CTR Press Reports 2020:
Human Brain & Culture
Consciousness & Language Conference
In November, Fondazione Prada, Italy organized a week online conference discussing human brain and culture. In fact it was the start of two-year program that will continue debates, exhibitions and publications until November 2022.
The conference focused on the study of consciousness in neuroscience. The speakers discussed neuroscience and how it interacts with other disciplines such as linguistics, philosophy and psychology. The five sections of the conference included neurobiological bases of consciousness, functional and structural neuroimaging, the language of human consciousness, evolution of culture from anthropology to technology and two different perspectives of consciousness.
Andrea Moro, professor of Linguistics in Pavia, Italy discussed the structure of human languages and its relationship with the brain. By comparing the syntax of sentences with the verb “to be”, across languages he discovered symmetry breaking phenomena in natural languages. Also he found out that “impossible languages” are ruled out by neurobiological networks. According to his research, the capacity of generating new meanings by rearranging a number of words is the fingerprint of human languages. He discussed with Stanislas Dehaene an expert in cognitive psychology in Paris. He directs the Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit at a brain imaging center in France. According to his studies, human possesses an evolutionary language ability which allowing the creation of novel concepts by recombination of previous ones.
No other species uses language and it is only humans use languages and writings. Recently neuroscientists studying this unique human ability using AI and advanced technologies. Bilingual people have different neural paths for their two languages. The left hemisphere of human brain is the logical brain and involves language and analysis.
Mavi Sanchez Vives researcher at the University of Barcelona discussed human brain initiative in Europe and Initiatives and collaborative projects. She said: “Hundreds of institutions in the USA and Europe working on study of brain. People are interested in understanding science of brain with different motivations.” She added: “Facebook, apple and Google all have human brain labs.”
She discussed Brain interfacing and Different tools that allow us to dig into how the brain works. She demonstrated Graphics and animations of how neurons function.
What is the consciousness? She talked about Consciousness levels and pointed out: “When we fall sleep we loose consciousness and next day we comeback to the world.” She added: “There are so many neurons active at the same time.”
The next speaker talked about the relationship between consciousness and its physical basis. He discussed why certain parts of the brain are important for human consciousness. He discussed the state of consciousness in the dreamless sleep. The next researcher talked about neuroanthropology that exploring the way brain gives rise to culture and how cultural influences and development function in brain and culture relationship.
The next researcher talked about Rational thinking, Conscious processing architecture and brain humanization. He discussed Brain size and connectivity,
Extraordinary creativity in brain organization and Genetic differences between humans and monkeys. He said: “The global neuronal workspace is equal to the long range axons reciprocally broadcasted signals to multiple brain areas.” He discussed the way new synapses in the brain are made and Dramatic decrease of connectivity of synapses in the patient’s brain. The next neuroscientist discussed Variability in genes levels among humans, Individual socio cultural variability and Uniqueness of culture personality. He demonstrated what happens in the brain and conscious decisions while speaking a language. The speaker pointed out that Neurons recreating and rebuilding themselves and showed the slides of model neurons and how they change all the time and replace every component. He emphasized that the underlying parameters are totally different and they have different resilience to the stress.
Language if not used will be forgotten. Machine can learn faster but cannot understand and lacks human creativity. The speaker talked about the language creativity and added: “A man is painting the wall or the wall is painted by a man. You have to distinguish between these two sentences.” He discussed Individual differences in learning languages and emphasized that Nature rather than nurture matters in learning languages.
Researchers of language understanding have focused on the architecture of mind and how linguistic knowledge and beliefs systems residing in separate areas. Language is based in the combination of genetics, experiences, and computational constraints. Researchers are studying the complex relationships among language, brain and behavior. Scientists have discovered an earlier origin to the human language in the brain goes back to hundreds of thousands of years. (C)CTR Press
Healthy Food VS Processed Food
You Are What You Eat
Healthy organically grown foods are raised without any pesticides, hormones or antibiotics. Organic foods are grown by using natural methods of fertilizing soil. No doubt these foods are healthier than foods grown using chemical pesticides.
These healthy foods are called real food especially when they are nutritious and unprocessed and single ingredient food: with no chemical additives or pesticides.
The main problem with the processed foods is the artificial additives that giving them good taste and encouraging people to consume more. But those who are used to healthy eating can recognize the artificial tastes and it doesn’t appeal to them.
According to the food researchers, human body can be easily tricked into consuming processed foods. As the health expert, DeSanti pointed out: “Eating unhealthy foods gives us false energy.” The experts call these foods, “dead food” lacking any nutrients.
The food preservatives are chemicals that added to the food products; some preservatives reducing the risk of food borne infections but they have some harmful consequences.
Artificial food coloring may make some food looking more appealing but their unhealthy substance are linked to many health problems and in the extreme cases the cancer.
