Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Importance of Supporting Equality of Opportunity

We are not equal, and we never will be. In his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28th 1963, Martin Luther King said “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’  It is not self-evident and we were not born equal, or even created equally by our circumstances.  You will never be equal to me, and I will certainly never be equal to you.  Now before someone yells ‘Get a rope!’ let me explain.

There is a mistaken idea in this country that what we need is equality.  It cannot be achieved.  Prince will never play basketball as well as Michael Jordan.  (Although I have read that he is a good basketball player)  And, Michael Jordan will never be the musician that Prince is.  The children of Bill Gates will have financial and educational opportunities that most people will never even get close to.  And, a child born to a single parent on welfare, living in an inner city slum, will have to struggle just to survive.  It is important to understand this because you and I, and everyone else in this country should have the opportunity to follow our dreams.  We should be judged by our merit, not limited by our resources, be they physical or financial. In that same speech Martin Luther King also said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  He was speaking about equality of opportunity. If there is ever to be any progress, we need to start now.  If we fall down on our own—fine, but we should not be held back by something such as our birth, or lack of finances to get an education.  Peter Vallentyne states this concept in his article in the magazine Ethics April 2002 issue. “Equality of initial opportunities for advantage calls for equality in the value of the initial decision trees that each agent confronts.”

There is a hard thing I need to discuss now, and it’s going to upset a lot of people. Almost every group, or individual, has been persecuted at one time or another.  It is time to get over it.  I think I can safely say that every living person today is the descendant of; a murderer, someone murdered, a slave owner, a slave, a criminal, and a victim.   I’m sure you have heard this quote from the Bible, “The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself." (Ezekiel 18:20)  The Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) have even made it their second Article of Faith. “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.”  It is not my intention to have a religious discussion.  I just quote truth where I find it.  I only want to show the logical train of thought, that we should let go the wrongs of the past, and move on to the wrongs that are happening to us as a people here and now.  There are plenty of things to champion and correct now, we do not need to go looking behind us.  If we find discrimination here and now, we should shine the light of truth on it, and cut it out of our society. 

I have one last bone to pick here, and I hope you will endulge me a bit, I think that the whole use of, Asian-American, African-American, etc. is counterproductive.  Through modern research of mitochondrial DNA, it has been found that all homosapiens have descended from one woman in central Africa.  In a very real sense, we Americans are all African Americans.  If you have to use a designation of your immediate heritage use, “of descent,” for example, my father was born and raised in Denmark; I would then say I am an American of Danish descent.  Thank you for your indulgence.  Now to continue.

The first concept we need to understand is, why we are not equal.  Next, how we came to this mistaken idea and how it is hurting us.  And finally, what we can do to achieve equality of opportunity.

We are born unequal, and the gap only widens from there. There are two basic ways we are unequal, physically and mentally.  Aside from the obvious of someone being physically stronger and larger than someone else, there are other differences.  People of African heritage are more likely to develop Sickle Cell Anemia, an inherited blood disorder.  People of Jewish heritage are more likely to develop Tay-Sacks disease, a deterioration of the central nervous system. The list goes on and on.  There are just too many to mention.  According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute pamphlet, Facts about Sickle Cell Anemia, “In this country, (Sickle Cell Anemia) affects approximately 72,000 people, most of whose ancestors come from Africa.  The disease occurs in approximately 1 in every 500 African-American births and 1 in every 1,000-1,400 Hispanic-American births. Approximately 2 million Americans, or 1 in 12 African Americans, carry the sickle cell trait.”  According to the Saint Barnabas Health Care System website on November 5th 2003., “Approximately 1 in 25 Ashkenazi Jews are carriers.  Tay-Sachs is caused by an enzyme deficiency.”

We are also unequal in our mental abilities.  Once again let’s go beyond the obvious of mental disorders and I.Q.  Males and females have long been known to have different abilities in math and science, and although the evidence now shows that the social environment may have more to do with it than previously thought, biology still seems to play a part, in the form of predisposition.  Regardless, the difference is there and just grows larger as time goes on.  According to the National Network for Child Care's Connections Newsletter May 1996, “Until recently, it was believed that all male-female differences in math and science were caused by biology. In other words, girls' and boys' brains are different, so they are better suited for different things. Evidence shows that boys do excel in math, and girls appear to do better in verbal-related skills.”  Also from the above article, “More recently, researchers have focused on the influence of the social environment on children's math and science achievement. Very early on, boys are given the chance to tinker with toys or objects (for example, building blocks, Legos, racing cars, and simple machines) that involve many of the principles inherent in math and science. Girls often lack these experiences, so they enter math and science classrooms feeling insecure about their abilities.”


