Closer to a DARPA Nightmare

I have long been concerned that there is so much research and development going on under the radar. Most people dont know and wouldnt care about such research. Some might even welcome it as a way to improve themselves. While I consider myself a man of science and an enlightened person, I am suspicious of what is going on in the range of topics related to AI, cloning, robotics etc. To wit, the article below. DARPA is a government R&D agency that will likely lead to the destruction of mankind, one way or another, intentionally or not.

I wrote the following many years ago and still believe it to be a potential scenario. While the immediate political environment might be of concern to some, the long-term danger of unchecked science has more potential danger. DARPA long ago put out bids for “autonomous fighting machines.” Guess what those are? My take on it (feel free to share): “I have seen the coming days of doom. On the eighth day, man created monsters. On the ninth day, the monsters devoured man. And on the tenth day there was silence and the silence was forever.”

Have a nice day.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/07/politics/pentagon-developing-brain-implants-cyborgs/index.html

 

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Slavery and a Song

In light of recent events, may we find the grace we need to live together— if not in harmony, at least in respect.

This is an interesting map of slavery in America in 1860.

Slavery Map

It is interactive at this site.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2013/09/04/abraham_lincoln_the_president_used_this_map_to_see_where_slavery_was_strongest.html

Here are some quick facts about American slavery.

http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/slavery-and-anti-slavery/resources/facts-about-slave-trade-and-slavery

A song for hope and healing.

http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000003766925/obama-sings-amazing-grace-.html?playlistId=100000002797598

By coincidence, Savannah Frazier, a dear friend of Becca’s and the entire Mooradian-Williams family, is debuting on Broadway this weekend in Amazing Grace, a musical.

https://www.youtube.com/user/AmazingGraceMusical

http://amazinggracemusical.com/

History is Filled with Ironic Connections

As death and destruction continue to plague the Middle East, we are reminded that the region has always been a cauldron of ethnic tensions and hatreds, sometimes held at bay by despotic governments, sometimes erupting into bloody episodes that horrify the world. One of the largest and darkest such episodes took place beginning April 24, 1915 as hundreds of Armenian leaders were rounded up and subsequently killed by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire and their accomplices. 

The story of the Armenian Genocide is big and complex. There is a list of some recent and respected books on the topic follow the column below which I wrote years ago.

January 1, 1995 — Three times in my life I’ve been face-to-face with people whose ancestors could have raped, tortured, killed or made slaves of my ancestors.

My father’s family is from Armenia, a small nation located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, where Turkey, Iran and Iraq come together. Armenia is a very ancient country, having been formed at least 500 years before the birth of Christ. It has one of the oldest, continuous languages on the planet. Armenia has grown and shrunk with the ebb and flow of history, in one of the busiest regions of the ancient and modern world. It has been conquered by Alexander the Great, Romans, Ghengis Khan, Muslims, Persians, Turks, Russians, and others. It is said to be the first country to accept Christianity as its national religion.

Before the Nazis the systematic genocide of the Jews during World War II, the Turkish massacre of Armenians during the first part of the century had been the modern world’s worst example of atrocities committed by one people against another.

It has been reported by many sources that the Turks of the Ottoman Empire were responsible for the deaths of nearly 1.5 million Armenians between 1915-16 and beyond. This was during and shortly after World War I when the Middle East, too, was the scene of chaotic fighting among Turks, British, French, Arabs, Armenians, Kurds, Russians and others.

The current population of Armenia, now one of the former Soviet Republics is about 3 million. Needless to say, the Turkish massacres came close to wiping out the entire Armenian population in their small corner of the world.

My grandmother, Dzovinar (meaning: rose by the sea), was a young girl at the time of the massacres. There were eleven children in her family. Only four survived the massacres. As family legend has it, she escaped with murderous Turkish soldiers in hot pursuit. She somehow made it to an orphanage, then France, then Canada. Eventually, she came to America.

America…

The first real Turk I ever met was a “real” Turk. In college, I washed pots and pans in my dormitory cafeteria to earn a little extra spending money. (The pots and pans job paid a quarter more an hour than the dishwashing jobs). I usually worked standing between the Turk and a middle-aged family man from India, working on a Doctorate in Education. They both spoke broken English, just like all four of my grandparents (my mom’s parents being directly from Sicily). I could understand the Turk and the Indian, but they did not understand each other very well. I acted as a sort of interpreter.

