Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Nobel Prize

My diploma happened to be called “Industrial Engineering”:  Thesaurus for academic fields?

At an advanced age, I decided to engage in a PhD program, out of boredom and lack of expertise in anything, I guess.

It was 26 years ago when I thought that PhD programs provides some kind of expertise in something… I was single and still is.  My former university student colleagues were now my professors, married, and marrying their children.  The program dragged on forever, over 6 years, while a few clever undergraduate students got their PhD at the same year as I did.

The program was a Calvary:  After the first semester paying full tuition as a foreigner, I could no longer afford taking more than a couple of courses:  Quarter-time and then half-time scholarship for correcting tests and exams were leisurely coming my way, while I toiled under several part-time minimum-wage jobs.

In order not to “waste time”, I would enroll in requisite courses as auditor.  A few professors were kind enough to give the full grade without re-attending the next semester as I could afford the tuition.  The administration was quick catching up and put a brake on my “circumventing” method of actions.

I had to work 4 minimum-wage jobs within the university, as constraining laws on foreign students, to make ends meet.  This post is not about the troubles I encountered and the difficulties of my academic program: I already described at length in my category (autobiography).

It happened that the Industrial engineering department lacked professors to open up enough graduate courses to satisfying the schedule.  I was thus dispatched to several academic departments to satisfy the graduate course requirements.  It was my good luck that carried my adventure to a variety of fields such as MBA, finance, economics, marketing, accounting, psychology, sociology, and higher education…

My good luck wanted that most of these graduate courses were tailored-made to applying computer statistical packages for particular designs of experiments.  Thus, I learned varieties of math models, design of experiments, ran experiments (in hard and soft sciences), and analyzed statistical results adapted and used in many academic fields.

I learned that we don’t necessarily design cause and effects experiments, and that there is a wide array for designing experiment and collecting data.  There are not only numerical designs but also qualitative and categorical designs and data.

Every field, depending on levels of math requirement, adopted the easiest set of equations to interpret statistical results, and not necessarily what is the best in providing optimal information on interactions among the factors.

I learned that, actually, experiments designed in hard sciences were mostly antiquated and very inefficient compared to well-developed designs applied in social sciences (involving live subjects and people such as in psychology and sociology…)  

I learned how complex, biased, difficult, and detailed are experiments done on human subjects and how they can hide serious confounding factors that have strong effects but left uncontrolled (due to incredible amount of variability) and how time-consuming they were.

There were times where courses turned out to be like rerun of bad dreams:  I was proficient in the usual model and statistical packages,  but I had to finish the course:  I used these courses as opportunities to learning the terminologies of the field and comparing them to other fields. I discovered that different terminologies in different fields had the exact same meaning.

It was obvious to me that most fields of study were the same from an experimental perspective:  All you had to do is learn the appropriate terminologies since the fundamentals of experimenting were basically the same.  Thus, this idea of issuing a thesaurus of academic terminologies.

My diploma happened to be called “Industrial Engineering”, a very broad field researching the physical and mental capabilities and limitations of people so that workers can be used efficiently and more productively in the management of safer and healthier workplaces.

I learned that the diversity of fields I was engaged in entitled me to work in any field I desired, if it were not for the fictitious constraints and limitations set by syndicates and academic associations intent on giving priority to their own graduates.

I know that I can earn a new degree every two semesters if I am allowed to apply, without undue stress on course load. All that I need is getting initiated and familiar to the few key-words bounced around in the field and reading typical peer-reviewed articles.

Working democracies must structure their academic courses to focusing on how to think right, scientifically, rationally, and practising designing and running experiments.

I wish this openness to other fields of study be instituted and graduates be hired on capabilities of doing the job instead of based on nominal diplomas.

I also wish that mathematicians are encouraged to earning a degree in other fields of application since every statistical analysis is based on a math model. We need statistical models that are closer to how nature and people behave rather than these simple equations used in the packages.  The computers are very powerful to accommodate complex models.

Note:  Statistical analysis packages are driven by math models of a set of constraint equations and an objective equation (mainly operations research models).  I conjecture that it is the moral values and ethical standards of scientists for equitable behaviors toward mankind and sustainable environment that ultimately guide most scientists to conceiving the appropriate constraint and goal equations.

There are an abundance of data to suit or validate any model that scientists can imagine and thus, earning them a Nobel Prize, especially in economics.

Idiosyncrasy in “accreditation”: Academic, Institutions, and States? (Jan. 2, 2010)

In a previous post I described a recent certification process for B enterprises. This article is to provide further explanation on how these “accreditation organizations” are launched, prosper, and fade away. Generally, in societies not centrally controlled, you have, now and then, a few “accredited” members in every discipline or syndicate making waves on the ground that “performance” (ethics, standard of knowledge, training, transparency…) is declining and that the discipline has to be reformed; then, they start a certification process that never goes far because money is generated when an idea catch up with the awareness wave of the public.

