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Hans de Vries

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Everything posted by Hans de Vries

  1. Whatever. Values 40 or 50 years ago were not massively different than now. Just as today we had: - individualism - democracy - freedom of speech, religion, conscience - right to live, work, education, a just trial - equality of gender, religion, race, ethnicity However, I'm sure that economic progress (which is lagging in that part of the world) will not lead on it's own to the adoption of western value system. Look at UAE for example - in UAE money literally flows from the ground and native population lives in luxury. They have free healthcare, education (including scholarships at elite western unis), many don't have to wotk (women don't work at all) because everything gets done by migrant labor from South Asia (and Western specialists) who outnumver the native population 4:1. Yet social- and politically-wise UAE is a very conservative sharia-ruled state and has even produced several high ranking terrorists. So well, a really huge political upheaval would be needed to transform ME. EDIT imatfaal, I don't suggest that ISIS members should adopt our values. I said that Middle Eastern people (and their descendants in Europe) should dump their appreciation for antiquated (actually early medieval) values and adopt western values as a part of their identity. ISIS enjoys quite a lot of support in the Muslim world and beyond - why did you think did thousands of young people from EU go to fight in their ranks?
  2. OK but the theological validity of their ideology is a different issue altogether. It does not belong to this topic. I simply wanted to highlight that Middle Easterners must adopt Western values. It does not matter whether they do this by creating a westernized Islam, adopting atheism, Christianity, Buddhism, Nordic Paganism or whatever mix of religions they choose. It's the result that matters - the Middle East shall turn from a poor, backward, intolerant place plagued by constant wars into a flourishing region with democracy, freedom of speech, religion, equality of men and women and a highly developed rule of law.
  3. Your vision is a bit simplistic, guys. ISIS is not some small destructive cult that will collapse entirely once it's charismatic leader is dead. It's an expression of a powerful, ambitious religious-political movement that transgresses all borders and enjoys support of dozens if millions in the Arab world and hundreds of millions in the Muslim world. It constantly invents new tactics, constantly produces new leaders and has an almost unlimited supply of manpower in form of young men willing to die in combat and receive their celestial virgins.. It's like a hydra - you cut off one head and the next one grows immediately. Against Islamists sheer firepower will be ineffective. It did not work in Afghanistan under the Soviets, it did not work in Afghanistan under NATO, it did not work in Iraq once and it will not work this time either. For islamism to be destroyed, mentality of the entire Middle East must change. Unless they understend en masse that Sharia law is a road to nowhere, and decide to build a modern society based on western values, the bloodshed will not stop. This war will not become easier. OVer time it will only get harder. Jordan and UAE are already out of coalition, other Arab states may follow them if they start feeling threatened.
  4. Could someone reccomend specific resources (literature etc.) as on how to create complex organizations (a company, a political party, a religious organization... whatever) from scratch and successfully manage it? It amuses me how some people have such an organizational skill that they start with a small company and turn it into a multinational corporation with branches, sub-branches and a myriad of other institutions. For me just the amount fo bureaucracy involved would be a nightmare.
  5. I don't know where you graduated and where you teach but may I ask you how good the top universities are compared to average ones (rankings-wise) on undergraduate and graduate level and what's the difference between USA and Europe? Since the overwhelming majority of all jobs require a master's degree max and only a miniscule part of all graduates ever do a PhD, I'm asking specifically about undergrad and grad. In short - does an good grad student of physics (or whatever) from e.g. University of Copenhagen have similar grasp of the field that a student from Massachusetts University of Technology? And how would you judge the Bologna Process?
  6. Well... It's certainly a sensitive topic and there may be as many answers as people, but notwithstanding that, it would make a fascinating discussion. What I mean is not exactly economic equality but rather the economic standing of middle and lower classes. What I've heard, from people from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, is that the standard of living has been decreasing since roughly 1970s, with golden age being from early 1950s to the beginning of 1970s. (I even heard the same from Eastern Europeans and ex-Yugo people...!) Back then a person living alone in the US could live a fairy comfortable life on a minimum wage. Now two people living together on (each earning a minimum wage) cannot save anything and they have to perform financial acrobatics just to stay afloat. Of course this is accompanied with a steadily declining middle class' share of wealth. Sp - what went wrong and how to fix it? In Western Europe (Netherlands, Germany, France etc.) there is an advanced welfare system and as a consequence, all these trends are somewhat mitigated.
