Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘technology

What’s planned for Zouk Mikael (Lebanon) this Sept. 12? A special TEDx session?
I have been hearing and reading terms like ‘salon,’ ‘innovation,’ inspiration’ and ‘TEDx’ in the last three years.  Many people are not exposed to these key words, being thrown around and they are not sure what it’s all about?
It’s about conferences being held around the world for ‘ideas worth spreading’. You could read their website but it’s so full of the word ‘TED’ that it just about makes you dizzy, so here’s a quick re-cap of what they do and why you’d want to be involved in their next salon.
I attended many sessions in Awkar at Patsy and Riad apartment and they were energy recharging events. Engaged people discussing freely on topics being screened, in a very relaxed and homey environment

Time Out Editors posted on Aug 27 2012:

TEDxBeirut

The annual TED conference brings together “humble” geniuses, ideas-people, movers and shakers to talk about technology, entertainment, design, science, humanities, business and development. It’s basically the best day of lectures that your university never gave you.
But it’s not just the conference, there’s kind of TED everything (hence the confusion.) There’s the Talks, which are the video recordings of lectures from the conference that are available to watch online.
Add the Open Translation Programme, and you’ve got yourself the Talks videos in over 40 languages, made almost entirely by volunteer translators.
There’s the Global conference that has a more international spin, and the TEDx program which is what they’ve got going on in Beirut. The ‘x’ programmes are independently and locally run sessions that follow the mantra of the main conference. At the programme, they screen a couple of TED Talks videos followed by group discussions, and often enlist a couple of local minds for live presentations.
This round of TEDxBeirut has roped guest speaker Yorgui Teyrouz for a Q&A following the video screenings.
I read that transportation will be available from Beirut to Zouk Michael. And that’s a great facility: Transportation is not easy in this tiny Lebanon, even with the crowding of all kinds of private cars. Still, you have got to reach Beirut from where you are located.
There’s also a reception after the conference for a spot of networking. The places at TEDxBeirut book up fast, so register now to join this global community of forward-thinking individuals.

Register for Wednesday Sept. 14 session for TEDxBeirutSalon at the Youth and Culture Center, Zouk Mikael. Register here: http://tedxbeirutsalon-zouk.eventbrite.com/

“Be the change you wish to see”: Back to TEDxBeirut?

Count on Lebanese to review past event, like the TEDxBeirut that was held in September of last year.  This time around, it is worthwhile a serious recollection of this non-profit project that came through with flying color. It was a great event that required 6 months preparation and the exhausting last month, which prevented two dozens in the board from getting a couple of sleep daily.

A few members in the organizing board had quit secure and well-paying jobs, a few risked being fired by spending work-hours doing something else other than their paying work, a few stacked up phone bills of around a $1,000, and a few shifted the entire focus of their consultancy towards a non profitable project.

I have posted many articles on TEDxBeirut, TEDxRamallah and other sessions…

Note 1: I wish we could get the full translation of the video presentation: It is very hard to listen to the video with the slow internet connection in Lebanon and many regions of the world. In any case, I am the type who enjoy reading and not sit still and listen when in front of computers…

Note 2: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/most-highly-rated-ted-talks/

Convention Without Walls: ‘Digital Divide’ Overlooked by the live-streaming technology?

With a steady stream of blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts and YouTube videos, even the Republican party convention is live-streaming on YouTube.

The presidential campaigns have increasingly embraced the web as a way to speak directly to voters.

The Republican National Convention in Tampa, which is calling itself the “Convention Without Walls,” is releasing a mobile app and encouraging Facebook users to share their photos and videos.

The upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte has planned similar digital outreach.

Yet, millions of Americans won’t be able to participate. They are blocked from experiencing much of the online world:  Simply, they don’t have access to high-speed Internet.

About one-third of Americans (100 million people) do not subscribe to broadband. This so-called “digital divide” will likely receive little, if any attention during the political conventions.

Gerry Smith in the HuffPost wrote:

“Bridging the technology gap fits squarely within the candidates’ platforms for reducing unemployment, increasing access to health care and education, and helping the country compete in a globalized economy, experts say.

Almost every aspect of today’s society — from looking for jobs to accessing online medicine and classrooms — now requires a broadband connection, and those without access are quickly being left behind.

“I feel like I’m at a disadvantage,” said James Brunswick, a 51-year-old Philadelphia resident who is looking for a job but can’t afford a computer.

There are different reasons why Americans are disconnected.

