|Posted on Saturday, March 15, 2008 - 01:54 pm: |
Ten Years anniversary is fast approaching.
(click to access Table of Contents)
The Forum, Humancafe
The Humancafe forums were started on December 22, 1998. Since then many things had happened to 'change the world' both in the news as well as in how we now see our future as a planet. Our small contributions here are just one more set of ideas to better understand what these changes are about, and how they will influence future generations to come. We may not have 'changed the world' but the world is surely changing at a fast pace today, from questions in science to social and political changes, and challenges, coming daily. Our freedoms are not negotiable, neither is our right to question and offer answers to where we had been, and where we are going. This thread will be open until December 21, 2008, to mark the Ten Year anniversary of Humancafe, a winter solstice. (On that date the forums will be put into 'safekeeping' and permanently archived - read only - until re-opened in a new format.) For now, this thread is open to explore the challenges of where the past ten years had taken us, and to where we are going, as we write history today.
All ideas are welcome.
Ivan & editors, Humancafe
|Posted on Sunday, March 16, 2008 - 12:00 pm: |
New-Better Anti-Fraud Laws are needed, and enforced, to win against the neo-Islamic insurgency.
A major turning point in world history occurred on September 11, 2001, where the civilizational values of modernity were attacked by a political-religious orthodoxy of a neo-Islamic fundamentalism that had become offended by the progressive freedoms of the Western world. This attack was both symbolic as well as figuratively, by attacking the most prominent architecture of the free world, the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City, as well as directed against the seat of government of the nation responsible for the democratization and freedom movements of modern history, Washington D.C., the capital of the United States of America. This was an attack on freedom, and constitutional law safeguarding those freedoms, by those who would want to rule by a theocratic law established in pre Medieval times, such as dictated by the early Caliphate, which through the Koran and Hadiths established what allegedly was 'God's word' revealed by their prophet Mohammed. In effect, this was indeed a clash of civilizations on a world wide scale, since the resulting Jihad is now a world wide phenomenon stretching from Indonesia to Europe and North Africa, as well as the Americas and Australia. But is the failure of the West to confront this attack? Is it really a 'war on terror'? Or is it a war against an ideology that rejects the modern scientific 'age of reason' and yearns for a return to an idealized age of religiously inspired moral orthodoxy? The answer to this question will determine the efficacy of fighting this attack on modernity, and modern freedoms, as we grapple with the truth of why we were attacked.
Religiously 'offended' rioters must know the truth.
In the BBC News, Grappling with global terror conundrum, this question is brought up during a symposium held in Stockholm, Sweden, as the world's counter-terrorism experts gather to discuss strategy for how this 'war on global insurgency' is to be addressed. Per the article:
Not on the battlefield, but 'in the mind' is critical to our understanding the enemy, because this is not merely a political war, but mainly an ideological war; where our values of civilization are challenged by the enemy's values of what they call 'civilization', where most challenged on both sides are our respective moral values of civilization. But where is the truth in this? What morality is challenged here?
Our common concern was how do you defeat an insurgency - and the phrase invoked more than once was T E Lawrence's dictum that it is like eating soup with a knife.
He, after all, was in a position to know, having led a much-romanticised Arab insurgency against the Turks in the First World War.
At one point, delegates trooped off to see that classic Sixties film The Battle of Algiers - the moral of which is that a Western country, however powerful (and even one that is ready to resort to torture) will fail to crush an insurgency if it faces determined popular resistance.
Now the West and its allies are trying to adapt the lessons drawn from past insurgencies to help them fight a new kind of war.
Even defining the conflict is problematic. US President George W Bush dubbed it the "war on terror".
Others now prefer to call it a "global insurgency". Still others think that term is not quite right either.
But whatever it is, it is posing a whole host of dilemmas for those who are fighting it.
Above all, this new war is being fought, not just on the battlefield, but in the mind.
At bottom of this confrontation is the issue of truthfulness. Who is telling the truth? Is the American model for Madison-Jeffersonian individual freedom and democracy, where each individual is guaranteed equal rights under the law to preserve our freedoms, our human rights, the truth for the modern world? Or is a 'word of God' truth, as designed by the early Islamic Caliphate, the truth for the modern world? Which 'truth' is valid for humanity of the 21st century?
This question had opened up conflicts in earlier times, in Europe's time of the Renaissance, when religious authority represented by the Catholic Church was being challenged by a Reformation led by Protestant ideas. Simultaneous where challenges to an old world order of scriptural 'truths' as being challenged by a new world order of scientific truths. At center stage five centuries ago were great minds like Galileo, or Giordano Bruno, and Kepler who introduced a new way to understand the cosmos stemming from the Copernican idea that Earth is not cosmically homocentric but merely another planet revolving around the Sun. This was a fundamental challenge to the accepted ideology of the times. At risk was the then current idea that centuries of religious scripture, and debate centered around scriptures, was a more established form of 'reason' than direct observations of reality, which could be flawed by trickery of the senses. This was an important debate, prominently most embodied in Cardinal Bellarmine of Rome's ideology that good scholarship must value the ancients, from Aristotle and Ptolemy to Thomas Aquinas, where the truths had been examined in great details of polemics, so any new idea contrary to these 'truths' must withstand scrutiny under the accepted scholarship of the times. (Mathematics at that time was not yet the 'language of science' but valued separately as an interesting intellectual passtime.) The then doctors of philosophy were called upon to counter any new claims that would destabilize this scholarship, and prove it false, purely on the force of reason. But it was not reason as today understood, where the axioms of reason are taken from events and observations of reality itself, but rather taken from the written word of history, that what had been debated for centuries, as the truth. Who would dare to go against centuries of logic, itself based on the axioms of religious beliefs in the Old and New Testaments, to show them wrong? This was a huge event, because if the newly discovered 'truths' presented by science, or astronomy supported by Galileo's use of the telescope, were in conflict with ancient truths, how could centuries of ideas be wrong? And if they were proven wrong, how could the world continue in its organized order based on the morality of those ancient and 'proven' truths, if they were in error? As one commentary of the time said, "why should I look through two little pieces of glass inside a tube" to know the truth, when it had already been written? Is this newly discovered 'truth' not a fraud? By the Renaissance and its scientific proofs, this issue was being resolved, grudgingly, which led to a new 'age of reason' with its rights of man and freedom of thought, that no idea was beyond questioning or doubt. Suddenly the whole old world order was thrown into doubt, that it was not the ancients who understood the universe correctly, but modern reason. A new 'truth' was now in order, that each person is free to search for their own personal truths as to what is the order of all Creation, as their mind is best able to ascertain what that truth is. The result is the rise of Western civilization with its unprecedented successes in science and technology, as well as social and economic advancements. However, this new development did not penetrate the whole world equally, and in many parts of the world, especially the Islamic world, this idea was examined but largely rejected by the orthodoxy authorities of the faith (from the 9th century on Caliph Mutawakkil ended 'rationalism'), that the truth lies not in the 'fallible' human mind (or reason) but in the 'word of God', or Allah. A clash of civilizational values was inevitable.
Fundamental to this clash of civilizations, that of the West and East, is 'who is telling the truth'? But most fundamental to it all is truth itself. What is it? Is someone who is telling his 'truth' the same as someone who finds it acceptable to lie to preserve his own 'truth', for example? I wrote long ago in "The Given Word: Who We Are", Chapter 25, Habeas Mentem: "When we seek with honesty and friendship, when we give our word and keep an agreement, we are empowering our reality with a force of existence that is moved by All that Is. We invite this greater force into our being, into our lives, into our society, into our nations and kingdoms and social institutions. How much work there is to be done by so simple a force. Yet, how powerful it can be." This is a fundamental truth, that when we tell the truth we invite into our existence something greater than ourselves, but something connected to all reality, so that to 'give our word' to another in agreement is a very powerful connection with the reality of our mutual existence. Twist that truth into a lie, and all reality becomes twisted with it, and in turn our personal existence becomes jeopardized. In modern jurisprudence, the truth is what real evidence is supposed to evoke, that it is a reality of what happened to the victims, as a crime was perpetrated by another. In fraud, the truth is where reality had been misrepresented, whether it was truth in lending, or consumer fraud, or ideological fraud, to twist human minds into accepting a fallacy, often if not always damaging to the victim. One of the great arguments against Marxism was that propaganda was valued in the old Soviet system above that of the truth (ironically the Soviet newspaper was called "Pravda", or "Truth" in Russian, though its 'truths' were illusive), so the populace was left with a sense of unreality praising the great Marxist system while it was in fact failing. Reality in the end put a stop to this, and now the Soviet Marxist system ceased to sway in the world, but it was a major civilizational confrontation that lasted many decades until the fall of the Soviet empire. Truth is a powerful force because it connects with reality, and not polemics or theory, but with real evidence. So when a 'given word' is used to form human agreements, it must be based on truth, including the truth of meaning what one says without deceit, or else dialogue becomes meaningless, and impossible.