  7. CharonY, your profile info ssys you're a researcher. Do you teach in USA or in Europe?
  8. So guyts, what do you propose? I see three possibilities: 1. Leaving higher education as it is (I'm talking about Europe mostly) 2. Cutting admissions by ~50% on average, with admissions in some more useless fields (sociology, political science, various humanities) slashed by as much as 80% 3. Something else.
  9. CharonY, studiot and others - how do you see the current overcrowding of universities and what solutions would you propose? In Europe and US so many people attend universities that after graduating most are not able to find a job in their field of study. It's mostly non-STEM fields that are affected (i.e. political science or law schools in the US which are extremely strict on teaching and hard to get to and still US has an overproduction of lawyers) but some STEM fields have not been spared either - especially theoretical ones such as physics (lots of unemployed astro- or quantum physicists). It's sad to see people struggling for several years, knowing that for ~70% of them it will be a wasted time job-wise. When someone pays for such education from his own pocket, then that's not such a big issue (but still quite sad). People can do whatever they want with their money. I am more worried about public money as most unis in Europe are public. Studying for the sake of studying alone makes no sense.
  10. Lol! I just started wondering what would modern English look like if the fall of 1066 AD had a different ending with Harald Hardrada taking all of England instead of William the Conqueror (let's say Harold Godwinson clashes with Wiliam and only then does Hardrada invade with a stronger army, finishing off the remaining forces of whoever survived). The rest of history goes pretty much as in actual history, except that instead of Norman nobles you have Norwegian ones ruling the country - + maybe some larger migration from Norway, Iceland and possibly Sweden in search for land (England had beter agricultural land than any of them). Some French words would still enter the language via trade with Flanders but their number would be nowhere as high as in our Englsh (some would also enter during the Enlightenment) and many Latin words would enter the language in 16th century - mostly scientific ones. This is my rather clumsy attempt of translating the preamble to US constitution to an alternative version of English (Norse-Saxon) based on moderm English and Icelandic - the languages that has barely changed since the last 800 years and reflects very well the way Scandinavian languages sounded 1000 years ago. This is by no means a standarized, structured attempt of language creation as my knowledge of linguistics is limited. Wi, de folk ov de Foreinnet Stater, to kom ein meir perfekt Einning, kom Lawhut, insur inlandi Row, sorg for de folki Forn, ferm allmanli Welfeir, insur Blessinge of Frihut.for us and for ur Afterkemmen, ordein and kom dat Konstituting for de Foreinnet Stater ov Amerika
  11. I thought these two are synonymous - that universities that guarantee jobs are also the best in terms of education. Wasn't that the reason why universities were created in the first place? To teach much needed skills and provide opportunities for scientific carreer for those who wanted it. Physica, what did you study and at what universities? Your and your friend's experience is a bit disappointing albeit in a neutral way Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College etc. should have no problems with keeping high level of teaching - the most prestige equals the most money and therefore, the best faculty. It also means a wide pool of candidates to choose from. If say your department admits 1500 undergrads a year while 8000 apply and every one of them is at least an above average student, you can afford to pick and choose.
  12. Thanks physica. You know. All around the world, with EU being no exception, these few British universities are held as a paragon of the best education possible. Thanks to prestige alone a degree from Oxford or Cambridge makes a graduate's life much easier. If you go to any country (even inside EU!) and ask about these two unis, you'll hear nothing but praises and if you ask about the aforementioned KU Leuven, most people will not even know what it it (except those from Belgium-Netherlands-Luxemburg)
  13. I just noticed that many words of Romance orgin in English have changed their pronunciation to essentially Germanic. Take the word "cave", "plate", "flower", "trail" etc. The way they are pronounced is 100% West Germanic in my opinion. There are also words borrowed from French which were themsellves borrowed into French from Germanic languages - like "war" from Frankish "werre"" How amazing linguistics can be.
