Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Notes: 4/13/12

1. Fremont was built upon the alluvial delta of the Alameda Creek - Historically when the creek left Niles Canyon it meandered in wide ox bows on its way to the bay. Winter and spring storm floods caused the creek to frequently flood and to continually change channels. About 50 years ago the Army Corp of Engineers constructed a flood control channel from the mouth of Niles Canyon to the bay - eliminating the annual floods and saving Fremont residents the annual grief of flood clean up, plus eliminating a serious health concern associated with mosquito borne disease by eliminating sloughs filled with standing water. Note: such projects are only possible with the expenditure of public tax dollars!

This has been such a dry year - but the last 24 hours be have received 1.14 inches of rain - and look at Alameda Creek today:

Alameda Creek after an inch of rain

This morning the pups and I had a fine walk - even though the trail was a a bit muddy -

Quarry lakes Park is part of the East Bay park system, adjacent to Alameda Creek

2. George Santayana, an American born in Spain, said: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

When Europe was deep into what we now call the “Dark Ages”, ignorance reigned in Europe. It was a time of shortened life span, ignorance, brutality, and a time when knowledge from the great Greek and Roman writers of earlier years was lost in the western world. It was a time of barbarity.

A early university near Samarkand Tajikistan (

Little known in the west today, this same time period was a “Golden Age” for the world of Islam – stretching from the palaces of Samarkand to Bagdad, Tehran, Jerusalem, Damascus, Istanbul, Cairo, Alexandria, and on into Islamic Spain – Toledo, Seville.

Mosque complex Samarkand

Scholars in these lands were not only preserving the Greek and Roman knowledge of the past, but actively engaged in developing new understanding and methods in Astronomy, mathematics, medicine, philosophy, and writing significant works that endure to our time… Even today many terms that we use relating to the names of stars, geometry, algebra, anatomy bear Arabic names. To read more about the Golden age of Islam check this link:

Hagia Sophia - Istanbul -

One of the great puzzles of history is to understand why the pursuit for knowledge in the Muslim world was substantially replaced by the strict theocracy that we find in many places today. In some places open universities have been replaced with madrasas – centers for indoctrination teaching fundamentalist, conservative Islam. Note there are today many active secular universities in Cairo, Tehran, Jakarta … and other progressive Muslim cities.

Interior of Hagia Sophia

The reasons for the decline of the Golden age are uncertain. During the height of the period a strong Islamic theology coexisting with secular society. It was a time noted for tolerance for Muslims and non muslims living in the region. Some say that it was Internal cultural decay and effect of regional/political uncertainty fear took the place of rational thought. Certainly in the last two centuries the effects of European imperialism in the Middle east and Asia have been leading factors in degradation of traditional cultures. The important thing for us to take from this time in history is to remember is that all civilizations are tenuous and can regress into ignorance. Decline can occur when vigilance to maintain the pursuit of knowledge is not supported. Empowerment of the people, a strong tax base, and a willingness to progress are marks of a growing civilization. When openness to developing and accepting knowledge is crushed by dogmatism is a sign of cultural stagnation.

One of the trade route cities ( Palmira Syria ) build and maintained during the Golden Period

3. Some of the things that have been said in the recent primary give me great fear that there are many in this country who want to forget scientific discoveries and more complete understanding of natural phenomenon and cling to comfortable old ideas. Some with much to lose have been made to support the demands of the very rich – saying that they should get special treatment – lower taxes than the rest of us. It goes without saying that these top 1% in the economic heirarchy already have access to the best medical help and the best education for their children (money buys lots of good things.) For our society to turn against the common good in the name of lower taxes for the wealthy is deplorable and dangerous for our future as a nation. In this world economy it is smart well trained people who will create our future and get the jobs that lead us forward-

Hallway poster - Inner City school in Oakland CA.

What on earth are we thinking of as a nation when we make access to quality education more difficult to acquire? If we don’t have the smart well trained people there are plenty of other countries that are supporting education-for-all right now…It is “magic thinking” to think that we will somehow keep our position as a most powerful nation as we develop a more dumbed down work force… trained only to work in low skill jobs. I always think about the genius student who never has a chance to develop because his or her families can not afford to pay for a university education. What a sad loss to our nation.

One class building on the extensive grounds of the University of California - Berkeley

***Please take a minute to watch this brief video with some of the highlights of the primary thus far…

Now as we enter the campaign season I urge you to put a “book mark on this site – Note it is a product on the Annenberg Foundation – a highly respected neutral agency… their goal is to check the facts of all candidates of both parties – you will find that at times everyone gets a slap on the wrist…

I witnessed a great drama this morning on my walk - this red tail hawk was being bedeviled by a raven that took a dislike to the hawks presence in its feeding range. The raven repeated dove at the hawk making threatening sounds - and a moment later the hawk got the message and flew away.