RonPrice

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2012-12-31 02:22:46 (UTC)

Annual Email for 2013-2014

Preamble:

This is the fifth edition of my annual email for the year 2013-2014. As I update this fifth edition summer in Australia began nearly three weeks ago. This annual email, or letter, is the 3rd in the series of my online annual communications: (i) to family and friends, (ii) to the literally thousands of others, associations of a lifetime, who have come to my writing at various times,(iii) to those who have come to my writing in the last 18 years since I began to have a website, and are people I have never met and know nothing about, (iv) to still others who will come to my writing in this second decade and the remaining years of the 21st century while I am still alive, and (v) to those who will, I trust, discover my writing after my passing.

If I live to 100, the year will be 2044. Given the advances in medicine, I see no reason why this should not be the case. Of course, "no man knows when his own end shall be", wrote some poet whose name I have now forgotten. Some human development psychologists now divide old-age into 3 periods of time: early old-age, 80 to 90, middle old-age, 90 to 100, and late old-age, the years above 100. I will begin to advance through these three phases in 2024; that's another ten years, if I last that long!
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Part 1:

I encourage readers of this post who have not yet read my annual emails/letters for each of the five years: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 to read them first if, in fact, they are interested in the comings and goings of the significant others in my life, as they say in psychology. The last two of my annual emails are found at this Free Online Diary. Of course, I leave it to readers to access my annual letters in any order they prefer. In some ways, this goes without saying.

If, of course, readers of these annual letters/emails are not interested in the activities of: (a) my wife, (b) my son and his wife and their daughter,(c) my two step-daughters, (d) my three step-grandchildren, (e) my step-son-in-law, and several others in my families of marriage and birth---and there is no reason of course that readers of these annual letters should be so interested--then your reason to go to those first two annual missives is less pressing, less of value to you.

The members of my first affinal family, my family by marriage from 1967 to 1975, now all-living in North America, and my consanguineal family, my birth-family, living in Canada and England, are not part of these, my annual, updates. I have written about these other families, to which I belong or have belonged, in my autobiography which you can access in cyberspace, if you are interested, by Googling the words "Ron Price Autobiography."

Part 1.1:

This 5th edition of my annual email for the years 2013-2014 is the last edition. The summer season in Australia and the winter season back home in Canada began nearly three weeks ago for those who consider the 21st of December as the first day of the next/the new season. I hope to keep this annual communication for 2014 updated and accessible to readers who have the interest, but this updating will be done in my annual email/letter for 2015, and not here in this edition.

This 5th edition will not include any more updates on my family and friends. That updating was first done in my annual email for 2012-2013 also available at this site, this on-line diary. More updating will take place in the annual letter for 2015, also available at this site for readers with the interest.

The five annual posts for: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 each has its focus. The focus in this third of my annual emails does not include an update on my family. I intend to do that, as I say above and just to emphasize, in my annual email for 2014 which is also found at this site, at this on-line diary.

This annual email, for 2014, will be more social-historical, psychological and political in the non-partisan sense. It will also be aimed at drawing readers to the many sections and sub-sections of my website, among other purposes as they evolve in the process of writing this annual email.
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Part 2:

I have been writing annual communications, first the letter for the three decades from 1967 to 1997, and then the email for the dozen years from 1998 to 2010 and, finally, an on-line post from 2011 to the present. For those first 3 decades I wrote to approximately 10 to 25 people, the number of recipients varying each year. That number increased when the email came into my life in the late 1990s; it increased to about 100 people or more.

I do not know how much of my posts are read by those who click on them, and I have no idea, or at least very little idea, who actually reads them and how much they read, if anything. I long ago stopped keeping a record of the number of hits but I am confident that it is useful for both me and others to have these annual letters available to those with the interest.

All the sites at which my annual emails have and had counters are not accessible all the time, and so it is that I stopped quantifying my annual emails, that is, stopped finding out how many people clicked on these annual communications. I stopped more than a year ago now, back in June 2013, after I had already had some 5000 hits. I have ceased keeping track of the number of hits my annual emails receive for the last two years.

Part 3:

GOOGLE and MICROSOFT

3.1 This part of my annual email for 2013/14 provides a birds-eye view of my online life beginning 20 years ago in 1993/94. In 1998, only a few months before I took an early retirement after 4 decades of FT, PT and most volunteer work, two Stanford graduate students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founded Google.com, a search engine that used a better technology than had previously existed for indexing and retrieving information from the immense miscellany of the World Wide Web.

