessly side with apartheid Israel: “The Apocalypse”

“The Apocalypse” and “Entretien avec moi-meme” “by Oriana Fallaci

Note: I reviewed this book in 2007 that was published after the September 11, 2001 on the Twin Tower.and posted it on October 24, 2008.

I learned later that this fatal and heinous book excited many colonial powers to launch campaign plans to discredit Islam and the Islamic population. We are still suffering from the consequences of this dangerous generalized ideology. 

Oriana Fallaci was born in 1929 in Florence and died of cancer, maybe of the esophagus in 2006, as her mother, father, and another sister died.

She was a journalist and covered many wars in Vietnam and the Middle East and managed to interview Khomeini for 6 hours and turned to a writer.

Of her publications we can list: “La force de la raison”, “La rage et l’orgueil”, “Un homme”, “Inchallah”, “Lettre a un enfant jamais né”, “Entretiens avec l’Histoire”, and “La vie, la guerre et puis rien”.

Fallaci had a refuge in Manhattan for 10 years and stopped publishing anything and was treating her cancer when the Twin Towers were taken down by Al Qaeda hijacked airplanes.

She remembered seeing Ben Laden in the 1980s in Beirut when the Israeli war planes imploded a high rise to the ground and she conjectured that the way the towers went down was an exact revenge of Bin Laden two decades later.

The attacks on the Twin Towers forced Fallaci to feverishly go back to write about current dangerous phenomena and stored her 800-pages novel in the drawer waiting for an opportune time to work on her “baby”, but she never got around to finish and publish it.

She wrote in “Rage and Pride” that there come times in life where keeping silent is a fault and speaking out an obligation, a civil duty, a moral defiance, a categorical imperative we cannot escape from.

She felt it impossible to stay quiet and apathetic and thus, facing the enormity of the danger she was forced to resume writing.

She wrote a long article in 3 weeks and lived on coffee and cigarettes and her crying was dry because of a congenital nervous case that occurred to her in 1943 when she was about 14 years old.

Then, the allies were bombing Florence and she got scared and started to cry and her dad slapped her hard saying: “young girls do not cry” (go figure, her scared dad reacted nervously and uttered a stupid sentence).

Fallaci fell in love once in her life with the Greek activist Alekos Panagulis who was assassinated at the age of 38 and she wrote a book about Panagulis titled “A man“.

Alekos suffered 5 years of prison in seclusion and when he was freed he cried in front of the Parthenon and repeated “Bitch of democracy, but it is democracy after all”.

Fallaci doesn’t see any other alternative political system but democracy, though it has many flaws and is unable to bring stability quickly when major upheavals strike a nation.

She never returned to Greece because the authorities removed the expensive wedding ring that she inserted in the finger of the deceased when they exhumed the body.

She kept raging against the “falaka” such as hitting the sole of the feet that she says the Greek police have inherited from 4 centuries of Ottoman hegemony in Greece.

Oriana dedicated her introduction to the memories of the many foreigners who were kidnapped and slaughtered by the Muslim fanatics in Iraq and Afghanistan and to the victims in the school of Beslan by the Chechen and to the Danish Theo Van Gogh the director of a short movie on the status of women in the Muslim World.

Her previous volume “The Force of Reason” was in memories of the Madrid train victims.

She unfurled a huge Italian flag over her window to remind the Italian to be proud of their country instead of the rainbow flag of the European Union, along with two tiny US flags to thank America for deposing Saddam Hussein and fighting “Islam terrorism” and for saving Europe during the two World Wars. (US could have remove Saddam, but they wanted to take hold of  strategic Iraq physically and the US created the Islamic extremist movement))

Oriana was furious when her physician suggested not to mention explicitly to others that she is suffering from cancer.

Most people who died of cancer were referred to as dying from incurable disease.  She didn’t think that people would shun her, since cancer is not contagious and not the results of sinful activities, but people were scared to approach cancer afflicted victims.

The atrocities committed by the US forces at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was frustrating and she felt betrayed, offended and lied to because Western civilization cannot swallow acts of brutalities against helpless and chained prisoners. She took comfort that the perpetrators were legally judged, convicted and imprisoned (Not so sure about imprisoned or got fair punishment. She just wanted to comforted herself on the values of western colonial power “civilizations”).

Fallaci is bitter and angry that the European and Italian leaders, leftist and green parties are pacifying with the Muslims immigrants and being too tolerant to the Islamic laws of living that she labeled Europe “Eurabia” because it is falling under the Arabic Islamic hegemony and Nazi Islamism.

She calls the communists in Italy the caviar left and that the left and right parties the two faces of the same coin as two soccer teams running hard to grab the ball of Power and they are homogenous; the only dirty and backward right that still exists is Islam and those sons of Allah.

She fumes that the crucifix is taken off the school rooms and Christmas crib is no longer installed in, so that not to offend the Muslims. Oriana wonders: “Who is supposed to get integrated, us or them?”

She resent the new laws that allow immigrants to vote which will alter the way the European and Italian live.

Democracy is based on the two concepts of equality and liberty and Oriana believes that people likes equality and are ready to give up on some of their liberty.

Equality is understood to be legal equality under the law of the land, but it does not transfer to moral and mental equality, and equality in value and merit.

Individuality and competition are what make life worth living and fighting for.

Fallaci rages against the Italian Communist party that infiltrated every municipality and the courtrooms and is over lording its monolithic dogma and cultural hegemony as filtered to them by former Communist Russia.

The communists have appropriated the Italian resistance to Nazi Germany although they didn’t react until the American forces were chasing out the occupying forces; worst, they intimidated and killed many Italian national resistance fighters such as Justice and Action party of which Oriana was member when an adolescent.

