Monday, May 31, 2010

Grameen Bank - Banking for the Poor

Ladies & gentlemen, explore the Grameen Bank site & start thinking:

http://www.grameen-info.org/

Sri Lanka can use many similar institutions & thinking (not just SL, but the entire world, but let's focus on SL for the moment here).

Economic freedom & opportunity goes hand in hand with intellectual & religious freedom (including freedom from religion) & opportunity. Specially in the developing/under-developed world.

So, until Sri Lanka is fully out of poverty/is well developed, I am going to lead my SL & diaspora agnosticism related activism with anti-poverty & development related concerns (writing, projects, encouraging others to participate in ending poverty in SL. etc.).

A lot more goodies (links, articles, projects & collaboration opportunities) coming soon!

- S

Monday, May 24, 2010

Link of the day - Center for Inquiry

Check it out - Center for Inquiry

From their site's About Us page:

"At the Center for Inquiry, we believe that evidence-based reasoning, in which humans work together to address common concerns, is critical for modern world civilization. Moreover, unlike many other institutions, we maintain that scientific methods and reasoning should be utilized in examining the claims of both pseudoscience and religion. We reject mysticism and blind faith. No topic should be placed off limits to scrutiny—certainly not fringe science and religion, which have an enormous influence on beliefs and conduct."

More here.

(thanks to Hemantha from Secular Sri Lanka for the link)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

5 billion $s a year or more to Sri Lanka from the Sri Lankan diaspora?

The following is a part of a comment I left at my Agnostics vs. Believers article at Groundviews, an off-the-topic statement, but, some think (myself included) that it may be a worthwhile/useful thing to think about & possibly even try out. So, check out the following and post some questions or comments in comments to help further develop this idea:

"Also, a sad but true, and maybe there is some hope in this/may be useful in the near future thing that I figured out recently (roughly): it would only take a small, regular commitment by just a fraction of the SL diaspora that lives in the west to double or triple the SL GDP/make a LOT more $s available to SL for development, etc (a small example – 500,000 people giving/investing/trading $1000 a year to SL would result in 5 billion dollars, and $1000 when divided into a whole year is just less than $3 a day per person – which is definitely less than what I spend on coffee & tea each day). In a way, for SL to become largely financially self-sufficient (in this type of thinking I am imagining all Sri Lankans who live anywhere on the planet as one nation/SL or members of one nation though they may also be members of other nations due to where they physically live, & not just the ones that physically live in SL). However, such a thing would require a pretty huge change between how Lankans in SL & Lankans in the diaspora relate to each other (& also how the SL gov deals with both groups). Perhaps something for me/us (at least the agnostics, who are not afraid of change & new ideas) to think further about (as in how can such a new collaboration be brought about?)."

- S

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

One more SL history related post: 2 links re: N.M. Perera

Here's Wikipedia's page on Perera. From the page:

"After his election, he and Philip Gunawardena (the other LSSP member of the State Council), acting as people's tribunes used the State Council as a platform to carry forward the party's struggle to gain full independence for the country from the British. At the time only people like N.M. Perera and the LSSP stood for complete independence for Sri Lanka: the leaders of the Ceylon National Congress were only concerned with obtaining concessions from the British."

And (of course I have to mention this :):

"In 1939, he starred in the first ever Sinhala film."

For more, visit the Wikipedia page.

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And check out this article from Daily News.

- S

SL history link: Sinhala Only Act

The Sinhala Only Act can probably be identified as one of the significant starting points to the events that culminated in the '83 - '09 SL civil war. For more on the act, a good starting point may be this Wikipedia page. If you see any other useful links re: the act, post them below.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Final Sunday music post - "Wolf Like Me", by TV On The Radio

More Sunday music - "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" by Tom Waits

Some music for Sunday - "Please Don't Pass Me By", Leonard Cohen

Note to a Sri Lankan agnostic re: the emerging Positive Human identity/non-believer & believer approach

The following comment was in response to this comment by a Sri Lankan agnostic, left at Agnostics vs. Believers article at Groundviews.


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Hi Observer,

RE: "See Sujeewa, you’re a man of faith to me. Faith in what you perceive as “agnosticism”. Having faith in non believing is also a faith to me far as I am concerned and when they get organised it actually scares me much as religious folk who have deep faiths in spiritual mumbo jumbo."

I do believe that humans are able to work out our problems without having to rely on most likely non-existent (not active or not a part of the real world, just intellectual items that exist in religious thought) devices such as karma, reincarnation/rebirth, nirvana, gods, hells, heavens, etc.

