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What is Emergence

First defined by George Henry Lewes in "The Problems of Life and Mind". According to Lewes: "Although each effect is resulting from its components, the product of its factors, we cannot always plot the process steps, to the point of seeing in the product the mode of operation of each factor. In this case I propose to call this emerging effect. It arises from combined agents but in a way that does not expose the agents in action."

The mind, for example, is considered by many to be an emerging phenomenon as it arises from the interaction distributed between various neural processes (including also some of the body and environment) without being able to reduce itself to any of the components that participate in the process (none of the neurons separately are conscious).

The concept of emergency is hotly debated in science and philosophy because of its importance for the foundation of the sciences and the possibilities of reduction among them. It is equally crucial given the consequences and implications for the very perception of the human being and its place in nature (the concepts of free will, responsibility or consciousness depend, to a large extent, on the possibility of the emergency) . The concept of emergency has gained renewed strength in the wake of the rise of the sciences of complexity and plays a fundamental role in the philosophy of the mind and the philosophy of biology.

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Uncategorized

The Gorilla

Gorillas (genus Gorilla) are herbivorous primates that inhabit the forests of Central Africa. It is the greatest of the living primates. Its DNA is 97%–98% equal to humans, the closest after two species of chimpanzee.

American physicist and missionary Thomas Staughton Savage was the first to study the Western gorilla, which he named Troglodytes gorilla, in 1847 from specimens obtained in Liberia. The name is derived from the Carthaginian navigator Hanno († 440 BC) who returned with the skins of three "wild women," he acquired them on his trip to Africa, which the African interpreters called "gorillaiz". But it is unclear exactly where Hanno killed the poor creatures and it is open to debate if they were in fact gorillas, regardless whether they were gorillas, chimpanzees or even members of a pygmy people (which is not entirely unlikely) they were passed down as such through ancient historians. All of the options are feasable as his course likely took him as far as the Gulf of Guinea where he opened up new trade routes. We know this because his travelogue (Periplus) has been handed down in a Greek translation.

Gorillas usually move on all fours as the forelimbs are more elongated than the hind limbs and resemble arms, although they are also used as a foothold. Males are between 4 ft 7 in to 5 ft 11 in tall, and weigh between 300 to 430 lbs. Females weigh about half as much as males (150–250 lbs). The gorilla's facial structure is known as a bulging jaw, as the jaw is much larger than the jaw.

Pregnancy lasts 8 and a half months and usually females will not have another for three to four years as the young live with their mothers during this time. Females mature when they are between 10 and 12 years old (in captivity, usually before); males mature between the ages of 11 and 13. Life expectancy is 30 to 50 years. Massa, of the Philadelphia Zoo, holds the record for longevity: he died at 54.

Gorillas are mostly vegetarian, and eat mainly fruits, leaves, shoots, etc., although they may consume some insects, which represents only one to two percent of their diet.

In addition, all gorillas share the same blood type (B) and, like humans, each gorilla has unique fingerprints that identify it.

The gorilla species are endangered, albeit to varying degrees. One reason for the danger is the destruction of their habitat by deforestation. In addition, there are civil war-like conditions in parts of their range, which make the necessary protection measures difficult and make effective surveillance of protected areas almost impossible. Another reason is the hunting for their meat ("bushmeat") which is still carried out in much of their habitat. Diseases also continue to affect the already endangered populations, especially Ebola. The total population of gorillas is estimated at around 100,000 animals, but they vary widely between populations.

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Feminism

Feminism. There It Is, That Evil Word

In the public sphere the words that are used to describe progressive ideas and movements have long since been used to embody a whole list of concepts long bastardized and pulled out of context to be grouped together for some coffee talk: socialism, democracy, protest or protester are some illustrative examples that depending on what side you stand will bring different images to mind. But if there is a word, a definition, an assumed position that has grown out of being distorted, then it is that one word. The F word. Feminism.

Feminism, in its enormous diversity, takes liberation and equality as its flag. And in that sense is a politically charged word.

Some would have you believe that as an idea it is the diametric opposite to the patriarchy we find ourselves in today. It is yet for us to explain that feminism is not the other side of a machismo culture, nor does it intend to enslave men. It is not intended to be claimed with centuries of subjugation to males.

