This is the third edition of my annual email for the period 2013/14, a period which is now at the start of its sixth month: June 2013. I write this update of that annual email on 4 June 2013 with five Baha'i holy days of April-May gone for another year: the celebration of the Declaration of the Bab on 23 May, and the commemoration of the Ascension of Baha'u'llah on 29 May. Interested readers can go to the online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, if they want a detailed description of the meaning and historical origins of these two special days in the Baha'i calendar, among the several other special days in the Baha'i calendar.
This annual email, or letter, is the third in the series of my online annual communications: (i) to family and friends, (ii) to the literally thousands of other associations of a lifetime in the nearly 70 years since my conception in mid-October 1943----some of whom may read this, (iii) to those who have come to my writing in the last 17 years, the years I have had a website: 1997 to 2013, (iv) to still others who will find their way to my writing in the remaining years of this second decade of the 21st century and in the decades beyond during which I will hopefully be alive, and (v) still others who will first read my writing after my demise. If I live to be 100, the year will be 2044!
I encourage readers of this post who have not yet read my annual emails/letters for each of the last two years: 2011/2012 and 2012/2013, to read them first if, in fact, they are interested in the comings and goings of the significant others in my life. My two previous annual emails are found at this link: http://www.my-diary.org/read/d/465760 There are also several other pieces of my writing available at that online diary, FY possible I. If, of course, you are not interested in the activities of my wife and son, my one grand-daughter, my two step-daughters, my three step-grandchildren, my daughter-in-law, my step-son-in-law, and the several other members of this the second affinal family in my life; if you are not interested in the members of my first affinal family now all-living in North America, or my consanguineal family in Canada and England---and there is no reason of course that you should---then your reason to go to those first two annual missives is less pressing, less of value to you, and you are advised to stay with this third annual online communication. That Free Online Diary has several thousand of my words in the form of a dozen or more posts on a variety of subjects FY possible reading pleasure.
This email, this post in cyberspace, is the third edition of my annual email for the period 2013/14, and I will be adding to it as the months of 2013 continue their course. When a sufficient number of changes have been made to this edition, a fourth edition will come out, some time before the next holy day in the international Baha'i community: July 9th. Go to Wikipedia if you want to have the detailed description of the origin and purpose of that holy day, the commemoration of the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Bab which is some 5 weeks from now. Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia with 24 million articles; it has about 100,000 active contributors. As of June 2013, there were editions of Wikipedia in nearly 300 languages. It has become the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet, ranking sixth globally among all websites, and having an estimated 365 million readers worldwide.
My first two annual emails, one for 2011/12, and a second for 2012/13, to all those I mentioned above, each had their focus: (i) on family and friends for the year 2011/12, and then (ii) for 2012/13---on family and personal updates, as well as my writing and publishing in cyberspace. The focus in this 3rd of my annual emails will not be an update on my family. I intend to do further updating on the significant others in my life at that annual email for 2012/13---for those readers who are interested in the more personal aspects of the significant others, some of my family members---at the above link.
I get a very wide range of requests for assistance and comment from people at many social networking sites(SNS). Indeed, the spectrum of requests at SNS surprises me---even after nearly 70 years of living and having dealt with many a surprise over many decades. I am asked or invited to comment on: (i) pictures of individuals, their children &/or friends, (ii) their jokes and gestures, (iii) some of their philosophy or religion, their psychological and social enthusiasms, or their interest in food or fashion, (iv) their support for, or criticism of, a cause like: dogs or dolphins, animals or attitudes, seals or sadists, trees or terrorists, cats or kangaroos, the homeless or the homosexual, peace or progress, art or armies, flora or fauna, (v) a virtually endless list or litany of topics and subjects which are not causes or concerns, but just personal interests, and (vi) requests from others for romance, and even for a sexual relationship.
As I say to all the people in the above categories: "go to the following link." I encourage all these people to read as much of the following very long thread at a sub-section of my website, as much as their passions and prejudices, proclivities and penchants can stand: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/auto.html .....I make this suggestion to readers because this long thread at this link at my website tries to cover every conceivable type of request or invitation that comes my way in cyberspace. If readers so desire, we can get into a literary exchange beyond the one-liners which characterize SNS like Facebook. It goes without saying, of course, that those who do not desire any discussion beyond one-liners will simply ignore the above link after reading a few words or, perhaps, a few paragraphs.