This same principle of truthfulness is now at bottom of our civilizational conflict between the modern order of Western civlization, that which by law protects the individual from trespass and deceit, or fraudulent crimes, and the older Islamic ideology, which places higher emphasis on the spoken word as it relates to their scriptures rather than the reality of the world. In the sometimes used practice of 'taqyyia' the Muslim mind will protect itself from the truth by lying to itself, and to others, in order to preserve the value of their scriptural texts, even if it means going against reality itself. But once lying is invoked, the right to understand and dialogue truthfully is now in jeopardy, so any results from such human exchange will turn out false. We cannot dialogue or interact through falsehoods if we are to connect to the reality of what is true. Otherwise deceit takes over and dominates the situation, so what is said is other than what is meant, and the reality described is compromised by the lie. The resulting fraud is then used to stir up, to confuse, and to enflame passions, such as we had witnessed throughout the Muslim world in its rioting over cartoons of Mohammed, or in response to some historical text mentioned by the Pope, or to perceived offenses against the Islamic faith, such as defiling the Koran or saying anything 'heretical' that brings doubt to the true believers. However, this is not the core issue, since to question and doubt, or even ridicule, is a fundamental right of human beings in all societies, even those ruled by the traditionalism of scripture, in our efforts to understand the truth. It is called 'full disclosure', and same as full disclosure is mandatory in any business transaction, so is it mandatory in any inter-civilizational discourse, that we know and respect what is the truth if we are to respect one another.
Respect for the truth, and protection from falsehood, is a fundamental human right universally. It is the same respect that allows for tolerance of those with whom we disagree, because we universally have a right to disagree, but it must be respected mutually and reciprocally. If one party has the mind set that its truth is inherently inviolate so that none may challenge it, they of necessity have violated the reciprocity of respect for the other, which makes them inherently intolerant of the other; so the right to disagree is negated. One person may not force another to accept their 'truth' by threats or violence. This is an inherent inalienable right for all humanity. And if any one group of humanity, for religious or secular reasons, claims they have the right to force another; whether it is to punish anyone for their beliefs, or to prevent anyone from leaving such beliefs, or to force one particular ideology on those who doubt such beliefs; they are forcing that person from seeking the truth, the real truth, in the only way it can be found, through freedom of inquiry. No one may force anyone else from seeking that truth of their own free will without violating their human rights. And to violate those human rights constitutes 'fraud' in its most elemental form, to keep a human being from finding the truth. What 'human rights' represents in its most fundamental form is the right to seek the truth individually and without fear of coercions or reprisals. This is a fundamental right to knowing the truth.
Therefore, when our modern values of civilization were attacked on 9/11 by the fundamentalists of Islamic jihad, the attack was on this fundamental right to the truth, and the right to seek the truth without fraud and coercions. Only secondarily was it politically motivated, where fundamental was grievance against our modern values, or freedom based morality. For us to combat this neo-Islamic threat means we must strengthen our resolve for truthfulness with better anti-fraud laws, with a greater clarity of how to protect the individual from deceit and violence, especially the violence that seeks to impose an ancient ideology of 'truth' onto the modern freedoms of finding the truth as we will. This of necessity includes what is being said at the mosque to sway the minds of the believers. It must be the truth, and not violate our right to truth through fraud and deceits. There is no supremacy to the scriptural word, as we had experienced from the European Renaissance to the present, over the truth of reality as discovered and validated by real evidence; so whether in science or social intercourse, the moral principle of truth is primary. We cannot have any 'moral equivalence' between truth and falsehood, same as we cannot have moral equivalence between fraud and full disclosure. The two must be held separate, and only the truth as based on real evidence and the true given word can be held accountable; not some perceived 'polemic truth' as imagined fourteen centuries ago (as defined by Sharia), but the actual truth of the matter. Our first defense against the neo-Islamic threat of religious-political fundamentalism, and its commensurate Jihad against the freedoms of the West, is to better validate and preserve our rights as individuals to have the freedom to seek the truth, without coercions or threats, and without deceit. If anyone is offended by that freedom of truth, then let them turn away from it, if that is their wish, but not to force others to do the same. Our individual human rights are fundamentally defined by our right to seek the truth, to question and doubt, and to explore all the evidence that will bring us closer to it. All inter-human interactions and dialogue must be based on this fundamental right, if the 'word given' is to have any real meaning, that it be done without deceits and omissions. There is no other moral equivalence for the truth.
This is a war of the mind, and the 'counterinsurgency' in the war against neo-Islamic terrorism is primarily a war against deceits and coercions of the mind. We cannot win this war unless and until such time that we identify the primary cause, that our truths are more self evident than those claimed to be based upon ancient scriptures and polemics. This 'war on the truth' was fought once before, and when won its civilization propelled forward in ways never seen before. This is our modern world, however imperfect, that is its result today, which has given humanity a vision of itself as free and prosperous, and valid in its freedoms, as had never been done before. It was the gift of the Renaissance and its subsequent Enlightenment. We may not allow it to roll back to those primitive times where human beings were punished or killed for what they exercised as an inalienable right, to seek the truth. Anything less than truth is fraud. The 'war on terror' will be won on upholding this 'human right to truth'. There can be no repression on full disclosures and free speech. This we must uphold by law and action. And if so, there is no cause for pessimism, for this war will not last a hundred years, but can end now. There is no easy way around this, that each person has the right to seek that which is true for them, without coercions against themselves or others, reciprocally. This 'insurgency' is a war against our morality and our way of life, a morality enforced by our secular (and religious) laws against fraud. It will be won with the moral strength of the truth. This is our modern challenge.
|Posted on Friday, March 21, 2008 - 11:55 am: |
Ten Years that changed Cosmology.
Supernova composite image, expanding remnant of SN 1987A, a Type II-P supernova.
1998 was the year philosophy of cosmology was declared science. In ScienceMagazine's BREAKTHROUGH OF THE YEAR: ASTRONOMY: Cosmic Motion Revealed by James Glanz writes:
A major breakthrough was made for cosmology, that the new understanding of an expanding universe was confirmed with supernovae luminosity at extreme distances reaching into high redshift regions of space, from 1z to above 4z, confirming not only the Hubble constant but also Einstein's proposed constant lambda. This cemented into place a piece of the cosmology puzzle, that not only was distant light redshift due to space expansion but it also confirmed that this expansion was accelerating, so that gravitational forces were counterbalanced by an inputed 'dark energy' that kept all the galaxies moving apart over time, and space was not likely to collapse at some point in the distant future back into a singularity of the Big Bang. That was ten years ago. However, since then the past decade has presented some problems with this scientific conclusion, and once again the Big Bang theory may be relegated back into philosophy. Did it really happen?
The nature and ultimate fate of the universe have preoccupied philosophers and scientists for centuries. Scientists discovered decades ago that the universe is now expanding, with its galaxies rushing apart in all directions. But the pull of gravity could slow that expansion, and so researchers have tried to work out the final destiny of the cosmos: whether there is enough matter to cause it to one day collapse on itself, or whether it will expand forever. In 1998 two teams of astronomers peered across an enormous gulf of time and space to answer that fundamental question--and amazed even themselves with what they found.
Not only is there too little matter in the universe to ever halt the expansion on its own, but the outward motion appears to be speeding up, not slowing down. At the same time, the finding raises such profound questions about the nature of space that cosmologists are wondering whether the ultimate fate of the universe can ever be known for certain.
In a triumph for astronomers' ability to look deep into the past, the independent teams came to their conclusions by observing far-off exploding stars called supernovae that turn out to be surprisingly dim, revealing an acceleration that has swept them to unexpectedly large distances from Earth. With these results, reaching billions of light-years into space, astronomers have gained a secure foothold in the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the cosmic past. We name their findings, which transform our view of the universe and pose fundamental new questions for physics, as Breakthrough of the Year for 1998.
What had been accepted in science's current understanding of space expansion was the inclusion of the Metric expansion, whereby the actual 'fabric of the universe' (spacetime) was not an absolute but subject to change. In effect, it was space itself that was expanding, as validated by studies of distant light redshift of galaxies and Type II supernovae. This was further evidenced with the Age of the Universe of about 13.7 billions years, and the WMAP remnants of the Big Bang background cosmic radiation. Together with other astronomical observations, the expanding universe became a fully accepted theory of cosmology.
WMAP background radiation, animation of expanding universe 'raisin bread'.
