March 2011


Israel to be the  next to land on the moon? Wow.  I hope so!
There is something wonderfully poetic that a tiny “start-up nation,”  and within 65 years, might just be the nation to land a spacecraft on the moon and win Google’s Lunar X Prize. And then turn around and sink that prize money into education? Wow!   I sure agree with them, that it has to be more than just studying science, engineering and math; critical and creative thinking when combined are a powerful source of innovation. It will be exactly that kind of expansive thinking that gets the spacecraft to the moon. The ages of these three young men? 30, 28 and 24.
Haaretz has a full article but my favorite quote is “Will they make it? Will they realize their ambition? Winetraub says Yes. He seems confident that come the year 2012, if you have a really sharp telescope, you’ll be able to see that Israeli flag on the moon.”
For full article from Forbes:
Mar. 30 2011 – 6:01 am
By DANIEL FREEDMAN
If all goes according to plan, by December 2012 a team of three young Israeli scientists will have landed a tiny spacecraft on the moon, explored the lunar surface, and transmitted live video back to earth, thereby scooping up a $20 million prize (the Google Lunar X Prize), revolutionizing space exploration, and making the Jewish State the third nation (after the U.S. and Russia) to land a probe on the moon. And they’re doing it in their spare time.

The three engineers – Yariv Bash (electronics and computers), Kfir Damari (communication systems), and Yonatan Winetraub (satellite systems) all have high-level day jobs in the Israeli science and technology world, and also both teach and study. They all had heard of the Google Lunar X Prize independently, before being introduced by mutual friends who, as Yonatan puts it “thought we were all crazy enough to do it, so we should meet each other.”

By the end of November 2010 they had sketched together a novel plan to win the prize and submitted it to organizers. Only on December 21 (10 days before the December 31 deadline) did they set about raising the $50,000 entry fee. “Like good Israelis we left it to the last minute,” Yonatan laughs.

Since then they’ve recruited around 50 volunteers from across the Israeli science and technology community and have gained support from academic institutions, including the prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science (founded in 1933 by Chaim Weizmann, himself a successful chemist who went on to become Israel’s first president). They’re operating as a non-profit (“we’re looking for stakeholders,” says Project Coordinator Ronna Rubinstein), and any winnings will be invested in promoting science among Israeli youth.

(more…)

Advertisements

I’m teaching Jung’s synchronicity and the collective unconscious this week. I was trying to find a way to explain it in simple every day terms when my daughter provided the perfect example:  she conveniently “forgets” her speech at home, decides not to go back for it, gets to class and they have Reiki – turns out she doesn’t need the speech she decided she didn’t need. ??? Pretty funny. As for Pauli’s Effect which I’ve decided to introduce under the umbrella of synchronicity,  in my class of mostly will-be-scientists,  the Pauli Principle will be known but as to the “Pauli Effect’ (instruments breaking when he’s around, and so on) will be quickly discounted, along with the synchronicity.  But it should be an interesting day!

Update:

Yes, a few in class did know Pauli’s Principle, – I didn’t even try to explain quantum mechanics or what the connections are to  the argument of a collective unconscious, but the class understood the concepts and how they could have commonalities.  As for Pauli’s Effect- oh my- once I explained the ATM wouldn’t work and my daughter pushed me away and said, “Mom, step away from the machine,” and then it worked, – the students gave one example after another of seeing or experiencing similar glitches! I think, and I have unwittingly maybe convinced or at least opened the subject to this class, that as humans we have a wave length and it is connected to a greater system; we (our brain) are the filtering  devices that decode, analyze  and process the data from that greater system, which Jung called the collective unconscious, new-agers call ‘energy’ and I call the glue of the universe: EM.

Inasmuch as the Indians were deeply connected to the  earth, nature and the circle of life, this generation, whether or not we like it, knows/accepts that we as human beings are connected to the energy that surrounds us. We’ll continue to progress in ways that we make this energy network ‘work for us,’  and with us rather than live in denial that we’re connected to it. The difference is that for the Indians, it was not just a way of life but part their identity; and at this point, knowing we are connected to an energy of countless wavelengths and purposes has not yet transformed into a worship or a  respect that resembles a religion of some kind -or even an Indian kind of balanced circle of life.  I call this energy God, Intelligence and the Source of Creation, but I think  at this point of mankind’s  evolution it’s simply seen as science and progress.

