Monday, September 02, 2013 7:28 PM
I write in a mind frame wherein I take certain precepts as given—my written thoughts and comments all come from, and are processed through, the filter of these central tenets. They aren’t world-shattering—I doubt that I am in some special category of philosophy—I believe that my perspective is shared by many educated and fair-minded people, simple because ‘reality’ is as it has been observed to be—a reality of mystery and enigma, of emotions and facts and cold steel and breastmilk.
Still, just in case some clown decides to be clever and twist my words into other than intended directions, I hereby state the obvious:
The universe is infinite—in the sense that any cosmological theorist speculating upon a closed, looped model would still be talking about the thing with our planet going around our sun which is only one solar system in the galaxy we call the Milky Way—and that galaxy is only one of billions of visible galaxies that crowd the sky when viewed with a wide swathe of the electromagnetic spectrum, instead of the narrow band designated ‘visible light’, i.e. only what can be perceived by the human eye. This virtually infinite space, of a volume no human mind is able to truly apprehend, is our universe—as far as we can tell, so far.
Advanced physics gives us Einstein’s provable formula, that matter is compacted energy and that energy is unraveled matter, which shows us that all atoms are concatenations of energy, in the form of nucleic particles and the orbiting electrons—in short, an atom is a ‘knot’ of energy, full of empty space and containing certain attributes which are the determining characteristics of each of the elements on Mendeleev’s chart—and that their three (or four, if you count ‘plasma’) states: gas, liquid, and solid, are mostly a matter of compression, but that certain elements only acquire certain of their attributes when in one particular state.
For example, the original superconductors do not super-conduct at room temperature—only at near zero degrees Kelvin—a fact that came up only in the twentieth century, after those elemental alloys already had a long-standing definition as just plain old ‘conductors’. So, in the case of the most common superconductor material, niobium-titanium alloy, the nature of the elements Niobium and Titanium were redefined, along with the discovery of the superconductor phenomenon itself.
Long story short—the universe is a limitless pool of energy, some pieces of it solidified as matter, some characteristics, such as charge, spin, and charm, are only displays of quantum effects for one, particular iota of the infinite.
Then comes the humanity effect—we see flat ground, so we tend to think the ground is flat. We see bright colors, but colors are a tool our minds created to give things definition—green is in the middle of our visible spectrum for a reason—green means food, and what we need most, we try hardest to see (speaking in evolutionary terms). The actual facts, that the way we ‘see an object’ is really the way we ‘see light being bounced off an object’, are ignored by us—we see the color as something coming out of an object. We see gravity as a constant (well, except for the Apollo teams) even though our ‘gravity’ is only a constant when standing on the surface of the Earth.
Gravity, like Electro-Magnetic Radiation, is invisible—if it weren’t for light, even mass would be invisible! Most of the universe is invisible to our eyes. Not only that, but theoretical physicists are pretty sure we’re only perceiving four of the twelve dimension—we understand width, height, depth, and time passing—those are the only four dimensions we know. But these guys (and they’re pretty smart, some of them) say that that’s less than half of all the dimensions our Universe possesses.
In other words, the humanity effect is that, in some sense, we are misled by our senses—and we are blind to the many other sensations there are to sense. Which leads me, at least, to the conclusion that we don’t know much, and what we do know is probably, mostly wrong.
And this is where the atheism comes from—ancient prophets and priests claim to have received word, direct from the Supreme Being and Creator of the Universe. My having such a complex knowledge of our ‘ignorance’, in the technological world we live in, now, makes it very hard for me to imagine that such messiahs had anything more to offer than good advice—of which they offer plenty, such as the Golden Rule—a perfectly sensible, useful idea that improves the lives of all who live that way.
But aside from some great advice on how we can live better, happier lives, I choose to discount any and all of religions’ mythological components as anything other than great illustrative symbology. Freud named his neuroses after characters in ancient Greek plays—because those particular myths gave a strong sense of the concept he named them with. We can learn a lot from bible stories—but I think it is a mistake to teach our children that any of those ‘sacred’ scriptures can be looked to for historical facts, or natural laws (or astrophysics, archaeology, and medicine).
