31 March 2012


Truly monumental leaps in technology have dotted the pages of history. On 24 May 1844, Samuel Morse sent the words, "What hath God wrought" in electrical pulses over 61 kilometers of copper wire. On 10 Mar 1876, Alexander Graham Bell carried his own voice over the first telephone and said to his assistant, "Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you." And he did. On 13 May 1897, Guglielmo Marconi transmitted electromagnetic pulses across the Bristol Channel to send the message, "Are you ready?" By 1970, a series of technology breakthroughs allowed Corning Glass Works to run high-speed data over a glass fiber. The optical transport allowed rates tens of thousands of times faster than any electrical wire, thus allowing the dramatic rise in data communications that accompanied the age of the internet.

Today these remain the primary mediums for communicating information. A network of fiber optics and radio links overlays the entire earth, distributing instant voice and data to billions of people. This month a new type of communication was successfully tested, and it has the potential to be as transformative as anything seen in the last 175 years.

17 March 2012

The Future of Alcohol

Alcohol is almost universally acceptable in Western culture, so people investigating the Baha'i Faith are often turned off by the prohibition of alcohol for Baha'is. It also becomes a challenge that young Baha'is have to struggle with as almost all their friends begin social drinking (usually by age 15).

There is a gap in the perceived morality of alcohol, with society believing that moderate drinking is acceptable, healthy, and part of normal life. It should be simple to address the issue of alcohol and determine whether Baha'i teachings are correct to prohibit it. Having a standard that is at variance with society does not discourage Baha'is, because the purpose of religion is to prescribe remedies to the problems that are eating away at society, and the teachings of religion are always at variance with the desires of society (at the time of revelation). If it were otherwise, what good would religion be? It would simply confirm what is commonly understood and not provide any improvement.

If the Baha'i approach is moral, meaning that alcohol is bad for the individual and society, then given enough time there will be a shift away from general acceptance and toward general intolerance. I have an idea about how this will work, and what people can do to move the process forward without being fanatical about it.

First, it is important to review why alcohol is bad (I'll come back to the good).