All entries for Wednesday 18 February 2009
February 18, 2009
With furious debate raging nationwide over the stimulus package crafted by the Obama administration, now might be a good time to address, once again, the dimensions of the philosophical and ideological divide in mainstream American politics and propose a rational alternative to the madness.
The conservative and libertarian camps are up in arms over the package, denouncing it as “socialism”. Obama’s supporters believe it is a necessary step in solving the economic crisis. Those further to the left, naturally, do not believe the plan goes far enough. For my part, I find the basic idea to be well justified, but I question how much good it can do since it does not address the foundational flaws in the American or the global economy.
History is posing a challenge to this generation. While I don’t reduce the nature of our economic problems to psychology, it is beyond doubt that the two wings of the American ideological and political establishment — welfare liberals and free market conservatives — are trapped in the paradigms of the 1960s and 1980s respectively, and are forcing the rest of us to suffer as they refuse to let go of their false idols. While I don’t think Obama is going to solve all or even most of our problems, I was relieved nonetheless to hear him say, and I paraphrase, “there will be no return to the failed ideologies of the past”. The question then remains: to which ideology will we go into the future with?
It must be said that the flaws in our economy run deeper than the chaotic financial markets and the haywire stock exchange. The first premise of modern capitalism as it really exists is not private production, finance or trade — these have existed throughout the history of civilization. The first premise is the total separation of the worker from the instruments of work on a mass scale, and thereby, the ability to directly appropriate the product of that work. Instead they depend upon a wage, set by the balance of supply and demand in the labor market. Hence the livelihood of the vast majority of individuals, not to mention the fate of entire towns and cities, is at the mercy of a wildly fluctuating, amoral market that has no conscience and no soul.
Neither the promotion of laissez-faire nor the building up of the liberal welfare state addresses this problem. Aside from what I consider to be deeply flawed ethical arguments for laissez-faire, the utilitarian argument most often invoked — at least to me — is a) free markets mean more competition, b) more competition drives down prices, therefore c) as consumers, we all benefit from free markets. There may be truth to this logic, but it tends to ignore what happens to us as workers, since a totally free market would have no minimum wages or labor unions. The trend for the last 30 years has been deregulation, tax cuts, and union busting, while real wages have declined, consumer debt has skyrocketed, and perhaps most seriously, the loss of secure jobs that pay well and their replacement with more “flexible” jobs thay pay less and offer fewer benefits. From where most people stand, the masses of ordinary citizens, they have lost more as workers than they have gained as consumers, rendering the only aspect of the utilitarian case for lassiez-faire that would mean anything to them quite meaningless.
On the other side, though no one should accept the crude caricatures of welfare policies and results made by the far right in its ideological crusades, there is truth beneath the muck; welfare does not solve problems and in many cases, it deepens them. It is a way of trying to solve a legitimate problem without really solving it. In the end the state and those who support it feel they have done their duty, while the poor and powerless remain exactly where they are (the same applies, by the way, to the modern notion of charity, which has little to do with its original meaning in Christianity).
There is a third and better way, and I doubt I am coining the term: the investment state. The concept has existed in many places in different forms, but the basic idea is that people should be viewed as worthy, in their inherent human dignity, of social investment that will enable them to become good citizens and productive, self-sufficient workers. The old saying goes, “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”.
It does no good, however, to teach a man to fish and then insist that he work for a wage so that he can buy his fish on the market, especially when the wages are low and the prices are high. But we want our man to eat for more than a day so we aren’t just going to give him a fish either. We’re going to give him a rod. That is what is always missing in the old saying.
How do we do so? In 1988 George Bush Sr. spoke of the “thousand points of light”, which was a quaint thought at the time, but today I think we need a thousand Mondragons. The Mondragon is a cluster of 150 workers cooperatives in Spain, complete with its own schools and university. The cooperatives are owned by the workers, and run by them democratically. The cooperatives compete on the open market, and hence they share the risks and the rewards, the losses and the gains. It is not a utopia where all is always well, but a community, where problems are faced and overcome in an atmosphere of cooperation as opposed to endless antagonism. The famous political philosopher John Locke wrote that “where there is no property, there is no injustice”; we might rephrase him slightly and say that in the case of the workers cooperative, where all have property, all have justice — even if they have nothing else.