That search engine was also used for ranking the Web sites that contained this information according to their relevance to particular queries based on the number of links from the rest of the Internet to a given item. This Page-Rank system transformed the Web from its original purpose as a scientists’ grapevine. From the random babble the Web had been it soon became a searchable resource providing factual data of variable quality to millions of users. I was one as I retired from FT work the next year---in 1999, and took a sea-change as early retirement is often called in Australia and in some other countries and territories of the planet.

It was the exigencies of commerce that transformed Google itself from an ingenious search technology without a business plan to a hugely profitable enterprise offering a variety of services including e-mail, news, video, maps, and its current, expensive, and utterly heroic, if not quixotic, effort to digitize the public domain's contents of the books and other holdings of major libraries. This new program aimed to provide users, wherever in the world Internet connections existed, with access to millions of titles while enabling libraries themselves to serve millions of users without adding a foot of shelf space or incurring a penny of delivery expense.

3.2 In the first year after I retired from FT work, July 1999 to July 2000, Google officially became the world's largest search engine. With its introduction of a billion-page index by June 2000 much of the internet's content became available in a searchable format at one search engine. In the next several years, 2000-2005, as I was retiring from PT work as well as casual and most volunteer activity that had occupied me for decades, Google entered into a series of partnerships and made a series of innovations that brought their vast internet enterprize billions of users in the international marketplace. Again, I was one.

Part 4:

4.1 Not only did Google have billions of users, but internet users like myself throughout the world gained access to billions of web documents in Google’s growing index/library. The information revolution set off in the closing decade of the 20th century by the invention of the World Wide Web transformed irreversibly much of human activity. Internet communication, which has the ability to transmit in seconds the entire contents of libraries that took centuries of study to amass, vastly enriched the intellectual life of anyone able to use it, as well as providing sophisticated training in a broad range of professional fields. It was a finer and more useful library than any of those in the small towns where I would spend my retirement in the years ahead. It was also a library with a myriad locations in which I could interact with others and engage in learning and teaching in ways I had never dreamed of in the first five decades of my life as a student and teacher: 1949-1999.

This electronic system of communication has built a sense of shared community among its users that is impatient of either geographic or cultural distances. As a writer and author I benefited immensely. It is interesting to note that Friendster began in 2001, Linkedin and Myspace in 2003, and Facebook in 2004. By 2004, I was beginning to acquire the vast readership that I had by 2013-14.

4.2 The internet is a cornucopia of accurate, well-argued and knowledgeable information. But it is also a place for specious and spurious, inaccurate and beguiling arguments. People who know little about an issue are often easily taken-in on the internet. Many often believe a u-tube post they can see to one that requires study and reading on their part. The internet, like many forms of technology before it, is both boon and beast, asset and debit, to the lives of its participants. Indeed, a quite separate section of this statement on my cyberspace experience could be devoted to the negative and positive impacts of the internet.

Part 5:

5.1 In 1994, at the age of fifty and as I was beginning to eye my retirement from FT work as a teacher and lecturer, Microsoft launched its public internet web domain with a home page. Website traffic climbed steadily and episodically in the years 1995 to 1999. Daily site traffic of 35,000 in mid-1996 grew to 5.1 million visitors by 1999 when I had taken a sea-change and retired to Tasmania at the age of 55. Throughout 1997 and 1998 the site grew up and went from being the web equivalent of a start-up company to a world-class organization.

I retired from FT work, then, at just the right time in terms of the internet capacity to provide me with: (a) access to information by the truckload on virtually any topic; and (b) learning and teaching opportunities, both direct and indirect, far in excess of any I had had in my previous years as a student and teacher. My first website in 1997 was part of the initial flourish of web sites and search engines in the mid-1990s. The second edition of my site was in 2001. A world, a succession, of brand names have made electronic communication an everyday experience. Web browsers such as Netscape, Internet Explorer, and Safari, as well as search engines such as Yahoo and Google, the latter founded in 1998, all came on board just as I was retiring from 50 years in classrooms as a teacher and student.

5.2 This new technology had also developed sufficiently to a stage that gave me the opportunity, the capacity to post, write, indeed, “publish” is quite an appropriate term, on the internet at the same time. From 1999 to 2005, as I say, I released myself from FT, PT, casual and most volunteer work, and Google and Microsoft offered more and more technology for my writing activity for my work in a number of causes that I had devoted my life to since my late teens and early twenties. I have listed several of these causes at Linkedin.

The Internet has become emblematic in many respects of globalisation. Its planetary system of fiber optic cables and instantaneous transfer of information are considered, by many accounts, one of the essential keys to understanding the transformation of the world into some degree of order and the ability to imagine the world as a single, global space. The Internet has widely been viewed as an essential catalyst of contemporary globalisation and it has been central to debates about what globalisation means and where it will lead.