1. About 19 million people, mostly in rural areas, don’t have high-speed Internet because phone and cable companies don’t provide service to their location. I

2. Many low-income Americans can’t afford broadband subscriptions.

3. About 40% of adults with household incomes less than $20,000 have broadband at home, compared to 93 percent with household incomes greater than $75,000, according to the F.C.C.

4. A growing number of people who can’t afford computers or Internet service are turning to smartphones as a more affordable way to get online.

Experts warn that mobile devices — with their small screens, data caps and slower speeds — are no substitute for a computer with a high-speed connection.

To help more people join the digital age, the Obama administration set aside $7.2 billion to deploy high-speed Internet to unserved and low-income areas. The Federal Communications Commission has overhauled its Lifeline program to provide discounted Internet service to families in need and has partnered with major cable providers to supply $10 Internet access to households with a child enrolled in the national school lunch program.

Again, experts say more must be done.

A few of the experts argue the next administration needs to regulate broadband providers to promote competition, which would give consumers more choices and lower prices for broadband service.

“We can throw subsidies at the problem all day, but it’s not going to close the digital divide unless we have a robust, competitive market that will lead to lower prices and more attractive services,” said Derek Turner, research director at the public-interest group Free Press.

There are other reasons why people don’t get online.

1. Some are not comfortable with the Internet, while others think the web is a waste of their time, surveys show.

2. And while the price of computers is falling, many low-income Americans still can’t afford them and must rely on public libraries to get online — a digital safety net that is starting to fray.

3. More than half of libraries say their Internet connections are not fast enough, and libraries nationwide are facing budget cuts that have forced them to close on weekends and evenings, according to the American Library Association.

“We are suffering from the perfect storm,” said Emily Sheketoff, the executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington office.

About 80% of schools and libraries receiving federal funding for Internet service say their connections “do not fully meet their needs,” according to an FCC report issued last week.

Stephanie Thomas is a history and government teacher at Broad Street High School in Shelby, Miss., a rural town of 2,000 people where nearly half of families live in poverty.

Thomas often wants to show her students online videos or conduct interactive lessons, but the school’s limited bandwidth makes that impossible.

“We have the Internet but it can be extremely slow,” Thomas said. “There are times where I’ve wanted to show YouTube videos and I spend half of the class period waiting for it to load.”

The FCC’s National Broadband Plan, which was released in 2010, offers a blueprint for helping more people join the digital age.

The plan suggests:

1. That the commission provide wireless spectrum to companies on the condition that they offer free or low-cost broadband service to low-income customers.

2. It recommends Congress provide more funding to teach low-income Americans how to use the Internet and help people with disabilities and Native Americans, who have especially low rates of broadband adoption, gain access to the web.

Turner said there is another reason why both presidential candidates should be concerned about the millions of Americans who are not online: They need their votes, and the Internet has become an increasingly popular platform for candidates to reach voters and voters to learn more about them.

“The Internet is rapidly becoming an indispensable tool for democratic participation,” Turner said. “And we need to be concerned that there is a social cost to those who can’t participate in that conversation.”

It is about time the old effective method of door-to-door connections be relaunched: When will the voters get to meet the candidate coordinators and relay their concerns face to face?

How can we improve Truth, Transparency, Ethical and Moral incentives in News Media?

Are financial and economic interests of news companies the right incentives to generate truthful news?

Should transparent news media  engage in criticizing the elite political class?

Doesn´t society deserves Non-Profit-Foundations media system built on ethical and  moral incentives?

Do we need a new Media-Reformed system if a more sustainable and peaceful global world is to be built? Do we need a Media-Reform as we need a Banking-Reform?

How can Social Media improve Truth in the News?

Is Policy Action needed to stop the Media System of Murdoch or Berlusconi?

What are the risks in building transparency in news media?

My concern is: How could social news media successfully counter the traditional big news media support of government preemptive war schemes for the benefit of the elite richest class?

Paul Lewis vouched for the benefits of citizen reporters providing independent reality bytes to his newspaper. Lewis could create a new picture of reality which was closer to truth than the police stories using the technical opportunities of Social Media: His newspaper had an interest to publish the social-media-reality.

The international news media such Murdoch and Berlusconi Type of Media use the same technology to distort reality and to create “their” puzzle of reality which sells best.  For example, News Corp. have hacked in mobile phones and even mailboxes of a dead child.  Such Media systems have vested interests in Billions per year – it is in their best interest to have news for their best business. News Corp. just lost $738 Million of earnings after the successive scandals.

TED e-book of Laura Miller “Media Makeover: Improving The News One Click At a Time” has generated many responses.  People of expressed their interest in having more transparency in the news. People are concerned about who is influencing the news (powerful people and organizations). People are concerned that the news is just one big echo chamber and they are overall less trusting of  media.

