Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pay attention to the details, please.

An associate of mine decided to rant at me about the loss of songbirds in suburban areas. It is his opinion that it's all the fault of crows. Crows eating songbird eggs, according to him, are responsible. Until I pointed out that tearing out trees used by songbirds for nesting, so more houses can be built, might have something to do with it. Until I pointed out that the street department came thru and trimmed all the street trees in mid spring, just at the time those very same songbirds were nesting. I'm a birder. I watch the comings and goings in my yard, in my neighborhood. It ain't crows, people.

We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm baffled

We elect a president who pronounces nuclear as "new-kyu-lar" and seems to take particular pride in not speaking well.

We have one presidential nominee who answers different questions with the exact same answer.

We have another presidential nominee who is articulate and well spoken. And he's branded an elitist.

I just heard Treasury Secretary Paulson speak, listing all the things the average American does with his money. In this list is "Send your kids to college." If those who display a low level of education are praised, those who are well-educated and show it are disparaged, why does anybody still want to send their kids to college?

The contradiction baffles me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I couldn't choose just one...

Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then - we elected them.
     ...Lily Tomlin

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.
     ...Mark Twain

If we ever pass out as a great nation we ought to put on our tombstone, 'America died from a delusion that she has moral leadership.'
     --Will Rogers

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

CERN and the Large Hadron Collider

A friend just emailed me a piece on OMG the Large Hadron Collider may destroy the earth by creating black holes. Please keep in mind, news media do not make money if no one views their material; controversial subjects generate viewers. Even if the controversy is more twenty years in the making. My friend wanted to know if I, her science geek friend, was concerned. My reply:

Well, the Mayans' calendar cycle ends in 2012.

Anybody who's read Thrice Upon A Time by James Hogan is familiar with this scenario. Will it? Don't know. "The math says..." The math has been proven wrong on things before. Will courts be able to stop it? Temporarily, maybe. Permanently, don't know. There's always someone to speak to the other side of an issue. Are we in danger? Don't know. It would be better if we could put the thing in space. But then we have the question of microscopic black holes falling into the sun. Same same.

The problem is that man is a curious creature. Someone, somewhere, some how, will do something that will wipe us out. Or send us to great heights. Or both at the same time. We can stop being "man" and become stagnant, as the fundies of all religions want us to. Or we can chance dying, and reach for the stars.

We've got a pretty good track record on that. Doubt it? Antibiotics. Open heart surgery. Traveling faster than 40 miles per hour (it was once believed traveling faster than 40 would automatically kill you). I'm very biased. I would not be alive today without all the benefits of man's reach for knowledge.

The downside to that is that a few people are deciding for the rest of us. But tell me when that isn't the case? There are always those in the know who make the decisions, at the family level, the company level, the government level. Someone decides how much to tell everyone else, whether with intent to manipulate the outcome, or just because there's too much info and "my presentation is only an hour."

The headline, will the Large Hadron Collider save or destroy the earth, is an annoying piece of agitprop. The LHC won't "save" anything. It's pure esoteric research. Info that comes out of CERN and the LHC may not affect our daily lives for decades. The spin-offs from existing particle accelerators took years to develop. I don't expect this to be any different.

What may come out of LHC is information on how to manipulate gravity. That's my personal wish. Gravity affects things on a macroscopic level, but not on a microscopic level. Why? How does gravity propagate? We can manipulate light and subatomic particles, but we don't even know how gravity happens, much less how to manipulate it.

Should we? Ask that of the caveman who first dared to tamed fire.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


We tend to defend vigorously things that in our deepest hearts we are not quite certain about. If we are certain of something we know, it doesn't need defending.
    --Madeleine L'Engle