Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘education methods/programs’ Category

How am I doing in Music? Introspection on my Initiation to music

Posted on January 27, 2009

I was living in Lebanon since 1981, after a stint of 4 years in the US for higher education and a year in Africa. And I had a job that I could Not stand and had no idea what were my functions. Sort of “Are you feeling redundant?” kind of impression.

It was during that period that I tried to learn musical instruments that I was never initiated to in my upbringing. Thus, I purchased an accordion and a classical guitar, but gave up quickly.

I enrolled for music lessons on Saturday mornings at the University of Kaslik, but had no musical ears or talent in that art. And I bitterly learned that it was too late for me to acquire any musical skills.

I recall vividly that the class of “solfege” got very excited as my turns approached for reciting musical codes.  The laughter started before I started and it grew to a deafening crescendo.  The next room music teachers used to immediately come in and join the merry.

I didn’t believe the students were serious: I was damned sure that my voice was correct since my ears were telling a different story. I was 100% sure that my “silent” recitations were perfect.

At long last I had to fake that my voice was not suitable and started preempting laughter. Well I simply agree, there is no coordination between my brains specialized in music and my ears.

Voice performances in my head were valid when Not vocalized. 

Actually, I envy the kids who vocalize songs without understanding a word of the lyrics. Sang lyrics do Not match my comprehension of the written lyrics. Though I do Not mind dancing to the rhythms.

My musical instruments didn’t go to waste; they are used by my young nieces, occasionally. They have more potentials than I. Two of them nieces advanced in their instruments beautifully.

I enrolled in aerobics because it was the fashion; I was trying to catch up with any activity that I was denied as a kid, and trying to discover any innate skills that I could develop as a hobby.

I was to discover no genuine artistic or physical skills and blamed it on age.

I had many trips to the sky resort of Faraya; I had a second-hand Peugeot 404.

I purchased all the snow skiing equipments and outfits.  Most of these trips I took alone during weekdays when I lost my job.

The weekend trips I drove with Rose, a neighbor. I was doing my best, as taught in my initial training, but Rose intimidated me with her performance

I enjoyed swimming in the sea and covered heated swimming pools.  My best months for beaches were from mid-September to mid-November: the kids are in schools, the sand and sea water are cleaner, and I am practically “master of the location”.

How deep listening to music is an Art form? Even if you can’t understand the lyrics, as usual?

Listening to an album from start to finish? As if all the songs must be connected to deliver a story?

Many times, I just share articles to readers who might have different interests and tastes.

By RANDALL ROBERTS STAFF WRITER of Los Angeles Times. MARCH 17, 2020

What’s your favorite album? When was the last time you actually listened to it from start to finish? With intention, like you were watching a movie or reading a novel?

Clear your schedule for the next 3 hours. (Is that a new Yoga technique?)

Choose three full albums, whether from your collection or your streaming service of choice.

Put them in an ordered queue as though you were programming a triple feature (series?)

Because:

1) Musicians spend years making their albums. They struggle over syllables, melodies, bridges and rhythms with the same intensity with which you compare notes on the “Forensic Files” reboot, loot corpses in “Fortnite” or pound Cabernet during pandemics.

(L-R)- Photographs of Paul Simon, Nina Simone, Kacey Musgraves, and Sly Stone in a quadriptych to illustrate "38 life-affirming albums to get you though self-quarantine." Credit (L-R): Jim Dyson/Getty Images; Getty Images; Michael Nagle/For The Times; Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

MUSIC35 life-affirming albums to help get you through self-quarantine, according to music experts

But most of us are “half-assed” (Meaning disinterested?) when it comes to listening to albums. We put on artists’ work while we’re scrolling through Twitter, disinfecting door knobs, obsessively washing our hands or romancing lovers permitted within our COVID-free zones.

We rip our favorite tracks from their natural long-player habitat, drop them into playlists and forget the other songs, despite their being sequenced to be heard in order.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

There was a time when listeners treated the mere existence of recorded sound as a miracle. A wonder, a kind of time travel. Priests warned of early wax cylinders being tools of the devil. Vintage images from the space age show couples seated around their high-fidelity systems as if being warmed by a fireplace.

The late experimental composer and teacher Pauline Oliveros coined the phrase “deep listening” for just this practice. Defining it as a kind of “Radical attentiveness: I differentiate to hear and to listen. To hear is the physical means that enables perception. To listen is to give attention to what is perceived both acoustically and psychologically.”

A Stravinsky ballet caused a riot. The least you can do is commit to deeply listening to three full albums.

Visitors listen to music at the Los Angeles Public Library in this undated photo.

(Yalla) go dig a ditch in your backyard, put your phone in a Ziplock bag and bury it. Get comfortable on the couch, centered in the sweet spot between the speakers. No stereo system? Put on your headphones (pro-tip: Audio-Technica has become the recording studio standard) or earbuds, or lock yourself in a closet with your best bluetooth speaker. Whatever works.

Stoners will probably tell you to consume an edible an hour prior. Scotch is wonderful. (LSD is illegal.) None of it is necessary. Mindfulness is essential. Light a candle or not. Doesn’t matter, but dimmed light will change the environment for the better. (I would suggest total darkness: cosy in a tomb)

Don’t turn the volume up to 11. Set it at 8.5 and then make a pact with the voices in your head to shut the front door.

The point is to listen with your ears in the same way you read with your eyes, to absorb the flavor as you would velveteen swig of Cabernet washing over your taste buds.https://www.youtube.com/embed/3zUDcdH3OI4?feature=oembed

In 2006, the Staten Island rapper Ghostface Killah, best known as a founding member of Wu-Tang Clan, issued his fifth studio album. It’s about wine’s evil cousin, cocaine. Called “Fishscale,” the album is an hourlong, Tarantino-style action-adventure film, and one of three albums I programmed for a recent night with music.

A conceptually linked, drug-slinging series of vivid, F-bomb-dropping narratives set in the Wu-Tang cinematic universe, “Fishscale” stars Ghostface under his Tony Starks pseudonym.

Unlike the rapper’s previous albums, though, for this one he stepped away from Wu-Tang producer RZA in favor of productions by legends including J Dilla, MF Doom and Pete Rock. The move broadens the landscape.

Gmac Cash - "Coronavirus" video

MUSICPandemic pop: At home and around the world, dark-humored new songs about coronavirus go viral

Snobs will tell you that you’ll need a belt-drive turntable connected to a tube amp driving a pair of Klipsch speakers, and that the only way to truly appreciate something like “Fishscale” is to listen to the Japanese vinyl pressing or something. That’s not the point here.

Straight talk: Compact discs from the 1990s and ‘00s sound fantastic. And in a blind test you likely wouldn’t be able to distinguish between a 320k Spotify stream and a 2006 pressing of “Fishscale.”

As a writer, Ghostface is unparalleled. His love of wordplay, his urgent delivery and frantic phrasing move across bars with the singsong freedom of five-minute John Coltrane solos.

After a cuss-heavy intro, “Fishscale” commences with “Shakey Dog,” a cinematic punch akin to a car chase opening an action movie. We’re with Starks on the way to a robbery. He’s in the backseat eating fish and dipping French fries into ketchup. He drops tartar sauce on his shoe, a portent that the advancing plot might not go as planned. By the end of the song, nearly a dozen people are dead and a bullet has grazed our hero’s ear.

Across “Fishscale,” the rapper’s verses are dense with wordplay and references: cheeba weed brownies, “Sanford and Son,” fried plantains and rice, centipede stab wounds, Pyrex scholars and extract oil cut from Cuban plants.

He raps of professors at war and terry-cloth Guess shorts; of a lover, whose “voice was a slow jam, full length white mink,” who seduced him in a room scored by Barry White slow jams and with cigarette smoke that “floated when it left her throat — spelled ‘Honey’.”

As with every work of art, “Fishscale” is a portal, in its case into a space dense with action, urgency and invective. Yes, you are still sitting on the couch, but you’re also wandering in isolation through the fabric of someone else’s musical universe.

