Ask any ‘third worlder’—including me—and chances are, he/she will tell you how dirty and poor his/her country is, and how it is likely to remain that way in the foreseeable future. Why are some nations poor? Why these nations stay dirty and undeveloped despite our globalized reality? And why are they likely to stay poor, unless something is done? And, if we want to do something, what should we do about it? This post is about all of these questions—a summary and a review written while reading Paul Collier’s Book: The Bottom Billion.
Paul Collier developed a notion he named the “conflict trap”. His aim is to show how some economic conditions prompt civil war, and how the resulting conflict often becomes a trap—one that is hard to escape. Four different traps are behind the horrible situation people are living within the bottom billion:
The Conflict Trap
The Natural Resources Trap
The Trap of Being Landlocked
The Trap of Bad Governance in a Small Country
Globalization to the Rescue?
Even during the golden decade—between the end of the cold war and 9/11—these countries still suffered, and captured nothing of what the rest of the world has been going through. In fact, income during this same decade fell by 5%.
That’s why the later countries escape the traps, and begin to take the right track, the harder it is for them to catch up, because the global market is now much more tough for new participants than it was in the 1980s.
The Struggle for the Bottom Billion
The author isn’t trying to offer a one and only explanation for the failures of certain nations to catch up with the Global development train—of beginning to reduce poverty for the first time in history since the 1980s. He acknowledges the diversity of the situation within the bottom billion.
The left could learn that maybe some instruments they’d been avoiding to use—like military interventions—are sometimes effective, or even the only viable option to improve or change the situation. And, the right can learn that “global growth” doesn’t always bring relief to the Bottom Billion.
The problem matters. And it matters even more to voters and decision makers in the developed world. Because, if they keep ignoring what’s happening within the Bottom Billion, soon enough, the ramifications will land themselves clear in the west—think mass immigration, terrorism, etc..
Paul Collier intended this book to be an enjoyable read through keeping “clear of footnotes and the rest of the usual grim apparatus of professional scholarship,” as he declared from the start.
Nor that this book is a chewing gum for the mind—if you have an attention for details, then all you have to do is to take a look at the book’s ending section and you will find what amuses your tastes and your erudite cravings.
Paul Collier is a professor at Oxford. He had directed the World Bank’s research department. He’d also taught at Harvard.
We have an innate need for organization. We need to organize our lives. We need to get out stuff together. We need to organize our rooms, and our kitchens.
School tries to arm us with such a capacity from an early age too. Write heading in a specific color. Write paragraphs in a different one. Leave a certain margin. Allocate a notebook for each subject, and never use a notebook for all of them (I have to admit that I used to do this).
On an individual level, we are different, and just as some of us are obsessed with order and long for strict organization, others despise such dependence on systems and see them as mere constructs that further complicate matters rather than simply them.
The reality is that by “just living,” we—our activities—are generating data on a minute-to-minute basis. That data needs to be processed, organized, and stored. We then can use that our archives/historical records to make inferences, or to help researchers better understand and solve the challenges of their fields by making the access to the information resources they need most easy and time-efficient.
Here comes the field of organizing recorded information. The International According to the Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)1, end-users of the information benefit from the organization process by being able to accomplish the following five tasks more efficiently:
Find: look for entities that match tight and specific criteria
Identify: verify that the entities sought is the same as the one found
Select: ensuring of retaining only resources that match the user’s need
Obtain: make the resource sought accessible
Explore: make possible the discovery of new resources and entities
We should differentiate between the terms “recorded information” and “information resource.”
The first refers to any form of factual knowledge about something or someone.2 The second is an identifiable and describable unit of information; an instance of recorded information.3
Information resources often have some common attributes, such as title, creator, date, ISBN, etc..
Archivists and collection specialists use these attributes to help them organize these resources collectively, and according to a specific criteria.