5.3 There are now several hundred thousand readers, indeed, millions engaged in parts of my internet tapestry, my jig-saw puzzle, my literary product, my creation, my immense pile of words across the internet--and hundreds of people with whom I correspond on occasion as a result. This amazing technical facility, the world wide web, has made this literary success possible. If my writing had been left in the hands of the traditional hard and soft cover publishers, where it had been without success when I was employed full time as a teacher, lecturer, adult educator and casual/volunteer teacher from 1981 to 2001, these results would never have been achieved.

Part 6:

6.1 I have been asked how I have come to have so many readers at my website and on my internet tapestry of writing that I have created across the world-wide-web. My literary product is just another form of published writing in addition to the traditional forms in the hands of publishers. The literally hundreds of thousands of readers, perhaps even millions since it has become impossible to keep even an accurate account of all those who come across what I write, I have at locations on my tapestry of prose and poetry, a tapestry I have sewn in a loose-fitting warp and weft across the internet, are found at over 8000 websites where I have registered. These websites consist of: forums, message boards, discussion sites, blogs, locations for debate and the exchange of views, among a host of types of sites.

6.2 The internet provides sites to place my essays, articles, books, ebooks, poems and other genres of writing. I have registered at this multitude of sites, placed the many forms of my literary output there and engaged in discussions with literally thousands of people, little by little and day by day over the last dozen years. I enjoy these results without ever having to deal with publishers as I did for two decades, 1981 to 2001, without any success.

With 200 emails coming in everyday to my inbox and at the many internet sites to which I belong, I have become highly selective in so far as whom I respond to, when, why and how. I wrote a 150 thousand-plus word response in more than 50 sections over the 24 month period 3/12/'12 to 7/12/'14 and placed it on my website. I have addressed this statement: (i) to the many requests and invitations I get at SNS, (ii) to the multitude of requests and invitations I get at other sites where I have registered in the years: 1997 to 2014, (iii) to the many unsolicited emails I get on a host of topics and issues, concerns and interests, and (iv) to the many people, mostly women, seeking a relationship of some kind: romantic or sexual, a partner or a soul-mate, a date or a dalliance.

6.3 My main aim in writing this lengthy piece is to indicate, directly or indirectly, to those who send me messages, why I do not respond to their posts. Occasionally, of course, I do reply to their messages, especially to old friends and many others in situations of extreme distress, or when the context of the incoming message, after a little reflection, seems to warrant my response.

By the 21st century, in 2001 I was sent, as I say, some 200 emails and posts from various sites and points on the internet every day. These emails and posts were and are sent directly to me, mostly unsolicited, with a request or invitation to do something. In nearly all these cases, at least as few as possible by 2013-2014, I do not respond in writing. Part of the reason, if not the main one, why I get such a host of emails is my relatively high profile in cyberspace with millions of my words, and 1000s of my posts, spread across more than 8000 sites. Of course, having a high profile on the internet is a relative term in a space that now has 300 to 400 million sites and 2 to 3 billion users.

6.4 I get requests and invitations directly from people to do things for many reasons and in many different ways. I have categorized these ways under 50 different headings in a post, a thread, indeed, an essay that is quite long. This essay was far too long for most readers who come to that part of my website. To readers who prefer the short & pithy, Facebook style, posts, I encouraged them to skim or scan, or just stop reading my post before they started. But, for those who had some curiosity as to why I rarely responded in writing to the plethora of posts that came my way on a daily basis, I encouraged them to read on to their heart's content.

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Part 7: SOME SOCIAL ISSUES: WORLD PEACE---IS HE KIDDING?

7.1 To an extent unimaginable until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the ideal of world peace is taking on form and substance. To the skeptical and cynical observer this often does not appear to be the case. In the name of realism, or perhaps simple pessimism, many observers see no evidence of movements toward world peace. This is understandable. I am more optimistic, but my optimism is based on the role of crisis and trauma in precipitating change. Necessity, it is often said, is the mother of invention. The pressure of world events is forcing, and will force, the nations of the world to work out a lasting peace for the very survival of the planet. This is not so much optimism as harsh realism, as I say, the role of necessity in contemporary events as in history.

7.2 Obstacles that long seemed immovable have collapsed in humanity's path; still other obstacles have become even more entrenched. Apparently irreconcilable conflicts have begun to surrender to processes of consultation and resolution. Other conflicts have not surrendered to consultation. There is a willingness to counter military aggression through unified international action that is emerging, partly out of idealism, partly out of the tragedies and trials of our time, and partly, as I say above, out of necessity. In other areas military aggression seems to be increasing. One writer who has interested me in recent years, says that since 1914 a 1000 million, that is: 1 billion people have died from traumas of various kinds: wars, genocides and famines, tsunamis, dessication of environments, fires and floods, inter alter. The pessimists have much on their side of the argument about humankind's future.