She lambasted Sigrid Hunke who wrote “The sun of Allah shines over the West” and her activism at smuggling African immigrants to Italy.

The support that Hunke accords to the enemy of Fallaci culture and Christian civilization exacerbates her failing health.

Although Fallaci is atheist she would like to believe that Europe is a Christian culture and was upset when the European Constitution refused to state that the religion of Europe is Christianity. 

She certainly is furious at the Italian successive government acting more royal than France and Germany in matters of the European Union laws and legislations that are emptying the national character and specific culture of Italy.

She admits that she is a manichist, a cult that Mani spread in the 3rd century in Iran and reached Europe. The concepts of Bad and Good are totally separate entities and no shades should alter the process of distinguishing between them and taking firm stands.

Half of the interview with herself is antagonizing most of the Italian leaders and political parties for homogenizing their doctrines and not exhibiting any serious differences in politics and thus, rendering the democratic process void of any meaning.

Fallaci pinched Berlusconi ears in her two previous books but she claimed that she will not become another Maramaldo who killed an already dying man Francesco Ferrucci in Florence in 1530.

Berlusconi did not have much education and he could not believe that the Italians elected him Prime Minister, though he is a very intelligent man in business and one of the richest according to Forbes.

Even his numerous mass media television channels were Not sucking up to him because he was too proud and over confident to attract the right counselors but opted to be surrounded by “yes men”.

Berlusconi worst enemies are of his own coalition and they have been blackmailing him all the time in order for him to remain in power.

Fallaci does not like Bush and she thinks that he lacks education and is antipathetic but much better than the insipid Al Gore.

Bush is a leader because he can take stands and stick by his decision and, mostly, because he has moral and would not humiliate his wife with extra marital activities like Clinton. (Moral inside the household? And this morality can be altered outside the confinement of the family?)

Bush is not two faced and unreliable like Kerry who flaunts his 3 purple hearts that he got from fighting in Vietnam and yet condemn wars without relinquishing his war medals.

Oriana really dig Bush’s wife Laura because she resemble exactly to the mother of Fallaci mother in looks and in manners.

Oriana is starting to like Hillary Clinton after she learned that Hillary loved her book “Rage and Pride” and does not stop commending it to her acquaintances to read but she didn’t considers Hillary sympathetic before.

Fallaci considers that there are only 3 leaders in the second half of the 20th century who are Wojtyla (the previous Pope), Khomeini, and Ben Laden (the Napoleon of Islam and the prophet of darkness).

Ben laden does not need to harangue the masses but can make others execute his orders from a distance and she would gladly interview him, even though she had swore never to interview anyone anymore.

She would dwell on Bin Laden childhood and upbringing because she does not think that religion was the main factors to his megalomania.

Ben Laden was normal adolescent, frequenting bars, drinking whisky and dating girls in abundance and bought his wardrobe from Bond Street.  She strongly believes that Ben Laden anger at the Saudi Royal family was a result of them kicking him out of the palace once King Faisal was assassinated.

Bin Laden’s father was the closest counselor to Faysal and the (Saudi Wahabi caste) disliked this infringement to the rules.

Oriana appreciates the contribution of Wojtyla for the crumbling of the Soviet Union and for continuing to write at the age of 84 and for keeping up with his heavy travel schedule.  She blames the Pope for doing a lot of harm for Christianity and the West because he pacified with the Muslims.

Fallaci condemned the war on Iraq and worried that the end result would be establishment of an Islamic Republic of mullah and imams; but she supported Bush once it started. (The same position of all those Silent Majorities around the world?)

Unfortunately, terrorism has increased and deaths are accumulating for an obscure result because democracy has to be won the people, and to be won it has to be wanted, and to be wanted people has to know what it is.  Thus, since the Iraqi people do not know what democracy is then they certainly do not want it.

The Iraqis as Muslims deeply believe that destiny is not in their hands but coming from Allah. Even the educated people in Iraq proclaim that they want democracy “Islam style”.

The UN is an impotent organization ruled by many members of Islamic states and so far the Janjaweed, the pro-ultra-Muslims of the Sudan government have killed 50,000 Christian blacks and almost one million displaced to camps in Tchad, and in Kalma; the Sudan has a flourishing slave trade of girls raffled during the Janjaweed forays.

The Americans are providing the humanitarian food and the EU refuses to call what is happening as genocide and prefers to label it a complex civil war situation.

Kofi Annan is not sympathetic to her and is two faced and that is why Blair didn’t trust him and had his phone calls intercepted.  She is obfuscated that the UN declared the Wall of Shame that Sharon built on Palestinian lands as illegal; though she would urge Sharon to erase the sections of walls in Palestinian lands proper and reimburse for the damage to the private Palestinian properties.

Her logic considers that anti-Americanism feelings is attached to anti-West behavior which is synonymous to pro-Islamism and thus anti-Semitism.

Fallaci loathes Arafat like the plague and describes as a despot and totally corrupted who amassed over $200 millions and used to send his wife in Paris and allocated $12,000 a day for her expenses.

Arafat was able to control the other Palestinian factions because he held the string to the purse.  Fidel Castro has $150 millions according to Forbes.

As for the state of affairs with the adolescents in Italy Fallaci likes to refers to Plato in a section of his 8th volume of “The Republic“:

When a people, thirsty for liberty, find “echansons” that deliver whatever he wishes, to the point of drunkenness, it happens to calling despots the governments that are eager to satisfying these exigencies of citizens ever more exigent.

A disciplined individual is then decried as void of characters and servile. The scared father end up treating his offspring as equals and lose respect; the teacher refrains from reprimanding the students when they mock him; youth claims the same rights as the old and the latter submit to these claims in order not show severity. 

