TheAtlantic – How Brain Scientists Forgot That Brains Have Owners ( By Ed Yong )

Introduction

Ed Yong has an interesting article in the Feb 2017 Edition of the Atlantic.

I especially like it as it shows that we can disagree without being disagreeable.

 

Story

Link
It’s a good time to be interested in the brain. Neuroscientists can now turn neurons on or off with just a flash of light, allowing them to manipulate the behavior of animals with exceptional precision. They can turn brains transparent and seed them with glowing molecules to divine their structure. They can record the activity of huge numbers of neurons at once. And those are just the tools that currently exist. In 2013, Barack Obama launched the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative—a $115 million plan to develop even better technologies for understanding the enigmatic gray blobs that sit inside our skulls.

John Krakaeur, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, has been asked to BRAIN Initiative meetings before, and describes it like “Maleficent being invited to Sleeping Beauty’s birthday.” That’s because he and four like-minded friends have become increasingly disenchanted by their colleagues’ obsession with their toys. And in a new paper that’s part philosophical treatise and part shot across the bow, they argue that this technological fetish is leading the field astray. “People think technology + big data + machine learning = science,” says Krakauer. “And it’s not.”

He and his fellow curmudgeons argue that brains are special because of the behavior they create—everything from a predator’s pounce to a baby’s cry. But the study of such behavior is being de-prioritized, or studied “almost as an afterthought.” Instead, neuroscientists have been focusing on using their new tools to study individual neurons, or networks of neurons. According to Krakauer, the unspoken assumption is that if we collect enough data about the parts, the workings of the whole will become clear. If we fully understand the molecules that dance across a synapse, or the electrical pulses that zoom along a neuron, or the web of connections formed by many neurons, we will eventually solve the mysteries of learning, memory, emotion, and more. “The fallacy is that more of the same kind of work in the infinitely postponed future will transform into knowing why that mother’s crying or why I’m feeling this way,” says Krakauer. And, as he and his colleagues argue, it will not.

That’s because behavior is an emergent property—it arises from large groups of neurons working together, and isn’t apparent from studying any single one. You can draw parallels with the flocking of birds. Biologists have long wondered how they manage to wheel about the skies in perfect coordination, as if they were a single entity. In the 1980s, computer scientists showed that this can happen if each bird obeys a few simple rules, which dictate their distance and alignment relative to their peers. From these simple individual rules, collective complexity emerges.

But you would never have been able to predict the latter from the former. No matter how thoroughly you understood the physics of feathers, you could never have predicted a murmuration of starlings without first seeing it happen. So it is with the brain. As British neuroscientist David Marr wrote in 1982, “trying to understand perception by understanding neurons is like trying to understand a bird’s flight by studying only feathers. It just cannot be done.”

A landmark study, published last year, beautifully illustrated his point using, of all things, retro video games. Eric Jonas and Konrad Kording examined the MOS 6502 microchip, which ran classics like Donkey Kong and Space Invaders, in the style of neuroscientists. Using the approaches that are common to brain science, they wondered if they could rediscover what they already knew about the chip—how its transistors and logic gates process information, and how they run simple games. And they utterly failed.

“What we extracted was so incredibly superficial,” Jonas told me last year. And “in the real world, this would be a millions-of-dollars data set.” If the kind of neuroscience that
has come to dominate the field couldn’t explain the workings of a simple, dated microchip, how could it hope to explain the brain—reputedly the most complex object in the universe?

This criticism misses the mark, says Rafael Yuste from Columbia University, who works on developing new tools for studying the brain. We still don’t understand how the brain works, he says, “because we’re still ignorant about the middle ground between single neurons and behavior, which is the function of groups of neurons—of neural circuits.” And that’s because of “the methodological shackles that have prevented investigators from examining the activity of entire nervous system. This is probably futile, like watching TV by examining a single pixel at a time.” By developing better tools that can watch entire neural circuits in action, programs like the BRAIN Initiative are working against reductionism and will take us closer to capturing the emergent properties of the brain.

But Krakauer says that this viewpoint just swaps “neuron” for “neural circuit” and then makes the same conceptual mistake. “It’ll be interesting to see emergent properties at the level of the circuit, but it’s a fallacy to think that you get closer to the whole organism and understanding will automatically ensue,” he says.

He and his colleagues aren’t dismissing new technologies, either. They’re not neuro-Luddites. “These new tools are amazing; I’m using them right now in my lab,” says Asif Ghazanfar from Princeton University, who studies communication between pairs of marmoset monkeys. “But I spent seven years trying to understand their vocal behavior first. Now, I have some specific ideas about what the neural circuitry behind that might look like, and I’ll design careful experiments to test them. Often it seems that people do the reverse: They look at the cool tech and say, ‘What questions can I ask with that?’ And then you get these results that you can interpret in vague ways.”