According to the FDA, when artificial food colors are approved, there are usually many specified restrictions and they are always subject to ongoing reviews. Sometimes people show sever allergies to a particular food color. Unfortunately people are unaware of the health complications of these products. Sometimes the Food programs intentionally or unintentionally support their use. Some overweight chefs appearing on TV programs using unhealthy ingredients that just look good but it doesn’t taste good and has no nutrients.
Healthy eating also means being able to manage calories and following balanced diets and avoiding the possible food borne illnesses that usually arises from improper preparation and lack of hygiene before, during and after food preparation.
Homemade foods are healthier choice than restaurant foods. There are many advantages such as saving money, avoiding any processed foods, and more nutritious ingredients.
Making healthy eating habits and always controlling what you eat and conscious eating is essential for health.
GMO foods that are genetically modified are considered to be harmful. GMO is created when a gene from one species is transferred to another that result in creating something unnatural. Many researchers and scientists believe that GMOs are bad for people’s health, environment and community. They believe that eating GMOs is not safe. They believe eating GMO foods can pass on “their mutant genes to bacterium in the digestive system”. In many countries GMOs are banned because of their harmful result.
Researchers believe that GMOs reduce genetic diversity and they contaminate the seeds with their unnaturally altered material. The advocate of GMO foods argue that they can feed many people and reducing the hunger. But the researchers believe that GMO crops production has not decreased the usage of pesticides.
Large biotech companies have very sketchy records by paying huge amounts of money to the public relation companies to deceive public and cover up the risk. The critics argue that GMOs requiring huge amounts of pesticides. Pesticides that running off into the water supply can have drastic consequences.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine urging the physicians to prescribe non-GMO diet for their patients. Genes inserted into the GMOs products can be transferred into the DNA of bacteria living inside the body after consuming.
The important lesson we should learn is to avoid GMO food, processed food and the food with added preservatives and artificial colors. Naturally unprocessed foods such as fruits and berries, eggs, fish, sea foods, lamb ( very well cooked), nuts, seeds, vegetables, grains, beans, cheese, yogurt and whole milk can boost our immune system and fight against the viruses and diseases.
We should never forget that quality, not quantity is important. Eat less but better quality foods. Avoid all unnatural and processed foods. And always remember: Homemade foods are healthier choice than restaurant foods; cooking a healthy food should be considered as fun. (C)CTR Press
Musical Taste & Personality
There is a saying: “You are what you listen to.” Researchers have found that there is a direct link between a person’s personality and his or her musical preferences. Researchers have selected 311 volunteers with a variety of musical preferences and gathered data about their listening habits and their personality types. The result was based on the Big Five model and Smart model. There was no surprise that more sophisticated personality traits preferred the classical music.
According to the Neuroscience researchers of the University of Barcelona, the Brain’s white matter structure reflects the individual music sensitivity. People are different: some cannot live without music and there are others that don’t like it. The researchers studied the brain activities of the volunteers while listening to the music: the result showed the additional complicated activities of the brain for those listening to the classical music.
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley studied 3000 people’s experiments and their emotional responses to different types of the music; it was very different: the feeling of joy, amusement, sadness, anxiety, nostalgia, anger, relaxation, beauty and dreariness.
In general, classic arts offers the audience “a window into history”. Classic arts tell the audience a lot about the social conditions at the time that the pieces were created. It is a unique quality because the history books sometimes are controversial and there are some doubts about the reliability of some narratives. It is safe and wise strategy to refer to the pieces of arts in that period of time while doing some research on the past.
Classical music is highly sophisticated musical forms. It can be in a specially sophisticated form such as Opera or other forms such as concerto, symphony and Sonata. Some of the famous and talented composers that fascinated the classical music enthusiasts through the history are as follows:
Timothy Swan was born in 1758 in Massachusetts, USA. He was a unique early composer that composed mostly in hymn settings. He was also a poet and a well known combatant against British colonial rule. Francis Boott was an American classical music composer who was famous for his art songs. Alexander MacDowell born in New York was best known for his second piano concerto and To a Wild Rose.
Georges Bizet ( born in 1838 in Paris) was the famous French composer of the Romantic era. Best known for his masterpiece: Carmen, an Opera in four acts.
Hector Berlioz (1803) was a French Romantic composer who created the pieces such as L’Enfance du Christ and operas such as Benvenuto Cellini and Béatrice et Bénédict. He created the masterpiece Le Cinq Mai to honor his hero: Napoléon Bonaparte who passed away on May 5 on the scary remote Atlantic island of St. Helena, where he was imprisoned by the British. Le Cinque Mai describes devastating experience of living by the black drapes on St Helena and emphasizes Napoléon’s glory.
He was not the only famous composer who was thinking of Napoléon Bonaparte while composing the pieces. Beethoven also composed his Symphony No.3 for Napoléon and dedicated to him.
Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is one of the most beautiful melody ever composed: it tells us about the story and journey of life, ups and downs.
