Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wednesday Wanderings ...on "the Big Bang or the Big God"

Yesterday we went to a presentation at the University by Dr. Jobe Martin on "The Big Bang or the Big God". While I am eager to learn different viewpoints, I was rather taken back at the way he handled the Q&A session. He made some good points for creationism, using science where it suited the argument, yet dismissing science when it countered his argument. A small example; he deems that dinosaurs existed along with man - because according to Genesis (as accepted by Jews, Christians, Muslims), God created the world within 6 days. One of the students asked why there have been no human skeletal remains found within carnivorous dinosaurs. Good question, but no good answer.

Another asked why he was relying on a changing book to explain the natural world. Because it is the word of God and it has not changed, was his general answer.

Chris, who has a doctorate in Biology (evolutionary), kindly excused several inconsistencies in the presentation and only noted politely that Darwin wrote at the end of his "The Origin of Species ..." that he believed in God. Dr. Martin retorted that Darwin did not really believe in God and "salvation". Obviously he knew Darwin personally. I inquired about the geocentric claims of the Bible, as opposed to the heliocentricity of our solar system. He basically implied that perhaps from the outer galaxies, the sun could be revolving around the Earth.

Dr. Martin did say that according to the Bible, there is only one race - the human race. I respect that very much. I am open to Science and Academia, and Faith, and Feeling, and Intuition, and the Holy Books etc. I am open to the fact that I do not know much, but I am not open to blind close-mindedness.

There is nothing that can define the Creator of the Universe by any formula. Faith is distinct from self-righteous definitions. I think defining God by any book or by the word of man, limits God. What does man know, anyway? We cannot even stop fighting wars during a temporary time on Earth, let alone define the Creator of the unending universe. There is indeed something between Heaven and Earth - in fact there is a whole universe of galaxies and stars and unimaginable unknowns. The possibilities are endless and so exciting! The Creator of the Universe, is magnificent beyond the limiting description of man. So Big Bang or Big God - why does one preclude the other? Both require faith, and actually, as humans, we don't really know, therefore, in a sense we all are reyling on the application of some faith in something.

Here is to the relentless pursuit of knowledge... !

Quote Recommendation on the pursuit of Knowledge:
"The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr." "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave." "The best form of worship is the pursuit of knowledge." "Scholars should endeavor to spread knowledge and provide education to people who have been deprived of it. For, where knowledge is hidden it disappears.": Prophet Mohammed

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind": Albert Einstein

Further quotes on the pursuit of knowlege

Music Recommendation: "Suspicious Minds" - Elvis Presley, "Woman" - John Lennon, "I've Been Thinking About You" - Damae & Londonbeat

Movie Recommendation:

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Sunderings ... on the Kindness of my Parents ...

The Campaign for Kindness touches my heart.

2006 has been a defining year for me; in particular because I now define myself ... but it will never erase what has defined my past. In my relentless pursuit of being alive on my own terms, I will not forget the credit that belongs to my parents.

My parents taught me about kindness - through consistent and constant example.

My father was very strict about certain things with respect to me - only A's in class and no boys ;-). He spent hours studying my school books so that I could ask him any question on any subject. At university I would fax him engineering problems and we would solve them together. Formidable Father-Daughter Team. My father was so so kind & loving to me. So kind that I could not see beyond him. The most handsome, smartest man I had ever met - and I certainly the apple of his eye. For my overflowing confidence, the credit belongs to my father.

One Friday evening, an employee of his made a very costly mistake. My father was understandably angry. But after a few minutes he said to my mother, "I am feeling bad; everyone makes mistakes. I am so happy and lucky to have my family to come home to." He then took the bunch of flowers he had bought for my mother and gave it to the stunned employee, wishing him a wonderful weekend and telling him not to worry about anything. My hero.

My mother's priority were my manners. I regret to say that in my younger years, I confused my burgeoning confidence with self-importance. My father indulged me, because I was his little girl - but not my mother. She made me include unpopular girls in my group, to my absolute chagrin. She once made me apologize publicly to some irritating girl who had started crying because I would not talk to her. My mother told me that wht matters in life is heart and compassion. I did not believe her then. My mother cried with anyone who was hurt, and laughed with anyone who was happy. I have never ever met a kinder, lovelier person than my mother. I am that lucky girl to have been brought up by her.

