2010-12-18

AWIL-UM Magazine, 4/2010


The world is getting more and more interconnected and this development influences our lives and our future more than we may think. We steady begin to create a type of global culture, or more exactly, some common elements that begin to be found in all corners of the globe. Concentrating on the things that bring us together is much more important and productive than accentuating the differences. The difficult task is to create the institutions that will allow us to function correctly in a globalized framework.

In this issue you will be able to read about the Eastern Partnership, a great article written by our newest "crew member", Hristofor Hrisoskulov, G20 Seoul and NATO Lisbon. We also offer you an excellent article written by Michael Johnson about Ken Adam, the man who made the James Bond series a world phenomenon through the use of his extraordinary artistic capacities.

For many of you the year 2010 is getting ready to make room for 2011 and this more or less symbolic transition is a good occasion to think of what passed and dream for a better future.

Enjoy your reading,
Florin Cosma

AWIL-UM, the best free magazine.

2010-11-22

World Philosophy Day


At the National Library and Archives of Iran a conference celebrating the World Philosophy day was held this morning. Scholars from Iran and 42 other countries participated at this event. The decision of holding this event in the Islamic Republic is a welcomed one because we all know the importance Persian thought had and has on our understanding of the world.

The head of the Congress of the World Philosophy Day, Gholamali Haddad Adel gave the opening speech.
A philosopher has a deep and perceptive mind and great philosophers are the elites who devote their main attention to human beings.

Iranians comprise a nation that has inscribed their history with peace, justice and thought. Iran has trained great scholars and philosophers over the centuries, one of whom is Avicenna.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke next:
Man grows as his knowledge of the world and its Creator increases; man is greater than any single phenomenon of which he has knowledge. If an individual gets to know God and mankind, he/she would naturally get to know the other creatures, the main concern for man is getting to know himself and his Creator.

I don't care what some people say about Iran's president and I generally refuse to see an individual in only one color, the words presented above are worth keeping in mind.

UNESCO sadly refused to participate at this event, probably for political reasons.

2010-11-19

Bab-Toma by Abdullah Chhadeh & Nara


Bab-Toma comes from the album ”Seven Gates” which refers to the seven gates of Damascus. Bab-Toma means Thomas's Gate, it is situated in the north-east corner and it leads into the Christian quarter. Abdullah Chhadeh is from Syria and has a wide artistic development along with math and physics. He started with playing the oud but soon was fascinated with the sound of the Kanun. For more, read here.



2010-11-13

Armonia by Remedios Varo


What you are about to see is something deeply rooted to the mind. Remedios Varo is a Spanish artist and she lived the last part of her life in Mexico. More about her life and works in the 4th issue of Awil-um Magazine. Now I will get you acquainted with her stile, which some of you will find familiar.

1956 - Armonia
Her works, at least those dating after 1949, have powerful symbolistic meanings. This is why I said that the art created by Varo is deeply rooted to the mind. Among other thinkers and writers, she enjoied Gurdjieff and Ouspensky (see In Search of the Miraculous). Enough said, more in the 4th issue.

2010-11-05

Adrian Păunescu, rest in peace


Today, in the morning of Friday 5th, 2010, Adrian Păunescu, a well known Romanian poet, politician and journalist died because of heart problems. He was active during Ceausescu's presidency with Flacăra, the name of a magazine and a show held in different cities and towns where people attended folk and pop concerts, offering to the young Romanians a chance to be free in a difficult period for the nation. With this tragic event I once again realized the fragility of our lives and the importance of doing good and helping others. Personally I found in him a model and artist that knew how to talk directly with the soul of the listener, something that in this day and age is rarely achieved.


(20 July 1943 – 5 November 2010)

2010-11-04

Marine Research Center, Bali, Indonesia


A very interesting project is underway in Indonesia, more exactly 100 meters from the shore of Kuta Beach, in Bali. This construction is destined to become a home for marine researchers and a relaxing place for tourists. Far from being a boring box on stilts, the designers from Solus4 found a way to integrate a man made structure in what could be described as a paradise.

The idea for this project came from the 2004 disaster when an earthquake in the Indian Ocean brought a devastating tsunami to Indonesia, this is also one of the main research areas, everything related to tsunamis. Arquitectum and Pelita Harapan University are the ones who decided on the construction.

When finished it will be a 2500 square meter building that will look more like a resort, but let's not be fooled, research is the main activity, in fact, why shouldn't it look good. It will have a swimming pool, a bar, but also underwater labs, an auditorium and bedrooms for the scientists.

When it comes to energy be sure that the team from Solus4 gave their best. The building will be implementing cutting edge technology, from PV cells in the exterior "skin", tidal/current generators, rainwater collection and seawater conversion systems, to circulating deeper seawater through the "skin" for radiant cooling and temperature control. This is actually a very nice idea because in most modern buildings air does this job (see Burj Khalifa for a reference).

Overall the exterior looks great, it could be considered an intelligent building as well as a green (or rather blue) one. Now we just have to wait for it to actually be built.


The wave is actually at the base of the design

For info about the competition (that was won by Solus4) go here.
Images from designboom.com

Concerto for Violin B minor (III) by Edward Elgar


Edward Elgar (1857 - 1934) is one of my favorite English composers and his Violin Concerto in B minor was described by David Dubal as "the greatest English contribution to the treasury of Romantic violin concertos". I am not really in the position to review classical works, instead I just want to present them to you all, from one music lover to another.

