The death of Esperanto, explained by Trispectivism

Esperanto used to be (and for brave few still is) the hope for a better, happier society. Born out of the notion that language can be the bridge of cultures, understanding and peace, this language, similar to her older sister, volapuk, was created in order that everyone will be able to communicate with everyone.

esperanto_black

So, why such a positive initiative experienced such a failure?

For that we will have to understand some facts:

– Esperanto was created in 1887 by Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, an ophthalmologist from Białystok, and was based on the initiative to create an international auxiliary language open to all.

– Language is a very complex topic that has branches in all aspects of life. Hence, in linguistics there are many sections and subsections with different specialties that investigate this highly diverse topic. To illustrate some it is enough to mention divisions such as: socio-linguistic, phraseology, phonetics, cultural linguistic, experimental linguistics, diachronic linguistic, translation and a long et cetera.

South-park-esperanto

In order for us to understand language we can use the example of a car, a cell, an ant, a star and pretty much everything that exist. For the sake of simplicity let’s pick a car. When someone drives a car there is a set of road conduct set by humans in a natural way, most of which were later explained and described in a more methodological approach as a set of traffic laws. Meaning, today we say a tree and the linguist can write an entire book about the word explaining how it came to life, why, when and what happened to it since. However, in order for that word to be understood by others, the interlocutor in question needs to have the same set of linguistic notions. Thus, the more culturally and physically in pair he will be to the speaker the more understanding they will have.

Trispectivism says that the individual All cannot exists without the universal All and has to constantly interact with it. Similarly, a word cannot exist by itself but needs to have constant interaction within and towards a language. A word will not be understood without a context (if I meet a friend and tell him “apple” and leave, he will look at me wondering if I´m ok).

Esperanto_melonoThrough the course of its existence, Esperanto experienced moments of great success. People from different countries understood each other while talking about simple material topics. The difficulties began when it needed to rise to the next step, meaning in more variety of conversations. When two people started to talk about abstract issues, the material epistemological understanding was no more, leaving each one to understand the abstract word according to their background. This is when the connection between the individual All and the universal All suffers a breaking point and leaves both parties in their respectful notion of mere definition. In most cases, this situation complicates even more when each one thinks she understood what the other person wanted to say according to her experience or personal notions while in reality it has nothing to do to the notion pronounced by the speaker.

When an Indian person says to a Danish one, let´s eat ‘spicy’, the latter might say yes, but if he does not know the Indian culture, he is in for a long night of pouring water on his burning tongue. And what about the word ‘marriage’ between an American and a Saudi, or even worse, when a Muslim says God, the Christian hears a Judeo-Christian God (which explains why they all say that they have the same God even though everything about what their God says differs completely). Hence, when Esperanto aspired to become international and began to cross borders, the understanding between one and his kin diminished alongside with the effectiveness of the intercommunication.

In short, emotions, as we witness in many occasions, are what bring sense to the language, but it is the person (or persons), that creates the story to contemplate upon.

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Weekly Choice: on Capitalism, Pheromones and simple Bess

NEW addition: Question of the Week!

Dear S. I. Cohen,

Recently I had a discussion with my friend about capitalism, where one of his arguments against it was that capitalism is toxic environment for job creations. And he passionately claimed how capitalism makes rich people richer, and those who are born without wealth and opportunities enjoyed by the rich people, will stay poor. Also, that capitalism is out of control and is leading to the destruction of the environment.Do you think it´s true and if it is what can we do about to stop it?

Best wishes,

– Jeff

As you noticed, there are many people that use the word Capitalist, Capitalism and its variations to describe the worse kind of human conduct, malevolence and hustle. Many think of Capitalism and create their own so called “facts” about how that system degraded what could have been a better society.

Well, one could actually ask the person if he or she actually knows what Capitalism really is (from an economical perspective). Followed by a short silence (of an unexpected turn in the conversation for a broken consensus), the answer is usually a hesitated ‘yes’. One would continue and ask about how, when and where did it begin, for what purpose, what was the economical system before, was it better…? Needless to say that the more you’d ask, the greater the confusion and discrepancy will be.