If “Fishscale” is a thriller, Aimee Mann’s 2017 album, “Mental Illness,” is an expert series of vignettes whose characters are dealing with isolation and social distancing, even if it’s not due to COVID-19. “Mental Illness” is about as far removed from “Fishscale” as “Twin Peaks” is from the “Fast & Furious” franchise.https://www.youtube.com/embed/fhThS-PJOFE?feature=oembed

The Los Angeles-based Mann is one of the city’s most eloquent songwriters, and for this insular record producer Paul Bryan and she convey a sense of gentle effortlessness. Strum-propelled waltzes augmented with subtle string arrangements (“Stuck in the Past”) ease into songs about abyss-leaning narrators. “Three thousand miles to sit in a room with a vanishing groom,” she sings on “You Never Loved Me,” a song about someone who gets ghosted after traveling to meet a fiancé.

And then there’s “Patient Zero.” A song written long before sheltering in place became standard, its opening verse reads like a portent: “They served you champagne like a hero / When you landed someone carried your bag / From here on out you’re patient zero / Smelling ether as they hand you the rag.”

Turn the volume up to 9 as Bryan’s arrangement builds. Measure by measure, he and Mann add texture: a gentle tambourine, plucked-string accents, a precisely placed kick-drum. Organized noise, made by experts in their field and recorded when the virus lay dormant in some god-forsaken bat’s innards, but resonating anew.

“Life is good / You look around and think / I’m in the right neighborhood,” Mann sings as she seizes the narrative. “But honey you just moved in,” she adds, as if predicting catastrophe. “Life is grand — and wouldn’t you like to have it go as planned?”

If it had gone as planned, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. But we are stuck inside. We don’t know for how long. There are no sports. You have been scrolling through the Netflix page for an hour now.

Give up. Let go. Things may be falling apart, but there’s still music.

On their epic 2011 double CD, “RE: ECM,” the experimental electronic producers Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer were given the keys to the vault of the lauded jazz and contemporary classical label ECM Records.https://www.youtube.com/embed/_mKa98J3HlY?feature=oembed

Onetime home to artists including Arvo Pärt, Keith Jarrett, Meredith Monk, Jan Garbarek and dozens more, ECM possesses a catalog of master recordings that contains millions of musical tones: rhythms, wails, bass hums, snare snaps, cymbal sizzles and synthetic boops and warbles.

Villalobos and Loderbauer built an abstract masterpiece from these measures. A haunting, minimal tapestry of acoustically created tones and voices that the pair then electronically recontextualized, each of the work’s 17 pieces draws from specific ECM works.

Rensenada,” for example, uses as source material jazz multi-instrumentalist and Miles Davis collaborator Bennie Maupin’s classic 1974 album “The Jewel in the Lotus.” Among the players on the recording: Herbie Hancock on electric piano, bassist Buster Williams and a trio of percussionists including Billy Hart.

“Rekondakion’s” source material is a sacred chorale by Estonian composer Pärt. Inhabiting it at full volume can be an overwhelming experience. Pärt composed the piece for the 750th anniversary of the Cologne Cathedral, but to hear it reworked by Villalobos and Loderbauer — to absorb it minus distraction, moment by measureless moment — is to be transported to a place immune to anything nature can throw at us.

What? Teach all religions in schools to generate Informed citizenship? Or to prove their discrimination among social classes?

Posted on February 23, 2016 and written in 2006

Dan Dennett argues that human consciousness and “free will” are the result of physical processes.

His latest book is “Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking,” Full bio

Philosopher Dan Dennett calls for religions — all religion — to be taught in schools, so we can understand its nature as a natural phenomenon. Then he takes on The Purpose-Driven Life, disputing its claim that, to be moral, one must deny evolution

You must be wondering, “What on earth? Have they put up the wrong slide?” No, no. Look at this magnificent beast, and ask the question: Who designed it?

Dan Dennett. Let’s teach religion — all religion — in schools . Posted July 2006

This is TED; this is Technology, Entertainment, Design, and there’s a dairy cow. It’s a quite wonderfully designed animal.

Religions have become domesticated, and human beings have been redesigning their religions for thousands of years. (Not sure how religious sects have been domesticated: they are the ultimate rebels for any change in society, and they act extremely well to preserve their privileges)

And I was thinking, how do I introduce this? And I thought maybe that old doggerel by Joyce Kilmer, you know: “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” And you might say, “Well, God designed the cow.”

But, of course, God got a lot of help. This is the ancestor of cattle. This is the aurochs. And it was designed by natural selection, the process of natural selection, over many millions of years.

And then it became domesticated, thousands of years ago. And human beings became its stewards, and, without even knowing what they were doing, they gradually redesigned it and redesigned it and redesigned it.

And then more recently, they really began to do reverse engineering on this beast and figure out just what the parts were, how they worked and how they might be optimized — how they might be made better.

Now, why am I talking about cows?

Because I want to say that much the same thing is true of religions.

Religions are natural phenomena — they’re just as natural as cows. They have evolved over millennia. They have a biological base, just like the aurochs.

Religions have become domesticated, and human beings have been redesigning their religions for thousands of years. 

This is TED, and I want to talk about design.

Because what I’ve been doing for the last four years, some of you saw me at TED when I was talking about religion — and in the last four years, I’ve been working just about non-stop on this topic. And you might say it’s about the reverse engineering of religions.

Now that very idea, I think, strikes terror in many people, or anger, or anxiety of one sort or another. And that is the spell that I want to break.  (Extremists in any religious sect have redesigned their religions backward, away from social coexistence)

I want to say, no, religions are an important natural phenomenon. We should study them with the same intensity that we study all the other important natural phenomena, like global warming, as we heard so eloquently last night from Al Gore.

Today’s religions are brilliantly designed: They are immensely powerful social institutions and many of their features can be traced back to earlier features that we can really make sense of by reverse engineering.

And, as with the cow, there’s a mixture of evolutionary design — designed by natural selection itself — and intelligent design — more or less intelligent design — and redesigned by human beings who are trying to redesign their religions.

You don’t do book talks at TED, but I’m going to have just one slide about my book, because there is one message in it which I think this group really needs to hear. And I would be very interested to get your responses to this.

It’s the one policy proposal that I make in the book, at this time, when I claim not to know enough about religion to know what other policy proposals to make. And it’s one that echoes remarks that you’ve heard already today.

Here’s my proposalEducate people on world religions for all of our children — in primary school, in high school, in public schools, in private schools and in home schooling.

So what I’m proposing is, just as we require reading, writing, arithmetic, American history, so we should have a curriculum on facts about all the religions of the world — about their history, about their creeds, about their texts, their music, their symbolisms, their prohibitions, their requirements. (The context, historical and political facts)

And this should be presented factually, straightforwardly, with no particular spin, to all of the children in the country. And as long as you teach them that, you can teach them anything else you like. (Keep the children away from these “religious facts” and various spins: let them master some writing and calculus skills)

That is maximal tolerance for religious freedom.

As long as you inform your children about other religions, then you may — and as early as you like and whatever you like — teach them whatever creed you want them to learn. But also let them know about other religions. (So that religion does Not become a political tool to established institutions? Religion is the ultimate in political upbringing)

Why do I say that? Because democracy depends on an informed citizenship.

Informed consent is the very bedrock of our understanding of democracy. Misinformed consent is not worth it. It’s like a coin flip; it doesn’t count, really.

Democracy depends on informed consent. This is the way we treat people as responsible adults. Now, children below the age of consent are a special case (Really?)

Parents are stewards of their children. They don’t own them. You can’t own your children. You have a responsibility to the world, to the state, to them, to take care of them right. 

You may teach them whatever creed you think is most important, but I say you have a responsibility to let them be informed about all the other creeds in the world, too. (So drop “educating” religion to children until they can form their mind. Actually, studies have proven that children who were Not educated of any kind of religion developed to be broad minded and tolerant)

The reason I’ve taken this time is I’ve been fascinated to hear some of the reactions to this. One reviewer for a Roman Catholic newspaper called it “totalitarian.” It strikes me as practically libertarian. Is it totalitarian to require reading, writing and arithmetic? I don’t think so.