The Concerto was performed by Hilary Hahn, an American violinist with Sir Colin Davis as conductor. The album was released by Deutsche Grammophon in 2004 and on it we can also hear ”The Lark Ascending” by Vaughan Williams also performed by Hilary Hahn.




This recording is provided for educational purposes only, please buy the album.

2010-11-03

Baladă by Ciprian Porumbescu

Ciprian Porumbescu is one of the greatest Romanian composers, in fact there are only two that count to the world, he and George Enescu. I am happy to present to you one of Porumbescu's best known works, The "Ballad for Violin and Orchestra" (also with piano). He also composed the music for what became Albania's national anthem.

Finished on October 21, 1880, the Ballad for Violin and Orchestra soon became the best known work by Ciprian Porumbescu, and a reference work in Romanian classical music of the 19th century. In seclusion at Stupca, the composer meditated, drafted and then finished the piece, full of poetry and bitter nostalgia, with light and shade, a mixture of "doina", old dance and song, everything in the environment of serene melancholy. - Wikipedia




2010-10-30

Max Heindel about Atlantis

Plato sure did gave us some things to talk about, among them is Atlantis. This city/state/continent, real or invented is used to describe something very familiar for us, decay, either social, moral, technological or whatever. The stories linked to it are in a very great number and no one can actually prove the veracity of them. We should keep an open mind to all possibilities, even if the stories are false, we still can learn a great deal from them.

I present to you something most people did not have the chance to read although the text is now in the public domain. Max Heindel was a great Rosicrucian mystic and Christian occultist. He was born in Denmark, on July 23, 1865 and died in the United States of America on January 6, 1919. The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, a book first published in 1909 is a fundamental book in the field of esoteric studies. My intention is not to comment on the fragment presented below, I only want to give the possibility for others to start on a very interesting journey.

Volcanic cataclysms destroyed the greater part of the Lemurian continent and in its stead rose the Atlantean continent, where the Atlantic Ocean now is.

Material scientists, impelled by the story of Plato to undertake researched regarding Atlantis, have demonstrated that there is ample foundation for the story that such a continent did exist. Occult scientists know that it existed and they also know that the conditions there were such as shall now be described.

Ancient Atlantis differed from our present world in many ways, but the greatest difference was in the constitution of the atmosphere and the water of that Epoch.

From the southern part of the planet came the hot, fiery breath of the volcanoes which were still abundantly active. From the north swept down the icy blasts of the Polar region. The continent of Atlantis was the meeting place of those two currents, consequently its atmosphere was always filled with a thick and murky fog. The water was not so dense as now, but contained a greater proportion of air. Much water was also held in suspension in the heavy, foggy Atlantean atmosphere.

Through this atmosphere the Sun never clearly shone. It appeared to be surrounded by an aura of light-mist, as do street-lamps when seen through a dense fog. It was then possible to see only a few feet in any direction and the outlines of all objects not close at hand appeared dim, hazy and uncertain. Man was guided more by internal perception than by external vision.

Not only the country, but also the man of that time was very different from anything existent on earth at the present time. He had a head, but scarcely any forehead; his brain had no frontal development; the head sloped almost abruptly back from a point just above the eyes. As compared with our present humanity; he was a giant; his arms and legs were much longer, in proportion to this body, than ours. Instead of walking, he progressed by a series of flying leaps, not unlike those of the kangaroo. He had small blinking eyes and his hair was round in section. The latter peculiarity, if no other, distinguishes the descendants of the Atlantean races who remain with us at the present day. Their hair was straight, glossy, black and round in section. That of the Aryan, thought it may differ in color, is always oval in section. The ears of the Atlantean sat much further back upon the head than do those of the Aryan.

The higher vehicles of the early Atlanteans were not drawn into a concentric position in relation to the dense body, as are ours. The spirit was not quite an indwelling spirit; it was partially outside, therefore could not control its vehicles with as great facility as though it dwelt entirely inside. The head of the vital body was outside of and held a position far above the physical head. There is a point between the eyebrows and about half an inch below the surface of the skin, which has a corresponding point in the vital body. This point is not the pituitary body, which lies much deeper in the head of the dense body. It might be called "the root of the nose." When these two points in the dense and the vital bodies come into correspondence, as they do in man today, the trained clairvoyant sees then as a black spot, or rather as a vacant space, like the invisible core of a gas flame. This is the seat of the indwelling spirit in the man--the Holy of Holies in the temple of the human body, barred to all but that indwelling human Ego whose home it is. The trained clairvoyant can see with more or less distinctness, according to his capacity and training, all the different bodies which form the aura of man. This spot alone is hidden from him. This is the "Isis" whose veil none may lift. Not even the highest evolved being on earth is capable of unveiling the Ego of the humblest and least developed creature. That, and that alone upon earth, is so sacred that it is absolutely safe from intrusion.

These two points just spoken of--the one in the dense body and its counterpart in the vital body--were far apart in the men of the early Atlanteans days, as they are in the animals of our day. The head of the horse's vital body is far outside the head of its dense body. The two points are closer together in the dog than in any other animal except, perhaps, the elephant. When they come into correspondence we have an animal prodigy, able to count, spell, etc.

