WORLITOP™

james

wt-01

comment

Hello Everyone. How are you? I’m doing well. I wanted to take time to reflect on the question of exactly what feels like home, and why. I was born in New Jersey, and I’ve been living in Rhode Island now for thirty years, but mostly grew up around Boston. We left New Jersey early, and I grew up in Newton, MA (except for 3 years in Seattle, Washington, then had apartments around Boston through my 20’s, and, although I loved that landscape, experiencing many random spots throughout the area over time, it now seems like another life. I suppose we have a different love for every home. Although I was in Seattle a short time, it certainly became special to me, but, now it’s also somewhat foreign to me. I did go back once, years ago, and it did seem somewhat like home, but again, from another life. The one place that I went and had an inexplicable connection to was Acapulco, which long ago was Mexico’s premier resort city, but is now a crumbling façade of glitter over an impoverished, aging city, with increasing rates of poverty and crime. Still, many years ago, when I came, for the first time, around a mountain, to look at the glistening Acapulco bay, I had the strangest notion that, this place was as familiar to me as any other place. Finally, I guess home is the where you belong, so belong where you are. Thanks for reading!

reply

Hi Kentaro. How was your week? As for me, my week went well. I’d like to respond to your comment on your future hometown, because I think I understand and agree with your motivation. I think you’re saying that, the more diverse input you get, the better you can realize your own potential, and with world travel as a goal, and New York City as a base, this would enable you to pursue this lifestyle. I have to agree with these points. I’ve always thought that the perspectives and influences of other people and cultures, help me with my understanding of the world, and nurture my development of compassion and empathy for less familiar things. And New York is the perfect place for all of this. Its truly an international city, with every nationality, religion, political view, and philosophy living side by side, in the crowded city streets, in relative harmony. And New York is one of the major hubs for international travel, with planes departing for hundreds of world destinations, day and night. In conclusion, I think New York is a great choice for your purposes, because it has everything you desire, and its a great place to be young. Thanks for reading!

wt-02

comment

Hello everyone. How are you? I’m doing well. I want to address the topic of the changing goals of education. It seems that the standardization of education in service of corporate and industrial interests is an increasing trend in American education. It used to be that a good education began with a solid liberal arts foundation, which produced a well rounded, practical, yet somewhat sensitive and nuanced worldview. If one chose to forego this broader preparation for adulthood, other options were trade schools, where you went straight to practical instruction in manual fields of employment, such as plumbing, carpentry or electrical work. Now, it seems that there is decreasing value assessed towards a balanced education, to the point where the college experience seems to increasingly resemble a sort of training in a capitalist/corporate trade school, where career pursuits are dictated by financial considerations, to the exclusion of all others. This is the problem with having all things dictated by the market. The market, in and of itself, has no compassion, subtlety, or vision for the future, and so can result in disruptive and destructive ends. Finally, I think education is becoming perilously myopic in scope, due to the dictates of market forces. Thanks for reading and take care.

reply

Hi Ian. How are you? I’m well. I’d like to respond to your commentary on Eastern culture, as it pertains to education. When we think of Asian reverence for tradition, we should remember there’s a traditional respect for age and experience, which in the youth-obsessed United States, is disdained, for in our futurist drive there’s little regard for experiential data. Another thing in your commentary that gave me pause, was the statement about the memorization of the Lord’s prayer, suggesting indoctrination followed by the assertion we were encouraged to develop independently forged beliefs. I assume your commentary is referencing American public school education. I actually spent two years of my grade school education in a Catholic school, where I’m sure the recital of the Lord’s prayer was featured in the course of our educational (with devotional overtones) instruction, but I can’t imagine such unconstitutional indoctrination, in the context of a public education. My final assertion is in consideration of your reference to the “dissatisfied … unfulfilled sheep”. I submit there is more than anecdotal evidence of this syndrome in the USA, as well. In conclusion, I believe we should examine the complex aspects of education in each culture, so we can discern for enhanced understanding in this regard. Thanks for reading.

wt-03

comment

Hello everyone. How are you? I’m doing fine. I want to comment on the problem of people denying the causes of climate change. This subject is difficult to process, because we’re dealing with an existential threat, calling into question the nobility and purpose of humanity. Are we doomed to cause our own destruction, ending the existence of the only sentient life we know of in the universe? It has been settled among the vast majority of climatologists and environmentalists, that human behaviors is the key contributor of current climate changes, which are resulting in receding glaciers, rising oceans, and the mass extinction of animals and other species of life that can’t adjust. But there are entrenched powers that find financial and political advantage in denying our predicament. A paradox of humanity is that it’s not generally the wisest or most humane people that acquire and monopolize power, and currently, it seems the world has become market based. and while various factions compete for more of the economic pie, beyond what is necessary for the sustainability of reasonable endeavors, commerce and industry have no safeguards against the dangers of a world economy on steroids. In conclusion, I believe we must challenge existing power structures, so we can make time for necessary adjustments. Thanks for reading.

