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Education – why it’s failed, where the future is, and why there’s ADHD

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert.
Brilliant! A must see by all:

 

Development of our adopted baby

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

We adopted Evan Binh Minh from Bac Ninh, Vietnam on June 17th, 2010 at the age of 6 months. Like most orphans, he was listless and quiet. But within only a month with 2 parents, his development was rapid, and he changed dramatically. Just look:

Here’s a link to the video if you want to share it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W04FnjG5TZA

This is a great example of the importance of children having a proper family care for them.

Over a relentless 5 year process trying to adopt an infant, I’ve learned that politicians, institutions, and even non profit organizations like Unicef around the world feel that it’s best children stay left abandoned in orphanages or foster care in their own countries rather than be adopted internationally.
That is no kind of life, and I think children deserve better!

But the diseased world we live in has much higher priorities right now than children… things like the stock market, military, and politics.

The Ongoing Vaccination Debate: A Good Thing

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

The ongoing debate about whether or not to go along with the push to vaccinate has got me thinking, maybe people are actually waking from their comfortable slumber. It’s a very heated and complex issue, so I hesitate to blog about it but felt compelled.

For ages we humans have been used to getting our information from others. Long ago it was the kings and bishops, now priests, ministers, politicians and doctors. We listened obediently without questioning to those who knew better than we did. In the past this was understandable, most were illiterate for the most part and required scribes, holy men, and sages to enlighten us.

Today, although these practices have our instincts in a highly weakened state, people are literate and highly capable of figuring out things through their own research. They are finally starting to embody Baha’u’llah‘s recent teachings encouraging the ‘independent investigation of truth‘, emphasizing the fundamental obligation of human beings to acquire knowledge with their “own eyes and not through the eyes of others.”

A great example of this is this debate about vaccinations. Over 40% of people now refuse vaccinations despite great pressure to do so. It sparked my interest when one of my favorite magazines, Wired magazine published a very opinionated front cover stance encouraging vaccination ‘in the name of science’ Which I found very disappointing.
Doctors insist you get them, but then traditional medical doctors have to because they work hand in hand with drug companies to band aid symptoms, rather than studying diet, allergies, and nutrition, and trying to deal with the root of the problem. (My apologies for my bias here with medical doctors, but if my mother had listened to doctors when I was a baby, I would be very ill right now if not dead, being the survivor of 5 miscarriages who’s health problems got worse in the hands of MD’s)

The Wired article tries to show the kingpin of vaccinations, Paul Offit in a positive light, without really giving any solid fact or reasons doctors and governments should be insisting we get vaccinated. It’s written by someone without any credibility in the field.

Another article in the Huffington Post shows Paul Offit in a very different light and gives the opposing perspective. What is telling about both articles are the 500+ comments on them. People are getting tired of being told to do something potentially damaging without a good reason, so they are doing their own research. And the medical profession doesn’t like it because it means they’re losing control over doing things the way they want to and have been for centuries. It’s the same issue that is overturning the music industry. The People are winning the battle, and it is a very good thing.

The interesting thing is how the comments shed far more light on the truth behind the vaccine debate than the articles ever can. Did you know that the last time many of the diseases babies are vaccinated for were a concern was in the 1920’s?

When those who should be caring for us insist we subject ourselves to potentially damaging substances that have now been shown to potentially do more harm than good, how can we trust what they tell us to do any longer?
When the best interests of humanity have been left in the hands of those who primarily aim to profit from it, we need to build up our instincts again and rely more on independent investigation of truth to see through the veils that have been quietly and subtly placed all around us. Not that we shouldn’t listen to professionals, just do your research as well before making decisions.

I personally feel the lack of solid research makes it hard to make a confident decision. But I’m hesitant to get injected or inject my future children with poisons that could cause serious health problems to possibly fight some diseases that were primarily an issue in the 1920’s and represent little threat today, but that is just my own opinion, and I’ve learned enough about health to feel confident in healing anything.
Read the articles and all the comments and links therein, and see what you feel to be the right decision for you.

The End Of Control: Waking Up From Life’s Illusions

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

For most of my life, like most people, I’ve gone to great lengths to control my things and make sure everything turned out the way I wanted.

Things never really turned out the way I wanted though at all, and I realized that my desire for control over life was exactly why I wasn’t receiving all the benefits I deserved!

