Orwell Was An Optimist: The Political Landscape of the U.S. Today

Paul George

September 30, 2012

Paul George

In this talk, Paul George uses as a framework George Orwell’s famous themes of “war is peace”, “freedom is slavery”, and “ignorance is strength”, as a way of examining modern-day America, which translates to endless war, the national security state, and propaganda (along with lousy journalism).

Paul George has been a peace activist and grassroots organizer for nearly forty years. He is the Director of Peninsula Peace and Justice Center (www.peaceandjustice.org) in Palo Alto, CA.


Humanist Community Forum (2012-09-30) – Orwell Was An Optimist: The Political Landscape of the U.S. Today (Paul George) from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.


Nuclear Power Can Mitigate Climate Change

Michael Mallary, Ph.D.

September 23, 2012

Michael Mallary, Ph.D.

The growth in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is already having significant climatic impacts. World wide, the average temperature increase since the industrial revolution has been more than a degree Fahrenheit. Over the land it is more than twice that. In the arctic, summer ice has receded to the point where the Northwest Passage is now open. Projections to the end of this century forecast increases in the world average of 5 to 15 degrees. The droughts, heat waves and floods of recent times is child’s play compared to what our grandchildren will face, if we continue to drop the ball on this issue.

Stabilization of the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will require a world wide reduction of 70% from the present level of emissions. Conservation, wind and solar energy cannot meet this challenge. Adequate energy storage technology does not exist to provide power when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. Only Nuclear Power can satisfy our “base load” requirements without adding carbon to the air.  The sooner we implement this solution, the less horrific the world of our grandchildren will be. The Fukushima disaster highlights the need to do it right.  Modern reactors such as the Westinghouse AP1000 with passive emergency cooling systems will not repeat this tragedy.  In the future thorium reactors will not only be safe, but will not require nuclear material which could be used for bombs.  Development of these systems is estimated to take about 20 years.  Fortunately, the modern reactors are safe and can be used immediately to reduce our carbon emissions.  See the presentation for more information.

In 2004 Dr Mallary authored Our Improbable Universe.  It is the scientifically comprehensive account of how the raw energy of the Big Bang evolved into us.  It is such a shame, that we are destroying the high point of this incredible 14 billion year creative process in less than a century. Most of the things, for which our ancestors prayed to their gods, we can now accomplish.  They would roll over in their graves if they could witness our folly.

Dr. Mallary received his S.B. degree in physics from M.I.T in 1966 and his PhD degree in Experimental High Energy Physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1972. As an Assistant Professor in the physics department of Northeastern University he worked on an experiment at Fermi Laboratory that produced early evidence for the fifth quark in 1977. As part of this work, he hazarded exposure to significant radiation levels in order to repair a failed magnet and therefore has some personal appreciation of the heroic effort of the Fukushima operators.

Since 1980, Dr Mallary has worked on the design and modeling of heads and media for advanced magnetic disk drive recording. He has 51 publications and holds 92 U.S. patents and 50 foreign patents.


Humanist Community Forum (2012-09-23): Nuclear Power Can Mitigate Climate Change (Dr. Michael Mallary) from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.


Close Encounters in the Middle East and India, from the Lens of a Social Justice Activist

Dr. Roberta Ahlquist

September 16, 2012

  Dr. Roberta Ahlquist, Professor in Multicultural Foundations of Education at San Jose State University will discuss and show pictures of the many public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the United Arab Emirates, Lehore, Pakistan, India, Egypt, Jordan, and the West Bank that she visited, looking specifically at curriculum in government (public) schools.   This is a big-picture overview, going deeper on issues participants have a specific interest in with slides.

Dr. Ahlquist

Dr. Ahlquist is co-editor of the 2011 book, Assault on Kids: How Hyper-Accountability (testing), Corporation Deficit Ideologies, and Ruby Payne are Destroying Our Schools. If anyone needs to learn more about how the corporate neo-cons are taking over and privatizing public schools, this is the book to read.  Copies will be available for $25.

This forum is co-sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.  A repeat of this presentation will be held Tuesday evening, Oct 2, at 7:00  in the Assembly Room of the Bechtel Center on Stanford campus.  It is open to anyone interested in this topic.

During her presentation Dr. Ahlquist mentioned other groups of interest.  These included the group in San Mateo county working to stop additional prison construction.


Humanist Community Forum (2012-09-16): Close Encounters in the Middle East and India, from the Lens of a Social Justice Activist from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.


Nonviolent Peaceforce in South Sudan

Gilda Bettencourt

September 9, 2012

Gilda Bettencourt


Gilda Bettencourtof the Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) will provide this program. She has been involved for the past 8 years, with people from around the globe who are working to protect vulnerable communities through nonviolent peacekeeping. Nonviolent Peaceforce teams are currently working in the Philippines , South Sudan, and the South Caucasus region. And have also had projects in Sri Lanka and Guatemala.

Nonviolent Peaceforce

She provided a very powerful presentation regarding NP’s work in South Sudan – one of the poorest nations on the planet – as many struggle to keep it on track to a better future and not relapse into war. By demonstrating the usefulness of unarmed peacekeeping, Nonviolent Peaceforce offers humanity a different way to respond to conflict while concentrating on protecting civilians and reducing violence.

The Non-violent Peaceforce is also making a difference in the Philippines as you can see in this video.

Public Education, Its Rise and Fall

Aram Hirajan

September 2, 2012

Aram Hirajan


When a new technology changes how we understand the world and how we live in it, we are slow to adapt to this new way of life. Education is but a tool for humanity to continue to live on despite changing environment in which we find ourselves. In the information age, public education itself is slow to adapt to the fast changing rules in transmission of information from one generation to another, and this is the principal challenge public education faces today. In order for public education to survive and to continue to enrich our lives, we must again revise our ideas of what it means to teach our children and help them continue to live on in a world that is changing faster than any individual mind can keep up with.

Aram, who is from Korea, spoke about the history of education and the transfer of knowledge.  His brother, Maim Kim, spoke briefly about the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg.  Although the first metal, movable type printing press was built in Korea, it used Chinese characters which limited its usefulness since a book requires 10,000 to 40,000 different characters.  Because Gutenberg used a Latin alphabet, his invention completely changed the rate at which knowledge can be transferred.  Aram believes that today’s electronic communications are another breakthrough, and will also have a significant impact on society as more information is easily available to more people.


Humanist Community Forum (2012-09-02): Public Education, Its Rise and Fall (Aram Hirajan) from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.