All I’m saying is — and facts, facts only; no values, just facts — about all the world’s religions. (Including making sense of irrational myths?)

Another reviewer called it “hilarious.” Well, I’m really bothered by the fact that anybody would think that was hilarious. It seems to me to be such a plausible, natural extension of the democratic principles we already have that I’m shocked to think anybody would find that just ridiculous.

I know many religions are so anxious about preserving the purity of their faith among their children that they are intent on keeping their children ignorant of other faiths. I don’t think that’s defensible. But I’d really be pleased to get your answers on that — any reactions to that — later.

Back to the cow. This picture, which I pulled off the web — the fellow on the left is really an important part of this picture. That’s the steward. Cows couldn’t live without human stewards — they’re domesticated. They’re a sort of ectosymbiont. They depend on us for their survival. (So does people)

And Pastor Rick was just talking about sheep. I’m going to talk about sheep, too. There’s a lot of serendipitous convergence here. How clever it was of sheep to acquire shepherds!  

Think of what this got them. They could outsource all their problems: protection from predators, food-finding …  health maintenance.

The only cost in most flocks — not even this — a loss of free mating. What a deal! (A big deal for the chimpanzees and the bonobo kinds)

“How clever of sheep!” you might say. Except, of course, it wasn’t the sheep’s cleverness. 

We all know sheep are not exactly rocket scientists — they’re not very smart. It wasn’t the cleverness of the sheep at all. They were clueless. But it was a very clever move. Whose clever move was it? It was the clever move of natural selection itself. (What? the cows realized that they are better off to be controlled by humans?)

Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA with Jim Watson, once joked about what he called Orgel’s Second Rule.

Leslie Orgel is a molecular biologist, brilliant guy, and Orgel’s Second Rule is: 

Evolution is cleverer than you are

That is not Intelligent Design — not from Francis Crick.  Evolution is cleverer than you are. If you understand Orgel’s Second Rule, then you understand why the Intelligent Design movement is basically a hoax.

The designs discovered by the process of natural selection are brilliant, unbelievably brilliant. (A big qualification from someone whose understanding of evolution is related to religion)

Again and again biologists are fascinated with the brilliance of what’s discovered. But the process itself is without purpose, without foresight, without design.

When I was here four years ago, I told the story about an ant climbing a blade of grass. And why the ant was doing it was because its brain had been infected with a lancet fluke that was needed to get into the belly of a sheep or a cow in order to reproduce. So it was sort of a spooky story.

And I think some people may have misunderstood. Lancet flukes aren’t smart. I submit that the intelligence of a lancet fluke is down there, somewhere between petunia and carrot. They’re not really bright. They don’t have to be. The lesson we learn from this is: you don’t have to have a mind to be a beneficiary.

The design is there in nature, but it’s not in anybody’s head. It doesn’t have to be. That’s the way evolution works. Question: Was domestication good for sheep? It was great for their genetic fitness. (Looking slender when sheared?)

And here I want to remind you of a wonderful point that Paul MacCready made at TED three years ago. Here’s what he said: “Ten thousand years ago, at the dawn of agriculture, human population, plus livestock and pets, was approximately a tenth of one percent of the terrestrial vertebrate landmass.”

That was just 10,000 years ago. Yesterday, in biological terms. What is it today? Does anybody remember what he told us? 98 percent. That is what we have done on this planet.

I talked to Paul afterwards — I wanted to check to find out how he’d calculated this, and get the sources and so forth — and he also gave me a paper that he had written on this. And there was a passage in it which he did not present here and I think it is so good, I’m going to read it to you:

“Over billions of years on a unique sphere, chance has painted a thin covering of life: complex, improbable, wonderful and fragile. Suddenly, we humans — a recently arrived species no longer subject to the checks and balances inherent in nature — have grown in population, technology and intelligence to a position of terrible power. We now wield the paintbrush.”

We heard about the atmosphere as a thin layer of varnish. Life itself is just a thin coat of paint on this planet. And we’re the ones that hold the paintbrush. And how can we do that?

The key to our domination of the planet is culture (the culture of greed and exploitation?)

And the key to culture is religion. Suppose Martian scientists came to Earth. They would be puzzled by many things. Anybody know what this is? I’ll tell you what it is. This is a million people gathering on the banks of the Ganges in 2001, perhaps the largest single gathering of human beings ever, as seen from satellite photograph. Here’s a big crowd. Here’s another crowd in Mecca. Martians would be amazed by this. (Maybe their amazement is why this crowd is Not bigger? With all that ignorance that religions spread in population)

They’d want to know how it originated, what it was for and how it perpetuates itself.

Actually, I’m going to pass over this. The ant isn’t alone. There’s all sorts of wonderful cases of species which — in that case — A parasite gets into a mouse and needs to get into the belly of a cat. 

And it turns the mouse into Mighty Mouse, makes it fearless, so it runs out in the open, where it’ll be eaten by a cat. True story.

In other words, we have these hijackers — you’ve seen this slide before, from four years ago — a parasite that infects the brain and induces even suicidal behavior, on behalf of a cause other than one’s own genetic fitness.

Does that ever happen to us? Yes, it does — quite wonderfully.

The Arabic word “Islam” means “submission.” It means “surrender of self-interest to the will of Allah.” But I’m not just talking about Islam. I’m talking also about Christianity. 

This is a parchment music page that I found in a Paris bookstall 50 years ago. And on it, it says, in Latin: “Semen est verbum Dei. Sator autem Christus.” The word of God is the seed and the sower of the seed is Christ. Same idea. Well, not quite. But in fact, Christians, too … glory in the fact that they have surrendered to God.

I’ll give you a few quotes. “The heart of worship is surrender. Surrendered people obey God’s words, even if it doesn’t make sense.” Those words are by Rick Warren. Those are from “The Purpose Driven Life.” (And who really heard a God pronounce a word to note it down?

And I want to turn now, briefly, to talk about that book, which I’ve read. You’ve all got a copy, and you’ve just heard the man. And what I want to do now is say a bit about this book from the design standpoint, because I think it’s actually a brilliant book.

First of all, the goal is to bring purpose to the lives of millions, and he has succeeded. Is it a good goal? In itself, I’m sure we all agree, it is a wonderful goal. He’s absolutely right. (Purpose of surrendering to nonsense?)

There are lots of people out there who don’t have purpose in their life, and bringing purpose to their life is a wonderful goal. I give him an A+ on this.

Is the goal achieved? Yes. Thirty million copies of this book. (If these books were Not distributed for free, you think people would be roaming without any purpose? And how many actually read a chapter of this book?) Al Gore, eat your heart out.  

This is a fantastic achievement. And the means — how does he do it?

It’s a brilliant redesign of traditional religious themes — updating them, quietly dropping obsolete features, putting new interpretations on other features. This is the evolution of religion that’s been going on for thousands of years, and he’s just the latest brilliant practitioner of it.

I don’t have to tell you this; you just heard the man (which man, again?) 

Excellent insights into human psychology, wise advice on every page. Moreover, he invites us to look under the hood. (Turned out to be a large void?) I really appreciated that. For instance, he has an appendix where he explains his choice of translations of different Bible verses.

The book is clear, vivid, accessible, beautifully formatted. Just enough repetition. That’s really important. 

Every time you read it or say it, you make another copy in your brain. (That is crowding an already empty brain. Even these stories of killing everybody after ransacking a town?)

And now we come to my problem. Because I’m absolutely sincere in my appreciation of all that I said about this book. But I wish it were better. I have some problems with the book.  (Good. At least there is a few problems. Brilliant requires a few problems too)

And it would just be insincere of me not to address those problems. I wish he could do this with a revision, a Mark 2 version of his book. “The truth will set you free.” That’s what it says in the Bible, and it’s something that I want to live by, too.

My problem is, some of the bits in it I don’t think are true.

Now some of this is a difference of opinion. And that’s not my main complaint, that’s worth mentioning. 

Here’s a passage  “If there was no God we would all be accidents, the result of astronomical random chance in the Universe. You could stop reading this book because life would have no purpose or meaning or significance. There would be no right or wrong and no hope beyond your brief years on Earth.”

