Category Archives: Insight - Page 2

Desire?

Some lives are guided by desire for fun.
Some lives are guided by desire for love.
Some lives are guided by desire for wealth.
Some lives are guided by desire for happiness.
Some lives are guided by desire for companionship.
Some lives are guided by desire for many of these things.

My life
Is not guided by Desire.
For I have everything I want.

My life
Is guided by Logic
       and True Love.

Here on this lump of rock…

Do you ever find yourself sitting around attempting to contemplate the entire universe all at once? Or is that just me?

We sit here on this lump of rock. The immensity of it alone boggles my mind. Earth is HUGE, compared to me. But I haven’t traveled more than a couple hundred miles from home. I suppose if you travel around a lot it doesn’t seem as huge. But it’s still pretty big.

Yet this lump of rock is so small, pointless, and vulnerable on the grand scheme of things. We can look up at the moon, and it doesn’t look so far away. But it’s kind of hard to judge distances with something like that. If you were to actually move out away from the Earth and Moon a few hundred thousand miles or so, you would see them something like this:
    .                             .

Compared to their sizes, they are pretty far apart. Otherwise the moon would look much more gigantic in our sky (like it used to, billions of years ago). And yet, if you back even further, Earth and moon merge into a single point of light. The distance between the Earth-Moon system and other planets is HUGE! I can hardly even imagine it. Yet we’ve sent little (and big) spacecraft out there, cruising around between planets. That makes me feel really good.

Any time we send something (except ICBMs) into orbit or, especially, beyond, I get really excited. Humans are explorers. It’s just our nature. If we weren’t, we’d all still be stuck in one tribe in Africa (or probably be extinct). I hope we continue to invest in our explorations, and spread ourselves across the solar system and the galaxy.

Because, you know, Earth ain’t gonna be inhabitable forever (especially if we keep trying our best to destroy it). And it isn’t going to be here forever, either. I think we, as an intelligent species, deserve to continue to exist until there is no more energy left in the universe. In order to do that, we gotta get off this lump of rock.

It’s not easy, getting off lumps of rock, but we can do it, and we will do it. It is essential for the survival of our species.

Some people might say, “Well, the Earth is going to be fine for another couple hundred years at least… why should we worry about it now?” Well, you have to start at some point. If you wait a couple hundred years before going into space, then you’ve got a lot of technology to develop really fast in order to get people off this rock. But if you start early (now), you can take the time to develop the technology, and get it right, and improve it, as we slowly spread ourselves outward. Believe me, our great great grandkids will thank us for that, even if they hate us for destroying the planet.

So yeah, that’s my little rant for today. Hopefully we will get off this lump of rock and go to other lumps of rock and beyond, or something.

Modern Industrial Civilization

I just wanted to provide you with some words from one of the greatest intellects of our time, Noam Chomsky:

Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilization has been individual material gain; which is accepted legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits in the classic formulation.

Now, it's been long understood, very well, that a society that is based upon this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist with whatever suffering and injustice it entails as long as it's possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited, that the world is an infinite resource, and that the world is an infinite garbage can.

At this stage of history, one of two things is possible: either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community interests, guided by values of solidarity and sympathy and concern for others, or alternatively, there will be no destiny for anyone to control.

As long as some specialized class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole, and by now that means the global community. The question is whether privileged elite should dominate mass-communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must — namely, to impose necessary illusions, to manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena.

The question in brief, is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured; they may be essential to survival.

Noam Chomsky is a smart man. I think about stuff like what he said here a lot. I worry about it a lot. Hopefully we can listen to Chomsky and learn from him. He has a better understanding of humans than most.

Planets

There has been a lot of discussion in recent years, and in particular the past week, about the definition of “planet”. This is the result of, among other things, the discovery of more objects similar to Pluto in the Solar system. Astronomers have been debating furiously about whether to call these new objects planets, like we did Pluto.

The International Astronomical Union has proposed the following “official” definition for “planet”:

A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet.

I do have to say it would be nice to have a definition that everyone uses… but I don't like this definition so much. First of all, I didn't think Pluto should be a planet. It doesn't resemble any of the other current planets in any way. This definition not only keeps Pluto a planet, but makes its largest moon, Charon, a planet as well. It also adds Ceres (an asteroid) and 2003 UB313 (a Kuiper Belt object slightly larger than Pluto).

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Charon, 2003 UB313

This part isn't so annoying, really. We could change the textbooks to have these 12 planets and be happy. But we are going to discover more objects that fit this definition. As we do so, we'll have to change the textbooks again and again. Ugh.

Personally, I thought we should drop Pluto from the list of planets and add Earth's moon (which I'd prefer to call Luna). Pluto probably wouldn't have been called a planet except we first thought it was the size of Earth, in 1930. Then I'd make a definition for “planet” something like: “Any object larger than or equal in mass to Luna which orbits a star and is not a star.”

I dunno… people were so worried about Pluto being dropped from textbooks, but now we just have to add 3 more to textbooks, and keep adding over time.

We should recognize our mistakes and correct them instead of making more mistakes.

As it ends…

I've decided not to provide my full technical review of “Back to the Moon,” because I don't want to ruin a good story like that… because the author already ruined the good story by writing the last chapter. The story was great and would have had a great ending without that chapter. Instead, after writing a story about one of his dreams, he has to shove in all the rest of his dreams into the last chapter to make sure they get out. The entire last chapter could have easilly made another book or two.

So for anyone who hasn't read this book yet, I recommend that you do read it, just not the last chapter.