__Prof. Dr. Ruud Koopmans, Berlin Social Science Center
A discussion paper I just found (dated March 2014) released by academics and seeking the answers to those simple questions that many well-meaning liberal humanists always seem afraid to ask.
As a foretaste of the paper here are some of the survey questions and further down I placed its introduction.
♦ “[Christians]¦[Muslims] should return to the roots of [Christianity]¦ [Islam]”
♦ “There is only one interpretation of the [Bible]¦[the Quran] and every [Christian]¦[Muslim] must stick to that”
♦ “The rules of the [Bible]¦[the Quran] are more important to me than the laws of [survey country]”
The conclusions of that survey? I prefer to have you reading that paper, let's just say I wasn't surprised and I know you won't either. The paper is available as a PDF linked to this post.
A ping for
In the controversies over immigration and Islam in the early 21st century, Muslims have widely become associated with religious fundamentalism. Others have argued that religiously fundamentalist attitudes characterize only a small minority of Muslims living in the West, and can be found to similar extents among adherents of other religions, including Christianity. Claims on both sides of this debate lack a sound empirical base.
Little is known about the extent and determinants of religious fundamentalism among Muslims of immigrant origin, and virtually no evidence is available that allows a comparison with Christians of native stock.
Whether religious fundamentalism among Muslims should be considered as a relatively harmless form of strong religiosity or whether it is associated with hostility towards other groups is also an open question. Research on Christian fundamentalism has repeatedly demonstrated that there is a strong connection with out-group hostility, but no solid evidence is currently available that allows us to determine whether this also holds true for Muslims.
On the basis of a survey among Turkish and Moroccan immigrants and their offspring as well as native comparison groups in six West European countries this paper investigates four key questions:
- What is the extent of religious fundamentalism among Muslim immigrants and their offspring and how does it compare to native Christians?
- What are the socio-economic determinants of religious fundamentalism among Muslims and to what extent are they similar to those among Christians?
- Can religious fundamentalism among Muslims be distinguished from other indicators of religiosity, as research has found to be the case for Christian fundamentalism, or is it an inherent component of strong Islamic religiosity?
- What is the relationship between religious fundamentalism and hostility towards other groups and is this relationship similar among Muslims and Christians?
A history museum with quite a history on its own, a situation that is somewhat reminiscent of the matryoshka doll, those nesting dolls of decreasing size placed one inside another.
The Museum was officially established in 1872 by a personal decree of Emperor Alexander II under the driving forces of Ivan Zabelin, Aleksey Uvarov and several other Slavophiles interested in promoting Russian history and national self-awareness.
In 1874 a competition to select the best design for the national history museum’s building was announced. The conditions were as follow:
«The building facades should be styled after monuments of the 16th and 17th centuries, such as: Intercession Cathedral (Saint Basil the Blessed) at Red Square, the bell tower in the Alexandrovsky large village, the church of the Ascension, the John the Forerunner in Kolomenskoye, the Nativity church in Putinki, the churche of Georgian Holy Mother in Moscow, Cathedral in Rostov the Great, the churche of Yaroslavl.»
The winner was Vladimir Sherwood, the son of Joseph Sherwood, an Anglo-Russian engineer whose father William Sherwood, a cotton machine engineer had come to Russia at the invitation of Tsar Paul I on October 1800.
The museum was opened to the public in 1883, on the coronation date of Emperor Alexander III after whom the Museum was named from 1894 till 1917.
"The largest single threat to the ecology and biodiversity of the planet in the decades to come will be global climate disruption due to the buildup of human-generated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
People around the world are beginning to address the problem by reducing their carbon footprint through less consumption and better technology.
But unsustainable human population growth can overwhelm those efforts, leading us to conclude that we not only need smaller footprints, but fewer feet."