I just do not believe that. By the way, I find — Homer Groening film presented a beautiful alternative to that very claim. 

Yes, there is meaning and a reason for right or wrong. We don’t need a belief in God to be good or to have meaning in us. But that, as I said, is just a difference of opinion. That’s not what I’m really worried about. (Excellent. Agreed with you. Close that damned book and learn to do science and experiment)

How about this: “God designed this planet’s environment just so we could live in it.” (Thus, if humans are destroying this environment, we should start listening to Al Gore instead)

I’m afraid that a lot of people take that sentiment to mean that we don’t have to do the sorts of things that Al Gore is trying so hard to get us to do. I am not happy with that sentiment at all.

And then I find this:

“All the evidence available in the biological sciences supports the core proposition that the cosmos is a specially designed whole with life and mankind as its fundamental goal and purpose, a whole in which all facets of reality have their meaning and explanation in this central fact.” 

Well, that’s Michael Denton. He’s a creationist. And here, I think, “Wait a minute.” I read this again. I read it three or four times and I think, “Is he really endorsing Intelligent Design? Is he endorsing creationism here?” And you can’t tell. So I’m sort of thinking, “Well, I don’t know, I don’t know if I want to get upset with this yet.” (You can repeat “I don’t know” ad nauseum and it will not make a dent)

But then I read on, and I read this: “First, Noah had never seen rain, because prior to the Flood, God irrigated the earth from the ground up.” I wish that sentence weren’t in there, because I think it is false. (Now starting to get funny)

And I think that thinking this way about the history of the planet, after we’ve just been hearing about the history of the planet over millions of years, discourages people from scientific understanding. Now, Rick Warren uses scientific terms and scientific factoids and information in a very interesting way. (How about you repeat: “I don’t know”?)

Here’s one: “God deliberately shaped and formed you to serve him in a way that makes your ministry unique. He carefully mixed the DNA cocktail that created you.” I think that’s false. Now, maybe we want to treat it as metaphorical.

Here’s another one: “For instance, your brain can store 100 trillion facts. Your mind can handle 15,000 decisions a second.” Well, it would be interesting to find the interpretation where I would accept that. There might be some way of treating that as true. 

“Anthropologists have noted that worship is a universal urge, hardwired by God into the very fiber of our being — an inbuilt need to connect with God.” Well, the sense of which I agree with him, except I think it has an evolutionary explanation.

And what I find deeply troubling in this book is that he seems to be arguing that if you want to be moral, if you want to have meaning in your life, you have to be an Intelligent Designer, you have to deny the theory of evolution by natural selection. And I think, on the contrary, that it is very important to solving the world’s problems that we take evolutionary biology seriously.

Whose truth are we going to listen to? Well, this is from “The Purpose Driven Life”: “The Bible must become the authoritative standard for my life: the compass I rely on for direction, the counsel I listen to for making wise decisions, and the benchmark I use for evaluating everything.” 

Well maybe, OK, but what’s going to follow from this?

And here’s one that does concern me. Remember I quoted him before with this line: “Surrendered people obey God’s word, even if it doesn’t make sense.” And that’s a problem.

“Don’t ever argue with the Devil. He’s better at arguing than you are, having had thousands of years to practice.” Now, Rick Warren didn’t invent this clever move. It’s an old move. It’s a very clever adaptation of religions. It’s a wild card for disarming any reasonable criticism.

“You don’t like my interpretation? You’ve got a reasonable objection to it? Don’t listen, don’t listen! That’s the Devil speaking.” This discourages the sort of reasoning citizenship it seems to me that we want to have.

I’ve got one more problem, then I’m through. And I’d really like to get a response if Rick is able to do it. 

“In the Great Commission, Jesus said, ‘Go to all people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I’ve told you.’” 

The Bible says Jesus is the only one who can save the world. We’ve seen many wonderful maps of the world in the last day or so. Here’s one, not as beautiful as the others; it simply shows the religions of the world. Here’s one that shows the sort of current breakdown of the different religions.

Do we really want to commit ourselves to engulfing all the other religions, when their holy books are telling them, “Don’t listen to the other side, that’s just Satan talking!”? 

It seems to me that that’s a very problematic ship to get on for the future. I found this sign as I was driving to Maine recently, in front of a church: “Good without God becomes zero.” Sort of cute.

A very clever little meme. I don’t believe it and I think this idea, popular as it is — not in this guise, but in general — is itself one of the main problems that we face.

If you are like me, you know many wonderful, committed, engaged atheists, agnostics, who are being very good without God. 

And you also know many religious people who hide behind their sanctity instead of doing good works. So, I wish we could drop this meme. I wish this meme would go extinct.

Note: This talk didn’t have to take a convoluted argument like educating kids on all religion, just to tell us the kind of insane meme religions recklessly drop on sane people.

Guess what my job is: Human Factors in Engineering?

Posted on June 25, 2009 (Written in November 13, 2005)

“Guess what my job is”

It would be interesting to have a talk with the freshly enrolled engineering students from all fields as to the objectives and meaning of designing products, projects and services.

This talk should be intended to orient engineers for a procedure that might provide their design projects the necessary substance for becoming marketable and effective in reducing the pitfalls in having to redesign for failing to consider the health and safety of what they produced and conceived.

This design behavior should start right at the freshman level while taking formal courses so that prospective engineers will naturally apply this acquired behavior in their engineering career.

In the talk, the students will have to guess what the Human Factors discipline is from the case studies, exercises and problems that will be discussed.

The engineers will try to answer a few of the questions that might be implicit, but never formally explicitly explained or learned in engineering curriculums, because the necessary courses are generally offered outside their traditional discipline field.

A sample of the questions might be as follows:

1. What is the primary job of an engineer?

2. What does design means?  How do you perceive designing to look like?

3. To whom are you designing?  What category of people?

4. Who are your target users? Engineer, consumers, support personnel, operators?

5. What are your primary criteria in designing?  Error free application product?

6. Who commit errors?  Can a machine do errors?

7. How can we categorize errors?  Any exposure to an error taxonomy?

8. Can you foresee errors, near accidents, accidents?  Take a range oven for example, expose the foreseeable errors and accidents in the design and specifically the display and control idiosyncrasy.

9. Who is at fault when an error is committed or an accident occurs?

10. Can we practically account for errors without specific task taxonomy?

11. Do you view yourself as responsible for designing interfaces to your design projects depending on the target users?

12. Would you relinquish your responsibilities for being in the team assigned to design an interface for your design project?

13. What kinds of interfaces are needed for your design to be used efficiently?

14. How engineers solve problems?  Searching for the applicable formulas? Can you figure out the magnitude of the answer?  Have you memorized the allowable range for your answers from the given data and restriction imposed in the problem after solving so many exercises?

15. What are the factors or independent variables that may affect your design project?

16. How can we account for the interactions among the factors?

17. Have you memorize the dimensions of your design problem?

18. Have you been exposed to reading research papers? Can you understand, analyze and interpret the research paper data? Can you have an opinion as to the validity of an experiment?

19. Would you accept the results of any peer-reviewed article as facts that may be readily applied to your design projects? Can you figure out if the paper is Not biased or extending confounding results?

20. Do you expect to be in charge of designing any new product or program or procedures in your career?

21. Do you view most of your job career as a series of supporting responsibilities; like just applying already designed programs and procedures?

22. Are you ready to take elective courses in psychology, sociology, marketing, and business targeted to learn how to design experiments and know more about the capabilities, limitations and behavioral trends of target users?

23. Are you planning to go for graduate studies?  Do you know what elective courses might suit you better in your career?

Let’s experiment

Posted on November 26, 2010

Whether we admit it or not, every person has constructed a mental model of how he views the universe and life.  

For example, was the universe created, is it infinite, is it timeless… 

And what is life, the purpose of life, what happens after death, is there a soul, what happens to the soul, is the soul individual or a collective soul…?

Since antiquity, philosophers have been discussing and reasoning on the following matter:  

“Do mankind enjoys an innate general spirit (regardless of ethnicity, culture, gender…) that expresses how he views the construct of the universe, or it is an individual learning process relevant to the manner the various sensory organs observe nature and people and organize the information”?