Under such a climate of liberty and in its name there vanish respect and consideration for anybody.  Within the womb of this kind of license germs and develop a bad grass: Tyranny”

Fallaci tried to glorify her old age because it is at this age that liberty might be attained; a privilege that younger people are striving all their life to grasp it.

At old age fear from judgments stops conditioning our behavior and we are no longer scared of the future because it is here already.

At old age useless desires, superfluous ambitions, and senseless chimeras are out the window.

At old age we are the wiser because we comprehend much better what were obscure through accumulated experience, information and reflection.  She said that she frequented death several times in her career that she has no fear at the idea of dying.

Oriana recalls asking the Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie: “Have you any fear of death?” and the Emperor started screaming “What death?” and he chased her out to the park where a huge lion was eating beef steaks.  Though, as Anna Magnani said: “It is not fair to have to die since we were born anyway“.

Being able to survive so many years is the real miracle and the best gift of reaching old age.  Anyway, if there was no death then the word life would have no meaning.

The vehement attitude of Fallaci toward Islam stems from two premises;

First, all of the terrorist attacks in the Western World are perpetrated by Muslims, and

Second, the practices of Muslims’ behavior in the Western World are based on the teaching of the Koran which cannot b reconciled with the rational civil laws in the western countries they live in.

(Wrong premises: It is Muslims that were the mostly massacred and killed by the extremist Muslim movement in “Islamic world”)

Fallacy used St. John’s apocalyptic vision to offer her version of Islam as the Monster and enliven her ejaculations and substantiate her stand, as if a flawed concept can be clarified by a more obscure premise.

In St. John’s apocalyptic version a Monster with seven heads and ten horns would emerge from the sea and the Beast on land would execute all the Monster’s orders until an angel descends from heaven and lock up the Monster and punish the Beast.

Thus, the Monster is Islam and the Beast is represented by the European liberals and leaders who are trying to appease Muslims and exhorting them to moderation by dangling carrots instead of raising the heavy sticks.

Note: I generated two articles from this manuscript: “Are there moderate Muslims?” and “An alternative version of Fallaci  interpretation of St. John’s apocalyptic vision”

Reminiscing when Beirut was actually a super Movable fairs 

Personal experience when I were a university student: Movable fairs in Beirut: 1971-74

I decided to re-edit my old article “Wonderful early 1970’s:  Movable fairs in Beirut” in order to demonstrate to the current generation in Lebanon that it is highly feasible to generate a Mass Upheaval as was done in Tunisia and Egypt.

It is a scream against the total impunity that our politicians, in this semi-State of Lebanon, are enjoying, those militia/mafia “leaders” of our civil war, a war that no one was a victor.

Currently, the State of Lebanon is totally bankrupt at all levels and barely may survive remaining in the UN as a State

Our movable fair lasted 4 years, 3 years behind Paris and Woodstock mass upheaval fairs.

If it were Not for the de facto control of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) over our political system, which diffused the purpose of the true upheaval of the Lebanese movement, Lebanon would have reformed against all odds.

Woodstock musical fiesta was organized in 1968 and disbanded three days later.

The French students revolt in Paris of 1968, then joined by the working organizations,  ended 2 weeks later.

The French students revolt of 1968 was a big party with deep lucidity:  banners read “Run, comrade, run.  The old world is chasing after you.” Youth was taking a reprieve by running joyously, a week of total freedom, running as fast as he could, knowing that the old world will invariably catch up with him.

These students and youth movements crossed to Lebanon in 1970 and lingered for 5 years as movable fairs in Beirut, before the civil war set in, at the instigation of US/Israel.

I witnessed that wonderful and crazy period as a university student, witnessing far more than studying.

By 1970 I was attending university, mainly math, physics, and chemistry courses.   Once the morning courses were taken care of, I roamed Beirut freely and all alone. (Would have been more pleasurable and instructive if I had friends to join me then)

For less than 5 Lebanese pounds ($2 at the time) I could see movies, watch theater pieces, or go to the empty beaches in mid September and October, eat local sandwiches of falafel, shawarma, and freshly pressed fruits.

Most of the days I ended up attending conferences, political party meetings, joining regular demonstrations and marches by university students, sit-ins, hunger strikes on the street in front of the education ministry (I tried once for half a day).

Fleeing police tanks and water hoses, or just walking all around Beirut circulating where the “movable fairs” crossed my path, gathering of people chanting slogans against the sectarian and mercantile political system, the defeatist government, not responding to the frequent bombardment of Israel in south Lebanon...

The citizens (mostly Muslim Chia) in the south flocked to the suburbs of Beirut, mainly in Dahieh, and labelled the “Red belt of poverty” in order to flee the successive incursions of Israel, under all lame excuses.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization, led by Yasser Arafat, and its institutions were firmly established in Beirut and in a dozen Palestinian camps.  Cash in hard currency spent by the PLO and the various resistance movements maintained the Lebanese currency very strong.

In May 1972, Beirut Cinema Club in cooperation with the US Cultural Center projected a series of Orson Welles movies such as “Citizen Kane”, “The lady from Shanghai”, “Secret report”, “Satan’s touch”, and “Falstaff”.  Wells mostly recalls the negative critics: for example, a critic said that Orson shouts like a rhinoceros” when Orson played “Candid” of Bernard Show.

Wells and Charlie Chaplin might be the greatest American directors.  Wells prefers that producers invest massively on many movies, even if one of his films are not marketed.  He said: “Without men there is no art.  Without women, men never become artists”

In May 1973, the film “Red Weddings” by French director Claude Chabrol was projected in El Dorado movie theater. There was a curfew in the previous week:  The Lebanese army tried to enter the Palestinian camp of Dbayeh (mostly Christians).