Capitalism_by_GraffitiWatcher

The first thing to regard is how little people actually know about what just a minute ago they were so convinced.

Moreover, there is quite a lot of double standard (myself included), in that the persons in question were holding an Iphone or a Tablet or their car keys in their hands while beheading the same capitalist that created that for them.

One can ask that person if she exchanged her technological wonder with a neighbor (that constructed the device) for some food or something of her creation. I sincerely doubt it. Today, you can find many places that began a local currency or an exchange based economy (Greece, Island, south of Spain with the PUMA, Comunes and Mercado Trueque and even the idea behind Bit coin).

The fact rests the same: no market, no matter how free or on the contrary, how regulated, is immune to self-interests and the greed of people.

The thing is that so far I truly believe that no one thought of a better system. The problem is with the people using the system. As many things in life, capitalism is a technique, an economic technique, with no emotions or preferences, the user, on the other hand, is the one that can easily manipulate it for his benefit. Thus, as said before by many.

In no other system a poor person can become rich if he knows how to work it for his benefit and that is something very noble. On the other hand, because of its power, you can imagine many will take advantage of it, stripping themselves from any valor or moral behavior.

Certainly, I´ll be the last to come to the rescue of any system, whether economical, political or social… their all have some positive and many negative. Yet, when it comes to blind and confused criticism, I do find more harmful than contributive for the better of our society. So, if I was you, I´ll do some reading and next time you face this friend ask him what does he think about global warming (right before he gets into his 4X4).

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How Attention Works: The Brain’s Anti-Distraction System Discovered

Attention is only partly about what we focus on, but also about what we manage to ignore.

“Neuroscientists have pinpointed the neural activity involved in avoiding distraction, a new study reports. This is the first study showing that our brains rely on an active suppression system to help us focus on the task at hand (Gaspar & McDonald, 2014).

brain

The study’s lead author, John Gaspar, explained the traditional view of attentional control:

“This is an important discovery for neuroscientists and psychologists because most contemporary ideas of attention highlight brain processes that are involved in picking out relevant objects from the visual field.” While this process is important, it doesn’t tell the whole story of how attention works.

Gaspar continued: “Our results show clearly that this is only one part of the equation and that active suppression of the irrelevant objects is another important part.”

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, involved 47 students carrying out a visual search task while their brain signals were monitored. The finding may have important implications for psychological disorders which involve problems with attention.

The study’s senior author, John McDonald, said:

“…disorders associated with attention deficits, such as ADHD and schizophrenia, may turn out to be due to difficulties in suppressing irrelevant objects rather than difficulty selecting relevant ones.”

http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/05/how-attention-works-brains-anti-distraction-system-discovered.php

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TED’s Best Of Week!

Tristram Wyatt: The smelly mystery of the human pheromone

“Do humans have pheromones? Tristram Wyatt is on the case. A researcher at Oxford, Wyatt is interested in the evolution of pheromones throughout the animal kingdom.

Do our smells make us sexy? Popular science suggests yes — pheromones send chemical signals about sex and attraction from our armpits to potential mates. But, despite what you might have heard, there is no conclusive research confirming that humans have these smells molecules. In this eye-opening talk, zoologist Tristram Wyatt explains the fundamental flaws in current pheromone research, and shares his hope for a future that unlocks the fascinating, potentially life-saving knowledge tied up in our scent.”

“Don’t wash I’m coming home!”

http://www.ted.com/talks/tristram_wyatt_the_smelly_mystery_of_the_human_pheromone#t-6509

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Movie Of The Week! Breaking The Waves!