The hypothesis is

Do people with sensory handicaps (blind, deaf…) extend the same kind of subjective understanding of the universe and life as “normal” people do, across all ethnic cultures with oral and written myths and traditions?

First, we need baseline stories on “What do I know about the universe and life?” from “normal” people with “normally” functioning sensory organs (vision, audition…). 

The baseline stories should be captured from varieties of ethnic cultural entities in the five continents, privileging the oral cultures with No recognized written documents, and minority cultures with written cultures but Not read or disseminated universally. 

The baseline stories must discriminate between genders (between group factors) and the ethnic stories within each gender groups.

The baseline stories must discriminate among the stage of maturity of the storyteller (young, adult, middle age, and older people). 

The baseline stories must discriminate among the literacy levels of the subjects (such as they read and write in one language, read only, and only orally literate subjects).  Thus, the team of experimenters must be trained to adequately record answers and stories in uniform fashion.

The next phase of the experiment is gathering stories of sensory handicapped people in the above ethnic and gender groups (blind, deaf…)

We may extend this experiment by artificially handicapping a normal subject by preventing him to see or to hear while resuming his “normal” live for a period.  Do you think that his mental model of the universe might be altered significantly?

Another extension may be involving normal sensory subjects but with different mental capabilities and limitations (over developed or under developed brain powers).  

This experiment would answer the question: “Are reading and listening to stories generate different types of observational data due to further brain processing mechanisms?”

The most essential preparation for the experiment is the designing of an exhaustive questionnaire with exhaustive options to educate the subjects on the varieties of viewpoints and myths. 

For that purpose, the questionnaire will be tested on many preliminary samples of ethnic cultures in order to catch and collect the varieties of relevant options, sort of exhaustive compendium on the different myths and mental models. 

I would recommend that the design requires every question to be answered. This means that those logical procedures of demanding the subject to skip several questions, as in filling tax forms, be eliminated:  We should not fall in the bias of enforcing our rational logic on oral culture ethnic groups and the illiterates.

It is advisable that follow-up oral stories accompany answering the questionnaire. Then, another follow-up written story be attached to the oral story. 

The written story would condense the individual story into a comprehensive and coherent story after the preceding two educational sessions. 

The teams of trained experimenters would have to fill the initial questionnaire with the new information generated by the oral and written stories; missing information can be filled by default, using the original questionnaire for each subject. 

Thus, data analysis can be conducted on the two questionnaires: the before learning process and the after learning process of the mental models.

I find it interesting that, after the written story, the subject would give his opinion on the current theories of astrophysicists on the universe in order to check the cohesion and compatibility of the subjects in their perception of the universe. 

For example: what they think of the theory that this universe is the product of a collision between two universes; that a universe revolves around each black hole; that what we see is a simulated universe of a matrix universe; that the sky is a wall on which the image of the stars and galaxies are projected onto it (a universe as hologram); that the universe keeps changing every time we observe it… 

Do you think that you might change your view if a theory (coming from an astrophysicist) impresses you?

The spontaneous suggestion is “why not ask a subject to tell his story before answering a questionnaire? At least we can have an original version, unbiased by constructed questionnaires.”  

This suggestion is pertinent if it is feasible to nudge a subject to start telling a story without a prompt sheet containing the necessary lines of thoughts to guide the subject in the endeavor: The prompt sheet must be devoid of any biased suggestions.  

In any case, I believe that devising such a prompt sheet is necessary, even if not applied in the experiment, in order to get the questionnaire developed and cleaned of idiosyncratic allusions and local imageries.

The experiment is complex and will need to be subdivided in meaningful stages of shorter experiments.

It is time intensive and for a long duration.

It requires training of large teams of researchers and experimenters.  Preliminary experiments would show the best ways of experimenting piece meal this vast project.

Note 1:  I tend to include materials we read and stories we heard as sensory inputs since they are processed by the brain, at various levels, as sensory observations.

Note 2: Many scholars present the view that what we actually sense are in fact “processed observations”, and not the raw sensed data, since all sensing observations are data processed by the brain at different levels of manipulations.

Good enough: We are dealing with what mankind is observing: That is what is available to forming a coherent structure of the universe and the environment we live into. 

The follow-up lesson is:  Other reasoning species must be viewing the universe differently since their senses have different capacities and limitations, and their brain structures are different from mankind.

Note 3:  The essential question that the previous experiment might offer an answer to is:  “If an individual is handicapped in one or more sensory organs then, by reading or listening to stories, can his brain re-establish what normal people comprehend of the universe?”

Note 4: I conjecture that all the facts, observations, experiments., philosophy… will Not tell us anything “sustainable” of what is life and the universe. What this experiment could boils down to is to “know”:

How the majority, in any ethnic group, likes to conceive the nature of Life and the Universe?

This is fundamental to to evaluate the evolution of human “Emotional Intelligence

Are there any Geniuses of Language and Literature? Part 2

Posted on April 16, 2013

In a previous post I asked this question:

Is it possible to meaningfully categorize and classify masterpieces in literature?

It is possible to collect data on the many ways people retrieve, read, or extract sections of masterpieces, and run a statistical package to “cluster” groups of masterpieces under fictitious categories.

Like  considering geographic origin, time period, and field of each “genius,” correlated with visits to the respective Wikipedia page and connection to related historical figures

The question will remain: “How meaningful this process is, and does it make any sense for the avid readers?”

It is our nature to classify, even organize human species. We are all basically pseudo-scientists: Scientists main hobby and work is to classify everything.

Classifying masterpieces in literature is a futile exercise, though “academics” cannot help it: It is their livelihood, particularity teachers of literature.

In the next post, I’ll demonstrate the futility of classifying masterpieces in literature.

For the time being, here is an alternative for classifying literature in values., though Not including modern literature that actually represent world transformation and changes in human rights perspective.

For the time being, here is a striking example of an alternative way to a taxonomy in literature:

Maria Popova published “History’s 100 Geniuses of Language and Literature, Visualized

“Genius, in its writings, is our best path for reaching wisdom … the true use of literature for life.”

“Genius is nothing more nor less than doing well what anyone can do badly,” Victorian novelist Amelia E. Barr reflected in her 9 rules for success.

What is genius?

In their latest project, Italian visualization wizard Giorgia Lupi and her team at Accurat — who have previously given us a timeline of the future based on famous fiction, a visual history of the Nobel Prize, and a visualization of global brain drain inspired by Mondrian — explore the anatomy of genius, based on Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds (public library) by literary Harold Bloom.

Bloom use of the Sefirot image — the 10 emanations of the Kabbalah or (quality/appreciation) — to organize the taxonomy of the 100 geniuses of language.

Bloom identifies, from Shakespeare to Stendhal to Lewis Carroll to Ralph Ellison, the visualization that depicts the geographic origin, time period, and field of each “genius,” correlated with visits to the respective Wikipedia page and connection to related historical figures.

Bloom writes:

All genius, in my judgment, is idiosyncratic and grandly arbitrary, and ultimately stands alone … My placement of the hundred geniuses is hardly one that fixes them in place, since all the Sefirot are images constantly in motion, and any creative spirit must move through all of them, in many labyrinths and transformations. …

Since the 10 Sefirot form a system in constant motion, all of my hundred persons could be illuminated almost equally well by the other nine Sefirot, beyond the one where I group them, and I intend this book to be a kind of mosaic-in-perpetual-movement.

Appearing here is an exclusive English-language version of a forthcoming spread in Italian literary supplement La Lettura.

{Click image to enlarge)

At the heart of Bloom’s ambitious taxonomy is a concern with the very nature of genius:

What is the relationship of fresh genius to a founding authority?

At this time, starting the twenty-first century, I would say:

‘Why, none, none at all.’ Our confusions about canonical standards for genius are now institutionalized confusions, so that all judgments as to the distinction between talent and genius are at the mercy of the media, and obey cultural politics and its vagaries.