What would you like to see in a more transparent media? What would you know more about that you don’t know now?

People would like to know more about the background of the reporters telling the stories. Others have mentioned the desire to see more about those quoted in the stories.

Transparency is about understanding where something starts, what are the connections to it, who is influencing it, and how it is evolving.

What are  your wishes in order to fulfill transparency in news media?

Since the new technologies enable customers to become producers of news, it is tantamount to develop community-based news media linked to various centers around the globe for instant transmission of community produced news.

Clay Shirky explained the process of this new revolution in social mass media:

First big media change:  Many-to-many pattern conversation. 

“The tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring. It isn’t when the shiny new tools show up that their uses start permeating society. It’s when everybody is able to take them for granted. Because now that media is increasingly social, innovation can happen anywhere that people can take for granted the idea that we’re all in this together.

The revolution landscape in media history had overcome four periods in the last 500 years: Starting with the printing press, to two-ways conversational media (phone, telegraph…), recorded media (photos, recorded sound, movies…), electromagnetic spectrum to send sound and images through the air (radio and television…)

It turned out that the media that is good at creating conversations is no good at creating groups. And the media that’s good at creating groups is no good at creating conversations. Clay said: “If you want to have a conversation in this world, you have it with one other person. If you want to address a group, you get the same message and you give it to everybody in the group,whether you’re doing that with a broadcasting tower or a printing press. That was the media landscape as we had it in the twentieth century. The Internet gives us the many-to-many pattern; a media natively good at supporting these kinds of conversations. That’s one of the big changes.

The second big media change:  Every medium is right next door to every other medium 

As all media gets digitized, the Internet also becomes the mode of carriage for all other media:  Phone calls migrate to the Internet, magazines migrate to the Internet, movies migrate to the Internet.  Put another way, media is increasingly less just a source of information, and it is increasingly more a site of coordination.  Groups that see or hear or watch or listen to something can now gather around and talk to each other as well.

The third big media change: Audience can be producers and not just  consumers.

Every time a new consumer joins this media landscape, a new producer joins as well, because the same equipment – phones, computers – let you consume and produce. It’s as if, when you bought a book, they threw in the printing press for free.  It’s like you had a phone that could turn into a radio if you pressed the right buttons.

And it’s not just Internet or no Internet. We’ve had the Internet in its public form for almost 20 years now, and it’s still changing as the media becomes more social. It’s still changing patterns even among groups who know how to deal with the Internet well.

For example, last May, China in the Sichuan province had a 7.9 magnitude earthquake with massive destruction in a wide area. People were texting from their phones. They were taking photos of buildings.They were taking videos of buildings shaking. They were uploading it to QQ, China’s largest Internet service. They were Twittering it.

As the quake was happening, the news was reported. And because of the social connections, Chinese students coming elsewhere, and going to school, or businesses in the rest of the world opening offices in China – there were people listening all over the world, hearing this news. The BBC got their first wind of the Chinese quake from Twitter.Twitter announced the existence of the quake several minutes before the US Geological Survey had anything up online for anybody to read. The last time China had a quake of that magnitude it took them three months to admit that it had happened.

People began to figure out, in the Sichuan Provence, that the reason so many school buildings had collapsed during this school day,  is that corrupt officials had taken bribes to allow those building to be built to less than code. And so they started, the citizen journalists started reporting that as well.  A local official literally prostrated himself in the street, in front of these protesters, in order to get them to go away. Essentially to say: “We will do anything to placate you, just please stop protesting in public.”

The Chinese government responded by installing the Great Firewall of China to manage Internet censorship in the world.  This Great Firewall of China was successful for a while. Why?  This censorship scheme assumes four parameters for its set of observation points: 1) that media is produced by professionals; 2) it mostly comes in from the outside world; 3)  it comes in relatively sparse chunks, and 4) it comes in relatively slowly.

This strategy crumbled within a dozen years as a the consumers of news produced their media locally.  It was produced by amateurs. It was produced quickly. And it was produced at such an incredible abundance that there was no way to filter it as it appeared. And the Chinese government had no other recourse but to shutting down access to Twitter.

The classic twentieth century media process was: Bundle up the message. Send the same message to everybody. National message. Targeted individuals. Relatively sparse number of producers. Very expensive process to allow vigorous many competitors.  All of that is on the verge to be over.

We are increasingly in a landscape where media is global, social, ubiquitous and cheap. Now most organizations that are trying to send messages to the outside world, to the distributed collection of the audience, are now used to this change. The audience can talk back. And that’s a little freaky. But you can get used to it after a while, as people do.

