For 9/11

This seemed appropropriate to re-post today, the tenth anniversary of the event which inspired its need. The problems we are to overcome seem more prevalent and prominent today.

This statement was issued by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States in December 2001 as a response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. It first appeared as a full-page statement in The New York Times on December 21, 2001 and was subsequently reprinted in dozens of other newspapers around the country.

At this time of world turmoil, the United States Baha’i community offers a perspective on the destiny of America as the promoter of world peace.

More than a hundred years ago, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, addressing heads of state, proclaimed that the age of maturity for the entire human race had come. The unity of humankind was now to be established as the foundation of the great peace that would mark the highest stage in humanity’s spiritual and social evolution. Revolutionary and world-shaking changes were therefore inevitable.

The Baha’i writings state:

“The world is moving on. Its events are unfolding ominously and with bewildering rapidity. The whirlwind of its passions is swift and alarmingly violent. The New World is insensibly drawn into its vortex….Dangers, undreamt of and unpredictable, threaten it both from within and from without. Its governments and peoples are being gradually enmeshed in the coils of the world’s recurrent crises and fierce controversies….The world is contracting into a neighborhood. America, willingly or unwillingly, must face and grapple with this new situation. For purposes of national security, let alone any humanitarian motive, she must assume the obligations imposed by this newly created neighborhood. Paradoxical as it may seem, her only hope of extricating herself from the perils gathering around her is to become entangled in that very web of international association which the Hand of an inscrutable Providence is weaving.”

The American nation, Baha’is believe, will evolve through tests and trials to become a land of spiritual distinction and leadership, a champion of justice and unity among all peoples and nations, and a powerful servant of the cause of everlasting peace. This is the peace promised by God in the sacred texts of the world’s religions.

Establishing peace is not simply a matter of signing treaties and protocols; it is a complex task requiring a new level of commitment to resolving issues not customarily associated with the pursuit of peace.

Universal acceptance of the spiritual principle of the oneness of humankind is essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace.

Racism, one of the most baneful and persistent evils, is a major barrier to peace.
The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality of the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged, prerequisites of peace.

The inordinate disparity between rich and poor keeps the world in a state of instability, preventing the achievement of peace.

Unbridled nationalism, as distinguished from a sane and legitimate patriotism, must give way to a wider loyalty, to the love of humanity as a whole.

Religious strife, the cause of innumerable wars and conflicts throughout history, is a major obstacle to progress. The challenge facing the world’s religious leaders is to contemplate, with hearts filled with compassion and the desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their God, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace.

Baha’is pray, “May this American Democracy be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the standard of the Most Great Peace.”

During this hour of crisis, we affirm our abiding faith in the destiny of America. We know that the road to its destiny is long, thorny and tortuous, but we are confident that America will emerge from her trials undivided and undefeatable.

The source of the above text of The Destiny of America and the Promise of World Peace.

Saint Valentine

We celebrate with flowers, candy, dinner, and gifts the beheading of the patron saint of love, bee keepers, young people, and happy marriages. The flowers all of a sudden make sense given the bee keeper part of his domain.

I forget how interesting Catholicism can be. According to Catholic Online….

Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith in effectual, commended him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270…. To abolish the heathens lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honor of their goddess Februata Juno, on the fifteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day.

So like positioning Christmas near the Winter Solstice to combat the pagans, Saint Valentine’s Day was used to counter Juno. Of course, how times have changed for writing the names of the opposite sex to be considered lewd.

Naturally, my sister-in-law prefers the Medieval Romantic-esque version the priest Valentine confidentially married couples as the (she says king which Rome did not have in 270AD) emperor had outlawed. The people gave flowers to show their solidarity. “Your Valentine” came from the signature on the love notes he sent his jailer’s daughter. She wonders how anyone can be against this kind of Valentine’s Day. How about this? It was the Medieval equivalent of a romance novel. Fiction. Not truth. It may have a sappy spirit, but I do not go around believing in Artificial Intelligent robots truly exist because I read I, Robot.
🙂

UPDATE: The Dark Origins of Valentine’s Day from NPR…

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival – or longer, if the match was right.

The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, “It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.”

Around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant “lover of women.” That was likely confused with St. Valentine’s Day at some point, in part because they sound alike.

Martin Luther King, Jr. : Quotes to Make You Think

Various Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes my Facebook friends posted today. Strangely enough I did not already have any on the Quotes to Make You Think page.

The time is always right to do what is right.

Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. (from Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.)

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Some others:

Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another’s flesh. (from Why We Can’t Wait, 1963.)