The Timeline of the Big Bang became well defined, and thus complemented all observations using the 'line of sight' redshift spectral analysis with understanding that early matter aggregated into stars and quasars, and later into galaxies and superclusters, which is the universe we observe today, at day-one looking backwards to a day-13 billion years ago. The problems that began to crop up in the past decade were to cast doubt on this secure image of our universe was when Type II 1a supernovae were not considered as durable 'candles' of distant galaxies redshift, and thus perhaps we did not have our timelines correct. The other more recent development is from the Hubble space telescope images showing fully formed galaxies nearly 13 billion years ago, unexpected. Together, this had begun to seed doubt in our understanding of distant quasars, merging white dwarfs, and supernovae explosions, since some things did not fit as expected.
In science it is standard to test and doubt theory, and the more we looked into data coming in from deep space, the more it appeared the data did not fit theory as expected. This was explored by some at BAUT forums, in particular in the discussions "More Evidence of Diversity in Supernova 1a" and "Galaxy-quasar associations as a test for alternative cosmologies" which ran against the Mainstream of currently accepted science. Somethings were not right, and as the many papers referenced in the above discussions, there was room to doubt that Type II 1a supernovae were in fact reliable standard candles for marking the timeline of distant galaxy redshifts. One paper of note is "An unexpectedly swift rise in the Gamma-ray bursts rate" (PDF) by Kistler, Yuksel, Beacom, and Stanek (2008), where the abstract says:
In question was whether the collapse of massive stars giving the long GRBs are similar to the metallicity content with their inputed age, and especially whether the concentration of such collapsed stars at the 4z may be an observational artifact, where the population of GRBs seems to exceed the star formation history. Could this be perhaps, though the authors do not suggest this, that we are observing events that though in 'line of sight' same redshift z may in fact not be related to one another in time and distance?
The association of long gamma-ray bursts with the deaths of massive stars naturally suggests that the cosmic GRB rate should trace the star formation history. Finding otherwise would provide important clues for the further development of our views concerning these rare, curious phenomena. Making use of a sample of 44 luminous Swift GRBs with redshifts in the range z=0-4, we find evidence of enhanced evolution in the GRB rate, with ~4 times as many GRBs being observed at z~4 than expected from star formation measurements. We discuss the origins of this observed trend, including several progenitor populations that the GRBs may actually be tracing.
This was some of the questions asked on BAUT by critics of current understanding of cosmology, especially as it applies to using Type II 1a supernovae for standard candles, that perhaps they are not connected to the galaxy redfshifts with which they had been associated. On possibility may be (in my own words) that what happens in a Type II star collapse is the resulting massive 'gravity hole' left behind redshifts light gravitationally from its center after collapse.
Star core collapse scenario.
If this gravity hole remnant is great enough it will redhisft light gravitationally more than the associated observed galaxy redshift, which means it will in effect 'push it back' in distance and time, if so. This would necessitate that distance for quasars is different from their associated distance galaxy redshifts, since the redshift is greater from the 'gravity hole' left behind by the collapsed star. (It may also explain why there is such high population of quasars very far back in time.) The same principle would apply to merging white dwarfs, where their resulting redshifts are a gravity effect. Further, if distant cosmic light redshift is an artifact of deep space gravity orders of magnitude greater G than the known 'universal constant' Newton's G on Earth (which may be greater already within our outer solar system - see Variable G paper on Humancafe forums), then the whole idea of space expansion becomes moot, if so. What had been hypothesized as a valid 'line of sight' measure of distance and time is then thrown into doubt, and space expansion may not be a true phenomenon, which implies all of modern cosmology far from being a science is in fact mere philosophy. Whether measured via Type II 1a supernovae, or distant galaxy redshift, or WMAP, all these measurements remain unconfirmed, especially if there is no such confirmation outside line of sight measurements. For example, there is no evidence of space expansion laterally, nor is their any such locally, so the idea itself is unfalsifiable except through line of sight, which of necessity skews the results. In the end, rather than this being the decade that proved the science of cosmology, it may have turned in truth to be the decade that disproves it. In fact, cosmology is now perhaps more philosophy than ever before, a Big Bang mythology 'proven' by science. Or, as I had written earlier in Variable G paper concluding remarks:
Or as Glanz wrote in his concluding remarks in the original article:
If Newton’s G is not a universal constant but radiant heat energy dependent, then it should be something to search for. This test is difficult on Earth because, as one body, the Earth’s gravitational influence is uniform for the planet. The only exception to this may be the Allais Effect , where on the planet’s surface in total solar eclipse, the Sun’s rays are temporarily blocked by the Moon, and thus creates a slight gravitational aberration; where G should be slightly greater. However, it is the author’s opinion that if the Pioneers Anomaly leads to the hypothesized variable G, then there should be dedicated tests of this phenomenon away from Earth’s 1 G. It is further theorized, beyond the scope of this paper, there is a ‘cut-off’ level of G where it ceases to grow and flattens out in the dark cold regions of very great intergalactic space. This level ‘universal’ G, per author’s independent calculations, seems to flatten out at a value of about five orders of magnitude greater than Earth’s G. Coincidentally, per the Axiomatic Equation and gravity conversion formula, this also coincides with wavelength for Einstein’s Photoelectric Effect, in the range of 400-700 nanometers. Separately, this same value for G also works out for the Oort Cloud, at >50,000 AU, where this cut-off is at about G’ = >3.5E-6 . Coincidentally, it is also how distant cosmic light redshifts at approximately the Hubble constant, if all the hydrogen atoms of ‘empty’ space (and dust) were added together as a linear mass for the distance of 1z, d = ~129 million light years, per higher proton mass-cum- G in the cosmic reaches of intergalactic space.
"Although the nature of the universe was once chiefly the realm of philosophers, in 1998 it seems that cosmology is grounded in data, as visions of distant supernovae revealed the true nature--and perhaps the future--of the cosmos. Scientists and philosophers both will be grappling with the implications for years to come." The opposite may be true, that this is the decade that ushered a whole new cosmology rather than validating an old one introduced by Einstein's Metric expansion of space. The universe may be 'isotropic and homogenous' but not at the gravity constant as now understood, and cosmic light redshift may in the end prove to be a gravitational artifact rather than space expansion, if so. Ten years on, the truth to find the real universe is now on.
|Posted on Sunday, March 30, 2008 - 02:43 pm: |
The Open University concept comes of age on-line.
MIT campus, Great Dome and Killian Court
In the past ten years a whole new concept of university education came into being. This follows the earlier decades of the Open University - 'university without walls' - concept that began in the mid 1960s, and now has expanded to a 'free university' such as MIT's OpenCourseWare system of accessing college courses on-line.
This is a revolutionary idea, where anyone can access college course and educate themselves if they have the desire and drive to do so. And it is free! According to a WSJ article, nearly half the students of e-learning are self-learners, and that is a trend expected to grow.
As of November 2007, over 1800 courses were available online. While a few of these are limited to chronological reading lists and discussion topics, a majority provided homework problems and exams (often with solutions) and lecture notes. Some courses also include interactive web demonstrations in Java or Matlab, complete textbooks written by MIT professors, and streaming video lectures.
Here is a department list of MIT's 1800 course available today: MITOPENCOURSEWARE
- Courses by Department
- Aeronautics and Astronautics
- Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation
- Biological Engineering
- Brain and Cognitive Sciences
- Chemical Engineering
- Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Comparative Media Studies
- Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
- Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
- Engineering Systems Division
- Experimental Study Group
- Foreign Languages and Literatures
- Health Sciences and Technology
- Linguistics and Philosophy
- Materials Science and Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Media Arts and Sciences
- Music and Theater Arts
- Nuclear Science and Engineering
- Political Science
- Science, Technology, and Society
- Sloan School of Management
- Special Programs
- Urban Studies and Planning
- Women's and Gender Studies
- Writing and Humanistic Studies
Back in 1975 my BA in Market Economics came from an open university, University Without Walls at Roger Williams College, RI, which was a part of the Union Institute and University network. This was an early forerunner of the more advanced on-line system offered today, where to earn a degree I had to attend classes along with designing a self-study program (80 books were required reading), and together with a final thesis on 'market systems', which was defended before a group of professors, I earned my BA. This better suited my interest in economics, since in those days most economics professors were of the Marxist school, and market systems were little studied except in the classical sense of supply and demand. My thesis showed how the market pricing mechanism could be jeopardized by hostile government policy or systemic coercions to such market systems, and how such coercive policy increases the risks of how the pricing market-exchange mechanism responds, with higher costs. All this was before the 'market economy' became the norm, and what mostly dominates the world economies today, even in Communist China. So the idea of independent study is a good one, and now that the internet makes such study so much easier, a whole new world of intellectual developments has opened up. This change in the past decade is more important than we now realize, because minds that in the past would have been shut out from university study now have access to it. This can only be a good thing.