Antonio Vivaldi was an Italian Baroque style composer who composed about 600 concertos during his lifetime.
Giuseppe Verdi was born in 1813 and was the unique Italian composer. His famous Opera, Rigoletto was a unique piece that fascinated his music fans throughout the history. He was also interested in Risorgimento movement of Italian Unification. He composed Nabucco in the spirit of the unification movement. He also created other masterpieces such as Aida (1871) and Falstaff (1893).
The famous Spanish composer, Joaquín Rodrigo created his masterpiece: The Concierto de Aranjuez in 1939. Rodrigo was nearly blind since age three. But he composed extraordinary beautiful pieces. Other beautiful pieces are Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky, Bolero by Ravel, The Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner, Waltz by Strauss and ….
Some people believe that music has the soul altering effect and almost everyone believe that music affects people in some way or another. Indeed music directly affects the emotions and classical music elevates the soul. (C)CTR Press
Nature VS Nurture
Human Genetics is the study of genetic variations and heredity in human. Our environment and experiences influence our behaviors and our genes in the long term. According to the scientific studies genes exist as the sequence along the DNA chain.
Genetics is the study of heredity: the process of passing characteristics from one generation to the next one. The scientists have already sequenced the most Genome of humans.
There has been a continuous debate about whether genes or the environment has the greater influence over our beings and our behaviors. The researchers who believe that genes play more important role in who we are argue that genes determine physical traits such as the face, eye color and etc as well as the human personality that are more influenced by the genes than the environment and they put their emphasis on the nature. But those researchers who believe the environment is the main factor argue that the upbringings and social interactions have the greater role in making what we are and they emphasize the nurture.
More realistic approach analyzing both and how nature and nurture interact. Some philosophers and psychologists believe the parents and society can teach the babies the difference between good and bad. But a growing numbers of researchers believe that babies are born with a sense of morality and the parents and society can help to shape it but they cannot create it.
There have been a variety of human experiments conducted by the academics in the prestigious universities around the world on the subject of nurture VS nature. One of the infamous cases involved deliberate separation of the twins without their consent or knowledge that conducted in the sixties. The details of these experiments are kept at the university library but they are sealed until the year 2065! These scientists who are involved in these unethical behaviors apparently believe in “end justifies the means” and in the name of science involving in these unethical experiments. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can justify the violations of human rights, dignity and privacy.
Lots of parents are wondering how different are their children both physically and emotionally. Researchers have found that the human genes can be traced back to the seventh generations in the past. And this explains why the siblings are so different. According to the researchers there are still hundreds of gaps in human genome sequencing. The heterochromatic parts of the genome is difficult to sequence because of the repetition process involved. Regarding the human genome evolution, scientists believed that about 6% of the human genome has been conserved. In human genome could be hundreds of millions base pairs of DNA both active and inactive.
There are about 86 billion neurons in our brain that containing 100 trillion synopses( connections) and it is changing constantly: every emotion, every thought, every action creates, strengthens or weaken the neural connections. (C)CTR Press
Lungs, Gut & Brain
According to the researchers, 35% of patients who recovered from COVID-19 suffer from long term damages to the lungs, gut or brain. The worst damages are to the lungs and brain: permanent respiratory distress and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The best strategy is the prevention that is not just wearing masks, but strengthening the immune system through healthy diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, personal hygiene, healthy hobbies, improving the cultural knowledge and self-esteem.
Healthy eating has substantial impact on mental health. Especially the Mediterranean diet that contains whole plant, meat(very well cooked), fresh fruits, nuts and healthy fats is highly recommended.
Brain can create physiological responses in the gut. The recent article in the Brain journal is about the inflammatory condition called ADEM. As observed in many COVID-19 patients, neurological disorders may be the result of the body immune response rather than the virus: COVID-19. The symptoms are hallucinations and loss of smell.
The virus attacks the cells in the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract and neurological issues. According to the researchers gut microbiome modulates “gut sympathetic neurons”; neuronal tracing from intestinal wall identifying brain stem nuclei. It explains how active a gut-brain circuit is.
Also the recent studies by the scientists around the world showed that the body can’t retain the antibodies that were built during infections and it shows that there will be no lasting immunity to COVID-19. So it means the vaccines could be useless and causing more harm than immunity to the virus. The immunity disappears after several weeks and building natural immunity can be more effective than vaccines. But the scientists are not aware how to build a lasting natural immunity to this virus yet.
The worst damage by COVID-19 is its impact on the nerves. The sufferers experience neurological complications such as brain inflammation and nerves damages. Loss of smell and weakness are common among the COVID-19 patients. Virus can enter the body through the nose, mouth, ears, eyes and even the skin. It prevents nerves from transmission of signals to the brain and as the result the patient loses the sense of smell.