All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

Of course, the The Vision of Race Unity: America’s Most Challenging Issue seems very applicable here. Dr. King’s views and that of the Baha’i Faith seem very much in sync.

December Dilemma

From a CNN article, For Many, December’s a Dilemma by Joe Sterling (mentioned by Phillipe Copeland):

Navigating the Christmas season can be a challenge for the millions of people who don’t celebrate the holiday. Many acknowledge and sometime embrace the season’s customs, such as gift-giving and sending out greeting cards, while at the same time they are conscious of maintaining their own religious identities.

I will admit, when I was Catholic, Christmas was significantly easier. There was no conflict as I was wholly within the mainstream of others I knew. Choosing to become a member of the Bahá’í Faith didn’t significantly reduce the importance of Christmas for me. Bahá’í don’t celebrate Christmas with each other. Nor would we alienate those around us who choose to celebrate. Similarly, I would hope people don’t feel alienated when I fast in the

We still eat with family on Christmas Day. True, I no longer to to midnight or Christmas Day mass. My mother, who is also a Bahá’í stopped giving Christmas presents and only gave Ayyám-i-Há presents, a Bahá’í celebration in February just prior to our Fast and New Year. She does give presents to my brother and his wife who give and receive presents with their other family. I no longer expect Christmas presents or put up a tree, but that is okay.

Keep in mind Christmas as we celebrate it now, merges several holidays, making it convoluted. The primary one, the birth of Jesus, resonates with the Baha’i Faith. We recognize the station of Jesus and all his accomplishments. The Wiccan / Druidic winter solstice, Germanic Yuletide, the Roman Saturnia all are comingled into Christmas. As other faiths like Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Islam, Judaism, and even Kwanzaa deal with the surrounding peoples celebrating Christmas, their traditions could trade in and out with Christmas. In the end, the sentiment of giving gifts is a good one, assuming one doesn’t go to excess.

The real dilemma ought to be what is the impact of gift giving. Joel Waldfogel, an economist, thinks receivers value gifts less than the giver, causing a loss in value to the economy, so he recommends gift cards. Several Bahá’ís and Christians I know donate to charities instead of gifts.

Americans Are Hindus?

Perhaps I don’t understand a Newsweek article advocating Americans have more in common with Hinduism than Christianity?

First, the numbers of Americans who agree with the sentiments are 65%, 30%, and 24% respectively for each argument. We’d use numbers as strong as 30% and 24% to illustrate people are opposed to something. Of course, we’d use “only” to precede the terribly small number.

Second, the one decent argument, that Americans are accepting there are many paths to God can be found in many of the world’s religions. The Baha’i Faith takes it a step further. God started each of the major religions to bring all of humanity together in moral maturity. Yes, there are differences. However, distilling the teachings down to what they teach about morality, there is far more in common than distinct.

Hinduism is more than respect for people choosing their own path to God, being spiritual, or cremation. Americans are much more complex than these ideas as well.

Frustrations

American politics frustrates me. Little of it is genuine. People are being tricked into believing obvious lies. Positions are veiled in marketing speak to make them sound better than the reality. Maybe there is an honest candidate? I just don’t have faith in the integrity in the American political system. In any case, I have already voted. I recommend that if you can, then get it done ASAP and prior to the actual election day.

Apparently, there are lots of car accidents on Election Day? I’ll hopefully be teleworking that day.

I turned down an offer to work a website called Real World Painting. The kid doing the web site let it get suspended (back up now). So the owner wanted my advice. He really needs the most help with search engine optimization. He’s interested in reading up on it. Does anyone have suggestions?

A friend has turned up with lymphoma. So I will probably set up a website to accept donations to help this family with the expenses.

Been talking with Mom about the economy. I did a quick calculation. Add $700 billion to the $10.3 trillion national debt to get $11 trillion. The employed U.S. workforce is about 145,255,000. That puts the burden of this debt at $75,728.89 per worker. Add in those on unemployment or not in the labor force to get 234 million people. We share a $46,936.33 burden. Last I did this calculation it was only around $30 thousand.

That is enough for now.

Upgrade, Upgrade, Upgrade

Be more secure! Upgrade today.

Want better functionality? Upgrade today.

Save a developer! Upgrade today.

The save a developer thing is the impetus for this post.

The upgrade today mantra annoys me.

  1. Software rarely spends enough time in alpha and beta cycles to to identify all the issues.
  2. People have been so burned by using software in alpha and beta cycles, they are hesitant to try upgrades and help determine the issues.
  3. This lack of attention to the problems ensure, versions 1.0, 2.0, n.0 typically have a ton of unknown problems or are even less secure at times.