The ultimate goal (or what I would like to see happen on this planet) is not merely the non-believers* organizing ourselves in order to accomplish goals that we think are important (separation of religions & states, freedom of thought world wide, freedom of expression world wide, freedom of religion or freedom from religion world wide, an end to hunger, homelessness, poverty, etc.), but non-believers, believers & others working together to turn this planet into the paradise that it can easily (w/ the right number of people & effort involved) become.

* also, there is a difference between mere agnostics and atheists and positively motivated agnostics & atheists - by positively motivated I mean people who are interested in making things better in this world and are active in doing so via whatever methods available to them. So, a more accurate term for the kind of people I am speaking of, myself included, would be Positive Humans (as this group also includes believers, not just agnostics). However, for this discussion with hard core/blind believers of SL Buddhism & since the Positive Human label is not yet well known, agnostics or non-believers is the most useful label for the camp that is skeptical of the grand speculative claims made by Buddhism.So, don't worry, most people on the planet at the moment would probably agree with your definition of agnosticism :) But, some of us are in the middle of building a new way to interact with this world, and agnosticism is a starting point, one aspect of that new method.

Also, the idea that humans should be able to work out our own problems without having to rely on gods or other speculative devices was probably/most likely introduced to me via SL Buddhism.

Anyway, I am totally cool with all religions - as long as they do not do harm to people, & as long as they realize that any one branch of human knowledge is, at best, only relevant to just one area of human existence, and thus religion is not all/not everything, and should not be wed to the state & forced on non-believers & people who cannot or have not chosen a religious identity & may not want to choose a religious identity. I am however very cool with secular & useful laws, etc. that may have religious origins (since religious ideas have an even earlier basic human need or desire origins or are otherwise products of human creativity).

As the world continues to deal with problems caused by organized religions, specially ones that do not tolerate dissent (more a problem in the Islamic world than in the Buddhist countries I think), I am sure more and more non-believers will become organized & active in order to save themselves & their secular/open societies (or to liberate their societies from religious oppression) from the control of just one religion or several religions.

- S

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I plan on developing the Positive Human blog to explore & promote the PH identity/world view, return there in the near future for more content along the lines of thinking & action described above. Thanks!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Comments I couldn't leave at Groundviews' Agnostics vs. Believers article

I left several comments today at my Agnostics vs. Believers article at Groundviews, but just a few minutes ago I could not leave a comment there (error message was "could not get captcha free hash"), so, in case that happens in the future, this blog post will be the space that I will use for leaving comments that cannot be left at the Groundviews article. So, here goes:

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Hi Chathura,

Thanks for reading & commenting.

RE: "It’s hard for the believers to give up on certain beliefs even though no scientific proof is found."

True, and not just scientific proof - it does not have to be scientific proof - it can be any kind of personal verification - but most people are either just not interested or are not able to check & see if the grand claims made by religions are true/real/accurate. Luckily (for ourselves & others) not all of us are asleep (at least not all the time :).

- S

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Article re: microfinance in Sri Lanka

Just found this article (abstract from a larger document), checking it out now, looks interesting. Here is a segment of it - from Commercial Microfinance: A Strategy to Reach the Poor?:

"Therefore, this study explores “downscaling” by banks as a model of microfinance commercialization that has used as a strategy to reach the poor. In order to answer the main research question, an explorative case study methodology was chosen, based by a microfinance programme of a well established commercial bank in Sri Lanka, the “Hatton National Bank.” This study was based on commercialization debate areas; trade-off between sustainability and outreach, financial performances and impact on clients."

Read more here.

Muhammad Yunus/Grameen Bank interview

Green Hair, Grey Hair trailer

What the internet needs is another Groundviews article that produces a debate around faith based elements of a religion

So, naturally, I had to write that article, check out The Agnostics vs. The Belivers... here.

Book review link for "The Work of Kings: The New Buddhism In Sri Lanka"

Haven't read Work of Kings yet, but this review makes the book sound interesting, check out the review here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Groundviews article comments area discussion/debate on the real-ness of karma, etc. gets over 1000 comments

Well, have not been able to post/reply to a couple of comments at this Groundviews article today - because (the reason might be, according to Groundviews) the article now has over 1,000 comments & may have reached the Wordpress limit for comments.

On the bright side, all the comments (specially by BolongodaMan, SomewhatDisgusted, & myself, & also Heshan) in response the the Belivers Team :) (Yapa, Wijayapala, Off The Cuff) clearly established that karma, reincarnation, & nirvana cannot be shown to be actual elements of the real world/real universe - using modern science, math, or any other method that can be verified by a non-beliver.

So, go read all the comments at the article (it may take you a while). The mysterious device of the universe known as the Wordpress comments limit may have ended that conversation/debate. But I'll post my comments from today, the ones that I was not able to post at the article, at this blog later today or at some point tomorrow.