Tuesday, February 28, 2012


As I have looked back over my posts, I have realized quickly that I have this part of me that is about risks--about putting ourselves out there. There is something innate in me about exploration and about change. I have been highly influenced by words from local friends and leaders; that influence has been challenged by many others outside of my local life.

I have always put much thought into the ability of an individual to break out of molds. It has gone through different phases; from religion and belief to poverty to education and even to intelligence. How much of us is fixed--just us--that cannot be changed? And how much power is truly in the individual human being to BE and DO and BECOME? What are our limitations?

I have thought about other people around me while growing up and have looked at where they are now. I have also looked at those I associate now during my university experience; I look at their abilities and talents. Those that are good students--smart--have probably and 90 percent chance that they were BIG readers in their youth and growing up. They, especially, are the ones with a good vocabulary.

I look at the athletes among us; look at the youth and growing up. They, most likely, came from a family that played basketball or football every time there was a question proposed about a game for family home evening; the sport pick was always the winner.

I look at the political leaders. What kind of family did they come from--what kind of things influenced them? Why did end up in those positions?

What about successful people in the business world. Doctors. When looking into those individuals' lives, often a major source of influence can be found that lead them to be or do or become what they are.

I have talked about a few different successful men in my blog posts. I have explored the environments that make for innovative individuals. I have talked a little bit about the law of attraction. I have also talked about education--how to facilitate growth, development, and expansion. And I have talked about the power of thought. As I have pondered on some of these things and spilled out some of my random thoughts on this page, I have reverted back to the driving force in my research and blogging--my thesis. It is along the lines of humanistic power and ability; it is more about how to initiate or bring out or start up that human power and ability in the individual. When the individual is empowered and improved, collectively, the society will be improved. Focus on digital mastery in education will enable the individual to use resources available that are vastly greater than ever before; this type of education will naturally lead the individual to search out and develop innate skills of success. Individuals will become free in their thought and in their possibilities and abilities and the society will naturally be improved from their contribution.

Now begins the real fun of investigating and improving this thesis further!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

16th Century: The Power of Freedom

Martin Luther King, Jr. is known for making big contribution to the religious reformation. One aspect that he established was freedom. After the printing press was invented, he encouraged more people to get their OWN copy of the Bible to read for themselves. 

"Luther has sometimes been described as the world’s first great journalist. Why did his writings succeed in changing history? Firstly, he wrote in the common language, instead of in the scholarly Latin – which was only understood by the educated elite of society. Secondly, Luther mastered the use of broadside pamphlets, which were cheap and easy to read, and thirdly, he used some of the finest illustrations and woodcuts of the times to make his message understood even to the semi literate.
Luther showed the way and other Reformers continued his work of using print technology to mass-produce Scriptures and Reformation publications. By God’s grace, the Printing Press provided the spiritual weaponry needed to make the Reformation succeed."

The religious reformation was giving people more freedom--more ability to act on their own.

Today, education needs to be something that does the same thing. Some may feel that their mode of receiving education is not liberating, but rather, binding to a specific syllabus or structure.

In the business world, we find this interesting balance between setting rules and standards or practices in place to make it better, when really, it is making it worse. In THIS article, business owners and bosses are encouraged to give their employees more freedom. That freedom will enable them to actually perform at their best.

This, again, stems back to some of my previous thoughts about desire. The reason why the employees referenced in the article and employees in much of our modern work world will be more effective if given freedom is because they are in that field because they care. They are interested in the work and have a desire to succeed in their projects.

Some of the great revolutions in history came after freedom was given and individuals were able to contribute their talents or thoughts or abilities. We see it today in business and in successful organizations--with certain bounds and regulations. How can this model be followed in the world of education? 

16th Century: Fiddle like Ferdinand

We live in a time when much knowledge is taken for granted. Do you ever stop and think about how we know the things we know? 

Geology, for one, is incredible--but how did we learn about the composition of the core of the earth? How did we find out how the continents look. How did they form? 

What about the shape of the earth?

Ferdinand Magellan is one of the most influential men from the 16th century. Before his time, there were many who still were unsure about the theory that the world is round. For years and years, it was thought that it was just flat. 