☛Headline by the Center for biological diversity: http://goo.gl/MF7xoO, an extract from the related report from the UCSF Sustainability Program follows
❝By slowing population growth, family planning can help address food insecurity and climate change❞
Slowing the rapid growth of human population through strengthened voluntary family planning services would powerfully and inexpensively contribute to improvements in food security and the reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
A confluence of long-term environmental and population trends is undermining world food availability and driving climate change. These trends include quickening climate changes and difficulty adapting to its effects; widespread depletion of water, soils and fisheries; increased diversion of grains from human consumption to bio-fuel production and livestock and poultry feed; rapid population growth, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia; and increasing affluence in middle income countries.
Insufficient food is a serious problem for more than 800 million people, and the problem will only continue to mount as the population grows. The global community has not adequately addressed the important links between food security, climate, family planning, and population growth.
Future food security can be improved substantially by decreasing future demand for food. This can be accomplished by meeting the already existing need for voluntary family planning in developing countries, thereby reducing unintended pregnancy and slowing population growth. Further, reducing unintended pregnancy and slowing growth decreases the need to expand health facilities and schools; gives couples the opportunity to invest more in the welfare of each child; and promotes the economic benefits of a “demographic bonus” due to a more favorable age distribution with fewer dependents who are not working. Since agriculture and livestock together emit 30% of all greenhouse gasses, reducing the need to increase production of crops and farm animals will also help stabilize the climate.
Food demand and climate change projections commonly use the UN 'medium variant' scenario, which projects a world population of 9.6 billion in 2050 and 10.9 billion in 2100. This projection assumes substantial fertility declines in high-fertility countries — assumptions that are unlikely to be met without increased investments in family planning.
With current neglect of family planning, the UN’s recent projection of a 2100 world population of up to 12.3 billion is a possibility. An estimated $9.4 billion annually is needed to provide family planning to women in developing countries who want to end or delay childbearing, but only half that amount is now available. An annual expenditure of $9.4 billion is less than 5% of the $209 billion annual expenditure estimated to be necessary to meet the need for food in developing countries between now and 2050.
A growing body of research has demonstrated that investment in global family planning can make a substantial contribution toward improving food security and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change — at a relatively low cost. An appropriate response to this evidence would be for the research, policy, and program communities that address world hunger and global warming to make family planning a priority in the new Sustainable Development Goals.
Investment of an additional $3.5 billion annually by foreign aid donors and an additional $1.8 billion from developing country governments would fill the $5.3 billion gap in funds for family planning. Specifically, such an investment could:
➤ Slow global climate change, by providing 16-29% of the needed emissions reductions;
➤ Improve food security by slowing population growth;
➤ Satisfy existing demand for contraception services; and
➤ Prevent an estimated 52 million unintended pregnancies every year.
☛ UC San Francisco Sustainability Program: http://goo.gl/1zEY9E
☛ Full report: http://goo.gl/pagcpL
☛ Further related information: "Global Water Resources: Vulnerability from Climate Change and Population Growth" http://goo.gl/Kgcr9s
☛ A related NYT arcticle and the source of the picture: "Nigeria Tested by Rapid Rise in Population" http://goo.gl/5evtf
☛ This post was triggered by via https://goo.gl/Hz7SxC
In the morning of October 17th, my second day in Russia and in Moscow, the sky was as blue as it could get. A solid breakfast followed a sound sleep and preceded some daily planning refresh and offline cashing for Google Maps, courtesy of the flawless WiFi I got at the hotel.
I walked down toward the Kremlin along the Bolshaya Nikitskaya street. My first stop was the Manezhnaya Square and its splendid four bronze horses from the four seasons’ fountain.
It is only today that I realized that the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (https://goo.gl/PtMPIV) and the Manezhnaya Square originated from the same man, Zurab Tsereteli. He was born in 1934 to grow up as a painter, sculptor and architect.
He currently holds the office of President of the Russian Academy of Arts.
A bit surprising for me being from the field is that, in 1998, he was made a full member and Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Informatics. Anyway, just like our lovely moon I suppose that beyond a certain critical mass the honors and awards will tend to attract each other (accretion) 😊.
I am glad to live in the era in which one realized that most microorganisms are tremendously useful. Now, let us scale up the size and stop reducing biodiversity altogether.
I don't know about you but at home we are listening to music all the time, well nearly all the time and certainly now as I am writing this.