Unfortunately, the vendor who makes the application platform we run, Blackboard, has a philosophy to look at new web browsers while they are in beta but not actually work towards fixes for the new browsers until after the products are released. With most releases of Java or supported web browsers (Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox), Blackboard heard the complaints by the early adopters and released within a couple months an update which resolved the reported issues.

The students and faculty members fail to understand the issue. I think I do. Blackboard (like WebCT prior) understands there are differences between beta and final. Some of us argue these differences are usually minor. However, this is all asking someone to predict the future which we know is haphazard at best.

Long alpha and beta cycles allow more users to get involved, give those back to the developers, have them fixed before the version release. Burning users with buggy software ensures their lack of faith.

False Panacea

I ran across Jon Udell’s post on The once and future university which pointed to Mike Caulfield’s post with the video (Transcript).

Technology, I think, is a false Panacea. The role of information technology is to better aggregate information for whatever it is we do. Such aggregation draws disparate sources together, but the sources fail to fit together well which makes work with them more challenging. True, higher education in general lags behind by years, but there are individuals taking these new technologies and applying them to teaching. Not every technology helps students to learn just by using it. A DVD player, for instance, requires an educator to determine when to use it: what materials are applicable to the class, which students need to see it, are the students ready to comprehend the content, etc. Its not, “Oh, there is a DVD player in the classroom, so lets play anything.”

You might be thinking I am a Luddite. These kids were only online 3.5 hours a day. I am online 8+ hours a day including weekends! We like technology because it can be very useful. The students writes thousands of emails a years. Great! Now, what did they learn out of those emails? I’ve taken an email based class and boy was I confused by the end. Of all the classes I still refer to this day, that class is never one of them. Of course, I can say the same of many email discussions I am involved to this day.

There is no single piece of technology by which everyone will benefit 100% information comprehension in every use. Some people find the same piece intuitive while others will become bogged down by frustration in the lack of usability. I suspect part of this is in how people learn. I learned a long time ago, there were people I could email a set of directions describing what to do and they could do it. Others might need screen shots. Others might need someone over the phone or face-to-face speaking words about what to do. Some required doing it right that instant so the motor action of each click would become ingrained. So many disparate ways to comprehend creates a need for the same information to exist in many different forms.

The teaching assistant or professor lecturing on a topic adequately meets the needs for some students. Its been ironic to me educators and Educational Psychologists have been studying this for years and implementing fantastic solutions in K-12 classrooms, but in universities these solutions barely make traction. I have faith they will. Technical schools, private colleges, and professional education institutes make use of the solutions. Retention has become an important measure of university success. Universities have responded by attempting to fix everything but the ways content is learned. As students fail out of the universities and find success with these higher education alternative, these students the universities failed will have children whom they encourage to find an alternative.

Dinosaurs vs. Fraggles

Amazon.com: Dinosaurs – The Complete First and Second Seasons

Created before the days of computer animation, Dinosaurs is an early 1990s television comedy series featuring impressive anthropomorphic, animatronic creatures created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. The story lines challenge some of society’s most basic assumptions and explore some of the most universally troublesome aspects of “civilized” life. Set in six million three BC, the Sinclairs are your “typical” blue-collar dinosaur family attempting to adjust to the relatively new concept of communal living. The adjustments of moving from a nomadic lifestyle to one of domestication and social interaction are many, and challenging issues like the concepts of right and wrong, faith, and the intricacies of family relationships are forever besieging this every-man’s family. Naturally, the Sinclair family approach is to address each obstacle with an abundance of slapstick comedy. The Dinosaurs episodes regularly function on dual levels: the puppetry and silly antics like Baby Sinclair’s penchant for hitting her father over the head with a pan while hollering “Not the Mama” appeal to even the youngest children, but the often pointed social commentary and sometimes mature themes are squarely aimed at an adult audience. As a result, parental discretion and guidance are key in determining whether this series is appropriate for children under 9 or 10 years old. –Tami Horiuchi

Bold added by me. LOL This was one of my brother’s favorite shows when he was 6! I do recall not finding this show nearly as fascinating as Fraggle Rock. However, I was 7 at the time it came out on HBO (thanks, Grandma, for recording them all to VHS)!

TV is how I was babysat. Its how I babysat my little bro. Some would likely say its why I watch entirely too much TV. Perhaps…. I don’t watch all junk. At least a quarter are science or history shows. So I just repeat the misinformed soundbites. 🙂