Magic!

Magic…

The Magic Show

The Magic Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is magic? Sleight-of-hand performed by some stage magician; the subject of fairy tale books and legends; something found in comics and fantasy books; something practised by Wiccans , Pagans, or… — What is magic?

Is magic some fantasy? Something that is wished for by many fans of fantasy novels? Or is there validity to magic?

Top hat as an icon for magic

Top hat as an icon for magic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Magic is real.

Some fantasy tales tell of magic that once was just like the time of fairy tales has faded only because it is now spread too thin to be noticed by most people. At times when few controlled magic, the magic was stronger. There might be truth to that. But I tell you, magic is real!

Why don’t we see magic all around us? It is because we are so used to it that we can no longer recognize it as magic.

Fairy tale illustration by Barbara C. Freeman

Fairy tale illustration by Barbara C. Freeman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perhaps once I write a bit about it, you’ll start recognizing the “magic” all around you.

I might write on it later, but I am not writing about the majesty  of nature, though that’s magical in its own right.

What would you say if I told you I listened to a dead person today? You might think I’m a bit loony or some sort of psychic medium — however you probably do it even more often than I do.

Bing Crosby

Cover of Bing Crosby

I listened to Bing Crosby singing. I heard the emotion in his voice and the words of the lyrics he sang. Not only did I hear the message, but I also got pleasure from his music.

Is this magic? I’d say so. I know that technology was involved but is it magical that we can listen to musicians who have long passed away? Or could I also say miraculous? I think we discount many of the things we do that in reality is magical, simply because it involves technology.

Cover of "Moby-Dick (Barnes & Noble Class...

Cover via Amazon

If that is too high-tech, consider how we can listen to other voices across the millennium. Have you ever read “Moby Dick“? As you read the words on the page or hear a narrator reading excerpts from the book, you are hearing the words, if not the thoughts of Herman Melville from 1851. Herman Melville is long dead, yet his words and thought reach across time to us.

Canterbury Tales, Woodcut 1484

Canterbury Tales, Woodcut 1484 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consider Shakespeare’s plays, or older works like  Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales — jumps further back in time — or going a bit further “Beowulf“. That is just looking at English. How far back do the various religious writings go. It is true that often we are reading translations from the original text, but while we might not be reading the actual words, we are sharing the thought’s of the authors.

English: Dead Sea scrolls shown in Amman Archo...

English: Dead Sea scrolls shown in Amman Archoelogy Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a step back, instead of looking at it from today, looking back at an author’s thoughts in the past. Consider what the writer was doing in the past. He was sharing his thoughts with people dozens of generations into his future! (That is just looking at 20 year generations for 500 years being 25 generations. 1,000 or 2,000 years… 3,000 years?)

Now I suspect that these words I write here won’t last the century, theoretically they could last, who knows how long.

Isn’t that really magic that we don’t realize is magical?

I’ll write more in a future article.

DWPenner

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Sasquatch, Sasquatch, where for art thou Sasquatch?

English: My DSC-W170 digital camera Français :...

English: My DSC-W170 digital camera Français : Mon appareil photo numérique Sony DSC-W170 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you considered a major change in Western Society? Even into the 90’s people who were carrying cameras with them were not that common. Even the digital cameras were expensive enough that many didn’t have them.

Today! Today nearly everyone is carrying some sort of digital camera with them. To be honest, a cell phone/smart phone with a built-in camera.

What does this mean?

English: Sasquatch Yeti Bigfoot Bugerbear Yowie

English: Sasquatch Yeti Bigfoot Bugerbear Yowie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the past when anyone came across anything unusual, like if they spotted a ghost, UFO, or… Sasquatch, they likely didn’t have a camera with them. Now, almost everyone has a camera with them, in their pocket, or in many cases in their hand. If Sasquatch is out there, why don’t we have pictures now? I mean pictures that show more than a shadow.