This point is crucial. Unlike others who have levied charges of reductionism against neuroscience, Ghazanfar and his peers aren’t dualists—they aren’t saying there’s a mind that sits separate from the brain and resists explanation. They’re saying that explanations exist. It’s just that we’re looking for them in the wrong way. Worse, we’re arriving at the wrong explanations.

Consider mirror neurons. These cells, first discovered in monkeys, fire in the same way when an animal performs an action and when it sees another individual doing the same. To some scientists, these shared firing patterns imply understanding: Since the monkey knows its intentions when it moves its own body, based on the firing of the mirror neurons, it should be able to infer similar intentions upon whomever it watches. And so, these neurons have been mooted as the basis of empathy, language, autism, jazz, and even human civilization—not for nothing have they been called the “most hyped concept in neuroscience.”

Here’s the problem: In the monkey experiments, scientists almost never check the animals’ behavior to confirm that they genuinely actually understand what they’re seeing in their peers. As Krakauer and colleagues write, “An interpretation is being mistaken for a result; namely, that the mirror neurons understand the other individual.” As others have written, there’s little strong evidence for this—or even for the existence of mirror neurons in humans. This is the kind of logical trap that you fall into when you ignore behavior.

By contrast, Krakauer points to his own work on Parkinson’s disease. People with the disease tend to move slowly—a symptom that’s been linked to a lack of dopamine. Increase the levels of that chemical, and you can hasten a person’s movements. That’s could lead to new treatments, which is no small victory. But it doesn’t tell a neuroscientist why or how the loss of dopamine leads to the behavior.

Krakauer found a clue in 2007 by asking Parkinson’s patients to reach for objects at varying speeds. These experiments revealed that they’re just as capable of moving quickly as healthy people; they’re just unconsciously reluctant to do so. They suggested that dopamine-producing neurons that connect two parts of the brain—the substantia nigra and the striatum—determine our motivation to move. Deplete that dopamine, and we opt for less energetic movements for a given task. Hence the slowness. Later experiments in mice, in which modern techniques were used to raise or lower dopamine levels, confirmed this idea.

There are many other examples where behavior led the way. By studying how owls listen out for scurrying prey, neuroscientists discovered how their brains—and later, those of mammals—localize sound. By studying how marmosets call to each other, Ghazanfar has learned more about the rules that govern turn-taking in human conversation. Critically, these cases began with studying behaviors that the animals naturally do, not those that they had been trained to perform. Likewise, bats, sea slugs, and electric fish have all told us a lot about how brains work, because each has its own specialized skills. “If you pick a species that does one or two behaviors super-well, you can identify the underlying circuits more clearly,” Ghazanfar says. “Instead, mice are treated as if they’re this generic mammal that have smaller versions of human brains—and that’s preposterous.”

“I am thrilled to see this paper emphasize the importance of carefully studied behavior,” says Anne Churchland, who studies decision-making at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. “I’ve seen in neuroscience that behavior is often an afterthought, studied with insufficient understanding of the animal’s strategy.” But she adds that such studies are hard. It’s difficult to get animals to behave naturally in a lab, because you might need to recreate aspects of their world that aren’t obvious to us.

Ghazanfar agrees. “If your goal is to understand the brain, you have to understand behavior, and that’s not trivial. I think a lot of neuroscientists think it is,” he says. “Perhaps one way forward would be to develop tools to help address the complexity of behavior” suggests Ed Boyden from MIT, who pioneered the breakthrough technique called optogenetics. “Behavioral investigation has a strong tradition in neuroscience and I hope it grows even stronger.”

For the moment, the problem is that it’s getting harder to publish such studies in flagship neuroscience journals. Behavioral studies get rejected for “not having enough neuro”, says Ghazanfar, and “it’s as if every paper needs to be a methodological decathlon in order to be considered important.”

Marina Picciotto from Yale University, who is editor in chief of the Journal of Neuroscience, says it boils down to how studies are framed. If they’re just describing behavior, they’re probably more appropriate for a journal that, say, focuses on psychology. But if behavioral experiments explicitly lead to hypotheses about circuits in the brain, or something of that kind, they’re more relevant for the neuroscience field. But “the line between ‘pure’ behavior and neuroscience is fluid,” she admits, and she’s both appreciative of the new paper and open to discussions about the issues it raises.

To Krakauer, the current line demeans behavioral work, deeming it valuable “as long as it tells us where to stick the electrodes.” But it’s important in itself. “My fear is that people will say: Yes, of course, we should continue to do everything we’ve been doing, but also do better behavior studies. I’m trying to say: You’ve got to do the behavior first. You can’t fly the plane while building it.”

Listening

Wretch 32 ft Jacob Banks – ‘Doing OK’ (Official Video)
Link

NFL Players Trip to Israel

Background

Over the weekend I became aware of a story that tracked a planned visit of NFL players to Israel.