Echoing Virginia Woolf’s counsel on the art of reading, Bloom argues for cultivating an individual sensibility of genius-appreciation:

Literary genius, difficult to define, depends upon deep reading for its verification. The reader learns to identify with what she or he feels is a greatness that can be joined to the self, without violating the self’s integrity….

Genius, in its writings, is our best path for reaching wisdom, which I believe to be the true use of literature for life.

Note: Part 1 on https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/masterpieces-in-literature-since-when-part-1/

Private universities of all kinds outnumbering traditional and public ones?

Posted on September 23, 2010

Corporate universities have increased two folds in the last decade and number around 4,000 universities.

It is estimated that over 4 million people study in specialized universities financed and run by corporations. These “specialized” students will outnumber the well-established traditional universities very soon.

Corporate universities are no longer the exclusive domain of the first 500 corporate listed in “Fortune“, but it is becoming “urgent in the competition race in global economy” of “International school for administration development” in Lozano (Switzerland) says Mike Stanford 

Stanford goes on “It is not easy to switch from general knowledge to practical methods .” Hands-on learning is the motto for these corporate universities.

In developing States, corporate universities are supplementing the rare traditional universities in what the corporation need in specialization.  

Since over 40% of experienced engineers are going into retreat, it is urgent that new practiced engineers fill the void.  Apparently, only 25% of graduate engineers and 15% of accountants and financial analysts are ready to work for multinational corporations.

Most graduates are not initiated and trained to communicate efficiently among different cultures and working in teams.

Corporate universities are not offering diplomas yet, although they are affiliated with traditional universities.  The courses are tailor-made for specialized expertise and for short duration.

Basically, corporate courses are of applied sciences in nature, targeting strategic business expansion.

In 1961, McDonald started its own corporate university in Oak Brook (Illinois) in order to standardize cooking and preparation methods. General Electric, Siemens, and Motorola colleges are already world-wide features.

A sample of corporate universities demonstrates the reasons for heavily financing universities  with the latest technologies and facilities tailored-made to the benefits and interests of companies.

In Moscow, you have “Corporate Hydropower University” teaching managers of industries the latest technologies and specialization in turbines and power generators.

In Rio de Janeiro, “Pertobrass University”  offers engineers continuing education on ocean oil extraction in deep reserves 7,000 meters below the Atlantic Ocean. It is becoming the leading corporation for oil extraction in deep water (about 24% of all new ventures); it will need an additional 9,000 new engineers by 2015 (which traditional universities in Brazil cannot graduate).

Another example,  “Emphasis higher education center” in New Delhi has two landing spaces for helicopters, a geodesic dome, movie theaters, resembling to “Epcot center” and Disney; it is being expanded to accommodating over 15,000 students with private rooms and computers at a cost of $150 million. 

Chris Gobalakrishna, Director of “Emphasis”, says: “We are trying to bridge the schism between what traditional universities produce and what industry demand”

Many of these corporate universities are flexible in even locations. 

For example, the Russian “Oporombrom” sends teams of teachers to 20 factories manufacturing and assembling helicopters and airplanes for 3 days sessions.

Many publicly owned enterprises and private companies have vast pools of practically illiterate employees.  Thus, these corporate universities update the bright employees and steer them to becoming experts in restricted domains.

The interest of corporations and the social exigencies of governments will dictate the following trends:

First, traditional universities (led by public universities for shortages in allocated budget) will shorten the graduation schedules for undergraduate studies.  Humanities will mostly be eliminated and engineering courses reduced to the basic courses.

Second, the indoctrination of students to the capitalist system and its requirements will be shifted to secondary and high school years.

Third, “educated” people will be encouraged to join the working force earlier than currently planned in order to compensate for shortages in younger generations and the lengthening of “life expectancy” among the aging population.

Fourth, it is more profitable for corporations to lead new hired educated workers to specialized types of targeted expertise as competition demand.

Fifth, graduate studies will be restricted to the brightest and to rich families who can afford to maintaining the “nobility” hereditary status in the family.

Masterpieces In Literature? Part 1

Do you think that it make sense to categorize masterpieces? Like collecting data from viewers and readers and analyzing the data statistically?

What counts is that “You liked the book”, that it touched a nerve, a hidden passion, a desire, an uplifting sensation, that demonstrated to you that you are not all alone, and the author happened to know you and is a friend of yours…

Posted on April 10, 2013

“We judge a great man by his masterpieces: His faults are irrelevant” Voltaire.

Apparently, in the western civilization, it is the same French Voltaire who first coined the terms “Homme de letter” and “Chefs-d’oeuvre” in the 18th century.

The world knew plenty of masterpieces in literature before the advent of the western civilization. The ancient Greek specifically build a library so that the works of Homers be transcribed and made public. The Arabs used the term Tehfa for the grand works in literature.

Petrarque  wrote on April 13, 1350: “This is what I affirm: We show elegance and skill when we express in our proper terms“, meaning that a masterpiece should be written in the popular language of the country in order for the common people who can read to comprehend the manuscript.

Since then, Boccaccio and Dante followed suit and kept Latin at bay. And that’s how the Europe Renaissance took a giant step forward in achieving all kinds of masterpieces in literature, art, sculpture, painting…

A Masterpieces in literature creates its proper criterion, and it is the most audacious and unique expression of a personality.

The subject has a single utility: It is the yeast to rise the dough of its characteristic form. And the form is what defines a masterpiece and the author.

A masterpiece burst open taboo topics that normative cultures love to control. For example, same sex relationship, drag queen, taboo sickness of terminally ills…

A masterpiece in literature doesn’t serve the grand ideological trend or guideline of the period, such as the “Greatness of a nation”, “Progress”, “Technological breakthrough”, “globalization”, Capitalism, Communism, description of the Middle-Classes…

A masterpiece is meant to emancipate people from the common values, and thus, are fresh through the ages…

A masterpiece doesn’t talk about the future or the past: It is written by an author living his period and in his lifetime…

A masterpiece is not meant to describe any petty reality, or see meanness in life…

The avid reader has already read all kinds of minor literature and he is set to discover and mine the gold in the masses of dirt…

The present is shown in its eternity: the present extends the sensation of immortality.

Nothing ever originated from pure abstraction that does not exist. (Not yet?)

All origins are generated from the sensation, and the idea of immortality is born from the simple fact of existing.

What counts is not reason but the seriousness of the author, camouflaged under comical and easy going style. We all can differentiate between a genuine and a copycat manuscript.

What counts is that “You liked the book”, that it touched a nerve, a hidden passion, a desire, an uplifting sensation, that demonstrated to you that you are not all alone, and the author happened to know you and is a friend of yours…

What counts is that the words feel like they are playing in a trance, dancing, cavorting, making sense to you.

Since humor is a scares ingredient, who manages to make you laugh is an angel: Like in “Too much ado about nothing“, Decameron, Life is a dream (Calderon)…

There are sentences that don’t sound funny to you, but they generate hilarious moments to others. It takes some training to discover the funny and this flap peeking in the cloudy sky, an opening to let sunshine seep in.

It is possible and beautiful to live a masterpiece, like a love story: We become better people when we read a masterpiece.

Publilius Syrus wrote in the first century: “The beautiful thoughts may be forgotten but never vanish

There are people who are masterpieces in the way they live, at least in moments of their lives, and they are very discreet and fragile creatures.

Do you think that it make sense to categorize masterpieces? Like collecting data from viewers and readers and analyzing the data statistically?

Note: Inspired from the French book “A propos des Chefs-d’Oeuvre” by Charles Dantzig

Global Resolutions of World problems; (June 28, 2009)

Mind you that this essay was posted 11 years ago. Do you see any improvement and changes in the resolution of any of the world problems?

This essay intends to offer viable global resolutions to the global problems that I posted previously.  I developed on the 8 main global problems:

Fact one:  Climate and environment quickly deteriorating.

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

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

Fact four:  The middle classes in China and India are expanding alarmingly, surpassing the US and Europe combined.