On account of the distance between these two points, the Atlantean's power of perception or vision was much keener in the inner Worlds than in the dense Physical World, obscured by its atmosphere of thick, heavy fog. In the fullness of time, however, the atmosphere slowly became clearer; at the same time, the point spoken of in the vital body came closer and closer to the corresponding point in the dense body. As the two approached each other, man gradually lost touch with the inner Worlds. They became dimmer as the dense Physical World became clearer in outline. Finally, in the last third of the Atlantean Epoch, the point in the vital body was united to the corresponding point in the dense body. Not until then did man become fully awake in the dense Physical World; but at the same time that full sight and perception in the Physical World were gained, the capability of perceiving the inner Worlds were gradually lost to most of the people.

Source: HEINDEL, Max,  The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception

web: http://www.archive.org/details/rosicruciancosmo00heiniala
        http://www.rosicrucian.com/rcc/rcceng00.htm

2010-10-28

The First Space Port

Imagine the day when you will be able to fly to space, and to have where to fly to out there. The first space hotel will open in the next years (from Bigelow Aerospace), but the first space port is operational. The State of New Mexico is the owner of Spaceport America, the first of its kind and it works just like a normal airport. Virgin Galactic is the first real partner, or "ideal" as they say. I wrote some months ago an article, Next in Space, where I presented the possibility that beginning with 2011 people will be able, for a fee of 200 000 dollars, to travel to space and back. Things look to be on track, which is great news because this industry, space tourism, will be something special. We only have to work to create the infrastructure and technology needed to make this dream a reality and also to make it more affordable.

Spaceport America, New Mexico, and Virgin Galactic`s fleet.  Computer generated.

2010-10-25

Eldena Ruin by Caspar David Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich is one of the most important European painters that was part of the Romanticist movement. He was born in Northern Germany in 1774, a region which greatly influenced his art. This is the case of the present work entitled "Eldena Ruin" which dates from 1825. He returned to recreating the ruin several times resulting in other examples with the same subject.

2010-10-11

Rungnado May Day Stadium

When talking about North Korea, architecture never comes to mind, there is no surprise, in fact it is something normal if you talk about such an isolated country. Let's forget about politics for now and stay on the realm of art, we will talk about the Rungnado May Day Stadium. It has a capacity of around 150 000, the largest in the world it seems, and it was completed in May 1st (obviously) 1989. It's main characteristic is the roof, consisting of 16 arches arranged in a ring in which 11,000 tons of structural steel were used. An impressive structure, let's admit it, God knows how many people died during the construction.




2010-10-10

What is Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism is an old religion, dating from around 1000 BC to 2000 BC, there is no exact date so approximations vary widely depending on what the writer wants to transmit. The name comes from the prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra). He was a priest of the existing religion of his time but he showed an original mind and he proved to be a bold reformer. That is why he began to preach a religion that survived till this day despite some hard moments in the lives of its believers.

One of the characteristics that made this religion differ from others of its time is monotheism. This one great and supreme God, named Ahura Mazda is a very important element in the development of the human civilization and I will try to explain in this article why I believe this.

Let's start with the basics, we have a number of source texts, first the Avesta, with the Old Avesta, containing the five Gathas and the Yasna Haptanghaiti and the Young Avesta comprising Yasna, Videvdad and Visperad. Second we have the Pahlavi texts, considered of secondary importance, not canonical. The Denkard and the Bundahishn (Creation) stand out to be veritable encyclopedias of the religion.

For the Avesta texts, the Avestan language was used and an interesting but out-of-date theory is given about the existence of this language. Noah had three sons, Shem who made the semitic civilization, Ham created the Hamitic and Japhet started the Japhetic (Indo-European). The Avestan language is part of the Japhetic tree so to speak, the Indo-Europeans, the Aryans. The reason why people felt this theory was appropriate is, in our case, among other things, the existence of a "destruction" story reminding people of the Great Flood described in the Bible.

22. And Ahura Mazda spake unto Yima, saying: 'O fair Yima, son of Vivanghat! Upon the material world the evil winters are about to fall, that shall bring the fierce, deadly frost; upon the material world the evil winters are about to fall, that shall make snow-flakes fall thick, even an aredvi deep on the highest tops of mountains.
23. 'And the beasts that live in the wilderness, and those that live on the tops of the mountains, and those that live in the bosom of the dale shall take shelter in underground abodes.
24. 'Before that winter, the country would bear plenty of grass for cattle, before the waters had flooded it. Now after the melting of the snow, O Yima, a place wherein the footprint of a sheep may be seen will be a wonder in the world.
25. 'Therefore make thee a Vara, long as a riding-ground on every side of the square, and thither bring the seeds of sheep and oxen, of men, of dogs, of birds, and of red blazing fires. Therefore make thee a Vara, long as a riding-ground on every side of the square, to be an abode for man; a Vara, long as a riding-ground on every side of the square, for oxen and sheep.
26. 'There thou shalt make waters flow in a bed a hathra long; there thou shalt settle birds, on the green that never fades, with food that never fails. There thou shalt establish dwelling-places, consisting of a house with a balcony, a courtyard, and as gallery.
27. 'Thither thou shalt bring the seeds of men and women, of the greatest, best, and finest on this earth; thither thou shalt bring the seeds of every kind of cattle, of the greatest, best, and finest on this earth.
28. 'Thither thou shalt bring the seeds of every kind of tree, of the highest of size and sweetest of odour on this earth; thither thou shalt bring the seeds of every kind of fruit, the best of savour and sweetest of odour. All those seeds shalt thou bring, two of every kind, to be kept inexhaustible there, so long as those men shall stay in the Vara.
29. 'There shall be no humpbacked, none bulged forward there; no impotent, no lunatic; no malicious, no liar; no one spiteful, none jealous; no one with decayed tooth, no leprous to be pent up, nor any of the brands wherewith Angra Mainyu stamps the bodies of mortals.
(Vendidad, Fargard 2 ; Source: Avesta.org)