Publisher Comments:

I have only one request,” Kafka wrote to his publisher Kurt Wolff in 1913. “‘The Stoker,’ ‘The Metamorphosis,’ and ‘The Judgment’ belong together, both inwardly and outwardly. There is an obvious      connection among the three, and, even more important, a secret one, for which reason I would be reluctant to forego the chance of having them published together in a book, which might be called The Sons.”Seventy-five years later, Kafka’s request is-granted, in a volume including these three classic stories of filial revolt as well as his own poignant “Letter to His Father,” another “son story” located between fiction and autobiography. A devastating indictment of the modern family, The Sons represents Kafka’s most concentrated literary achievement as well as the story of his own domestic tragedy.Grouped together under this new title and in newly revised translations, these texts — the like of which Kafka had never written before and (as he claimed at the end of his life) would never again equal — take on fresh, compelling meaning.

The Stoker, Metamorphosis, The Judgment: The past, the present, the future- albeit out of order?

I’ve had interesting dreams about his sons, three if I include the legacy dream; as to whether or not the dreams are about these three sons, I don’t know.   I never gave them a name or was told a name, but one is young, not matured and is sad because he can’t find his mother, while the other two are mature, confident and happy. Someday to publish and laugh about the dreams; but I have to admit, I do not know, at least consciously, why whatever it is that they have in common would fall in the category of a secret, or what the secret actually is. At least I don’t think I know!

What do I know?
I have to answer everything, potentially: to say otherwise would not be true. And so the process begins: unless it’s something I accidentally fall into- like when I accidentally became obsessed with studying the kaballah- I never seem to have the confidence or strong enough will to just go do something: I have to chart it and plan it and make lists. Laying out and analyzing all my dreams will be like that, including the dreams about his legacy and sons.  >As for the secret that so pleased the author and was withheld from his publisher,  I can say and with absolute certainty, that I am the young man in The Stoker,  and  I can also say that that isn’t the secret because in 1913 he had not yet thought of transforming fiction into reality, I being the reality. That would come later… (And that’s another conversation entirely.) … But there is wisdom to be found, and a triage: The first son living under an arrogant and rude father suffers humiliation and commits suicide;  the second son, Gregor,  also lives under the influence of an arrogant and course father, suffers humiliation, and instead of instantly killing himself,  he suffers alienation, slow starvation, and a long drawn out agonizing death; the third son, however,  is spared, sent to America and saved from a future humiliation.  I don’t know why Kafka would have thought that this triage was a secret, except he perhaps did not want to hope in the event the hope could not bear witness.

Michael Stein has written an honest and commendable  response to  Butler’s anti-Israel, anti-Zionism lecture. (below)

As to “who” should own Kafka? The actual Art can be kept from the public, but ideas can’t be  confiscated, burned or killed, – and they can’t be owned.  Like seeds thrown to the wind, ideas will float around and land some place, take root and sprout new ideas and new seeds.     As a German writer, there is no greater honor than  to be housed with the best writers of German literature; this means Goethe.  It may not be “home” for Kafka but being with Goethe is as close as it gets, and if Marbach includes what was stolen, it will have a greater purpose that even Israel will approve.  Rather than hire Israeli lawyers in the effort to win the right to bid on Max’s  trove, (which will become public to everyone at some point of time anyway) at this point of perpetual trials, the lawyers and the Marbach Archives should invest their time and money into  recovering and making public the work confiscated by the Nazi’s; and while they’re at it, they should go back to search Dora’s apartment and recover what the Nazis missed. All this work should be housed together because only when it’s complete  and together will the complete story be told.