There is this new set of facts: 1) People are no longer disconnected from each other, 2) former consumers are now producers, 3) the audience can talk directly to one another. Consequently, there is a lot more amateurs than professionals, and the size of the network is huge and since the complexity of the network is actually the square of the number of participants then, the people’s network is growing very large.

As consumers/producers of news media become more professionals, it is unlikely that a superpower will blackmail major traditional news media into cowering to government preemptive war schemes for the benefit of the elite richest class.

Note: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/has-social-media-already-changed-history-for-the-5th-time-what-clay-shirky-had-to-say/

Future wireless data can be transmitted through light-bulbs? Privacy is nil and over?


Do you know that when we use smartphones or tablet PCs to surf the internet, check emails, share pictures, engage in social networking, or store information in a cloud, we make use of wireless communications technology?

Traditionally, all the information we move around with these devices is transmitted using radio frequency spectrum. The more data we generate, the more radio frequency spectrum we need.

I think I read somewhere that this technology was used by the French in WWI to guide their rickety planes, made in wood, and dropping bombs by hand, miles away from targets?  Or maybe it was not strictly wireless?

Are you set to believe Harald Haas, University of Edinburgh, promising that future wireless data will be transmitted through lightbulbs?

Harald Haas said:

“It is forecast that by the year 2015, we will transmit 6 exabytes — six billion, billion bytes — every month through wireless networks. This is a ten-fold increase on the amount of data we send now. (I think that the US money press generate far more dollars than the new communication technology generate in “exabytes”?)

In order to meet this increased demand, we need either 10 times more radio frequency spectrum for commercial wireless networks, or we have to make the existing radio frequency spectrum 10 times more efficient.

The first option  is impossible — most of the available radio frequency spectrum is already used.

The second option is difficult to achieve, as existing wireless technology is very sophisticated, and it has been shown that further improvements are often offset by unmanageable complexity.

Therefore, we are heading to a saturation point in terms of how efficiently we can use the radio frequency spectrum. The only way out of this is to find new ways to transmit data wirelessly.

Fortunately, the electromagnetic spectrum not only incorporates the radio frequency spectrum, but also includes the visible light spectrum, the best known transmitter of which is the sun.

In the past, we used incandescent light bulbs in our homes and offices. This technology is more than 100-years-old and is hugely inefficient. In the past decade, there have been massive developments in the use of light emitting diodes (LEDs).

Since LEDs are far more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, they are at the heart of the latest generation of lights.

In fact, research by my team at the University of Edinburgh has shown that, if all the world’s incandescent light bulbs were replaced by LED, the energy saved would be equivalent to that produced by more than 100 nuclear power stations.  (Another reason why nuclear energy protagonists hate LED types “visual energy?)

However, this is not the only advantage of LEDs.

These lights are semiconductor devices similar to transistors, which are commonly found in devices such as TVs, laptops or smartphones. Like transistors, LEDs can be switched on and off very quickly.

We have harnessed this feature to develop novel techniques that enable ordinary LED light bulbs to wirelessly transmit data at speeds many times faster than WiFi routers. We have named the new technology Li-Fi (light fidelity) which we now commercialize via the university spin-out company VLC Ltd.

In our lab, under ambient light conditions, we are able to achieve data speeds of 130 megabits per second. If all light bulbs were able to do this, it would create a simple, energy-efficient solution to the lack of available radio frequency spectrum for future wireless broadband communication.

The new Li-Fi technology utilizes existing infrastructures, and as a result, the installation costs are minimal, let alone the reduced cost of the technology as it does not require an antenna.

There are other advantages to this technology:

1. Light does not penetrate walls, and so internet signals cannot be intercepted outside the room in which they are transmitted, which enhances security.

2. Light also travels through water, and so short-range underwater communication is possible. For instance, divers could share pictures, or remotely operated vehicles could exchange information.

3. Light is inherently safe and can be used in places where radio frequency communication is often deemed problematic, such as in aircraft cabins or hospitals.

So visible light communication not only has the potential to solve the problem of lack of spectrum space, but can also enable novel applications.  In the not-too-distant future, a day in the life of an average person, whom we’ll call Sally, could look like this:

1. When Sally switches on the light in the morning, she gets the latest news flashed on her smart phone. From the breakfast table she sends a few emails through the table light. (Thus, if Sally is not in the mood of listening or seeing anything, Sally has to strictly rely on candlelight?)

2. Sally gets into her car and drives to work. On the way, a cat crosses the street and she has to brake hard. Her LED backlights tell the car behind to slow down even before the driver has a chance to brake, and an accident is avoided. (Isn’t that technology already embedded in modern cars?)