Last month, on that same Saturday I already shared pictures from at the occasion of that rare fresh snow, I went back to one of the sources of this wonderful form of art, a music school - the nursery of tomorrow's musicians.
The school occupies a beautiful and old antique house carefully restored and maintained by the city of Thun and canton of Bern. It is located right in front of the Bonstetten park so I didn't have to make much of a detour anyway.
My daughter took guitar lessons there during 18 months and writing this post has me realized what a fine place that is. I wonder if I could motivate her to go back and resume.
Musical Education in Switzerland
Music Education Now Guaranteed under the Swiss Constitution
September 23, 2012, was a historical day in Switzerland. By national vote, with an overwhelming majority of 73%, the Swiss people accepted that a new constitutional article concerning music education will be introduced into the Swiss constitution. This article contains three elements:
1. providing music education of high quality at all levels in public (state) schools and ensuring a well-adapted teachers’ training throughout the whole country
2. ensuring access to music education in a specialized music school for all children, regardless of their social or financial background and
3. ensuring the financial and educational support for young talented musicians.
For the first time, music education is stipulated in the national constitution. If someone in Switzerland had predicted only ten years ago that this would happen, nobody would have believed it. How was this possible, how did it happen?
Switzerland is a confederation of 8 million inhabitants with four national languages, (German, French, Italian and Romanche, spoken in some alpine valleys), originally established in 1291. Today, it consists of 26 autonomous cantons which are solely responsible for culture and education in their area. According to the new constitutional article, both the confederation and the cantons, within the scope of their powers, shall endeavour to ensure high-quality music education. The political system of Switzerland since the establishment of its constitution in1848 is direct democracy.
This means that every Swiss citizen has the right to launch an initiative or a referendum, both of which can influence or overturn parliamentary decisions. Although this happens regularly, it is all but simple: a large network must be mobilized and there are long, complicated and costly procedures to follow.
The vote of September 23, 2012, was the result of a federal popular initiative called “Music and Youth”, launched under the responsibility of the Swiss Music Council. After the collection of 154,000 officially validated signatures from Swiss citizens supporting the initiative, the proposal was submitted to the Federal Chancellerie in Bern, the Swiss capital, in December 2007. This was the beginning of a long political process which finally led to the successful vote.
*Art. 67a1Musical education*
1 ♦ The Confederation and Cantons shall encourage musical education, in particular that of children and young people.
2 ♦ They shall endeavour within the scope of their powers to ensure high-quality music teaching in schools. If the Cantons are unable to harmonise the goals of music teaching in schools by means of coordination, the Confederation shall issue the required regulations.
3 ♦ In consultation with the Cantons, the Confederation shall set out principles to help young people to engage in musical activities and to encourage musically gifted persons.
Google Photos just reminded how February 6th was 5 years ago. Not that different from today, no snow left on the ground but the same sun was shining this afternoon. This time around I uploaded the 16Mp version of some of those pictures I had already shared.
A quick panorama I have done from this afternoon. I was on my way to do some shopping when I realized how the old town was well lit by a late afternoon sun, located right in front at this time of the year.
Being on my bike and having the smartphone in the pocket I easily stopped for a few seconds and captured the scene. It is one of these places where, if asked what to change to make it better looking, you'd think long and hard to come up with next to nothing.
Wishing you all a nice weekend
Here's what Google cooked me from the auto-upload batch of my afternoon in Thun. Nothing was edited out, or in. In later posts I might come back on some of the items contained here so, in advance, bear with me :-).
Now to illustrate my values let's just look a bit back in history. Definitely no need to reinvent the wheel here.
✿ "A little help at the right time is better than a lot of help at the wrong time." Teyve
✿ "To reform a man, you must begin with his grandmother." Victor Hugo
✿ "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." Antoine de Saint-Exupery
✿ "Humans have come into being for the sake of each other, so either teach them, or learn to bear them." Marcus Aurelius
✿ "We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do." Ethel Barrett
✿ "There is no force so powerful as an idea whose time has come." Everett Dirkson
✿ "Where knowledge ends, religion begins." Benjamin Disraeli
✿ "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire
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