I got to be friends with the Turk. We were both young and single. We went to a few bars together. Or we’d sit in his apartment and drink straight, warm vodka (or “wadka,” as he called it). He had served in the Turkish military and could drive a tank. His favorite musical group was the Moody Blues, which he pronounced as though it was one word with only one syllable.

Only once did we mention what had happened during World War I. “This is America,” I told him. “We must forget that.”

“Right,” he said, “That is history.”

I never told my grandparents about my Turkish friend.

Old memories die hard. But post-World War II suburbia, where I grew up, was a mish-mash of second and third-generation ethnic groups. We learned to co-exist.

My Turkish friend opened a landscaping business, and, is now an American citizen, living in Michigan.

Years later, I visited a friend who was attending Syracuse University in upstate New York. Her Turkish roommate showed up along with several other Turkish students. We sat for hours smoking Turkish cigarettes and drinking Turkish coffee.

“Those were Ottoman Turks,” they said of the atrocities. “We are trying to move past those parts of our history, of which we are not proud.” (The new country is called Republic of Turkey, founded in 1923.)

“Yes. And America is a good place to forget the ancient hatreds of the old world.”

A few years later, I went out on a blind date. A buddy was dating a woman who “had a sister” — that kind of thing. There was something familiar about my blind date but I couldn’t figure it out.

One night, the sisters had my buddy and me over for dinner. My date fixed pilaf, a middle eastern rice dish which is now served in many varieties, almost anywhere in America. But there is a particular way it is made by Armenians and that was the way my date made it.

“Where did you learn to make pilaf like this?” I asked.

“Well,” said my date’s sister, “We’re Turkish, and we should know how to make good pilaf.”

“Oh no!” said my date, mostly to her sister. “I never told him we were Turkish.”

(She, of course, knew I was Armenian, because anyone with “ian” on the end of their name is Armenian. I guess my ancestors wanted a code to identify one another).

What had seemed familiar about the woman I was dating became obvious to me at that point: she looked very much like one of my 100% Armenian relatives. History had so mixed our gene pools that, given a neutral corner in America, ancient animosities were not only forgotten, but barely recognizable. The thought had occurred to me that my date and I, through some quirk of fate, might even be related. I have forgotten why we stopped dating, but it wasn’t because of the way she made pilaf.

Since moving to the South 11 years ago (31 years as of 2015), I’ve had a hard time understanding the lingering vestiges of the Civil War. At the time it was being fought, my ancestors were herding sheep in Armenia, or growing tomatoes in Sicily. The American Civil War is not a part of my family’s personal heritage, although, as Americans, it is a part of our collective history.

Recently, Tennessee has seen a rash of cross burnings, fire bombs, and murder — all, one way or another, motivated by old hatreds.

We can carry hate to our graves. Or, we can let go of it and live in peace.

We should bury the past, and the symbols of the past. Bury them with respect, if you wish, but they should be buried.

P.S. After reading a rough draft of this column to my father to confirm some of the family history, he told me something else. My grandmother was, indeed, chased by Turkish soldiers. A family took young Dzovinar in, and allowed her to hide in their house until she was rescued and taken to an orphanage. The family that saved her life was Turkish. 

From The Guardian

Peter Balakian’s The Burning Tigris is a readable account emphasising US testimony. For forensic research by a Turkish historian, try Taner Akcam’s A Shameful Act. In An Inconvenient Genocide, the British lawyer Geoffrey Robertson makes the human rights case. The wider background of the first world war has been recently retold in The Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan. Other accounts include Thomas de Waal’s Great Catastrophe: Armenians and Turks in the Shadow of Genocide and Vicken Cheterian’s Open Wounds: Armenians, Turks, and a Century of Genocide. Professor Bernard Lewis’s statement onDistinguishing the Armenian Case from the Holocaust. The website of the Gomidas Institute focuses on historical documentation about the genocide and current campaigns.

I am reading a recently published book There Was And There Was Not by Meline Toumani. A simple Google search will give anyone interested in the topic enough reading to last a very long time. Also, the Google+ history communities have a number of articles.