This annual email will be more social-historical, psychological-political in the non-partisan sense, more concerned with social issues. It will also be aimed not only at discussing various social issues, but at drawing readers to the many sections and sub-sections of my website:http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/auto.html There are now dozens of people who contact me every month and I often encourage them to go to that link in the first instance so that they will understand "where-I-am-coming-from" as they say these days, in relation to the many requests and desires for my comments that I get. Posts come my way, as I say above, in relation to more things, more issues and concerns, interests and activities, than one can shake-a-stick-at, as they say colloquially, and that link which I have included for readers to click-on saves me answering each individual who writes to me in the various ways that messages can now be conveyed in cyberspace.
This annual email/letter for 2013/14 will also have other purposes as they evolve in the process of writing this present annual email for the year that is now, as I say above, is at the start of its sixth month, and next year, 2014. I get more than 200 emails everyday, but 90% of them can be, and are, deleted without even reading them. If I took every communication, every email, seriously, I would do nothing else with my day but answer emails. For the 30+ categories of incoming emails which, for the most part, I ignore and write no response, go to this link:http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/auto.html
I have been writing annual communications for 46 years since the late 1960s, and specifically since 1967 when I lived on Baffin Island across the waters of Baffin Bay from the southwest coast of Greenland. Baffin Bay is a marginal sea in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is connected to the Atlantic via Davis Strait & the Labrador Sea. A narrower body of water, the Nares Strait, connects Baffin Bay with the Arctic Ocean. My first annual letter was sent from the town of Frobisher Bay where I taught grade 3, to fifteen Inuit children, from September 1967 to June 1968.
I sent these annual letters for the 25 year period from 1967 to 1992 from the towns and cities where I lived in Canada or Australia as I moved from place to place, job to job, and marriage #1 to marriage #2. In 1993 the email became part of the annual communication process and this form of communication is now 20 years in the making: 1993 to 2013. The number of those to whom I sent that annual email during those two decades increased to 100 people or more by 2010. In the last 18 months, 3/12/'11 to 3/6/'13, my annual emails have had nearly 4800 hits, as they are called, as those who click on my annual posts are referred to. Of course, I do not know how much of my posts are read by those who click on them, and I have no idea, or at least very little idea, who reads them or how much they read, if anything. I also post my annual emails at sites which have no counters; my guesstimation is that an additional 200 to 300 hits or clicks are made on these annual posts making a total of more than 5000 connections of some sort in the period beginning in December 2011 and ending in June 2013.
MY 20 YEARS WITH GOOGLE-MICROSOFT
2.1 This part of my annual email for 2013/14 provides a birds-eye view of my online life which began in 1993/94 and is now 20 years old. In 1998, five years after my online life began, and only a few months before I took an early retirement from the teaching profession and the world of FT jobs, two Stanford graduate students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founded Google.com, a search engine that used a better technology than had previously existed for indexing and retrieving information from the immense miscellany of the World Wide Web.
That search engine, now popularly known as Google, was also used for ranking the Web sites that contained this information according to their relevance to particular queries based on the number of links from the rest of the Internet to a given item. This Page-Rank system transformed the Web from its original purpose as a scientists’ grapevine. From the random babble that the Internet had been, and its embryonic function in my personal and professional life, it soon became a searchable resource providing factual data of variable quality to millions of users. I was one of those who used that searchable resource extensively I retired from FT work in 1999, and took a sea-change as early retirement is often called in Australia and in some other countries and territories of the planet.
It was the exigencies of commerce that transformed Google itself from an ingenious search technology, without a business plan, into a hugely profitable enterprise offering a variety of services including: e-mail and news, video and maps, and its current, expensive and expansive, if not quixotic, effort to digitize the public domain's contents of the books and other holdings of major libraries. This new program has aimed and still aims to provide users, wherever in the world Internet connections exist, with access to millions of books and journals, magazines and essays. It also aims to enable libraries to serve millions of users without adding a foot of shelf space or incurring a penny of delivery expense. This ongoing project has been moving ahead at what seems to me, anyway, to be the speed of light. As of June 2013, as I update this third in the series of my annual emails, more and more books, electronic journals, and enough print to keep me happily busy in perpetuity is available for my reading tastes.