And when it comes to characterizing it, even the most progress of the progress go so far as to in validate their opinion with comments like: "I understand them, but the closer they get to feminism the worse they get". Because of course, feminism is not only a bad word and burdens you with an army of skeptics, but it has become a term to be used as a scapegoat, to devalue or position. We may no longer be burned at the stake, but we are still witches in the eyes of many around the world. And the truth is we are noisy and insistent when subjected to injustice, we make our complaints clear when we encounter treatment we don't like, we question the status quo at home, work, in the street, in history and we are willing to not only ask for but expect equality.

It is worth saying that our opponents are the same ones found in opposition to equality: narrow and conservative minds who writhe from disgust at our presence, the same who are frightened of restless students, poor people, the alienated, and those who they view as different.

We still have a long way to go but our numbers have grown along the way. We march on and multiply, we become stronger: when we demand that they stop the violence against use because of our bodies, when we denounce the disappearance of women and girls for trafficking, when we point to abusers regardless of where they are seated in society.

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Antique

What did the ancient Romans eat?

Food in ancient Rome wasn't as bland as you might think. Still, before the rich and elaborate meals began to appear on the tables the empire needed a basis to build on. Later food began to appear from places as distant as Guinea (pheasants), Persia (cocks), India (turkeys), Hispania (rabbits), Ambracia (toe), Calcedonia (tuna), Tarento (oysters and clams), Attica (mussels) or Dafne (tordos), the Romans knew nothing but the staple foods provided by the land: cereals, legumes, vegetables, milk or eggs. And the poorest Romans knew a very small selection of those.

The Ancient Roman cuisine

In ancient Roman times access to food was extremely difficult for the less favored classes. The staple food was puls for more than 300 years. Puls is a pottage made from farro grains boiled in water until it turns to mush and then flavored with salt and oil or pig fat. This type of wheat flour porridge was consumed by the commoners and legion alike.

The analysis and description of food in the times of ancient Rome must be done according to the social classes since each class had access to different types of food. For the poorest classes, such as campesinos, soldiers in battle and the inhabitants of cities, the basic food was cold and raw, consisting of cereals and vegetables. A fine meal for this population would be represented by a hot dish (such as a stew), even if this occurred rarely. The basic grain pottage, puls, could be expanded on with vegetables, meat, cheese, or herbs to produce dishes similar to polenta or risotto. Never the less, such items like beans, lentils and vegetables were the basis of daily cooking.

Okay, So what did the Romans eat?

We have an image, one based in popular culture, about the Roman meals, this is taken from movies and books and does not always paint an accurate picture of their diets. We imagine them stuffing themselves with greasy, spicy and bizarre foods, and drinking a lot of wine. But that's not the reality.

Not for the majority of the Roman population at least.

Ordinary people fed themselves with mostly bread, oil, cheese, olives and whether they could get some meat from time to time. They would also take fruit (grapes, figs, apples), nuts (almonds and pine nuts) and vegetables (asparagus, lettuce, carrot, onion and garlic) into their diets.

As we have already learned a very common meal was porridge.

If you were a member of the upper class your diet looked much different. And the food eaten on a daily basis was more plentiful and varied.

While it is obvious that the meals eaten by the rich were elaborate compared to those of the commoner and peasants, they still paled when compared to the Roman banquets.

In fact big banquets were something else. There are two ancient Roman books that have been preserved and tell things about the food of the rich. "The Satiricón" (full text) and a cookbook ("Apicius") by an author named Marcus Gavius Apicius. The dishes were very exotic and complicated. For example: nightingale tongues, stuffed slob loins or bristle breasts, roasted pheasant or turkeys with live thrush inside. The presentation of the dishes I consider it impressive.

I remember reading recipe from Apicius which called for rose leaves, pork brains and eggs all cooked slowly.

Maybe they wouldn't be popular today, but at least they were exotic to our palettes.

In the Rome of the Caesars, at the beginning of the Christian era and during the reign of Tiberius, the name of Marcus Gavius Apicius (25 B.C. – 37 A.D.) was cited as a culinary master and competent gourmand, having spent all his fortune in permanent gastronomic toil. He always organized great banquets, and thus dilapidated his heritage. When he found that what was left of him would not give to maintain his standard of living, he committed suicide. He was the founder of the school of Cuisine of the patricians of Rome, where he and his slave cooks taught culinary techniques and recipes to housewives. This may be the first gastronomist to be quoted in texts of well-known writers. Seneca, Herodotus and Isidoro were Romans who quoted Apicius in their writings, with indications that he wrote a manual of culinary techniques and recipes for sauces, called De re coquinaria (Ars Magirica, Apicius Culinaris, or On the Subject of Cooking).