Fact five:  The world economy is experiencing serious deflationary period. (Which is good for the poorer classes, as long as constant “growth” does Not ruin the world resources)

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

Fact seven:  Effective military spending should decrease but it didn’t.Military budgets are the only item that increase continuously, for pre-emptive wars and selling weapons in premeditated civil wars

Fact eight:  The identity crisis around the world is destabilizing order and security. (Still, the terms order and security are monopolized by governments to maintain the status quo for the elite classes)

It is appropriate to add the frequent health viruses pandemics and lack of new research into antibiotics to counter resilient and mutating bacteria

At this junction of human development, the global problems we have to face attest to the successes and accomplishments of man, his mental scientific genius, his legitimate ambitions for acquiring what he can afford to, his quest for liberty and the reward for a comfortable life after a hard day work. 

The global problems we have to resolve attest to man ethical and moral failures to catching up to his mental and emotional agility.

Man has proven his individual instinct capability for survival in a sustainable earth; man has now to prove that he developed enough collective instinct to survive an earth on the way to depletion.

The eight main problems cannot be solved separately. And Not a single problem can be solved by one supernation nation. 

The interactions among these problems mesh tightly and resolutions should be studied and analyzed as an entity, a complete package, by a world forum, meeting regularly, and then assigned to a central executive power. 

The United Nation is firmly established and has a wide database, current and on global scale. 

The first step would reasonably be to re-organize the UN with fresh competence, specialized departments, and actual executive power, but the State superpowers are not showing signs of investing time on re-structuring the UN potentials.

Veto power by a single State (one of the G5) to shut down resolutions by the other over 194 States is troubling.  More States are entitled politically and economically to be assigned permanent seats so that political decisions results from equitable economic balance in power. 

In all Parliaments there are committees for specific issues; I don’t see why State representatives in the UN are not allocated in committees so that the world community feels that it has a share in the well being of earth’s citizens.

 Globalization after the fall of the Berlin Wall exacerbated many of these problems and added a few more serious problems:

It belittled culture and replaced serious reflections with information

It pressured many States to organize into economic blocks to face up to a unipolar world power;

It generated identity issues and radicalization of religious extremism under the guise of autonomous and independent tiny States; and

It eradicated local based civilizations and traditions that had power to participate effectively in social progress and management. 

The new ideologies of civilization clash, the death of history, the only valid political system of conservative capitalism, and the dominance of the American language and way of life were meant to confirm the new unipolar political system

The world was to become a village governed by a central power and the financial crisis proved the danger of globalization “US style” or State ideology circumventing and crushing other viable ideologies.

The US Defense Minister Rumsfeld went as far as cursing Europe as “senile old Europe” because it adhered to legitimate ethical standards.

Environmental re-habilitation and climate management and control are political in essence. 

This problem is linked to increased urbanization and over-production and competition on world market in order to boost GNPs and secure higher political ranking among the G20. 

Containing CO2 emissions and stabilizing them to current levels is feasible at the expense of erecting nuclear power plants because the “clean” alternatives of elonian and hydraulic power generations are limited in production commensurate to the exorbitant cost. 

China and India must convert any new car put on the highway into much cleaner energy efficient vehicles or any solution for stabilization of CO2 production will fail.

The major worry is the emission of methane gas, worse 20 times than CO2 for the warming up process, which oceans have started to spew as the permafrost is being exposed after the melting of glaciers in the poles.

Earth regeneration is a slow process and for the Arctic to recover is not foreseeable in the medium term.  Reforestation is also feasible but younger trees are no supplement to efficient old trees that are dying and decomposing. 

Until the tropical forests resume their natural function of absorbing more CO2 than emitting, then earth environment is in serious trouble.

Birth rate control is plagued by superstition, ignorance, oligarchy systems, and extremism in many societies; these deficiencies are increasing and worsening in under-developed States. 

Birth control must be a decentralized enterprise and tailored made to customs and traditions to be successful in the long term. 

Only higher rate in education, exposure to other civilizations, active dissemination of female rights and enforcing them, and increased local facilities to generating job opportunities can stabilize birth rate to manageable level.

World finance currency has to be stabilized in order to avoid desastrous fluctuations not based on sound economic output and real trade exchange.  I suggest the following steps:

First, the developed States have to agree on another tangible standard for currencies.  Gold would not do because the US has abolished it in 1967 because all the gold in the world could not sustain the huge amount of paper dollars circulating or intended to circulate around the world. 

Gold extraction, even if practically depleted on ground of economic feasibility, can always be re-used and circulated but has not many industrial value. 

The alternative is a basket of depleting minerals that are essentials for manufacturing and production.  The processed minerals do not have to be rare but very essentials for development.  The US can agree to this idea since it has huge reserves in many important minerals.

Second, all the States that can account for at least 3% of all currency circulation should join an “International Money Printing Council” with tight control and monitoring criteria. 

The first States in ranking with combined shares of over 50% of cash money in circulation on the global market should have a veto power.

There are serious dangers that can wreak havoc to any global resolutions if politics succumb to one of Three Global Temptations.  

It is appropriate to consider the example of a team of rock climbers.  The team has the appropriate equipments that are tested scientifically and the members have the proper physical training.  There are three main risks for the team to fail in his mission of reaching the top.

The first temptation is that a member of the team going berserk and taking a dive: this member can carry down the rest of the team with him. A few people have this urgent temptation to dive, and when available, they would try dangerous acrobatics. 

Luckily, the two populous nations of China and India have taken off; they have the tools, the technology, and the means to care for their over 2 billion citizens. The main worry is that they are trying to catch up in a few decades what took centuries for the USA, Europe, and Japan to reach in stable governments, and legitimate desires for comfort.

The accelerated trends in China and India for over production are a dangerous temptation that needs to be tampered by political sharing at an equal footing.  

There are many more millions who have been humiliated for centuries and robbed of their basic dignity; they have not gone berserk because of poverty in means for survival as individual: They are dangerous because of a collective sense of insignificance and desperation toward the policies of the colonial powers of resuming this process of humiliation and denying them even diplomatic respect as recognized States. 

Not all Muslim States feel this desperation: Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Turkey have taken their destinies in their hand.  What the European Union and the USA have to focus on, right now, is to salvage the remnant of dignity among the “Arab” populations.

The second temptation facing the team of climbers is the wall, the rock face. Most team members might have the techniques of sheltering from falling rocks, slippery sections, brittle portions, and blowing winds.  Human kind has learned to take shelter until the danger passes over. 

Most of us have developed the instinct of prudence, such as not interference and keeping low levels. We are at a junction where danger is not to pass over on its own volition and no sheltering behavior can protect us for survival.

Human kind has to move as a team of bold activists and turn out heavily to put their words and opinions at work. 

If we hold to our tribal customs, our illusory identities, our comfortable lifestyles, our chimerical convictions… then all is lost. 

The team has to support the weakest member as difficulties surge and be confronted collectively.  The best means is to include the weakest members in the resolution programs so that they acquire the ropes, skills, and confidence to share in the task.

The third temptation braving the team is deciding on the target of the mission and it has to be a collective goal. There are no tops to reach in human progress but there are defining phases. 

We are at the dawn of Prehistory and a new kind of history has to be achieved and written. Tribal history has done its function but it is of no use for our current global problems.

National wars, religious wars disguised as ethical values, ideological wars, cultural wars, or war of “civilization” have been tried and they all failed to bring reprieve and salvation.

A new adventure for human kind is facing us boldly and we have to invent a new kind of history more appropriate to our survival. The new history should be focused on resuming our medical successes, eliminating pain and diseases, eradicating weapons of mass destruction, keeping us functional in old age, overcoming illiteracy, investing on continuing education, creating opportunities for various skills, desires, and achievements, preserving local languages and literature, managing human rights, and salvaging the dignity of every human being.

Frankly, The European Union is actually the main laboratory for confirming that “Tribal History” is exhaling its last breath.

That human dignity is not measured by fictitious apartheid scales based on color, religious affiliation or ethnic origins.

That humiliating man is not a point of view or can generate any temporary benefit. If God has been angry for millennia then man has an opportunity to prove that he can harness collective instinct for survival to reverse that anger and make God feels proud of his Creation.