So now if I want to pursue e-learning studies in mathematics and physics, I have the opportunity to do so. All that is needed is will, and time to do it, and nothing can hold me back if I choose to do so. Who knows what may come of this? This combined with world wide web forums and tutorials, and Wikipedia, a whole new world opens up.
|Posted on Sunday, April 06, 2008 - 12:10 am: |
"Googling" on the WWW.
What did Google do to the World Wide Web? Whenever a noun or name turns into a verb, something big just happened. This is what happened to Google of the past few years. I just "Googled" this from Wikipedia on Camino, though any web access page will do:
At about the same time Humancafe.com came into being, so did Google! Needless to say, our efforts have not gone public in the same way (nor made us multi-billionaires!) , since we filled a different niche, philosophically speaking. But these were 'ten years that changed the world'.
Google was co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were students at Stanford University and the company was first incorporated as a privately held company on September 7, 1998. Google's initial public offering took place on August 19, 2004, raising US$1.67 billion, making it worth US$23 billion. Google has continued its growth through a series of new product developments, acquisitions, and partnerships. Environmentalism, philanthropy, and positive employee relations have been important tenets during Google's growth, the latter resulting in being identified multiple times as Fortune Magazine's #1 Best Place to Work. The company's unofficial slogan is "Don't be evil", however Google is not without controversy related to its business practices; there are concerns regarding the privacy of personal information, copyright, censorship, and discontinuation of services.
What Google, and other search engines such as Yahoo, Live Search, Ask (Jeeves retired after 10 years service), Excite, Dogpile, etc., did was open up the world of information as we had never known before. Wiki (Wikipedia is another very important source of information, largely accurate and totally democratic) also says about Google:
The Google web search engine is the company's most popular service. As of August 2007, Google is the most used search engine on the web with a 53.6% market share, ahead of Yahoo! (19.9%) and Live Search (12.9%). Google indexes billions of Web pages, so that users can search for the information they desire, through the use of keywords and operators. Google has also employed the Web Search technology into other search services, including Image Search, Google News, the price comparison site Google Product Search, the interactive Usenet archive Google Groups, Google Maps, and more.
What used to take a trip to the library to dig up information, and reading through the table of contents or index to find it, and then peruse the text, now can be done with a few key strokes. Not everything is on the World Wide Web, but a lot is. And if it is not yet uploaded, at least it will point us in the right direction to find more. That is as miraculous as the birth of a new world brain! I had written earlier on Emergence that from otherwise unremarkable parts can come together a most remarkable whole, which is greater than the sum of its parts. This, I believe, has happened with internet search engines, where the end result is information availability as had never been had before. As one forum member quipped (not here, elsewhere), "I learned everything I know from Google." This is not too far off the mark, though it was meant with humor. In fact, a lot of what I know I learned from the WWW search engines! How much the world changed in ten years...
Though we at Humancafe are not multi-billionaires like the founders of other web sites (and we humbly submit commerce never entered our mind, so run this more as a 'goodwill' site to explore ideas), the world in ten years time has seen some incredible evolutions, especially of mind. In the first page ten years ago I wrote innocently on the home page of Humancafe:
Ten years on, and the words still ring true, in fact more true then I ever envisioned. It is a very exciting place to be into the new Millennium, in ways unknowable then. We have explored ideas in ways never imagined! And perhaps some of those ideas in the past ten years will leave a mark. That was the original intent, that we share ideas and from them we grow, both personally and as a more conscious world. I believe this has happened. I am certain it happened for me!
Just like the Web on which you read these words, we are uniting into a global cultural entity with a new total awareness. As each one of us throughout the planet awakens to this, we create a new paradigm for what our future will hold. As more aware beings spread their ideas, the future we build can be a very exciting place to be into the new Millennium.
Thanks sincerely to all of you who helped, both readers and writers, as well as all members of our human family. We all contributed to this world awakening with our thoughts radiating out into the universal aether. We have done well.
Ivan/Papal visit to US
|Posted on Saturday, April 19, 2008 - 01:14 am: |
Pope's visit to the UN in New York - BBC News
Pope Benedict XVI visiting Jewish temple in NY
Hear full speech in video, linked inside article, or click on image.
- Pope B16
"Every state has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights," the Pope said.
"If states are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international instruments."
Has the Vatican changed the world in the past ten years? From Pope John Paul II's call for 'reciprocity' to Pope Benedict's call for 'human rights', we may say the answer is 'yes'. Every generation must face its demons, those that steal our freedoms, and the Papacy is part of our present time's generation. The world consciousness over our rights of freedom, of human dignity, and reciprocity in equality of all humanity must always be observed.
This past decade may be the greatest awakening of the value of our human rights for all humanity equally since the Founding Father's call for liberty for our United States of America. Benedict's visit to America is a fitting tribute to those freedoms. We carry the torch of liberty into the future, for all humanity, regardless of race or religion. We all have the same human rights of freedom. This decade is the age of reason and freedom for all human freedoms, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, to protect the weak universally, with full equality, and to combat past superstitions and repressions of the human spirit. We are the free.
Peace will follow from these humble beginnings of dialogue and understanding, but only if slavery and repression are themselves repressed and banished from the face of the Earth. Religious freedom, free of coercions, is one more dimension of our liberties that must be observed.
Ivan/ten years horror
|Posted on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - 09:42 pm: |
Genocide in the 21st century is a horror... in the past decade, why?
Geg waterfall in Abkhazia, a great wall of tears
How could this still be going on? Are they primitives of an earlier age disconnected from human rights of today?
Ethnic Cleansing of Georgians in Abkhazia. People are being murdered for their ethnicity, but perhaps also for their religion. Are they burning mosques or monasteries? Massacres, rape, disembowelment, murder of children, raping teenage girls... how could this horror still exist? Kamani massacre, Gagra massacre, Sukhumi massacre, Ochamchire, Gali, all horrors of 'ethnic cleansing' by vile and monstrous human beings possessed with evil.
This happened now!
According to the witnesses many people became objects of torture, children were killed in front of their parents, parents – in front of their children. 
"When Abkhaz entered my house, they took me and my seven year old son outside. After forcing us to kneel, they took my son and shot him right in front of me. After they grabbed me by hair and took me to the nearby well. An Abkhaz soldier forced me to look down that well; there I saw three younger man and couple of elderly woman who were standing soaking in water naked. They were screaming and crying while Abkhaz were dumping dead corpses on them. After that, they threw a grenade there and placed more people inside. I was forced again to kneel in front of the dead corpses. One of the soldiers took his knife and took the eye out from one of the dead near me. Then he started to rub my lips and face with that decapitated eye. I could not take it any longer and fainted. They left me there in a pile of corpses."
Women became targets of sadistic rape. Refugees recall people being burned to death, disembowelled and dismembered while still alive  The massacres occurred in the city park, in front of the governmental building, in schools and hospitals.
It was no better for the Kosovar rape, murder and pillage of Serbians: 2004 Unrest in Kosovo
In a statement on March 18, the Serbian Orthodox Church reported that a number of its churches and shrines in Kosovo had been damaged or destroyed by rioters. These included:
• Our Lady of Ljeviš Cathedral (Bogorodica Ljeviška), 12th century was burned down on March 17
• Church of Saint Salvation (Sveti Spas), 14th century
• St. Hieromartyr George's Cathedral (Sv. velikomučenika Đorđa), 1887 housing the 14th century icon of Mary and an 18th century iconostasis
• Monastery of Saint Archangels from the 14th century
• Church of St. George Runović, 15th century with 16th century iconostasis gates
• Raška-Prizren Archdiocese
• Building of the Sts. Cyrill and Methodius Orthodox Seminary, 1880, sacked
• Church of St. John the Baptist (Svetog Jovana Preteče i Krstitelja) set on fire March 17 in Pećka Banja village
• Belo Polje village church of St. Nicholas, 19th century
Đakovica: Church of Our Lord's Ascension (Uspenja Gospodnjeg), 19th century, torched along with the parochial residence on March 17. Reports of Albanians clearing the ruins of the Church of the Holy Trinity, destroyed in 1999
Uroševac: Church of St. Tzar Uroš
• Saint Nicholas in Kosovo Polje town, 19th century
• Bresje village church of St. Catherine, 19th century
Gnjilane: Church of St. Nicholas, 1861
Priština: Church of St. Nicholas, 19th century, damaged and sacked
Vučitrn: Church of St. Elijah, burned down
Southern Kosovska Mitrovica: Church of Saint Sava set afire in the morning of March 18, adjoining Orthodox cemetery desecrated
Srbica: Devič Monastery, nuns evacuated by Danish soldiers, monastery pillaged and torched
Štimlje: Church of St. Archangel Michael set on fire on March 19
Orahovac: Bela Crkva and Brnjak village churches burnt
Vitina: Two destroyed churches, in town and in village of Donja Slapa?nica
Obilić: Church set afire
Are they burning mosques or monasteries, churches, and convents? What monsters believing in some devil god are doing this? It is pure satanic horror without redemption... It is happening today!