These attributes are called metadata, which is just a fancy name for “data that provides information about other data.” 4
There are generally four steps we should follow if we want to organize recorded information:
Identify every information resource available at our disposal
Closely examine the contents of each resource
Collectively organize these resources into separate collections
Work out a list of every information resource prepared according to some standard guideline for citation
A redditor recommended Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way to me. I’d never heard of the book before this guy told me about it. And so I went on and grabbed a copy. And while reading, I took some notes and here is my little summary, review, and criticism. ( Buy The Book. ) Note: Each chapter in the book is a week, that’s how the author chose to organize the book.
No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.
Julia believes we are creatives in one way or another. She really believes in that, and it shows (within the book). All we have to do, she points out, is “freeing people’s creativity”.
Her idea is to build some sort of “pathways” within our consciousness, and in turn, within these same “pathways” your creativity actually works.
The author refers to these basic principles as “Spiritual Electricity” through which the artist shall recover and discover his creativity.
Some of the principles mentioned:
Creativity is the natural order of life.
Open yourself to creativity and, you open yourself to the “creator’s creativity” within all of us.
You can refuse to be creative, but it is against “our true nature”.
The author introduces the concept of a “creative withdrawal”. And unlike Caffeine withdrawal, here she explains we are withdrawing “to” something instead of withdrawing “from” something like a substance. And the thing we are withdrawing to, in this case, is ourselves!
How do you know if you are creatively blocked? Jealousy is an excellent clue
Well, I can relate to that somehow. And, if you find yourself when (when reading like a maniac like me) that most books in the market are like shit and that you probably could write a something better than 95% of published book out there, then that’s a sign! And here, Julia Cameron offers us some tips, among them:
To stop telling ourselves that it is too late to pursue it
To stop using our financial situation as an excuse not to pursue it
To stop associating your creative side with your ego (even though it might be true in my opinion, George Orwell thought so in his essay WHY I WRITE)
To stop undervaluing dreams and to really believe that they matter
To not give a sh*t if you family and friends will think you are crazy (they probably will, in my estimation, but they don’t and will never matter)
Creativity is not a luxury (I agree that sometimes, it is an urge and a necessity)
The Basic Tools
Julia Cameron presents two tools here: what she calls “the morning pages” and “the artist date”.
The morning pages:
You need to find your creativity. But, how? Cameron here suggests “the morning pages” method.
Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness:“Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah, blah, blah …”
This is when you set aside few hours each week to nurture and “date” your inner creative self, “your inner artist”.
The idea here, is that your inner creative needs to be taken care of, and taken out on a regular basis. And for that, the author is seriously telling us to set aside a block of time each week just to do that.
Recovering a Sense of Safety
All young artist yearn for acknowledgement, and they often don’t get it neither from family nor from friends, thus they are “shadow artists” (this kinds of reminds me of Saul Bellow when he once said “yes, I didn’t want to be ignored”)
Very often in our society, the artistic urge within a child is suppressed
Families usually discourage their children to pursue a career in Arts.
Usually, the child that has a creative energy within him and surrender to the environment pressure to go for a “real job, ” often later in life, when in his forties or fifties, go back and try to pursue that dream again
To make the jump, from obscurity to pursuing their artistic dreams, shadow artists must start taking themselves seriously
Your Artist is like a kid: nurture it
Take yourself seriously, but don’t take your early work very seriously or compare it unfavorably to the masters’
To recover go “gently and slowly”
Creative healing is like a “marathon”
To be a good artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist at first (and maybe even be bad a log period of time at first)
Your core negative beliefs are your worst enemies
Your affirmations are like your army,use them often
Recovering a Sense of Identity
Self-definition is quite important in creative healing
Go sane! Unstuck yourself!
Believing your inner self-attacks will make you remain “victimized”
Self-doubt often leads us, blindly, into self-sabotage
Creativity thrives when accept ourselves and when we associate positively with our self-definition
Toxic company can block our artist growth
We are our inner artist’s own parent
Your “blocked” friends won’t support your healing/recovery
Avoid “Crazymakers” at all costs
Our inner skepticism is our worst enemy
A creative life involves a great deal of “Attention”
Recovering a Sense of Power
Take you anger, use it as fuel, do something with it
Don’t ignore the powerful signal of synchronicity
Learn to separate the useful criticism from the trash criticism
Shadow creative, ignored by their inner circle feel shameful about their own talent, usually doubt it, and run away from it for years
Growth happens to you in chunks, take it easy on down/low days, they happen to everyone
Recovering a Sense of Identity
The process of identifying a self inevitably involves loss as well as gain.