It really adds doubt to their existence. It doesn’t mean there aren’t any Sasquatch, they could just be more elusive than expected. There was a type of large cat found recently in Florida that had remained undiscovered until recently.

Myself, I believe that if Sasquatch exists, it might just be something besides a primate.

Do you think many folk would be disappointed if Sasquatch turned out to be some other animal — very intelligent, walking on hind legs, covered with fur, with a vaguely manlike face?


On a lighter note, you might want to check out this cartoon from my Gnome Tapestry site: A Horse, A Horse…

A Horse A Horse...

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The Death of Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1398-1468)
Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1398-1468) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Gutenberg press brought books to the masses. Before the Gutenberg press and the movable type that allowed for it, books had to be painstakingly written by hand. Rooms of monks with quills in hand would write the entire Bible one copy at a time. Only valuable books would ever be reproduced. Who really could afford a book of mere fiction.

With the printing press books could be reproduced much more easily. It is true that the early Gutenberg presses were cumbersome and fairly slow. It still took much work to set up the type for a single page. Once the page was set up though, it could be printed up many times before the next page was set up.

Eventually the technology of these early presses led to more efficient presses until we developed the technolgical marvels of the present day. Now we take books for granted and even more, we take newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals for granted.

Actually a lot of reading materials have moved to the electronic medium. Many people now get much of their news by way of either television or the Internet. The traditional periodicals have embraced the Internet.

How is this leading to “The Death of Gutenberg”?

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United States Library of Congress, demonstrating printed pages as a storage medium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A book sitting on your shelf will remain a book sitting on your shelf. Except for the wear and tear of time, the words written on the page will not be changed. Can we say the same about a book that is stored on some server in some computer at some undisclosed location in the world?

Old classics could be subtly edited and censored even as we turn the electronic page. The books we read today might not be the books are children read tomorrow. In fact the news story we read today might be different when we show it to a friend tomorrow morning.

Somebody might decide that Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer are just too rough around the edges for children — or that perhaps one should be a girl or Asian or Native American.

At least when you read the newspaper on paper, you know that if you tear an article out of it folded up and put it in your pocket it will have the same words written on it when you unfolded and share with a friend. You know that when you pull a book off of your library shelf to read to your child the story will be the same as when you read it the last time you pulled it off the shelf.

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de eBook Беларуская: Фотаздымак электроннай кнігі Русский: Фотография электронной книги (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is also true that all you need in order to read a book printed on paper is light. You can read a book by daylight, by electric light, by florescent light, by incandescent light, by lantern light, and even by candlelight. An electronic book — requires not only some sort of electronic reader, but it requires the right type of electronic reader.

Many ebook readers can read many formats — but if you have a given book in a given format, you might not always have that reader. It is also true that if you have a book on your electronic book reader and you wish to share with a friend it can be awkward.

I know that many ebook readers can be read by ambient light, but you still need the reader. Of course even with a book, you do need the book, but if you want to loan a friend your copy of that latest murder mystery, your whole library doesn’t have to travel with it if he doesn’t have a reader matching yours.

Can you legally transfer to their reader? Is it physically possible to transfer it? Do you have to delete it from yours when you transferred to theirs? Is it even legal for you to allow your friend to read the book on your reader? Do you even own the right to read the books on your very own reader?

The fictional electronic book The Hitchhiker's...

The fictional electronic book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, depicted on the cover of a 1991 electronic edition of the actual trilogy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve bought a book from an actual book store and taken it home you know you own that book. I think you realize that you probably shouldn’t go and photocopy that book and start selling the photocopied copies it. However you do know that you own a copy of that book that you holding your hand. You can loan it to your friend if you choose to. You know you can sell that book if you would like to. Probably it is legal for you to rent out that book — but I’m not sure on that?

With electronic books I’m really not sure what my rights are. I know that as soon as I have turned on an electronic device that there are pages of tiny written text telling me what my rights and obligations are. All of these rights and obligations are in extremely legal vocabulary and probably far beyond the typically educated person. I’m sure somebody believes that the text is clear? Perhaps I’m too trusting and that belief? Sometimes I think the text been written to confuse the average reader.

