Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Wise are Delusional

Dr. Manhattan: In my opinion, the existence of life is a highly overrated phenomenon.

 Irrelevant whether there exists a single universe or multiverse, this universe started with a single spontaneous burst and expanded at first into a hot dense cloud of gas and dust. This happened 13.75 ± 0.11 billion years ago. 

This cloud started expanding at an exponential rate, and the larger it got, the cooler it gets. Formations started to appear, and so far, the oldest galaxy dates back to 500 million years after the Big Bang.

Celestial bodies and formations kept on appearing, Nebulas, Galaxies, Stars, Red Giants, Black Holes etc. At one point out there in the backwaters of the universe, in the boondocks of the small Milky Way galaxy is a Nano celestial formation which we call the solar system emerges.

This solar system which we call ours is roughly 4.5 billion years old, however during those 4.5 billion years, it’s mechanics were constantly changing, and its evolution was a violent one.

About 4 billion years ago in that solar system which we call ours, a small grain started to form from small particulates smashing together and rotating around a medium sized star. A spherical shape emerged that rotated around itself and that star in an elliptical manner. 

If I were to compare the state of the birth of earth, I would say it was like a blazing splinter, and that splinter started to eventually cool down, similar to the rest of the universe.  About 400 million years after its birth, earth started to look like a planet with an atmosphere, however, back then the atmosphere was very different than what it is now.

Life, which is most probably accidental, began its journey roughly 3.7 billion years ago with the formation of amino acids. They were formed from water (H2O), methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen (H2) combined with an extremely high energy, which is most probably lighting. 

These amino acids started to swarm and form and evolve in water to create the first life forms which were microorganisms. From those microorganisms came more evolved aquatic life forms, and fast forward billions of years of evolutions and you have animals.

Perhaps the most accidental of all the animals; and I am being biased and judgmental came about 2.4 million years ago. Homo-habilis was a pleasant ole chap that resembled your cousin the Gorilla, but the difference is that he is you great grandfather. 

Your great grandfather was both simple and complex in terms of cognitive abilities. His simplicity or complexity does depend on your perspective. Homo-habilis, (habilis as in handy) was named this way because they were believed to be the first to use tools.

Then came homo-rudolfensis then homo-ergaster then homo-cepranensis then homo-heidelbergensis then homo-rhodesiensis, and alas we reach the Neanderthal, which equates to your grandfather relative to homo-habilis. We are sub strands of Neanderthals, we are homo-sapiens and we came after homo-floresiensis which looked like hobbits and lived about 120 thousand years ago.

All of our ancestors were of decent cognitive abilities, the used tools and built functional societies. They started to develop habits in order to facilitate their daily life. However, what differentiates us homo-sapiens (sapiens as in wise) is that we were not only intrigued with how things worked, but we also wanted to know why things worked. So from that point on things started to get really interesting. We started to discover more, and the more we discovered the more oblivious and deluded we got with our findings.

Perhaps the “why” that baffled us the most was the “why do we die”, but I think that why is banal and our great grandfather has answered that question a long time ago. He realized that at some point of time things end, they just do, and that’s how things are. However, that answer makes us uneasy because we feel that we are special and should be eternal.

We reach a point which is roughly 60 thousand years BC, and at that point people were so concerned with the end, hence devised a ritual to make them more at ease. “The funeral”, it was created in Mesopotamia, more specific modern day Iraq.

The funeral complemented the delusion of an afterlife, so people started to expand on that postulate, and I think the epitome of that expansion was with the pharaohs and their monolithic pyramid tombs. However those religions and rituals were immeasurably schizophrenic so people wanted to make them more coherent and consistent. Therefore the idea of superior deities emerged which for a decent amount of time gave people’s lives meaning because it rid them of their fear in a more convenient manner.

However, certain people were not convinced with the delusion of multiple deities, because they were so “human” like in their behavior. Therefore, they ironically created a more elaborate delusion of a single omnipotent, all powerful everlasting deity. This was approximately 3000 years BC.

Obviously people expanded on their delusions to explain things, however, knowing how schizoid we are, we decided at some point to be pragmatic in parallel to our delusion, so determinism and physics (physics as in the study of nature) emerged, and it was more reliable in everyday live.

However, the latter do not give life meaning for they give the truth. There is no meaning in truth, meaning is found only in that which comforts our psyche, and truth does not.

The irony of the situation is that we crave meaning by explaining things yet those same things that we crave to explain are either irrelevant or contradictory with what comforts us. Looking at the big picture, I believe that we are so insignificant, accidental, and irrelevant to be concerned with explaining the universe, and the world in order to explain our mortality and give our lives meaning.  

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I passed by AUB's Online Collaborative on Friday around 7:30 pm. I came a bit late, but it was the only time I could pass by the event. There was a Panel discussion on Social Media for personal use, and it was moderated by Ayman Itani. It fount that it is no surprise for people to have that much power created by social media, in particular blogging. However it was interesting to hear about a couple of success stories related to blogging, it gives you an insight about the evolution of that medium.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Secular Lebanon

The general purpose of the presentation is to inform people about secularism and persuade them that secularism is the only means for political and social progress.

The specific purpose of the presentation is to persuade people that secularism must be implemented in Lebanon, because it is the only means for peace, prosperity, and stability in Lebanon.