You must experiment, and see what works for you as an artist, everyone is different
Your credibility lies with you and your output
You cannot plan your creative career (even if you try)
Your self-respect arises from doing your work
You don’t need to be rich, but you need to support yourself (don’t be the starving artist)
Recovering a Sense of Faith
Meet the prerequisites of creativity: receptivity, faith, and trust
Have the courage to admit your inner dream, you are intended to create
There is a path for you
Creativity begins in darkness; we need to trust it, as ideas start and grow there
Mystery is at the heart of creativity
Julia Cameron’s Online Course
If you like the book so much that you want to seriously invest in your creative journey and awakening the giant within, then luckily for you, the author, Julia Cameron is offering a twelve weeks online course: The Artist’s Way Online Course that will perfectly complement your reading of the book.
Follow The Author: Julia Cameron’s Online Presence
What is Logic? Have you ever thought about the question? Have you ever tried to come up with your own definition? If, yes, then you are interested in a discipline that dates back to the 4th century BC, practiced worldwide by man and woman whose professional title is simply: Logicians.
Logic as a subject itself find its deepest roots in Philosophy. In my effort to understand Logic, I came across the book: Logic: A Very Short Introduction by Graham Priest, and so I read it and this post is a summary of my own of the book. It will make understanding the basics of Logic a piece of cake for you. Some basic terminology is introduced along with syntax that requires little to no mathematical background. In fact, I believe, after grasping this book, you will have much easier time pursuing disciplines such as Computer Science, Mathematics and Philosophy.
The Concept of Validity
Validity is a cornerstone concept in the study of Logic. There are two main types of validity:
But to understand each, you first have to understand some basic terminology:
Premise: The part of the inference that gives reason to something
Conclusion: The part of the inference that get its reason and ground from the premise(s).
Inference: Snippets of reasoning. They are made of a set of premises and a conclusion
The whole concern of Logic, as Graham Priest puts it, is whether the conclusion follows from the premise(s). And when it does follows from the premise(s), Logicians call the whole inference Valid.
So, the central aim of logic is to understand validity.
Graham Priest – LOGIC: A Very Short Introduction
When is an inference Deductively Valid?
An inference is deductively valid, when there isn’t a single case where the premise(s) are true and the conclusion isn’t also true.
And When is an inference Inductively Valid?
An inference is inductively valid, when the premise(s) give good reason for the conclusion, but not good enough to draw a final conclusion upon them.
In any inference, sentences can either be True or False–hence, the concepts of Truth and Falsity. If a sentence is true, then we assign it the truth value T. Else, we assign it the truth value F. As you can guess, T and F stand for True and False, respectively.
Grammar Form: OR | Syntax Form: A V B, where A, B are sentences. When a sentence has the logical operator OR within it, we call it a Disjunction. And, we call sentences at both sides of the ‘OR’ disjuncts.
Grammar Form: AND | Syntax Form: A & B, where A,B are sentences. When a sentence has the logical operator AND within it, we call it a Conjunction. And, we call sentences at both sides of ‘OR’ conjuncts.
Grammar Form: NOT | Syntax Form: ¬S, where S a sentence. If S is a sentence, then ¬S is called the Negation of S.