Blood clotting is another complex feature of this mysterious virus. Researchers have found that COVID-19 symptoms vary in unpredictable manners. But the worrying part is the lasting and long term damages. Currently the researchers at Yale University are studying the lingering effects on the immune systems of the patients.
The experts have found that the COVID-19 can be airborne and can affects the whole body. And there is no guarantee that vaccines work. Those who suffers health complications and elderly people are more at risk.
Prevention is far better than cure: avoid crowds, eat healthy, be active both mentally and physically, avoid unnecessary fears, be strong, observe hygiene, and don’t lose hope. (C)CTR Press
Apps & Internet Privacy Issues
Privacy is a human right. It is the right of each individual to protect himself or herself and his or her data against any possible intrusions or violations.
Privacy concept has special historical roots in anthropological and philosophical discussions. The history of privacy protection in American law started from 1890s.
Privacy is a universal human right and there are many international accords that providing protections against the violations of privacy. The OECD is a forum of multiple countries that has provided guidelines on privacy protections for the individuals.
Internet browsing, apps downloading, videoconferencing and …all have obvious and hidden privacy issues. The users who download free or paid apps from millions of apps available in the Apple and Android app stores are not aware that so many of these apps have hidden privacy issues. For example: a messaging app requires to access your contacts and Wi Fi connection in order to carry out the job.
Trackers hide in every corner of internet and share users data with several third parties. Many apps collecting location and browsing records even when they are not in use. For example Google and Facebook know your friends, what you like, what you dislike and what kind of contents you read; Amazon knows what you buy. Google using your location data track your day to day web browsing and travel. Every smart device is a GPS tracker: constantly sending its location to the unknown parties. They are a real threat to the individuals privacy.
Behavioral advertising is created as the result of collecting users data. Web identifiers such as cookies, IP address and browsing fingerprint identify each user. Each time you visit a website, codes on that site make your browser to create hundreds of requests to the hidden third parties and each request can be used for tracking the users.
A tracker can make an element invisible to the user using Java Script and collecting data. Every device is assigned a unique IMSI number that is used for tracking. These numbers are shared with your cell provider: your phone sending pings to the cell towers requesting information about the networks. Apps can access IMSI numbers.
For privacy reason, disable Bluetooth. When a user connects to a Bluetooth beacon, the controller of beacon connecting the device address to IP address, cookies and ad ID and collecting information about users’ names, emails, phone numbers.
Big companies acquiring the smaller ones: Google has acquired over 200 other companies; Amazon has acquired 100 and Facebook has acquired about 83 other companies. They have access to the massive data and as the result getting richer. The biggest data collectors: Google, Facebook and Amazon target users based on their real time location.
Allowing access Siri from Home Screen or message reviews appearing on the lock screen may provide an opportunity for hackers to send bugs. The best practice is simplifying the situation by disabling all of these options such as show Previews for any app notifications.
Block All Cookies, ask websites not to track you, enable fraudulent website warnings and turn off camera and microphones access. Everyone knows that Google collects your information for profit; to avoid this: change your search engine; don’t use Google; use DuckDuckGo search engine that respects users privacy and does not collect information about the users.
Some apps monitoring you and your data; to protect your privacy avoid installing social media apps such as Facebook or Twitter. If you have already installed these you have the option to close your accounts and remove the apps from your devices.
Disable Location based alerts and delete the apps you no longer using.
On the Dark Web, people’s data are for sales. Credit cards details, social media information, online banking logins, addresses, telephone numbers, emails and other information all are for sale. The following are some examples: online banking passwords cost $42; credit card details cost $22; more sensitive data allowing identity theft cost $1,000. New technologies enabling violations of privacy by hackers and people should think twice before downloading the apps.
Social media know too much about people and the users continue using it and ignoring their disrespect when privacy is concerned. Amazon Alexa has about 73% the US market, Google Assistant has 22%. But people are unaware that these companies monetizing all moments of people’s private lives all the days. (C)CTR Press
International Film Festivals
North America & Europe
This year all International Film Festivals either canceled or postponed. Festival of Cannes is one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals and usually is held during June at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, south of France. Rome Independent Film Festival is held in November and presenting international films by independent filmmakers. Venice International Film Festival is held in September on the Island of Lido. Taormina Film Festival mostly featuring Mediterranean films and is held in Sicily. Seminci Film Festival is held in October in Spain and also is called Valladolid International Film Festival. San Francisco and New York Film Festivals featuring international films. Montreal and Toronto Festivals too presenting international films by independent filmmakers.
Some movies are worthy of being watched over and over again. Each time the viewers discover a new aspect of the story that is a thrilling experience. Stanley Kubrick was an American director, producer, screenwriter, photographer and chess player. He was uniquely talented. Some film critic consider him as the most influential film directors in the history of cinema. His movies are deep, meaningful, exciting with dark humor and each one beautifully using the appropriate classic music. Dr Strangelove is a 1964 film directed and co written by Kubrick. It is a powerful movie played by talented actors such as Peter Sellers and George C. Scott. In 1999, Kubrick made the interesting and controversial “Eyes Wide Shut” based on the novel: Traumnovelle by Arthur Schnitzler. This film and his other film A Clockwork Orange that was based on the novel by Anthony Burgess faced censorship before being released. He was passed away before the final release.