How many people have actually stopped reading print on paper?

Two tall metal file cabinets for work or home use

Two tall metal file cabinets for work or home use (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t get me wrong. Consider where I am writing this article — on a blog on the Internet. I have nothing against technology. In fact you might consider me a bit of a technophile. I love technology and when I was a teenager embraced the computer long before it was popular for teens or even college students to do so. Computers were room filling boxes of circuitry requiring special air-conditioning units the size of a bank of four-drawer filing cabinets…

…you do remember filing cabinets? They were metal or wood upright cabinets with drawers especially made for manilla coloured card-stock folders filled with reports and other papers. …that was where the terms “folder” “file” “record” and even “record” came from.

XDS Sigma 5

XDS Sigma 5 (Photo credit: Scott Beale)

Actually, computers not only were room-sized, but they required large rooms and never would have fit in anything short of a classroom.

Teens when I was young typically did not have access to computers. I was lucky. My grade 11 physics teacher ran a “computer club” where members could teach themselves and each other how to program computers in “Fortran” one of the major computer programming languages of the time.

We would “code” the programs onto coding forms in pencil in block letters which our physics teacher —would then take the to the local technical institute SAIT (the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) once or twice a week. At SAIT key punch operators would take our coding forms and punch the information onto computer cards and return the stacks of cards our teacher. Each program would be a stack of cards. Each line of the form was a card, each line of the program a single card of punched holes. Our teacher wouldn’t simply feed those cards into a computer. They would first be fed in to the machines and a printout made of the cards. The printouts would be brought back to the school so we could proofread our work and correct any errors so corrected cards could be punched out… It might take a week or two for the programs to be ready to be run.

In any case it was a long involved process, so you had to love the idea of having access to a computer and learning to program one. I have been involved with computers ever since the mid-seventies. So you can see, I am not anti-technology.

English: A whole lotta books in my personal li...

English: A whole lotta books in my personal library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still, I have a library of actual books. Some would call my library huge and others would consider it tiny. It exists on five or six – 6 foot tall book cases that are actually for the most part double deep. I could probably double the number of bookshelves I have to properly fit my library.

As a side note, shelves of books make are great for creating a nice quiet room. They reduce echoes and they insulate you from sounds that might travel through them. So if you have a noisy neighbour, a wall covered by shelves of books will block out any disturbing noise whether music, videos, video games, snoring or… and also give you privacy too. Of course you also need the books in the first place. Try do that by leaning an ebook reader against a wall.

Of course I think most people have their electronic library stored on their actual device and not on “the cloud” so their copy of their book is as safe as their personal storage is. That is a whole other topic.  As I have mentioned, I love technology, so I like the idea of having electronic versions of the books I have on my shelf. However I keep noticing that older formats of media have problems when newer ones come up.

English: Books and bookshelves. Admont Abbey L...

English: Books and bookshelves. Admont Abbey Library, Austria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the exception of specialty vinyl records, most have died out. Consider how hard it is to find a video rental shop? Or even a VCR? Do your kids know what a cassette tape is? I wonder how hard it is to find a 3 1/2″ floppy disk? I bet it is nearly impossible to find a 5 1/4″ one and do you even remember 8″ floppies? How about full size laser disks? That is where the “C” in “CD” comes from “CD means “Compact Disk” as opposed to the full sized Laser Disk.

How does this relate to books as you don’t need a special reader for books? How often are you nagged by your utility company or bank to switch to paperless billing? How many clubs or other organizations are starting to do away with paper newsletters? How many Newspapers are starting to reconsider their paper editions? Have you noticed the paper in your newspaper getting thinner and thinner as they try to trim every penny to keep printing and still making a profit? Have you read about publishers being asked to alter the text of classic novels by school boards and parent-teacher associations? Have you heard about communities asking that books be banned from libraries? Have you tried donate books or magazines to a charity lately? Will Santa or Tom Sawyer ever smoke a pipe again?