And this does not even touch on all the other horrors in Africa, attacking innocent men, women and children in Darfur, or Algeria, Morocco, DR Congo, Rowanda, Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, or so many other places like Liberia, Senegal; attacks on Israeli citizens with indiscriminate suicide bombing and rocket attacks; attacks on innocent civilians in Bali, the Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq Iraq Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt, even at Mecca; and Madrid, London, Paris, New York, Washington DC, Buenos Aires, Beslan, Moscow, Caucasus, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, .... and the horror continues. Why? For God's sake, this is the 21st century!! It is time to stop. Jihad is the ugliest word in the human vocabulary.
Ivan/Decade of Space
|Posted on Friday, June 06, 2008 - 11:47 pm: |
Ten Years of Planetary Space Exploration.
Mars Exploration Rover, touched down 2004
The Space Exploration program officially started with the successful launch of the Soviet Sputnik, followed by the American Vanguard satellite, more than five decades ago. A decade later Mariner 4 (1964) sent back the first close-up image of Mars. And in the next decade we saw Viking 1 and Viking 2 (1976) images Mars from the surface. But it was not until this past decade that Mars exploration went into full swing, first with the Mars Pathfinder (1997) with its Soujourner Rover, and then with a succession of orbital 2001 Mars Odyssey and Mars Express, until the current landing missions from 2004: Spirit Rover, Opportunity Rover, Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter, now culminating with Phoenix Lander, and soon to be followed by Dawn Spacecraft (2009) to the Asteroid Belt... Wow!
Mars Sojourner Rover
The story of the Phoenix Mars Polar landing was riveting in its intensity, because it was followed live over the internet at NASA TV, so the whole world could watch with anticipation as it made its final approach, and spectacular images were relayed via Mars Orbiter almost immediately. Within days the robotic arms was activated, and its first scoop of surface soil raised hopes and expectations the mission to find water, and possibly microbial life, will be a success. Will they find 'life' on Mars? What a decade!
Mars soil sample poised at TEGA door, Phoenix lander
In 2006 the Huygens spacecraft made a spectacular landing on Saturn's moon Titan, with both stills and video (see link) of the descent into that cold but strangely familiar world. Though the moon is some 9.5 AU from the Sun, we had put ourselves down successfully on this distant world, and that itself was an incredible accomplishment of science and space engineering. What will we learn from these landings, and space explorations? We visited the Moon in 1969, and are now planning for a return. The International Space Station (at times visible overhead to naked eye) was first assembled in orbit in 1998, where it had acted as both a space observatory and science lab, and just now received another space module, the large Japanese laboratory Kibo, which is now being fitted after successful deliver to ISS by Space Shuttle Discovery. This is all history in the making, and again... And Hubble's farthest galaxies found. Wow!
New Horizons spacecraft launched 2006 is scheduled to arrive at 'dwarf planet' Pluto 14 July 1015; Messenger spacecraft launched 2004 is scheduled to orbit Mercury by March 18, 2011. These are vistas into the innermost and outermost planets launched this past decade, but to return data in the next. Mercury's precession may have a very simple cause, merely the momentum transfer of our Sun's equatorial spin. Can Messenger discover that, or will it be one more validation of Einstein's GR? What about local gravity on Pluto or Mercury? Same Newton's G, or radically different G? The Pioneers appear to be slowing at the rate of "square root of distance" from the Sun, which plays nicely into the idea that G increases with distance at 1G per 1 AU. What will we find? These are all 'new horizons' to be uncovered and crossed over.
Each step is one more small climb into space by humankind of Earth. What can we expect in the next decade? New discoveries? New physics? Life in the universe? Human space colonies on our Moon, or Mars? Or some asteroid? The future is wide open, but so are the hazards of space. The human spirit being what it is, and we are natural born explorers, it will take us there, in time. We may need new technologies to be developed in succeeding decades, at both the technical and biological levels, but it is written in our stars that we will go there.
Moon colony, artist rendering
This past decade had been rich in space exploration, and especially Mars and probes leaving our solar system, such as the Pioneers 10 & 11, but we had only scratched the surface of space, literally, with our ventures. The future of space exploration is still as great an unknown as space itself. Can we get to the stars? Perhaps, in time. It was good to be here to see this marvelous decade of Space. What will the next decade bring?
Ps: I just went outside (local schedule was 8:52 PM PDT sighting) and though there is a light marine haze, with the help of binoculars, I was able to spot the ISS about 15 degrees North; it showed as two light points moving close together (ISS, Discovery, or Kibo together?), had to keep moving my scopes to follow it. That there are people up there is really amazing! Humans in space is quite something, isn't it? ... 'Who' else is up there?
|Posted on Sunday, July 27, 2008 - 11:22 am: |
American presidential politics have changed in the past decade.
Barack Hussein Obama leaves prayer at Western Wall (linked Israeli news)
"Lord -- Protect my family and me," reads the note published in the Maariv daily. "Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will."
The sense of privacy in a presidential campaign for an extremely popular candidate for the Presidency, though not yet nominated by the Democratic Convention, shows how media has changed the rules in running for the United States' highest office. By some estimates 95% of the media favors Obama, which leads to complaints that it is not being fair nor objective. The prayer itself is fine, but as Shmuel Rabinovitz, keeper of the Wall, observed "publishing the note intruded in Obama's relationship with God." But as his recent visit to the Middle East and Europe shows, though traveling as a US Senator, his endorsement for the Presidency has very high public support, even among those who cannot vote for him. In Berlin the turnout was spectacular. A similar visit by the Republican hopeful would not have drawn such crowds, nor media attention. Times have changed. As Rabinovitz also said:
In some ways, the same can be said of how the media handled this 'private' intrusion. Certainly a prayer is personal, between man and God, and so is the privacy personal inside the closed curtains of the voting booth. Has our democracy forgotten this?
"The notes placed between the stones of the Western Wall are between a person and his maker. It is forbidden to read them or make any use of them," he told Army Radio. The publication "damages the Western Wall and damages the personal, deep part of every one of us that we keep to ourselves."
|Posted on Sunday, July 27, 2008 - 04:59 pm: |
He ventured forth to bring light to the world
"The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.
When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”
... Read it all! It's hillarious.
|Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2008 - 12:12 am: |
Eh he, He walks on water... oh sweet water...
Oh great Child of Bethlehem, oh Israel, oh... oh... nuts!
|Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2008 - 10:06 pm: |
Challenging Freedom of Speech, Big Time!
This too is the past decade, where the world is being challenged: Is our Freedom of Speech defensible in the modern world? Or does Muhammad Cartoon Rage mean times have changed? Several sources are of interest on this issue:
1. Muhammad Cartoon controversy- debate about self-sensorship:
"The modern, secular society is rejected by some Muslims. They demand a special position, insisting on special consideration of their own religious feelings. It is incompatible with contemporary democracy and freedom of speech, where you must be ready to put up with insults, mockery and ridicule. It is certainly not always attractive and nice to look at, and it does not mean that religious feelings should be made fun of at any price, but that is of minor importance in the present context. [...] we are on our way to a slippery slope where no-one can tell how the self-censorship will end. That is why Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten has invited members of the Danish editorial cartoonists union to draw Muhammad as they see him. ..."
2. International Political Response to Muhammad Cartoon controversy:
The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Jan-Peter Balkenende, issued the following statement (translated): "I regret the threats from the Muslim world. In our world, when someone crosses a line, we take the matter to court. There is no place here for threats and own direction. (I am) Glad there is freedom of speech here. At the same time we have to realize that our images and ideas can be provocative to others."
3. Fjordman: The Organization of the Islamic Conference and Eurabia:
Dične said that it is a dangerous development when increasing numbers of intellectuals in the West believe that some cultures are better than others, and stated that "The media must transform diversity, which is a fact of life, into pluralism, which is a set of values." Getting diversity accepted is the role of the education system, and acceptance is the role of the law. "Promoting and defending diversity is the task of the media." Societies must recognize, accept and promote diversity, which always seems to mean sharia. Mr. Dične represents Senegal, an African Muslim country which is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the largest voting bloc at the United Nations, sponsored by Arab oil money.