The sad thing is his unfulfilled project about making a film about Napoléon Bonaparte that was turned away by MGM in 1961. Some critics believe that it was as the result of English pressure because Stanley Kubrick was fascinated by Napoléon Bonaparte’s charm and character and his screenplay depicted a very positive image of Napoléon. Kubrick was considering Audrey Hepburn for the role of Empress Josephine and Al Pacino or Jack Nicholson for Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte. There was eight years research for the production and before the filming to be started, MGM canceled the project. In 2011, Stanley Kubrick’s Napoléon: The Greatest Movie Never Made was published that includes the scene photos, ideas, letters Kubrick wrote and the original screenplay.
Robert Bernard Altman was another talented American film director and screenwriter. His 1973 movie: The Long Goodbye is based on Raymond Chandler’s novel; it is a must see movie. In 1977, Altman wrote, directed and produced the film: 3 Women, a fascinating movie. In 1993, Altman made his famous movie: Short Cuts that is inspired by nine short stories. Cookie’s Fortune was made in 1999 that is an amusing dark comedy.
Federico Fellini was the master film director in Italy. His films: 8 1/2 (1963) stars Marcelo Mastroianni as Guido, a famous Italian director who faces challenging issues of creativity. It is considered one of the best film ever made. In 1954, Fellini made the movie: “The Strada”starring Anthony Quinn. It is a delicate, powerful and human film.
Pier Paolo Pasolini was an Italian director, journalist, poet and intellectual. His film: The Gospel According to St. Matthew in 1964 received the best review; the Vatican newspaper called it the best movie on Jesus Christ that has ever been made. Pasolini made the controversial film: salò in 1975; it is loosely based on the controversial book written by Sade in 1785. It is about the morality, abuse of power and corruption and it is a very deep and philosophical movie that easily can be misinterpreted.
Michelangelo Antonioni’s movie: L’Avventura, Made in 1960 is an interesting film about the human relationship and how unexpected behaviors can be tolerated in the shocking manner.
The free spirited female director from Italy, Lina Wertmüller wrote and directed her masterpiece: Pasqualino Settebellezze, Seven Beauties; it stars Giancarlo Giannini. It is about a man living with his mother and seven sisters during World War II. He is captured by the Germans and sent to a prison camp and the film portrays his desperate, funny, shocking and unbelievably sad struggles for survival. The viewer is in the state: wondering to laugh or to cry. It is a dark comedy and a must see film. She was the first female director nominated for Oscar and got an honorary Academy Award at Governors Awards.
The Revenge of Musketeers made by French director, Bertrand Tavernier and starring Sophie Marceau in 1994. It is about the daughter of a famous swordsman in the 17th century. It is a fascinating and well directed film. Belgian brothers Jean Pierre and Luc Darlene wrote and directed the film: Rosetta in 1999. It is about a teenage girl and her fight for survival in the economic hardships.
Once Upon a Time in the West directed by Sergio Leone in 1968 is a masterpiece; a spaghetti western with the music of Master Ennio Morricone. Other talented Italian directors such as Vittorio De Sica, Visconti and Giorgio Diritti made unforgettable and powerful movies.
The Sicilian Clan is a 1969 film by Henri Verneuil and starring three talented actors such as Jean Gabon, Alain Delon, and Lino Ventura. It is an exceptional and charming movie: an amusing and well directed movie. La Casse is another interesting movie by Verneuil in 1971.
Henri Verneuil’s last film that was dedicated to his mother is the most beautiful one: it is called “588 rue Paradis”. It is very human and touching.
And Justice for All directed by Norman Jewison in 1979. Al Pacino playing the protagonist and he is amazing. Ingmar Bergman movies are cherished by those who like to watch meaningful movies. The philosophical film: “The Seventh Seal” made in 1957 is about Middle Ages, bubonic plague and the period of Black Death.
Jules Maigret played by talented actor: Bruno Crémer is based on the novel by Georges Simenon. It is an interesting movie that respects the intellect of the viewers. (C)CTR Press
May 1-3, 2020:
The Bay Area Book Festival (virtual)
A series of virtual lectures and discussions live and recorded presented a variety of topics featuring the famous writers and artists and it will continue through June every Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Each year in May there was a huge physical gathering of book enthusiasts in the Bay Area and this year the organizers converted the literary programs from physical gathering to virtual one. The subjects were diverse from celebrating life to difficult conversations about death. The authors, researchers and psychologists discussed compassionate approach to mortality and how the attitude can be transformed. They discussed the idea of normalcy and how to balance human needs, expectations and reality.