A few feddayins escaped and fled through the valley of river Nahr Kalb (Dog River); and we provided them shelter for three days in Beit-Chabab and they were to resume the trip to Dhour Shweir.  An ambush by the Phalanges (Kataeb) Party killed several of them on the way.

Chabrol has a particular style and a deterministic view on how events should unfold:  His movies are about illicit love affairs, murder, then punishment by the “bourgeois” legal system:  that genuinely falling in-love is irrelevant and thus must be punished, one way or another.

In June 1974, “The hour of liberation has chimed.. Out colonialists” by the young woman director Heine Srour won a special acclaim in Cannes.  This movie is about the popular revolutionary struggle of the people in Zofar (Oman, Hadramout, and south Yemen) from the British colonial power and archaic monarchic structures.

Heine invested two years in preparation and shot the one-hour movie with the rudiment of equipment and finances.  Heine and three technicians walked hundreds of kilometers with the fighters under scorching sun and the bombing of British jets.

Heine conducted interviews in the local Arabic slang the “Himyari” and projected the essential roles that women shared in that revolution along the fighters.

This movie was one of the first to broach situation in other Arabic States outside of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, or Palestine.  Movies on the Algerian revolution were to be produced shortly after.

In February 1975, director Borhan Awalweyeh showed his movie “Kfar Kassem“.  Hundreds of spectators remained in the theater way after midnight discussing the movie.

The film is a retrospective documentary of the genocidal massacre that Israel committed against the Palestinians in the village of Kfar Kassem in 1956 before it invaded Sinai.  Peasants returning from the fields were killed because they could not know about the curfew that the Israeli troops declared in their absence.

This movie was based on the novel of the same name by Assem Jundi.  Issam Mahfouz wrote the dialogue in the Palestinian Arabic slang.

Lebanon of 1974, and particularly the Capital Beirut, experienced extraordinarily cultural, social, and political activities, quantitatively and qualitatively.

First, the number of women writers increased dramatically.  As Georges Rassi wrote: “In the Arab World, every woman writer is worth 100 free minded men“.

Second, many famous authors and poets opted to write columns in dailies; a move that brought them in close touch with the people and the daily difficulties.

Third, artists and thinkers from all over the Arab World settled in Beirut.  Most of these intellectuals were fleeing oppression and persecution for free expressions.  The Egyptian intellectuals flocked in great number as President Sadat had decided to connect with Israel and leave the Arab problems and the Palestinian cause way behind.

Fourth, the Lebanese TV witnessed a big jump in quality of local productions thanks to the director Paul Tannous.

Fifth, many cultural clubs were instituted and Arab States organized exhibitions and cultural events.

Most importantly, women became very vocal and active for women rights and drastic reforms in the laws and social awareness.

Late author Mai Ghoussoub was very young then, but she was one of the leaders of “Committees for Free women.”

Initially, men were permitted to join in the discussions until they proved to be elements of heckling and disturbances.  The committees of free women decided to meet among women because their cause must be priority in urgent reforms and not a usual side-show tackled by reformist political parties.

Arab movies of quality were being shown such as “Events of red years” by Akhdar Hamina;  “Beirut…O Beirut” by Maroun Baghdadi; “May… The Palestinians” by Rafic Hajjar; “The bird” by Youssef Chaheen; “Al Haram” by Henry Barakat; “Hold on… O Sea” by Khaled Seddik.

Karl Marx said:  ”When history repeats its cycles, the next time around is a farce.”  Spring of 68 was a sympathetic and spontaneous farce; it was an innovating and creative revolt with no arms.

Spring in Paris was a movable fair, an all free-invited party.  It was a movable feast for sharing ideas and desires for justice, peace, liberty, and pleasure. There were plenty of generosity and compassion:  Youth was feeling bored of the old world system of unjust order, capitalism, petrified ideologies and dogmas.

It was a humongous fair where affluent lifestyle in the western States of plenty hide the miseries of the lowest classes living in shantytowns.

It was in a period for the third world struggling to emerge from the slavery stage of colonialism.

Spring fairs in the western world spread to most nations where the partying lasted and lasted.

The virus of the movable feast reached countries with old systems destroyed by the colonial powers:  The newer power systems were unstable and mostly haphazard to come chasing after mass movable fairs.

Spring of 68 crossed to Lebanon and lasted 5 years and emerged on a civil war that lasted 13 years and produced 300 thousand casualties (10% of the population!)

Note 1:  Details of this introspection were supplied by Georges Al Rassi in “Stations along the trail of Lebanese and Arab movies

Note 2: This student movement in Lebanon was mostly let by the students of our public university. The public university, in Choweifat, was mostly controlled by leftist-leaning organizations, including the teaching staff. Most probably, the colonial powers got weary of the growing influence of this university that was spreading to the private universities. The right-wing parties , the president and the army were ready to confront this movement by strong arm tactics.

Note 3:  You may read more details on my next post https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/movable-fairs-beirut-1970-74/

 

Incomplete: Simplify (Einstein, Godel, Turing, Chaitin…)

One thing we know is that life reinforces the hypothesis that the world is infinitely complex and most of its phenomena will remain incomprehensible, meaning unexplained.

For example, no theory of life evolution was able to predict the next phase in evolution and the route taken to the next phase. The reason we have difficulty discovering how living organism adapt to the environment to survive, in longer term.

We don’t know if laws in biology will exist in the same meaning of laws of physics or natural phenomena.

For example, is the universe simple or complex, finite or infinite?

The mathematician Chaitin answered: “This question will remain without any resolution, simply because we need an external observer outside our system of reference, preferably non-human, to corroborate our theoretical perception.”