4. Is Islam Compatible with Democracy?
Has liberty regressed during the past two hundred years? How was it possible that Immanuel Kant, who lived in a German state without liberal democracy, could criticize basic aspects of religion in the 18th century, while in the West of the 21st century there are social and legal consequences for criticizing other religions and cultures? It is a mistake to assume that liberty (in the meaning of freedom of speech and conscience) derives of necessity from a democracy of universal suffrage. Do we need a new Enlightenment to fill the vacuum formed by the fall of Political Correctness?
I have made a list of suggested conditions for a functioning democratic system:
* There must be a demos. That is, there must be a group of people with a shared pre-political loyalty. This common understanding would include mutual identification and trust between leaders who implement policies and the general public. There must be sanctions in place to allow the demos to hold accountable or remove incompetent or corrupt officials. The growth of supranational institutions has weakened the connections between the members of the elite and the nation states they are supposed to serve. The demos has been attenuated by both Multiculturalism and mass immigration.
In the demos, there has to be true freedom of speech. There have to be genuine debates about crucial issues. For a combination of reasons, this process is now severely curtailed in many Western countries. Activists on the Left demand formal and informal censorship of sensitive issues. Meanwhile, the media isn’t functioning as a counterweight to the political elites because it frequently is in lockstep with these elites.
Where had we steered wrong in this past decade, where our basic right to Free Speech developed over past two hundred years is being challenged by mass immigration and Multiculturalism, especially in Europe? When we challenge the actions, not the thoughts, we are separating Freedom of Speech from freedom to act. Of course we cannot act as we please, without harming others, so laws exist to restrict freedom of action. But Freedom of Speech is freedom of thought, and there the restrictions must be severely limited by governments, not to stifle free inquiry and thought. Actions against others are condemnable, but thoughts are not, if Freedom of Speech is to survive this test.
Read them all, very enlightening indeed, while we still have these freedoms.
|Posted on Monday, August 04, 2008 - 11:29 am: |
Prescription data used to assess consumers
Records help health and life insurers but prompt privacy worries
The article posted above raises concerns on the right to privacy and the new move to centralized electronic record keeping on the part of Corporations.
In an effort to maximize profit records are being screened to assess patient wellness. Patient's who do not meet the criteria for are then denied coverage or charged more for coverage.
This practice is inherently dangerous because it could lead to a subtle form of eugenics were people are culled by denying them health coverage.
|Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2008 - 09:16 am: |
"Prescription data used to assess consumers" - Washington Post
(FYI - the above article had been moved, new link above)
|Posted on Wednesday, August 13, 2008 - 01:25 am: |
Is Freedom of Speech and Democracy compatible with Sharia?
Some quotes from "Is Islam Compatible with Democracy?" by Fjordman
"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” - The Koran, 8.12
“He who strikes terror into others is himself in continual fear.” - Claudian, Roman poet
Quotes from article, showing how incompatible is freedom with sharia:
"In Britain in 2004, Prince Charles brokered efforts to end the Muslim death penalty on converts to other faiths by holding a private summit of Christian and Muslim leaders. The Muslim group cautioned the prince and other non-Muslims against speaking publicly on the issue. A member of the Christian group said that he was “very, very unhappy” about the outcome. Patrick Sookhdeo, the international director of the Barnabas Fund which campaigns on behalf of persecuted Christians abroad, urged the prince and Muslim leaders in Britain to criticise openly the traditional Islamic law on apostasy, calling for it to be abolished throughout the world. According to Sookhdeo, “one of the fundamental notions of a secular society is the moral importance of freedom, of individual choice. But in Islam, choice is not allowable: there cannot be free choice about whether to choose or reject any of the fundamental aspects of the religion, because they are all divinely ordained. God has laid down the law, and man must obey.” ....
"Islam’s hostility towards freedom of speech does not apply only to Muslims, but to anybody saying anything remotely critical of Islam, including non-Muslims. Muslims are already busy trying to shut down freedom of speech in Western nations through legal harassment and, increasingly, physical intimidation. ...
Mohammed Bouyeri, born in Amsterdam of Moroccan Berber parents, murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who had recently made a film critical of Islam together with the Dutch-Somali former Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali, on the morning of Nov. 2, 2004. As Mr. van Gogh cycled to work in Amsterdam, the bearded young man in a long Middle-Eastern-style shirt fired at him with a handgun, chased him, shot him once more, slit his throat from ear to ear and plunged two knives, one with a five-page letter attached, into the body. “I did what I did purely out my beliefs,” Bouyeri told judges while clutching a Koran, because he believed van Gogh insulted Islam.
Orientalist Hans Jansen of Leiden University in The Netherlands has written an analysis of the letter which Mohammed Bouyeri left on the body of Theo van Gogh. As he points out, “MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali (or any other MP) is not eager to die for her membership of Parliament. Muslims such as Mohammed B. on the other hand are eager to shed their life for what they view as the good cause, which possibly gives Islam a tactical - strategic advantage in conflicts with others. That those who do not believe in heavenly compensation of martyrdom rather not become martyrs is a true statement and certainly relevant in Islam’s fight against the non-Muslims.”
The Syrian-born poet Ali Ahmad Sa’id, known by his pseudonym Adonis, says that “If the Arabs are so inept that they cannot be democratic by themselves, they can never be democratic through the intervention of others. If we want to be democratic, we must be so by ourselves.”
According to Adonis, the underlying structure of Arab societies is a structure of slavery, not of liberty: “Some human beings are afraid of freedom. When you are free, you have to face reality, the world in its entirety. You have to deal with the world’s problems, with everything. On the other hand, if we are slaves, we can be content and not have to deal with anything. Just as Allah solves all our problems, the dictator will solve all our problems.”
Fear of Freedom runs deep:
“Freedom aggravates at least as much as it alleviates frustration. Freedom of choice places the whole blame of failure on the shoulders of the individual. And as freedom encourages a multiplicity of attempts, it unavoidably multiplies failure and frustration. (…) We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or, in the words of the ardent young Nazi, ‘to be free from freedom.’ It was not sheer hypocrisy when the rank-and-file Nazis declared themselves not guilty of all the enormities they had committed. They considered themselves cheated and maligned when made to shoulder responsibility for obeying orders. Had they not joined the Nazi movement in order to be free from responsibility?”
According to Adonis, “The Muslims today - forgive me for saying this - with their accepted interpretation [of the religious text], are the first to destroy Islam, whereas those who criticize the Muslims - the non-believers, the infidels, as they call them - are the ones who perceive in Islam the vitality that could adapt it to life. These infidels serve Islam better than the believers.”
I’m not sure I agree with that. Although fear of freedom may be a universal human trait, it does seem to be more prevalent in Islamic societies than in others. Does this “slave mentality” that Mr. Adonis complains about partly originate from Islam itself?
Freedom of Speech is fundamental to our universal democratic freedoms:
Freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental of all freedoms; it is necessary for a functioning democratic society. The Islamic world will never know true liberty until Muslim individuals may openly criticize their religion and even leave it without having to fear for their lives. This freedom must be established not just in Switzerland or the United States, but in Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. That vision of liberty so far remains a mirage in the distance.
Trying to prove that Islam is compatible with democracy, many Muslims are forced to twist existing Islamic concepts so that they cease to retain their original meaning. What remains can hardly be justified from a straight-forward reading of the Koran or the hadith.
Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Ash-Shinqiti, director of the Islamic Center in Texas, states: “Another important value is checks and balances by which powers are distributed and separated in a way that achieves independence of each power and the ability to check and correct each other. In Qur’anic terminology, this is called al-mudafa’ah, which is a very important Islamic concept that protects the society against corruption. Almighty Allah says, ‘Had not Allah checked one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief.’” (The Koran, 2:251).”
But this idea of setting one group of people against another bears little relation to the Western concept of formal checks and balances as enshrined in the US Constitution. Protection against “corruption” in this context means excluding non-Islamic influences, not preventing the abuse of power.
Not the same as consultation, 'shura' is a parody of checks and balances to power:
Another such concept is shura, usually translated as “consultation,” which is found in the Koran 42:38, “...who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation...” and “… consult them in affairs (of moment)...,” 3:159. According to Ja’far Sheikh Idris, professor of Islamic studies in Washington, “broadly understood, democracy is almost identical with Shura.”
However, shura has never been formalized. The most authoritarian and brutal of rulers, such as Stalin or Mao, probably “consulted” somebody every now and then. Even Genghis Khan “consulted” someone as he massacred half of Asia. Thus, “consultation” by itself is meaningless. As long as there are not formal constraints on the ruler forcing him to take the good of the people into account, and as long as real sanctions are not in place if he fails to do so, “consultation” is empty rhetoric.