As to the ‘use of Kafka,’ the law is the law and it’s time for the Nazis to return everything they stole, and admit what they stole, when, where and why. It would be excellent if Marbach was forefront in this effort and chronicled the process. I’m thinking of  “Menachem and Fred,” two survivors who wrote their memoirs and then produced a film which received a Peace Award last year.  The lawyers and the courts, in restoring Kafka to the open air, could learn much by emulating these two brave men and their families.  I spoke with Fred in private away from the crowd and also from a Q&A group after a showing of the film.  I cried.  I also found closure.

From the Czech article, The Uses of Kafka,” written by Michael Stein:

“Franz Kafka never had the fortune, whether good or bad, of being just a writer. During his lifetime he hardly published anything and had a firm principle against making his living with his pen. After his death it became even worse. He went from being a one-man Jewish oracle to a 20th Century prophet of doom, from a spiritual guide to a poster boy of neurotic failure – with the fiction he labored over being placed alongside letters and apocryphal conversations as mere pieces of evidence in the court of interpretation.

As modern as ever, the Kafka of the 21st Century is more like IKEA, a huge do-it-yourself store where you can furnish your intellectual arguments to your heart’s content. The lecture that American post-structuralist philosopher Judith Butler gave February 4 to launch the London Review of Books’ winter series – “Who Owns Kafka?” – is a case in point.

The lecture is presumably centered on the long-running trial Israeli trial over the ownership of a trove of Kafka manuscripts and the papers of his friend Max Brod, who left the documents to his secretary and lover Esther Hoffe at his death in 1968. Upon Hoffe’s death in 2007 Israel’s National Library contested her will to leave the papers to her two daughters, claiming them by the terms of Brod’s will. The complexity of the case has all too predictably proven to be prime breeding ground for the much abused term “Kafkaesque.”

On February 25 the inventory of documents was revealed as including a manuscript of “Wedding Preparations in the Country” among other short stories as well as some of Kafka’s diaries and letters, along with Max Brod’s as yet unpublished diaries. Asking the question of who will, or even should, own this literary treasure plunges one back into an interminable labyrinth that neither lawyers nor literary scholars seem equipped to decide.

Though Butler’s lecture is titled with a question she doesn’t offer much of an answer to it. Quite the opposite in fact. The lecture was advertised with a description saying that she “proposes a reading of Kafka’s parables that quarrels with both sides of the legal case . .” Somehow I don’t see either legal team calling her in as an expert witness. (more…)

Mises Daily: Monday, March 21, 2011 by Jeffrey A. Tucker

http://mises.org/daily/5130/The-Real-Meaning-of-Defense

“The horror of Muammar Gaddafi’s approach to keeping power in Libya boggles the mind and shocks the moral conscience. But how different is his approach from the way most all governments behave in the face of citizen revolt? There are differences among them with regard to how far they will go to force submission, but the methods and the rationale everywhere are the same in all times and places.

In 2006, Gaddafi told the students at Columbia University: “There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet.” Five years later, the people themselves are revealed as his ultimate enemies, and for one reason: he wants to stay whereas they want him gone. Therefore he must stop at nothing. He must kill them: “We will come house by house, room by room. … It’s over. The issue has been decided…. We will find you in your closets. We will have no mercy and no pity.”

To his mind, it’s not complicated. This is how a peaceful protest against dictatorship became what is called a “civil war,” which is really just a despot’s war against freedom. People holding signs and vigils were forced into a defensive mode and are now full-time “rebels” against the regime, the entire country torn to pieces by one’s man’s stubbornness and megalomania. The state that had always promised to defend the people — that is why Gaddafi had rule with an iron hand — is now slaughtering them so that the state can live.

There is something to learn from this. The issue of who owns the guns, who or what possesses the military power, who or what is charged with “national defense,” is not some abstract problem of economic or political theory. It is not an issue to be considered in the appendix of a public finance text or debated in the hallways of think tanks.