There are a variety of resources in literature both classic and modern that have fascinated the readers around the world. The wonderful writers such as Alexandre Dumas, Edgar Allan Poe, Dante, Cervantes, Ferdowsi, Maupassant, Dostoyevsky, Baudelaire, Shakespeare, Anthony Burgess, Ernest Hemingway, Ammaniti, Hedayat, Chekhov, Bernard Shaw, Ibsen, Márquez, Faulkner, Kafka, Sand and…
Edgar Allan Poe’s fascinating stories: mystery, short story, detective fiction genre and poetry made him the central figure in American literature. In 1845 he published “The Raven “:
“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I ponder, weak and weary,
Over many acquaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor”, I muttered,”tapping at my chamber door-
Only this and nothing more.”…
The Count of Monte Cristo written by Alexandre Dumas in 1844 is a must read classic and is considered a masterpiece and has been translated from the original French language into hundreds of languages. In 976 AD, the magnificent Persian poet Ferdowsi created his masterpiece epic poetry about warrior Rostam who fights against evils. The emphasis of Ferdowsi poetry is on wisdom and pure spirit. The Divine Comedy by Dante who passed away in 1321 is considered the greatest literary masterpiece in Italian language. The Divine Comedy describing Dante’s journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. The marvelous novel: Don Quixote of La Mancha written by Miguel Cervantes in 1605 is considered the most influential literary work in Spanish language; even some literary critics calling it the best literary novel ever written. Dostoyevsky once recommended that reading Don Quijote is essential for purification of the soul. Dostoyevsky’s novels such as The Brothers Karamazov written in 1880, Crime & Punishment, The Idiot and Gambler each exploring human psychology at the best and unique way. Bernard Shaw, the Irish genius, is considered the master of “wit” and his unique sense of humor fascinated the readers throughout the world.
Lack of reliable sources for reading about history, increasingly encourage us to read the literary notable works rather than reading about the works. For example, Wikipedia can be edited by anyone or any bots! at any time! When you check out the references: nearly half of them have issues of some sorts: the links don’t work, the texts are more subjective than objective and sometimes they are fake and have serious reliability issues. The best advice is to read the literary work itself and if you can, read it in the original language.(C)CTR Press
500th Anniversary of Renaissance Genius: Raphael
(virtual) Museums in Urbino, Rome, Milan, Florence, NY, Paris, Madrid
April 2020 is the 500th anniversary of Raphael, master of the high renaissance in Italy. It was supposed to be a mass celebration throughout Italy cultural centers, but unfortunately because of Corona virus, the museums are closed but virtually the memory of this genius, Raphael, is cherished throughout the world.
Raffaello Sanzio was born in Urbino in April 1483- April 1520. He worked on a variety of projects in different cities and in 1504 he moved to Florence that was a very competitive place for the artists such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Botticelli and …Raphael began paintings commissioned by famous families and a series of idealized Madonnas. In 1509 he started his work in Rome in the papal palace and created his masterpiece: The School of Athens. The Stanza della Segnatura was the first to be decorated by Raphael artworks. The theme of wisdom was appropriate for this room where the papal documents were sealed.
The School of Athens representing the classical philosophy and it is the most famous fresco by Raphael. It illustrates the classic thinkers and philosophers. It shows the rhetorical gestures of Plato and Aristotle pointing up to the heavens and down to the earth. Plato is carrying a copy of the book: Timaeus that explains how the soul of the world was created. Aristotle carries the book: Ethics that is about what makes a virtuous character. Diogenes is sitting in the middle reading; he believed that all the pretentiousness and artificial growth in the society were incompatible with the real happiness and he insisted on returning to the simple life with integrity. Raphael himself standing close to Zoroaster with a globe. Zoroaster always emphasized the freedom of individual to choose right or wrong and each person is responsible for his or her deeds. Zoroaster believed in thinking good thoughts, saying good words and doing good deeds; these three elements that leading to the increase of force of good in ourselves and in the world. He believed in Frashokereti that is the Avestan language term in Middle Persian for the Zoroasterian doctrine for the ultimate renovation of the universe when the evil will be destroyed. Also there is Parmenides, the Greek philosopher whose slogan was: “whatever is, is and what isn’t, cannot be” or out of nothing comes nothing: ex nihilo nihil fit.
The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple representing the biblical episode about Heliodorus who was sent to obtain the treasure in the Temple but he was stopped by the angels. The Mass at Bolsena illustrating a priest in 1263 who saw the miracle and manifestation of Transubstantiation. The Deliverance of Saint Peter demonstrating the liberation of Saint Peter from the prison by an angel.
The Archangel Michael slays the dragon: an allegorical embodiment of evil. This painting inspired by the Inferno in the Divine Comedy in which Dante recounting the punishment of hypocrites.