Magellan was someone willing to take a risk; he went beyond what many had done. He was a Portuguese explorer who lived during a time when the Spanish were trying to find a new route to the Spice Islands (Near Indonesia). Ferdinand believed that he could reach the Spice Islands by sailing west through the new world. This idea was considered insanity to some people. After a difficult and fatal voyage, Ferdinand (although he died during the voyage--just short of finishing) was credited for the first to circumnavigation of the earth. This solidified the theory that the earth truly is round.

What does this have to do with today? What can we learn from this?

As someone interested in the Business world, I chose to connect this to something I find very important in business. Thinking, tinkering, and working hard to accomplish something more and do something better is the key to success.

In an article about characteristics of remarkable employees, the eighth characterisitc of a remarkable employee is as defined:


They’re always fiddling. Some people are rarely satisfied (I mean that in a good way) and are constantly tinkering with something: Reworking a timeline, adjusting a process, tweaking a workflow.
Great employees follow processes. Remarkable employees find ways to make those processes even better, not only because they are expected to… but because they just can't help it.


This is specific in defining a characteristic of an employee, but I feel that if an individual can develop this characteristic early in their life, many problems would be solved in society.

I've recently found interest in a subject posted on Sarah Martin's blog page. How are we to encourage more involvement? Whether it be political or social or in science, it starts with desire.

Magellan had desire. He, along with other influential people from the 16th Century, had to feed off of the drive and passion from within in order to accomplish the things they did. Magellan made a discovery that changed the world--people now had a much better understanding of the planet they lived on.

If we are to have more participation from others in this life--in this world--they have to have a desire deep within to do something. The sources are there; the internet has made an incredible expansion to the possibilities of participation and information. Education needs to be creating and fostering desire--now the question remains: HOW DO WE DO THAT?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

18th Century: "Dare to Know"

The enlightenment was a time when great thinkers started exploring outside of society norms. They explored many areas. For example, the Catholic Church had created kind of a mold of thought and didn't allow for people to go outside of that. One of the great discoveries during the 18th century was the power of thought. It is often named the age of enlightenment or the age of reason. This was that individuals could discover things on their own and learn for themselves. Instead of being told things to believe and the way things are, they began to think on their own. 

"More than a set of fixed ideas, the Enlightenment implied an attitude, a method of thought. According to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, the motto of the age should be "Dare to know." A desire arose to reexamine and question all received ideas and values, to explore new ideas in many different directions-hence the inconsistencies and contradictions that often appear in the writings of 18th-century thinkers." 

Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu
In the 21st century, there are many people talking about thought. Some of the thought I am particularly interested in has to do with success. I have heard the term "Law of Attraction" float around before. This isn't the type of attraction to a significant other, but rather, an attraction to success- or the ability to attract success. This type of thought can be specific to a certain business and skill, or it can be pertaining to knowledge and learning. About six minutes in, Jeff Combs speaks a little bit about the law of attraction in this nine-minute video clip(skip to 6 mins and start there - watch the 6 min to 7 min gap of video - unless you want to watch all the way to the end). I'm not sure I necessarily agree with all that he says, but I am interested in the topic.

I worked doing door-to-door sales this past summer. A lot of this kind of thought was introduced to me during that time. The nature of that kind of work is very difficult, but I was around some incredible men who learned to master their thoughts. Mental and emotional strength was a requirement to success in that job. When they learned to master their thoughts and think positively, they were much more effective and had incredible success. How much power really is in thought?

People in the business world-such as Steve Jobs, whom I recently did a blog post about-what is their opinion? Is there a lot more needed than just thought? What about training; natural gifts? Can an individual truly change his life and become successful just by changing his/her thoughts?

"Dare to know" is just what I'm talking about. I believe these men of the Enlightenment were able to make great discoveries and be successful in their field of study or work because of thought. They were not afraid to think outside of the norm; they were willing to take some risk. Breaking out of the mold is what they did. So many people in this century end up in molds. They don't have to be- if they would just "Dare to know" or dare to succeed, or dare to be rich, or dare to be smart, or dare to be the best. We face a lot of intimidation and different distractions or resistance and illusions of limitations. One great example is the very concept we are learning a lot in this class; the digital world. Thanks to the lessons of the 18th century, we can step into a foreign area/field and dare to master it- my bet is that good things will come from it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Change the World: From James Watt to Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs: Biography

A good, short read about his life possibly unveils a few characteristics of successful businessmen. One here is that he did not just snap his fingers and "Boom" - SUCCESS. He went through many failures. He had ups and downs. He had challenges of all kinds. Perhaps some of those challenges that he went through contributed to his ability to become one of the greatest innovators in the modern world. I found it interesting to learn just a bit more from him by reading from the blog of an employee, Guy Kawasaki, who worked for Apple and learned from Jobs on the day-to-day basis. He shares a few Lessons to learn from Steve Jobs. Here are also a few quotes from Jobs to feast on - food for thought.