2.2 In the first year after I retired from FT work, July 1999 to July 2000, Google officially became the world's largest search engine. With its introduction of a billion-page index by June 2000 much of the internet's content became available in a searchable format at one search engine. In the next several years, 2000-2005, as I was retiring from PT work as well as casual and most volunteer activity that had occupied me for decades, Google entered into a series of partnerships and made a series of innovations that brought their vast internet enterprize billions of users in the international marketplace. Again, I was one, and I have been utilizing this immense library increasingly as these first years of the 21st century have gone from year to year. Not only did Google have billions of users, but internet users like myself throughout the world gained access to billions of web documents in Google’s growing index/library.
The information revolution set off in the closing decade of the 20th century by the invention of the World-Wide-Web transformed irreversibly much of human activity. Internet communication, which has the ability to transmit in seconds the entire contents of libraries that took centuries of study to amass, vastly enriched the intellectual life of anyone with the interest and ability to use it, as well as provided sophisticated training in a broad range of professional fields, again, for those with the interest. It was a finer and more useful library than any of those in the small towns where I would spend my retirement in Tasmania in the years ahead. It was also a library with a myriad locations in which I could interact with others and engage in learning and teaching, online service activity and activism, in ways I had never dreamt-of in the first five decades of my life as a student and teacher: 1949-1999.
This interaction to which I refer above has resulted in my obtaining literally millions of readers. This was beyond my wildest imagination in the closing decades of the 20th century when I used to send my pieces of writing to publishers: books and magazines, journals and newspapers. This electronic system of communication has built a sense of shared community among its users, indeed, 1000s, if not millions, of shared communities of different sizes. These communities are impatient of either geographic or cultural distances, and communication is often, indeed, usually instantaneous. As a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, online blogger and journalist, scholar and reader, I have benefited immensely.
It is interesting to note that Social Networking Sites(SNS) started-up during my first years of active internet publishing: Friendster began in 2001, Linkedin and Myspace in 2003, and finally, Facebook in 2004. By 2004, I was beginning to acquire the vast readership that I have slowly accumulated in the last dozen years: 2001 to 2013. I belong to dozens of SNS and 1000s of other sites, sites which focus on a myriad subjects. The main reason I acquired literally millions of readers is that I joined over 8000 sites during the years I have had my own website: 1997 to 2013, and I place my writing and interact at these sites. My interaction at all these sites is highly variable because my first task and pleasure is writing and my second is one of publishing and, in the process, interacting with others.
2.3 The internet is a cornucopia of accurate, well-argued and knowledgeable information. But it is also a place for specious and spurious, inaccurate and beguiling arguments. People who know little about an issue are often easily taken-in on the internet. Many often believe a u-tube post they can see to one that requires study and reading on their part. The internet, like many forms of technology before it, is both boon and beast, asset and debit, to the lives of its participants. Indeed, a quite separate section of this statement on my cyberspace experience in the last two decades could be devoted to the negative and positive impacts of the internet.
In 1994, at the age of fifty, and as I was beginning to eye my retirement from FT work as a teacher and lecturer, Microsoft launched what was and is called its public internet-web-domain with a home page. Website traffic climbed steadily and episodically in the years 1995 to 1999, my last four years as a FT teacher and lecturer in the then Western Australian Department of Education and Training. Daily site traffic of 35,000 in mid-1996 grew to 5.1 million visitors by 1999 when I had taken that sea-change, retiring to Tasmania at the age of 55.
2.4 Throughout 1997 and 1998 the site grew-up, matured, from being the web equivalent of a start-up company to a world-class organization. I retired from FT work, then, at just the right time in terms of the internet capacity to provide me with: (a) access to information by the truckload on virtually any topic; and (b) learning and teaching opportunities, both direct and indirect, far in excess of any I had had in my previous years as a student and teacher from my childhood into the last years of my middle age.