The founding fathers did us a disservice in how they chose to speak of equality.  It was this simple but powerful statement that set us on a course of misunderstanding.  The Declaration of Independence read in congress July 4th 1776 said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  To be fair, from all I’ve read, the founding fathers meant equality of opportunity.  I believe that if they had known the trouble their statement has made, they would have changed it.  Still, the error is there, and the damage is done.  What it should have said is that all people are endowed with the right of equality of opportunity. The reason that this mistaken idea of equality is so damaging is that it cannot be achieved.  It is impossible for us to become equal.  There will always be inequality in life, but we can strive for equality of opportunity.  I think a Quote from John F. Kennedy (from Brainy Quotes Website 3 November 2003, no date could be found for the quote. puts this into perspective.  “There is always inequity in life. Some men are killed in war and some men are wounded, and some men are stationed in the Antarctic and some are stationed in San Francisco. It's very hard in military or personal life to assure complete equality. Life is unfair.”


            Equality of opportunity is possible and can be achieved.  That equality of opportunity can be achieved is the most important argument for supporting it.  Just by understanding the problem often brings forth the solution.  Irving Kristol said in his book, On the Democratic Idea in America (December 1993), “Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity.  Because race, religion, ethnic origin etc. are by definition the causes of inequality, they should be taken out of any requirement for receiving help.  The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) seems to be moving in that direction already.  From the NAACP News November 2003, “The NAACP is a constant and effective advocate for issues of immediate concern to all Americans. We are the conscience of America. We take a proactive stance to increase the public's awareness of restraints of freedom, assaults upon civil rights, and barriers to equality.”   While I applaud many of the good things the NAACP, and similar groups have done, in my ideal world, I would like to see them all merge and change their name to the NAADP, (The National Association for the Advancement of Disadvantaged People.) and move to encompass all disadvantaged people.   One benefit of doing this is it will greatly increase the number, and type, of people who would contribute to this cause.  I realize this probably will not happen, but I can dream too.  Ultimately, it would be great to see the IAADP, (The International Association for the Advancement of Disadvantaged People.)  I like to dream big.

Recent research has given us a better understanding of our abilities and the abilities of those individuals we have come to call “Genius.”  It seems that you and I have far more potential than we had previously thought.  You may have heard recently that it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become an expert in most anything.  What I have been able to discern from what I have read, and then contemplated is there are people among us that have a predisposition, for one ability or another, to one degree or another.  That predisposition accounts for a far smaller percentage of our ability than was once previously thought.  Through application of a process called deliberate practice, a slow process, and involves repetition of small and detailed parts of a skill instead of just playing through.  We can make up for our lack of a predisposition.  What it comes down to is, if we want an ability enough to put in the practice, we can most likely have it.  All we have to do is be willing to sacrifice. 

I would like to make a small digression here.  Sacrifice is not a dirty world.  To my way of thinking, sacrifice means giving up something now, for something you want more, later.  In our instant gratification society, we have lost the meaning of this great word.  Sacrifice also gives you a sense of satisfaction when you finally obtain it.  When you work hard for something, it means much more to you. 

One last thing on this point; I realize that equality of opportunity cannot be achieved for everyone all of the time, but we cannot refuse to do nothing, just because we cannot do everything.  Perfection is more of an ideal to strive for, than an expected resolt of our endeavors.  We should do what we can and praise ourselves for the progress. 

If you gain nothing else from this essay, I would like you to remember these three things; we are not equal, that this mistaken idea is part of the problem that is holding us back.  And finally, equality of opportunity will allow all of us the chance to achieve our dreams. 

The beauty of life comes, not from what we get out of life, but from what we put into it.  I’d like to leave you with these words, “I saw a vision of life so wonderful, through dreams realized, journeys accomplished, and potentials fulfilled.”
Kail Andersen


Thursday, March 3, 2011

The OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) Revolution is Here!

Click on picture to get full info
Sony’s Industry First OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) HDTV. You might be tempted to say so what, who cares about a new TV? The reason is that this TV signals the beginning of a "Screen" revolution, Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs).

How would you like to change the color of your walls, floors, and ceilings instantly, any time you choose? How would you like to turn any surface into a display for your TV or Computer? Quoted from March 1994 Science Magazine, “Imagine, for instance, a 10-foot-wide flat plastic panel on the wall that turns into a TV screen at the touch of a button.” All of these things and more are either here now or on their way.
Everyone needs to understand the amazing technology of Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs). The emerging field of Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) is important because it is going to replace all TVs, monitors, and all other items that require a display. OLEDs will quickly become so inexpensive, they will also pop up in places we did not expect, and on objects that will surprise us.