Zoroastrianism introduced a dualism that can be seen in almost all the other religions, from the present or the past. There is an opposition between order and chaos, good and bad, truth and falsehood. Two forces battle one against the other, trying to take humanity on either side. All that is good belongs to Ahura Mazda, and all that is bad to Angra Manyu (or Ahriman in the Pahlavi texts). Unlike the Christian concept of God, Ahura Mazda does not have any power against evil except actual combat in which humans play an important role.

The full article will be available in
Awil-um Magazine 4/2010 (October - December)

2010-10-09

Liu Xiaobo and the Peace Prize

Nobel was of the opinion that the peace prize should go to a person who "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses". With all respect for dissidents, Liu's place is not in this category.

There is no reason aside of the political implications why a dissident won this award. This is just like last year when Obana was awarded the prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee is composed of five members appointed by the Norwegian Parliament, this says much. Five politically elected people decided to honor an individual from another country that is acting against his country. Liu did not work for "fraternity between nations", not for "abolition or reduction of standing armies" and not for "the holding and promotion of peace congresses". He fights for human rights, but this "fighting for human rights" is something like "fighting against climate change" or "against terror", all of these are arbitrary.

There is a reason why Nobel gave that definition, not because he was stupid, but because he knew exactly who should be given the awards. If this would have been an award for "human rights fighters" then, yes, Liu Xiaobo is on the list, along with other thousands of free thinkers from the planet.

2010-10-07

Extraterrestrial Life


Scientist are getting close to finding Earth-like planets out there which could possibly be the home for other civilizations like us, or not. For our own good let's be optimist and think that they are not like us. The time that will pass between finding the planet, sending a robotic mission and hopefully tweeting with "them" will be great, but not this is what interests us.


In fact, forget the introduction and think of it this way, what would you ask an alien if you would have that possibility. I would go for the history to understand who/what they are. Learning their language would not be that bad. Another question that you should put yourself is how would you react when "he/her/it" would stand in front of you. Ugly or beautiful, it does not matter how they look, you realize that you take part at something historical and that there are possibilities for things to go wrong. Just remember how the Europeans colonized the New World, wouldn't want to be an Inca.

If you and I are rational people, what about the rest? This question alone could be on the lips and in the minds of those who now know about extraterrestrials, if the "conspiracy theories" are true. I am not so sure that "they" would be interested in forming with us an "intergalactic rugby cup competition" or start commerce with iPhones or cocaine. So what would average Joe have to do with "them"? They would probably say that we are not prepared, or less polite, that we are stupid.

This leaves us with only one solution, hope they are peaceful and hope that we will evolve. Realizing our current situation, it's kind of useless to want disclosure if you are not interested in research about and with "them" and chances are that if you are any good in your field you are already part of a "team".

The truth is we have many more things to fix and we should concentrate on those while trying to find other forms of life. This idea of Extraterrestrial Life is important and will prove to be the beginning of a new era for the development of humanity. The novelty of it will pass after the "contacts", this I am convinced, and our eyes will be set on other, even greater tasks. 


Recommended reading:
MICHAUD, Michael, Contact with Alien Civilizations, Copernicus Books, 2001

And for fun,  Earth, a visitors guide to the human race, by Jon Stewart

2010-10-06

General Debate of 65th GA of UN

I was looking forward to see what the world leaders were planning to discuss at the 65th session of the General Assembly and I must admit, I was not impressed. First of all there are three main themes, peace (with discussions about war and terrorism), climate change, and the economy (global economy, financial crisis and things like this).

The first thing I noticed is that education was not a popular subject. Among the main speakers, Guido Westerwelle of Germany talks about the importance of educating our young for the way the future will look like and Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, talked about the role of humanity in exploring this world an activity that is encouraged by God. George Yeo, Foreign Minister of Singapore had the most convincing discussion about this subject saying that the key to development is education ("With education, individuals are able to acquire the information and knowledge they need to add value to the world"). A better understanding of the world will lead to responsibility from individuals. Also, increasing spending on research is mandatory is we want to continue our existence on this planet.
In present, the educational level of the average individual is below what we would expect. President Obama pledged for a free Internet, and George Yeo said that "by taking full advantage of globalisation and information technology, we can now spread education into remote corners of the world". We are still dominated by instincts and violence and in many cases these are preferred to things like dialogue and diplomacy because they offer quick solutions for the strong to dominate the weak. We need to reform the educational system in order to meet the demands of the future. This important subject is not very well addressed by the world leaders, even if it is goal number 2 of the MDGs. To say the truth, having a goal like "by 2015, all children can complete a full course of primary schooling, girls and boys" is something that should have been made (and it was possible) a few centuries ago.

About climate change, nearly all the leaders had something to say that sadly seemed copy/pasted from one to the other, it's all empty talk just to say "I done that". The island nations made public their concerns that if sea levels rise, they risk to cease to exist as states. The funny and also sad part is to see President Obama talking about this subject, knowing perfectly that his country did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. I expected to see some projects started by different states for reducing the reliance on fossil fuels, things like this, practical things. I am sure most states started to adopt methods of producing clean energy, but none of the representatives gave examples.
Practically there is nothing said about the supposedly 2013 solar flares, leading me to think that all the talk about this event was for nothing. It is true that the directions our world will take are not decided at these debates, but talking a little more on the subject would do good.