My first website in 1997 was part of the initial flourish of web-sites and search engines from the mid-1990s to the year 2000. The second edition of my site came-out in 2001, the opening year of the 3rd millennium. A world, a succession, of brand names have made electronic communication an everyday experience. Web-browsers such as: Netscape, Internet Explorer, and Mozilla-Firefox, and Safari, among others, as well as search engines such as Yahoo and Google, the latter founded in 1998, all came on board just as I was retiring from 50 years in classrooms as a teacher and student. My website is now in the 3rd month of the third year of its 4th edition, an edition that went online on 21 March 2011. The contents of my site consist are some 60 books at 80,000 words per book. I am only one of some 300 million websites and over two billion users of the 14 billion pages of documents--at last count---a needle in the proverbial haystack. The internet will never make me either famous or rich; I will though be saved from the inevitable frenzy of renown.
2.5 This new technology developed sufficiently by the early years of the 21st century to a stage that gave me the opportunity, the capacity to post, write, indeed, “publish” is quite an appropriate term, on the internet at the same time. From 1999 to 2005 I released myself from FT, PT, casual & most volunteer work. During these years Google and Microsoft offered more and more technology for: (i) my writing activity and (ii) for my work in a number of causes that I had devoted my life to since my late teens and early twenties. I have listed several of these causes at LinkedIn.
The Internet has become emblematic in many respects of globalisation. Its planetary system of fiber-optic cables and instantaneous transfer of information are considered, by many accounts, one of the essential keys to understanding the transformation of the world into some degree of order and the ability to imagine the world as a single, global space. The Internet has widely been viewed as an essential catalyst of contemporary globalisation and it has been central to debates about what globalisation means and where it will lead. There are now several hundred thousand readers, indeed millions, engaged in parts of my internet tapestry, my jig-saw puzzle, my literary product, my creation, my immense pile of words across the internet--and hundreds of people with whom I correspond on occasion as a result. This amazing technical facility, the world wide web, has made this literary success possible. If my writing had been left in the hands of the traditional hard and soft cover publishers, where it had been without success when I was employed full time as a teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator, as well as a casual or volunteer teacher from 1981 to 2001, these results would never have been achieved. Of course, not everyone is as enthusiastic about the contribution of the world-wide-web as I am. The internet has its detractors and this new technology provides yet another factor in the pessimistic scenario, or world view, that is the cosmology of millions.
2.6 I have been asked how I have come to have so many readers at my website and on my internet tapestry of writing that I have created across the world-wide-web in the last decade or so. My literary product is just another form of published writing in addition to the traditional forms in the hands of publishers. I have literally millions of readers, although it has become impossible to keep even an accurate account of all those who come across my writing at the myriad locations on my tapestry of prose and poetry. It is a tapestry I have sewn in a loose-fitting warp and weft across the internet and it is found at over 8000 websites where I have registered: forums, message boards, discussion sites, blogs, locations for debate and the exchange of views. They are sites to place essays, articles, books, ebooks, poems and other genres of writing. I have registered at this multitude of sites, placed the many forms of my literary output there and engaged in discussions with literally thousands of people, little by little and day by day over the last decade. I enjoy these results without ever having to deal with publishers as I did for two decades before then in the last two decades of the 20th century without any success.
WORLD PEACE: ARE YOU KIDDING?
To an extent unimaginable until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the ideal of world peace is taking on form and substance. To the skeptical and cynical observer this often does not appear to be the case. In the name of realism, or perhaps just simple pessimism, many observers see no evidence of the many movements toward world peace. This is understandable given the focus of news in the print and electronic media on a daily basis. I am more optimistic. Of course, all this tells you is that I am optimistic. No man knows the future; we each bring to the question of the future our assumptions. What we believe will happen, and what will actually happen exist in two different worlds of discourse. As that inventor of the geodesic dome, Buckminster Fuller, once put the story of the future: "it's somewhere between utopia and oblivion."
Obstacles that long seemed immovable have collapsed in humanity's path; other obstacles seem as unmoveable as mountains; apparently irreconcilable conflicts have begun to surrender to processes of consultation and resolution; other irreconcilable conflicts seem more entrenched in problems as intractable as ever; a willingness to counter military aggression through unified international action is emerging, partly out of idealism, partly out of the tragedies and trials of our time, partly out of necessity to avoid unimaginable horror. The effect, though, it seems to me and at least in part, has been to awaken in both the masses of humanity and many world leaders a degree of hopefulness about the future, a degree of hope for our planet that for decades had been nearly extinguished. Of course, this is not the case with all world leaders and all the people who make up the masses, the 7.4 billion human beings on the planet. Millions are beset by tangled fears as they listen to the pundits of error and sink deeper into a slough of despond.