In my relentless pursuit of being alive, I pray for boundless blessings to my parents. I am forever grateful for their kindness. As for that which broke my heart - they have brought up with enough kindness to remember that heros are human too ...

...besides, my heart cannot really break ... it overflows with happiness and confidence ... what can be against me, when the Creator of The Universe is with me ...?

… ooh and I found a dress in the specified green colour … :-)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wednesday Wanderings ... what teaching has taught me

... during my first year of doctoral studies, I had started teaching at a university - I was so excited about the opportunity - but oh I had so much to learn! My father had given me the good advice of emulating all the good things I loved about my favourite professors. In primary school, we could not use the word, “nice” because it was over-used and not descriptive enough. But I have found that being nice is what really matters. I am not always nice – sometimes I am irrational, inconsiderate and unsympathetic – my ego takes over and I think of only myself. But luckily academe grounds me and over the last several years, teaching has taught me that:
  • Say something with sincere sunny smiles – and you are winning the room!
  • Say anything with a raised voice in anger and irritation – you are so losing the room
  • The most aggravating irritating unpleasant person can be turned around – with empathy. The power in the words, “I can see your perspective, but here is another one …” is tremendous :-) You never know what the person is going through, but just giving them the respect of empathy, could melt them.
  • The ability to say, “I don’t know the answer to your question, but let’s look into it” is honourable and people respond to it with respect - I learnt this from Cristobal
  • Being judgmental and self-righteous are ineffective and unattractive - in fact it’s idiotic. I remember what a colleague on Wall Street often told me, “Nazli, get over yourself!” ;-)
  • Sincere charm disarms adversaries and makes friends happy to have you as their friend! And actually it is lovely to be in your own company when you are charming.
  • Being irritated and short-tempered does absolutely no good to anyone – it increases your blood pressure, ruins your mood and your day, you make other people feel awful, the bad day follows you around - you don’t solve anything …! On the other hand, being sincerely pleasant puts others at ease, your mood remains sunny, somehow life seems fantastic – and people work with you
  • Being hard does not equate to strength - sometimes the nicest, kindest people you will ever meet are the most resilient and self-assured
  • Appearance sometimes counts for nothing
  • People can sense sincerity - or the lack of
  • Underestimating people is folly
  • Remembering a name makes a big difference
  • When people count on you - it inspires you to never let them down
  • You cannot always make everyone happy - and that's just fine!
To sum it up, a winning smile and a dazzling laugh can win a day!

This leads me to "Campaign for Kindness" initiated by the Beautiful Maliha. I LOVE it! So ecxited! Let's got for it. Be nice, be kind, be happy, be dazzling - it only makes you beautiful to be around!

Peace and sunny smiles and dazzling dreams to you!

Music Recommendation: Clay Aiken's new CD - listen to it for free

Callas on La Wally Aria, Ebben, Ne andrĂ² lontana' recommended by Caco

Movie Recommendation: "Little Miss Sunshine" - sunny, crazy, ecclectic - but not ecclesiastic

"O Brother Where Art Thou" recommended by Caco

"Roma" (Spain/Argentina production) - super nice film, "Malena" - a very good one, "Cinema Paradiso" - well we know.. recommended by Fernando

"High Fidelity" recommended by Beth

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday Sunderings ... on Bluegrass and Greenhouses

Having grown up on the concept that “God-created man is greater than man-created religion”, I firmly believe in humanity – irrespective of colour or culture or creed or religion. We all live, we all die – we are all bonded by the human gene.

From the ascension to his papacy, I had thought that Pope Benedict XVI skirted some anti-Islamic tendencies. His opinions are wholly irrelevant to me. What do I care of the opinions of any mortal man, when the Creator of the Universe created me and gives me the opportunity to be alive and to experience this beautiful world? What do I care when the world belongs to me – as it does to you, equally? But to hurt 1 billion people is no good.