One of the biggest problems faced by Governments was the maintenance of a food supply system for the people, as the supply was irregular. The nobles fed those who served them, slaves and attendants. But it was the government who distributed to the ommon people, everything from the wheat, the oil, and sometimes the pork, when the difficulties were greater. Because of this red meats could eventually be consumed by the commoner, but domesticated animals could only be slaughtered in religious ceremonies, which hinted about who had access to these foods. One of the habits of the wealthy was to serve roasted whole animals, such as piglets, boars, goats and lambs, which showed their power and wealth.

But the gluttony and waste of food incurred by the Romans of the imperial era was not always the case. When resources were scarce, the staple food was puls, and it remained so for more than 300 years. It was this kind of wheat flour porridge that helped build an empire. And through the consumption of this paupers dish led, in the times of greatest abundance, to the Iulian puls, which contained boiled oysters, brains and spiced wine, a sign that times had improved.

The staple food of Roman society was wheat. In the time of Julius Caesar (49-44 BC), some 230,000 Romans benefited from the distributions of cereal with which the flour was produced and, consequently, the bread.

Another popular food highlighted in the Roman diet was a drink, one that you certainly know, wine, although the science for preserving it was underdeveloped. As it soured easily in the amphorae where it was stored, it was drunk with species, or served hot and watery.

Those who could not afford access to more elaborate food in times of shortage had breakfast soups of bread and wine. These abounded: farro, chickpeas and vegetables, cabbages, elm leaves, mauve, etc.

The Roman that could afford more enjoyed a great consumption of milk, goat or sheep. As well as olives. The most consumed meat was pork, which was eventually joined by beef, lamb, sheep, goat, deer, deer and gazelle. Even the dog meat was highly prized.

The diet of the Roman during the Republic barely reached 3,000 calories (the average daily intake of calories in America is 3,770), of which at least 2,000 came from wheat. The rich became fond of consuming seasoned meat with a number of products that were influential in determining the characteristics of the future great imperial cuisine: pepper, honey, coriander, nettle, mint and sage.

Mealtime in Rome

The Romans ate three or four times a day:

  1. breakfast (ientaculum),
  2. lunch (prandium),
  3. snack and
  4. dinner (dinner)

The latter was the most important. It was done as a family, at the end of the day. One of his greatest pleasures was a good conversation around the table. From the daily dinner with lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, leeks, porridge and beans with bacon was passed to a sophisticated banquet dinner with the meal divided into three parts:

  1. the gustus or appetizer to wet the guest's appetite (melon, tuna, truffles, oysters,…),
  2. the premium table (chicken, chicken, ham, seafood, ….) which was the main course, and
  3. the backtable, the desserts.

In the Imperial era food became much more diverse and luxury foods like fowl began to emerge in the form of parrot and flamingo. The ibis and stork meats were avoided because they devoured snakes, and the swallow, which ate mosquitoes.

In imperial times no one set a stop to the consumption or the waste on the table: chickens and geese were fattened with boiled flour and mead or with bread soaked in sweet wine.

Although there were changes in the history of Rome in general the meals they made daily were three: breakfast or jentaculum, lunch at noon or prandium and dinner.

The jentaculum was taken when they got up, about seven in the morning. They usually took in a few spoonfuls of porridge or bread with cheese or bread smeared with wine, garlic or oil. Breakfast was eaten on one's feet, in other words while on the go.

At the prandium they took the leftovers from the night before, bread and fruit and vegetables. They were standing up for this meal as well. At the time prandium was eaten it was about noon.

When i was at the top, they'd go to the hot and cold baths. Then they'd come home and have dinner. Dinner was taken at the triclinium and it was around 8 o'clock and in summer at about 9. Dinner consisted of appetizers (eggs, cheese, olives, seafood), various dishes (salads, vegetables, meat and fish) and desserts (cakes, fruit or nuts).

The wine was drank mixed with water and sometimes drunk with added honey or spices.

As we have seen the ancient Romans ate in some things not un-similar to our modern diet. In part because they were Mediterranean, and their culinary contributions spread throughout Europe and from that to North America. But in other regards they were very different.

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Climate Change

Think About A World Without Plants

In a world without plants, life as we know it would end.

We would cease to exist.

Plants feed on minerals and carbon dioxide to grow. Their bodies are rich in glucose that builds the basis of the food of animals and expel oxygen during photosynthesis, and that oxygen is what the animals need to breathe. Animals cannot live without plants.