  14. I am a bit confused and need some opinions.. 1. What model of higher education (at a national level) is the best in your opinion, dear forum users? What I managed to conclude from my limited knowledge is that there are two quite distinct models of higher education - the American one and European one (with British being the most distinct). The first one is based on high autonomy of a university and also on high number of private schools which dominate both the best (Ivy League, MIT, Caltech etc) and the worst (various evangelical schools etc.) end of the spectrum. In Europe most universities are state funded and the best universities in Europe are also state funded. In all of Europe attempts to create a competitive private higher education sector have generally not yielded impressive results - why? 2. How good those best universities (you know - Oxfors, Cambridge, MIT and so on) are at a basic bachelor/master level compared to a sound European university (such as Belgian KU Leuben)? Here in Netherlands all unis are above world average but they are also very close to each other. There are no bad universities but there are no shining stars either.
  15. Thanks! Imatfaal, if you don't practice law, what's your relation to law? Are you a theoretician? A hobbyist?
  16. A native Dutch speaker with no or very little knowledge of English would not be able to understand the majority of it. Some parts of it - yes.
  17. Being a native Dutch speaker who also speaks German I can say with certainity that the English language spoken today is markedly different than other West Germanic languages - both in grammar and phonology. The biggest difference, however, is the large amount of Romance vocabulary, mostly of Norman and French orgin. In all other Germanic languages the percentage of words of Germanic origin are around 75-80%, in English it's only about 30%. Vocabulary aside, how much of today's English distinguishing features - lack of V2 word order, ridiculous number of analytic tenses, disappearance of infinitive marker (-en/e/a) and the predominant plural marker being -s instead of -en or -e - is due to Norman/French influence and how much due to natural development? We know that by 1066 English was still a fairy typical Germanic language, mutually intelligible with old Dutch/North German dialects and, to a lesser degree, with Old Norse and Old High German (Althochdeutsch). It's been suggested that the process of losing inflection started already in the Anglo Saxon period, thanks to contact with Vikings (Old Norse and Old English had similar vocabularies but different inflections, which led to confusion and dropping unnecessary word endings) but we don't know how advanced the entire process was back then.
  18. I want some recommendations: 1. A good introduction to common law, particularily that of England and Wales (in form of a book) 2. A good UK legal publisher or several publishers - at best with an online bookstore.
  19. imatfall, thanks for a detailed answer. I do have more questions. 1. What in your opinion are the advantages and disadvantages of both systems? Do you find any of them better than the other? As a person coming from a country with civil law system, I find it somewhat more "natural". 2. How hard it is for lawyers in England to earn a decent living (i.e. national average income - around £25,000-30,000), either as EU law specialists or as specialists in some areas of English law? In the US is a disaster (or at least, that's what I heard) and I guess it would not be easy in England either - as any person coming from another EU country would have to compete with locals, including extremely able graduates of Oxford, Cambridge etc.
  20. Any lawyers out there? What's the practical difference between how civil and common law systems work nowdays? Modern publications mention an ongoing convergence between these two with common law countries codifying their law by issuing more statues and civil law systems becoming a bit more common law-like through increasing the importance of court decisions. Is there any lawyer who could express an opinion about that? Besides that, how hard would it be for someone who operates within the continental legal framework to adjust to English law for example?
  21. Hello again. Sorry for my absence. You can provide me with materials and ajb mays end me what he wanted to.
  22. ajb, post it here, other people should benefit too. Nicholas Kang, Einstein always had passion for math & physics, he taught himself differential and integral calculus when he was 15 years old, his parents had to buy books for him because his school curriculum just felt too easy.
  23. Hi, let's say I want to learn mathematics and physics on my own, I want to learn from scratch and work my way up and at the end I want to have knowledge like a bachelor or master of science, is that possible??? There is no problem with getting academic textbooks in Netherlands.
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