While we are at it, let us define what a sentence is based on traditional grammar:
A sentence, at its simplest form, is composed of: Subject + Predicate.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:
a subject is: that of which a quality, attribute, or relation may be affirmed or in which it may inhere
a predicate is: something that is affirmed or denied of the subject in a proposition in logic
Note that you can also chain inferences. For instance: Let W be the sentence ‘Ben Wajdi is a writer’. Let N be the sentence ‘Ben Wajdi was born somewhere in North Africa’. Let Y the sentence ‘Ben Wajdi is a North African-born Writer’. Let F be the sentence ‘Be Wajdi is French’. Now, if we chain all of the above inferences in the following way:
Truth Conditions for Negation:
S has the truth value T, if ¬S has the truth value F
¬S has the truth value T, if S has the truth value F
Truth Conditions for Disjunction:
The disjunction Q v R has the truth value T, if either one of the disjuncts has the truth value T
The disjunction Q v R has the truth value F, only if both disjuncts have the truth value F
Truth Conditions for Conjunction:
The conjunction Q & R has the truth value T, if each of the conjuncts has the truth value T on its own
The conjunction Q & R has the truth value F, if either one of the conjuncts has the truth value F
Truth Table for the Negation of S, where S is a sentence
Q v R
Truth table for the disjunction Q v R, read ‘either Q or R’
Q & R
Truth table for the conjunction Q & R, read ‘Q and R’
Quantifiers & Names
Modern Logicians call words like ‘nobody’, ‘someone’ or ‘everyone’ Quantifiers and when they appear in a sentence they are distinguished from words like ‘Ben Wajdi’ or ‘David Cohen’ because these are Names. And even if both Quantifiers and Names can both serve as subjects, they tend to work differently.
So How do they differ?
a situation comes furnished with a stock of objects
the relevant objects can be people, or any other collection of objects depending on the situation
all the names we generate about this situation refer to one of the objects in this collection
thus if we write W for ‘Wajdi’, w refers to one of these objects
and if we write A for ‘author’, then the sentence wA is true in the situation just if the object referred to by w has the property expressed by A.
if we use a quantifier like ‘someone’ and say “someone is an author’ then this is true in the situation that there is an object or other in the relevant domain, (an object x in the collection of objects such as) that happen to be an author
we denote ‘some object x is such that’ as ∃x
thus, if we want to write ‘∃x x is an author’ we can write it simply as: ∃x xA
=> Logicians call ∃x a Particular Quantifier
The Universal Quantifier
Now, let’s talk about another type of quantifier: ‘everyone’
For instance: if we say ‘everyone is depressed’
For the sentence to be true, all the objects in the collection of objects must have the property ‘depressed’
in other words, ‘Every object, x, is such that x is Depressed’
Let’s denote the property ‘depressed’ as D, then we can write the whole inference as: ∀x xD
Logician call ∀x a Universal Quantifier
And so, names and quantifiers work differently. The best evidence is that Logicians will write ‘Wajdi is an author’ and ‘Someone is an author’ differently–∃w wA and ∀x xA respectively. And the key takeaway from all of this is that an inference when examined merely through its grammatical form it can mislead us when judging its validity.
Quantifiers play a central role in many important arguments in mathematics and philosophy.
Graham Priest – LOGIC: A Very Short Introduction
Graham Priest then walks us through a popular argument for the existence of God: The Cosmological Argument (very interesting read it in the book, pages 21-22)
We’ve seen already that at its simplest form, a sentence is a subject and a predicate. We’ve also seen that a subject can be a name or can be a quantifier. But, it also can be what logicians call a Definite Description.
A definite description has the form of ‘the thing satisfying such and such a condition’. Example: ‘The man who wrote the first novel in history’.
Th author reminds as that thanks to ‘one of the founders of modern Logic’ English Philosopher and Mathematician Bertrand Russel, we can write the above sentence as:
Rewrite ‘the man who wrote the first novel in history’ as ‘the object, x, such that x is a man and x wrote the first novl in history’
Now let’s write ix for ‘the object, x, such that’
Then, our previous sentence becomes ‘ix(x is a man and x wrote the first novel in history)
And, if we write M for ‘is a man’ and N for ‘wrote the first novel in history’ then we can write the whole thing as => ix(xM & xN)
The general syntax for a description is: ixcx, where cx is some condition containing occurrences of x.