We now arrive at one of the favorite themes of these talks, terrorism and war. The thing that caught my attention was something that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, "is it right to fight a classic war against terrorists"? As we all know, Iran faces some terrorist activities also, primarily sponsored by the CIA, but then again this kind of things are normal coming from America, just think of South America. We also have Islamic fundamentalists sponsored by Iran which again is normal considering the threat Israel poses and the distorted opinions of some high ranking Iranian leaders about the world. But what about Israel? It is believed that this state has nuclear weapons, they never did confirm or deny this, also, Israel is not a Party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while Iran is a party to this. Ahmadinejad also, in his address at the 65th session of the General Debate rejected the need for nuclear weapons and pledged for a nuclear weapons free world.
Abdullah Gul, of Turkey talked about a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East as it was envisioned by the UN council resolution 687/1998.

(...)


Read the rest of the article in Awil-um Magazine (August-September 2010)

2010-10-01

Awil-um Magazine, 3/2010

Awil-um Magazine, August - September (3) / 2010 is online. We have two new writers, Michael Johnson and Dănilă Alexandra and as usual, more pages, now we have over 50. You will be able to read about about the 100 days of reform, an important moment in Chinese history, the 65th UN General Debate with fragments from four important leaders, "green" architecture, and much more. Enjoy the reading.






2010-09-27

Binho Martins

1. How did your life as an artist began? Tell us the first things that influenced you to go on this road.
My artist life began 5 years ago, when me and other friends began to see street art in our city.
I was influenced by some street artists from my city, such as: SHN, A firma and Nipe.

(...)


5. What are the main themes and how do you feel people react to your work?

The main theme is positivity. I think that people feel good with my art work. I always try to pass something good for people.

(...)

7. Does an artist express a national/cultural identity or is he a ”global citizen” expressing the universal characteristics of humanity? How do you see yourself in this regard?

Brazil is a country with a very diversificate culture and nowadays with internet presents everyday in ours life I think it´s impossible an artist don’t be influenced by other cultures, or only express your national identity. I think this is very good, because people need to learn about everything, about all and about every cultures.

(...)

10. What are the main characteristics of your paintings?

I always try to pass some positive message, I think this is my characteristic. Today it´s present in my art work some plastics elements such as: yellow tones, nature elements (organic lines), creative faces (figurative), etc.

11. What medium do you prefer, canvas or the computer?

The two methods have good and bad sides. I work all day long in front of a computer, this is tiring but I like it. I also like canvas because of the texture it has.


This interview will be extended in the next issue of Awil-um Magazine (August-September 2010)

2010-09-09

Making a Bigger Tribe

First of all, globalization is the integration in a world system of different societies that manage to coexist in a productive manner aiming at improving basic human conditions. This is my definition and reality is not always how you plan it to be. Let's start by saying that we really enjoy our cars, planes and trains, these marvels of our modern world left us with no excuse for not experiencing what this planet has to offer. In the ideal example we would now be free like the birds, in reality we are not.

The only real thing that can limit our freedom is mobility, in the past, when traveling a few hundred kilometers was worth a medal for courage, human communities began to evolve in different ways influenced by their surroundings. The desserts and oceans were almost impossible to pass, this explains the broad diversity of cultures, it was a natural process imposed by the limitations of the period. Today we are no longer limited by space and time in traveling across the globe, this means that the process mentioned earlier is being reversed, all the boundaries are artificial and obstacles in the development of the global culture.

This global culture is the key to understanding globalization and preparing for the changes that will come. It is very important for people to put more effort in educating themselves and really thinking about the world. Things are beginning to take shape but too slow in my opinion, the youth must take an active role in shaping the world of the future on new ways of thought, on new principles and most important, keeping an open mind and accepting differences.

The title of this article is "Making a Bigger Tribe" because there is a threat that if the global culture will not begin to spread to every corner of the planet, the globalizing forces will transform in a type of autocratic world government. This will happen only if the base of the pyramid, the ordinary man, will not start to climb the stairs to the top. More and more people have the possibility to gain access to information and from that to have access to knowledge but this opportunities are often missed.

We need to find a way not to compromise, but to cooperate, rejecting all the elements that could be the start of conflicts. Things like border disputes, Kashmir for example, are artificial conflicts because instead of concentrating on the well being of the local people, the different parties fight for administrative control. The only thing that should matter is life.

I used the term global culture not thinking about the American film and music industry but about a real cultural movement. We have many thousands of years of history with good and bad and we must try to synthesize all the elements in a coherent form, integrating every type of thought that matters. Doing this we must take into account that we also need a new identity and relying too much on the past to outline the present/future does great harm. After all, this is what Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany did while trying to give life to a glorious past that did not have a place in that time.

The idea of a conflict between Christianity and Islam is slowly being presented to us as a threat to world stability, I do not want to enter in this discussion right now but I will say a few things I believe are important for this article. Both religions have the same root (you can read more here: Why are we here) making cooperation possible, instead some leaders from both sides try to act in fanatical manners in what I believe is a planed conflict. Try to research the idea of terrorism and how this word is used and look at the bigger picture, if you are a westerner, try to see the world through the eyes of a Muslim, if you are a Muslim try to see the world through the eyes of a westerner.