3. Sally stops in front of a traffic light that operates using LEDs. While showing red, the traffic light is able to send a signal to switch off the engine in Sally’s car, reducing CO2 emissions. The traffic light also communicates with the navigator inside the car, and helps Sally avoid a traffic jam ahead. (If Sally has a problem with her ignition, how can she “forbid” the traffic light not to interfere?)

4. In the office, Sally’s fast internet access is provided through the LED ceiling lights. She has internet access in all meeting rooms, but no-one on the street outside can intercept the signals.( Not even the special Federal communication forces?)

5. After work, Sally decides to go to an art gallery down-town. The LED spotlights in the gallery illuminate the pictures and provide information about her and her boyfriend. (Is that safe? Any invasion of privacy?)

6. Sally leaves the art gallery and, on the way downtown, she passes some shops. LED lights in the shop windows broadcast offers. She buys a pair of shoes on sale. (Encouraging and enhancing consumerism behavior?)

7. The restaurant is in a large shopping mall. Sally’s navigation system guides her there. Inside the mall, LED ceiling lights take over the task of guiding her to the restaurant. (Back to eating? Always guiding back to restaurants?)

8. Once inside the restaurant, LED table lights beam the menu card onto Sally’s smart-phone. She enjoys her meal and leaves a recommendation on the restaurant’s home page, using the connection from the same table light.

9. By the time Sally leaves the restaurant it is dark (and short on savings?). She is in a good mood after her date. On the way back to her car, she leaves a little message at a street light, which acts as a local message board, saying “Sally loves Tom”  (Might as just design the local message board in the shape of a tree and the message looks as carved in something tangible and in Sally handwriting…)

Don’t you feel that technology tends to be pervasive and insinuating too ugly into our rights for privacy?

I wish people who get excited about advances in technology take the time to reflect on the consequences, and insert a few paragraphs on the seriousness of negative consequences, and ways to restrict the inflicting of ravages to the common people…

Adding a few sections on the potential negative consequences (the ethical dimension…) should be mandated, as we expect research papers to clarify the interpretation of the data and results on the design and application of the research…

Is polio next to be eradicated? What disease was wipe-out anyway?

Melinda Gates spoke on TED (Technology, Education, and Design) and claimed that polio is 90% eradicated (kind of less than 2,000 cases last year).  She was apprehensive that the generous donors might be witnessing “polio fatigue”, and might be reluctant perusing donations after two decades of containing polio.

In India, a single case of polio generated the vaccination of 2 million kids in the region.  Ethiopia is witnessing a significant drop in infantile mortality rate because remote communities are training specialized nurses for vaccinating and delivering pregnant women.

Diseases like malaria, diarrhea, measles, tuberculosis, cholera, polio, and countless others banal diseases that have vaccines, or can be treated with antibiotics, are still rampant and killing everyday thousands of babies and adults in under-developed States, particularly, kids under 5 years of age.

For example, Cholera is back in force and threatening to spread in many neighboring States to Zimbabwe.  Mugabe of Zimbabwe refuses to step down as President and his State is suffering great famine, miseries, and the plague.  Thousands of people have contracted cholera and over 7,000 have already succumbed.   Cholera cannot be controlled; it could not be through the ages and current progress is not at a par with that plague.  Why?  Cholera has the capacity to mutate: an element of AND code new functions for the benefit of the bacteria, modifying its genome and increasing its adaptation to treatments or new antibiotics.

So far, medical research has not mapped out all the means of transmissions of Cholera.  It is possible that home pets, cats and dogs, carrying flea might be transmitters of the epidemic.  What is known is that older generations of antibiotics such as streptomycin, chloramohenicol, and tetracycline are increasingly inefficient against the bacteria of cholera.  The antibiotic based on fluoroquinolone might be of more effectiveness.

The best angle to analyze the topic of transmissible diseases to divide the diseases in three categories.  The first category represents the diseases that have effective and cheap vaccines and antibioticsThe second category represents disease that require costly vaccines, expensive treatments, and common surgeries but can effectively cure.  The third category is reserved for diseases that have no cures but can be contained for several years until progress is achieved like AIDS and a few other cancerous cases.

For the third category, funds are allocated to the under-developed States, simply because the rich States need guinea pigs to experiment with treatments that are traumatic in their own communities.

The first category is the most promising for decreasing drastically the casualties at an affordable cost.  Basically, the vaccines and the prior generations of antibiotics have already covered the expense of experimentation, and have been a cash cow for many decades.  The main expense would be to train local nurses in remote communities, and university students in medicine, to administer vaccines and inexpensive antibiotics that are still effective.