(A few of my readers will say: “This smack of philosophy” and they hate philosophy or the rational logic deducted from reduced propositions that cannot rationally be proven)

So many scholars wanted to believe that “God does not play dice” (Einstein) or that chaos is within the predictive laws of God and nature (Leibniz), or that the universe can be explained by simple, restricted set of axioms, non-redundant rules (Stephen Hawking).

Modern mathematical theories and physical observations are demonstrating that most phenomena are basically behaving haphazardly.

For example, quantum physics reveals that hazard is the fundamental principle in the universe of the very tiny particles:  Individual behaviors of small particles in the atomic nucleus are unpredictable.  Thus, there is no way of measuring accurately speed, location, and direction of a particle simultaneously; all that physics can do is assigning probability numbers.

Apparently, hazard plays a role even in mathematics.

For example, many mathematical “true” statesmans cannot be demonstrated, they are logically irreducible and incomprehensible.

Mathematicians know that there exists an infinity of “twin” prime numbers (odd number followed by even number) but this knowledge cannot be proven mathematically.

Thus, many mathematicians would suggest to add these true “propositions” but non demonstrable theories to the basic set of axioms.

Axioms are a set of the bare minimum of “given propositions” that we think we know to be true, but the reason is unable to approach them adequately, using the logical processes.

Einstein said: “What is amazing is that the eternally incomprehensible in nature is comprehensible”; meaning that we always think that we can extend an explanation to a phenomenon without being able to proving its working behaviors.

Einstein wrote that to comprehend means to rationally explain by compressing the basic axioms so that our mind can understand the facts; even if we are never sure how the phenomenon behaves.

For example, Plato said that the universe is comprehensible simply because it looks structured by the beauty of geometric constructs, the regularity of the tonality in string instruments, and steady movement of planets…

Steven Weinberg admits that “If we manage to explain the universal phenomenon of nature it will not be feasible by just simple laws.” (I agree with Weinberg in that statement. Consequently, comprehension will be limited to the few scientists who can handle and visualize complex equations)

Many facts can be comprehended when they are explained by a restricted set of theoretical affirmations:  This is called the Occam Razor theory which says: “The best theory or explanation is the simplest.”

The mathematician Hermann Weyl explained: “We first need to confirm that nature is regulated by simple mathematical laws.  Then, the fundamental relationships become simpler the further we fine-tune the elements, and the better the explication of facts is more exact.”

So what is theory?

Informatics extended another perspective for defining theory: “a theory is a computer program designed to take account of observed facts by computation.  Thus, the program is designed to predict observations.  If we say that we comprehend a phenomenon then, we should be able to program its behavior.  The smaller the program (more elegant) the better the theory is comprehended.”

When we say “I can explain” we mean that “I compressed a complex phenomenon into simple programs that “I can comprehend”, that human mind can comprehend. 

Basically, explaining and comprehending is of an anthropic nature, within the dimension of human mental capabilities.

The father of information theory, John von Neumann wrote: “Theoretical physics mainly categorizes phenomena and tries to find links among the categories; it does not explain phenomena.

In 1931, mathematician Kurt Godel adopted a mental operation consisting of indexing lists of all kinds of assertions.

His formal mathematical method demonstrated that there are true propositions that cannot be demonstrated, called “logically incomplete problems

The significance of Godel’s theory is that it is impossible to account for elemental arithmetic operations (addition or multiplication) by reducing its results from a few basic axioms.  With any given set of logical rules, except for the most simple, there will always be statements that are undecidable, meaning that they cannot be proven or disproven due to the inevitable self-reference nature of any logical systems.

The theorem indicates that there is no grand mathematical system capable of proving or disproving all statements.

An undecidable statement can be thought of as a mathematical form of a statement like “What I just said is a lie”:  The statement makes reference to the language being used to describe it, it cannot be known whether the statement is true or not.

However, an undecidable statement does not need to be explicitly self-reference to be undecidable. The main conclusion of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems is that all logical systems will have statements that cannot be proven or disproven; therefore, all logical systems must be “incomplete.”

The philosophical implications of these theorems are widespread.

The set suggests that in physics, a “theory of everything” may be impossible, as no set of rules can explain every possible event or outcome. It also indicates that logically, “proof” is a weaker concept than “true”.

Such a concept is unsettling for scientists because it means there will always be things that, despite being true, cannot be proven to be true. Since this set of theorems also applies to computers, it also means that our own minds are incomplete and that there are some ideas we can never know, including whether our own minds are consistent (i.e. our reasoning contains no incorrect contradictions).

The second of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems states that no consistent system can prove its own consistency, meaning that no sane mind can prove its own sanity.

Also, since that same law states that any system able to prove its consistency to itself must be inconsistent, any mind that believes it can prove its own sanity is, therefore, insane.

Alan Turing used a deeper twist to Godel’s results.

In 1936, Turing indexed lists of programs designed to compute real numbers from zero to 1 (think probability real numbers).  Turing demonstrated mathematically that no infallible computational procedures (algorithms) exist that permit to decide whether a mathematical theorem is true or false.

In a sense, there can be no algorithm able to know if a computer program will even stop.

Consequently, no computer program can predict that another program will ever stop computing.  All that can be done is allocating a probability number that the program might stop.  Thus, you can play around with all kinds of axioms, but no sets can deduce that a program will end.  Turing proved the existence of non computable numbers.

Note 1: Chaitin considered the set of all possible programs; he played dice for each bit in the program (0 or 1, true or false) and allocated a probability number for each program that it might end.  The probability that a program will end in a finite number of steps is called Omega.  The succession of numbers comprising Omega are haphazard and thus, no simple set of axioms can deduce the exact number.  Thus, while Omega is defined mathematically, the succession of the numbers in Omega has absolutely no structure.  For example we can write algorithm to compute Pi but never for Omega.

