2012-12-08

Some photos...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cottrell003/

2012-09-24

Cosmological Precepts

1.  Something cannot be created out of nothing.  That is prima facie illogical.  One must be very careful when they hear people speak about the "void" or the "vacuum" of "empty space" and the like.  They are talking about areas between identifiable objects or particles that we are able to detect.  One hears terms like "dark energy" and "quintessence" and in the old days the "aether".  There is no basis now for thinking that there are any truly empty spaces. It may be reasonable to think that there are not any such empty spaces.

2.  The universe had no beginning, because that would mean that something can come out of nothing.

3.  The universe is defined to be all that there is, everything that exists, everything.  It encompasses the largest and the smallest scales.  If there is anything like multiverses, they would be subsets of the universe.

4.  Existence is conserved. Things may be transformed, but never completely annihilated. Mass and energy may be different views of stuff that is out there, and there are interchanges between them, and perhaps other metrics as yet unimagined, metrics that measure what is out there.  But it is always a case of transformation, and never results in something going into nothingness.  Nothing cannot become something, and something cannot become nothing.  If something appears to become nothing, then we must be missing something, and vice versa.

5.  The universe can have no end, because there is nowhere else to go.  Conservation means that there will be something...whatever it is.

So at best, the big bang theory is a partial theory, one that tries to look at a portion of the universe within a limited range of distance, and has nothing to offer regarding what preceded the BB.  And if the universe had no real beginning, and the BB theorists say it is expanding at an accelerating rate with no end in site, isn't it likely that it WOULD ALREADY HAVE DONE SO since it's been around forever?  And if it had done that, how is that we can still perceive portions of the universe that are finite.  Wouldn't they have already have expanded into oblivion?

2012-09-17

The Rotten Egg Problem


Here is a deceptively complex logic problem that I solved in 2003:

1. You have a dozen eggs.

2. One of them is rotten, but they all look alike.

3. The rotten one is either heavier or lighter than the others, but you don't know which.  The others all weigh the same.

4. You have a balance scale, and you are permitted to use the scale only 3 times.  

Puzzle:  Which is the rotten egg?

2012-08-29

Shot taken in Jeep on way home after day out in the Ojito Wildnerness in August 2012.

2012-08-23

America's plutocrats should keep this in mind.

2011-12-23

Payroll tax cut

And then there's the fact that the use of the Social Security tax ("payroll" tax is preferred especially by those who like to disconnect it from its purpose) as an instrument of fiscal policy and redistribution undermines the integrity of the SS system. It is, in my opinion, an extremely bad precedent to use the SS tax rate in this way. The next thing coming down the pike will be turning the SS system into essentially a welfare program with means testing and all-out politicizing of the program. It is playing right into the hands of the rightwing that would like to destroy the program anyway. Pure shortsightedness on the part of progressives to support payroll tax cuts. Sure, it's out of desperation that they support these tax cuts, but it is the wrong way to help the lower and middle class, and it threatens their longer term security.

"Job creators"

Every time I hear a Republican say "job creators", I think "job exporters". The R's are like a puppet show out of Alice in Wonderland, constantly and with perfect consistency, spouting their bromides and never getting seriously challenged by the MSM. Even when challenged, they keep to their script. They started a class war, and if it continues for long it could easily get ugly on the streets and ports. Then they will be the creators of jobs...for riot cops.

2010-02-21

Obama's Health Insurance Reform

The president's proposals for health care reform do not do nearly enough to control premium increases for those with insurance. I fully expect my premiums to continue to go up under an Obama-type plan. It seems very likely that they would go up even more rapidly for many folks with insurance because now higher-risk people will be added into the risk pool. In addition, it is odd to me that the President's plan continues with allowing age discrimination in premium rates (although it does put some limits on that age differential). I am overall very disappointed. I also feel that the emphasis on a bipartisan bill, with Republicans marching in lockstep opposition, is in reality a shrewd scheme to provide cover that will allow the Democrats to pass more conservative legislation. I don't buy it. We have 57 Democrats in the Senate, and if we use reconciliation we only need 51 of them for a better plan. I think LBJ would have done that, and many other things as well.

2010-01-28

Howard Zinn

It was very sad to learn that Howard Zinn has just died. On the good side, he accomplished a tremendous amount. I just bought his People’s History book a few weeks ago and have been reading it in spells. I really admired Zinn very much, and I’ve thought of him as a voice of sanity and sorely needed balance in a culture of nationalistic propaganda supporting militarism and elitism. It's good to know that his People's History of the United States has so far sold over a million copies.