With electronic, digital versions of these established print items becoming more common, familiar, and popular, the paper ones are actually being phased out before your eyes!

Is this the “Death of Gutenberg”?

Annotated Bookshelf

Annotated Bookshelf (Photo credit: jonathanpberger)

 

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Divine Breath

Throughout our lives we breathe.

Stow Gobbler 2011

Stow Gobbler 2011 (Photo credit: dee & tula monstah)

.Throughout our lives we also lose a few hairs here, a few skin cells there. We all do this. Not only us, but our pets as well. Even our houseplants lose cells as we live. Perhaps not as whole live cells, but as bits of cells. These bits and pieces become a part of the material we call “dust”. We vacuum and “dust” and work to be rid of it and some is trapped in fabrics and in crevices of the homes we keep. But of course it is also in the air around us. Just look at nearly any patch of air with the beam of a very bright light and you will see it floating and moving.

We breath it in and it doesn’t always come out. The people and pets we live with become a part of us in this way, very intimately. No wonder we have little chance of avoiding colds or the flu. We also of course share germs.

Orionids Fireball (NASA, Marshall,

Orionids Fireball (NASA, Marshall, (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)

Dust as well as consisting of this organic material, and a few other organic materials which might even be a bit less savoury to our sensibilities, but still there, still shared — also consists of inorganic materials of fairly mundane origin, bits of paint, and other chemicals from our environment, a few other organic things like from the wood and fabric around. Grit from sand and dirt; pollutants; wearing machines and less mundane sources —a certain amount of dust actually consists of dust from space. A fine dusting of meteoric dust floats down into the atmosphere or from meteors that burn up in the atmosphere. Of course some comes from comets or even further out as well.

English: Aerosol movie, which spans the interv...

English: Aerosol movie, which spans the interval June 13 through 21, 2001, shows a cloud of African dust crossing the Atlantic and raining bits of the Sahara Desert over the Caribbean. Русский: Анимация движения облака пыли из Африки через Атлантический океан к Карибским островам. Период — с 13 по 21 июня 2001 года. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The air in our atmosphere is stirred up greatly, mixing up this dust and spreading it far and near in addition to the contributions that come from our home environments. The soil in the Amazon rain forests falls in part from dust picked up in African dust storms. Dust from Iceland volcanoes grounds flights all across Europe. Our weather in weeks can spread materials around the globe. The air in our atmosphere mixes very well.

It mixes so well in fact that the air you take in, in your next breath, is statistically provable to include molecules of air that have been breathed by figures from most any figure of history you can name. In fact, keeping in mind how well the atmosphere is mixed, figures in history not even that far back.

Panorama: Earth's Atmospheric Limb (NASA, Inte...

Panorama: Earth’s Atmospheric Limb (NASA, International Space Station, 11/24/11) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)

I gather that so long as they breathed at least 10 years ago anywhere on the Earth that hasn’t been kept totally enclosed and isolated from the rest of the atmosphere that you take in some of the molecules that they breathed with each breath you take. It works pretty much that way for much short periods of time as well

earth

earth (Photo credit: Dreaming in the deep south)

Water exchanges very well as well. Water we drink we lose to back to the Earth. Perhaps it might take a while before it is drunk by another, but, likely sometime long before we drank it, something else already had and no matter what your view of natural history, some interesting creatures have drunk and breathed what you do.

A View of Earth from Saturn

A View of Earth from Saturn (Photo credit: alpoma)

I am told, that every molecule of us beyond the hydrogen in us — for helium is very rare and was first discovered in the Sun — was created within a star. Probably it has been within more than one star tossed on an anvil of stellar fire before becoming a part of our Earth and then incorporated into the being called us. The hydrogen — that may have come straight from the creation of the universe though through one or more clouds and comets and perhaps even a star or two.

The elements of our bodies consist of many that have been in many folks, beasts, plants and stars that preceded us. We are all tied together with a Divine Breath.