Note 2:  Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) tried to rediscover the founding blocks of mathematics “the royal highway to truth”.  He was disappointed and wrote: “Mathematics is infected of non proven postulates and infested with cyclic definitions.  The beauty and the terror of mathematics is that a proof must be found; even if it proves that a theory cannot e be proven”

Note 3:  The French mathematician Poincaré got a prize for supposedly having discovered chaos.  The article was officially published when Poincaré realized that he made a serious error that disproved his original contention.  Poincaré had to pay for all the published articles and for destroying them.  A single copy was saved and found at the Mittag-Leffler Institute in Stockholm.

The pertinent question is: How many conflicts has the project brought in its wake?

Hiding Hand principle?

Obstacles led to frustration, and frustration to anxiety. No one wanted to be anxious. But wasn’t anxiety the most powerful motivator—the emotion capable of driving even the most reluctant party toward some kind of solution? In the field of developmental economics, this was heretical.

When people from organizations like the World Bank descended on Third World countries, they always tried to remove obstacles to development, to reduce economic anxiety and uncertainty. They wanted to build bridges and roads and airports and dams to insure that businesses and entrepreneurs encountered as few impediments as possible to growth.

But, as Albert O.Hirschman thought about case studies like the Karnaphuli Paper Mills and the Troy-Greenfield folly, he became convinced that his profession had it backward. His profession ought to embrace anxiety, and not seek to remove it.

As he wrote in a follow-up essay to “The Strategy of Economic Development”:

“Law and order and the absence of civil strife seem to be obvious preconditions for the gradual and patient accumulation of skills, capital and investors’ confidence that must be the foundation for economic progress. We are now told, however, that the presence of war-like Indians in North America and the permanent conflict between them and the Anglo-Saxon settlers was a great advantage, because it made necessary methodical, well-planned, and gradual advances toward an interior which always remained in close logistic and cultural contact with the established communities to the East.

In Brazil, on the contrary, the back-lands were open and virtually uncontested; the result was that once an excessively vast area had been occupied in an incredibly brief time span the pioneers became isolated and regressed economically and culturally.

The entrepreneur takes risks but does not see himself as a risk-taker, because he operates under the useful delusion that what he’s attempting is not risky.

Trapped in mid-mountain, people discover the truth—and, because it is too late to turn back, they’re forced to finish the job.

“We have ended up here with an economic argument strikingly paralleling Christianity’s oft expressed preference for the repentant sinner over the righteous man who never strays from the path,” Hirschman wrote in this essay from 1967.

Success grew from failure:

And essentially the same idea, even though formulated, as one might expect, in a vastly different spirit, is found in Nietzsche’s famous maxim, “That which does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” This sentence admirably epitomizes several of the histories of economic development projects in recent decades.

As was nearly always the case with Hirschman’s writing, he made his argument without mathematical formulas or complex models. His subject was economics, but his spirit was literary.

He drew on Brecht, Kafka, Freud, Flaubert, La Rochefoucauld, Montesquieu, Montaigne, and Machiavelli, not to mention Homer—he had committed huge sections of the Odyssey to memory.

The pleasure of reading Hirschman comes not only from the originality of his conclusions but also from the delightfully idiosyncratic path he took to them.

Consider this, from the same essay (and, remember, this is an economist who’s writing):

“While we are rather willing and even eager and relieved to agree with a historian’s finding that we stumbled into the more shameful events of history, such as war, we are correspondingly unwilling to concede—we find it intolerable to imagine—that our more lofty achievements, such as economic, social or political progress, could have come about by stumbling rather than through careful planning. . . . Language itself conspires toward this sort of asymmetry: we fall into error, but do not usually speak of falling into truth.

Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman” (Princeton), by the Princeton historian Jeremy Adelman, is a biography worthy of the man. Adelman brilliantly and beautifully brings Hirschman to life, giving us an unforgettable portrait of one of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary intellectuals.

The great influence on Hirschman’s life was his brother-in-law, the Italian intellectual Eugenio Colorni. Colorni and Hirschman were as close as siblings, and when Colorni was killed by Fascist thugs in Rome, during the Second World War, Hirschman was inconsolable. Adelman writes:

“Colorni believed that doubt was creative because it allowed for alternative ways to see the world, and seeing alternatives could steer people out of intractable circles and self-feeding despondency. Doubt, in fact, could motivate: freedom from ideological constraints opened up political strategies, and accepting the limits of what one could know liberated agents from their dependence on the belief that one had to know everything before acting, that conviction was a precondition for action.

The phrase that Hirschman and Colorni would repeat to each other was that they hoped to “prove Hamlet wrong.” Hamlet shouldn’t have been frozen by his doubts; he should have been freed by them.

Hamlet took himself too seriously. He thought he needed to be perfect. Colorni and Hirschman didn’t. “Courage required the willingness “to always be on guard against oneself. Colorni wrote,

Doubt didn’t mean disengagement.

In the summer of 1936, Hirschman volunteered to fight in Spain on the side of the Loyalists, against General Franco’s German-backed Fascists. He was twenty-one and living in Paris, having just got back from studying at the London School of Economics. He was among the first wave of German and Italian volunteers to take the train to Barcelona. “When I heard that there was even a possibility to do something,” Hirschman said, “I went.”

Hirschman rarely spoke about what happened in Spain.

Decades later, Adelman recounts, Albert and his wife, Sarah, went to see a film about the Spanish Civil War. Afterward, Sarah asked Albert, “Was it like that?” His response was a deft non-response: “Yeah, that was a pretty good film.” On this subject, as on a few others, Sarah felt a certain reticence in her husband. Still, as Adelman remarks, “the scars on his neck and leg made it impossible for her to forget.”

Adelman interprets Hirschman’s silence as disenchantment: “The endless debate rehearsed in Berlin and Paris over left-wing tactics was more than a farce, it was a tragedy of epic proportions.