Story

Here is a good take of the story penned by Allison Kaplan Sommer:

Haaretz – Israel News
Link

What was supposed to be a high-profile image-buffing visit by a delegation of 13 NFL players to Israel ended up failing to draw enough players to field a team.
In the end, only five of the players originally slated on the seven-day trip designed to make them “ambassadors of good will” for Israel ended up arriving to tour the Holy Land and seeing the sights, after a public relations fumble caused the majority to pull out.

The players who made the trip were Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell, Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Dan Williams, New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

The decision of the other participants not to come on the trip took place after the visit was publicized by Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan on February 5, with a press release describing the trip as being part of an “intensive fight against the delegitimization and BDS campaigns against Israel, and part of this struggle includes hosting influencers and opinion-formers of international standing in different fields.” The football players would get “a balanced picture of Israel, the opposite from the false incitement campaign that is being waged against Israel around the world,” he said.

Move follows ‘open letter’ from Walker, Belafonte, Glover

The move was followed by the publishing of an “open letter” urging the players not to go, sponsored by pro-Palestinian activist groups and signed by high-profile activists and celebrities like Alice Walker, Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover. At the very beginning of the letter, Erdan’s words are cited as evidence that Israel was “aiming to use your fame to advance their own agenda: an agenda that comes at the expense of the Palestinian people.”

The decision by the other eight players not to travel to Israel was led by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who signaled he was pulling out of the trip by tweeting a photograph of Martin Luther King Jr. and a statement expressing resentment at what he saw as a manipulation by Israel’s government and declaring he wouldn’t “be used in such a manner.”
Since Bennett’s post, the ministry that had unveiled the trip with great fanfare went silent. After promising various updates on the delegation, Revital Yakin-Karkovsky, executive director for communications and strategy in the ministry, told the Associated Press that it would not comment on the visit.

The Tourism Ministry and the nonprofit America’s Voices in Israel organization, which were also involved in the planning, have also distanced themselves.

According to ESPN, the players who canceled their participation include Bennett’s brother Martellus, a tight end for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, along with Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde and Denver Broncos running back Justin Forsett, along with retired NFL linebacker Kirk Morrison.

The five players’ government-sponsored trip began Tuesday in the north of the country with a visit to Rambam Hospital, where the five players were given a tour and shown a presentation of a device developed by one of Rambam’s researchers that detects concussions in real time. Later, the players were set to include Yad Vashem and the Hebrew Israelite community in the southern city of Dimona.

Two of the visiting players, Jordan and Kendricks, have kept their fans updated on their travels by posting their adventures on social media.

My Take

Personally, my take is that all of us should do good to the extent that we can.

Carry One Another’s Burdens
…Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to the family of faith.
( Galatians 6:9-10)

Other Do Gooders

  1. Obama
    • Governor Bill Richardson
      • Gov. Richardson endorses Obama
        March 21st, 2008
        Link
        He drew laughs with a story about how Obama had bailed him out when a moderator called on him unexpectedly during a Democratic debate.

        “I was about to ask the moderator to repeat the question when Barack whispered to me ‘Katrina, Katrina.’ And I gave my Katrina answer. He could have thrown me under the bus, but he stood behind me.”
        Obama had earlier praised Richardson.
        “Whether it’s fighting to end the Iraq war or stop the genocide in Darfur or prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists, Gov. Richardson has been a powerful voice on issues of global security, peace and justice,” Obama said in a statement released before the endorsement.
    • John McCain
      • McCain: Obama not an Arab, crowd boos
        By JONATHAN MARTIN and AMIE PARNES
        Dated :- 2008-Oct-10th
        Link
        McCain passed his wireless microphone to one woman who said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not uh — he’s an Arab. He’s not — ” before McCain retook the microphone and replied:“No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”
  2. Brad Paisley
    • Flashback: Brad Paisley Salutes President Obama
      Singer visits the White House in 2009 to perform “Welcome to the Future” for Barack and Michelle Obama
      By Stephen L. Betts
      Date :-  2016-Nov-8th
      Link
      Paisley was a supporter of Obama’s candidacy, not an easy road for a performer in the predominantly conservative landscape of country music. But, as he told CNN in 2009, “On November 4th, I felt an emotion like I haven’t felt in my entire life. I think whoever you voted for, you had to be moved.”

      “Welcome to the Future,” penned with Chris DuBois, acknowledged the troubling history that made Obama’s victory even more significant, with Paisley recalling true events such as a classmate having a cross burned on his lawn because he had asked out the homecoming queen and referencing the brave actions of protester Rosa Parks and civil-rights leader Martin Luther King.Paisley, who had broken down in tears while running through the song during soundcheck earlier that afternoon, recalled doing “everything I could do not to lose it. I had to close my eyes, or I would completely break down.” After the performance, he tipped his hat to the president, thanked him and left the stage. Paisley recalled that once he was offstage he “just started bawling,” taking in the enormity of the moment. Paisley would again perform for the President and First Lady Michelle Obama on July 4th, 2012, and in January 2013 at the inauguration concert celebrating his second term.
    • Exclusive: Brad Paisley shares his night at the White House
      Link
      But this time, the phone call was essentially, “We would like to know if Brad would be interested in performing at the White House in the East Room.”
      It was as simple as that. It’s like, “Yes! More than yes. I’m floored. Why?!”
      And I could never get the answer why. They just wanted me to play.

