Thursday, June 30, 2011

Philip Emeagwali Black scientist with a social responsibility

Philip Emeagwali was born on this date 1954. He is a Nigerian computer scientist and internet pioneer.

He was raised in the town of Onitsha in Southeastern Nigeria. Called "Calculus" by his schoolmates, Emeagwali mastered the subject at age 14, and could out-calculate his instructors. He had to drop out of school because his family could not afford to send all eight children, but he continued studying on his own and got a general certificate of education from the University of London.

At the age of 17, he received a full scholarship to Oregon State University where he majored in math. After graduation, he attended George Washington University and received two M.A.s, one in civil engineering and the other in marine engineering, and a Master's in mathematics from the University of Maryland. He later earned his doctorate from the University of Michigan in civil engineering (scientific computing).

During his academic years, in 1974, Emeagwali read a 1922 science fiction article on how to use 64,000 mathematicians to forecast the weather for the whole Earth. Inspired by that article, he worked out a theoretical scheme for using 64,000 far-flung processors to be evenly distributed around the Earth, to forecast the weather. He called it a HyperBall international network of computers. Today, an international network of computers is called the Internet.

Dr. Emeagwali's greatest achievement was his work on The Connection Machine. This instrument used 65,000 computers linked in parallel to form the fastest computer on Earth. This computer can perform 3.1 billion calculations per second. This is faster than the theoretical top speed of the Cray Supercomputer. Though he did not "invent" The Connection Machine, his work on it won Philip Emeagwali the Gordon Bell Prize of 1989. Though he received the prize, there is no evidence that his work was ever accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, nor that it had any other lasting impact on the field of high-performance computing.

Apple Computer has used his multiprocessing technology to manufacture its dual-processor Power Mac G4, which had a peak speed of 3.1 billion calculations per second. IBM used it to manufacture its $134.4 million supercomputer, which had a peak speed of 3.1 trillion calculations per second. IBM has announced its plan to manufacture a 65,000-processor supercomputer, which will have a peak speed of 1,000 trillion calculations per second, and every supercomputer manufacturer will incorporate thousands of processors in their supercomputers.

Another measure of his influence is that one million students have written biographical essays on him, and thousands wrote to thank him for inspiring them.

President Bill Clinton called him a powerful role model for young people and used the phrase "another Emeagwali" to describe children with the potential to become computer geniuses. Emeagwali considers himself to be "a
Black scientist with a social responsibility to communicate science to the Black Diaspora." He has a dual sensibility of being deeply rooted in science while using it as a tool to remind his people in the Diaspora of where they have been and who they are. He also describes his work as a "public intellectual.” He uses his mathematical and computer expertise to develop methods for extracting more petroleum from oil fields.

During his career, Emeagwali has received many prizes, awards and honors. These include the Computer Scientist of the Year Award of the National Technical Association (1993), Distinguished Scientist Award of the World Bank (1998), Best Scientist in Africa Award of the Pan African Broadcasting, Heritage and Achievement Awards (2001), and Gallery of Prominent Refugees of the United Nations (2001). He was profiled in the book "Making It in America" as one of "400 models of eminent Americans," and in "Who's Who in 20th Century America." In a televised speech, President Bill Clinton described Emeagwali as “one of the great minds of the Information Age.”

Academically, Emeagwali studied for a Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan from 1987 through 1991. His thesis was not accepted and he was not awarded the degree. Emeagwali filed a court challenge, claiming that the school decision violated his civil rights and that the university had discriminated against him in several ways because of his race. The court challenge was dismissed, as was an appeal to the Michigan state Court of Appeals.

His wife, Dale, was born in Baltimore, was educated at Georgetown University School of Medicine, conducted research at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Michigan, and taught at the University of Minnesota. In 1996, she won the Scientist of the Year Award of the National Technical Association for her cancer research. They live near Washington, D.C. with their 11-year-old son.

Reference: Dr. Phillip Emeagwali

Monday, June 27, 2011

Gnostic Books Omitted from the Bible

The books omitted from the bible are the so-called missing books of the bible.  First any Christian should know that the Roman Emperor Constantine played a big part in putting the Bible that we know together.  The First Council of Nicea was held in 325 AD and this meeting created the first uniform Christian doctrine of belief, what we still know today as the Nicene Creed.  A little over fifty years later this creed with its “true God” and Jesus as the “only Son of God" was enforced with the full might of the Romans throughout the Empire as Christianity was made the official religion: One God, one Empire, one Religion.

    The most interesting alternative thinking in early Christianity is found in the lost texts of the Gnostic Gospels. Also called the Gnostic Bible these Gnostic scriptures are a series of religious texts that were discovered accidentally by two farmers in 1945 in Egypt near Nag Hammadi, and therefore, also go by the name the Nag Hammadi Library. What makes these texts interesting in relation to Christianity is that they are estimated to date back to between the 2nd and 4th century AD, which puts them very close to the time of Jesus and right in the time of early Christianity.