Hirschman saw the Communists move in and, in his mind, the spirit of the cause became contaminated. It broke his heart.

But Hirschman would come to recognize that action fueled by doubt allows for failures to be left behind. Spain was a tragedy, but it was also, for him, an experiment, and experiments go awry.

Hirschman liked to say that he had “a propensity to self-subversion.” He even gave one of his books that title.

He qualified and questioned and hedged as a matter of habit. He never trusted himself enough to indulge in grand theorizing. He pursued the “petite idée” to come to an understanding of reality in portions, admitting that the angle may be subjective.”

Once, when a World Bank director sent him a paper that referred to the “Hirschman Doctrine,” Hirschman replied, “Fortunately, there is no Hirschman school of economic development and I cannot point to a large pool of disciples where one might fish out someone to work with you along those lines.”

Hirschman spent his career in constant motion.

After doing graduate training in London and Italy, fighting in Spain, and spending the first part of the war in France, he left for the United States, by which point he had begun to lose track of his own movements.

“This makes my fifth emigration,” he wrote to his mother. He accepted a fellowship at Berkeley (where he met the woman he would marry, Sarah Chapiro, another émigré), did a tour of duty for the O.S.S. in North Africa and Europe, and, with the war concluded, served a stint at the Federal Reserve Board, where he grew so unhappy that he would return home to his wife and two daughters in Chevy Chase, shut the door to his study, and bury himself in Kafka.

He worked for the Marshall Plan in Washington, providing “the thinking behind the thinking,” only to be turned down for a transfer to Paris because of a failed national-security review. He was in his mid-thirties. On a whim, he packed up the family and moved to Bogotá, Colombia, where he worked on a project for the World Bank.

He crisscrossed Colombia with “pen in hand and paper handy, examining irrigation projects, talking to local bankers about their farm loans, and scribbling calculations about the costs of road building.”

Writing to her parents about the family’s decision to move to Colombia, which was then in the midst of a civil war, Sarah explained, “We both realize that you should think of the future—make plans for the children etc. But I think we both somehow feel that it is impossible to know what is best and that the present is so much more important—because if the present is solid and good it will be a surer basis for a good future than any plans that you can make.”

Most people would not have left a home in Chevy Chase and the security of a job in Washington to go to a Third World country where armed gangsters roamed the streets, because they would feel certain that Colombia was a mistake. Hirschman believed, as a matter of principle, that it was impossible to know whether Colombia would be a mistake.

As it happened, the 4 years the family spent in Bogotá were among its happiest.

Hirschman returned to Latin America again and again during his career, and what he learned there provided the raw material for his most brilliant work. His doubt was a gift, not a curse.

Hirschman published his first important book, “The Strategy of Economic Development,” in 1958. He had returned from Colombia by then and was at Yale, and the book was an attempt to make sense of his experience of watching a country try to lift itself out of poverty.

At the time, he was reading deeply in the literature of psychology and psychoanalysis, and he became fascinated with the functional uses of negative emotions: frustration, aggression, and, in particular, anxiety.

The impulse of the developmental economist in those days would have been to remove the “impediments” to growth—to swoop in and have some powerful third party deal with the “war-like Indians.” But that would have turned North America into Brazil, and the pioneers would never have been forced to develop methodical, well-planned advances in logistical contact with the East.

Developing countries required more than capital. They needed practice in making difficult economic decisions.

Economic progress was the product of successful habits—and there is no better teacher, Hirschman felt, than a little adversity.

Hirschman would rather encourage settlers and entrepreneurs at the grass-roots level—and make them learn how to cope with those impediments themselves—than run the risk that aid might infantilize its recipient.

He loved to tell the story of how, at a dinner party in a Latin American country, he struggled to track down the telephone number of a fellow-academic: “I asked whether there might be a chance that X would be listed in the telephone directory; this suggestion was shrugged off with the remark that the directory makes a point of listing only people who have either emigrated or died. . . . The economist said that X must be both much in demand and hard to reach, as several people had inquired about how to get in touch with him within the past few days. The subject was dropped as hopeless, and everybody spent a pleasant evening.”

Back in his hotel room, Hirschman looked in the phone book, found his friend’s number, and got him on the line immediately.

A few years after publishing “The Strategy of Economic Development,” Hirschman was invited by the World Bank to conduct a survey of some of its projects. He drew up his own itinerary, which, typically, involved almost an entire circuit of the globe: a power plant in El Salvador, roads in Ecuador, an irrigation project in Peru, pasture improvement in Uruguay, telecommunication in Ethiopia, power transmission in Uganda, an irrigation project in Sudan, railway modernization in Nigeria, the Damodar Valley Corporation in India, the Karnaphuli Paper Mills, an irrigation project in Thailand and another in the south of Italy.

Adelman is struck by the tone of optimism in Hirschman’s notes on his journey. The economist was interested in all the ways in which projects managed to succeed, both in spite of and because of the difficulties:

Instead of asking: what benefits has this project yielded, it would almost be more pertinent to ask: how many conflicts has it brought in its wake?

How many crises has it occasioned and passed through? And these conflicts and crises should appear both on the benefit and the cost side, or sometimes on one—sometimes on the other, depending on the outcome (which cannot be known with precision for a long time, if ever).

Only Hirschman would circle the globe and be content to conclude that he couldn’t reach a conclusion—for a long time, if ever.

He was a planner who really didn’t believe in planning. He wanted to remind other economists that a lot of the problems they tried to fix were either better off not being fixed or weren’t problems to begin with.

Late in life, Hirschman underwent surgery in Germany. When he emerged from anesthesia, he asked his surgeon, “Why are bananas bent?” The doctor shrugged. Hirschman, even then, could not resist a poke at his fellow economic planners: “Because nobody went to the jungle to adjust it and make it straight.”