And we are just another species of animal.

If the plants disappeared, the herbivores would starve to death. If there are no herbivores, the carnivores would also starve to death. Mushrooms and insects would disappear.

But our planet would not be without life.

Some bacteria could survive.

Categories
Democracy Politics

A Right to Democracy

The Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 21:

Article 21

  1. Everyone has the right to participate in the government of his country, directly or through freely elected representatives.
  2. Everyone has the right to access, on an equal footing, the public functions of his country.
  3. The will of the people is the basis of the authority of the public authority; this will shall be expressed by authentic elections to be held periodically, by universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot or other equivalent procedure guaranteeing freedom of vote.

Today the sight of politicians arguing with each other, fighting for their interests or opinions, as they always do, dominate our television, computer, and phone screens. They care more about their parties than everyone's good and don't listen to each other.

They never agree.

Politicians are elected by the people, by voting for their parties, but in today's Democracy there are some flaws. The people vote for someone but you can't choose people directly, you have to vote for the representative that each party has put on their lists. And those are not always the most logical choices,

Moreover, once they have been voted into power, we can no longer control them, and hold them accountable and ensure they are doing what they promised or take away their power when they go against their promises.

Democracy is not fully achieved, because between election and choice, people can hardly intervene in the decisions of parties and governments.

Too often our voices need to be raised to be heard. Politicians often forget to listen to the people who elevated them to power.

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Democracy Politics

The Political Lie

It is that lie used by those seated in power to make their own interests prevail over those of their voters. Political scientist John Mearsheimer wrote the book: "Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics" in 2011 (read the NPR review).

Politicians lie, and it good if they lie to other political leaders on our behalf. This is theory that John Mearsheimer poses in his book. But the idea itself is not new.

The political lie, also known as "noble lie", has been justified by Plato's political philosophy since Plato's "Republic" always considering the governed as idiots in front of their rulers and unable to know what the public interest is, many sometimes conceived as the interest of the state. So in Plato's "The Republic" (Book III) we can read "if any one at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of the State should be the persons; and they, in their dealings either with enemies or with their own citizens, may be allowed to lie for the public good" however "when intemperance and disease multiply in a State, halls of justice and medicine are always being opened; and the arts of the doctor and the lawyer give themselves airs, finding how keen is the interest which not only the slaves but the freemen of a city take about them." The justification for the noble lie continues its development with Machiavelli "for this reason a prudent Prince neither can nor ought to keep his word when to keep it is hurtful to him", Nietchzsche, Weber, Carl Schmitt and in the present stage with Leo Strauss, the spiritual father, the latter, of many of the current rulers in the United States.

An illustrative example of political lying is the philosophical contest promoted by Frederick II of Prussia in 1778 with the title of "Is it convenient to deceive the people, either by inducing them to new mistakes, or by keeping them in those already in?"

The political lie is systematically exercised through the use of mass media to constitute the social body or unify it as Sun Tzu said in the "Art of War" three centuries before Christ, and thus justify interest. The preferred technique, of this, to give body to a political lie is demagoguery, whether this demagoguery of equality or freedom, in addition to the political fiction.

The country, through the division of the powers of the state, the imperative mandate and the ability of the governed to depose their rulers, control the narrative of political lie.

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Uncategorized

A Word on Humanism

What is humanism? It is a perspective from which you see the world, rather than a school of thought or a collection of beliefs.

Humanism gives man unique capacities with respect to other living beings who are cultivated and celebrated for their own good. It is established between the vision that subjects man to the divine and the one that treats him like any other animal. The form of humanist thought developed (although it comes from the classical era) and extended during the eighteenth century with thinkers such as Voltaire, Rosseau, Deiderot, Bentham, Hume, Lessing, Kant, Franklin or Jefferson. This set of thinkers had in common support for values such as freedom, equality, secularism and cosmopolitanism, and the exaltation of creative active life versus contemplative life. They also believed in the capacity for perfection of human nature, moral sense, responsibility and the possibility of progress.

In the twentieth century, in the face of totalitarianism and wars humanists oppose values of nobility, resistance, intelligence, moderation, flexibility, sympathy, love and seek the beauty of mankind and the landscape.