breaking-the-waves-9“Breaking the Waves” is emotionally and spiritually challenging movie directed by Lars von Trier and starring Emily Watson.  It is the first film in Trier’s ‘Golden Heart Trilogy’ which also includes The Idiots (1998) and Dancer in the Dark (2000).  It tells the story of Bess, a simple young woman of childlike naive, who sacrifices herself to sexual brutality to save the life of the man she loves. Jan, paralyzed from an industrial accident profoundly depressed, asks Bess to have sex with other men and tell him about it, thinking this will allow her to return to a normal life, and she, on the other hand, sees it as an expression of her devotion to Jan. What in the world motivates Jan to demand such repugnant actions from the wife he adores? Bess, with her fierce faith, believes that somehow her sacrifice can redeem her husband and even cure him. As his condition grows worse, her behavior gets more desperate; she went to a big ship where even the port prostitutes refuse to go, because of the way they have been treated there. The epilogue of Breaking the Waves is impossible to describe—it must literally be seen to be believed—but it grows organically and coherently from everything that’s come before it, bringing the film to a bold and brilliant conclusion. In Breaking the Waves, von Trier makes the case that as long as a “truly revolutionary alteration to the social conditions” is still in the future, women will continue to pay with their lives for the sins of the fathers. Whether Bess is a victim of patriarchy or whether she is heroic in her choice to live and die on her own terms is a question that viewers will invariably need to answer for themselves.

Watch the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AR_mMxHJ0t4

A story about a woman and a beard

WurstLately I heard some people calling the Eurovision a freak show, a circus –“What has become of it?”- They utter with a sneer. While it is true that each one of us is entitled to an opinion, only in a perfect world the opinion will be based on real facts, some common logic and lack of hypocrisy. The even more worrying reality is that so call critic was made towards a flesh and blood female, having an anomaly in the form of a beard. Hence, dear Miss Conchita Wurst (with its amusing literal translation Vagina Sausage) was thought of being a bearded woman (if there are some who do not know still, she’s a drag queen). However, all jokes aside, this, in my opinion, is much worse than the reality, for to critic someone for being born one way or another is much more cruel than towards one who chose a certain lifestyle and line of work. Aparently, though there is much difference between the two kinds of bearded ladies, for some, their image can create the same effect.

My love of art revealed an interesting painting to me that can be used as an example for this post.

12. José de Ribera. La mujer barbuda

The Bearded Lady is a painting by the Spanish artist José de Ribera (made in 1631). Ribera spent a long time of his life in Naples, where he saw this woman on two different occasions. The woman is identified by the engraving on the rock (on the right hand side) as Mrs. Magdalena Ventura. However, it seems that Rivera tried to exacerbate and captive the viewer by the shape of the breast (more to the middle of her body) and the fact that she is represented nursing a baby. The engravings say that at the time of the portrait Mrs. Ventura was 52 years old, thus, making the representation a little more unreal. Therefore, by using the breast and the baby to emphasis the feminine nature of Magdalena, Rivera succeeded in making a greater impact on the viewer.

This was Rivera’s way to bring forth a social problem. Civil protection for the disabled or for those suffering some deformities did not exist in the society of the Spanish Golden Age. In fact, Freak shows were for many of years the center of attention and derision for those considered ordinary.

Without going into the philosophical studies on the perspective of the “Other” (work such as Levinas, Foucault etc.), it is interesting to reflect on the way we acknowledge those people. Somewhere in between rejection and fascination we try to capture the malformation mixed with our imagination. This phenomenon was more popular in circuses, but later the same idea was marketed into what was perceived as the human zoos, town fairies and vaudevilles. The common people paid good money to be fascinated by people with rarities and amorphous (bearded lady, bowlegged…), feeling attraction and rejection simultaneously.

The fact of the matter is that “bearded women” are suffering from a complicated medical condition called virilization (or masculinization) that can be developed because of excess of testosterone production or use of anabolic steroids. In girls who are going through puberty or adult women there are more than few causes for such a difficult hormonal imbalance, for example polycystic ovarian syndrome, certain medications or anabolic steroids, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, tumors of the ovaries or adrenal glands that release male hormones. The tumor (one of different gonadal sex cord-stromal tumors) is known as “androblastoma” or “arrhenoblastoma”. One of the most frequent signs that appears as a result of this imbalance is hirsutism which implies hair in women in the so-called androgen – sensitive areas (upper lip, cheeks, chin, around the areola of the breasts, breast, central line of the abdomen, gluteal area and the upper third of the thigh from the inside), places where the hair in women normally do not occur, and represents secondary sexual characteristics of males. Beside hirsutism, women who are suffering from this kind of hormonal imbalance have irregular menstrual periods, their skin changes its’ structure frequently becoming more oily and with acnes. However, signs of virilization in a female depend on the level of testosterone in the body, so in a more difficult condition they can develop deepening of the voice, loss of female fat distribution, male muscle pattern and occasionally enlargement of the clitoris also can occur. For the women that truly suffer this imbalance, this can be a nuisance and uncomfortable from an early age.

