I have recently discovered the incredible MOOCs (massive online open courses) and although the first course I applied for has not even started, I believe I am already addicted to them. They are online courses, structured more less like college or university modules, made available for the general public for free (a small fee is sometimes required for courses carrying academic accreditation) offered by universities around the globe such as Stanford, Harvard, Mexico, Rome, Taiwan in the whole spectrum of subjects from History of Arts to Quantum Physics. You get to learn whatever it is that interests you with the best academic tutors you can dream of. For free. Continue reading
“And they lived happily ever after.” – this sentence most irritating haunted me for a good portion of my early life, and even today carries a feeling of hopelessness. ‘First of all’, said the young me, ‘if they really did live happy and long lives together, then I want to hear all about it! Why stop the narrative in the most interesting moment? There would be so much to learn from people who know how to make their happiness last. Second, no, they did not live happy forever! There must have been many sad or even tragic events in their futures,’ which is exactly why the author had chosen to cut it short with this shapely, critically-acclaimed lie of a sentence.
Evolution is not a fantasy nor a God. I hope you understand how tricky words can be and how interpretation affects meaning. Semantic barriers are pretty hard to overcome so I will try to be as clear as possible and I implore you to read in order to understand instead of to reply.
Above all, I need to emphasize the difference between the “beginning of life” and “evolution through natural selection”. They are two separate subjects and must not be mistaken as the same. While one concerns the question of how the first living organism came into existence, the other explains how organisms gradually became more and more complex.
Many people say that evolution could not have possibly happened by pure accident. First of all, evolution did not “happen” – it “is happening” and it is happening still. Continue reading
Forget Maslow’s pyramids and other psychological proposals and think about what we really need on order to survive – what the very basic needs of human beings are. Clean air, clean water and proper food to which we should probably add effective healthcare and relevant education if we intend to survive longer than twenty – thirty years. Everything else from international courts of justice, freedom of thought and religion and personal dignity to founding families and right to nationality becomes insignificant and extravagant if the basic needs are not fulfilled.
The languages we use are a darn pickle turning communication into a jar of sticky jam. Some words have been around for so long that few people still remember their meanings. And even if they do, words have an awkward ability to shift, change and extend their ambiguity depending on circumstances. Many tried to confine them in dictionaries, lexica and thesauri but they came spilling out. Bodies were created to standardize them, but words retaliated with irregularities. Now we stick them into machines which then spit out hashes, arobases and emoticons. Although we do find this madness of tongues entertaining and beneficial to literature, word games or puzzles, I am sure we can unanimously declare that we have all, at least once, found ourselves in a situation in which all attempts to pass information onto another person felt like describing a smartphone in Ancient Egyptian. It’s called an argument. Most of the time arguments do not originate in different opinions, but in misinterpretation. I shall portray this with an archetypal genre scene.
Person XX: “How do I look?”
Person XY: “Stunning, honey.”
Person XX: “Get out!”
If I was to name one property of us humans which led us beyond the turmoil of hunters and hunted, a property which shoved us off the dubious comfort of African trees straight to the top of the food chain, a property which enabled us to achieve what no other known species could be dreaming of – art, science and technology, it would most certainly be our (relatively) immense brain capacity. In the harsh and unpredictable savannah, mere strength and speed turned out to be insufficient in terms of survival, therefore other means had to be considered. Means such as cunning, anticipation, planning and cooperation. Continue reading