The second category is not as urgent for the under-developed States as the funding and the structural organizations for eradicating the diseases in the first category.  There has been a mobilization in 1994 for creating a world bank for medicament and vaccines and a few States invested funds in that bank but there was lack of active pursuit for the long term.  All the health related branches in the UN such as UNICEF, OMS, PAM, FUND, Red Cross, and Red Crescent have been working on the field for many decades, but diseases are gaining the upper hand.

The scarcity of resources allocated to fighting disease in the under-developed States need to be restructured.  Priority should be given to diseases in category #1, before attacking effectively diseases in category number two.  At least, trained nurses and medical students would be ready to tackle more complex treatments.

You may read my article https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/the-under-developed-countries-are-plagued-with-common-diseases-any-resolutions/

Note 1:  A short history on Cholera or plague.

Bubonic plague has a long history, through the ages, to devastating more than a third of a population as it hits.  Cholera lands suddenly, kills for a short period and then disappear for no known reasons.  The best remedy was to flee as quickly, as far away as is possible and not to return any time soon.

The Jews in Judea were decimated during David.  The troops of the Assyrian Monarch Sanhareeb, putting siege to Jerusalem in 701 BC, suffered the plague. Greece and Athens in 430 BC was devastated by cholera as Sparta was laying siege to Athens. Ancient Rome was plagued.  Cholera hit Byzantium during Justinian for one century and traveled around the Mediterranean basin; Pope Pelage II succumbed to cholera in 590.

In 1346, the Mogul troops, laying siege to Caffa in Crimea, were plagued and they catapulted infested bodies over the rampart of Caffa.  The Genoa defenders fled Caffa and transmitted the plague to all Europe; Spain, Marseille, Paris, England are contaminated and then Russia ten years later. France lost over a third of its population and Spain as many if not worse.

Cholera crashed London in 1665.   The English monarch and his family had to pay a long visit to the French Monarch.  The plague subsided when fire engulfed the better parts of the poorer quarters of London in 1666.

The last time, before Zimbabwe, that cholera expressed its virulence was in 1894 in south east China.

History accounts shows that cholera was carried by the Mogul troops arriving from Mongolia and Central Asia. As they sweep into relatively humid regions then plague settles in during summertime. India, Iran, Iraq, and Syria suffered plague during the Mogul successive invasions. I cannot but figure out a few hypotheses.

Note 2:  Alexandre Yersin, a French physician and bacteriologist, discovered in 1894 that Cholera is a bacteria but he failed to come up with a curative serum. Yersin still believed that rodents (rats) are the main culprit for transmitting this disease.  Only in 1898 did Paul-Louis Simond confirmed that cholera is transmitted by flea that quit dead rats to other greener pastures by sucking blood elsewhere.  Rats are infected with cholera but they are not affected or transmit it because they rarely bite humans.  Once a man is afflicted with cholera then the main transmitter of the epidemics are men.

Cholera infects people but does not bloom in dry arid regions.  Cholera is virulent in humid regions and during the hot seasons. Could it be because people sweat profusely? Especially because people failed to wash or take bathes in older days?  Or is it that since sweat excretes most of the salt in the body then cholera has an ideal medium of less salty body fluids to flourish and concentrate during the ripe seasons?

Power: Not a Point of View (March 9, 2009)

Iran is planning to build 20 atomic power sites to generate electricity

Russia has aided finishing the first power station for a cost exceeding one billion dollars. Iran is not only the fourth exporter of oil but has also huge reserves in oil and gas. And yet, Iran spends enormous amount of hard cash money to import oil products and gasoline from overseas refineries.

The Iranians are building a second atomic power generator, almost alone and strong with the expertise they acquired.  The Iranian officials said that oil is a precious commodity that should not be wasted to generating dirty power

The developed nations have oil reserves but prefer to purchase oil at a reduced price in order to save their oil resources for their chemical and pharmaceutical industries for later generations. (Actually, chemical industries rely almost exclusively on oil products.)

The Arab Gulf States have established “sovereign funds” for the next generations but they all have vanished during the latest economic and financial recession.  What is left are highways and built stones.

I am exaggerating on purpose. This piece is meant to be a wake-up call. It is time to invest of the human potentials, social institutions, and political reforms.

Lebanon used to export electricity to Syria and Jordan in the 30’s during the French mandate. Presently, and 80 years later, and 65 years after its “independence”, Lebanon import electricity from Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. The populations of all these States have quadrupled in 80 years while Lebanon barely doubled, due to massive immigration, and we could not even double our power production. 

