Monday, 26 November 2007

And now for the future

For Australians this week marks the beginning of changed times. A couple of days ago the Australian Labor Party with its leader Kevin Rudd was elected.
The label ‘historic’ has been used a lot during those hours. Over eleven years of conservative government unseated by a massive swing; only three hours after the polling booths closed in the east (although Queensland doesn’t have summer time) the outcome was already becoming clear. For the first time since 1908 a man from Queensland became prime minister. First time for a female deputy. First time federal and state governments being Labor. The second time a prime minister not only loosing his office but also his seat in parliament.
Quite a few commentators may say, “I told you so”; take that as you will. But certain signs were there - the reference to future themes by the winners, not really matched by the other side or not at all. A feeling the incumbents being out of touch, of not really understanding the concerns expressed by many.
So here we are, and the nation is ready.
As usual there are numerous local issues, but the big picture cannot be overlooked. Climate change, our Middle Eastern entanglement, peak oil - these are not just background scenery, they are very much in the foreground as they determine our own and everybody else’s life on this planet.
And this is where Otoom comes in. The model’s predictive power has been proven many times (just go through the Parallels pages) and right now Australian politics follows a typical branching pattern of complex systems, a bifurcation if you will.
When minds open to new perceptions, that in itself is a pattern which becomes a functional template for more. Times are changing, in the large and the small, and the clock is ticking for many.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Complexity: the Law vs Nature

During the past week two events took place, independent of each other yet connected in a more profound sense.

First came the release of a report by Dr Graeme Pearman and the Climate Adaptation Science and Policy Initiative at the University of Melbourne. Evidence of Accelerated Climate Change warns that the predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are too conservative. More comprehensive data from both polar regions show that an ice-free Arctic Ocean might not occur between 2050 to 2100 but much earlier. Rises in sea levels have also been underestimated.

On Friday Professor Justice Michael Kirby, one of Australia's seven High Court judges and a strong defender of human rights, gave a lecture, Fundamental Human Rights and Religious Apostasy. His main example was the case of a woman in Malaysia who wanted to leave her original religion Islam and now become registered as a Christian. Being a Muslim country eventually the High Court there decided against her, pointing out that although the constitution guarantees religious freedom, for an individual to choose leaving Islam was not permissible. Clearly, the notion of freedom of choice was not part of the wider interpretation when starting from the concept of religious freedom.

The evidence of climate change rides on an increasingly comprehensive picture emerging from the ongoing analysis of a multitude of data. The more information we have the more accurate our perception can be. Despite the opposition from so many quarters the urgency to act locally and globally becomes more and more pressing. The world of our grand children will be vastly different from what the human race has become used to, but at the very least the data necessary for a productive response are accessible.

Compare that to the situation in a religion-dominated society, where on one hand the few judicial parameters are visible but on the other do not encompass the far more complex mind set programmed by its belief system. For a Westerner the conclusion reached by the majority of the Malaysian High Court judges (two Muslims ruled against the appellant and one Christian decided in her favour) seems extraordinary, but such is the effect of a diffuse and pervasive mental landscape that almost anything is possible when an overriding compulsion demands it.

Much has been written and proclaimed in the context of human rights. Religious freedom is usually interpreted as the right to practise some belief, but rarely does that include the freedom from religion. A belief prospers when supported by an ideology, spiritual or secular, and no matter what its source has a profound effect on the cognitive processes under its guise.

Whether a challenge confronts an individual, a society, or an entire planet, productive solutions cannot be found if the steps taken have to rely on obscure and ill-defined notions.

There is a chance some societies will manage to live with the effects of climate change, possibly even ameliorate them, because their conceptualisations are mostly situated in the real. Yet there are also other demographics where ideas are far more convoluted.

A hint of what is to come can be seen in the tables shown on Demographic orientations. The figures for average life spans, infant mortality, and educational standards from around the world are relatable to the influence a belief system exerts upon the respective population. Right now there are hundreds of millions of people confined to their inner mental prisons where even under the current conditions they barely manage to survive, if at all. Now imagine what happens when rising sea levels, scarcity of water, and dislocation of food productions interfere with the already precarious existence of all those masses.

We will be able to watch the process over the coming years.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

An update... and the ego

Since the last post about Griffith University's threat of court action there has been silence.

