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This page contains my words on some of the topics of my interest and other issues that caught my attention. They are not arguments, nor are they reasoning. They simply reflect my beliefs, biases, and ideology; they are stances that would often go beyond reasoning.
To categorize myself under the schools of thought, I can be associated with pragmatism, empiricism, skepticism, classicism, realism, and behaviorism (in psychology). It follows that I side against rationalism, cognitivism, modernism (in art and music), as well as most things that become trends. I do not feel comfortable categorizing myself with a bunch of “ism”s, but it was to give you a quick sense of my taste. The following paragraphs can do a better job at describing some of my opinions in more detail.

Serious music can sometimes be found in what is known as classical. Outside classical, there is no serious music. Even within classical, most works are dull or painful to hear. For example, most of modern classical music (around post-1880s) sounds intolerable for sensitive ears. It is a self-inflicted pain if you try to understand most moderns.

Romantic (around 19th century) and classic (around 18th century) periods are better, but most composers of that time still made bad music. Mozart is overrated; most of his music is good but only for children. Beethoven stands in the middle as he can make good music; he sometimes does and often does not. Schubert is slightly better.

Baroque period (17th century) represents the quintessence of music. And above all composers of that period, Bach stands as the master. Bach knows his job; composing music for humans! He has pieces that can be listened for years if performed masterly.

Who can perform masterly? The one who knows how to play a piece as it is; serious, without deviations or dramatizations. An example of a master pianist is Sviatoslav Richter (1915–1997).

Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)

Richter

Sviatoslav Richter (1915 - 1997)

It is interesting that the exact same timing period applies to my interest in painting. In general, classics often represent the highest achievements of mankind in arts hitherto.

To see an example of a serious music of my interest, see the performance of Bach's The Well Tempered Clavier from Sviatoslav Richter here. I would also invite you to see a documentray on the life of Sviatoslav Richter that is available in two parts: part 1 and part 2.


Here is a few of my favorite movies.

Grapes of Wrath

Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, 1940)

How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley (John Ford, 1941)

The Shop Around the Corner

The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)

12 Angry Men

12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 1957)

The Best Years of Our Lives

The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)

Dogville

Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2003)

I do not believe in the analysis of movies, but if we were to analyze, I would just say that my favorite movies were made according to the principles of filmmaking. Some of those principles can be formalized as they are the technique of filmmaking. But the rest of the principles can only be gained by experience and training on the craft. The art of filmmaking is in bringing innovation within and by practicing those principles.

Unfortunately, we see more and more cases in recent years that ignore the principles. Just take a cursory look at most of the films and series produced in recent years. They are not only suffering from ignoring the basic techniques of filmmaking, but their themes and subjects lack any seriousness. They just follow empty trends. It is as though lacking principles has become a value per se. I am not hopeless as I still sometimes see decent movies and documentaries that are made recently.


To understand philosophy, one’s life should be accompanied with doubt and hesitation. Attempts to learn does not help much; it should come naturally. This is a prerequisite.

The greatest achievements in philosophy were reached in the past; so, I am skeptical about philosophical discussions, discoveries, or progress in current times. Nonetheless, one can learn a great deal from the evolution of Western philosophy for today's practical concerns.

Because my perspectives on topics in philosophy might be too specific to be discussed here, I would leave them to another medium; maybe written articles. Suffice it to say that I have much homage to pay to the figures shown below.

David Hume

David Hume (1711 - 1776)

Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)

Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951)

As for a suggestion if you are interested, Bryan Magee produced two series of interview during 1970's and 1980's with some figures of contemporary philosophy. I would recommend watching. They are avaliable here.


Academia is like my home. That is why I care about this topic and I am spending more space on it. I think it helps if I repeat what is commonly expected from academia: it is education and training. Yes, this is something we should remind ourselves. Good academic institutions focus on teaching their student body and prepare the environment for this goal, and this is regardless of the distinction between “research” and “teaching” schools.

To achieve this goal, faculty members and department heads should be focused and invested on teaching and advising students as their main priority. They need to be academic type of people; those who are interested and are good at reading, learning, knowing, questioning, thinking, writing, speaking, and teaching. They are excited about the topics of their interest, and enjoy spending time on those topics.