Our neighboring States have reached sort of power sufficiency and exporting surplus electricity to Lebanon. Lebanon has plenty of water and rivers but we failed to invest properly on our natural resources and hydraulic potentials. 

Not only we have not enough electricity, and none of it is hydraulically generated, but we have no running water.  We receive water twice a week for a few hours and we have to filtrate and purify what we receive.

The Lebanese family has to pay twice for electrical power and for water by supplementing their needs from the scalpers of private providers. The main culprits are those “Christian” Maronite political parties who claimed that the power of Lebanon resides in its military weakness.  Implicitly, those sectarian political parties meant that Lebanon should not challenge the dicta of Israel regarding our planning of our water resources.

Mind you that Israel purpose is to divert all our rivers toward its own Zionist State.

Electricity is a kind of power and oil and gas are essentials for locomotion and mechanization and industries.  Nevertheless, nations are judged developed according to the level of their research institutions. 

You might start the “egg or chicken” priority of security and stability first, but this is not the case.  When States invest on almost everything except knowledge base and research institutions, then you should not hope for stability and security. 

Developed nations respect States that focus their energies and resources on knowledge, literacy, and technologies and are willing to protect them from neighboring bullies.

Developed nations respect States that generate highly educated and well trained citizens regardless of size, origin, and natural resources.

Power is the level and quality of education, an education targeting the needs of the population and neighboring markets.

Power is no longer a point of view.

Dreaming: The Leveler, the Optimist (January 26, 2009)

How is it that, no matter how we are different than another person, in gender, in social class, in maturity, in knowledge, in traditions, in geographic locations, and in climatic zones, we feel we belong to the same human race. And that deep within us, we know we are no different fundamentally? 

We know that it is not books, or “Holy Books” or communication with the “other” that gave us this basic sense that we are the same in wants, wishes, thrives, and human qualities and attributes. 

Individuals who are totally isolated from the common people have acquired these fundamental truths.  Whether it is good or evil you may confidently blame it on our ability to dream in our sleep.

You hear people say that they have no time to sleep, that they barely need a couple of hours of sleep per day, that after death they will have plenty of time to sleep for a long time.   

It is not just a matter of physical effectiveness and maintenance that we need sleeping, but mainly the opportunity to have dreams flooding our sub consciousness; dreams in color, in sounds, in tastes, in touch that feel more real than reality, dreams of stories, novels, fantasia, other characters that we think or are sure we never met or have seen; and yet, too real to know that we are basically the same as human kinds.

It is through dreams (mainly in sleep) that humanity constitutes a united bloc, against all odds.

The judge feels that he comprehends the assassin and his motives, the wise in the fool, the administrator in the musician, and the rich man in the free and unattached homeless…

All these various comprehension of others are not the fruit of serious observations, but because we all can dream. 

It is because we can dream that amoral models of everyday life, which we have not been exposed to in reality, seem natural to us since our tender age.

In my dreams, I have been flying in air and toured countries, mountains, and oceans. 

Lately, I have been taking off by flapping my arms, but the ride is difficult and not that smooth; maybe with age the harsh reality sinks in and make the dreaming prowess not up to standards. 

Still, the pictures that I have seen in Gaza (the preemptive war of Israel in 2009) and in direct didn’t insinuate into my dreams yet. 

I guess that the Palestinian babies who survived the horrors have more efficient rewinding abilities that are haunting their sleep. 

Those who launched the war on Gaza must have pre-historic minds dotted with the latest technology of mass destruction.

Is religion still monopolizing our fears? What about technology? (December 14, 2008)

 By the time mankind got conscious of the ephemeral of life and that death is a certainty, religion and the notion of the sacred were created to cope with the consequences that resulted from that conscious fear, on the ground that otherwise, no security or peace could prevail within any organized society.

Religion might not have been invented right after we got conscious of our mortality, but necessarily when modern man realized his individuality and stopped producing mass hand tools for the tribe, and took special care for individual designs, specialty carved symbols on the tools, particular color combinations and drawing and painting that reflected feelings and awe toward the environment and the forces of nature.

Painting and sculpting and drawing symbols were the precursors for establishing language as a practical necessity, first verbally and then the written language. I believe that institutionalized religions grew after verbal communication was feasible, by means of languages to harangue communities against the other infidels. What we may discern is that cultural transformation is the byproduct of practical necessities.

                        Death is generally viewed as representing chaos and thus, life is to be a struggle to feed on death and restructuring a semblance of spiritual cohesion. Metaphysic, the precursor of religion, is but this longing to providing continuity between life and death so that our logical mind does not breakdown to smithereens, because sciences cannot provide definite and exact answers to everything.