No, the issue of defense services might in fact be the central issue that determines whether or not a society is and can remain free. Without getting rid of the “defense” power of the state, any and every state, the people will always be subject to the discretionary will of those in power, and there is nothing apart from conscience, to stop any state in the world from becoming the killing field of Libya today…”

I have never owned a gun and never will; I won’t even live in a house with a gun, but I would join ranks and defend my family and community from an act of  seizure. And if handed one, I would fire a gun if attacked. I would not die defenseless or a pacifist.  I’m not alone in that decision.  History certainly supports Tucker’s argument that a defenseless citizen has everything to lose.  If the Nazis had not taken the guns from their opponents, Kristallnacht might never have happened.  After that bloody night Jews were forbidden from owning guns, pointed weapons or even blunted weapons. If  Kristallnacht and stripping the people of their self-defense failed would there have been a Final Solution? Would there have been a World War? I answer no.

In an age of Stuxnet, drones, Growlers, Prowlers and the ability to freeze bank accounts there is absolutely no need for the US and its ‘coalition of the willing’ to be bombing anything or anyone, except to deliver food and medical supplies to those who need it.

On his blog, Kelly Bulkeley has an interesting question and answer in regards to Jared Loughner, plus this interesting conclusion about lucid dreaming

http://kellybulkeley.com/jared-loughners-dream-journal/

…It’s rather that we need to ask the right questions about lucid dreaming.  The characters in Dreamside are so intent on figuring out how to induce lucid dreaming that they never ask themselves why they want to do so in the first place.  The “how” question is relatively easy, but if you haven’t reflected carefully on the “why” question you may find yourself woefully unprepared for what you encounter.   This is the same message that Hindu and Buddhist sages have taught for centuries: it is indeed possible to learn lucid dreaming techniques, but those techniques are best practiced within a context of spiritual training, guidance, and self-reflection.  The college students in Dreamside have grown up in the morally impoverished world of Thatcher-era Britain, and they have few cultural resources to help them make sense of their experiences.   Perhaps the greatest achievement of Joyce’s novel is that it provides what its characters lack—a wise and healthily cautious understanding of human dreaming potential…

When the 63 students applying to my class answered the three application questions to register, the near majority stated they were interested in lucid dreaming. A year ago, there was no interest in lucid dreaming; I attribute the spike to the movie, Inception. I certainly do not know if they have or live in a “morally impoverish world of Thatcher-era Britain with few cultural resources” but I can hazard a guess and say they are normal kids: many of them very bright and inquisitive with a well  rounded exposure to a  diverse and interesting culture. I agree answering their questions as to how is easier to tackle, but to answer the question of why they’re interested will be found with open dialogue, and a lot of it. My goal, which has changed since I first introduced the class, is  to teach them to think for themselves.   By thinking critically they can analyze movies and literature and determine  what is real, what is possible and and what is mere entertainment. It’s no different than analyzing a math problem or looking at scientific data. To this point, I agree with Dr. Bulkeley that a wise and healthy approach to understanding dreams and lucid dreaming is key. What is interesting about my current class of students is that most are planning careers in science, most believe AI will be a part of their future, and most believe the basis of Avatar is probable,  (growing a body, settling a planet, hooking up to machines for AI, and capitalism will destroy nature ) and the tech and concepts in Inception are not.

Interestingly, Wired.com had a story recently about a “thinking cap,” designed by the Sydney Center for The Mind, that suppreses the eleft side of the brain to encourage a more creative right side.  This seems to be no different than the wiring connected to the brain “used” in The Cell, The Matrix, Avatar and Inception. Evidently the future is already here. (No doubt the CIA has had this for decades…. and that’s another topic!)

As  to whether of not Jared Loughner’s dream journal is a valuable piece of evidence, I answer yes. The unconscious state and dreaming is the accumulation of a person’s intake and a reflection of his conscious existence, even if dreaming is often illogical and makes no sense.  The difference, as a comparison,  is that most people do not dream about violence; if he did indeed dream violence, that’s a reflection of a very real persona.  The diary will explain his state of mind and provide the medical evidence of his inability to function as a whole and healthy human being and if he was sliding into violence. I also think it will bear witness on our current culture and the downward spiral as increasing numbers of people believe conspiracy theories, that we’re controlled by the government and outside forces, because so much of this has become part of our culture and entertainment systems.  Was he schizophrenic or was he merely the product of what he read and watched? Answering that will become part and parcel to the defense of how and why a young mind that went terribly wrong.


http://www.newsweek.com/2011/03/20/how-dumb-are-we.html?om_rid=CTiCsY&om_mid=_BNhmKiB8ZvuD37

“NEWSWEEK gave 1,000 Americans the U.S. Citizenship Test–38 percent failed. The country’s future is imperiled by our ignorance.