Being a drag queen homosexual or a person with any kind of abnormality, there is no sufficient reason for any kind of remark or fear. Both are people with dreams, desires and most certainly a story (and quite a difficult one, I presume). While the more conservative are also the more religious and as a recent study by David Pizarro shows, also the more disgust, they seems to be the last to follow their own rule of love thy neighbor and do not judge other etc. It would probably be better if we look at what’s inside and less on physical decoration (by choice or by birth) and accept some of the diversity that make our world so worthwhile with honesty and love.

Weekly Choice: on multitasking, hobbies and amour

The 3 Costs of Multitasking

We all switch between tasks, and we do so often.

“How much time do you think you lose when you engage in task switching?  Like many of our daily challenges, here too there are three different factors to consider.

MultitaskingThe first factor to consider is the direct time that we spend on our secondary task.  For example, imagine that you’re busy working on some complex description of a problem, and you hit a particularly challenging point.  You are stuck in a slight mental block, unable to make any real progress for a few minutes. So you think to yourself, “Let me take a quick five minute break and use this time to catch up on email.” Twenty minutes later, you are still responding to email, feeling that familiar unjustified satisfaction we all feel when we managed to clear some of that email backlog in our inbox.  Ten minutes later, you are finally back to working on your complex task, and if you bothered to look at your clock, you would realize that the last thirty minutes were a direct cost of the switch.

(…) This belief in “switching helps” is the reason that many people switch so often. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be the case.  Most likely, once you are back, for the next ten minutes or so, your engagement with your complex task is only partial, and you are not yet fully back into it.  The reality is that even when you are back working on your main task — for a while longer — you keep on paying a low-productivity-price for your task switching.”

http://danariely.com/2014/04/07/the-3-costs-of-multitasking/

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Inspirational Video Of The Week! Tolerance.

Family is Family. Parents are Parents. Love is Love.

 

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The Positive Effect of Creative Hobbies on Performance at Work

Why photography, cooking or other creative hobbies might help you get on at work.

“People who have a creative hobby outside work may find it boosts their work performance, according to a new study by organisational psychologists. The study looked at the indirect effect of creative hobbies like photography, needlework or cooking on work performance (Eschleman et al., 2014). The study found that creative hobbies may help employees recover from the demands of their job. People in the study talked passionately about their activities outside of work. The study’s lead author, Kevin Eschleman, said: “They usually describe it as lush, as a deep experience that provides a lot of things for them. But they also talk about this idea of self-expression and an opportunity to really discover something about themselves, and that isn’t always captured with the current recovery experience models.”

hobbies

In the study, two groups of people were asked about their creative activities outside work and also how creative they were at work. The results from both samples showed that those who had a creative hobby were more likely to feel a sense of relaxation outside work and to feel greater control and a sense of mastery (…) and were more likely to help others and to be more creative in the performance of their job. Large organizations, such as Zappos Inc., incorporate employee artwork into office decorations. Other similar activities commonly found in organizations include food cook-offs, cross-discipline education opportunities, and costume contests during holidays. A more cost-effective and less intrusive approach for organization is to inform employees that creative activity may help them recover from the workplace.” (Eschleman et al., 2014)”

http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/04/the-positive-effect-of-creative-hobbies-on-performance-at-work.php

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TED’s Best Of The Week! Why people believe weird things, by Michael Shermer

“Why do people see the Virgin Mary on a cheese sandwich or hear demonic lyrics in “Stairway to Heaven”? Using video and music, skeptic Michael Shermer shows how we convince ourselves to believe — and overlook the facts.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shermer_on_believing_strange_things?embed=true#t-11058

“Science is not a thing. It’s a verb. It’s a way of thinking about things. It’s a way of looking for natural explanations for all phenomena.”