For example, the certifying organization that issue B (for benefit) rate to enterprises that sign up to demonstrate that they are socially and environmentally performing has hired 12 employees across the USA to do “random” audits: every two years, a B enterprise has to ask to renew its certification, pay for certification renewal even if it was not audited.  This is how certification organization make money: they get paid for doing nothing after the first issuing of certification for many years until it is discredited for fraud or when the original entrepreneurs are discovered not to be passionate and resilient enough to bar companies’ gimmick of using a certification for “green washing” their image instead of investing on programs with tangible results. The B certification organization is currently working on a budget of $1.5 million and growing exponentially but it has proven to be conscientious and meaning to improve business practices.

Certification organizations enjoy gold mine businesses when supported by political institutions or deep pocket multinationals aiming at destroying independent competitors.  When you hear “accreditation” the first thing that come to mind are academic institutions. Renowned universities expand overseas and extend their names to local universities after submitting to accreditation procedures. It is the process that is interesting because university administration and staff scramble to communicate with one another, concentrate meeting sessions among professors who never talk with one another, encourage emailing ideas, suggestions, programs, result data, graphs, sophisticated presentation gimmicks, gastronomic explorations, touring campaigns, and whatever is necessary to offering a good image to the accreditation team.

In most cases, the accreditation team is enjoying his stay and being paid lavishly for just listening to good natured “professors” who are making a living the harsh way until opportunity knock to participating in accreditation teams. Business is business and no hard feelings are supposed to tarnish a excellent profitable business that parents of student pay for an imaginary piece of paper certifying that their offspring graduated from such a “certified university” and recognized by a developed country. Sure, after graduation the student is automatically admitted to continue his higher education as long as money is available. This naïve student, who never opened a book and barely can write in his own language, is asked to read half a dozen books per week in an exotic language and write analyses of what he read. As if professors are paid to teach! Professors are meant to be “advisors”, mentor, and abuse students to do their own projects contracted out from companies.

I hear that when a professor is awarded the Nobel Prize or any other recognized international award that students are cognizant of then the professor receive a “chair” from the university and maybe a building is named after him or occasionally, a building is erected in his honor.  It is the latest university that gets all the honors and the others academic institutions that taught the “professor” are irrelevant. In return the university expects increase in enrollment: the students want to ogle the “chair” but the chair is empty.  The professor is more comfortable on his rickety chair, in a secluded environment.

We join syndicates such as Real Estates or mortgage loan officers.  We are asked to pass a test before we sign in as members after paying our dues.  The tests are basically about your knowledge of the laws, regulations, and rules of the game. You may pass the test but your lawyer fill have no ground to prove that you are totally stupid to have passed the test. You may end up making money by trial and errors at your own expenses because the tests are not related to acquiring any knowledge of the practice.  People who are not members of syndicates can practice the job and go unpunished because they did not pay money to be punished and learn the laws and regulations!

The same mentality goes to nuclear proliferation signatories. Iran and North Korea mistakenly signed up on that treaty.  India and Israel refused to sign the treaty and they can do whatever they want. Iran and North Korea have to suffer the ignominies of the UN veto members. Treaties are hell that open the doors to superpowers to control your independence with no return for your good will!

How do you value quality of life? (October 20, 2009)

 

            French President Sarkozy assembled a committee of Nobel Prize economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen to ponder on new indicators for measuring economic performance and social progress. This honorable committee submitted its report on September 13, 2009. The conclusion of the report concerning social progress target the well being of the citizens such as life expectancy, affordable health care, affordable dwelling, worthy education system that focus on individual reflection instead of data and fact memorization since the individual will be called upon to act on his decision, alternatives to organize our life around activities that we love; having satisfying jobs that we value; the possibility of expressing our opinions in public politics and social meetings; enjoying wholesome environment, clean water and purer breathable air; and feeling secure in the neighborhood.  All this social indicators are more valuable to measure how a State has been progressing than relying solely on GNP or how many cars a family own or the number of household equipments.

            Joseph Stiglitz is not welcomed in the Obama Administration because he harshly criticized the President economic adviser Larry Summers in The New York Times;  Stiglitz said: “the plan for financial and economic stability is too modest to be effective. The pumping of money in banks is practically free gifts offered to Wall Street: only investors and creditors to these banks are benefiting but not the tax payers.”  Stiglitz is the chief of the line of economists who attack the concept that free markets have the capability to stabilize imbalances efficiently.  His mathematical models have demonstrated that transactions in free markets are biased toward those who are specialized in finance and have the necessary data to fool clients; “globalization has created a fresh pool of investors to exploit their ignorance”.

            In this post I will ask binary questions of (Yes or No) for voting on laws and amendments in three categories of quality of life: personal, community, and State levels. For example, on the community level, suppose that if people postpone purchasing their first cars for a year and the saved money covers the expenses of inoculating all babies in the community then how would you vote?  Suppose people are asked to postpone buying a new car instead of their older one for a year, then how would you vote?  Suppose of inoculating babies the community decided for pay for free complete blood tests for citizens over 45 of years? Suppose that the community can perform free bypass surgery for the badly needed patients, or free urine dialysis?