Humanists attach crucial importance to education by enceiving it as the full development of the creative personality, linking science with politics and culture with democracy. Humanists attach paramount importance to freedom of thought and opinion, the use of intelligence and pragmatic research in science and technology, political systems governed by representative institutions. Believing that one can live without metaphysical or religious certainties and that all opinions are open to review and correction, they see the human flourish through open communication, discussion, criticism, and unforced consensus.

Humanism is, in short, a component of a wide variety of more specific philosophical systems and various schools of religious thought. Long before being widely employed in political terms, humanism is a concept of the history of philosophy, renewed with the Renaissance, associated in particular with the movement represented by Erasmo, Michel de Montaigne or even Guillaume Budé, to whom it is the honor of having been interested in both Greek-Latin literature and personal reflection.

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Uncategorized

Saying Happy Birthday

Rome wasn't built in a day. It took a long time for the seven Lazio villages to form a greater whole that we recognize as Rome. As people we are never complete, there isn't a moment when you stop and realize things have reached the finishing line. For me birthdays are those milestones that make up the path that leads into the road of my life.

So you can say that I enjoy my husband's birthday, my kids' birthdays, and yes even my birthday. All of these are little reminders that we are alive, developing, maturing, and learning. I look forward to these moments. Each year we choose different themes for our birthday party. Usually it is something that means something to the one celebrating. For example my youngest decided that over the course of the last year she loves horses. So of course the theme was easy to guess. While this isn't always a given, that party was easy to decorate. We've used the same site for a couple of parties, if you notice they specialize in just about any type of party you can imagine. This brought up the question for us; "Do people actually need all of these options?"

Even though we have a theme for the parties they are more akin to the celebrations that my husband and I had growing up. They are traditional small celebrations with either friends and/or family.

There was an interesting article on psychologytoday.com that highlighted the current trend towards bigger is better.

I think that it is interesting on a number of levels. To quote the article:

Rarely do we stop to consider why we have birthday parties in the first place. Or perhaps more importantly, what do our children think about all this? Do they even understand what is being celebrated? What do young children understand about birthdays and birthday parties?

When our children were able to cognitively understand what, well, the big deal was about they looked forward to the idea, but never expected more than what was being planned. In the same article the author gave an example of a boy who was turning six year olds, he and his family flew on "the day of his birthday, he and his family were out of the country, so instead of a full-fledged party they simply had a cake, he blew out the candles, and they promised him a party when they returned home." This in and of itself is enough to confuse most children that are in the position to understand the basic concept of what the day represents. For the child, it was an abstract thought, that was not based on a standardized concept, rather abstract and arbitrarily assigned. As he was preparing for the promised party he was insistent that he was now turning seven, "this child clearly seemed to believe that birthday parties play a causal role in the aging process. Two cognitive developmental studies support this possibility."

How is it that we have taken one of the most exciting days in a child's life, one filled with laughter, silly games, and lots of cake and ice cream and shifted it into the realm of international travel and unsustainable consumerism?

As parent's we want to give our children as many possibilities of happiness as we are in a position to give. We want to make them happy, thus it is an understandable jump for some to make it a day they will never forget (until next year rolls around) and while is is admirable it places both the parents and child in a position that quickly allows things to get out of focus.

My husband told me a story once when we were dating. He related the happiest birthday he could recall. His grandmother made him a cake that had Superman on it. She didn't buy the cake, she made it from scratch. This was long before the day of super heró themed parties (my son just attended one last month, he was Ironman). He showed me a picture taken of him that day and there are only a few instances when I have seen him beam more (notably on the day our children were born).

I will close with four words. Bigger isn't always better.

Categories
Democracy

Democracy In Focus

Bolivia's first president, Evo Morales, has recently been removed from office after 14 years in power after facing acquisitions of a election fraud; declaring himself president even when a clear winner was yet to be decided. What followed was a month of unrest in the country, forcing Morales to seek asylum in Mexico. Jeanine Áñez has been sworn in to act as an interim president until new elections are held.

What is democracy?

First, we can distinguish between what we call social democracy and formal or political democracy. The first comes from an idea of morality or justice, and consists in the aspiration for civil and social equality of individuals in a community. It is the idea traditionally vindicated by progressive or left-wing ideologies. It is also called "horizontal democracy" (horizontalidad in Spanish speaking countries). The second is a concrete form of government, and we can define it as the institutional guarantee of political freedom. It is also called "vertical democracy."

For a political democracy to exist, basic conditions are necessary:

  1. De facto separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers
  2. Representativeness, through electoral laws, of civil society

If any of the conditions are missing, the government is undemocratic.