      Ironically, I read this story just last week on CNN about Michelle Obama’s great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, who was a slave in South Carolina. It’s insane to think about that.

      How the world has changed.On November 4th, I felt an emotion like I haven’t felt in my entire life. I think whoever you voted for, you had to be moved.My grandfather was in the Philippines fighting against the Japanese during World War II — and now I record for Sony and played Japan twice on tour, and loved every minute.If you’d go back in time and tell my grandfather during air raid sirens, “Hang on there. Your grandson — they’re gonna love him,” he never would have believed it.

Conclusion

Times are tough.

We all need help.

Sometimes it comes through friendship and actually working together.

At other times it comes through gracious and symbolic acts.

I am finding out that people sometimes view us different than we view ourselves.

In their lenses, we could have done more than we are doing.

We could have clarified something.

And, when they give us time to do so, and we choose not to do so, they will often move on.

But, that does not mean they forget or worse forgive.

I wish upon each of us “continuance in choosing good leadership“.

A while ago, we had a production problem and I needed help with instructions on how to get the system back operational.

One of seniors in the group explained to me how we got here and I was just staring and wondering if he thought an history is what I needed most of all.

I needed encouragement, access and privilege to the system, and an easy to understand guide.

A good friend shared with me a few years ago something to the effect that “sometimes people think or assume there needs are different than others“.

Closing Scripture

Paul Before the Areopagus ( Council or Court of Justice )
Nor is He served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

From one man He made every nation of men, to inhabit the whole earth; and He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands.
God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.…
( Acts 17:25-27 )

Loyal Rue – IN LIGHT OF SCIENCE, LET’S BEGIN ANEW WITH A ‘NOBLE LIE’, PHILOSOPHER SAYS

Loyal Rue

Loyal Rue is a philosopher who is questioning the Christian Worldview based on new revelations that is arising from Science.

I first became aware of Mr. Rue and his views based on listening to Ravi Zacharias and others from RZIM.

 

Noble Lie

George W. Cornell, AP religion writer
Published On 2001-Jan-20th
Link


Religious philosopher Loyal D. Rue says modern culture urgently needs a “noble lie” – a myth that links the moral teachings of religion with the scientific facts of life.

He said science “has eroded the plausibility of the Judeo-Christian myths. It has got into our heads and consciousness in such a way that the traditional myths can’t be swallowed.”The myths, he said, include archaic views of the universe; a presumption that humans are at the center of existence; and the stories of Jesus’ resurrection and of Moses bringing God’s Ten Commandments down from a mountain.

Dispel the myths of religion, he said, and all that is left is nihilism, which considers life and the universe meaningless.

“Nihilism is not something that can be argued away. . . . ,” he said. “I assume it’s true. But it is ultimately destructive,” a “monstrous truth.”

The myths served as a framework for religious teachings that brought about man’s betterment, Rue says. Without their “integration of cosmology and morality” – of cosmic facts with idealism – people will deny fixed standards and do whatever they choose, splintering society.

Or, they might embrace the “totalitarian option,” which relies on government to force humans to behave, he said.

Rue, 46, a professor of religion and philosophy at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, presented his thesis at a recent symposium of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.

A churchgoing but skeptical Lutheran, Rue suggests that we start all over, and create a new myth – a “noble lie” that squares with what is known scientifically, something that is convincing though it may not be factual.

What would that lie be? He doesn’t specify. “It remains for the artists, the poets, the novelists, the musicians, the filmmakers, the tricksters and the masters of illusion to winch us toward our salvation by seducing us into an embrace with a noble lie,” he told the scientific meeting.

Perhaps, he said in an interview, it is possible to rework, transpose and rephrase the Judeo-Christian tradition to make it plausible again.

In any case, the illusion must be “so imaginative and so compelling that it can’t be resisted,” so “beautiful and satisfying” that all would feel they have to accept it, he told the meeting.

“What I mean by the noble lie is one that deceives us, tricks us, compels us beyond self-interest, beyond ego, beyond family, nation, race . . . that will deceive us into the view that our moral discourse must serve the interests not only of ourselves and each other, but those of the earth as well.”

He said this lie would present a “universe that is infused with value. And such a universe is ultimately, I think, a great fiction. The universe just is. But a noble lie attributes objective value to it.”

He said “the great irony of our moment in history” is that what “we have most deeply feared” – being deceived – “is the ultimate source of our salvation from psychological and social chaos.”

He said “a good lie, a noble lie, is one that can’t be shown to be a lie by exposing it to a known truth or to science.”