We know that definite descriptions can take the role of subjects. And we also know that subject + predicate make a sentence. Hence, if we write the predicate ‘was born in Spain’ as U, then the sentence ‘the man who wrote the first novel in history was born in Spain’ bceomes ix(xM & xN)U.
We can write µ as a shorthand for ix(xM & xN), then the whole sentence/inference becomes: µU
Remember, in the last section we talked about the differences between Names and Quantifiers. Rest assured if you have questions going in your mind about the classification of Descriptions because they are considered Names.
==> And so, in the above example, the sentence µU is true only if the object referred to by phrase/description µ has the property expressed by U.
The author here warns us that even though Descriptions are Names, they are a special kind of Name. Unlike ‘proper names’ like ‘Wajdi’ and ‘Ben’, Descriptions carry information, and often properties, about the object within it. For instance, the Definite Description ‘the man who wrote the first novel in history’ carries within it two properties about the object: he is a man + he wrote the first novel in history.
This is a special case of something more general, namely: the thing satisfying such and such a condition, satisfies that very condition. This is often called the Characterization Principle (a thing has those properties by which it is characterized).
Graham Priest – LOGIC: A Very Short Introduction
==> Here, the author talks about the Ontological Argument for the existence of god. Go on and read it in the book if you’re interested, I didn’t cover it here for the sake of brevity.
Something else you need to know about descriptions: if µP is a sentence, µ description and P a predicate, and if the object referred to within the description µ does not really exist, then µP is false. But here again, Graham Priest warns us that it is not always the case, and that this is when we start encountering some weird behavior regarding Descriptions. Sometimes, it turns out, the object referred to can be kind of ‘imaginary’ or ‘not real’ and still the property P attached to it can still hold and be true. An example the author present is about ‘Zeus’. After all, ‘Zus’ didn’t really exist, nor did he live on ‘Mount Olympus’, yet still the property of ‘was worshiped by ancient Greeks’ is still true. And so, the author reminds us that there are some cases, where the object does not exist yet still there are truths about it.
Iran’s opposition to foreign powers interfering in its domestic affairs reflect its historical urge for sovereignty, it stems from the fact that a nation, with such a rich history and culture, a nation that had been invaded and exploited by the Russian and by the British during the last two centuries, needs and deserves a place amongst the developed nations.
And so, Iran is “cursed” by its own Geostrategic importance and rich natural resources (Patrikarakos, 2012).
During the 20th century, and apart from the 1979 Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution, Iran went through three military coups.
Overthrowing Reza Shah (1941)
One of them happened when Reza Shah was ‘peacefully’ overthrown on September 16th 1941, put in an ‘unmarked car’ and was dubbed ex-Shah now after the British had decided that his time in power had come to an end. The next day, at 4:30 in the afternoon, his 21-year-old son Mohamed Reza Pahlavi emerged as the new Shah of Iran. His reign will last till 1979.
Why did they overthrown him? Well, Britain and The Soviet Union, launched Operation Countenance on August 25th 1941, after feeling that Reza Shah’s official position of neutrality is suspicious and after watching Iran and Germany get ‘uncomfortably close’ during the 1930s. The Operation would consist of invading Iran in order to secure Iran’s oilfields and supply lines, after Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, began invading USSR, breaking the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact between them (Patrikarakos, 2012).
Ending The Qajar Dynasty (1925)
You go back twenty years earlier, in 1925 to be accurate, and you discover that the same British that removed Reza Shah from power are the ones who made him The Shah after they ended a century-old Qajar Dynasty.
The same pattern seems to continue, but this time with Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadeq—who had been democratically elected—was overthrown by a CIA American-British engineered coup d’état, as part of Operation Ajax. Mossadeq’s popularity grew to a level that became concerning to the Shah. Few months after being overthrown, the nationalist leader, was “led into his court trial”. During his reign as a prime minister, he stood for his country and, he was known for his “honesty and integrity, strongly opposing foreign meddling in Iran at the time when most Iranians perceived many of their economic and political hardships as originating from such influence”(Petherick, 2006 ). Eventually, he was sentenced due death, and hadn’t it been for his age— later, the sentence was commuted—he would’ve faced the same end as that of Saddam Hussein, forty years earlier.