However, I find an advantage in the Pope’s recent unfortunate comments. It gives the opportunity for Muslim scholars to present dialogue and discourse that clarifies understanding of the religion by stating the beauty of Islam, e.g. the Koran states to the effect - there is to be no compulsion in religion, true direction is in fact distinct from error …, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alteration of the night and day are the signs for those at heart.., when even one person is killed, God judges that it is all of humanity that has been killed..., etc.

I was at a planetarium recently, looking at moving images of stars, the galaxies and the possible worlds beyond. My soul soared and I felt invincible because I too am a part of that magnificent creation.

At the beginning of this year, I had written that Venezuela and Iran were countries to watch carefully and that underestimating Dr. Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez as “just crazy, idiotic guys”, was dangerous. Better to overestimate and over-reach, than to underestimate and lose.

This weekend was absolutely fantastic! We met Kelly at the bluegrass event, after which we went to a happening spot in town. The man in the Union Jack skirt and plastic spikes on his head with a sticker on his head proclaiming, “I will destroy you” was equally spectacular as the impromptu dance from the girl at the next table. So much laughter and fun; Kelly and Cris bonded till the early morning, which delighted me. Saturday was an all-girls day – dinner, movies and girly-girl stuff and of-course the gorgeous greenhouse.

This summer Cris taught me the magic of panoramic photography; pictures are taken and then pixilated together to create one photo.

A panoramic view of Kelly and me and some unknown man who was determined to stay in the middle of our shot

A panoramic view with my beautiful friend, Kelly

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Pope

"God," the emperor, as the pope quoted, said, "is not pleased by blood -- and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature."

How is it re

Friday, September 15, 2006

Still the Fearless, Still the Fabulous ... Friday

Perhaps I could consider this to be the worst year of my life because the losses are irrecoverable, and the sources of disappointment continually unbelievable. But in fact it is simply the best year of my life, because I discovered what is worth everything in the world to me. That's pretty sexy!

The lessons are too many. But a most critical one being that my instincts are unbendingly supreme. I second guessed myself, conceded to the illusions, ignored the obvious signs, believed the self-righteousness defensiveness disguised in goodness. But alas I see now ... Isolated it would matter not, but in context, smashed my rose tinted glasses and the heart.

Perhaps I could consider that I am a fool - and I am sometimes - but so what ... ? I am a fool for myself, and that's sexy!

On a more essential note, have I mentioned the 3-day Human Rights Symposium we are organizing at the University? In particular I work with the team responsible for the politics and ethics of intervention in human rights – can you imagine how thrilled I am?

Classes are fantastic! Some of the newer students, not familiar with academic protocol, refer to me as “Miss”. Normally I would expect “Dr” at the very least, but given that this is obviously the year of reckoning for me, I realize how unimportant protocol and perception is in the face of basic humanness. I walk out of class on such a delighted high. What does a title matter to the elation of earned respect?

So today is my Fearless Friday again and I am going to win it – rain or shine, mortal or divine.
I could give up on anything in the world, but never on my relentless pursuit of being alive. What a year. What? You say it’s only September?

… and of-course my best friend from college, Kelly, is coming to visit for the weekend. Friday is bluegrass (do you know what bluegrass is ? :-)), Sunday is golfing, Saturday is anything revolving! Please do have a wonderful weekend!

Music Recommendation
"Cosi" by Vittorio Grigolo: it reaches me
"Sun Zara Soniye" by Sonu Nigam

Movie Recommendation:
Can't think of any, off-hand - feel free to suggest :-)

Picturesque AnyDay:

My 'artistic' panoramic rendition of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Monday, September 4, 2006

Maybe Monday I'll ...

... update my calendar with my weekly, bi-weekly, monthly meetings
... write the thank you notes and overdue greetings
... send the card to Susan, overdue by 3 years
... prepare the abstract, heads and spears
... map - with alternates
... schedule work dates
... compose the letter
... be a trendy setter
... make that call
... forgive but never forget the fall

this weekend I came across a quote engraved on a stone

I had read it long before, but this time it shone:
"Let me do all the good I can, to all the people I can, as often as I can, for I shall not pass this way again"
this weekend of sunny rain