But this is rhetoric that kills... slowly:
But, “as Islam is a comprehensive system of worship (’ibadah) and legislation (Shari’ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari’ah,” and “the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari’ah is downright riddah [apostasy].”
The adoption of secular laws and equality for Muslims and non-Muslims amounts to apostasy. Harsh words from a man who has voiced support for the traditional death penalty for apostates. ...
Ibn Warraq warns that the Islamists view our open society as a means for infiltrating Western societies. He fears that we risk ending up with an Islamization of democracy instead of a democratization of Islam.
Walid al-Kubaisi, a Norwegian of Iraqi origins and a critic of sharia supporters, believes Yusuf al-Qaradawi is more dangerous than terrorist leader Osama bin Laden:
“In Europe, the Muslim Brotherhood discovered a unique opportunity: Democracy. The democratic system leaves room for freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and finances religious communities and religious organizations. This has been utilized by the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the Muslim communities, recruit members and build the Islamist networks that have become so visible lately.” Whereas bin Laden uses bombs, al-Qaradawi exploits democracy as a Trojan horse. The Brotherhood gets their activities financed from Germany, England etc. They gain recognition and infiltrate the democratic system.
James Madison, the chief drafter of the Bill of Rights, contributed a great deal to drafting of the US Constitution and set-up of its government, in discussion with among others his friend Thomas Jefferson. They were both critical of the idea of pure democracy. Thomas Jefferson warned against “elective despotism.” They desired what Alexander Hamilton had called a representative democracy, or indirect democracy. Dunn is not convinced this arrangement can properly be called democracy, in the meaning of direct citizen involvement in decisions which it had in ancient Greece. ...
What Muslims are afraid of is freedom of speech. The want to intimidate the critics of Islam into silence, while they continue demographic conquest through immigration and high birth rates. They have enjoyed considerable success with this strategy. Our present system of democracy rewards those with high birth rates, which, for the present, means Muslims.
A democracy cannot be established in a genuinely Islamic country, at least not if “democracy” means anything more than the mere act of voting, with no restraints on state power and no safeguards for minorities. This is simply an advanced form of mob rule. If the meaning of “democracy” expands to include constitutional government, secular jurisprudence, the rule of law and equality before the law, and above all freedom of speech, then no - constitutional democracy cannot be reconciled with Islam. It is a waste of time and money to make the attempt.
Non-Muslims currently have the wrong focus. Trying to export democracy to Islamic countries such as Iraq is futile. As American blogger Lawrence Auster has pointed out, we should rather be protecting our own democracies at home against Islam. Writer Diana West has called for an anti-sharia defensive instead of a pro-democracy offensive as the preferred strategy in dealing with Muslims, which makes a lot of sense. Islam is utterly incompatible with human liberty in any meaningful sense of the word. However, Islam may be very well situated to exploit flaws in the democratic system and destroy it from within.
Thomas Jefferson would have understood:
What exactly is democracy? Karl Popper has said that “I personally call the type of government which can be removed without violence ‘democracy,’ and the other, ‘tyranny.’” Ludwig von Mises held similar views, stating that “The essence of democracy is not that everyone makes and administers laws but that lawgivers and rulers should be dependent on the people’s will in such a way that they may be peaceably changed if conflict occurs.”
Dialogue with Muslims all you want, but you cannot overcome this hurdle, that they fear and hate freedom of speech, and hate all our other freedoms, because they are truly the "slaves" of Allah.
Read it all. These past ten years did change the world. Know what is Jihad, make it naked for all to understand, that it is Sharia to enslave all humanity.
universal human rights
|Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2008 - 11:37 am: |
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at UN -1948
ARTICLE 4: "No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms."
There is no such statement in the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam -1998 . Instead we get this:
Article 4 : "Every human being is entitled to the inviolability and the protection of his good name and honour during his life and after his death. The State and Society shall protect his remains and burial place."
Rather, you get this instead:
"Article 11: (a) Human beings are born free, and no one has the right to enslave, humiliate, oppress or exploit them, and there can be no subjugation but to God the Most-High; (b) Colonialism of all types being one of the most evil forms of enslavement is totally prohibited. Peoples suffering from colonialism have the full right to freedom and self-determination. It is the duty of all States and peoples to support the struggle of colonized peoples for the liquidation of all forms of colonialism and occupation, and all States and peoples have the right to preserve their independent identity and exercise control over their wealth and natural resources."
Not the same thing. Slavery is allowed in Islam, with an admonition against "colonialism" as "the most evil form of enslavement", which does not apply to the Umma's enslavement of the people conquered by dar-al-Islam. There the emphasis is on colonialism's exercise of control on natural resources. Human beings born free, but must be subjugated to "God the Most High", which means to Shari'a, where they are "slaves of Allah." Not the same thing!!!
See more on this in the commentaries at: Fitzgerald: Muslims and America
Beware of 'false prophets' of declarations of human rights! This was a decade where our human rights were perverted to sham 'human rights' of total slavery to Sharia by the Cairo document.
Read it all.
|Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2008 - 12:20 pm: |
It is fitting now as we approach September 11 to reflect upon the events since that day as it relates to the principles of human rights and freedoms.
Benjamin Frankin perhaps had the most profound words by which to view the post 9/11 events that precipitated the passage of the Patriot Act and errosion of our civil liberties. At the time of the founding of our nation Franklin said the following:
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
When the Republican's took control of government and impsed single party rule by a minority upon our nation they sought to reign in some of the hard won freedoms we enjoy.
Following 9/11 the Republicans reacted to the event by seeking to errode some of the constitutional protections we enjoy in the name of enhancing national security. Those that failed to support them in this action were removed from government service and thrown to the dogs. Many were made example of to ensure the rest of the members of the federal service toed the line.
In seeking to restrict certain liberties the Republicans played into the hands of the terrorists. One of the main goals of a terrorist movement is to cause nations and societies to restrict freedoms and increase security measures. The intent of this is to cause the government of the nation state to over react and therebye undermine support for it from the people. The intent being to discredit the government and cause it to create large numbers of people receptive to the message being promulgated by the terrorists.
The republicans failed to understand what Osama Bin Ladden was attempting to due and played into his hands. The resulting actions of the current Republican administration severly damaged the reputation and standing the United States arround the globe.
In reaction to this failure of leadership, many rebelled. Among the rebels were some of the best and brightests minds this nation ever produced. Even the Republican party was not immune to rebellion as evidenced by the actions of Senator John Macain.
All of the rebels including John Macain worked from within the system to bring down the current administration while protecting the integrity of the United States and its political system.
Through the use of timed and coordinated leeks of information and media releases at key decision points, the current adminsitration was weakened and then over thrown at the polls.
This posting is not an endorsement of John Mcain but recognition of his actions in recognizing the failure of the current administration.
Linked via the internet, email, blogs and via media websites, churches and networks of contacts a peaceful group of highly skilled and trained rebels conducted an information warfare campaign against the current administration. These rebels were trained by the government of the United States in information warfare, clandestine operations and communications, agent network and case management. Each also possessed advanced degrees from some best universities in the United States. These men and women were bound by a shared respect for the constitution of the United States and the documents published by its founders. Contained in these documents are the words that these men and women swore to give up their lives for. Those words are as follows:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
The people of the United States are now faced with a choice come November and a chance to elect a administration that will restore the honor and integrity of our nation.
It hoped by this posting to honor the men and women that served this nation and acted to preserve the freedoms many died for.
Ivan/freedom of speech
|Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2008 - 12:07 pm: |
Free Speech under attack, revisited.
This is a follow up to this post above: Is Freedom of Speech and Democracy compatible with Sharia?, where the compatibility between our Western values of 'freedom of expression' are being challenged by the powers who would replace it with 'blasphemy laws' instead.
From: OIC's "blasphemy" laws "turning freedom of expression into restriction of expression"
Read it all.
European governments are also concerned. The European Centre for Law and Justice filed a brief with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in June warning that such anti-defamation resolutions “are in direct violation of international law concerning the rights to freedom of religion and expression.”
U.S. officials working on human rights said the resolutions are being used to justify harsh blasphemy laws in countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan and Afghanistan.
The American and European governments warn that the resolution — which specifically mentions Islam but no other religions — is “an Orwellian text” that has been used to shut down free speech.
Once freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry, freedom to criticize, freedom to seek the truth is all lost to dogma, it is very hard to regain it. Remember these hard fought freedoms were gained at the price of heavy human sacrifice. Do not let these freedoms slip from your grasp, or civilization will take a giant step backwards into the repressive tyranny of the mind our ancestors suffered centuries ago. Imagine a world without artistic expression, without scientific inquiry, without philosophical debate, without the beauty of life as a humanity free to explore the world created by God? That is what these "blasphemy laws" would snuff out. You will be forbidden to speak.