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Beyond the Long Count… Mayan Apocalypse

Mayan CalendarSo many people seem to be focusing on a Mayan Apocalypse on the December 21, 2012 when their Long Count Calendar ends in 2012 when perhaps their eyes should be looking at something else.

We already know what the World looks like now. We see the problems we face, we see what is around us. But! The wheel of time is a wheel and it turns and when you reach the end of one month the next starts. We should look with hope and wonder at the next spin of the calendar. We should look at the next “Long Count”.

Of course the Maya looked at the next cycle rather negatively from what I gather and that is where a lot of the doom and gloom comes from. The next cycle according to the Maya will be one of destruction and gloom rather than prosperity and growth.

But, I am not Mayan so I am not worried.

Still, I look towards the future. Looking at improving things for myself and those who follow.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

I don’t know if I will be around after December 21, 2012. I don’t believe it has anything to do with any Mayan Calendar. The Bible predicts an Apocalypse as well, but it does not say “when” it will happen. In fact is is very careful not to say when. It is important because — in my view — we should live each day as if it were our last. We always should let our loved ones know we love them. We should have our affairs in order so those who follow don’t have to pick up the pieces. The ledgers of our souls should be as we would like them to be and not be waiting to be put into order.

So, each day when you leave your loved ones, make sure you say goodbye and let them know you love them; don’t go to bed angry; make those phone calls; write those cards — not because your life will end tomorrow, but because you do not know the day “of his coming” or “when your number will come up” or “the day the calendar will end”.

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Three Haiku of the Future

The Family Reunions
Weddings funerals
When families reunite
Reunions to last

Museum Purpose
Keeping history
To teach the future to us
Museums’ duty

Echoes of the Future
listen to children
to hear echoes of the past
come from our future

DWPenner March 20, 2012

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Why Here? Why There? Why Anywhere?

Alien Space Cup-N-Saucer Lands in British Columbia!

Only shaky cell phone images of object remain after encounter with object by tourists.

There are many stories of encounters with UFOs or Flying Saucers and other sorts of encounters with extraterrestrials. Some are more credible than others. We have many fictional stories as well throughout more modern times where they are actually described as extraterrestrial or where stories of yore are now attributed to such visitations.

UFO 2I think, when pondering such visitations that we have to ask the question “Why?” — meaning why are they visiting us? Many of the movies and books try to answer them and many answer “conquest!” whether for food, slaves, breeding population, or other nefarious purposes. I admit that answer makes for good cinema and great books because good conflict can make for great stories — for a great background for a great story anyway. You need more than a great background for a great story after all. (I know I have discovered that in trying to write the next great novel.)

A Pessimistic View

A good friend has put forward, a number of times, that we only have to look at how Native Americans have fared since their rediscovery by Columbus. (The aboriginal population after all knew they were there the whole time and there were others who came to North America before Columbus or who might have come.) When two populations meet that have never met before and there is a large difference in their technological level, it doesn’t bode well for the culture with the lesser level… I think perhaps that we only have to be looking at military technology — where technology might simply include how to produce large numbers of efficient killing machines quickly.

Tim's WorldA More Optimistic View

I think there is a lot of truth to that considering our past track record. But I wonder… knowing what we now know, would we, if we were in a different position, say if the Moon were Earth’s geophysical twin… or if Venus or Mars were so that we could hope to go there and discover indigenous people that were not technologically advanced or perhaps were neolithic or bronze age …would we treat them in the same way that the preColumbian peoples of the Americas were treated?

What I was getting at was — would a more advanced civilization from another planet be making the same mistakes we made? — or would we expect them to operate at a higher moral level.

That’s a question simply of what happens when two advanced cultures of different levels meet. (Assuming both cultures as advanced as our more advanced cultures or more advanced. There are also some cultures here that don’t seem to play nice with others yet.)