Now how do other men from the 18th compare? What was business like then? What kind of lives did they have and how did they have success in innovation and in the business world?

James Watt: A Biography

A few things from James Watt.. This great innovator coined the term we use to define how much power something has.. That is.. HORSEPOWER. I've collected just a few words from "flow control" website to learn just a bit about this incredible "innovator" of the 18th century.

"Because James Watt wanted his machines to do more work than a grown man, and because a horse is stronger than a man, he began by establishing what a horse could do. He harnessed a mine draft horse to a support frame and a platform and put some children and men onto the platform. The horse lifted 550 pounds of weight a distance of 10 feet in 10 seconds. So James Watt declared that 550 foot/pounds per second is one “horsepower.”  It is because of James Watt’s scientific effort that electric motors, internal combustion engines, turbines, boilers, jet engines, rocket engines, etc. are rated in horsepower.  
If James Watt had been raised in India, we might have the term “elephant power.” If James had been from Australia, we might rate engines in “kangaroo power.”  Oh yes, James went to his grave with an important part of the formula. He never told anyone what the size of his test horse was. So we don’t know if it was a Shetland pony, a mule, or a Clydesdale." 

  • The electrical unit, the watt, was named in his honor.
  • There are 4 colleges named after him in Scotland, James Watt College in Kilwinning (North Ayrshire Campus) and Greenock (2 in Greenock, Finnart Campus and Waterfront Campus) and a campus in Largs.
  • There are over 50 roads or streets named after him, in the UK.
  • Through Watt’s invention of the first practical steam engine, our modern world eventually moved from a 90% rural basis to a 90% urban basis. 

The path for James Watt was definitely not the same as Steve Jobs. But we can learn from history; we can learn from men from the past and present to find common threads. Another thought- are these businessmen born or bred? I recognize that this article may lack intelligence and/or research, but it is a start. Is there a direct answer for this question? I would argue to say that, although I don't believe they are just born with a future destined for success, there are principles they have learned throughout their lives that indubitably play a crucial role to their success. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Religious reformation: 16th century