“We need a kind of myth, a story, a vision of universality, that will get us pulling together, not just as Americans, but that will make us one, and give us solidarity of purpose,” he said.

“It must be a lie that inspires us to give up selfish interests in the service of noble ideals. . . . ” he said. “Without some kind of shared orientation, we can’t cooperate and can’t have a coherent society.”

“Without such lies we cannot live,” he said.

 

Interviews

  1. Loyal Rue pt 1: “Amythia” (interviewed by Barlow and Dowd)
    Loyal Rue, professor emeritus of Luther College in Decorah Iowa, wrote his first book, Amythia, in 1989. In 2014, Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd conversed with Loyal about his book and the malady of modernism, amythia.
    Date Published :- 2014-August-22nd
    Link

 

Indepth

Loyal Rue pt 1: “Amythia” (interviewed by Barlow and Dowd)

  1. Many religious people are seeing their Children leave the Church and what Amythia offers is one of the ways to accommodate what is attractive to these young people and what is unattractive in staying in traditional Churches; while also emphasizing that staying in Church and de-emphasis the problematic areas
  2. My thinking is changed about the Church
    • There has to be a new story, yet
      • It has to have continuity with the past
      • It has to be plausible
      • Intelligible, it could not be embarrassing to an Intelligent Being
  3. Tried to give an art to the new Story
    • The distinctiveness was the covenant
    • And, the plausibility is the Scientific World View
  4. But, the problem
    • Is that you have a myth that is embedded in a Cosmetology that is unbelievable
  5. And, the bigger problem became
    • How does one leave behind a cosmology that is becoming increasingly unbelievable
    • But, bring along the myth that was constructed upon the old cosmetology
  6. Customology together with humanity
  7. Michael Down – The Road Ahead
    • Take “BIG HISTORY” and trying to see how to “wrest” that destiny unto a naturalistic World View
      • Rather than wait to be saved by Cosmo Element
      • Taking hold of Saving the Planet
    • Covenant
      • Covenant becomes our covenant with Reality
    • Serving/Saving
      • Saving the Future
      • Serving becomes saving the Planet
    • If the Church will have any future
      • It will be the second coming of Christ
      • It will not be waiting on Christ
    • It will have to take responsibility
    • The Story of the Gospel is so hugely invested in Western Culture to just trash the whole thing
    • And, found that they just have to re-interpreted in a Science and in an Inspiring Way
  8. Loyal Rue
    • And, that is not too difficult to do
    • If you think about what the covenant is
    • If you think about the Hebraic Covenant
      • Most people will say that is the 616 laws
    • But, if you abstract it and say that it simply dictates if you follow these rules, you will live
    • And, so when will being that into the 21st Century we will see that it translates to our responsibility to
      • Global Warming – Take care of the environment
      • Address lack of Water
    • If Humanity accepts that and the Church accepts then we should be able to go the Churches and present it to them
    • Part of writing the book is an hope that the art will help us do that
    • Encourage Churchgoers to go back into their Church and evangelize this new message

 

Book

  1. Amythia – Crisis in the Natural History of Western Culture

Microsoft – Brad Smith – Community

 

Bill Gates

Those who have used email prior to 2000 or so, will remember how much Bill Gates used to be vilified.

With his Giving Pledge ( Link ) and work with United Nations it is likely that the angst might be receding a bit.

 

Microsoft

I was effused with the same relieve, enthusiasm, and hope upon reading this blog posting by Microsoft’s General Counsel, Brad Smith.

 

Proposal calls for case-by-case exception process for law-abiding visa holders with pressing needs
Link

In last Friday’s executive order, the President expressly gave to the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security the authority to grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the national interest, to issue visas and other immigration benefits. Today Microsoft is filing a formal request asking these cabinet officers to create a process to grant exceptions that will permit “Responsible Known Travelers with Pressing Needs” to re-enter the country while protecting the nation’s security. The important details for this proposal are included in our formal request and are outlined below.

At the outset, we recognize that this proposal will not and should not end the broader debate and deliberations regarding last week’s executive order. Our company is one among many that has expressed its views, and we will continue to participate energetically and constructively in the public discussions that help define our democratic processes.

But even amidst these debates, there is an opportunity under the executive order to address the pressing needs of real people. There currently are law-abiding visa holders who are parents that were outside the United States last Friday and therefore cannot re-enter the country. These parents are stranded and separated from their children. Other individuals are confronting genuine family emergencies such as the need to visit a critically ill parent.

At Microsoft we have seen these needs first-hand through some of our 76 employees who are impacted by last week’s order and, together with their 41 dependents, have nonimmigrant visas to live in the United States. These needs almost certainly are not unique to our employees and their families. We believe that limited but important steps to help all such individuals can be taken by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, consistent with national security and the authority that the President expressly gave to them.