2010-01-04

Nobel Peace Prize

What do you think about Obama getting the Nobel prize? I didn't care for it. I think the Afghan war is a disaster, and I don't think our effort there will improve the outcome. I would rather the prize had gone to someone like Howard Zinn, a famous American historian and anti-war activist among other things, to which he has dedicated his life. He is also brilliant and fun to listen to. I am currently reading his A People's History of the United States.

2009-05-08

The Baucus Eight

Click on title for a moving demonstration of the sorry state of our democracy.  This is an example of the kind of democracy we live in, controlled by large corporations.  Gee, sound a lot like fascism.

2009-03-11

Health Care in America is Already Half Public

Source: http://aging.senate.gov/crs/medicaid7.pdf
By now, with the trend and rapidly rising unemployment, it's probably about 50/50 on public versus private funding sources for health care in America.

2009-03-08

The Big Dither

Obama seems to be dithering on acting decisively on how to best deal with failed banks.  If you're interested, click on the title above.

2009-01-22

Laissez-faire capitalism has committed suicide

Click on title to go to linked material.  This was an entertaining (to me, anyway) interchange between me and a few folks who are immersed in laissez-faire capitalism.

God plays craps

   ....ran into God the other day, and he said, "Well, actually I do play dice with the universe.  Craps is a good example of the consistency between causality and randomness:  one is what happens, while the other is what is not known about what happens. Albert knew this, but he used a bad example.  Of course, hee-hee, when I play with the universe, I am playing with myself."

2009-01-20

2009-01-18

Weird time we live in

These are of course very weird times.  The majority of people on the earth believe in what I see as quite primitive beliefs.  Those beliefs are religious beliefs.  Where exactly in the universe is this god of which people speak?  And who does that god care about?
As for me, I am a pantheist-atheist.  
All organized religions are obsolete.  Besides that, they suck.  Why do I say they suck?  Well, because they are all false.  If even one of them were to be true, that would mean that all the others were untrue.  So none of them has very good odds to begins with.  Ultimately, religions today are there to make up for the weird world we experience, to try to bring in some "other" to save us from the absolute finitude of our lives and the cruelty of the universe we experience.    
"It's only a paper moon, hanging over a cardboard sea....it's a Barnum & Bailey World, just as phoney as it can be."  -- Nat King Cole.
Why am I a pantheist-atheist?  Because pantheism in the sense of "all is god" is really the same thing as "nothing is god."  The only difference is one of attitude.

Ojito

Today I went out to a favorite desert wilderness area, where we go approximately every two weeks.  "We" is a few old friends, old meaning over the last 20-30 years, and old being 54 to 67 years old.  We hiked a few miles and we drank some beer and later some red wine and ate some turkey pesto sandwiches.  Then a couple Pepperage Farm Dark Chocolate Pecans, and later half a tangerine.  I took maybe 50 photos of 7 or 8 subjects found in these badlands.  Our old group had several interesting discussions ranging over paleontology (Kim Martini) and cosmology (me) and art (Mike Hart) and some blues (Doug McKinnon).  All of us love to go out there.  We feel free and there are amazing and starkly beautiful views.

Time Is Flying

For you young folks, especially, here's the deal.  The older I get, the faster time flies.  If you think things are not happening fast enough for you, then you better find something different.  Because time is going to fly faster than it ever has for you, and it will keep flying faster and faster.

2009-01-14

Aggregate Economic Efficiency

Click on title to read my message to Obama about what our government needs to focus on.

Ayn Rand and All That

Click on title for blog discussion of Alan Greenspan, Ayn Rand, etc.  
See also:  http://www.truthout.org/101508D

2008-12-17

Cosmology


Miscellaneous reflections on what little I know about physics
Physics today is weird. There are major chasms between quantum physics, which deals mostly with small stuff, and general relativity, which deals with the largest scales.
It seems like many of the scientists support a view of the universe that is essentially mathematical in content. But there is a difference between mathematics and physics.
Many cosmologists - and just about all scientific journalists - talk about space as if it’s an empty vacuum, yet light cannot be described without referring to waves traveling through this empty set, the medium of space. As if there is something out there that is only mathematics, and has nothing within itself. It is curved, and its curvature is reflected in the equation: curvature of space-time = (density of mass-energy) *8*pi*G/c^4, where G is the Newtonian gravitational constant for the particular location. But what is it that is curved? Space is not just mathematics. Space is not empty.
Instances of waves in physics generally involve waves, or energy, that travel through a medium. Sound through air. Earthquakes through water. But light is said not to require a medium. Well, I don’t believe it. Herbert Eugene Ives didn’t believe it either. He wrote a version of general relativity that included an “ether” medium. It was not proved wrong, but only, as Albert Einstein himself said, superfluous. Maybe I’m not up to date, but even now we have hypothesized concepts from quantum mechanics that include various types of "ether" media by different names, like dark energy, the quintessence, and such.  The point is simply that there is an unknown medium that pervades what some call "the vacuum" or "empty space".  
I believe it may still be possible to maintain the "ether" and be consistent with the currently accepted facts of cosmology. Okay, so it doesn’t pass Occam’s Razor. So what? We seem to need more.
Gravitational fields do not exist in reality as simply mathematics, hanging out there by itself, defining “space” as a geometry, and nothing more. Within what does this geometry exist? Within what lies its reality? Where are the physics of this math?