BACKGROUND: Armenia is an ancient nation, historically covering a large area in what is now eastern Turkey, northern Iraq and northern Iran with communities scattered into present-day Syria, Lebanon and Jerusalem. Armenians say they settled around Mt. Ararat after Noah’s ark landed there following the Bible’s Great Flood. It claims that in 301AD it became the first nation to accept Christianity as its official religion.

Being in at a geographically important trade and military crossroads, Armenia has been conquered many times by many different cultures. Most of its ancient homelands came under Ottoman rule during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and remained so for hundreds of years.

During World War I, the region was a chaotic battleground with Turks, Russians, Kurds, Armenians, Arabs and others along with the western Allies fighting it out for the future of the entire Middle East.

On April, 24 1915, Ottoman (Turkish) authorities arrested more than 250-270 Armenian political leaders and intellectuals in Constantinople (now Istanbul). These leaders along with several thousand more were soon killed, jailed or deported. The date is used to commemorate the beginning of The Armenian Genocide.

“While there is no clear consensus as to how many Armenians lost their lives during the Armenian genocide and what followed, there seems to be a consensus among Western scholars with the exception of few dissident and Turkish national historians, as to when covering all the period between 1914 to 1923, over a million Armenian might have perished, and the tendency seem recently to be, either presenting 1.2 million as figure or even 1.5 million, while more moderately, “over a million” is presented, as the Turkish historian Fikret Adanir provides as estimation, but excludes what followed 1917.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Armenian_casualties

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide

Armenians You Know and Don’t Know

April 24 marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide in which as many as 1.5 million men, women and children were systematically killed off by Ottoman Turks and their accomplices. It is important that we pause to remember this date and commit ourselves to preventing such horrors from being repeated, despite all the evidence indicating we humans are not up to the task.

While it is important to remember April 24 and to continue to seek official acknowledgement from the Turkish government for crimes committed by its predecessors, Armenians need to move on and continue to share their talents with the world.

William Saroyan, until recently likely the most famous Armenian in the world, once said, “It is simply in the nature of Armenian to study, to learn, to question, to speculate, to discover, to invent, to revise, to restore, to preserve, to make, and to give.”

Please take a look at this list to see that Armenians have contributed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Armenian_Americans

I’ve included photos of some you might have known were wholly or part Armenian and some, I suspect, you did not.

Cher

Cher

Creator of the Chipmunks  Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (aka Dave Seville)

Creator of the Chipmunks Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (aka Dave Seville)

Eric Bogosian

Eric Bogosian

Akim Tamiroff-One of the greatest character actors of all time.

Akim Tamiroff-One of the greatest character actors of all time.

Adrienne Barbeau-the daughter from TV show "Maude"

Adrienne Barbeau-the daughter from TV show “Maude”

Leon Redbone-Long said to be of Armenian heritage, his background is now listed as uncertain.

Leon Redbone-Long said to be of Armenian heritage, his background is now listed as uncertain.

Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese

William Saroyan (of course)

William Saroyan (of course)

This is the don’t wanna but gotta category–

Ken Davitian-Partner to the movie character "Borat." At some point in the film (which I long resisted watching), I realized this guy was spewing Armenian.

Ken Davitian-Partner to the movie character “Borat.” At some point in the film (which I long resisted watching), I realized this guy was spewing Armenian.

Kim Kardashian-I must admit that she and her family's recent visit to Armenia has helped.

Kim Kardashian-I must admit that she and her family’s recent visit to Armenia has helped improve an image initially based on dubious merits.

Bet you didn’t know category–

Steve Jobs- He had an adoptive Armenian mother and once challenged a Turkish tour guide on the issue of the Armenian Genocide.

Steve Jobs- He had an adoptive Armenian mother and once challenged a Turkish tour guide on the issue of the Armenian Genocide.

Bet you really didn’t know–

Princess Di--The sun never set on the British Empire. Lots of time to stir up gene pool. Di was 1/64th Armenian.

Princess Di–The sun never set on the British Empire which apparently provided lots of time to stir up the gene pool. Di was 1/64th Armenian.