As we explain in our formal request, U.S. immigration authorities already have a wide range of personal information about individuals in the visa categories that we have proposed. This includes individuals’ occupation, place of residence, place of work, family members, state identification/driver’s license information, and the existence of any criminal history. In short, these individuals are “known quantities” in their communities: their character, personalities, conduct, and behavior is understood by their colleagues, employers, friends, and neighbors.

Many of these individuals also fill critical roles in the organizations that employ them, whether they are doctors, scientists, engineers, medical technicians, software developers, or any number of other highly skilled professionals. They are deeply valued contributors to the innovation, research and business acumen of our nation, and they serve critical roles in the successful operations of U.S. companies.

We also believe it is appropriate to consider the needs of impacted foreign students pursuing their studies at our nation’s universities. It would be tragic for a student to be faced with the need to forfeit a dream of completing one’s education in the United States to tend to family needs that are entirely outside of one’s control.

In sum, we believe there is a clear opportunity for limited and important action under last week’s executive order.

We know that we do not have all the answers; in publishing this proposal, we hope that others will improve upon our ideas. Nor does this request attempt to address all the important immigration questions currently before the nation. But we believe there is a need and opportunity, amidst the broader debate, for immediate action under the executive order to help real people address pressing needs.

Bible Quotes

  1. Most Important Commandments
    • One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
      Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
      The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’
      And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

      “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!
      ( Luke 10:25-28 )
  2. Good Samaritan
    • “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
      The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
      Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
      ( Luke 10:36-37 )
  3. Justice
    • The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.
    • To vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, So that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror ( Psalm 10:18 )
    • He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. ( Deuteronomy 10:18 )
  4. Eldership
    • Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. ( Ezekiel 34:4 )
    • But Jesus called them aside and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them”. ( Matthew 20:25, Mark 10:42, Luke 22:25 )

 

Quotes

  1. Andre Agassi
    • You think to yourself : Am I making him do something special, or am I letting him get away with something ? I think I made him earn it. I made him play the big shot at crucial times, and he came through , so that’s just full credit to him – Andre Agassi – On losing to Mark Philippoussis in the British Open 2003 ( here )
    • First of all, let me say, 1:15 in the morning, for 20,000 people to still be here, I wasn’t the winner, tennis was. That’s awesome. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so good here before.  ( Link )
    • Sex doesn’t interfere with your tennis; it’s staying out all night trying to find it that affects your tennis.
    • Tennis was always sort of a – a learning. It was a vehicle for me to discover a lot about myself.
      And the things that I sort of discovered at times I not only didn’t want to see it for myself but I certainly didn’t want millions of people to see it
  2. Warren Buffett
    • My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. Both my children and I won what I call the ovarian lottery. (For starters, the odds against my 1930 birth taking place in the U.S. were at least 30 to 1. My being male and white also removed huge obstacles that a majority of Americans then faced.) My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well. I’ve worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. In short, fate’s distribution of long straws is wildly capricious – Warren Buffett
  3. George B. Kaiser
    • I suppose I arrived at my charitable commitment largely through guilt. I recognized early on, that my good fortune was not due to superior personal character or initiative so much as it was to dumb luck.
      I was blessed to be born in an advanced society with caring parents. So, I had the advantage of both genetics (winning the “ovarian lottery”) and upbringing.
      As I looked around at those who did not have these advantages, it became clear to me that I had a moral obligation to direct my resources to help right that balance.America’s “social contract” is equal opportunity.
      It is the most fundamental principle in our founding documents and it is what originally distinguished us from the old Europe.
      Yet, we have failed in achieving that seminal goal; in fact, we have lost ground in recent years.
      Another distinctly American principle is a shared partnership between the public and private sectors to foster the public good.
      So, if the democratically-directed public sector is shirking, to some degree, its responsibility to level the playing field, more of that role must shift to the private sector – George B. Kaiser

Seeing Things as they were

Brad Smith joined Microsoft 1in 1993.

He worked internally and with outside counsel through what many adversaries judged was anti-competitive.

In its early years, it was a small company that barely had a face in Washington.

I am old enough to sense that people’s opinion and tagging does not always change.

Pride

Personally, today is one of those days that I am proud to have invested in Microsoft tools and products for a while here.

And, even more importantly, to belong to a group that is closely aligned with the stewardess of what is best and the only thing that will last in all of us.

 

Closing

And, in closing “Rejoice in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality” ( Romans 12:12-13 ).

I hope your religion, but more intimately your proximity to God, allows you to enjoin yourself and others to him in love.

One wise man once  said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Peter wrote to the elders:

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is among you, watching over them not out of compulsion, but because it is God’s will; not out of greed, but out of eagerness; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.…

As that is what is son came and laid on the cross for.

As prophesied in the Psalms:

The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

Congregation of YHWH, Jerusalem – Messianic Signs – The Need For A Messiah

Prelude

A dose of heavy teaching from the Congregation of Yahweh in Jerusalem.