I decided to start doing something totally different: Let a higher power have control, recognize and trust my instincts, and just accept things that come into my path. And amazing things started to happen! Amazing people and opportunities I never could have imagined started coming into my life, and they still are. My life is taking a very different path, and I’m heading towards fantastic things and a new balance and happiness that never would have been possible without relinquishing control, and waking up from the illusion of needing to be in control of everything in my life.

So you want to try it? I read a great blog post that will help you with this if you feel your ready to make some big changes in your life to have the amazing things that elude most people.

Zen Habits: “How to Give Yourself to Whatever the Moment Brings, and Forget Stress”

Here’s another great post about changing your life:
Derek Sivers: “Doing The Opposite Of Everyone Is Valuable”

10 Best Things We’ll Say To Our Grandchildren

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Wired’s 10 Best Things We’ll Say To Our Grandchildren:

1. Back in my day, we only needed 140 characters.

2. There used to be so much snow up here, you could strap a board to your feet and slide all the way down.

3. Televised contests gave cash prizes to whoever could store the most data in their head.

4. Well, the screens were bigger, but they only showed the movies at certain times of day.

5. We all had one, but nobody actually used it. Come to think of it, I bet my LinkedIn profile is still out there on the Web somewhere.

6. English used to be the dominant language. Crazy, huh?*

7. Our bodies were made of meat and supported by little sticks of calcium.

8. You used to keep files right on your computer, and you had to go back to that same computer to access them!

9. Is that the new iPhone 27G? Got multitasking yet?

10. I just can’t get used to this darn vat-grown steak. Texture ain’t right.

* Translation: “English used to be the dominant language. Crazy, huh?”

http://www.wired.com/culture/culturereviews/magazine/17-10/st_best

Information rich, attention poor

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

An interesting article in the Globe And Mail recently discussed how technology and the digital revolution has created a corresponding scarcity of attention. In becoming information-rich, we have become attention-poor.

Quite extraordinary how fast the technology has accelerated actually as this amazing video I posted illustrates… It is as if a house that cost half a million dollars in 1964 could be bought today for a nickel, or if life expectancy had been reduced from 75 years to four minutes.

And with almost all of the world’s codified knowledge at your fingertips, why should you spend increasingly scarce attention loading up your own mind just in case you may some day need this particular fact or concept? Far better, one might argue, to access efficiently what you need, when you need it.

The concern is that for now, the just-in-time approach seems to be narrowing peripheral intellectual vision and thus reducing the serendipity that has been the source of most radical innovation of the past, when brilliant minds studied concepts for hours before gaining their important insights.

The article suggest that our challenge is to adapt, and then to evolve, in a world where there continues to be an exponential increase in the supply of information relative to the supply of human attention.

I have certainly found this to be a challenge as an instructor for material that is ever changing.
More in depth discussion regarding this can be found after the article:

www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/information-rich-and-attention-poor/article1285001

Adoption denied due to membership in Baha’i faith

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Today, on the inauguration of Baha’i Rights Day, most people are posting about the persecution of Baha’is in Iran. But persecution of Baha’is is certainly not limited to Iran.

Over a month ago, I posted about how we were facing discrimination in adopting a Korean baby due to our being members of the Baha’i faith.

Despite a personal visit to the Government run agency in Korea by the top administration of the Baha’i faith in Korea, which revealed significant ignorance of the faith, the agency returned our dossier (all our application papers and funds) last week and sent our local agency a letter claiming the refusal of the adoption.
The fact that they have returned all our application papers last week and have made a final decision so quickly shows they are no longer willing to discuss this case, and it is now officially closed, as nothing can be done without those papers.

This not only affects our adoption, and any Korean Baha’is that may want to adopt in that country, but people of many other faiths adopting from other countries as well. The fact that the limited resources of the international Baha’i community are focused on the possible execution of 7 Baha’is arrested in Iran for their beliefs makes our case insignificant at the moment.

All I want to see is some justice in this case, especially considering that the agency could have informed us 6 months before, and not proposed a child to us if they had issues with our beleifs. The failure on their part to do this would no doubt guarantee successful results if pursued legally.

However we live in a world where injustice prevails and is the standard. Here we are, trying to adopt a baby from 4 different countries for over 5 years now, and despite being ideal candidates and fulfilling all legal, health, psychological, financial, and social requirements one needs to adopt, nationalism of countries and the lack of value for children in our society has left us unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Mothers abort babies every day, have children that they don’t want, and abuse them at will with little consequences.