    Knowing that the Church banned Gnostic belief as heresy, anyone with an open mind should be interested in what a Gnostic believed if we want to understand the Church and its history. In our search for God we should ask: why were these books omitted from the Bible? What knowledge was so dangerous to the Roman Church and why?

   In The Gnostic Scriptures we find The Testimony of Truth, which tells us that, “Do not expect, therefore, the carnal resurrection, which is destruction.” This view, dating back to about the second century, is very much aligned with modern science—the flesh dissolves.

   The text is interesting, because it also has another view on why Adam and Eve where cast out of Paradise. It lets us know that, “The serpent was wiser than all the animals that were in Paradise, and he persuaded Eve, saying, ‘On the day when you eat from the tree which is in the midst of Paradise, the eyes of your mind will be opened.’”

   The Testimony of Truth then boldly asks:


“Of what sort is the God? First he maliciously refused Adam from eating of the tree of knowledge. And secondly he said, “Adam, where are you?” God does not have foreknowledge; otherwise, would he not know from the beginning?”


  Later the text answers the question of what sort of God this is by saying: “I am the jealous God; I will bring the sins of the fathers upon the children.”

   In the East the serpent is the symbol of Kundalini energy and not a symbol of evil or temptation as in the Bible. But, why are serpents wisdom in the East?  Kundalini is the power of consciousness, or supreme energy, also called mother of the universe. In Sanskrit the word means “coiled up,” and therefore, the symbol of a snake is the ancient symbolic representation, not of the evil, but of the supreme power of consciousness.

   If we for example call the Kundalini energy for the Holy Spirit, then this could give us a different perspective on the words of John: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

   In this interpretation it is the Holy Spirit as the power of consciousness that gives us eternal life. And one could even suggest that the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge in Genesis might be one and the same. That would make eternal life possible through knowledge of the truth (good and evil) as we just saw in the Bhagavadagita.

   In her book The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, points towards the serpent as an instructor and she quotes from the text, The Hypostasis of the Archons:


“Then the Female Spiritual Principle came in the Snake, the Instructor, and it taught them, saying, “…you shall not die; for it was out of jealousy that he said to you. Rather, your eyes shall open, and you shall become like gods, recognizing evil and good.”…And the arrogant Ruler cursed the Woman…and…the Snake.”


   Here Eve, the “Mother of the Living,” is a feminine spiritual principle that raises Adam from his material condition to bring him out of ignorance toward becoming like a God. It would seem natural to human nature (and historical correct) that arrogant male rulers would become jealous about this competition, whereby both the woman and the snake were cursed.

   Through history, and even today, this curse has proven to be a powerful political tool of suppressing women with male aggression. And at the same time, the important question of personal identity has been left out. It seems logical to conclude that when these words were written around the second century, Gnostics saw the clear danger in the form that Christianity was taking as it became an organized religion.

   In a modern day society, it certainly must seem good to most people that Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge. I am sure that most of us are happy to be conscious and able to think for ourselves rather than being told what to think. In a democracy where everyone works together to solve the problems ahead, it is reasonable to give every individual the freedom to think.

   However, the view of the Bible goes in the opposite direction, believing that “paradise was lost,” which could be interpreted as ignorance is bliss, and I find it very interesting to note the negative direction. The Bible has a negative perspective from Adam and Eve being thrown out of paradise to the Book of Revelation—from paradise to the end of the world. This negative view on the world is also reflected through the views of “evil” and “sinners” that still today deserve punishment. The God of the Bible is an angry God that judges over irresponsible children living in an evil world.

   The Gnostic perspective on the other hand is positive. It talks about ignorance instead evil, and sees a positive future through enlightenment and the gaining of knowledge. Surely such a view is far more optimistic than the pessimism of the Bible, and with a positive outlook on life it should be much more possible to create a positive future. 

   The Gnostics called the God of the Bible a “jealous God” because this God said: “I am God, and there is no other.” Looking at the history of the Church enforcing this one and only God, it is clear that this God has been much more angry than loving. We should not forget that the Roman Catholic Church was created on the foundation of the Roman Empire, after Emperor Constantine won the first battle in the name of the cross and Christianity later became the state religion of Rome. History also tells us that the doctrine of the Incarnation took root about the same time as Pope Urban II sent Christians of on the Fist Crusade with “God wills it!” After more than a thousand years of debate, in 1098 Saint Anselm published his Cur Deus Homo—Why God Became Man—and Jesus were since transformed from prophet into the one and only “son of God.”

  Before we become upset at the past, it is worth taking into consideration that humanity has gone through a transformation as our thinking has evolved. Therefore, now that the children have become adults and outgrown their parents, I find it more important to ask where we should look for guidance. And as a philosopher, it is clear for me that we should look for truth by ourselves, and never accept someone else’s truth. It was for this reason that Luther translated the Bible, so that we could all seek the truth by ourselves, instead of having it dictated to us.