In different cities in Italy, museums and cultural institutions planning and preparing for months to commemorate Raphael (that were postponed because of Corona virus). The activists such as: Raphael’s Cartoon for the School of Athens in Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan; Multimedia experience into the life and work of Raphael in the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome; Raphael tomb in the Pantheon; Raphael and Friends in Urbino in Galleria Nazionale delle Marche in Urbino. In other museums in NY, SF, Paris and Madrid also there are some drawings and artworks related to this Renaissance genius and celebrate the grandeur of his artworks. (C)CTR Press
February 24- March 1, 2020:
RSA Conference This year RSA conference theme was “Human Element”. Since 1995, every year a unique theme has been chosen for the conference. The related designs, marketing materials and the contents of the website all maximizing the chosen theme of the year. Human element within cyber security aiming to protect not just data but people from different types of hacking and weaponization of social media. The aim is to realize that cyber security is about protecting people and putting the people first.
Interestingly and surprisingly the theme of 2009 was Edgar Allen Poe. Poe was interested in cryptography. One can find anagrams and concealed messages hidden in his poems. “The Gold Bug” is about solution of a cipher that was a map to a hidden treasure. While working as a journalist, Poe in one article offered to give free subscriptions to the readers who send him ciphers difficult to solve. “The Gold Bug” by Poe was a great success and it helped to popularize the secret writing and cryptograms:
The encoded message in the story:
The decoded message in the story:
A good glass in the bishop’s hostel in the devil’s seat
forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes northeast and by north
main branch seventh limb east side
shoot from the left eye of the death’s- head a bee line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out.
It is the solution of a cipher that was a map to a hidden treasure in the story.
There was a variety of educational seminars such as privacy and security in the cloud, privacy standards by IAPP, Technology Risk Management, and how to build a successful cyber security team. The keynote speakers discussed democratization of security, analyzing the psychology of fear, how to reduce supply chain risk by blocking Huawei, and the future of cyber security. The speakers and panelists talked about the power of cooperation, how to build a security culture of protecting, detecting and responding on time, a cloud first security program, reducing e-commerce frauds, cloud threat hunting, forensic techniques against hackers, open source tooling for threat analyzing, avoiding writing vulnerable software, machine learning and risk quantification, the deepfake, and how the EU cyber security act impact US companies.
The speaker talked about EU member states and US companies, and the Security and challenges. He said: “challenges in cyber security are unique and always evolving.” The he discussed Spanish regulators and highly regulated EU market and how vendors have to comply with the EU regulations.
The next speaker pointed out that to ensure browser security is very important because the most serious attacks coming from internet that resulting in 95% of all endpoint compromises. She mentioned that the internet sending unchecked active code to the users and it is the responsibility of the users to make sure the secure browsing without facing compromising risks. The next presenters analyzed various cyber threats including malware, DDoS attacks and hacktivism campaigns. He emphasized the need to protect organizations by altering them of phishing attempts, rouge applications and pharming attacks. He added the ways to mitigate risks more effectively and more efficiently by utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate the production cycle from monitoring through extraction to the final production.
In the next session, the panelists discussed collecting real world data in order to gain insight into current problems and challenges. The speaker pointed out that the goal is timely enabling new software systems by upgrading faster than the way the adversaries do. He talked about understanding the motivation and capabilities of the hackers and with real time altering to remove the malicious content from the internet. The speaker said: “Real time risk scores based on real life exploitability ultimately making it easier prioritization of the area to put the efforts in order to prevent the attacks.”
The next speaker talked about infrastructure security and configuration management and how to secure endpoints and prevent compromises. He discussed the ways of monitoring for the malicious activities and how to handle security incidents.
February 5-6, 2020:
Learning Technologies event was the premier gathering for discussing the latest challenges in Human Resources and workplace learning. About 8000 attendees mainly professionals and educators in Human Resources and workplace learning from around the globe gathered to learn and discuss the latest in the industry. They include learning and development managers, E learning directors, IT managers, chief learning officers and talent management directors.
There was a variety of sessions, workshops and live demonstrations about digital learning strategies and challenges. The presenters and the panels talked about different aspects of learning technologies innovations and the exhibitors showcased their latest products. The speaker discussing E Learning within large companies talked about the real time experiences of companies including customized content, feedbacks from virtual reality users, cognitive science and AI in various digital learning projects.
The panels discussed the latest policies of E Learning in different countries, collaborative learning, talent management and case studies. The speaker discussed the international management of Human Resources and digital innovations.
The fundamentals of management and practical skills for human resource management innovations, how to work with new generation of digital learning, neuroscience and digital learning were discussed. The speaker talked about pedagogical aspects of learning technologies and how cognitive psychology and neuroscience help us to understand the human education character and challenges.
The keynote speaker discussed the current changes of technology landscape and the ways these changes shape the digital learning functions. He said: “Emerging technologies have the potential to disrupt the digital learning process.” He pointed out that we should be prepared to stay ahead of technology curve. The next speaker discussed the effective ways of learning in a digital world.