 

Sermons

  1. Congregation of YHWH
    • Messianic Signs The Need For A Messiah – Part 1
      Link

 

Indepth

Messianic Signs The Need For A Messiah – Part 1

messianicsigntheneedforamessiah-part01-namemeanings

Proverbs 30

Proverbs 30:1-5
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
Surely you know!
Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Proverbs 30:12-16

There are those who are clean in their own eyes
but are not washed of their filth.

There are those—how lofty are their eyes,
how high their eyelids lift!

There are those whose teeth are swords,
whose fangs are knives,
to devour the poor from off the earth,
the needy from among mankind.

The leech has two daughters:
Give and Give.
Three things are never satisfied;
four never say, “Enough”:
Sheol, the barren womb,
the land never satisfied with water,
and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

 

Isaiah 42

The Reign of the Lord’s Anointed

Why do the nations rage

and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers take counsel together,

against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,

“Let us burst their bonds apart

and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;

the Lord holds them in derision.

Then he will speak to them in his wrath,

and terrify them in his fury, saying,

As for me, I have set my King

on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:

The Lord said to me, “You are my Son

today I have begotten you…

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,

and the ends of the earth your possession…”

The Lord’s Chosen Servant
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.

He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.

He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.

…..
….

who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”

John 15:1

I Am the True Vine
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
Abide in me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Abide in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Timothy H. Lim – The Formation of the Jewish Canon

Background

Based on Google’s Youtube suggested videos, I am catching up on Nabeel Qureshi.

I am listening to the video titled “Does Unscripted Oral Proclamation Account for the Short Ending of Mark’s Gospel?“.

 

Video

As always there is a lot over my head, but I really couldn’t get pass this little segment.

 

  1. Reading the Scripture & Helping Others
    Link
  2. Does Unscripted Oral Proclamation Account for the Short Ending of Mark’s Gospel
    Link

 

 

Book

I googled on the phase  “those who read the scripture must be able to help outsiders“.

And, here is what came up.

Timothy H. Lim – The Formation of the Jewish Canon

Page 99

The Prologue helps clarify the grandson’s understanding of the scribal curriculum.
It provides direct access in the form of the grandsons own words:

Whereas many great teachings have been given to us through the Law and the Prophets and the others that followed them, and for these we should praise Israel for Instruction and wisdom.

Now those who read the scriptures must not only themselves understand them, but must also as lovers of learning be able through the spoken and written word to help the outsiders.

So may grandfather Jesus, who had devoted himself especially to the reading of the Law and the Prophets and the other books of our ancestors, and had acquired considerable proficiency in them, was himself also led to write something pertaining to instruction and wisdom, so that by becoming familiar with his book those who love learning might make even further progress in living according to the law.

You are invited therefore to read it with goodwill and attention, and to be indulgent in cases where, despite our diligent labor in translating, we may seem to have rendered some phases imperfectly.

For what was originally expressed in Hebrew does not have exactly the same sense when translated into another language. Not only this book, but even the Law itself, the Prophecies, and the rest of the books differ not a little when read in the original.

When I came to Egypt in the thirty-eight year of reign of Euergetes ad stayed for some time, I found opportunity for no little instruction.

It seemed highly necessary that I should myself devote some diligence and labor to the transcribing.

 

Page 100

The rationale for writing the Prologue is clear enough. The grandson wants to introduce his grandfather’s book of wisdom to those who love learning.

The addresses, “you” in the plural, are invited to read it, so that they will make further progress in living according to the law.

The grandson’s intended audience is the Greek-speaking Jews of Egypt. He describes them as “those living abroad”.

Moreover, they were probably scribes as the following descriptors, imply: “those who read (scripture)” and the “lovers of learning”.

The word “scribe” occurs in several verses of scripture.

These scribes must not just understand the great teachings of Israelite scriptures, but must also help the outsiders.

Skehan and Di Lella have suggested that what stands behind this reference to the outsiders is the narrative of Nehemiah 8:8-12.

The phrase is better rendered as “those who are without them” and refers to the laity or to those who are unable to read the original scriptures because they lack the scriptures or wisdom. The scribes, therefore, must in speech and in writing help the laity.

The nature of the scribal assistance, however, is not through translation and explication in the way that the Levites went around and offered help to those who heard the reading of the law in the square before the Water Gate ( Neh 8:7).

The scribes, to be sure, must have been bilingual, as the appeal to goodwill and indulgence in assessing the imperfect translation implies.

But, it is not their translational skills that are needed here.

Rather, so the grandson specifies, the scribal aid consists of oral teaching and the drafting of a book of instruction and wisdom.

American Airlines – Flight 3950

Catherine Rampell
May 7, 2016 at 9:19 AM
Washington Post

On Thursday evening, a 40-year-old man — with dark, curly hair, olive skin and an exotic foreign accent — boarded a plane. It was a regional jet making a short, uneventful hop from Philadelphia to nearby Syracuse.