If anything, our world has little respect for children, and is becoming more complacent and less tolerant of others beliefs than ever. The only recourse is to spread information of this case, and others far and wide so that people of faith are aware and can show the world that this is actually NOT acceptable, and we won’t be complacent when discriminated against.

Branford Marsalis on the state of musicians

Friday, June 26th, 2009

“All my students are really interested in hearing is how right they are and how good they are, the same mentality that basically forces Harvard to give out B’s to people that don’t deserve them out of the fear that they’ll go to other schools that will give them B’s and those schools will make the money.
We live in a country that seems to be in this massive state of delusion, where the idea of what you are is more important than you actually being that.
All they want to hear is how good they are and how talented they are, and most of them aren’t really willing to work to the degree to live up to that.

Today, Stevie Wonder would not get a shot (in the music industry)”

– Jazz legend Branford Marsalis, from the documentary film, ‘Before Music Dies’

Check out the film, it’s a great, honest look at the music industry today.


Before Music Dies documentary

Thanks Sarah Lynn for sharing this film with me.

Is professionally produced music important anymore?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I’ve had no problem getting work as a music producer, even in a recession. I’m working on 6 albums and keep getting calls for more, but then I’m cheap as far as many music producers go with my experience. Most of my clients hire me because I also compose and engineer in my own studio, so I’m a one stop shop.

This regular work has in no way filled me with delusions about the importance of professionally produced music to the general public though. I have found myself asking more and more, what is the point of what I do for artists anymore? Is there a future in professionally produced music? Do the majority of people care?

Before you scoff at this question, peruse these valid issues that have partially led to it, such as:

  • The decline of record labels and shift of the industry into the hands of DIY artists with limited budgets
  • The proliferation of affordable music production equipment and software allowing artists to Do It Themselves at home
  • The popularity of live, reality ‘Idol’ type music shows and Youtube
  • The proliferation of poor quality music formats like 128 kb MP3 files
  • The popularity of poor quality music playback devices like iPods with headphones
  • The question of the value of music in a world of free downloads

One could argue that people are used to professionally produced music, and so they will still demand it, despite the shrinking budgets for artists and music lovers. There is no question that the world is shifting towards enjoying more music than ever before, and that music is increasing in popularity.

But my most significant argument for the rapid decline in value for the music producer is, given the above, can the average person even tell the difference between music with no producer and that which is professionally produced? Will they be disappointed with acoustic versions of songs?

Tests I’ve done have proven the answer is no. Most listeners primarily want to hear the singers voice, and the melodies sung with simple instrumentation, and everything else seems superfluous.

I think a producer contributes significantly not just to the quality of sound of the music, but to:

  • The performance, emotion, and confidence of the performers
  • The arrangement of the song, including lyric phrasing and song structure
  • The melodies and musical instrumentation of the song
  • The accuracy of pitch and timing and sonic quality of the recorded parts
  • The range of tone across the frequency spectrum of the music
  • The mood, feeling and energy of the song

But of course, I’m biased! And as illustrated, these are decreasing in importance to the general listener.
In industries like film, TV, and advertising, these elements have become standard, so there is no question that they will require professionally produced music.
For music in general though, the question remains, given it is proven most people can’t hear the difference, is there a future for the professional music producer?
Will a shift in the importance of the arts and education in society affect the demand for musical perfection only an experienced producer can provide?

recording in bedroom

Facing discrimination because I’m a Baha’i

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Recently, after 4 years of trying internationally, we were ecstatic to receive a proposal to adopt a baby boy from Korea in April.
We were shocked to hear yesterday that the government adoption agency in Korea, Social Welfare Society, has suddenly refused our adoption based on our membership to the Baha’i faith. The adoption would have completed sometime in August.

I never thought we would have to deal with discrimination based on our beliefs, which is unacceptable for many reasons, one being that in the long list of requirements to adopt from Korea, there was no mention of any religious restrictions. In addition, if there were concerns, these could have been brought up early in the process after Korea received our initial information rather than now, near the completion, after we have received detailed information on the baby and made significant time, financial, and emotional investment.
Add to this the fact that Baha’is are not only one of the most gentle and agreeable and nonthreatening people on the planet, but also have a deep respect and high regard for children and their education and upbringing.

Our agency says this is the most shocking thing they’ve encountered in their many years pioneering international adoption.

We are already in touch with the highest Baha’i administration in Korea. Rest assured, we will be taking steps to see justice is done.