Save Asia !

I just came across that blog post about the infamous blasphemy trial Asia Bibi, a mother of five, is on. The fact that middle-age ideas could cause so much suffering and death is nothing new, though more infuriating than one could possibly imagine.

Still, this article came with a ray of light that could help wiping darkness out. That hope-giving part was the mention of a scientific research article contributing to assess the power of broadly diffused messages on social media. Apparently, as the Dalaï-Lama once said, “if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room where there is a mosquito”.

So I would like to ask all the readers of that post a favor: please spread the word, on all your accounts on social media; sign the petition. Together, we can make a difference !

Refugees: wide open or airtight borders?

To say that the refugees crisis is shaking the Western world is a bit of an euphemism. Every day, loads of articles are written around the world about people fleeing from war and persecution. Among those articles, many are sharp-toned – and deeply one-sided, whether all refugees should be welcome or kept away from European soil, without any middle-ground. All of them have perfectly valid arguments that strengthen their point – and exaggerations that shatter it. So shall we be generous or cautious ? My point is that we have to be both.

Why do we have to be careful ? First because, as it is rightfully pointed out, potential terrorists are among those people. Even if no reliable figures are available, how unlikely is it that hoards with hundred thousands people leaving a territory partly controlled by ISIS and other fundamentalist groups don’t include some of their members ? The main task of national governments is to ensure the citizens’ safety before everything else. But aside from the terrorist risk, there are other kinds of migrants who could be trouble for the receiving countries. Continue reading

Another attack on science

Unsurprisingly, scientists are witnessing more attacks on their disciplines by religious fundamentalists who will never accept the fact that science is more suitable to explain the world than still-to-be-proven dogmas. This time, someone called Edward Feser, a member of the right-wing, catholic Witherspoon Institute, angrily attacks Lawrence Krauss, an astrophysicist – and a well-known, strident atheist as well. Feser implies that Krauss – and thereby science – should shut up because science could not answer some questions about our world whereas philosophy, according to Feser, could.

As surprising as it might sound, I fully agree with Feser when he states that science has no answer to why-related questions. Indeed, why there is an universe rather than nothing, why life has emerged on Earth despite the extremely low probability for this to occur, and whether there is a purpose with this universe are philosophical issues. Science can explain how things work, but definitely not why. Still, I always get on my guard when I hear such people arguing against science.

Continue reading

Thanks to you all for your time and efforts!

I have learnt coding in different languages the past few years, such as Java, HTML5, Javascript, Python, PHP. I am now looking back at those times and the first word that comes to my mind is: thank you!

Thank you indeed to all of you who lay immense time and efforts to make video tutorials and post them on YouTube and different sites for video sharing. You have no idea how helpful it has been to me – and probably to many others as well. I have found solutions to problems and good practice that consolidated my skills. I cannot name you all – you are far too many -, but you will recognize yourselves. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your contributions.

Thank you to all of you who post solutions to problems and answers to questions on fora such as Stackoverflow. Short and accurate answers; just what I needed and got (and still need and get). There again, you know who you are.

Thank you to you who manage coding teaching websites such as CodecademyKhan Academy or OpenClassrooms (warning: the last one is only for French speakers!) I got so much from you, from the basics in new languages to good practice.

Thank you, thank you and once again.. thank you!

Violent “safety” guards

Those times are hard, really hard. Even 9-years old kids are dangerous criminals and threaten the well-being and perennity of our societies. The one featured in the following video made himself guilty of joyriding in local trains, such a major offence. Fortunately, courageous persons, such as this guard, show courage and abnegation and, notwithstanding the risk for their own lives, manage to neutralize those violent individuals with the appropriate means.

Seriously, what kind of threat could that kid possibly represent? Did an 90kg+ guard really need to sit on him, banging his head against a marmor floor, pressing his hand against the kid’s mouth? The worst part is that the police first made the on-the-spot decision not to start an inquiry in this matter, before backing pityfully against public uproar and pressure.

As far as I could read in the media, the kid and his friend are placed in a home for children who need special care, and were having unallowed time-off. Still, the violence this jerk displayed was totally out of proportion.

But enough of bad news for the time being. My next post will be on my recent readings.

Irrational behavior in recruitment

Lately on LinkedIn, I came across two articles which I found both insightful and depressing.

The first one was written by Susan P Joyce with the title “The Mistake That Can Ruin Your Job Search” (https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140616040159-780585-mistaken-online-identity-sabotages-job-search, [read on July 16th 2014]), explaining why recruiters could discard an ideal candidate because someone else sharing the same name had previously misbehaved.

The second one, “Why Recruiters Hire the Wrong People”, written by Maurice Ewing (https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140618203843-3096906-why-recruiters-hire-the-wrong-people, [read on July 16th 2014]) was about the right people being kept away from a position due to recruiters’ biased hiring methods.

