Since I Never Get the Last Word
Thursday, September 28, 2006
RPI #2, Gaia Is No Better Housekeeper Than Hades
On behalf of Pluto, who seems to have no adequate public defender at this time, this charter member of the Restore Pluto Initiative, RPI, hereby offers a motion to the IAU court, namely, and to wit: the astronimical body currently labeled a planet and known colloquially as ‘Earth” should be demoted to dwarf planet based on the following facts:
a. In response, the International Astronomical Union (IAU), definition for a planet (which only applies to the Solar System), reads: a planet is a body that orbits the Sun, is large enough for its own gravity to make it round, and has "cleared the neighbourhood" of smaller objects.
b. The so-called planet earth has yet to eliminate its moon from its orbit. Of course, the largest planets have yet to eliminate their moons from their orbit but this motion only concerns the earth.
c. As detailed on this astronomy web site, http://www.saguaroastro.org/content/ANNUALmeteorSHOWERS.htm, the earth annually experiences in the neighborhood of 40+ distinct meteorite showers, indicating bodies that orbit the sun in a solar-centric orbit that may well be round but also have not cleared their orbit of smaller objects such as the earth so they cannot be planets either.
Ergo, swoyi, and therefore, I hereby petition the court that, since the orbital path of earth is a neighborhood demonstrably not cleared of smaller objects, it cannot claim the title, planet, and must be demoted to dwarf planet.
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-09-28 09:28:11
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Street People, the Next Generation
A while back, the American Civil Liberties Union took on the mental institutions in this country, this after a number of horror stories and even worse movies hit the streets. The problem seemed to be that once a person was institutionalized, they lived at the mercy and the whim of the folk who ran the institutions, a situation bound to lead to abuse. It did. The ACLU brought the abuse to a stop for which, I for one, am willing to applaud their efforts.
Perhaps Gumperson’s Law took effect at that point because after the ACLU closed the institutions and the inmates were now free to go where they pleased, live as they please; they did. You will find them under highway overpasses, in alleys, in abandoned buildings. Those we define as mentally ill live lives we define as strange, mad, insane. Still, I suppose the argument can be made that they have the right to pursue happiness as best they can by their own lights. It is painful to observe but attempts to interfere usually meet with rejection by the not-as-the-rest-of-us, sometimes violently. There the situation stands; the not-as-the-rest-of-us somehow survive on the streets; they seem to be quite adept at doing so.
There remains a cost not considered in the ACLU’s solution: the cost to the families of the not-as-the-rest-of-us who get to watch the child they raised live such a life. Over time, perhaps they become inured though I do not believe that possible. That pain, though, can get much worse. If the not-as-the-rest-of-usare female, then offspring eventuate. The system leaps to the rescue of the new children, removing them from unfit parents’ responsibility. Society pats itself on the back for acting.
If, as the evidence seems to indicate, the not-as-the-rest-of-us thing is genetic, then society meticulously rescues the next generation of street people. Sometimes the original family discovers – after the fact – how well society did stepping in to rescue the new child while doing absolutely nothing at all for the now adult child because they cannot violate her civil rights.
Going back to the way it was doesn’t make any sense; those institutions were as bad as they’ve been portrayed. Now, at least, how we treat the not-as-the-rest-of-us is on the street where everybody is forced to observe the treatment or lack thereof. Whatever the answer is – and I cannot pretend to be secretly hiding what the answer might be – the answer ought to include preventive measures against the next generation of street people.
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-09-27 08:34:21
Monday, September 25, 2006
On a Monday morning, there ought be no surprise that Gumperson’s Law should come to mind despite the fact the gent probably filched the law from another kindred soul, John Hazard. Gumperson wrote: The contradictory of a welcome probability will assert itself whenever such an eventuality is likely to be most frustrating or, in other words, the outcome of a given desired probability will be inverse to the degree of desirability. The Law of Perverse Opposites. His language skills evidently not equal to his mathematical skills; I submit he should have written “….the probability of a given event will be inversely proportional to its desirability.
And that works just fine when consaidering the inevitability of Monday asrriving after Sunday.
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-09-25 09:26:29
Saturday, September 23, 2006
It is now several decades since the 70s which is a remarkable enough statement all on its own. What makes it more remarkable to me today is how much I seem to have changed since then. Have just finished reading compilations of short stories by James Tiptree, Jr., and Harlan Ellison, all written in the late 60s, and throughout the 70s.
One apparent change: I evidently do not remember so good. I’m certain I must have read most of those stories when they first came out as I read everything in the field – or at least thought I did. But I don’t remember any of them; they were all new to me. What I discovered after enjoying these stories is that I am much less impressed with Tiptree now than I was then and, although I do wish he’d stick to writing and keep his mouth shut. The man can write! I remember now why I was so enthralled with his work back then.
My disillusion with Tiptree arises not from her subject matter or her prose. She wrote wonderful descriptions, her imagination soared, and her plots were on topic but still revolutionary for the 60s and 70s. Hell, I didn’t catch up with her thought processes until I became a 90s-kind-of-guy. It’s just that I found myself wanting to hurry her story along, to get to the point already. Thinking about that reaction, I know it’s the same reaction I get from so much of the more popular fantasy I’ve attempted to read, too many words for not enough outcome. I’m maybe more of a sound byte person than I think I am.
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-09-23 09:27:13
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Suppose for a moment survival demands instinctive fight or flight mechanisms so that all life comes equipped with such reflexes in degrees varying only with the biology involved. Every encounter with every other life form begins with this first determination.
Then suppose that intelligence arrives on the scene to moderate the reflex. It cannot eliminate the phenomenon; only moderate it. It can assign a name to it: xenophobia. One human can accept another human, especially one of the opposite sex. Mated pairs can accept children but every time an identity group is thus established, the new entity comes equipped with the reflex. The entities keep getting larger, extended families, clans, tribes, ad infinitum; the reflex remains constant..
Next, suppose that intelligence is inherently curious generating one ‘why’ question after another, just as our children still do. Questions demand answers so they get them, one way or another. Suppose the question is: why are we here and what do we hope to gain? The answer will be a religion. And the religion will come equipped with the reflex.
Welcome to the 21st century.
Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-09-21 07:49:39