I thought I would quickly post the information I collected from various websites about the religious reformation. It was the segment I presented on for our group's presentation this past week. CAUSES OF RELIGIOUS REFORMATION The Protestant Reformation had been building within the Catholic Church for 200 years. At the forefront was the discrepancy between a Church tasked with a spiritual mission of salvation and a Church of money, power, and influence. By the fifteenth century, the papacy had become unable to respond effectively to people's increased concerns about their salvation. Meanwhile, demand for reform in the church was spurred by the search for freedom of private religious expression, the print revolution, and northern humanist interest in the Bible and early Christianity. In response to the decline of papal moral authority, many lay Christians were drawn to new forms of worship, such as the Modern Devotion, which emphasized individual prayer and introspection. The Modern Devotion spread quickly due to the invention of the moveable type printing press, which made books affordable. Humanists, writers devoted to rediscovering the lost knowledge of the ancients, began to examine the sources of Christianity, not to criticize Christianity or the Church, but to improve the moral behavior of all Christians. These "Christian Humanists" were nonetheless often shaken by the discrepancy between what they read in the Bible and what they observed in the Church of their own time, even as they popularized the idea that biblical understanding could purify faith and combat corruption. MARTIN LUTHER’S CONTRIBUTION Martin Luther, a student of law, suffered a throw from a horse that shocked him into abandoning his professional career. Donning the garb of the monk, Luther pledged obedience to the Augustinian Order, where he continued his education, this time in theology, and went to Wittenberg to teach at the town's university. While there, Luther spent much time wrestling with the Church's dogma on penance, finally concluding that salvation came purely from God's grace, a gift unmerited. In other words, humans were incapable of performing good works alone...they needed the intercession of God. Therefore, the performance of good works was an outward proof of an individual's receipt of God's grace and salvation. Striving to finance the construction of the new St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Pope Leo X issued a special new indulgence to raise funds. An indulgence was a unique penance whereby a sinner could remove years of suffering in Purgatory from his soul by performing a good work (donating cash) here on earth. Leo's indulgence was audacious as it promises a one-time-only exemption from all previous sins for the payee (or departed relative). Some of Luther's students asked his advice on the indulgence, and in response he prepared in Latin ninety-five theses-arguments against the practice of indulgences that he was willing to debate in open forum. Luther had a few copies made and, according to Lutheran tradition, posted one on the doors of the Wittenberg Cathedral. There is no evidence that he actually posted the theses though this was the standard practice for debates at the time. According to the story, no one showed up to debate Luther, but he had drawn the attention of Rome and began to gather followers. His central argument: salvation could not be bought and sold. WHAT IS PROTESTANTISM? The Diversity of Protestantism The term "Protestant" eventually came to mean all western European Christians who refused to accept the authority of the pope. The Reformation in Switzerland Independent of the Holy Roman Emperor, local authorities in Switzerland were free to opt for religious reform without imperial opposition. The majority of the Swiss were peasants unable to farm the mountainous region. Their main supplement was working as professional soldiers of fortune, often for the pope. Zwingli's Zurich Ulrich Zwingli had served as chaplain with a detachment of Swiss mercenaries serving the pope. In 1520, Zurich was named the People's Priest of Zurich, a position from which he began to criticize his superior bishop for recruiting young Swiss men to die in the pope's armies. Undaunted by warnings from Rome, Zwingli called for general reformation of the Church, advocating the abolition of the roman Catholic mass, the marriage of priests, and the closing of monasteries. He emphasized the reading of the Scripture during services rather than the ritual of the Church and removed all painting and statues from the churches under his jurisdiction, calling them a distraction from God. Two features distinguish Zwinglian Reform from Lutheran Reform: one was Zwingli's desire to involve reformed ministers in governmental/secular decisions; the other was Zwingli's understanding of the nature of the Eucharist and the representation of bread as a symbol and not the physical body of Christ. Calvin's Geneva The generation following Luther and Zwingli saw the Reformation moving to the Swiss city of Geneva under the leadership of John Calvin. Calvinism eventually became the dominant form of Protestantism in France, the Netherlands, Scotland, and New England. Calvin's theology built upon that of Luther and Zwingli to their logical conclusions: the salvation of any individual by the grace of God would be logically predetermined or "predestined." Only the Elect could make sense of, and follow, the will of God. □□□The Reformation in Britain In the sixteenth century, the nation we know today as Britain was a loose collection of Wales, England, and Ireland. Scotland remained its own separate kingdom. The Tudor kings of England imposed the Reformation as policy, but were unable to influence the cultures of Ireland, which remained Catholic. Scotland wholeheartedly accepted the Reformation despite having a Catholic monarch. The Tudors and the English Reformation In 1527 King Henry VIII of England clashed with the Church of Rome. Henry wanted his marriage annulled in order to marry again and produce a son, but as Henry's first marriage had been granted a papal dispensation, to annul it would be to admit the papacy had made a mistake, so Pope Clement VII refused the requested annulment. The subsequent departure of England from the Catholic Church, while hardly a royal whim, was largely the work of the crown and a few top agents. Henry's Reformation could be called Catholicism without the pope, as Henry had virtually no interest in changing doctrine, but did seize personal control of the English church, and went on to close the monasteries and redistribute the monastic lands. The English Reformation was more about consolidating the power of the Tudor dynasty than any religious reform. As such, the official religion of England changed with each succeeding ruler of the Tudor house. Between 1559 and 1563, Elizabeth I (Henry's daughter, who succeeded Edward and Mary) issued her own set of moderately Protestant laws which established the Church of England (known as Episcopalian in the United States). Scotland: The Citadel of Calvinism Scotland, an independent kingdom at the time, embraced Calvinism with open arms with encouragement from England's Elizabeth. John Knox created the official liturgy for the Scottish church in 1564. The most significant difference from the Anglican Church was the Scottish Presbyterian system of organization, which did away with the episcopal bishops and placed decisions in the hands of pastors and church elders. □□□The Radical Reformation Magisterial reformers in Germany, Switzerland, England, and Scotland lived somewhat peacefully with official sanctions, usually at the cost of some compromise. Among their numbers were usually radical members who wanted the reforms of religion put in place faster. The number of radicals was low in comparison to all Protestants, but their significance was felt by local authorities continuously answering their arguments. Radicals can be divided into three categories: Anabaptists, Spiritualists, and Unitarians. Anabaptists: The Holy Community Anabaptism means "to rebaptize," and was a central doctrine to this group of radicals. Anabaptists saw the Bible as a living document for the operation of society as well as the church. They rejected infant baptism, believing only an informed adult could make a choice of accepting salvation. As a result, Anabaptist congregations contained only members that had made a conscientious choice to join the sect. They rejected private property and called for communal wealth within the highly disciplined "holy communities" in which they lived. Attempting to reorganize society along biblical lines drew a violent reaction from other Protestants, and the Anabaptists were forced underground to avoid prosecution. The Amish and the Mennonites are their surviving descendant sects. Spiritualists: The Holy Individual Personal introspection was the capstone of this Radical Reformation sect, which held that personal salvation came only as the result of divine intervention during intense prayer and meditation. The resulting spiritual illumination was referred to as "the inner Word." Spiritualists pursued a physical demeanor devoid of stress and cravings, a "castle of peace." Unitarians: A Rationalist Approach Christian theology is built upon the supposition that Jesus Christ was in fact God made into human flesh. The idea of the Trinity, the three identities of God, made this deification of Jesus possible for Christians. Unitarians and other smaller sects held that Jesus was a divinely inspired man but no god unto himself. Unitarians thought the Trinity went against common sense and had no biblical basis. Unitarians were viewed with hostility by other Protestants but were unwilling to compromise their beliefs. Conclusion: Competing Understandings The Reformation divided the West into two religious camps: Protestant and Catholic. The unity of religion that had been achieved through centuries of Church effort was obliterated within a generation, changing forever the nature of the relationship between clergy and laity.

