A university is a living organism

A university is a living organism. Its role is not just to transfer knowledge to the younger generation but to also be at the forefront of knowledge creation and innovation so as to expand our collective knowledge as a society and make the world a better place.

— Bertil Andersson, President of NTU (Nanyang Technological University), 1 July 2011

The only ideology I really despise and dislike is the kind that is about exclusion of other ones

In an interview with Argentina’s La Pagina, Linux founder Linus Torvalds shares his view of Linux ideology.

Q: What ideology has Linux?

A: I don’t think there is an ideology, and I don’t think there *should* be an ideology. And the important part of that is the “an” – I think there can be *many* ideologies.  I do it for my own reasons, other people do it for _their_ own reasons. I think the world is a complicated place, and people are interesting and complicated animals that do things for complex reasons. And that’s why I don’t think there should be “an ideology”. I think it’s really refreshing to see people working on Linux because they believe they can make the world a better place by spreading technology and making it available to people more widely – and they think that open source is a good way to do that. That’s _one_ ideology. I think it’s a great one. It isn’t really why I started doing Linux myself, but it warms my heart to see Linux used that way. But I _also_ think that it’s great to see all the commercial companies that use open source simply because it’s good for business. That’s a totally different ideology, and I think that’s a perfectly good ideology too. The world would be a _much_ worse place if we didn’t have companies doing things for money. So the only ideology I really despise and dislike is the kind that is about exclusion of other ones. I despise people whose ideology is about “the one true ideology”, and not following that particular set of moral guidelines is “evil” or “wrong”. That’s just small-minded and stupid, to me. So the important part about open source is not the ideology – it’s just that everybody can use it for their own needs and for their own reasons. The copyright license is there to keep that openness alive, and to make sure that the project doesn’t fragment into people who hide their improvements from each other and then have to re-implement each others changes – but it’s not there to enforce some ideology.

Hostile takeover of AWARE

Excerpt from source @ Glass Castle: http://www.glass-castle.org/issue20editorial.html


Not Secular Feminists But Sectarian Fundamentalists: And They’ll Come For You Too

Editor Jolene addresses the takeover of AWARE by a group featuring prominent anti-gay activists.

Background

At the end of March, AWARE held an AGM attended by a large bloc of new members, many of whom had not previously been especially active in the organisation (according to the Straits Times, a large majority of them had only joined the organisation in the preceding 3 months). They proceeded to elect a new executive committee dominated by anti-gay activists. The new President (who has since, bizarrely, resigned), Claire Nazar, has publicly said that in her interpretation of her religion, Christianity, homosexuality is an ‘abomination’ and ‘the [result] of sin and flouting of God’s moral order’. The new honorary secretary, Jenica Chua, has previously criticised NMP Siew Kum Hong for his support for the legalisation of gay sex by referring to ‘the homosexual agenda’ and ‘the homosexual interest group’, language which originates from Christian fundamentalist movements in America.

Their supporters at the meeting included more individuals with clear connections to anti-gay Christian fundamentalist activism. Among these was Angela Thiang, who works in a company headed by infamous anti-gay Christian NMP Thio Li Ann, and who has publicly spoken in favour of Section 377A and in opposition to abortion rights. There was also Dr Alan Chin, who has used the language of American Christian fundamentalists by referring disapprovingly to ‘the gay lifestyle’.

Many of the members who voted for this new executive committee had only joined recently and were not well-known to active existing members of AWARE – suggesting that they were a new faction, rather than representing and reflecting the existing values of the group. In other words, the organisation appears to now be run not by secular feminists but by sectarian fundamentalists. It is likely that they will use it to push through a new agenda, promoting visions of gender, sexuality and women’s rights which are contrary to what AWARE previously stood for.

This has severe implications for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and civic society at large. Even if you consider yourself wholly indifferent to feminism or LGBTQ rights, please sit up and pay attention. They could come for you next.

Read the full article at http://www.glass-castle.org/issue20editorial.html

Barry Schwartz: The real crisis? We stopped being wise

TED talk – Barry Schwartz: The real crisis? We stopped being wise

Feb 2009

Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.

Check out the 20 mins short video.

I find Barry’s following message especially true:

“…  as we turn increasingly to rules, rules and incentives may make things better in the short run, but they create a downward spiral that makes them worse in the long run. Moral skill is chipped away by an over reliance on rules that deprives us on the opportunity to improvise and learn from our improvisations and moral will is undermined by an incessant appeal to incentives that destroy our desire to do the right thing. And without intending it, by appealing to rules and incentives, we are engaging in a war on wisdom.”

In life, there are apparently many questions without known answers, and many situations seen as hopeless and beyond our control. When “we” can’t understand or solve these problems at our level, we tend to turn to “higher entity” for answers.

I guess it’s a lot easier for most of us to push the personal responsibility of our lives to an external entity. That way, we avoid the accountability for our own actions. Harmful actions can thus be proudly committed in the name of the “higher entity” without remorse or guilt. We stopped doing the right thing, because “right” is now fuzzy.

It’s always easier to simply believe and not question because we’ll have less work to do, less facts to verify, less concepts to learn and digest, and less cultivation to do. “Why so serious?”, some will say. Because ignorance begets suffering. We all need that wisdom beyond blind faith to start taking responsibility of our lives.

IMHO, Barry Schwartz’s secular statement above says it well, if you substitute “rules” with “dogmas” and “incentives” with concepts such as “believers will rise to heaven while non-believers suffer in hell forever”.