My first reaction was: how can companies discarding candidates with huge potential for no reason and leaving them available for their worst competitors be that successful? Are they really successful, by the way? How much money did they miss because of irrational behavior? Do their owners/shareholders know about it?

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A sorry day for Europe

One thing which nationalistic parties never explain to their voters is: how do they plan to address environmental issues in the national frame, since fluid emissions make borders a joke? How do they plan to manage migrating resources – birds, fish – by legislating in their national parliaments? How do they plan to keep their national businesses exporting freely with an unravelled common market, while proning “smart” protectionism and economic patriotism? And why should they come with an explanation those voters never ask for? All this sounds like nice music to their ears. Never mind if it could have disastrous consequences on their own lives. People like being told their woes is by no means their own fault, only someone else’s.

I am, of course, talking about the recent election to the EU Parliament. The outcome looks really sinister, especially in my own country, France. As the distribution of seats looks like, the two major parties will still dominate. Yes, the very same parties that have a lot to be held responsible for regarding the Union as it works today – ACTA, the hold-up on Cypriots’ savings to save Cyprus’ banks and so on, does all this ring a bell? But what is infinitely more worrisome is the rising of the far right. Marine Le Pen got 25% of the French votes, crushing the major parties in France. The fact that she admires Vladimir Putin, an autocrat who riggs elections, uses force to silence minorities, denies part of the Russian people basic rights, should make people with an averagely well working brain think twice before voting for her. But you don’t need a brain to express a frustration, no matter how dire the consequences might be.

So is the future predictable? Part of it is, indeed. With the same parties steering the EU ship, there is no reason to think the latest tendency will reverse. The Union – which allows us to trade freely, contributing to our own wealth, to study abroad, to improve our buying power through competition – will be all the more despised. People will continue to blame foreign people, institutions, etc. for the consequences of their own behaviour. Doesn’t this ring an alarm bell? The foundation of the peaceful heritage its founding fathers have bequeathed to us is turning into quicksand.

Ordinary hate-mongering

One thing nobody walking around in Malmö could possibly have missed is the noticeable increase of the number of migrants coming from Eastern Europe. Indeed, there is hardly any shopping mall or any public place where you cannot find one of them sitting by the entrance and begging for money. Men and women of all ages are found by those places, holding a mug, and sometimes bearing a sign, waiting for alms from good-hearted people.

They are mostly met with indifference. People laying a few coins in their mugs, or simply looking and smiling at them, are true exceptions. And how could it be otherwise when bypassers don’t even dare look at their own fellow citizens, at people who obviously share the same skin color, the same language, the same living standards? Eye contact seems to have become as dangerous as plague nowadays. If you can’t stand contact with those who look just like you, how could you bear addressing someone who most likely won’t understand you because of the language barrier? But my aim with that post is not to digress about people ignoring their fellow humans while looking for an acknowledgement for one’s own existence from them – to treat people the way one does not want to be treated is way too common these days. Continue reading

Forgiveness, a necessity and a blessing

Four years ago, I discovered Gerald Jampolsky’s book “Forgiveness- The greatest healer of all” – which I have mentioned in the previous post. I revere this book as Christians revere the Bible. It is deeply liberating. It is like the Alpheus and Peneus rivers cleaning the Augean stables after Hercule rerouted them, cleaning our own minds from impurities being collecting as time goes by and our resentments accumulate. It opens for a vision of life from a new perspective, having us understand that we don’t get upset by people’s deeds, but by our own reactions to them, and paving the way to a joyful life, provided we stop judging others.

 

A recent ad on WordPress caught my attention. Although I had been practicing forgiveness for quite some time, I registered to this challenge started by archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho. Why? Simply because, as Jampolsky states, “forgiveness is an everyday process, not an occasional one”. And I welcome everything that reminds me that forgiveness is the only ingredient necessary to a fruitful life. To think we have fully mastered that gift just because we have practiced it for some time would be a dreadful mistake.

Mediocrity

When I first read this article, my first thought was that the author was living in France. Only in that country could people be so indolent in private businesses. Alas no, he is from USA, the very country associated with capitalism and necessity for enterprises to be effective.

This issue is of major importance for several reasons. First, people’s dreams of performing well, delivering products and services with high satisfaction levels, improving on their career paths are simply crushed to dust, with all the human consequences this implies. Second, those corporations are in competition with companies from emerging countries which don’t share that mediocrity mentality. Sooner or later, the latter will win most of the market shares by offering goods of high quality, whereas their western competitors will only come up with stuff nobody is interested in and will eventually have to close down. As a consequence, unemployment rates will skyrocket. Third, it is the very idea of capitalism and free enterprise which is at risk here. This idea is based on the necessity to provide people with things they need and get rewarded in return, which is a condition for mutual prosperity. If it vanishes, lower living standards are to be expected.

I would like to think those are just isolated cases, but all readers’ comments agreeing give a pretty bad feeling.