And so, Iran had had THREE military coups during 28 years (1925-1953).
But, if they do not stretch, with the passing of time, their bodies will become clumsier, more painful, incapable, etc. It is of no use to look at oneself in the mirror and not stop asking the reasons why, one needs to exercise or stretch, until one feels “in shape” again . This feeling of being in good shape is so imperceptible that one only becomes aware of it once it has been lost. Therefore, the smart thing to do is to not abandon it.
You need to start stretching now. Preferably, on a daily basis—if you can. Forgetting about stretching is a common mistake we all commit. Perhaps, we build up the mileage or load up the bar. We feel that we are thriving until injuries, stiffness and fatigue knock our door.
During his career as an ultramarathoner and a navy seal, David Goggins experienced many injuries followed by many surgeries. I’ve heard him talk about stretching and how it changed–not only his athletic performance and how he feels on a daily basis–his entire life. In his memoir, You Can’t Hurt Me, David says:
Thanks to all that stretching, I’m in better shape at forty-three than I was in my twenties. Back then I was always sick, wound tight, and stressed out. I never analyzed why I kept getting stress fractures. I just taped that shit up. No matter what ailed my body or my mind I had the same solution. Tape it up and move the fuck on. Now I’m smarter than I’ve ever been. And I’m still getting after it.
Stretching Enhances Your Overall Flexibility and Range of Motion
According to (10.1080/07303084.2008.10598237), ” Stretching has been shown to improve flexibility, which was previously believed to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury .” Although, the same article reminds us that other research ( 10.1080/07303084.1999.10605682 ) “have suggested that stretching may decrease muscle strength, which would compromise performance.”
However, a study by Herman, SL and Smith, Dt, published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research ( 10.1519/jsc.0b013e318173da50 ), in which they “incorporated a 4-week” dynamic stretching warmup (DWU) into the training program of a group of collegiate wrestlers and see how it affected their overall performance. They found out that the 4-week DWU intervention they incorporated, made positive improvements “in the majority of performance measures that assessed power,speed, agility, endurance, flexibility, and strength”. And according to the same study, “Sport-specific stretching exercises should be introduced into a warm-up immediately following the 2 to 3 minutes of light activity.”
Stretching Can Prevent Injury
There are four types of stretching techniques. Static, Dynamic, Ballistic, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation(PNF). Each has its pros and cons. And while the static option–holding a muscle in a fixed position for an extended period of time, after moving it past a certain range of motion and oftentimes anything past that point in ROM involves pain and we all experience it–is the most popular option, it is not always the most effective technique for injury prevention.
Stretching Can Relieve Pain
If you experience chronic pain, and you go visit your doctor, chances are beside drugs and scanning, he will advise you to join a yoga class. And what is yoga but a form of stretching!
” Stretching increases the flexibility of the tissues being stretched. It helps to loosen the tension in your muscles, de-stresses them, and thus helps you manage your mental stress as well, ” says Amy Stein author of Heal Pelvic Pain.
“There are, however, reasons to be cautious about stretching to the limits of pain because of the risk of causing damage ” says Muanjai et al. ( 10.1007/s00421-017-3608-y) and so while stretching regularly may improve flexibility and increase your range of motion, don’t take it too far. The same study suggest that static stretching for a long period of time may even cause inflammation and loss of strength. So be careful and use it wisely.
Warmup for 10-15 minutes. Then, begin the stretching process immediately. Breathe in a slow rhythm that you are able to control. Do not bounce or move in a silly way lest you get yourself injured. The stretch should be gentle. You should reach a kind of pain sweet spot that you can maintain so that it is neither too easy and thus provide no stimuli nor too hard and therefore lead to injury. “The body, and in particular the body part being stretched, must not be under excessive tension, which explains why some athletes injure themselves after practicing their sport when they conclude their training with rough stretches, ” says Oscar Moran (author of this stretching encyclopedia), and hence preferably, stretch before the exercise not after it.