The light of freedom is the most precious gift they gave us, so do not let it snuff out. Freedom is against slavery of the mind. Never forget these basic human principles*, because once again they are being challenged by 'religious dogma', which seeks to deceive or silence the truth. Always seek the truth, and no one may stop you from doing so.
*(Five basic Human Principles of Freedom)
|Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2008 - 06:37 pm: |
Freedom vs. Slavery?
Agreement vs. Coercion; Justice vs. Dogma; Free Speech vs. Blasphemy Laws?
Is it not all the same thing? Are we free men and women, equally, or are we slaves to the masters?
How you answer, carefully consider how you answer, will determine whether you are a free human being, or slave.
|Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - 12:52 am: |
Institutionalized religious poverty.
For those of us who spend time studying the Suras and Hadiths, we have a fairly good understanding of Islam. We know, for example, that Islam is institutionalized poverty. It is an ideology not built around constructive and productive labor, but is built around warring and raiding, or slave taking, or piracy, kidnapping for ransom, and these are not productive enterprises except in the company of thieves and pirates. Islam is a very primitive ideology which forces people into poverty unless they are part of the raiding parties, so they share in the booty. But since that is no longer acceptable in the 21st century world, unlike how it was in the 7th, they are stuck in a primitive past. Therefore Islam is having a very difficult time adapting to modern ways. Hence, it remains hostile to modern civilization because it is aware at some low level that it had been left behind. Islam is institutionalized poverty for this reason, that it does not engender productivity. Go to any Islamic state, like Sudan or Egypt, or Bangladesh and Pakistan, or Afghanistan, or any of the central Asian 'stans and see how the people live. They live like in 13th century Europe, at best.
This regrettable condition is not without salvation, and I don't mean religious salvation, but of an economic sort. Taking Bangladesh as an example, an Islamic state carved out of India during the partition, while India is fast forward towards becoming a modern state and technologically progressive, Bangladesh remains a backwater of poverty. It is not poverty for lack of human resources, but rather institutionalized poverty due to quasi-religious cultural concerns, where the inshallah fatalism, that Allah controls all and humans are powerless, combined with a lack of a meaningful culture of "can do", the institutionalized poverty runs across the whole of society, so even the relatively rich, except for western supported Mid Eastern oil sheiks, are still poor. The recent introduction of Microcredit Banking, where very small sums are loaned for individuals to invest in some productive activity to repay these in the future, has shown promise, even in this islamic state. But if islamic sharia laws prevent such loans from originating in the first place, then the exercise becomes futile. However, since it has proven successful in Bangladesh, there is hope that individual persons can rise above the stifling regressive ideology of Islam, and become productive members of society, rather than 'warriors' for raiding for booty or slaves. The British forcibly outlawed black slavery in Sudan, though it still exists, and when it did so, there was no economy to speak of left behind. Sudan is now one of the poorest nations on Earth, and islamic sharia is its state of government.
Bangladesh has a population density of 1045/ km2, with a land area of about 147,500 km2; Singapore has about 6489/ km2, with a land area of only 707 km2. So it is not population density that is a problem, since Singapore with many more people in a small island land area is substantially better off per capita than Bangladesh. But if this population density is not the main cause of poverty, what is? It is cultural and religious, were individuals living in a sharia state are given no incentive to better themselves. Education above the level of memorizing the Quran and ahadiths is not encouraged. Nor are women encouraged to be productive in any workplace, except as producing more children, which themselves will be caught in this closed circle of poverty. Nor are the men particularly inclined to work, and rather would idle their time at the coffee shop smoking water pipes. Medicine from abroad is expensive, so the mind cannot develop to its full potential if disease saps it. The fatalism of "it is all god's will" - inshallah - further saps the mind from trying harder. So other than joining in some raiding party, or taking charity from the West, there is little prospect of personal well being in the sharia state. Therefore, unless and until this vicious cycle of sharia based poverty is broken, the Islamic world will continue to flounder somewhere in the 13th century, and never catch up to the rest of the word. Jihad, in spite of all its excuses for political causes, from Israel to 'occupation' of Islamic lands, is really nothing more than an extension of the old raid and take slaves ideology, though this is fully sanctified by the islamic religious texts. Much of talk about how Islam is peaceful is unsupported by historical evidence, and quite to the contrary, there seems to be ample evidence how it was not. Some think the reason Columbus got the blessing from Queen Isabela of Spain to find a western route to India was to avoid the piracy of shipping by Muslims in the Mediterranean. The rest of history is spectacular, which ultimately led to the most succesfull nation on Earth with a true "can do" attitude, exporting its ideals of liberty to the rest of the world. How unlike Bangladesh, or any of the other Islamic states. Migrants are flocking to America, not Bangladesh, or any of the Islamic states. Why is that?
The solution to this institutionalized poverty is to rid the people of a stifling religion. In the same way Europe rid itself of Medievalism, when Christianity was used to oppress the people into submission in the 13th century, so must the Eastern world rid itself of sharia cum jihad Islam. There is no room for this kind of oppressive ideology holding humanity back in the 21st century. Start small, like the Microcredit banking in Bangladesh, but then build on that momentum to liberate human beings from an oppressed state of mind, that enslaving condition of total slave like 'submission', to raise up the populations in islamic states from their institutionalized poverty. It will not be easy, and many who are vested in the power structures of sharia will resist it, both at the clerics level as well as the jihad warriors whose existence on the booty and piracy economy is necessary. Disenfranchise them, and the Third World conditions of islamic states will vanish almost overnight. People are inherently productive, as the Bangladesh Microcredit experiment proves. Unleash their creative powers, give them the liberty to find their own way in life without fear of punishments, and watch them grow like flowers in the desert. The people of Islam can too have that salvation, if they are allowed the "can do" philosophy of life. It's called Liberty, and it works.
When each human being is his or her own master, a miracle happens: Poverty is eradicated. In the past few decades humanity has made great strides towards eradicating poverty, except in the islamic states. Why not there too? It "can be done" for Muslims too, but if, and only if, they drop their religious shackles of the mind.
|Posted on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - 01:20 am: |
PLEASE NOTE: the editors of Humancafe do not necessarily endorse all comments posted. The above may be read in the spirit of dialogue, but not necessarily endorsed by this board. Thank you.
Editors, Humancafe.com forums
Ivan/forums -decade later
Posted From: 220.127.116.11
|Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2008 - 02:00 pm: |
Stats for Humancafe.com - 2008
Click on image, then on any month to see data
We began this internet cafe 1998, and now 10 years later we see how much the world had been changed by the web. Though Humancafe forums will go into 'safekeeping' by the end of the year, they will remain open for all to read. We now get about 2000 visitors per month, but this may rise or fall. (See Poscript "A new ERA" post.) Regardless, the Postscript pages will remain open. We now live in a different world, so watch this space.
anon/pirates at sea
|Posted on Wednesday, December 03, 2008 - 09:04 am: |
'Sweet deals' for piracy at sea?
(BBC News - interactive)
Pirates in Somalia are making a fortune by hijacking ships and demanding ransoms to set them and their crews free - one official estimates the total this year to be around $150m.
There are conflicting reports about how much they want for the Saudi oil tanker they seized last month, the Sirius Star, and its cargo of two million barrels of oil, but how do you negotiate and deliver a pirate ransom in the 21st Century?
From what can be gleaned - how the negotiations run their course and how the ransoms are paid - what goes on would be worthy of a Hollywood action movie script.
"No matter what process is taken, they always go through a middleman," advises BBC Somali service analyst Said Musa. "And trust is at the heart of everything."
Fahid Hassan, who has experience of the negotiations, says that after boarding the ship, the first step for the pirates is to make contact with its owners.
"All the important documents are there on the ship, so the pirates can know easily all the information they need," he says.
"The talks are by telephone, mostly satellite phone but sometimes even SMS/text messages are sent. The pirates do not negotiate themselves. They hire someone and often this person is a relative; someone they can trust."
"But once the money is delivered the negotiator gets a share, the same as a pirate. Everyone on the ship gets an equal share."
Mr Hassan says that in the past, the ransom was delivered by money transfer, but that now owners hire a third party to hand over the money directly.
"They come onto the ship or the pirates get onto their boat for the handover of the bags of cash," he says.
However, Mr Middleton says that such operations cost about $1m, not including the ransom.
"The professional negotiators get about $100,000 for their services and the lawyers get a fee of about $300,000," he explains.
Regarding what goes on behind closed doors, be it the negotiations and the legal and insurance matters as a result of these hijackings, Mr Middleton says it would be fair to say that, "most of it happens in London," he adds.
Would it be fair to say that some ship captains and crew may be more than unwilling accomplices, if the cut goes all around?