They’re the sort of scores that drive high-school history teachers to drink. When NEWSWEEK recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar….”

I’m a lead tutor and responsible six other tutors and the 19 students in an inner-city school. During President Day’s week, when students would be most apt to know about the history of their country, (one would only think) I had Longfellow’s collection of poems with me, and decided since I was tutoring three students at a time rather than just one, to have them read Paul Revere’s Ride.  None of the three ever heard of Longfellow, Paul Revere, knew where Old North Church is or even heard of the story. Only one knew that America fought a war for its independence from Britain. They had to be explained how far 26 miles is.  The two students in the next session were no different. These five students live within miles of those historical landmarks but  do not have even a basic  knowledge  of Boston’s significance and its link to freedom and democracy. These same ninth graders do, however, know absolutely everything about slavery in the United States and throughout the world, Martin Luther King, civil rights and the history of Haiti.

I have no explanation as to why 5 ninth graders do not know the US declared and won independence from Britain, accept to generalize,  and say that for their knowledge of geography, American history, government or civic responsibilities,  since they’re not tested on these topics in the MCAS test and there is no Civic SAT or Citizenship Test, then I have to conclude that since there is no reason to be taught these subjects,  they are glossed over. Along these lines, decades ago I worked for a company that thought before a student could graduate he should be shown how to manage money. That would include the basics such as checking and saving  accounts, balancing your account, buying your first car and signing loan papers, signing a lease and when or why to use a credit card.  However, no schools were interested and the idea was dropped.   By not giving the students a broad education with access to these topics  we limit their diversity, but worse,  we hinder their potential for progress and prosperity. Is that being fair with them? Is it honest? I say no.

Many people seem to have surrendered their critical thinking skills- some of them very well educated- yet they believe things they read on the internet, hear on talk radio or see on TV or in movies as historical and accurate when they are neither.  A college student recently told me she was hooked on the new reality show about polygamy. I was surprised and told her it may be reality but it wasn’t true because polygamy is illegal. She insisted, absolutely and stubbornly insisted it was legal because it was on a reality show. Hmmm.   An individual from Poland expressed his astonishment of how gullible Americans are because they don’t question advertising, the news, etc; but anyone who ever lived under communism quickly learned to not believe everything (or anything) they read in the news without first taking time to think about it and verify. (I’ve heard the same from Harvard students whose parents are from China)  At what point need we reach before we address this issue, or do we let ourselves slide into a nanny state where a government managed by a few, determine what is best for the majority?

Rather than regulate the internet, banks and television, (and culture as a  whole) to protect the consumer,  we should require students to understand personal finance and pass a critical thinking test before they receive a high school diploma. And before a person votes, pass a basic Citizenship Test, either verbally or written. The three qualifications, personal finance, critical thinking and civic responsibilities,  will never be required or become part of the education system, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be.

An American Renaissance

Emerson and Thoreau chafed under the reins of education at that time,  even the much revered Harvard, and from that, American Transcendentalism was born. America was soon awash with new modes of thinking, teaching  and  writing.  I look around at the writers and respected thinkers  of today and don’t see my Emerson or Thoreau; I see “the documentary work” of Michael Moore and Reality TV. To say we’re approaching a 21st century American  Renaissance is an understatement. We’re falling off a cliff and mere feet from crashing into the rocks, but I have to hope we will not hit bottom but we will instead, in the desperate act of self-preservation, make a major  adjustment, survive the crash and find ourselves in the infancy of a new and second American Renaissance.

Next Page »