While fighting for France during the Second World War, Hirschman persuaded his commander to give him false French papers and he became Albert Hermant. After the country fell to the Germans, Hirschman ended up in Marseilles, along with thousands of other refugees. There he learned that an American named Varian Fry was coming to France as part of the Emergency Rescue Committee—an American group that sought to get as many Jewish refugees out of France as possible. Hirschman met Fry at the train station and took him back to the Hotel Splendide. They hit it off instantly.

Fry had access to U.S. visas. But he needed Hirschman’s help in figuring out escape routes into Spain, procuring false passports and identity papers, and smuggling in money to fund the operation. Hirschman was invaluable. He spoke Italian like an Italian and German like a German and French like a Frenchman, and had so many fake documents—including a card attesting to membership in the “Club for People Without Clubs”—that Fry joked he was “like a criminal who has too many alibis.”

Fry nicknamed Hirschman Beamish, on account of his irrepressible charm. Beginning in 1940, the Emergency Rescue Committee helped save thousands of people from the clutches of Fascism, among them Hannah Arendt, André Breton, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Alma Mahler.

Hirschman was as reluctant to talk about his time in Marseilles as he was to talk about the battles he fought in the Spanish Civil War.

As a fellow at Berkeley, in the early forties, he was placed in the International House, and the other graduate students urged him to speak about what had happened to him in Europe. “The newcomer sat there,” Adelman writes, “with his handkerchief twisted in his fingers, nervously waiting for the calls to pass.”

Hirschman moved out of the International House as soon as he could. “I couldn’t stand being considered as sort of a wonder of the world or something like that,” he later recalled. “I just wanted to be myself.”

The closest Hirschman ever came to explaining his motives was in his most famous work, “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty,” and even then it was only by implication.

Hirschman was interested in contrasting the two strategies that people have for dealing with badly performing organizations and institutions. “Exit” is voting with your feet, expressing your displeasure by taking your business elsewhere. “Voice” is staying put and speaking up, choosing to fight for reform from within. There is no denying where his heart lay.

Early in the book, Hirschman quoted the conservative economist Milton Friedman, who argued that school vouchers should replace the current public-school system. “Parents could express their views about schools directly, by withdrawing their children from one school and sending them to another, to a much greater extent than is now possible,” Friedman wrote. “In general they can now take this step only by changing their place of residence. For the rest, they can express their views only through cumbrous political channels.”

This was, Hirschman wrote, a “near perfect example of the economist’s bias in favor of exit and against voice”:

In the first place, Friedman considers withdrawal or exit as the “direct” way of expressing one’s unfavorable views of an organization. A person less well trained in economics might naively suggest that the direct way of expressing views is to express them!

Secondly, the decision to voice one’s views and efforts to make them prevail are contemptuously referred to by Friedman as a resort to “cumbrous political channels.” But what else is the political, and indeed the democratic, process than the digging, the use, and hopefully the slow improvement of these very channels?

Hirschman pointed out the ways in which “exit” failed to send a useful message to underperformers. Weren’t there cases where monopolists were relieved when their critics left?

“Those who hold power in the lazy monopoly may actually have an interest in creating some limited opportunities for exit on the part of those whose voice might be uncomfortable,” he wrote. The worst thing that ever happened to incompetent public-school districts was the growth of private schools: they siphoned off the kind of parents who would otherwise have agitated more strongly for reform.

Exit is passive. It is silent protest. And silent protest, for him, is too easy. “Proving Hamlet wrong” was about the importance of acting in the face of doubt—but also of acting in the face of fear.

Voice was courage. He went to fight Fascism in Spain. It ended in failure. When the Nazis came hunting for the Jews, he tried again. “Expanding the operation meant, increasingly, that Beamish’s work was in the streets, bars, and brothels of Marseilles, expanding the tentacles of the operation,” Adelman writes. “If the operation had a fixer, it was Beamish. It was a role he relished.”

Beamish screened the refugees, weeding out potential informers. He cajoled first the Czech, then the Polish, and, finally, the Lithuanian consuls into providing fake passports. He made deals with Marseilles mobsters and a shadowy Russian émigré to get money into France. He held secret meetings in brothels. Several times, he was nearly caught, but he charmed his way out of trouble.

When the authorities finally caught onto Hirschman, he escaped across the Pyrenees to Spain on foot, equipped with false Lithuanian papers.

On the ship to America, he played Ping-Pong and chess, and romanced a young Czech woman. As Adelman’s magnificent biography makes plain, it was hard not to fall for Albert Hirschman.

A colleague from his Marseilles days remembered him, years later, as “a handsome fellow with rather soulful eyes . . . taking everything in, his head cocked slightly to one side. One of those German intellectuals, I thought, always trying to figure everything out.” ♦

 published in The New Yorker this June 24, 2013

Note 2: Hirschman was born in Berlin in 1915, into a prosperous family of Jewish origin. His father was a surgeon, and the family lived in the embassy district, near the Tiergarten. Hirschman was slender and handsome, in the mold of Albert Camus. He dressed elegantly, danced skillfully, spoke half a dozen languages, and had a special affection for palindromes.

He was absent-minded and distracted. While lecturing, Adelman writes, “He rambled. He mumbled. Mid-sentence, he would pause, his right hand supporting his chin, his eyes drifting upward to fasten on a spot on the ceiling.” He would call his wife upon taking his car somewhere because—as he once said—“I do not know how to put it among two other cars on the sidewalk.”

“When you spoke to him,” a friend said, “it was sometimes five or ten seconds before he would show any sign of having heard you.” He was also deeply charming when he put his mind to it.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2020
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