Physicists theorize that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed. In that sense, I believe in the possibility of post-death transmutation. I do not mean that to include hocus-pocus, ghosts, or heaven and hell—I just mean that we don’t know much about much, so why jump to the conclusion?
So, let’s tally me up—existentialist, atheist, somewhat asocial in my attitudes, but very pro-people in general. In the words of Charles Schulz (in the form of Lucy Van Pelt) “I love humanity. It’s people I can’t stand!”
I feel that we understand the universe better when we recognize the difference between our natural attitudes and our scientific research—and I’m always very uncomfortable when anyone tries to muddy those waters. For instance, politics—this always gets my back hair up—you’d think that a candidate for a civil service job would be all about how good a job he or she is going to do. But that isn’t ever touched on. On the contrary, it would be bad politics to point out that one did better in school than one’s opponent—even though it is hard to imagine why one’s education would not have relevance.
But aside from all those clowns thinking they should be ‘all about the argument’ and to hell with getting any work done, my still worst revulsion is for the politicians that want to court both the vast numbers of Christian voters and the smaller, but still important, numbers of educated-person voters.
In a nation with a venerated tradition of religious freedom, to fail to be up-front about one’s belief (or one’s atheism) is a dishonorable deception performed by a person who, whatever their faith in God, has no faith in their country and the people who live here. In this sense only, I consider being without faith to be a crime. And we voters are also complicit in accepting such ignorance in a candidate for an important office.
So, that’s the basics of where I’m coming from. Beyond that, I’m a liberal. For me, equality extends to every gender, physique, sex-orienting, race, religion, net worth (or lack of same), health, country of origin, and age. I can’t think of any one of those labels that doesn’t have a spectrum of humanity within it—like you and me, they come in smart, dumb, strong, weak, mean, nice, and funny—which makes it impossible to categorize any such grouping as being ‘different’.
I believe that Social services, generously dispensed, will always cost less, over time, than saving money by letting others suffer want and hunger. Plus, it feels right.
I believe that Capitalism has become a millstone around civilization’s neck and that it’s well past time for a new paradigm, or at the very least, a drastic overhauling of the rules of business. I think the USA will fade and die if we don’t bring our education stats back to ‘best in the world’ levels—and while I have no solution for that problem, I’m pretty sure that’s the meat of the argument against allowing ‘the sequester’ and ‘trimming’ social services.
I believe that the entertainment business is making it harder and harder for people to express themselves freely—at some point we will have to choose between the importance of our quality-of-life and the importance of copyright protection.
I think we should be spending the majority of our defense budget on software security and advanced programming—our enemies could empty our bank accounts overnight, right now, and we wouldn’t have a clue as to in which direction to start shooting.
There it is—hereafter, please keep these basic axioms in the back of your mind when reading my posts—they are the starting point for everything else I write.
Of course, I have my personal peculiarities—like saying ‘of course’ too much. I love Science Fiction, Physics, Comic Books, Books in general, TV, Movies, and Music. My musical tastes include folk music, show tunes, popular songs, and classical music—and I love the piano more than any other instrument. I like to draw, but I’m no longer very good at it. I like to write poems, I’m very poetic—but I ain’t much of a poet. And I get a lot of satisfaction from typing out the stuff in my head and posting it on my blog.
Does having an active blog make me a jerk? Possibly—I’m sure a lot of people would find me unbearably egotistic. But there are a small group of people who seem to think I’m readable—and I’ll take that. I don’t need to be famous, I just need to imagine that anyone could read my stuff, if they wanted to. It gives some purpose to the obsessive writing and helps me convince myself that I’m still a part of the great big world.
[Illustration Note: back when Claire had the time to quilt, she would attend the annual quilter’s bee in Lancaster PA–these pics are from their 2007 exhibition…]