The statements above are not idealistic; they are minimum requirements for people in academia regardless of the field of study. Yet, it is increasingly difficult to find such people in academia. Many academic institutions are not taking their original goal seriously, and they are immersed in distractions. Below, I just scratch the surface of some of the problems of many academic institutions today.

Many people in today's academia are not of academic type. They do not have the tendency to think, do not have a writing style and clarity of presentation, and are not careful in their observations and inferences. They are people many of whom possess some or all of these characteristics:

• being committed to increase the number of their publications and similar statistics (like h-index in their Google Scholar) regardless of the quality of those works,
• judging other people and works with the number of publications, citations, or grants,
• having undue willingness to collaborate which can indicate their lack of independence,
• having undue interest in prizes, awards, certificates, and titles that are not necessarily awarded because of performance or professional achievement
• creating unnecessary confusion in teaching or discussing subjects in their classes and meetings,
• lacking insight, even in their own field,
• lacking opinions or courage to express opinions,
• lacking honesty with their audience and with readers, and more importantly, with themselves,
• being indifferent to change anything in the world,
• lacking focus and being distracted with trivial topics and issues,
• following topics, affiliations, and tendencies that become social trends or are hot topics,
• designing their courses just to receive good student evaluations for the course, regardless of whether doing so can actually help students learning course materials,
• having interest in seeking connections that can be used to get grants, publish works, or get promoted,
• and adding names on research papers or grants as authors without sufficient contribution as a quid pro quo, in following a bad norm, or as a favor,

And many more dishonorable characteristics. In short, academia has become bad business in many of our educational institutions. This is because, instead of the original goal, the academia’s attention has shifted toward how to improve the school’s rankings, increase the number of publications, and similar aims. The bigger problem, however, is that these behaviors are practiced in such a scale that have made them into norms, and consequently, do no longer look unprofessional. Newcomers (e.g., assistant professors) argue "other people do it, and so do I"; they establish a career on unethical premises. In an unhealthy competition for tenure or promotion, they become unprofessional professors. In short, this situation is partly because many academic institutions put new items in their agenda (external grants, status in rankings, etc.). When the criteria of judging the performance of faculty are misplaced, the values would change and the result is what we see today in mass scale.

I should mention that during my time in academia, I have also seen serious academics who did not suffer from these problems. Good old-fashioned academics do not simply need to stain themselves with such practices, as their institutions judge their performance on healthy grounds. For my own academic responsibilities, my goal is to preserve what should be kept good in academia.

I believe there are academic institutions who still have their principles, respect themselves, and are not polluted by these problems. I think it is important to define, recognize, and distinguish the academic from un-academic characteristics with the hope to stop this bad trend, define healthy values, and improve our academic institutions.


Consumer Products

Manufacturing is a process. From design to selecting the raw materials and finishing, certain principles should guide the manufacturing process. Generally speaking, manufactured products have become cheaper in quality and design over time. Just look at the pictures below. These products followed the principles of standard manufacturing. And, look at products in the same categories nowadays; they might look fancier, but they are cheaper in quality and design compared to their predecessors. It is sad to see that standard manufacturing is hardly practiced these days.


Revere Ware Cooking Pans

Revere Ware Cooking Pans (manufactured pre-1969)

Morphy-Richards Iron

Morphy-Richards Iron (manufactured in 1950's)


This is a crisis. Why? Standard-quality products are disappearing. For many types of products (e.g., sneakers, kitchen appliances), either you should buy cheap products that are easily available in the market, or you should go to the warehouse of your parents and grandparents to see if you can find good-old products. Over time, online and offline retailers like Walmart and Amazon have become the selling agents of cheap manufacturers. Almost all good-old manufacturers faced bankruptcy years ago. This is partly the result of the unfettered and ignorant free market economy in the global scale.