Another contrast is between society and the individual. In the West, we began to regard ourselves as individuals while in other cultures the society is more important. Our individuality is slowly beginning to destroy our interaction with one another and with limited cooperation comes a limited future. In regions where the individual is part of a strong social organization he slowly begins to regress, reducing his/her leadership and intellectual skills. To put it simply it is something like the old Capitalist/Communist duel.

The idea is once again to cooperate in creating a good alternative by taking different elements from both philosophies and uniting them in a coherent new way of living. Not all problems have simple solutions and even the solutions we have are hard to implement. We have a number of plans to eradicate world hunger, to promote long term development and so on, but in practice all these efforts are hampered by corruption or the lack of good decision making. As you see, these are times for decisions regarding the direction our civilization will go, we must walk carefully and keep in mind that a wrong step could mean disaster.

2010-08-25

Romanian soldiers in Budapest, August 1919

On 21st March, the short lived Soviet Republic of Hungary led by Bela Kun came into existence. Due to assistance from Moscow, the Party of Communists from Hungary managed to efficiently organize itself and with promises of regaining lost territories from Romania and Yugoslavia they succeeded in attracting the youth in fighting forces.

In the image bellow, Romanian soldiers enter Budapest, marking the end of Kun's aggressions. The war started after the communists gained power and decided to open hostilities with neighboring countries. The first Romanian units entered Budapest on August 3rd, three squadrons of the 6th cavalry regiment of the 4th brigade, under the command of Gen. Rusescu. The next day, the rest of the Romanian forces entered the capital and eventually took control of almost all of Hungary. The HSR officially ended on August 6th and Romania continued the occupation until the beginning of 1920.

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2010-08-19

Forest Chamber Grotto by Wang Meng

Wang Meng (1308 - 1385 ; style name: Shu-ming) is one of the great four painters of the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368) along with Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen and Ni Zan. Because this dynasty was of Mongolian origin, court painters were dedicated to Mongolian traditions and arts. That is why a number of scholars like Wang Meng started painting on their own. These literati were concerned more with landscape than with the human figure, developing styles that permitted them to transmit emotions and feelings as well as ideas through the use of images from nature, real or imaginary. In the north, tall mountains and deep valleys were most often painted.

Forest Chamber Grotto at Chu-chu (scroll, ink and colors on paper measuring 68.7 x 42.5 cm)

The painting represents scenery around the Forest Chamber Grotto at Lake T'ai. Among others he pioneered the use of "ox-hair" or "ox-tail" texture when representing landscape. If you look closer you are able to see people reading in the cabins and a man in a boat. These two elements represent the need to escape difficult social and political moments. Many scholars in that period decided to take up the life of a hermit, Wang Meng being no exception.

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2010-08-12

The Dark Side of Religion

In the present article we will talk about religion as it influenced the development of humanity, especially looking at the harm it did in the past. There is a reason only one side of the story will be told, theory is not like practice.

Let us start by looking at the 20th century, like all things, we will find good and bad. This period in our history is perfect if one tries to research the true nature of man, we have it all, mass killings, disasters, ignorance, but we also have developments in science and a better understanding of the world we live in. Atomic energy was used to destroy in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but it was also used to power the engines of long term development. We could say that our species barely passed the test. Science boomed, look at the space industry, genetics, computers, even engineering, all of this will help humanity in one way or the other.

Our brain capacity did not change much in the past two thousand years, so why didn't this revolution happen earlier. The reason is religion, not only Christianity, all belief systems imposed restrictions in research and the spreading of knowledge. The question is where would we be now if at least for five hundred years, humans would have been able to study this world, in the real sense. People will argue that by embracing science we started to loose control and will give examples of wars, this is false, science didn't do this, just like religion didn't kill in the Middle Ages, we did. Even now many die for their spiritual beliefs.

The real religion in my humble opinion is knowledge, the search for it, but not in a philosophical way as you would probably think. We have the brains to do more than foolish rituals so why do we persist in thinking that a God will listen to us if we act like this? We should try to understand how the world works because the vast majority of religious texts tell us that man was created to look after this world and you can't do this if you don't know where and why you are. We don't need churches, we need schools, research institutes, these are the real places where we will find God.

This was a short article but I hope at least some of you found it useful. I see our species as being designed to learn and understand. Imagine your life if this scientific revolution would have started in the 16th century or would have continued past the destruction of the Roman Empire, remember the great centers of learning in the ancient world, the great libraries that were destroyed.

2010-08-11

China, in the 20th century

China, in the 20th century is a series that will explore an important period in modern history, Chinese as well as global. You will be able to read about events that transformed an entire society and understand why and how this changes occurred. We will start with the 100 days of reform.

The New (Beiyang) Army

NEED FOR CHANGE

The one hundred days of reform are actually one hundred and three and mark an important change of direction in the destiny of the Chinese. The reforms that took place did not manage to last, instead they fed the need of change that was in the minds of almost every Chinese scholar of the time.