BACKGROUND: Armenia is an ancient nation, historically covering a large area in what is now eastern Turkey, northern Iraq and northern Iran with communities scattered into present-day Syria, Lebanon and Jerusalem. Armenians say they settled around Mt. Ararat after Noah’s ark landed there following the Bible’s Great Flood. It claims that in 301AD it became the first nation to accept Christianity as its official religion.

Being in at a geographically important trade and military crossroads, Armenia has been conquered many times by many different cultures. Most of its ancient homelands came under Ottoman rule during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and remained so for hundreds of years.

During World War I, the region was a chaotic battleground with Turks, Russians, Kurds, Armenians, Arabs and others along with the western Allies fighting it out for the future of the entire Middle East.

On April, 24 1915, Ottoman (Turkish) authorities arrested more than 250-270 Armenian political leaders and intellectuals in Constantinople (now Istanbul). These leaders along with several thousand more were soon killed, jailed or deported. The date is used to commemorate the beginning of The Armenian Genocide.

“While there is no clear consensus as to how many Armenians lost their lives during the Armenian genocide and what followed, there seems to be a consensus among Western scholars with the exception of few dissident and Turkish national historians, as to when covering all the period between 1914 to 1923, over a million Armenian might have perished, and the tendency seem recently to be, either presenting 1.2 million as figure or even 1.5 million, while more moderately, “over a million” is presented, as the Turkish historian Fikret Adanir provides as estimation, but excludes what followed 1917.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Armenian_casualties

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide

NO CLAIMS TO PHOTOS OR ARTWORK.

St. Patrick’s Day: Beyond Green Beer…Way Beyond

pThere are many ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Most of them involve raising a mug of beer. Below are a few images I have of the man of the hour.

Liner Notes from Sweet Burning Light, a sampler of Celtic and Celtic Christian music released in 1999: “Long ago in Ireland, on the Hill of Tara, a fire was to be lit by the High King’s druids marking the celebration of a pagan feast. The tradition was strictly enforced–anyone who was to light a fire prior to the king’s fire on that night would “be lit in the king’s palace the next day.” Yet, that same evening, on the nearby Hill of Slane, Patrick lit a fire to celebrate Easter. It not only preceded the High King’s fire, but it burned even brighter. The king call his druid priests to him only to hear them prophecy that Patrick’s fire would overcome his own fire and burn forever.”

St. Patrick in the Spirit by John Doan

Liner Notes from “the book of secrets” written by Loreena McKennitt while on tour in Italy in 1995 while reading Thomas Cahill’s “How the Irish Save Civilization” chronicling the life of Christian monks during the Western Dark Ages 500–1500 AD or CE (roughly Fall of the Roman Empire to Renaissance): “Monasteries were ofter founded in harsh, remote outposts like the Skellig Islands off Ireland’s west coast. Monks occupied themselves with the copying of religious literary and philosophical texts. Surviving manuscripts tell us much about the cultural identity and even individual characters of their creators via both the books’ beautiful ornamentation, and in the margins, the scribes’ own notations of a whimsical, personal or even racy nature.”

(I think some of the photos in the video below are from the actual Skellig Islands. Keep in mind, these islands would have been the absolute farthest western reaches of Western Civilization during the Dark Ages.)

Skellig by Loreena McKennitt

Just for the heck of it, here are Celtic Woman with “The Voice.” I love the juxtaposition of the sweet female voice and heavy drums.

And finally, a nice Irish Gaelic lullaby to help you drift off to sleep after maybe a pint too many.

Armenians and Cherokee Share ‘Trail of Tears’

Those of you with Armenian blood in you will understand why I am posting the piece below written by a Native American in The Tennessean on March 15, President Andrew Jackson’s birthday. Jackson was a Tennessean and his home is in Nashville. While I do not agree with some of the extreme language the writer uses (which was absent in the actual newspaper printed version of this column), I have long sympathized with the plight of the mostly Cherokee Native Americans who were forced out of their ancestral lands in the Southeast (mostly Tennessee and Georgia) and marched across hundreds of miles of starvation and death to “resettlement camps” in Oklahoma and further west. Their plight, known as The Trail of Tears, is remarkably similar to the fate suffered by so many Armenians approximately 100+ years later. While we all know that history is complicated and the truth is often difficult to unravel, there is no denying that there are events that need to be seen for what they are. As descendants of Armenians expelled from ancestral homelands nearing the April 24th date of the 100th Commemoration of the Armenian Massacres, we should take a moment to remember those who were sent to their death along American The Trail of Tears. 