Which is particularly remarkable because the following Thursday emails were once again sent to the staff at the School of Information & Communication Technology on Nathan Campus (ICT), pointing to that post. The last time this happened I got two responses, one complaining she wasn't a member of the staff, the other from the Deputy Head of ICT containing the threat. Now however there has been silence.

Some time ago various heads of offices (including the federal and Queensland Department of Education, The Carrick Institute, the Vice Chancellors Committee) were contacted about the affair but none was interested or it was considered outside their jurisdiction.

On Thursday the same people were emailed once again, informing them of the threat. Who knows what happens next.

Here is yet again a scenario that spans a considerable period of time, with major stakeholders adamant in their refusal to engage with legitimate complaints; in other words a situation which is allowed to fester and so gradually abandons the chances of a comfortable resolution.

Other examples can be found on a smaller as well as the larger scale. Family feuds come to mind, or relatively recent developments in the Queensland health system [1]. On a bigger scale still would be the fate of a country like Guyana, where, during the time of independence, much-needed land reform was dismissed by Britain and the US and its proponent, Cheddi Jagan, was eventually pushed aside as a socialist by his opponent, US-sponsored Forbes Burnham [2]. The irony of all this showed itself when Burnham turned the new nation into a communist state shortly after. It was a turbulent period.

By considering the scope of those examples the reader will be able to come up with similar episodes, large or small. In principle the story follows familiar lines: a contentious issue, an often self-imposed blindness by others gradually turning into opponents, and all for what? Just to feed the ego.

References:

1. Morris calls for strong dose of immunity, Courier Mail, 19 Oct 2005.

2. C. Jagan, The West on Trial, Seven Seas Publishers, Berlin, 1972.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

The gloves are off

On the 7 Oct 07 the post Boils and chancres! outlined my position in the affair surrounding Griffith University. In it I asked whether certain players, notably the lecturer Terry Dartnall, the Deputy Head of the School of Information & Communication Technology on Nathan Campus, Peter Bernus, and the University's Vice Chancellor, Ian O'Connor, should not be classified as criminals due to their ongoing refusal to engage with substantial allegations raised against the evaluation of my honours thesis back in 1999.
It prompted an email by Peter Bernus threatening me with court action for bullying and defamation, a response I dealt with in my next post on the 14 Oct (The Empire strikes back!).
It is now three weeks later and the threat did not eventuate. This prompts a certain question. As a reading of the Queensland Defamation Act 2005 will show, for a defamation to be upheld in court the allegation will need to be proven. In other words, unless the facts show that a statement is demonstrably false any threat of court action is a waste of time.
Did Griffith University engage lawyers who, going through the material on record (including of course all the texts on this blog and on the Otoom website, in particular the opposition and The evaluation from hell!), came to a similar conclusion?
Whether such an assessment took place or not, the silence is interesting in any case. With the flawed conclusions in Peter Bernus' reply (including but not limited to, the swipe against the IPSI conferences - see my subsequent post) in addition to the quite strange criticism featured in the evaluation (see The evaluation from hell!) it really does seem as if anything coming from my side is either wilfully misinterpreted or insufficiently understood to begin with.
Do these people really think I would leave myself open to all kinds of attacks by pulling things out of thin air?
Let's not forget that quite apart from the honours thesis the research work that followed is based on detailed observations and analyses which require serious thought on behalf of the reader. The Otoom model of the mind (which, contrary to certain opinions, I have never claimed to be based on the thesis) opens many windows to significant issues affecting us all and therefore needs to be substantiated in so many ways. This places considerable pressure on any material of the challenging type, as researchers in similar situations would know.
Looking at such a wider reference my experience at Griffith should be a cause for concern to anyone who cares about the role of academia in a Western society.
Political tendentiousness, a disregard for potential cases of espionage, the University's tarnished reputation among lawyers, an infatuation with religion, and last but not least causes for dissatisfaction by some staff, they all undermine the role an academic institution ought to play.
Not everyone there should be painted with the same brush, as I have pointed out previously. Nevertheless, although in the current climate of financial pressures, high workloads, and often conflicting standards, any stepping out of line is not to be taken lightly, there comes a time when the need for a profound reassessment of one's direction should be answered. The failure to do so has more damaging consequences overall than the personal fate.