A system of cooperatives may not be able to prevent economic crises — only a rational regulation of the financial system can do that. But what it can do for individual workers caught in the tempest is more than enough; it is the difference between clinging to a piece of driftwood for dear life, or being aboard a strong and sturdy ship whose problems can be addressed collectively. What person struggling to pay their bills and debts, or to find a new job or a home, wouldn’t benefit from that? It is all well and good to speak of communities, to speak of “coming together” and the like; but without solid links and real foundations it will only ever be talk.
There is a hidden hunger, a desire in the masses of isolated and worn-out working people of America for organizations and communities such as these. I believe, or hope, at any rate, that my generation will finally cast off the alienating Protestant work ethic, unrestrained individualism, and imperial ambition. At the same time they should not be expecting the federal government to solve every problem and look to the problems of every individual, though its ability to mobilize and distribute massive resources will be needed at first. If Obama truly wants to heal this country, he could focus those resources on establishing cooperatives of every kind (industrial, consumer, financial, housing, etc.) within the heart of our major cities and large towns, and they in turn could help the smaller towns. Once established, both the insecurity experienced by the isolated individual in the market, as well as the dependency experienced by the perpetual recipient of welfare, would fade away. Community would provide what chaotic markets and intrusive states cannot or should not provide.
Obama often spoke and wrote about “bottom up” politics before and during the campaign, and the key to that is knowing just what the bottom is. The bottom is the economic. It is the material body of society, without which its spirit cannot flourish.
Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or Endothermic (absorbs heat)?
most of the people will either use boyle's law or argue about such a stupid question..
but the best answer is:
First of all, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing with time. So we need to know the rate at which the souls are moving into Hell and the rate they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let us look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.
Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2. Of course, if Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.
which one is correct?
If someone has promised to sleep with you when it will be a cold day in hell and taking into account the fact that you have not succeeded in having any kind of relationship with him/her,then,#2 cannot be true and thus I am sure that hell is exothermic and will not freeze..
The Earth’s Atmosphere:
“By the sky which returns.” (Quran 86:11)
“[He] who made for you the earth a bed [spread out] and the sky a ceiling…” (Quran 2:22)
In the first verse God swears by the sky and its function of ‘returning’ without specifying what it ‘returns.’ In Islamic doctrine, a divine oath signifies the magnitude of importance of a special relation to the Creator, and manifests His majesty and the supreme Truth in a special way.
The second verse describes the Divine Act that made the sky a ‘ceiling’ for the dwellers of earth.
Let us see what modern atmospheric science has to say about the role and function of the sky.
The atmosphere is a word which denotes all the air surrounding the earth, from the ground all the way up to the edge from which space starts. The atmosphere is composed of several layers, each defined because of the various phenomena which occur within the layer.
Rain, for one, is ‘returned’ to Earth by the clouds in the atmosphere. Explaining the hydrologic cycle, Encyclopedia Britannica writes:
“Water evaporates from both the aquatic and terrestrial environments as it is heated by the Sun’s energy. The rates of evaporation and precipitation depend on solar energy, as do the patterns of circulation of moisture in the air and currents in the ocean. Evaporation exceeds precipitation over the oceans, and this water vapor is transported by the wind over land, where it returns to the land through precipitation.”
Not only does the atmosphere return what was on the surface back to the surface, but it reflects back into space that which might damage the flora and fauna the earth sustains, such as excessive radiant heat. In the 1990’s, collaborations between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) of Japan resulted in the International Solar-Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) Science Initiative. Polar, Wind and Geotail are a part of this initiative, combining resources and scientific communities to obtain coordinated, simultaneous investigations of the Sun-Earth space environment over an extended period of time. They have an excellent explanation of how the atmosphere returns solar heat to space.