reply

Hi Mariona! How are you? I’m fine. I want to reply to your comments on how to approach the climate change crisis, because I agree with a lot of your reflections on things that need to be addressed. You talked about what Greta says in terms of climate crisis. You may notice I also say “crisis”, rather than “issue”, or “problem”, and that’s because we have to remind ourselves and others this isn’t some theoretical matter, where we have plenty of time to ruminate, before taking symbolic half steps towards addressing what may not be an immediately pressing issue. We know it’s a pressing issue. An emergency. And the clock is ticking. We have already damaged our world past what is possible to remedy with existing or forecasted technologies, and the momentum of decay is accelerating. Humanity has proven to be a threat to all life forms on the planet, including ourselves. There is time to slow this ecological degeneration but we cannot delay. We must examine the sustainability of everything we do in our own lives. (Switch off the lights. Stop taking plastic bags from the grocery store.) And we must demand bold and moral action from our leaders. Finally, we must act now, because there is no time to lose. Thanks for reading.

wt-04

comment

Hello everyone. How are you? I’m fine. I want to comment on the expression, “no music, no life”. While I understand the sentiment behind the statement, it should be said different people have different subjective experiences with the various results of creative contemplation and disciplines, so another person might just as easily say, “no reading, no life” or “no paintings, no life”. After all, people without the sense of hearing cannot be said to be lifeless. And while there is visual art dating from between 290,000 and 700,000 years old (the Bhimbetka petroglyphs), the oldest known melody (the Hurrian Hymn) is determined to be only about 3,500 years old. Of course, it’s reasonable to assume that there are older melodies lost to time, because there is such symmetry between music and mathematics, that people who were instinctively sharpening their skills in logic, were likely making vocal sounds that made “sense” to them, combining primitive scales and time signatures. And there’s no way to know how old percussion is, because people have been banging on things for sound, for as long as we can trace history. But, while we can’t have a definitive comprehension of our musical development, our technological development has made music the most accessible of the arts. In conclusion, while it is not technically true there’s no life without music, we tend to affirm the old adage, because a majority of us have a great affection for our personally compiled soundtracks of our lives. Thanks for reading!

reply

Hello Tom. How are you? I’m doing fine. I’d like to comment on your writing about music, because I appreciate your encouragement for openness to different genres. You gave a lot of details about the origins of Polka music, as well as some differentiations on the regional forms found in the U.S., and extol the value of investigating various other traditions. I had always considered the Polka to be music and dance of a Polish tradition, and wasn’t aware of it’s Czech roots. It’s strange, but I think that part of growing up in the U.S., through the mid 20th century, was getting very little cultural information about the “Eastern Bloc” nations. To this day, I doubt many Americans could name the countries bordering Poland, much less Hungary or Romania. And while some people associate unfamiliar cultures with romantic notions of mystery and intrigue, for others, these unknowns evoke a level of fear and suspicion. I suppose the reason I’ve often tried to expand my appreciation of the many facets of humanity, is that I’ve always preferred a world of mystery and intrigue to one of fear and suspicion. In conclusion, I’d say we should make the most of every opportunity for new experiences, because they maximize our growth and add flavor and texture to our lives. Thanks for reading!

wt-05

comment

Hello everyone. How are you? I’m pretty well. I want to talk about the relationships between the topics in this course. I think a reasonable observation is culture, education, environment, music, and technology relate to all aspects of human evolution, especially as it pertains to our cerebral and intellectual advancement. And because of that commonality, these topic are interrelated in many ways. For example, culture often dictates many of the parameters of education. Or, how the introduction of classical music employing the most evolved demonstrations of music theory coincided with the Enlightenment. Or, consider how in the most developed Western nations, our preeminence in technology created many of our most destructive environmental threats, before, in many cases, beginning to remediate or mitigate some of those same problems, while less advanced countries are working through, or just approaching their most destructive phases of development. In fact, the levels of sophistication and advancement in any of the featured topics appear to correlate directly with the levels of all other aspects of that society, so with it’s total level of societal progress. In conclusion, I think this course provided an opportunity to reflect on where we are in our various societies, how those societies relate, internally and externally, and in the broader view, how those interrelated threads make up the tapestry in which we explore our humanity, because the connections we make between so many disparate philosophical and pragmatic ambitions, provide the impetus for our continuing evolutionary inquiries. Thanks for reading.

reply

Hi Satoshi. How are you? I’m fine. I want to reply to your comment about technological curiosity and exploration, because I like your observations on the subject. I think you’re saying that, in our efforts to explore and investigate new things, we often produce unexpected results, which lead in other, sometimes unrelated directions, in turn producing unforeseen benefits. I grew up learning about humanity’s history as a sequence of logical events, when actually, much has been the result of happenstance and synchronicity. Given some random changes in focus, we might have had a world based on native American culture. And we might have forfeited many technological miracles for a philosophy that proved more environmentally sustainable. It’s possible that negative consequences to our chosen course can sometimes lead to corrections that provide unexpected advantage. And, we may have to develop an increased awareness of the potential for unwanted consequences of our technological and societal initiatives. Maybe enthusiasm can be tempered by circumspection as a logical regulator of blind human drive. Finally, it may be that we must, paradoxically, develop a strategy to best serve human evolution, by subduing some of our ultimately short sighted initiatives because the short term gains sometimes compromise stability. Thanks for reading.