Since I Never Get the Last Word
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Imagine, if you will, a Jurassic earth, a planet warm enough at the poles that ice cannot form. That warm there, move down the globe to mid-latitudes where the heat and humidity demand equatorial jungle conditions as we know them today. Marsh and swamp dominate, necessary for 50 ton monsters who must sooner or later return to water to shed the accumulations of detritus acquired sloshing through the mud. More importantly, they need the relief of supporting 50 tons of biomass that only water can provide.
Imagine you are a part of team of time dancers out to explore this place, your charter to map the ecosystem. You, personally, are an inquisitive type more inclined to asking why than what or how.
You won’t see it at first though the satellites you set in place send photo after photo suggesting the plot. Around the globe volcanoes erupt; hurricanes develop and cruise their destructive routes, earth quakes shift the land, wind chases itself in circles that trace graffiti lines across the surface, lightning starts flora burning their SOS messages. Natural disasters accumulate until the globe seems nothing more than a death trap, everything living doomed to extinction.
Cataloguing birth and death, the antics of the food chain, enchants you so that you forget, at first, that everything living contributes something to something else living, that that is what food chain means.
You watch the behemoths attacked by lesser behemoths, in turn attacked by lesser beasts, in turn and in turn and in turn until you reach the microbe niches. Every day, every minute, life and death play their parts on the stage before you.
At some point, it is going to sink into your awe struck mind that there is no evil on this world, just life and death. Life is not better than death nor vice versa; they just are, mututally inclusive. It’s what makes this place this place.
In time you realize that what is missing is someone to assign values to things, someone to decide that something is right or wrong, good or bad, moral or immoral. The place lacks an intelligence to ascribe definitions. Is it an ethical monopole. There is truth in this place but not deceit. There is reality in this place but nothing fictional. There is no evil.
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-06-14 12:13:51
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
A Center for Incoherence
Over in the sf Forum, I wondered what Robert Silverberg meant with his comment: “modern sf lacks a coherent center.” I am a little bit proud to announce an arbitrary analysis of the statement such that the answer becomes abundantly clear.
The numbers add up. Therefore, the proposition can be safely asserted: Robert Silverberg is the center of the universe. Silverberg arrived on the earth in 1935; he won Hugos in 1969 and 1990; he won five Nebulas in 1970, 1971, 1975 and 1996. Simple addition and division gives a statistical average of 1972. Adding the digits in 1972, we arrive at the number 1. [1+9+7+2=19; 1+9=10; 1+0+1]
According to http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/age.html, the calculated possibilities for the age of the universe are – in billions of years – 12.8, 11.5, 11.5, 14.1, 15.6, 15.2, 14.5, and 13.7. Summed , these yield a total of 108.9. Dividing by the number of estimates, we obtain a statistical average of 13.6 billion years.
You guessed it: the digits of 13.6 add to 1.
If a statistically average age of the universe adds to the same number as Robert Silverberg’s statistically important numbers, than – ipso facto – RS is the center of the universe.
Now, if we concede that RS, in lucid moments, is a coherent luminary in the sf universe; than we can determine that when he laments modern sf’s lack of a coherent center, he means that modern sf suffers from an apparent lack of Silverberg clones. Ah, well!!
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-06-13 12:35:02
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Laws to Believe In
Law ofthe universe:
“Now, this, O monks, is noble truth that leads to cessation of pain: this is the noble Eightfold Way: namely, right views, right intentions, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right mindedness, right concentration.” Buddha
Law regarding the operation of eight quantum numbers:
"Whatever isn’t forbidden is required." Murray Gell-Mann
Law of the quantum universe:
"All things which can occur do occur.” Data, The Next Generation
Law of the world as I know it:
"A hundred million miracles are happening every day." Oscar Hammerstein II, Flower Drum Song
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-06-11 09:32:04
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Vowels According to NATO
Went looking to find who was responsible for the Great Vowel Shift of the 15th century. Lacking academic discipline, I soon left that trail to nose down another. Did you know that there is an international phonetic alphabet and that it has nothing to with Esperanto or any other fabricated language? And that it has a sub-conspiracy devoted to vowels? Check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vowel
This is serious stuff. It could even be a conspiracy. Isn’t that wonderful? We haven’t had a decent conspiracy since a certain Woman of the Shire settled in to her last book.
I am looking forward to our English teachers getting their hands on this. Elementary school is going to become more of a torture chamber than ever before and what more can you ask from a school system besides baby-sitting?
I think we all owe the goddess a thank you prayer tonight that NATO had the acumen - and the funds - to tackle this problem. The linguists of the world needed some employment field other than teaching and NATO provided it. I wonder if SEATO is working a counter system. I hope so. Nothing like a good academic dispute to brighten up the summer doldrums.
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-06-10 10:00:20
Friday, June 9, 2006
Consider the Zoos
Earth and earthlings are not at the center of the universe. So saith Copernicus.
I believe him.
I believe it’s going to be a problem for humanity when the truth finally comes home to rest.
“..and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Genesis 1:28
We have spent so much time being lord and master of the earth, discovering that the earth is just one more planet with nothing spectacular to boast of, not even us, is going to demoralize us big time.
The thing that amazes me is that you don’t even need to be a fundamentalist-literalist to subscribe to the sentiment. There is not a place on the globe where nations hold sway that the powers that are do not subscribe to the sentiment. To find exceptions, you must narrow your focus to individual gardens.
Consider the zoos.
These days of political correctness, the zoos lay claim to the conservationist banner. I’ll give them that because they are not my curiosity. My curiosity is the crowds who wander their grounds. What is their motivation?
Wouldn’t it be delicious ifgood ole Mother Earth was nothing more than a zoo for a bunch of aliens?
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-06-09 09:02:10