Vehicles

Automobile industry is a good example of how western manufacturing and design has lost quality over time. For example, the external design of automobiles has been particularly degraded. The emergence of the universal cheap automobile design and manufacturing happened during the 90’s—the same time that automobile industry in the US started its decline (both in profit, and in design and quality). Look at some examples from 80’s in the photos below. The design was functional, serious, and decent. All parts of the external design are in their proper place and in proper size.


Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (1982)

Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (1982)

Buick Skylark (1980)

Buick Skylark (1980)

Chevrolet S-10 (1982)

Chevrolet S-10 (1982)


But look around and see the external design of newer models (especially post 2000's). In plain terms, many of them are deformed. Beside the problem of shape and external design, the quality of the materials that are used inside the cabin is lower than before. If you have a new car, just pay attention to the cheap plastic and other composite materials in dashboard, steering wheel, doors, and handles. You should only be very rich to buy a car with standard-quality cabin materials. This was not the case for older models (pre-90’s). In short, many things in auto industry were better prior to the 90’s.

I found that one of the main reasons behind this de-evolution is government regulation. The government indirectly ordered manufacturers to make their automobiles “safer” both for passengers and for pedestrians. And, the government decided to regulate fuel consumption. In doing so, automobiles had to follow some uniform guidelines to increase “safety” and fuel efficiency. That is why, for example, passengers’ window areas became smaller, back sections of chassis were raised, and the internal materials became lighter and cheaper.

In fact, the government decided a big part of what automobiles look like. I doubt if those regulators investigated, for example, the increased danger that lowering the driver’s visibility can cause. In this situation, what many manufacturers did, instead, was to add unnecessary and bothersome “features” to automobiles such as big touch-screens in dashboards, driver assistance and guidance, and cameras that shows automobile’s surroundings. When manufacturers do not (or cannot) have innovation in key areas of design and functionality, it is no surprise that they would try adding unnecessary features.

For a more detailed discussion on the topic, I found this webpage to be good: https://www.aier.org/article/design-regulations-helped-ruin-american-cars/

Things are better for motorcycles, and this is because safety and fuel regulations were a bit difficult to implement for motorcycles, and because people use automobiles much more than motorcycles, at least in the US. However, the cheapening of quality is impending for the world of motorcycle as well. For example, outsourcing by traditional motorcycle manufacturers like Harley-Davidson, and manufacturing in other countries with cheaper labor (e.g., India and Thailand) reduced the quality of some motorcycles (e.g., Harley-Davidson Street 500). If the current trend in industry and economy continues, the same crisis that took over the auto industry will also wipe out good old-fashioned motorcycles.

So ...

In short, if there is any remaining manufacturer of standard-quality products in the West, the price tag of those products is astronomical. This is in part because those products are rare. The same products were much cheaper in good-old days. It is interesting to see that the economic and business system that was supposed to favor consumers by reducing the prices have actually resulted in a sharp increase in prices of the same quality—indeed, only if you can still find those products in the market.

This is a crisis. The crisis of not having decent manufactured products, and not producing them. The power of manufacturing industrial products is crucial for any healthy society, and this power is being taken away from the West (and maybe by the West). This might even be dangerous. Without going into details, the reasons for this situation are naïve economic and business policies, bad management, and a pure interest in making profit by companies.


There are rules and principles in any art and craft. The rules and principles come from years of practice, as well as a healthy social and economic environment. Those principles guide human appreciation of beauty, harmony, and quality. Innovation and the art of creating "new" works is in following the rules and principles, not in ignoring them. It is unfortunate to see that in our society today, impatient and profit-oriented practitioners often ignore the rules and principles, many people are not in their proper position, and many organizations are not presenting the products and services that they are responsible for.

In what I discussed above under different topics, the concept of decency would embody my interests; decent music, academic institutions and people, painting, films, design, and products. I am skeptical about things that become “trends”. Many trends and “modern” products are the result of ignoring principles; the principles that would require the creators to practice for years to learn how to create, teach, produce, and manufacture. Indeed, practice needs patience; what classics and old-timers had, but many “moderners” lack.


Most of who I am is indeed influenced from my childhood; particularly my father. And I will never forget the beautiful memories that I have from my hometown.

My Father

My Father

Rasht

Rasht, Iran (my hometown)