Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Sea Change -- the Middle East on Fire?: The news of the unrest in Syria challenging the power of Assad is astounding. It is jaw dropping and it is giving Iran, Syria's ally, a nervous stomach. Who would have predicted Middle East power structures falling like dominoes? The yearning to breathe free is a human common denominator. Ever since I was a child in elementary school I remember thinking how wonderful it was that I could ask my teachers absolutely anything. I was utterly free to speak my mind. Later when I realized that not everyone experiences that I thought how difficult it must be to censor one's thought.

The Internet, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones that capture pictures must give power agida. It is hard to squash the truth when one has these technological wonders at one's disposal to record it all and there is NOTHING power can do to stop it. It does not mean, however, that power will not try their damnedest to hide at all costs the unspeakable things they know they have done to their own people. We cannot be so smug even here as the Wikileaks provider, Corporal Manning, could, I am sure, attest. Power does not give up its secrets easily. It is up to we the people to demand the truth from them and hold their feet to the fire to get it.

The biggest question I have about each Middle Eastern state that has fallen or is in the process of revolt is who are these rebels and where will they take their people. If they go the way of religious fanaticism then I say not much has changed but if they go the way of a truly free society with secular equality, free speech and the accompanying bill of rights then we will have witnessed a sea change for the better of repressive, totalitarian religious fanatical states. If the latter is the case then no wonder Iran has a queasy stomach tonight. It SHOULD!
How the Earth Works -- the wonder and the miracle of our planet: I live with a brilliant person. I cannot believe how intelligent and how humble-about-being intelligent she is. The enormity of things academic she brings into our home is astounding. I wish I possessed the kind of brilliance she does to not only view these things but remember all the things of various study and complexity we experience. The best I can hope for is that some of the intellectual gold mined is sifted and cemented in my middle age brain. There is, indeed, so much to learn and so little time in which to learn it.

She has bought many DVDs throughout the years from the Teaching Company which concentrate on various elements of study from math and science to history, music, religion and more. If you have not heard of the Teaching Company I highly recommend you take a look at what it has to offer. If you have children or grandchildren I cannot think of a better way to introduce them to and teach them about the wonders of our world.

This morning I woke up to the first of 43 lectures entitled "How the Earth Works" taught by Professor Michael Mysession. He is a professor of geophysics at Washington University in St. Louis. He presents a plethora of knowledge about yes, how the earth works, and he does it in a riveting way. It is presented, through a set of six DVDs which carry a series of academic classroom-type lectures. It is NOT like television programming one might see on PBS or the Science Channel complete with video and sound effects to capture the viewer's interest. The Teaching Company, rather, is about just that -- teaching. If you are interested in the subject matter, want desperately to be enlightened as we do, these lectures will provide endless hours of learning. The key is one has to want to expand one's mind by listening to experts in a particular field.

Learning to us IS entertainment even if it is devoid of the glitz and glamor of the contemporary media of our time. The Teaching Company lectures reflect, I think, what higher education is about. Through the DVD's of the Teaching Company one can do this in the comfort of one's living room neither running late to attend a lecture, tied to a classroom seat nor squinting for hours at a back-breaking computer screen to do so.

The Teaching Company has hundreds of lectures in various fields featuring a diverse subject matter. If you love learning as we do, you will be riveted by what these eminently qualified academics have to offer. IF you are interested I enclose its link below.