Throughout the world, immense intellectual and spiritual energies are seeking expression, energies whose expression is in direct proportion to the frustrations of previous decades. Everywhere the signs multiply that the earth's peoples yearn for an end to conflict and to the suffering and ruin from which no land is any longer immune. These rising impulses for change must be seized upon and channeled into overcoming the remaining barriers that block realization of the age-old dream of global peace. Troubled by forecasts of doom, people do battle with the phantoms of a wrongly informed imagination and stumble ahead.
The effort of will required for such a task cannot be summoned up merely by appeals for action against the countless ills afflicting society. It must be galvanized by a vision of human prosperity in the fullest sense of the term---an awakening to the possibilities of the spiritual and material well-being now brought within our grasp. Its beneficiaries must be all of the planet's inhabitants, without distinction, without the imposition of conditions unrelated to the fundamental goals of such a reorganization of human affairs. For more on this line of thought go to this document: "The Prosperity of Humankind." It may be accessed by referring to the following web address: http://info.bahai.org/article-1-7-4-1.html.
THE BAHA'I FAITH AND POLITICAL NON-INVOLVEMENT
Go to this link for an excellent talk on this subject from the perspective of the Baha'i Faith and Iranian politics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtVY1BW9s0A ...Bahá’u’lláh required that His followers strictly abstain from conflict and contention, which are characteristics of the partisanship practiced in present-day politics. Bahá’ís, in whatever country they reside, are prohibited from holding membership in any political party. At first glance, one might expect to find the members of the Bahá’í community actively engaged in a wide range of political pursuits in furtherance of its universal ideals. The opposite is in fact the case. But Bahá’ís are urged to contribute to the welfare of society, one way being to fulfill their civic responsibilities. For more on this subject go to: http://www.bahai.org/misc/politics
Many men are deeply political but in the broadest sense of the word. They are not interested in daily politics, in its daily round of partisan ups-and-downs, and the kinds of issues that the electronic media and popular press deal with every day. They are concerned with questions of moral behavior and the larger questions of right and wrong affecting the entire society. I will leave this complex subject for now, just one of the multitude of immensely complex issues facing humankind.
SOME BAHA'I PERSPECTIVES ON WORLD PROBLEMS
It would be reasonable to assume that the world’s leaders would focus their every effort on finding a solution to the mountain of problems and especially those that affect humankind's very survival. That the various summits, international and regional forums, would have produced a pragmatic and practical road-map towards rectifying at least some of the world’s challenges is a reasonable expectation. Since this is not the case, and no clear road-map has emerged from all these international forums, people have become increasingly skeptical about these talk-fests. From all reports summits do little more than provide public photo-opportunities, and the inevitable backroom squabbles. People's skepticism and cynicism seems a reasonable bi-product of all this talk.
What a waste of opportunities for leaders of the world’s most powerful nations to meet together as peers, and bend their minds and hearts to alleviating the global challenges we all face. When these leaders sit around the table together at their high-profile gatherings, they are often no more successful at holding efficient and effective deliberations than many of us often are in our more humble locations at the local level. It’s a familiar scenario: a group of like-minded individuals, with a shared vision and goal, talk in circles for hours, repeating arguments and issues without reaching consensus. It’s not always a lack of will that hampers these leaders, I think, but rather of us not having the skills involved in the consultative process. More more on this subject go to:http://www.bahaiperspectives.com/tag/politics/
Part 6: CONCLUDING WORDS:
I will update this third edition of my annual email for 2013/14, as I say above, later in 2013 before the next Baha'i holy day in early July as winter in Australia goes through its first month. For now, I wish all those who read this edition of my annual email for 2013/14 happy sailing amidst: whatever pleasures and pains, tempests and trials, tribulations and tests, difficulties and ordeals, as well as wins and wonders, joys and jobs are coming your way in life.