            What if you can postpone for a year replacing your washing machine to cover the expenses of investing in playgrounds for kids, or clean water, or new sewer system, or public transport system, or upgrading a hospital, or modernizing schools with updated communication and audio visual systems? How would you vote?

 

            On the State level, suppose the tax breaks exempt people earning less than $10,000 of taxes.  If the State decided to exempt people earning less than $20,000 would you vote for that new tax break knowing that investing money on the previous tax break are targeted to preserving natural reserves, distributing electricity 24 hours per day at the original rate, establishing affordable State health care for all, paying higher rates for teachers for continuing education to encourage individual reflection, increasing rates for nurses with higher quality of services, investing in clean alternative sources of energy, or salvaging beach resorts and better accommodating camping grounds and reclaiming greener locations for the public? How would you vote?

 

            On the personal level, suppose your family is over three kids and they attend private schools. If you are to send them to public schools, in safe neighborhoods, then would you invest the saved money on a new bathroom, building an extra large room for the kids to assemble and play, arranging the garden as an attractive playground for the kids, taking additional vacations, working part-time so that you may monitor the teaching of your kids after school, subscribing your kids in various clubs and extra-curricular activities, or going out more frequently to movie theaters, musical event, and plays?

            The premises are clear: for the same financial saving you have choices of improving the quality of life of the many in return of lavisher personal comfort.  These questionnaires permit you to value the kinds of quality of life you believe in; they are easy to administer and the responses can be statistically analyzed using statistical packages specialized for binary responses.  How your community value quality of life? How your nation value quality of life?  What do you think about this research project?

What that! Nobel Prize for Passivity? (October 17, 2009)

 

            A new Nobel Prize is created!  The criteria are no longer life-time award for active fight on famine, diseases, human rights, establishing international organizations for caring to the wounded fallen on battle fields (Red Cross), catering to the lowest castes of humanity, coming to the scour of human dignity buffeted and trampled by the blood sucking “mosquitoes”.  Nobel Peace Prize has changed criterion: it is awarded to new political leaders to encourage them to work toward peace; a sort of pre-emptive incentive hoping that the dangled “bait” might promote peace more effectively than waiting for actual deeds.

            What that? He is barely 9 months in office and nothing tangible to show and account for that he might be a potential “peace loving” leader.  Was Barak Obama awarded the most honored Peace prize for canceling the “offensive missile shield” in Europe simply because the US can no longer afford extra expenses and China refused to cough up the dough? Was Obama rewarded in exchange of Brazil being selected as the next soccer Olympic site?  Was Obama awarded this prestigious prize for voting NO to the discussion of the report on crimes against humanity committed in Gaza? Was Obama rewarded for increasing troops in Afghanistan (over 40,000 soldiers) since he came to power?  Was Obama rewarded this life-time achieving work for failing to put a hold on further Israeli expansion on lands not its own?

            Is the Nobel committee too lax and anxious to debase the value of Peace Prizes?  I sit lacking worthy nominees and opting for the last come first served candidates?

            What that?  How come the Peace Prize has become exclusively awarded to political leaders?  Why all these political leaders were selected from among those who signed “peace treaties” on the White House Lawn (blue, rose, green, I forgot, but never white) before waiting for the proper execution of the terms of the peace contracts?  Began and Sadate were awarded this prize and then Begin started his pre-emptive war on Lebanon in 1982 and Sadate encouraged the civil war in Lebanon to go on indefinitely. Arafat and Rabin were awarded the same prize and then all the peace process terms were freezed and canceled by successive Israeli leaders.

            The Norwegian Nobel committee, used to award “Peace Prizes” for personalities who contributed greatly to communicating the spirit of peace and actively working toward instituting peace around the world and in their communities; the decisions have been politicizing: they contributed to lavishing this prize to totally undeserving individuals of war criminals and criminals against humanity. The latest of awardees is Israel President Simon Perez who said lately: “Israel can protect its babies against Gaza babies” and who participated in the decision making to perpetrate genocide on the Palestinian civilians in Gaza and shelled the UN peace keeping forces in Qana Lebanon in 1986 killing 120 civilians and double in severe casualties.  Many deserving Nobel Peace Prize awardees signed a petition saying that they feel ashamed that Peres was awarded such an honorable prize.

            The Norwegian committee has awarded this prize to Kissinger, the US Secretary of State under Nixon who prosecuted the Viet Nam war until it was a losing case; Kissinger is the one who planned and prosecuted the Lebanese civil war in conjunction with Sadate of Egypt.

            What that? Any President to the US after Bush Junior could have gotten this award!  Should this prize be extended to the American people simply because they got tired of all the Bush Junior Administration nonsense and for witnessing the worst world financial crash?

            I suggest that the Nobel Peace Prize be split into two prizes: the life-time social activists for human peace and the most passive political leader who refrained from interfering in other states affairs. It is the responsibly of the Norwegian government or its Parliament to strip the names of those who won these prizes and then proven to be undeserving from the list of this Hall of Fame or we will label this list the Hall of Shame!

 

Note: Read my previous post “No mas for Nobel Peace prizes” published on January 15, 2009.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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