2008-11-08

Matrix for Federal Policy

This is a policy wonkish table I made.  It could be expanded, but it lists some progressive changes on the left, and the info to the right is a sketchy view of their impacts.

2008-09-25

What we perceive

Just a little bit ago, I heard a weird sound as I relaxed on the patio with the glass of red, and I looked up and I was unnerved by a hummingbird a few feet away from my face, staring at me. I thought that's some hummingbird with those unusual low frequencies and even ultralow beat frequencies. As I was catatonically staring at the hummer, it suddenly (how else?) exited the scene. The low frequencies remained...another source in the neighborhood. The stature of the hummingbird was a bit diminished, but not the stature of my experience.

Negative Trickle Down Theory

Now the Democrats are pedaling "negative trickle down theory". Regular trickle down has benefits at the top coming down to those at the bottom, creating a generally better prosperity for all. (We've all seen how that didn't happen.) Now, REVERSE trickle down is that if you let the guys at the top get hurt, then that hurt will trickle down to the masses. Are the D's and the R's seeing each other in the mirror? Well, I guess that's the Democratic Party of today. I think most of Congress is a combination of wimps and boughtandpaidfors. Corporate welfare is at the top of their lists.

2008-09-03

McCain's VP Choice

Click on title for an entertaining and lucid assessment of McCain's zero-integrity VP choice. "Around and around and around we spin with feet of lead and wings of tin." -K. Vonnegut

2008-09-01

A political blog I've been frequenting

Click on title to go to my comments at ourfuture.org.

me

Photo of me taken in 2006

2008-06-26

The Death Penalty

Regarding the recent case where the U.S. Supreme Court turned over a death penalty case concerning rape of young children: Such cases beg the question as to whether the death penalty should be available in general. That is, there may be crimes that are considered just as heinous as murder, whether or not rape of children is one of them. What if the convicted person has blow torched 95% of the body of a surviving victim covered with 3rd or 4th degree burns? Does this not border on the total destruction of a life? I would say that it does. Yet for me, the death penalty should be totally abolished. Among the many reasons for doing so, one of the main ones for me is that the state should be setting the example for the highest regard for human life. When the state kills people, it fails to do that, and establishes that it is okay in certain circumstances to kill people.

2008-06-25

Ojito Banditos Return

Comment on Objectivity

We see things, not as they are, but as we are. ~ Anais Nin While I don’t know the context of the Nin quotation, I appreciate it because I believe so much of what we believe is based on what and who we are. There are at least two levels to this idea, in my mind. One is what we believe relating directly to our sensory information, and the other is higher level beliefs based on culture. On the sensory level, we may see “red” for instance, but the color red has no objective existence as a color. The data coming into our eyes is a bunch of photons that vibrate or resonate with sensors in our retinas and parts of our brains where red “occurs”. Red has a subjective existence. If you were color blind, you would see a more limited spectrum and find it impossible to differentiate some colors. Some animals, take bees, can see ultraviolet in their visible color spectrum. We cannot see ultraviolet. Yet the electromagnetic reality of ultraviolet, photons vibrating within a particular frequency range, exists. The color ultraviolet exists for the bee but not for us. An example of the cultural dimension would be how so many Americans feel about nationalized health care, like the single-payer universal health care of Canada, with all the biases of their brainwashed minds, that there is something sinister or unpatriotic about it, even though the large majority of Canadians like their health care system. While I don’t believe that everything is subjective, I do believe that everything we believe is ultimately subjective, even though we may seek objectivity. In the world of science, the model of the world is made to correspond as well as possible with all the data, yet our models and our perceptions still cannot avoid the subjective limitations of the scientist or observer.

Time and Consciousness

Out there, there is no time. Yet without time, there is no consciousness. And without consciousness, there is no time. Thus are time and consciousness identical. If there were no conscious beings in the universe, there would be no time. And if time doesn't exist out there, does it make sense to talk about the beginning of the universe? The question of the origin of the universe disappears, and it becomes simply a matter of transformations ad infinitum. The universe does not exist in time, but we exist in time by virtue of our consciousness. Time is our virtual reality. But we surf on a timeless sea.

Pantheism and Atheism

If all is god, then nothing in particular is god. Thus are pantheism and atheism identical, except in attitude.