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Poet Of The Week! Jacques Prévert!

PrévertJacques Prévert, (born1900, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Fr.—died 1977, Omonville-la-Petite), French poet who composed ballads of social hope and sentimental love; he also ranked among the foremost of screenwriters, especially during the 1930s and ’40s. Jacques Prévert was born in a lower middle class family. He made fun of the obsessions and conformity of this social class during his entire life and participated actively in the surrealist movement. He was a member of the Rue du Château group along with Raymond Queneau and Marcel Duchamp. His poems are often about life in Paris and life after the Second World War. The peak of Prévert’s career came immediately after World War II. In 1945, the same year that Les Enfants du paradis was released, he published his collected poems, Paroles. The book sold more than 500,000 copies, almost unheard of for a book of poems in France. “Prévert spoke particularly to the French youth immediately after the War, especially to those who grew up during the Occupation and felt totally estranged from Church and State,” wrote Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the introduction to the 1990 edition of Paroles, which he translated into English in 1958.

Prévert’s poems were collected and published in his books: Paroles (Words) (1946), Spectacle (1951), La Pluie et le beau temps (Rain and Good Weather) (1955), Histoires (Stories) (1963), Fatras (1971) and Choses et autres (Things and Others) (1973). Prévert produced several art collages during the late 1950s and early 1960s. “They were surreal, comic and beautiful, scathingly anti-church, anti-corporation, anti-hypocrisy,” Merriam wrote in the New Republic. They were exhibited in Paris in 1957 and in Antibes in southern France in 1963. He continued to publish books, including Histoires et d’autres histoires (Stories and Other Stories) in 1963 and Choses et autres (Things and Other Things) in 1972.

After a long illness, Prévert died on April 11, 1977, at his home in Omonville-La-Petite, in Normandy, France. That day, Carné (as quoted in the New York Times) called him “the one and only poet of French cinema,” whose “humor and poetry succeeded in raising the banal to the summit of art” and whose style reflected “the soul of the people.” Prévert wanted to be remembered as a people’s poet. A few years before his death, in an interview quoted in Harriet Zinnes’s introduction to her book Blood and Feathers, Prévert said, “I was popular even before being fashionable. That’s how it was. What gave me pleasure was having readers. They are the greatest literary critics. These are the people who know the best literature, those who love it, not the connoisseurs.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1p4gMD5mw8

Pour toi mon amour

Weekly choice: on memory, bank accounts, space kids and a Klimtkiss

A Better Way to Cope With Persistent Bad Memories

New technique holds promise for those experiencing disturbing emotional flashbacks

“A better way to deal with recurring negative memories is to focus on the context and not the emotion, according to a new study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Denkova et al., 2014). For example, if you were thinking about a funeral you attended, you might focus on what you were wearing or who was there, instead of how you were feeling at the time.

Dolcos explained:

keys“Sometimes we dwell on how sad, embarrassed, or hurt we felt during an event, and that makes us feel worse and worse. This is what happens in clinical depression — ruminating on the negative aspects of a memory. But we found that instead of thinking about your emotions during a negative memory, looking away from the worst emotions and thinking about the context, like a friend who was there, what the weather was like, or anything else non-emotional that was part of the memory, will rather effortlessly take your mind away from the unwanted emotions associated with that memory. Once you immerse yourself in other details, your mind will wander to something else entirely, and you won’t be focused on the negative emotions as much.”

We don’t yet know if this strategy will work in the long-term, which is very important for those suffering from depression, but it’s easy to do and unlikely to cause any harm.

http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/04/a-better-way-to-cope-with-persistent-bad-memories.php

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Inspirational video of the week!

Can you see the beauty around you?