Note: Donald Trump and his administration have opposed the UN trend into global cooperation, and explicitly showed the ugly “hegemony” of US financial system established after WW2, through blatant financial sanctions for $ money transfer, and imposing high taxes of economic trade goods that disturb its internal market, lavished lands that it does Not own…

Author of The Color Purple Not invited over Israel comments?

Posted on December 27, 2016

Alice Walker disinvited from University of Michigan over ‘Israel comments’

Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Thu, 08/15/2013

World-renowned American author Alice Walker has been disinvited from giving a speech at the University of Michigan because a donor objects to her views on Israel, the agent negotiating the contract was told.

Walker, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Color Purpleposted on her blog an excerpt of a letter from the agent informing her that the invitation to keynote the 50th anniversary celebration of the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan had been withdrawn.

The agent wrote:

I’m saddened to write this because I’m a proponent of free speech and have been brought up to allow everyone to have their say. But I also realize that there are other considerations that institutions are faced with.

This afternoon I was contacted by the University of Michigan instructing me to withdraw their invitation due to the removal of funding from the donors, because of their interpretation of Ms. Walker’s comments regarding Israel.

They are Not willing to fund this program and the university/Women’s center do not have the resources to finance this on their own.

They are deeply regretful but I wanted to let you know immediately either way. I hope you can appreciate the fact that I’m uncomfortable even having to send this email in the first place. Hopefully we can work together again down the road. Thanks for understanding. I wish things had turned out differently

110617-alice-walker.jpg

Alice Walker speaks in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

(Lazar Simeonov / TEDxRamallah)

Calling the withdrawn invitation “Censorship by Purse String,” Walker wrote:

“Such behavior, as evidenced by the donors, teaches us our weakness, which should eventually (and soon) show us our strength: women must be in control of our own finances. Not just in the family, but in the schools, work force, and everywhere else. Until we control this part of our lives, our very choices, in any and every area, can be denied us.”

Walker is listed as one of the speakers represented by the American Program Bureau agency.

Alice Walker not “optimum choice”

Gloria D. Thomasdirector of the Center for the Education of Women, acknowledged that Walker had been disinvited, but said that the matter was a “misunderstanding.”

In an email to The Electronic Intifada, Thomas wrote:

The [Walker’s] blog was a result of an unfortunate misunderstanding. As director of the Center for the Education of Women (CEW), I decided to withdraw our invitation because I didn’t think Ms. Walker would be our optimum choice for our 50th anniversary.

Our 50th anniversary funding is assured. All donations, for this and other events, are accepted with no provisos or prohibitions regarding free speech.

In fact, in a conversation with one of Ms. Walker’s friends/representatives, I indicated that I would be willing to speak with other units around campus to serve as a possible co-sponsor for a lecture by Ms. Walker in the near future.

Asked if a speaker had been chosen to replace Walker, Thomas wrote, “No contract has been signed yet. This information will be made available on our website once the contract is confirmed.”

Walker: supporter of Palestinian rights

In recent years, Walker has become increasingly outspoken in her support of Palestinian rights, sometimes likening Israel’s abuses to the Jim Crow racist system she grew up with in the southern United States.

Walker has written about her visit to Gaza, and participated in the June 2011 solidarity flotilla that attempted to reach the territory besieged by Israel, which led to her being demonized by the Israeli army.

Her position on boycott has also been deliberately distorted by Israeli media.

Walker has campaigned for other artists, most recently Alicia Keys, to respect the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

In her letter to Keys, Walker wrote:

I have written over the years that explain why a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists who cannot bear the unconscionable harm Israel inflicts every day on the people of Palestine, whose major “crime” is that they exist in their own land, land that Israel wants to control as its own.

Could Walker, one of the most celebrated figures in American letters, now be paying the price of refusing to be silent about Palestine?

An exercise: taxonomy of methods

Posted on: June 10, 2009

Article #14 in Human Factors

I am going to let you have a hand at classifying methods by providing a list of various methods that could be used in Industrial engineering, Human Factors, Ergonomics, and Industrial Psychology.

This first list of methods is organized in the sequence used to analyzing part of a system or a mission;

The second list is not necessarily randomized, though thrown in without much order; otherwise it will not be an excellent exercise.

First, let us agree that a method is a procedure or a set of step by step process that our forerunners of geniuses and scholars have tested, found it good, agreed on it on consensus basis and offered it for you to use for the benefit of progress and science.

Many of you will still try hard to find short cuts to anything, including methods, for the petty argument that the best criterion to discriminating among clever people is who waste time on methods and who are nerds.

Actually, the main reason I don’t try to teach many new methods in this course (Human Factors in Engineering) is that students might smack run into a real occupational stress, which they are Not immune of, especially that methods in human factors are complex and time consuming.

Here is this famous list of a few methods and you are to decide which ones are still in the conceptual phases and which have been “operationalized“.

The first list contains the following methods:

Operational analysis, activity analysis, critical incidents, function flow, decision/action, action/information analyses, functional allocation, task, fault tree, failure modes and effects analyses, timeline, link analyses, simulation, controlled experimentation,  operational sequence analysis, and workload assessment.

The second list is constituted of methods that human factors are trained to utilize if need be such as:

Verbal protocol, neural network, utility theory, preference judgments, psycho-physical methods, operational research, prototyping, information theory, cost/benefit methods, various statistical modeling packages, and expert systems.

Just wait, let me resume.

There are those that are intrinsic to artificial intelligence methodology such as:

Fuzzy logic, robotics, discrimination nets, pattern matching, knowledge representation, frames, schemata, semantic network, relational databases, searching methods, zero-sum games theory, logical reasoning methods, probabilistic reasoning, learning methods, natural language understanding, image formation and acquisition, connectedness, cellular logic, problem solving techniques, means-end analysis, geometric reasoning system, algebraic reasoning system.

If your education is multidisciplinary you may catalog the above methods according to specialty disciplines such as:

Artificial intelligence, robotics, econometrics, marketing, human factors, industrial engineering, other engineering majors, psychology or mathematics.

The most logical grouping is along the purpose, input, process/procedure, and output/product of the method. Otherwise, it would be impossible to define and understand any method.

Methods could be used to analyze systems, provide heuristic data about human performance, make predictions, generate subjective data, discover the cause and effects of the main factors, or evaluate the human-machine performance of products or systems.

The inputs could be qualitative or quantitative such as declarative data, categorical, or numerical and generated from structured observations, records, interviews, questionnaires, computer generated or outputs from prior methods.

The outputs could be point data, behavioral trends, graphical in nature, context specific, generic, or reduction in alternatives.

The process could be a creative graphical or pictorial model, logical hierarchy or in network alternative, operational, empirical, informal, or systematic.

You may also group these methods according to their mathematical branches such as algebraic, probabilistic, or geometric.

You may collect them as to their deterministic, statistical sampling methods and probabilistic characters.

You may differentiate the methods as belonging to categorical, ordinal, discrete or continuous measurements.

You may wish to investigate the methods as parametric, non parametric, distribution free population or normally distributed.

You may separate them on their representation forms such as verbal, graphical, pictorial, or in table.

You may discriminate them on heuristic, observational, or experimental scientific values.

You may bundle these methods on qualitative or quantitative values.

You may as well separate them on their historical values or modern techniques based on newer technologies.

You may select them as to their state of the art methods such as ancient methods that new information and new paradigms have refuted their validity or recently developed.

You may define the methods as those digitally or analytically amenable for solving problems.

You may choose to draw several lists of those methods that are economically sounds, esoteric, or just plainly fuzzy sounding.

You may opt to differentiate these methods on requiring high level of mathematical reasoning that are out of your capability and those that can be comprehended through persistent efforts.

You could as well sort them according to which ones fit nicely into the courses that you have already taken, but failed to recollect that they were indeed methods worth acquiring for your career.

You may use any of these taxonomies to answer an optional exam question with no guarantees that you might get a substantial grade.

It would be interesting to collect statistics on how often these methods are being used, by whom, for what rational and by which line of business and by which universities.

It would be interesting to translate these methods into Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Hindu, or Russian.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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