I.                   The dictionary definition of secularism, atheism and sectarianism will be given during the introduction, and the various repercussion of each school of thought will be previewed.
A.    Secularism is a movement derived from the word secular, which means either of three things according to the online dictionary:
1.      Of or relating to worldly as opposed to sacred things; temporal.
2.      Not concerned with or related to religion.
3.      Not within the control of the Church.
B.     Atheism is a movement derived from the word Atheist, which has the following dictionary definitions:
1.       Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
2.      The doctrine that there is no God or gods.
C.     Sectarianism is also a school of thought, but is derived from the word sectarian, which according to the online dictionary means:
1.      Of, relating to, or characteristic of a sect.
2.      Adhering or confined to the dogmatic limits of a sect or denomination; partisan.
3.      Narrow-minded; parochial.
D.    A preview of what will be discussed in the body will be quickly shown on the PowerPoint presentation aid.

 Now that you know what secularism and sectarianism really means, a detailed comparison between them and their diverse repercussions will be discussed.


II.                The reasons that make the Lebanese refute the idea of secularism and its implementation are various. The following is a list of those reasons:
A.    People are not aware of the difference between secularism and atheism; hence the idea of a secular society becomes blasphemous.
B.     Contrary to the shared myth that Lebanese are highly educated people, they are not. Therefore their ability to interpret politics correctly is hindered, and instead of using reason they use indoctrinated beliefs to back up arguments.
C.     Lack of transparency in the Lebanese society among commoners and politicians alike is an indicator of lack of morality and self-control. Having a secular society requires people to restrict themselves to the laws, which at the moment they are not.
D.    Sectarian people fear the idea of being ruled by the other sect, and therefore believe that if Lebanon becomes a secular nation the majority which is the Shiite will rule all other sect, which in turn is a logical fallacy.

 Now that you know the main reasons why secularism is currently refuted in Lebanon, a Sign Post:preview of what sectarianism has done to Lebanon.

III.             Sectarianism has claimed the lives of millions of people throughout the history of Lebanon, and hindered social, educational, economic, and political growth.
A.    The history of Lebanon is mainly a history of sectarian violence  that has produced the following casualties:
a.       Between 1840 and 1860 sectarian violence between the Druze and the Christians of Mount Lebanon left more than 380 villages destroyed.
b.      1958 Conflict between the Government (Christian) and the Opposition (Sunni and Druze) produced 4000 casualties.
c.       1968, 1975-1990 Civil war between all sects of Lebanon produced 150,000 deaths, 200,000 wounded, 900,000 displaced, and 400,000 missing.
d.      More recently in 2008, civil unrest which started in May 8, and extended till the end of that year resulted in battles between the Sunnis, Shiites, and Druze, which in turn produced 104 casualties and 85 wounded.
B.     Sectarianism’s effect on the economy is very clear, and can be deduced from the negative GDP growth of -57% during the 1975-1990 Civil War and 75,000% devaluation on the Lebanese Lira.

After discussing the effects of sectarianism, the effects of secularism on different cultures including diverse cultures will be discussed.

IV.             The application of secularism on culturally diverse societies in the world and the Middle East.
A.    The UNDP has developed a cool called Human Development Index (HDI) for countries to measure which are the best, and which are the worst countries to live in. The top 10 countries with the highest HDI are all secular nations: Norway, Australia, Netherlands, and U.S.A. New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Germany, and Sweden.
B.     Turkey which is a conservative country and shares a large amount of cultural identifiers with Lebanon has turned secular more than 80 years ago, and since then it is experiencing steady growth on all levels including HDI.
C.     The USA is one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth, home to more than 30 different religious sects, yet maintains a superpower status and rank 4th on HDI. This was made possible due to the fact that politics is separated from religion.
The sectarian status of Lebanon has defined us as a third world developing nation, which has constant political and economic instability due to sectarian violence. Lebanon is constantly used as a scenario for what can happen when religion mixes with politics. It is time to put our narrow mindedness behind us, and prosper after thousands of years of suffering due to sectarianism.


(1999). Photographs in History (Arabic). In Photographs in History (Arabic) (p. 76). Beirut: Dar Al Nasher.
Atheist. (2011). Retrieved from The Free Online Dictionary by Farlex:
Sectarian. (2011). Retrieved from The Free Online Dictionary by Farlex:
Secular. (2011). Retrieved from The Free Online Dictionary by Farlex:
Life, T. P. (2010). U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Washington: PEW.
Mongabay. (1987, December). Lebanon - The 1958 War. Retrieved from Mongabay:
Sarkis, P. (2011, December 1). History Prof. at LAU. (R. Riachi, Interviewer)
SPILLER, R. J. (1981, January). Not War But Like War. Retrieved from Command and General Staff College:
UNDP. (2010). HDI Report 2010. Retrieved from
Wikipedia. (2011). 1860 Lebanon Conflict. Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Wikipedia. (2011). Lebanon. Retrieved from Wikipedia:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Starbucks CIO

Yesterday, LAU gave it's students the privilege to interview Mr. Gillet  online.

Mr. Gillet is the CIO "Chief Information Officer" for Starbucks, and happens to be Lebanese. I thought that was quite cool, its ironic that a top level exec in a Zionist enterprise is an Arab and a Jallad. Yes the family name Gillet is originally Jallad, which makes more sense, him being a Lebanese and all...

Any how, I honestly enjoyed reading the conversation despite the geeky technical computer language which I understood non of.

But the fact which I liked the most about him is being a gamer. I feel its like an F. U. to all the mediocre people who say that games are an utter waist of time!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Journalism Meh

On Monday the 17th of October, we were asked to audit a journalism course which should have been interesting because we were about to experience long distance learning with one of the leading journalists in the world, and he lived in the UK !

The experience was not interesting but the course instructor was, well at least her looks were interesting... A veiled university instructor with facial piercings was not something you see every day.

Back to distance learning, well, it appeared to me like a regular Skype conversation with a middle aged man that was just listening to ideas from university students that are trying too hard...

Conclusion: the experience was Meh, and for those of you that do not know what Meh means, Meh means I could have done without it because it was so uninspiring and lame ...