Metaphysics must have been substantiated because many people experienced a few supernatural events and realized that what is being sensed is not the whole story.  Religion, as a conscious culture, utilized the metaphysical potentials in man to codify its system of beliefs and then codifying a system for daily behavior, rules, and regulations.

                        Unfortunately, what was necessary at a period was utilized necessarily to dominate other tribes that believed or adopted different totems or sacred rites.  This irreversible trend, that practical necessities generate cultures with necessary counter productive results to our evolution, is the foundation to our mental shortcomings to progress, ethically and morally.

                        Religion and science have the same roots in the conscious and, though they evolved with different methodologies, they adopted the same procedure for impacting on the mind:  First, they established consensus on a few premises; second, they struggled hard not to change their system of beliefs,  and third, they waited for a paradigm shift to transforming the traditional culture.  The revolution of Luther and Calvin against the concept of Papal infallibility left intact the core obscurantist culture, which views knowledge with suspicion, and specifically scientific knowledge, as the work of the devil.

In fact, Protestantism went as far as considering philosophy as compromising the human mind.

                        The fundamental revolution came when people realized that if the Pope is fallible,  religion is consequently fallible and the quest for answers to fill the void in knowledge was resurrected with sciences.  Hence, this frenzy in Europe, at about that period, to translating the Arabic manuscripts; the Arab scholars who had translated the Greek classical work and added much of their own.  The re-translation into Latin was the beginning of the Renaissance period in Europe.  Thus, the period of the Renaissance in Europe was a revolution against the failure of the Christian religion to satisfying the cultural transformation after the crusading campaigns and the affinity of the Arabic culture in Spain.

                        Most paradigm shifts could be classified as cultural transformations, but a few could be conceived as cultural evolution:  a qualitative jump in our knowledge of nature and man such as using symbols, verbal communications as a language, the written language, the concept that man and earth are not the center of the universe, that time is an intrinsic element of space such that no two events can be said to occur simultaneously, that man is not wholly master of his decisions, and that man is neither the crown of creation nor the peak of evolution.

                        Since nature does not provide a moral order to observe and emulate, then even all our power for abstraction cannot generate the concept of evil.  I believe that the notion of evil (read fear) is a culture inherited by osmosis to our subconscious by the uninterrupted religious culture that constituted the fundamental basis to organized communities through the millennia.  Sin is a concrete notion because it is associated with punishment and ostracism, but the notion of doing “good acts” remains relatively abstract and any remuneration is not immediate and not palpable.  That is why many religions tried to great extent to emphasize the reward of commendable actions in their teachings, but the institutions had to revert to admonitions and focus on the negative deeds because fear has a far more potent in effecting impact on the mind of the believers and the effects of fear are long-lasting.

                       The same process is taking place with technological breakthroughs.  While we experienced some of the benefits and the many harms of religion, we are at the beginning phase for experiencing the benefits and harms of technologies that we can invent and produce, but do not comprehend or grasp the consequences. We are traversing a dangerous period without adequate check and balance on the production of new inventions, and are tampering with human genome and agricultural and animal cloning: The consequences might be irreversible this time around on our survival.

                        We have created enough tools, processes, and know-how to invent all kind of products without the need of thorough theoretical foundations.  It is like a machine that invents new machines with what it already knows, and the vast array of tools it has in its arsenal so that theory is becoming an after thought because science requires a rational model.

Furthermore, experiments require abundance of time, financial and human resources that validation and testing on consequences to human health, safety and survival is dragging a long backlog that can never catch up with what is thrown in the market place.  For example, developed States have realized that a process for testing and validating the consequences of pharmaceutical products before marketing them was a must to safeguard health and safety of the consumers; but even that process was not adequate enough or ethically stringently applied when pharmaceutical new products were tested in the third world populations.

                        Technology is the new metaphysical ideology for defining youth:  You are as young as you can keep up with new updates.  How fast and how readily you can manipulate and use new gadgets is the main criterion for youthfulness, for keeping your membership in the new cult.  The technology cult means that you should have faith in what the market is providing you in updates and inventions, because ultimately, it is you who is testing, validating and selling the technology at your own risk.

Technology is basically a cultural revolution against abstract or theoretical works, whether in religion, metaphysics, or sciences, and its motto is “There is no good or evil in technology. Let us keep inventing and let the less expensive and quicker trial and error methods sort out what is beneficial to mankind.  Let youth, these flexible and adaptable mind, these spiritually and culturally ignorant spirits, and these energetically undaunted and bold souls, be our guinea pigs as they used to be historically”.   


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2021
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