Besides ‘returning’ rain, heat and radio waves, the atmosphere protects us like a ceiling above our heads by filtering out deadly cosmic rays, powerful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the Sun, and even meteorites on collision course with Earth.
Pennsylvania State Public Broadcasting tells us:
“The sunlight that we can see represents one group of wavelengths, visible light. Other wavelengths emitted by the sun include x-rays and ultraviolet radiation. X-rays and some ultraviolet light waves are absorbed high in Earth’s atmosphere. They heat the thin layer of gas there to very high temperatures. Ultraviolet light waves are the rays that can cause sunburn. Most ultraviolet light waves are absorbed by a thicker layer of gas closer to Earth called the ozone layer. By soaking up the deadly ultraviolet and x-rays, the atmosphere acts as a protective shield around the planet. Like a giant thermal blanket, the atmosphere also keeps temperatures from getting too hot or too cold. In addition, the atmosphere also protects us from constant bombardment by meteoroids, bits of rock and dust that travel at high speeds throughout the solar system. The falling stars we see at night are not stars at all; they are actually meteoroids burning up in our atmosphere due to the extreme heating they undergo.”
Encyclopedia Britannica, describing the role of Stratosphere, tells us about its protective role in absorbing dangerous ultraviolet radiation:
“In the upper stratospheric regions, absorption of ultraviolet light from the Sun breaks down oxygen molecules; recombination of oxygen atoms with O2 molecules into ozone (O3) creates the ozone layer, which shields the lower ecosphere from harmful short-wavelength radiation…More disturbing, however, is the discovery of a growing depletion of ozone over temperate latitudes, where a large percentage of the world’s population resides, since the ozone layer serves as a shield against ultraviolet radiation, which has been found to cause skin cancer.”
The mesosphere is the layer in which many meteors burn up while entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Imagine a baseball zipping along at 30,000 miles per hour. That’s how big and fast many meteors are. When they plow through the atmosphere, meteors are heated to more than 3000 degrees Fahrenheit, and they glow. A meteor compresses air in front of it. The air heats up, in turn heating the meteor.
Earth is surrounded by a magnetic force field - a bubble in space called “the magnetosphere” tens of thousands of miles wide. The magnetosphere acts as a shield that protects us from solar storms. However, according to new observations from NASA’s IMAGE spacecraft and the joint NASA/European Space Agency Cluster satellites, immense cracks sometimes develop in Earth’s magnetosphere and remain open for hours. This allows the solar wind to gush through and power stormy space weather. Fortunately, these cracks do not expose Earth’s surface to the solar wind. Our atmosphere protects us, even when our magnetic field does not.
How would it be possible for a fourteenth century desert dweller to describe the sky in a manner so precise that only recent scientific discoveries have confirmed it? The only way is if he received revelation from the Creator of the sky.
For thousands of years, astronomers wrestled with basic questions concerning the universe. Until the early 1920’s, it was believed that the universe had always been in existence; also, that the size of the universe was fixed and not changing. However, in 1912, the American astronomer, Vesto Slipher, made a discovery that would soon change astronomers’ beliefs about the universe. Slipher, noticed that the galaxies were moving away from earth at huge velocities. These observations provided the first evidence supporting the expanding-universe theory
In 1916, Albert Einstein formulated his General Theory of Relativity that indicated that the universe must be either expanding or contracting. Confirmation of the expanding-universe theory finally came in 1929 in the hands of the well known American astronomer Edwin Hubble.
By observing redshifts in the light wavelengths emitted by galaxies, Hubble found that galaxies were not fixed in their position; instead, they were actually moving away from us with speeds proportional to their distance from earth (Hubble's Law). The only explanation for this observation was that the universe had to be expanding. Hubble’s discovery is regarded as one of the greatest in the history of astronomy. In 1929, he published the velocity-time relation which is the basis of modern cosmology. In the years to come, with further observations, the expanding-universe theory was accepted by scientists and astronomers alike.