FROM WIKIPEDIA — The Armenian Genocide (also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, traditionally by Armenians, as Medz Yeghern (Armenian: Մեծ Եղեռն, “Great Crime”),[9] was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day Ottoman authorities rounded up and arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre.[10][11][12] — END WIKIPEDIA

Albert Bender Column

http://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/03/15/andrew-jackson-infamous-anti-native-american-president/70285340/

Dancing on the Wall

Originally published : November 11, 1989

They are dancing on the Berlin wall.

Germans can no embrace long-lost family members, long-lost friends, and, for the East Germans, long-lost freedoms. They are dancing on the Berlin Wall.

They are chipping away at it with small hammers, with picks and axes. They are chipping away at it with almost 30 years of pent-up frustration and pent-up hope.

They are smiling, and singing, and hugging, and crying, and yes, drinking heavily. They are dancing on the Berlin Wall.

In front of the cameras beaming picutres around the world, in front of the guards, in front of the guns and in front of the stunned world, they are dancing.

“The Wall” was for so many years a symbol of a world divided, forso many years a reminder of the horror of World War II and how we traded one enemy for another enemy — one horror for the greater horror of atomic death.

“The Wall” was for so many years a concrete tomb for the minds and souls of millions of East Germans, millions of Eastern Europeans.

But today they are dancing on the Berlin Wall.

President Kennedy was right: as long as The Wall stood, we were all Berliners.

President Ronal Reagan was right: if people wanted to understand the difference between the East and the West, they need only visit Berlin and look at The Wall.

He pointedly asked the Soviets to tear down The Wall.

Yes. Now is the time: Tear down The Wall.

Tear down all the walls.

Tear down the Great Dogmatic Wall of China. Tear down the immoral wall of apartheid in South Africa. Tear down the barrier walls in Labanon. Tear down the rotting walls of the South Bronx. Tear down the walls of the Protestant churches an Catholic churches in Belfast, Ireland, and let us all celebrate under the open sky. Tear down the walls of the missile silos and the munition factories.

Tear down all the walls, brother and sisters.

As we have watched the Berliners celebrate, let them watch us observe Veterans Day. The cost of freedom is buried in the ground of France, England, Germany, and Italy. It is buried in the ground of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and every nation where anyone stood for and died for freedom.

The cost of freedom is not cheap, for life is the most precious thing on Earth.

And to live, the spirit must be able to expand, to breath without restrain, to fly, to sing, to dance. So dance, comrades, dance.

And then tear down The Wall. Tear down all the walls.

A World Without Poetry. A World Filled with Hate.

Without poetry , there would be no prayers to say over the dead.

Without poetry there would be no love to coax lonely souls to union,

no passion to wrestle life from Nothingness;

no mother to protect the helpless seeds of Humanity,

no children to teach us mercy, and no soul to yearn.

Without poetry, soldiers and sailors would have no home to return to,

no markers for their graves.

Hate.

Hate is simple: it is a parent who eats its young.

Hate takes many forms and war is the grandest of all.

But war isn’t always hateful. Sometimes it is as naturally inevitable as a thunderstorm.

When war comes, meet it with humility and shame, if you must meet it at all.

And win.

But remember this: Protesting against a war is the only way humanity can save itself from killing istelf.

What would the world be like if no one protested against war, if no one questioned the “right” or “need” to kill another human being (regardless of how crazed that other human may be)?

The anti-war protestor is man’s best part struggling against the worst in himself. The pacifist is the mirrored image of the warrior. Without the warrior, humankind would be unable to protect itself. Without the pacifist, humankind would be unable to stop itself.

The protest against hate, war, and death is the kernel of conscience we have that will save us from extinction.

Without protest against war, there will never be any reason to stop war. We would all die from the hate that lurks just beneath this thin-skinned facade we call civilization were it not for the pacifist.

If we must fight wars, make sure they are fought against the worst in ourselves.

Without protest, the flower buried beneath the rock would never find the poetry of the sun; the seed of hope would forever be crushed under the heel of Hate’s eternally marching boots.