Emperor Guangxu
On June 11th 1898, the Qing emperor, Guangxu, decreed that Kang Youwei will be responsible for carrying out the reforms. This great step was possible after Kang tried for eight times to persuade the emperor to accept the reforms. In that period numerous intellectuals demanded the changing of the system, seeing how China was on the verge of being torn apart by the world powers and by internal factions. Feng Guifeng, a student of Lin Zexu (the one who opposed the opium trade on moral and social grounds) proposed the revocation of the "ba gu wen", a type of essay consisting of eight parts, part of the imperial examination. Many others insisted on adopting western science and education, for example Zhang Zhidong, governor-general, advocated for studies of Western subjects. In 1897, the Current Affairs Academy was extablished in Hunan, Liang Quchao, student of Kang Youwei, being invited as lecturer.

The press also tried to push for reforms, Tan Sitong, the head of "Nan xue hui" (Hunan studies society) started the publishing of the newspaper "Hunan studies newspaper", in this way playing an important role in the reform movement. Many others wrote articles and books promoting change, like Chen Qiu who wrote numerous books advocating the parliamentary system. Also, in Hong Kong, Xua Huan Ri Bao newspaper openly eulogized the Japanese parliamentary system.

The Manchus, the ruling elite simply put, were in strong opposition to the reforms. The main ideas at that time were the self-strengthening movement, parliamentary system, constitutional monarchy, republic, educational reform through the adopting of western sciences, overall the development of the country and society by mixing the west with the east and the new with the old. Let's take the example of railways, for a good period of time, Chinese officials and even the average people, initially rejected the construction of this type of infrastructure because it challenged the way people saw their lives. Because of the speed and efficiency it was the best choice compared to roads and canals and many believed that it will destroy jobs. Ultimately the Qing discovered that railways really are useful because these could be used to transport troops.

The last years of the empire could be seen just like this, a contradiction between tradition and modernization and even with the best reforms, for things to change there was a need to destroy the old order. It is worth to mention that Yuan Shikai, who will later become China's first president, started a process of modernizing in the army.


NEW ARMY

Yuan Shikai
After the Treaty of Shimonoseki, China saw the need to have a real army, that is why King Chunqin-wang (Yi-xuan), King Qingqin-wang (Yi-kuang), Weng Tonghe, Li Hongzhang and Rong-lu recommended Yuan Shikai for training the "Xin-Jun", the New Army, at Xiaozhan. The army would grow from 4000 to 7000 and then to 12 000 (eight camps of field army, two camps of cannons, and one cam each of cavalry and engineering).

In February 1899, a Manchu army was created mapping the scheme used by Yuan Shikai, responsible for this was Ronglu. It was structured in five divisions, Ronglu being marshal and general of the middle division and Yuan being in command of the army on the right side. This new army will play a major role in future events and many of its generals became warlords after the death of Yuan Shikai.

END OF REFORM

On September 21st, 1898, Empress Dowager Cixi stage a coup d'etat, many intellectuals supporting the reforms being killed while others managed to fled to Japan, among them were Kang Youwei and Liang Quichao. There, the Baohuand Hui (Protect the Emperor Society) was organized and work on a constitutional monarchy system for China was started.



In the next part you will be able to read about the Boxer Rebellion and the Revolution of 1911.


Sources:

http://www-chaos.umd.edu/history/modern3.html
http://net.lib.byu.edu/estu/wwi/bio/xyz/yuansh.html
http://www.imperialchina.org/Qing_Dynasty.html#yuanshikai
WILKINSON, Endymion - Chinese History, a manual, Harvard University Press, London, 200

2010-08-08

Hitler and von Bock

German Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, one of the commanders of the German army during the campaign in Russia, shakes hands with Hitler, the picture probably dates from 4 August 1941. On 15 July 1942 Hitler blamed von Bock for the failure in Operation Braunschweig, the second part of the German offensive in Russia, this ultimately ending his military career.

2010-08-03

Burj Khalifa


Burj Khalifa, formerly named Burj Dubai, is widely known as the tallest building on the planet but the tower is much more than a super-tall skyscraper. Seen from below, this impressive example of human ingenuity seems like a stairway to heaven, a spiraling construction that seems to disappear into the sky. The building was designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill of Chicago, with Adrian Smith as chief architect and Bill Baker as chief structural engineer. The main contractor was Samsung C&T from South Korea. The project's developer was Emaar Properties who is also responsible for building King Abdullah Economic City.

The United Arab Emirates is bordered by Oman and Saudi Arabia, and has access to the Persian Golf. This little patch of land at first sight has nothing to indicate a potential for development, a long time being the home for sea pirates. At the beginning of the 20th century, the pearl industry has seen some good times, but only for two or three decades, the Second World War marking the end of it. Having no more than sand we can imagine what the economic predictions were. When oil was discovered in the 60s, an economic boom started to resonate along the coast, now, the Emirates enjoy one of the highest life standards in the world, clearly offering them the possibility to build from virtually zero in a few decades what others built in a couple of centuries.

This burj (tower in Arabic) in spite of its height, is of a very simple design. The plan borrows from architectural elements prevalent in Islam, like the onion dome and the pointed arch. Some are of the opinion that Frank Lloyd's Mile High Illinois project from 1956 inspired the Burj Khalifa, also, the Tower Palace III from Seoul, also designed by SOM, has some resemblances with this Arabic tower.

Here you can clearly see the onion shaped dome and the pointed arch similarity.
Tower Palace III

In the center we have a concrete core that is buttressed by the three wings. The 60 cm thick corridor walls on either side of each wing give a great degree of stiffness, offering good resistance to earthquakes. Overall, the entire building is designed in such a way as to deviate the wind-flow around it, reducing the stress caused by the forces of nature. Baker says that the Burj "is really a series of 30-story buildings stacked on top of one another". Every 30 floors or so, two or three story mechanical levels (seven of these to be more exact) are placed in order to maintain the building in working order. Here we can find water pumps, tanks, electrical substantions and things like that.