Yet, astonishingly well before telescopes were even invented and well before Hubble published his Law, Prophet Muhammad used to recite a verse of the Quran to his companions that ultimately stated that the universe is expanding.
“And the heaven We created with might, and indeed We are (its) expander.” (Quran 51:47)
At the time of the revelation of the Quran, the word “space” was not known, and people used the word “heaven” to refer to what lies above the Earth. In the above verse, the word “heaven” is referring to space and the known universe. The verse points out that space, and thus the universe, happens to be expanding, just as Hubble’s Law states.
That the Quran mentioned such a fact centuries before the invention of the first telescope, at a time when there was primitive knowledge in science, is considered remarkable. This is more so considering that, like many people in his time, Prophet Muhammad happened to be illiterate and simply could not have been aware of such facts by himself. Could it be that he had truly received divine revelation from the Creator and Originator of the universe?
The Big Bang Theory
Soon after Hubble published his theory, he went on to discover that not only were galaxies moving away from the Earth, but were also moving away from one another. This meant that the universe happened to be expanding in every direction, in the same way a balloon expands when filled with air. Hubble’s new findings placed the foundations for the Big Bang theory.
The Big Bang theory states that around 12-15 billion years ago the universe came into existence from one single extremely hot and dense point, and that something triggered the explosion of this point that brought about the beginning of the universe. The universe, since then, has been expanding from this single point.
Later, in 1965, radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson made a Noble Prize winning discovery that confirmed the Bing Bang theory. Prior to their discovery, the theory implied that if the single point from which the universe came into existence was initially extremely hot, then remnants of this heat should be found. This remnant heat is exactly what Penzias and Wilson found. In 1965, Penzias and Wilson discovered a 2.725 degree Kelvin Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMB) that spreads through the universe. Thus, it was understood that the radiation found was a remnant of the initial stages of the Big Bang. Presently, the Big Bang theory is accepted by the vast majority of scientists and astronomers.
It is mentioned in the Quran:
“He (God) is the Originator of the heavens and the earth…” (Quran 6:101)
“Is not He who created the heavens and the earth Able to create the likes of them? Yes; and He is the Knowing Creator. His command is only when He intends a thing that He says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.” (Quran 36:81-82)
The above verses prove that the universe had a beginning, that God was behind its creation, and all that God needs to do inorder to create is to say “Be,” and it is. Could this be an explanation as to what triggered off the explosion that brought about the beginning of the universe?
The Quran also mentions:
“Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, then We separated them, and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?” (Quran 21:30)
Muslim scholars who have explained the previous verse mention that the heavens and earth were once one, and then God caused them to separate and form into the seven heavens and Earth. Yet, due to the limitations of science and technology at the time of the revelation of the Quran (and for centuries to follow), no scholar was able to give much detail about how exactly the heavens and earth were created. What the scholars could explain was the precise meaning of each word in Arabic in the verse, as well as the overall meaning of the verse.
In the previous verse, the Arabic words ratq and fataq are used. The word ratq can be translated into “entity” “sewn to” “joined together” or “closed up”. The meaning of these translations all circulate around something that is mixed and that has a separate and distinct existence. The verb fataq is translated into “We unstitched” “We clove them asunder” “We separated” or “We have opened them”. These meanings imply that something comes into being by an action of splitting or tearing apart. The sprouting of a seed from the soil is a good example of a similar illustration of the meaning of the verb fataq.
With the introduction of the Big Bang theory, it soon became clear to Muslim scholars that the details mentioned with regards to the theory go identically hand in hand with the description of the creation of the universe in verse 30 of chapter 21 of the Quran. The theory states that all the matter in the universe came into existence from one single extremely hot and dense point; that exploded and brought about the beginning of the universe, matches what is mentioned in the verse that the heaven and Earth (thus the universe) where once joined together, and then split apart. Once again, the only possible explanation is that Prophet Muhammad had truly received divine revelation from God, The Creator and Originator of the universe.