Sunday, May 11, 2008

on being a crackpot

I love science (and science fiction). In SF authors frequently drift into time travel through worm holes or other means and thus create a paradox (two physicians walking down a corridor) that threatens the real world. And I read claims made in scientific magazines or books that mathematically it should be possible to go back in time just as we can go forward in time. But I'm a crackpot. So I don't think it should be possible to go back. And we go forward in time, not because time exists, but because we and the universe around us are constantly changing. We may not be aware of it, but the I who existed five minutes ago is not the I that exists as I type these words. I have changed. What we think of as time is only a measurement of the rate of change. Thus it is possible to use time as a hypothetical mathematical construct without it actually existing. Time is a function of the human brain. It measures change, which occurs in a wave across the universe. When we see the light of distant stars in the now, we are seeing it when those light waves reach us, but the star itself may be long gone in the real present. Or if it hasn't died, it has moved on to some other location from which its light may not yet have reached us. We are, then, I think, on the leading edge of a big bubble of change and that is why we cannot go back in time. Nothing exists in the center of the bubble.

Friday, May 09, 2008

on the use of the word "war"

I am getting tired of the use of the word "war" as it has been used by the current and previous Republican administrations. We have a "war on drugs" that has been used to hassle other countries and to curtail the freedoms of people who prefer to misuse something besides alcohol. We also have a "war on terror" which is no more a war than the war we didn't conduct against the Mafia and the Cosa Nostra. The "war on drugs" never was a war. It was an action against criminals and it has backfired on us in that we still seem to have as many drugs as ever (looking at the most recent busts) and those who deal in them make higher profits than the tobacco and alcohol industries (except when alcohol was prohibited).

And then we have the "war on terror." It, too, is not a war. We had a war in Afghanistan and may be having another since we didn't finish the job the first time and we had a war in Iraq that ended after our invasion squashed the army of Saddam and toppled his government. That was war. What we have now is the aftermath of our failure to perceive how we would be greeted by the Iraqis and the insurgency that would follow. What we now have is a training ground for terrorists and an effort to create a country as we would like it, including privatizing its oil so Exxon Mobile and its cohots will get 80% of the profits from Iraq's oil rather than the government and the people of Iraq. That's part of our "conditions" that the Iraqis haven't fallen for and most people in this country don't realize. Iraq had no ties to those who created 9-11 and no WMDs. It apparently had not violated the U.N. resolutions, either, although it hadn't admitted that. What I really can't understand is the mindset of those in the beltway who didn't know that there were no WMDs in Iraq in the first place. It was obvious from this distance. Anyway, the point is that the only thing that makes it a "war" in Iraq is that we are using soldiers instead of policemen to track down criminals.

on losing our freedoms

A couple of weeks ago, I flew to Seattle for a weekend and came to the conclusion that those who think that fear is not curtailing our freedoms are just plain out to lunch. At both ends, we had to take off our shoes and empty all our pockets. I had to take my night breathing machine out of my carry-one (I don't check it for the same reason I don't check my medications) so they could wand it, going over it with some device in such a way that it looked as if they were putting a magic spell on it. I had to empty my pockets, take my belt off and hold up my pants with one hand while taking my watch off, and walk across a dirty floor in my stocking feet. Maybe I left some athlete's foot fungus on the floor for the people following. It was much more complicated than the last time I flew. That is fear caused by the possibility that a terrorist will get on a plane and bring it down, killing me and all the others on board. Did it make me feel safer? No, it didn't. Airplanes crash and much more frequently than terrorism brings them down. I'm also used to the fear of being killed on the highway or by the food I eat. Being killed by food, on the highway or by a fault in an airplane or a pilot probably has lower odds than being killed by terrorist activity. I realize of course that it is always a massacre to the person who is killed, but what is this wiilling surrender of freedoms for a fear of something that has killed a very small number of American citizens. We've had more people killed by other means in a year than we had die on 9/11. Before you say I have no empathy, let me tell you I feel the terror that the people who died on that day and the pain of their survivors. I also remember Oklahoma City where about a tenth of the same number, many of them children, were killed by home grown terrorist. But it is not rational to let our leaders curtail our freedoms, that we have held dear for more than 200 years, because of our fears that we will die in something much rarer than the risk we take each day when someone runs a stopsign or a stoplight, or drinks and drives. We are not very good risk calculaters.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

on the dumbing of Tom McGillvary

I just received the second mailing this go-round of Tom McGillvary, who claims to represent my district in the Montana Legislature. I say "claims" because I can't believe my neighbors are as far out to lunch as he is. In this latest mailing he says he doesn't believe humans are to blame for global warming, despite the vast number of scientists who say it is. He must be quoting Exxon Mobile, the biggest liars on this issue in the country. They are in bed tactically with the tobacco manurfacturers who lied to us for so long on the cancer issue. I wonder what his sources are? Then he puts in a survey that is full of loaded questions. Do you want more taxes? Do you want to pay 100% or more for clean energy? What a brain floating in a mass of jello.

Just a couple of other things: He said in his first mailing that he wanted to be a mover for good feelings and positive approaches to the legislative process, but in last sessions Special Session he voted against a compromise. Unfortunately, he doesn't read blogs which might really help him understand what is going on in the state. But then he doesn't really care. He's an ideologue. Hey, Tom, let's tax churches.

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