7.3 The effect, though, of the 20 year period, 1994 to 2015, since I first began to eye my retirement, has been to awaken in both the masses of humanity and many world leaders a degree of hopefulness about the future of our planet that for decades had been nearly extinguished or languishing in the realms of indifference. The opposite, of course, has also resulted with the more pessimistic having their pessimism reinforced a 1000-fold.

Throughout the world, immense intellectual and spiritual energies are seeking expression, energies whose gathering pressure is in direct proportion to the frustrations of previous decades. Everywhere the signs multiply that the earth's peoples yearn for an end to conflict and to the suffering and ruin from which no land is any longer immune.

Part 8:

8.1 These rising impulses for change must be seized upon and channeled into overcoming the remaining barriers that block realization of the age-old dream of global peace. Even if they are not seized upon by a recalcitrant and passive humanity, in time they will as the crises besetting the human community increase with every passing day.

The effort of will required for such a task cannot be summoned up merely by appeals for action against the countless ills afflicting society, though those appeals for action have become and will become more insistent and more strident.

8.2 Such an effort of will must be galvanized by a vision of human prosperity in the fullest sense of the term -- an awakening to the possibilities of the spiritual and material well-being now brought within humanity's grasp. Its beneficiaries must be all of the planet's inhabitants, without distinction, without the imposition of conditions unrelated to the fundamental goals of such a reorganization of human affairs.

For more on this line of thought go to: "The Prosperity of Humankind" which may be accessed by referring to the following web address: http://info.bahai.org/article-1-7-4-1.html.
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Part 9:

9.1 The following is a crucial aspect of the Baha'i community's take on "the problems of the times", and some readers here may find the Baha'i position vis-a-vis partisan politics difficult to understand. Still, however difficult, however utopian, however unrealistic this position may appear on an initial inspection, I state it as follows utilizing the words of the leader of the Baha'i community from 1921 to 1957.

"Baha’is shun politics like the plague and are obedient to the government in power in the place where we reside. We cannot start judging how a particular government came into power, and therefore whether we should obey it or not. This would immediately plunge us into the realm of politics, its endless hairsplitting, and the I am right, you are wrong dichotomy. We must obey in all cases except where a spiritual principle is involved such as denying our Faith. For this spiritual principle we must be willing to die. This, of course, is far beyond the values and beliefs of those in the many classes of society. Being willing to die for a cause or a principle is, as that famous psychologist William James once put it, not for everyone.

People will often die for a dogma, but not for a principle, belief or value which protesting, grumbling in their private life, or writing a letter to the editor, is usually the limit of their political engagement or activism. After watching terrorists and radicalized religious people in recent years, middle-class ameliorism and moderation seems a much preferred option to any form of stidency.

9.2 Bahá'ís must face the fact that society has been rapidly disintegrating for decades. The process is very complex since this disintegration has taken place in the context of rapidly evolving technology and science as well as advancements in many ethical areas. The disintegrating is occurring so rapidly that moral issues which were clear half a century ago are now hopelessly confused. What is more is that these moral issues are thoroughly mixed up with battling political interests.

That is why the Bahá'ís must turn all their forces into the channel of building up the Bahá'í Cause and its administration not only in the more than 120,000 localities where Baha'is reside, but also in extending the Baha'i community into the 1000s of localities where no Baha'is currently live. The Baha'is themselves can never change nor help the world in any other way at present. If they become involved in the issues the Governments of the world are struggling over, they will be lost. But if they build up a Bahá'í pattern they can offer it as a remedy when all else has failed."

This is not to say, of course, that Baha'is can not help other interest groups whose aims and purposes are consistent with those of the international Baha'i community. I have been involved with other interest groups for decades. The following is a list of some of these groups: the Lions Club, Rostrum, the Red Cross, as well as several mental health and disability organizations, among a host of other associations, partnerships and collectivities now in cyberspace.

9.3 "At the outset it should be made indubitably clear that the Bahá'í Cause is essentially a religious movement of a spiritual character. It stands above every political party or group, and thus cannot and should not act in contravention to the principles, laws, and doctrines of any government. Obedience to the regulations and orders of the state is, indeed, the sacred obligation of every true and loyal Bahá'í. “ For most of the above, and the many related and complex issues that are involved, see the book: Directives from the Guardian.
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Note: This 5th edition of my annual email for 2014 is the last edition. Readers may be unable to access this 2014 post at any other site. To reiterate, though, updates on my family and friends are found only in the previous annual email, the one for 2013, and the ones for 2014 and 2015, all available at this online diary.
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