   It is not only possible but fairly easy to find other interpretations in the Bible that speak of an incorporeal resurrection. The Bible does in fact make a clear distinction between the body and the spirit. In 1 Corinthians we find: “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”

   With this separation between the mortal and the immortal, Jesus uses the wind as a metaphor to describe the eternal spirit: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

   In 1 Corinthians 15:40, we find that this distinction is made clear: “There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.”

   The Gnostic Scriptures offer an account that supplements this view of the Bible:


“If one does not understand how blowing wind came into existence, he will blow away with it. If one does not understand how body, which he bears, came into existence, he will perish with it...Whoever will not understand how he came will not understand how he will go.”


Monday, June 20, 2011

The Igbo People* Proverb

Agụọ nwere nchekwube/olịleanya a dịghị egbu egbu. (Igbo)
The hunger that has hope for its satisfaction does not kill. (English)

Background, Explanation, and Everyday Use

The Igbo people inhabit southeastern Nigeria. “Igbo” refers to both the people and their language. Occupying a rainforest region, the Igbo were traditionally mainly farmers and their lifestyle was patterned on the farming cycle.

Usually between the end of the farming season (when most of the crops from the previous harvest had been consumed and the seedlings planted) and the next harvest, there is a food scarcity spell called ụgalị.

This Igbo proverb was mostly used at this time, a period of about five to seven months, to counsel hope and endurance until the next harvest, a future of abundance. The elders used this proverb to teach the young ones that no matter how trying and challenging a situation might be, one usually survives it if one looks beyond the particular moment with hope for a brighter future and, therefore, endures with dignity.

However, one neither hopes nor endures in inertia. Both hope and endurance imply hard work. So this proverb ties to another Igbo proverb, aka aja aja na eweta ọnụ mmanụ mmanụ (“soily” hands bring about an oily mouth). With these two proverbs, people are encouraged to be active and diligent while they hope for a better future. The majority of the Igbo are Christians today and they acknowledge that not even the Lord would feed the sheep that shies away from the pasture (cf. Psalm 23).

Biblical Parallels

At the basis of the survival of the Israelites from their slavery, Exodus, wilderness, foreign occupation and exile experiences was their hope, the hope for the Promised Land, the hope for the Messiah, and the hope for the return. The hope in the Second Coming and in the resurrection sustained the early Christians through their persecution.

This hope is not idle; it is tied to faith, as “the assurance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). It brings joy to the just (Proverbs 10:28). When the Israelites were wearied with the length of their journey, it was hope that helped them find new life for their strength (Isaiah 57:10).

And when due to their exile they thought their bones were dried up and wanted to give up hope, the Lord sent Ezekiel to remind them thus: “Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves… and I will bring you home into the land of Israel… And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live…” (Ezekiel 37:11-14). St. Paul argues that he shares in the prophets’ hope in God for the resurrection (Acts 24:15).

This hope is not without a price, however. In his Letter to the Romans, Paul writes: “More than that, we rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us” (Romans 5:3-5). It is in this hope that “we are saved,” the hope that enables us to wait with patience for what we do not yet see (Romans 8:24).

Paul also reminds the Corinthians that it is in hope for the share of the crop that both the person using the plough and the thresher work (Corinthians 9:10).

Hence he berates the Thessalonians who, under the guise of waiting for the Lord’s Second Coming, shunned work: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness… we were not idle when we were with you… but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you… If anyone will not work, let him not eat” (Corinthians 3:6-10).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Juneteenth Gospel Music Festival

Juneteenth Community Festival will take place on June 17-18 at Manhattan City Park.

This Manhattan summer tradition continues with providing great gospel music.

The festival begins on Friday afternoon, June 17, in the Wefald Pavilion and GTM Family Center, 1101 Fremont, with a Manhattan Black Historical display.

Food vendors will be ready to feed you dinner by 5 p.m. so you’re ready to sing with the Gospel Fest at 7 p.m. as they take the stage at the Larry Norvell Band Shell.

If basketball is your game, a 3 on 3 tournament begins at 7 p.m. Don’t be anxious to leave when it gets dark because that’s when Movies on the Grass will be showing “The Wiz”.

The celebration continues on Saturday, June 18.

A parade starting at 10 a.m. will march down Poyntz Avenue beginning at the Manhattan Town Center and travel to City Park. “The Grand Marshall is Col. Brown from Fort Riley”, says Don Slater, Juneteenth festival planner. “T. here will be lots of things for kids to do at City Park throughout the day.

Little Apple Amusement will have their train running, and a jumbo caterpillar crawl inflatable.”

The Don Heines’s band, “Mystic” from Kansas City, will take the stage Saturday night at 8 p.m. as the culmination to a great Juneteenth Community Festival.

Additional Info...

Manhattan Convention & Visitors Bureau

Juneteenth Community Festival will take place on June 17-18 at Manhattan City Park. This Manhattan summer tradition continues with providing great gospel music.

Let's come out for the celebration and parade commemorating JUNETEENTH!