January 19-21, 2020:
Winter Fancy Food Show 2020
Winter Fancy Food Show 2020 had an interesting series of educational sessions about Food and Genomics, how the Mediterranean diet in the long term can change DNA, scientific consensus on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for health and the Mediterranean diet as a strategy for sustainable food in the future.
Following the Mediterranean diet help us to live longer and healthier life. According to the researchers avoiding processed foods and eating natural and fresh products protect our DNA from damage. Professor De Vivo mentioned that the Mediterranean diet resulting in longer telomeres that is a biomarker of aging at the end of each chromosome.
According to the researchers, everyone is unique in how their body using different minerals and proteins. Each person’s genetic variants reacts differently to the different diets. Humans have about 26,000 genes in each cell and scientists are looking for the best way to control them; epigenetics explains the ways changes in genes can occur without changes in DNA. The food that we eat can influence our genes and nutrigenomics researchers believe that the types of food we consume can activate or deactivate certain genes; it is like the regular exercising that activates the genes for strength.The genes are constantly turning on or off as the result of biochemical signals from the body. Eating certain foods can change the patters on some of the genes that directly affects our health. Epigenetics researchers study the ways that external factors such as the diet type can alter our DNA.
In the exhibition hall, representatives from different companies from around the world presenting the samples of their products. The focus was promoting high quality agricultural products. One representative from Italy described the tomatoes ripening in the Mediterranean sun as such: “it is a bit like a mother: always there for you, giving joy and happiness, bringing comfort and reassurance and doing you good.”
According to the Terre Exotique representative, there will be an international pepper festival in Saint Cyr sur Loire, Loire Valley, France, June 20th-21st 2020.
Traina Foods is a family owned business growing, producing and packing sun dried fruit in California. St Michel presenting the highest quality French cookies since 1905.
Food education is very important for the healthy living: learning about food and food issues. Food is one the most interesting topic because it opens doors to our well-being and awareness of the food cultures in a variety of places around the world. The awareness of the hazards of processed, junk, GMO and unnatural foods help us to create a healthy and confident generations that appreciate healthy lifestyle throughout their lives. (C)CTR Press
January 5-8, 2020:
Convening Leaders 2020
Convening Leaders was a premier event for the meetings and business events industry. It was organized by PCMA that was founded in 1957. The PCMA Foundation was established in 1985. Its goal was supporting the mission of PCMA through research, education, scholarships and critical projects for planning for the future of business events industry.
The speakers in a variety of sessions discussed the challenges in the business events industry and the future of this industry. The speakers talked about the power of personalization, how to create a psychologically safe workplace, how to design from the ground up, how to increase the sale leads, using behavioral science to increase engagement in the workplace, how meeting industry is working with the influencers, human trafficking disaster, Impression management, and building leadership in the meeting industry.
The speaker discussing Psychologically safe workplace talked about how to encounter the Changing social context and increasing pressure. She emphasized the emotional elements in the workplace environment involving Employers, employees and consumers. She asked this question: “Why are we so divided?” Then she continued: “Lack of awareness, fear of mistakes, lack of accountability and lack of trust in the workplace.” The speaker pointed out the need for changing how the employees look at each other in the workplace. She said: “Don’t look at them as the coworker or boss, just look at them as people.” Then the speaker discussed the Interpersonal risk taking and psychological safety and Mutual respect.” The presenter mentioned this quote by Amy Edmondson: “People should be comfortable being themselves.” Discussing the workplace environment she mentioned that 87% of employees are distracted reading the social media posts and 46% reported worsening in the workplace relationships since 2016.
The next speaker talking about the wellbeing in the workplace talked about eight dimensions of the wellbeing: physical, mental, financial, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental and careers. She mentioned that very young people in the corporations and tech industry earn lots of money but they don’t know what to do with it.
Theresa, a Human trafficking survivor talked about her shockingly horrible experience as a victim of human trafficking at the early age of 15. She said: “95 percent of trafficking happens in the hotels.” She added: “Traffickers use events and hotels as opportunities to make money. We have eyes on the ground.” She mentioned that 62% of victims were tricked, 35% blamed the family members and 3% were kidnapped. There was a discussion about what can be done and many blamed “Johns”, the buyers and thought that the buyers must be punished.
The next speaker in the event strategy and design studio talked about Personas : behavior, attitude and motivation. He discussed Designing innovations and education and the audience’s behavior. He talked about eliminating and including different factors in creating personas. He said: “Time has changed and expectations have been changed too.”
The next presenter, an innovation consultant mentioned that only 11% of marketers set aside a specific budget for marketing innovation efforts. He said: “ As an innovation consultant, I do not do business with China.” In the exhibition areas, the attendees discussed the platform for business events strategists and their business partners. They talked about their professional cases and experiences during networking hours. (C)CTR Press