The climate and geography of the area require different approaches. In a country where even the bus stops have air-conditioning, a building as big as the Burj Khalifa will need some way to efficiently ventilate the air. Because the outside temperature and moisture are considerably higher than in the building, the stack effect is reversed, hot air is sucked in from the top and directed downward. Another problem is water, or the lack of it. Dubai relies on sea water that goes through a process of desalinization so there is a real need to make use of the tower's full potential, the cold water is collected through condensation, providing 15 million gallons per year. Also, sand has the habit of getting into every hole, and to cover every space it can find, that is why ledges were kept to a minimum and the windows are washed every couple of months.
Here you can see the position of the Burj Khalifa complex inside the wider Downtown Dubai project.

Some 26 thousand low-E anti-glare glass panels are used in the exterior cladding. The tower used over 330 000 cubic meters of concrete and 43 000 tons of steel rebar. Burj Kalifa contains 57 elevators, the main service elevator rising to 503 meters, making it the world's highest, there are also two double-decker.

Samsung C&T Corporation, the main contractor, used an automated self-climbing formwork system for building the concrete structure. For pumping the concrete at heights of 600 meters, special pumps were used. The structural steel spire was built inside the building and then jacked to its full height of 200 meters through the use of hydraulic pumps.

Having such a high-end image, the tower incorporates the first Armani Hotel, something that for most of us does not mean much, but it's interesting to look at... to say the least. At levels five through eight, 160 guest rooms and suits were created, with suits on the 38 and 39 floors. Also, over 1000 works of art have been commissioned for being placed inside the burj.

A typical Armani Hotel floor plan.

 The typical Armani room.

Great view for the lucky few.

A great view of Dubai


Other Architecture Articles / دیگر مقالات معماری / Alte Articole de Arhitectura
This article is extended in Awil-um Magazine (August-September 2010)

2010-07-31

Awil-um Magazine, 2

Here we are, the second issue of Awil-um Magazine, and I must admit... it was a fun and inspiring experience making it. From 12 pages we arrived at 40, almost three times more content than before. This is the farthest I can go solo and that is why I am asking for your help. The next issue which is scheduled to be released at the end of September will have even more pages filled with wonderful ideas because you will be part of the experience. We are opening the doors to the project for all to share their knowledge and imagination.

Three things are in need of your contribution, three new categories to help inspire others. The first is photography, if you enjoy taking pictures (some quality needed) of anything, we wait for you to send them along with short descriptions or comments regarding them. This could be an artistic photo or a picture from an event, a building that you noticed while walking by, anything that you want others to know, understand or experience with you.

The second category is cinematography. Here it is best to keep an open eye for details and an open mind for the review, because you will be the one who presents the wonderful world of motion pictures. If you want to take part in this, you will have to send two reviews, one of a movie released during the two months the magazine is being edited and another article about a movie that you consider a classic. Old ones and new ones, side by side.

The third project consists of literature. If you write poetry, stories, anything that contains some sort of understandable strings of words, you can send us an email. We want to promote an "Internet culture" through this activity, by encouraging people to use this powerful tool more efficiently.

Enjoy the reading.

Click here to read the issue

2010-07-28

WWI - Meuse-Argonne offensive

Soldiers of Headquarters Company, 23rd Infantry Regiment (2nd Infantry Division) firing a 37mm gun during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, or the battle of the Argonne forest. Here, the American soldiers fought their most difficult battle in World War I. This whole offensive was planed by Marshall Ferdinand Foch with the intention of forcing the Germans to capitulate by breaching the Hindenburg line. It lasted between September 26 and November 11, 1918. Here, the Browning Automatic Rifle was first used in combat, in fact, it was popular among both US and French troops.

Click image for larger version

This article is extended in the second issue of Awil-um Magazine (June-July 2010)

2010-07-24

The Ninth Wave by Ivan Aivazovsky

The Ninth Wave, painted in 1850, is considered the most beautiful painting in Russia, at least according to The Art Wolf magazine. Responsible for its creation is Ivan Aivanovsky, a Russian painter of Armenian origin born in Crimea in the year 1817. His works were highly appreciated by J.W.M. Turner. In 1844 he was awarded the title of Academician at St. Petersburg, and during his lifetime produced around 6000 paintings that earned him fame and money. The painting in question need no descriptions, simply enjoy.

Click here for large image (5815px × 3840px 12MB)

2010-07-23

St. Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo by Kenzo Tange

St. Mary's Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tokyo. The original structure of 1899 was a wooden building in the Gothic style that was destroyed during the second world war. Kenzo Tange won the competition for the reconstruction of this church in 1961 and with the assistance of Wilhelm Schlombs, architect to the Archdiocese of Cologne, the building was constructed between April 1936 and December 1964.

The plan is in the form of a cross, nothing extraordinary here, instead, what makes this cathedral a monument of modern architecture are the eight curved walls (or hyperbolic faces) which make the structure truly impressing. The exterior is covered with stainless steal and aluminum frames while the interior is bare concrete. The 60 meter high bell tower is like a sharp needle that seems to disappear into the sky.

The spine of the building consists of a series of skylights.

The cubist baptismal