How old is old?

Geology in the 17th century..I am doing a post about this because I have had quite an interest in geology since I started geology 101 this semester. There are many questions geology answers or comes very close to answering such as: how old is the earth? What is the big bang theory i hear about and is it true? Did dinosaurs walk the earth at some point in time or is there some other theory to explain the discovery of their fossils? Did man come by evolution- how did God create man? Are these questions relevant? Are they worth researching? Although I was living just fine without some of these answers, I was interested in what geology had to say about them and it has been very eye-opening. Diving into these topics expands our understanding of the nature of God and much about the planet we live on. The 17th century was a spring board to many significant discoveries in the next two following centuries. James Hutton and many others in the 18th century found accurate ways to determine the age of the earth and create a reference of time. James ussher was a geologist who used the bible as a genealogical reference to count backward through the generations of kings in the old testament and calculated that earth was formed in 4004 B.C. This was one of a few different theories in the 17th century in effort to calculate the age of the earth. This led many to study further to be able to explain how the earth was created by natural processes in such a short amount of geological time. Geologists such as Dutch scientist Nicolaus Steno used fossils to contribute to their study of the history of the earth and to create a time frame. This was the foundation to many more discoveries in the 18th and 19th century. Are we in a spring board era right now? Some of those discoveries in the 17th century led to a more accurate estimate finding that the earth is 4.57 billion years old. James Ussher was a little off. But his discoveries were still significant because it initiated a lot more thought around that topic. Maybe some of the discoveries we are having in the 21st century are just spring boards to greater discoveries. There is much more to be discovered about the earth and other natural processes... Scientists... Have a hay-day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bach: buddies with Mike Tompkins?

17th Century: MUSIC
Johann Sebastian Bach

What I hope to do is explore the life of some of these composers of the 17th Century and ask a few questions: If they were living today, would they be using modern technology available in their music? What would they think about some of the synthesized music that we have today? Would Bach record himself over and over to do something similar to Mike Tompkins? Would something like this be looked down upon by these composers of the past?

This is a developing idea that I will post more about. I would like to hear anyone's thoughts.