Or so dozens of unsuspecting passengers thought.

The curly-haired man tried to keep to himself, intently if inscrutably scribbling on a notepad he’d brought aboard. His seatmate, a blond-haired, 30-something woman sporting flip-flops and a red tote bag, looked him over. He was wearing navy Diesel jeans and a red Lacoste sweater – a look he would later describe as “simple elegance” – but something about him didn’t seem right to her.

She decided to try out some small talk.

Is Syracuse home? She asked.

No, he replied curtly.

He similarly deflected further questions. He appeared laser-focused — perhaps too laser-focused — on the task at hand, those strange scribblings.

Rebuffed, the woman began reading her book. Or pretending to read, anyway. Shortly after boarding had finished, she flagged down a flight attendant and handed that crew-member a note of her own.

Then the passengers waited, and waited, and waited for the flight to take off. After they’d sat on the tarmac for about half an hour, the flight attendant approached the female passenger again and asked if she now felt okay to fly, or if she was “too sick.”

I’m OK to fly, the woman responded.

She must not have sounded convincing, though; American Airlines flight 3950 remained grounded.

Then, for unknown reasons, the plane turned around and headed back to the gate. The woman was soon escorted off the plane. On the intercom a crew member announced that there was paperwork to fill out, or fuel to refill, or some other flimsy excuse; the curly-haired passenger could not later recall exactly what it was.

The wait continued.

Finally the pilot came by, and approached the real culprit behind the delay: that darkly-complected foreign man. He was now escorted off the plane, too, and taken to meet some sort of agent, though he wasn’t entirely sure of the agent’s affiliation, he would later say.

What do know about your seatmate? The agent asked the foreign-sounding man.

Well, she acted a bit funny, he replied, but she didn’t seem visibly ill. Maybe, he thought, they wanted his help in piecing together what was wrong with her.

And then the big reveal: The woman wasn’t really sick at all! Instead this quick-thinking traveler had Seen Something, and so she had Said Something.

That Something she’d seen had been her seatmate’s cryptic notes, scrawled in a script she didn’t recognize. Maybe it was code, or some foreign lettering, possibly the details of a plot to destroy the dozens of innocent lives aboard American Airlines Flight 3950. She may have felt it her duty to alert the authorities just to be safe. The curly-haired man was, the agent informed him politely, suspected of terrorism.

The curly-haired man laughed.

He laughed because those scribbles weren’t Arabic, or some other terrorist code. They were math.

Yes, math. A differential equation, to be exact.

Had the crew or security members perhaps quickly googled this good-natured, bespectacled passenger before waylaying everyone for several hours, they might have learned that he — Guido Menzio — is a young but decorated Ivy League economist. And that he’s best known for his relatively technical work on search theory, which helped earn him a tenured associate professorship at the University of Pennsylvania as well as stints at Princeton and Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

GuidoMenzio

Guido Menzio, an economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

They might even have discovered that last year he was awarded the prestigious Carlo Alberto Medal, given to the best Italian economist under 40. That’s right: He’s Italian, not Middle Eastern, or whatever heritage usually gets ethnically profiled on flights these days.

Menzio had been on the first leg of a connecting flight to Ontario, where he would give a talk at Queen’s University on a working paper he co-authored about menu costs and price dispersion. His nosy neighbor had spied him trying to work out some properties of the model of price-setting he was about to present. Perhaps she couldn’t differentiate between differential equations and Arabic.

Menzio showed the authorities his calculations and was allowed to return to his seat, he told me by email. He said the pilot seemed embarrassed. Soon after, the flight finally took off, more than two hours after its scheduled departure time for what would be just a 41-minute trip in the air, according to flight-tracking data.

The woman never reboarded to the flight.

Casey Norton, a spokesman for American Airlines (whose regional partner Air Wisconsin operated the flight), said the woman had indeed initially told the crew she was sick, but when she deplaned she disclosed that the reason she was feeling ill was her concern about the behavior of her seatmate. At that time, she requested to be rebooked on another flight. The crew then called for security personnel, who interviewed Menzio and determined him not to be a “credible threat.” Norton did not know whether the woman was ever notified that Menzio had been cleared. (He said he was not allowed to give out her name for privacy reasons, and since Menzio did not know it either, I have not been able to contact the woman for comment.)

Whenever there are conflicts between passengers, Norton said, “we try to work with them peacefully to resolve it,” whether that means changing seat assignments or switching someone to take a different flight. When asked how often customers raise similar suspicions about fellow passengers that turn out to be unfounded, he said it happens “from time to time” but declined to provide details about frequency.

Menzio for his part says he was “treated respectfully throughout,” though he remains baffled and frustrated by a “broken system that does not collect information efficiently.” He is troubled by the ignorance of his fellow passenger, as well as “A security protocol that is too rigid–in the sense that once the whistle is blown everything stops without checks–and relies on the input of people who may be completely clueless. ”