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Monthly Archives: June 2013
Leonard Bernstein discusses several aspects of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s famous 5th Symphony. He also provides some of the original sketches that Beethoven had considered putting into the Symphony.
The 23-year-old wedding singer from Gaza was the ultimate underdog, but on Saturday, Mohammed Assaf became a Palestinian hero when he was crowned winner of this year’s Arab Idol contest.
We needed that portion of joy that he was able to deliver; we needed also a face of unity, somebody capable of unifying us around his voice, and hope that this will be the prelude towards unifying our own voice in the future, and achieving Palestinian unity.
Majed Bamya, a Palestinian diplomat
“A revolution is not just the one carrying the rifle, a revolution is the paintbrush of an artist, the scalpel of a surgeon, the axe of the farmer … this is something I consider to be logical. Everyone struggles for their cause in the way they see fit, today I represent Palestine and today I am fighting for a cause also through the art that I am performing and the message that I am sending out,” Assaf, who was brought up in a refugee camp, said.
There have been celebrations across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and at a time when Palestinians have little to celebrate, Assaf has – for now at least – united a divided people.
The Hamas government in Gaza generally disapproves of the ‘Arab Idol’ contest. But it did not try to stop people from watching the show, and after Mohammed Assaf won the competition, one Hamas MP, Yahya Mousa referred to him as “the ambassador for Palestinian art.”
And Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, wrote on his Facebook page:
‘In the end, Mohammed Assaf is a Palestinian youth from Gaza who suffered like us and lived under blockade for many years.’
Immediately after he won, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees named Assaf a goodwill ambassador for peace. Spokesman Filippo Grandi said:
“Mohammed’s music is a universal language and speaks to all of us. How fantastic that a Palestine refugee from Gaza should bring us all together in this way.”
So is Mohammed Assaf a Palestinian hero? And is he a symbol of hope and unity for Palestine?
To discuss this, Inside Story, with presenter Shiulie Ghosh, is joined by guests: Majed Bamya, a Palestinian diplomat, who is also active in several youth movements; Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel; and Rana Baker, a blogger and social commentator.
“He did not win because of sympathy, he won because of solidarity, because of support, and because of amazement by many people across the Arab world by his talent; and I think another aspect of Mohammed Assaf that stands out is that he transcended being a victim. Yes he is a victim, like most of our people; 69 percent of the Palestinian people are refugees … but he transcended that, reminding the world that we are not mere victims, we are actors, we resist colonisation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing … Mohammed Assaf is a new face of Palestinian cultural resistance, and I would dare say he is a kind of a new Palestinian phoenix rising from the ashes of the Nakba of 1948.”
– Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel
Source. Al Jazeera
Conservatives Big on Fear, Brain Study Finds
Are people born conservative?
Peering inside the brain with MRI scans, researchers at University College London found that self-described conservative students had a larger amygdala than liberals. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain that is active during states of fear and anxiety. Liberals had more gray matter at least in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain that helps people cope with complexity.
The results are not that surprising as they fit in with conclusions from other studies. Just a year ago, researchers from Harvard and UCLA San Diego reported finding a “liberal” gene. This gene had a tiny effect, however, and worked only for adolescents having many friends. The results also mesh with psychological studies on conflict monitoring.
What It Means
There is a big unknown underlying these findings. Supposing that the size of one’s amygdala really does increase the likelihood of being a conservative. Is the size of the amygdala determined at birth, or does it perhaps increase with frightening childhood experiences, such as authoritarian parenting and corporal punishment?
Similarly, one might ask whether the gray matter difference is affected by exposure to educational challenge, social diversity, or childhood cognitive enrichment.
The born versus acquired perspective on political attitudes is important to psychologists. After all, if political proclivities are fixed at birth in terms of brain anatomy, there is little hope of change. Most of us would probably like to see a world in which political attitudes were less polarized, and more changeable, but that may be a pipe dream.
Meanwhile, the neuro-scientific fact of two very different political creatures helps clarify much of the political antics of modern democracies.
Most societies are divided into a party that wants change (the more liberal party) and one that is afraid of change (the conservatives). The liberal party is generally more intellectual and the conservative party is more anti-intellectual.
The conservative party is big on national defense and magnifies our perception of threat, whether of foreign aggressors, immigrants, terrorists, or invading ideologies like Communism. To a conservative, the world really is a frightening place.
Given that their brains are so different, it is hardly surprising that liberals and conservatives should spend so much time talking across each other and never achieving real dialog or consensus.
As scientists we hope that these results are replicated because they shed so much light on political behavior. As citizens, we would prefer if politicians were not divided into such different categories of political animal.
If everyone was born with the same brain potential to acquire either conservative, or liberal, views, then we could be more optimistic about prospects for political communication and consensus-building. If voters were of like brain, perhaps they could be of like mind.
My Friendship map!
When life does not find a singer to sing her heart, she produces a philosopher to speak her mind.
K. Gibran…... ☆彡
Up-side downs everywhere! Anno 2013!
“Silicon Valley is a state of mind, not just a place.” This idea has often been quoted, but it only touches the tip of the iceberg. Silicon Valley is not just a state of mind; it is a spirit of sharing and “paying forward” to new entrepreneurs and society. It’s about giving and celebrating together, not just taking from others.
In their rush to copy Silicon Valley, many regions around the world try to clone the valley’s institutions and best practices — our state of mind — but they fail to understand our original small-town spirit of sharing and collaboration. It is this sharing of risks, glories and failures that separates us from the most of the world, which usually punishes risk-taking, sharing and failure and shuns “losers.” Our “Operating Spirit” (OS) is our “secret sauce” that give us a huge advantage over other regions who think it’s only about…
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