They are also being looked at to replace light sources as well as photovoltaic (solar) cells. If you did not know before, today you will be learning about what OLEDs are, and how Richard Friend discovered them. What we can do with OLEDs now. And finally, where this technology will take us in the future.

The first thing you’re might be wondering is, what exactly are Organic Light Emitting Diodes, and where did they come from?
There is a simple answer to what an OLED is, a piece of plastic that puts out light. Exactly how they work can be explained fairly easily too. Power or energy comes in one side of the OLED causing a photon of light to be released on the other. A thin film of Organic Light Emitting Polymer put between two electrodes will glow. A polymer needs to show florescence and to conduct electricity to be a Light Emitting Polymer.
In 1989 at Cambridge University in England, Professor Richard Friend discovered that a piece of plastic could produce light. It all happened quite by mistake. Taken from the October 1990 Nature Magazine, “We wanted to sandwich (the polymer) between two electrodes and use it as an insulator in these field-effect transistors. We were seeing how much voltage we could put across it and we saw a light emerging through this structure, actually through one of the electrodes, which was thin enough to be partially transparent. That was in February 1989, and that was the beginning of the polymer light-emitting diode.”
Click on picture below to get video
OLEDS are already being used to make displays of all shapes and sizes.
There are even OLED keyboards. They are easier to make than LCD Screens because rather than use photolithography; they can be made using printers. A display can literally be printed where you want the screen to be.
Also taken from October 1990 Nature Magazine, “What we’ve demonstrated is that we can actually formulate polymer semiconductors as though they were the inks in an ink jet printer. We can then print them in the three colors—red, blue, and green—into the correct position on a screen. That notion of printing rather than using photolithography is very powerful. It is hugely attractive if it turns to be scalable in a manufacturing way. There are huge cost reductions in manufacturing these devices. Printed OLEDs.
Epson is even using OLEDs as print heads.

They say that it is as good as a laser printer.
Light Emitting Polymers are not limited to a certain size as LCD screens. Also from March 1994 Science Magazine, “They could also replace traditional liquid crystal displays, which are limited to a small size.”
OLEDs are lighter, brighter and more durable than any screen out today. Many companies already have products on the market, Phillips, Pioneer. Even Kodak has put OLEDs in its displays, Sony has made bendable screens. Click on video below to see the new screen.

If you’re like me, just thinking about what we can do now gets me anticipating what will happen in the future.
The future of OLEDS is an exciting area. OLEDs could replace the ink in tattoos. This would allow your tattoo to not only be changed at will and become animated, but with a small interface become a PDA or even a computer screen. If you put the tattoo on your knuckles, your hand could become a flashlight.

OLED Laser
If you continue to the next logical step OLEDs, just like LEDs today, could produce OLED lasers coming out of those same knuckles. As reported in Popular Science October 2003 A PDA that Really gets Under Your Skin, “A thin sensor transponder bonded to your skin detects bioelectrical signals and customizes your tattoo accordingly.”
The future of OLEDs will also be in solar cells. Because OLEDS will be able to be painted onto any surface, the outside of your house could become a solar panel. The roads, cars, electric trains, even the tarp you take camping with you could provide power.
From Oh Gizmo September 2006, “Imagine a cell phone with a bright but energy-efficient screen that also recharges itself when not in use. Or windows that collect energy during the day and function as lights at night."
Stated in the April 2000 Chemical Innovation, “Polymers are being developed that use dyes to increase light collection efficiency. Polymerization methods are being developed that increase the structural order, producing more efficient charge transport properties. Perhaps one day, you can convert the outside of your house into one big solar collector using photovoltaic polymer paint.”
It is not hard to imagine OLED paint on the packaging of every item out there. Animated (with sound) cereal boxes, soda cans, chip bags, clothing tags, etc. Every item could carry its own commercial. Companies could also change the displays over the internet. It’s fun to think about the wonderful future of Organic Light Emitting Diodes.
As you see them pop up as the display of your TV, computer, PDA, cell phone, etc. you can turn to your friend and say, “If you think this is cool, wait until you hear what is on the way.” As you tell them about animated tattoos, walls that change color or become giant screens, animated packaging, and solar panels on virtually any surface. You may find your voice getting a little higher, and the pace of your speech quickening. The future is almost here. If we take one more look into it we will see OLED tattoos providing power for the powerful nanites and nano-computers in our bodies that have become our most personal computers systems yet!

—Kail Andersen