In the increasingly popular video that has started to spread social networks, BuzzFeed has asked a group of blind men and women to describe how they perceive beauty.

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Ask Ariely!

Dear Dan,

I recently got married, and my wife and I have been debating the topic of bank accounts. She’d like to combine them, because she wants to know how much is coming in and going out. I think separate accounts would be simpler for taxes, personal spending and budgeting. What’s your take?

-J.

The fact that you’re wondering whether to follow your preferences or your wife’s tells me that you are either a slow learner or very recently married (sorry, my Jewish heritage would not let me pass up that opportunity). But to the point: I think you should have a joint account.

First, there’s no question that in reality your accounts are joint in the sense that anything one of you does has an effect on your mutual financial future. For example, if one of you starts buying expensive cars from your individual account, there’s going to be less money for both of you to spend later on vacations, medical bills and so on.

More important, by getting married you have created a social contract of the form: “I will take care of you, and you will take care of me.” Adding a layer of financial negotiations to this intricate relationship can easily backfire. Think about what would happen if there was “my money” and “your money”? Would you start splitting the bill in restaurants? What if one of you has an extra glass of wine? And what if your wife ran out of “her money”? Would you tell her that if she does the dishes and takes the garbage out for a week, you would give her some of “your money”?

The problem is that once money becomes intertwined with deep relationships, they can start looking a bit more like prostitution than like love, romance and long-term caring. Separate bank accounts do have some advantages, but having them could put unnecessary stress on your relationship—and your relationship is much more important than managing your money efficiently.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970203846804578103194032776674

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Ted’s Best Of The Week! Will our kids be a different species, by  Juan Enríquez

robot_evolutionThroughout human evolution, multiple versions of humans co-existed. Could we be mid-upgrade now? At TEDxSummit, Juan Enriquez sweeps across time and space to bring us to the present moment — and shows how technology is revealing evidence that suggests rapid evolution may be under way.

“I think we’re going to move from a Homo sapiens into a Homo evolutis: a hominid that takes direct and deliberate control over the evolution of his species, her species and other species.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/juan_enriquez_will_our_kids_be_a_different_species

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Artist Of The Week, Gustav Klimt!

gustav-klimt-photoGustav Klimt was born on 14 July 1862. He was the second of seven children of a lower-middle-class family, living in the Viennese suburb of Baumgarten.  He began developing his talent as an artist at the age of fourteen, after he entered the University of Plastic Arts in Vienna (graduating at the age of twenty).

Gustav Klimt was always reluctant to talk about himself, referring questioners to his works instead. From his paintings, the viewer “should seek to recognize what I am and what I want.” he said repeatedly. Despite his success he remained unsure of himself in social settings. He habitually wore a blue painter’s smock, his hair was tousled, and he spoke the dialect of his humble origins.

Gustav Klimt’s style is highly ornamental. The Art Nouveau movement favored organic lines and contours. Klimt used a lot of gold and silver colors in his art work – certainly an heritage from his father’s profession as a gold and silver engraver.

He creates various pieces, which include:Danae, and The Kiss, which are extremely erotic and exotic in nature. They depict the differences in sexuality between men and women, and the pieces he creates during this time, although symbolic, are very literal in many of the figures, and depiction of the human form. Up until about 1914, many of the pieces that he created, took on this sexual under pining, and were not widely accepted, in part due to their graphic nature, and in part because of the time period that he lived in and worked in.

The Kiss, 1907-1908
The Kiss, 1907-1908

His works of art were a scandal at his time because of the display of nudity and the subtle sexuality and eroticism. His best known painting The Kiss, was first exhibited in 1908. As everything coming out of Klimt’s hands, it was highly controversial and admired at the same time.

After three decades of intensive work, numerous triumphs, and fierce hostility from his critics, Gustav Klimt died on 6 February 1918 after suffering a stroke, being fifty-five years old. He is buried in Vienna’s Hietzing Cemetery.

The Tree of Life, 1909
The Tree of Life, 1909

Click here for a documentary on his life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaGH-BczrVA