We need to stop creating or turning into zombies. Wisdom must take center stage. Wisdom guides all actions.

八阵图

功盖三分国, 名成八阵图。
江流石不转, 遗恨失吞吴。

这是杜甫初到夔州时作的一首咏怀诸葛亮的诗,写于大历元年(766)。

“八阵图”,指由天、地、风、云、龙、虎、鸟、蛇八种阵势所组成的军事操练和作战的阵图,是诸葛亮的一项创造,反映了他卓越的军事才能。

“功盖三分国,名成八阵图”,这两句赞颂诸葛亮的丰功伟绩。第一句是从总的方面写,说诸葛亮在确立魏蜀吴三分天下、鼎足而立局势的过程中,功绩最为卓绝。三国并存局面的形成,固然有许多因素,而诸葛亮辅助刘备从无到有地创建蜀国基业,应该说是重要原因之一。杜甫这一高度概括的赞语,客观地反映了三 国时代的历史真实。第二句是从具体的方面来写,说诸葛亮创制八阵图使他声名更加卓著。对这一点古人曾屡加称颂,如成都武侯祠中的碑刻就写道:“一统经纶志 未酬,布阵有图诚妙略。”“江上阵图犹布列,蜀中相业有辉光。”而杜甫的这句诗则是更集中、更凝炼地赞颂了诸葛亮的军事业绩。

头两句诗在写法上用的是对仗句,“三分国”对“八阵图”,以全局性的业绩对军事上的贡献,显得精巧工整,自然妥帖。在结构上,前句劈头提起,开门见山;后句点出诗题,进一步赞颂功绩,同时又为下面凭吊遗迹作了铺垫。

“江流石不转,遗恨失吞吴。”这两句就“八阵图”的遗址抒发感慨。“八阵图”遗址在夔州西南永安宫前平沙上。据《荆州图副》和刘禹锡《嘉话录》记 载,这里的八阵图聚细石成堆,高五尺,六十围,纵横棋布,排列为六十四堆,始终保持原来的样子不变,即使被夏天大水冲击淹没,等到冬季水落平川,万物都失 故态,唯独八阵图的石堆却依然如旧,六百年来岿然不动。前一句极精炼地写出了遗迹这一富有神奇色彩的特征。“石不转”,化用了《诗经·邶风·柏舟》中的诗 句“我心匪石,不可转也”。在作者看来,这种神奇色彩和诸葛亮的精神心志有内在的联系:他对蜀汉政权和统一大业忠贞不二,矢志不移,如磐石之不可动摇。同 时,这散而复聚、长年不变的八阵图石堆的存在,似乎又是诸葛亮对自己赍志以殁表示惋惜、遗憾的象征,所以杜甫紧接着写的最后一句是“遗恨失吞吴”,说刘备 吞吴失计,破坏了诸葛亮联吴抗曹的根本策略,以致统一大业中途夭折,而成了千古遗恨。

当然,这首诗与其说是在写诸葛亮的“遗恨”,无宁说是杜甫在为诸葛亮惋惜,并在这种惋惜之中渗透了杜甫“伤己垂暮无成”(黄生语)的抑郁情怀。

这首怀古绝句,具有融议论入诗的特点。但这种议论并不空洞抽象,而是语言生动形象,抒情色彩浓郁。诗人把怀古和述怀融为一体,浑然不分,给人一种此恨绵绵、余意不尽的感觉。

作者: 柠檬雨心Source

古今多少事 都付笑谈中

滚滚长江东逝水,浪花淘尽英雄。是非成败转头空。青山依旧在,几度夕阳红。
白发渔樵江渚上,惯看秋月春风。一壶浊酒喜相逢。古今多少事,都付笑谈中。

Ref-1: 明代文人杨慎所作《二十一史弹词》第三段《说秦汉》的开场词《临仙山.滚滚长江东逝水》。后来毛宗岗父子在评刻《三国演义》时,将其放在其中。

Ref-2: 这首词出自《历代史略十段锦词话》,作者是明代文学家杨慎。杨慎(1488~1559),字用修,别号升庵,自称“博南山人”、“金马碧鸡老兵”。四川新都人,明代著名的文学家、学者。杨慎出生于书香门第,是湖广提学佥事杨春之孙,吏部尚书、武英殿大学士杨廷和之子。自幼聪明好学,七岁习文,十一岁作诗,明正德六年(1511)高中状元,是四川省明朝唯一的状元,是年年仅二十四岁。杨慎由于禀性刚毅,一生仕途坎坷,颠沛流离。三十六岁时因为得罪了明世宗朱厚熄,先是被廷杖几乎致死,后被明世宗下令充军云南永昌卫(今云南保山县)。最后死于戍所,终年七十二岁。杨慎虽然一生不得志,郁郁而终,但其在中国文化史上却是占有重要地位的。他不仅精通经、史、诗、文、词曲、音韵、训诂、金石、书画,而且对天文、地理、生物、医学等也有很深的造诣。四川省图书馆所编《杨升庵著述目录》达298种。《明史》本传曰:“明世记诵之博,著作之富,推慎第一。”本文前面提到的这首词就出于《历代史略十段锦词话》第三段,是杨慎晚年在云南时期的作品。关于这首词的内容,后人点评颇多,评价很高,后来清初毛宗岗父子便把它移植到《三国演义》卷首,更是令这首词名扬世界,结果反倒使人误以为是毛氏所作,不记得其真正的作者了。