I think that there is a matter of how optimistic you are, how pessimistic, or how realistic-unrealistic. I am not a believer that optimistic = unrealistic or pessimistic = realistic. I think that always seeing life as one way or the other is unrealistic. I think being prepared is realistic however — being afraid is pointless.

When it comes to looking at alien visitations, since we can’t necessarily understand an alien perspective, we can only consider our own. Why do we travel to alien worlds? – why do we explore the universe?

Us As Aliens

UFOI mean we already explore alien worlds. We look at them, we land on them — both with manned and unmanned probes, we take samples of them and examine them destructively and non-destructively and take some of the samples home. We have samples from comets, meteors, asteroids, the Moon, and space dust that we have gone out and brought home. We also have some samples that have come to us of those same things and even Mars! (Some meteorites have been shown to be chunks of Mars blown into space by collisions of asteroids/meteoroids with Mars.)

Our probes have flown by and orbited almost all of the large bodies of our Solar System. They have landed on a large number or flown/dropped into their atmosphere successfully and unsuccessfully. We have landed on Venus, the Moon, Mars, Titan, and an asteroid. We have dropped probes into the atmospheres of Jupiter and a comet (I am not sure if we contacted the comet or not. I am not sure of the names of the asteroid or comet at the moment.)

There are over a 750 planets discovered outside our Solar System as well. (There are over a thousand which are not “confirmed”.)

We are already doing a bit of exploring… even “out there”.

Why do “We” go out there?

  • Intellectual curiosity? – Exploration — While there are other reasons, many simply seek knowledge. They have no thought of ever going to the places they explore or gaining any material gain from their exploration. This is especially true with remote exploration. If they were travelling to the places they were exploring, with the larger investments, this might still be so. What sort of payback did Charles Darwin expect from his voyages on The Beagle? I think he might have wanted his name in a few journals and to have his papers published, but I don’t think he wanted to take back species of new creatures and plants to exploit. When we send a probe to Mars, we go partly to simply find out more about Mars. A large part as well is to discover something about ourselves and see how Mars differs from ourselves.
  • Territory Marking – Honour — There is a certain amount of territory marking involved. That first footprint on the Moon meant or means a lot to a very many people. The whole “Space Race” was important and “Who” got into space first. Perhaps there isn’t quite as much an “Us vs Them” in the space industry as there was during the “Cold War” but, there is also an aspect of wanting to land probes on planets simply to be able to say we were there. I think there are people who want to land man on Mars simply so we can place a footprint there. There are also people who want to put a base on the Moon so we can say we have a base there. As impossible as it might be, I am sure there are people who want to land man on Venus as well. So there is a matter of Honour and Territory Marking involved in exploring and going “Out There”.
  • Expansion – Conquest – Manifest Destiny — There can be a feeling of duty to go out there and own a chunk of the Universe. The Human Race is intended to go out and expand to fill the Solar System to the best of its potential. That is an extension to a feeling that it is our destiny to expand to our potential as a right of being a part of the Universe. It is sort of an evolutionary imperative where continuation of the species is a mandate — expansion into new territory is a part of improving the species by expanding its scope. Conquering new territory or ecological zones proves how fit your species is by proving its flexibility — that is even if you push other species out. I think that is where other cultures have tended to lose out.
  • Exploitation — We are using up some of our resources and need to find replacement resources. Perhaps looking to other planets is not an answer for anything we are running out of, but it could conceivably be for others. On a planetary scale we do that. If you can’t find enough oil at home you look towards other lands. We get many important minerals and metals from other countries which if we didn’t would slow our high tech industries to a halt. What happens when we can’t find a few minerals crucial to our computer industry on Earth and recycling what we have just does not allow for growth? Well perhaps this is not a scenario for anything we have, but, we do explore for exploitation.
  • Survival of the Species — There are disasters that could happen that could render a land uninhabitable. If a species on Earth only inhabited one island and that island were destroyed, that species would be gone. If that species were to have been spread to other islands and other continents it would be much harder to make extinct, even if the island it originated on were destroyed. There are things that might render the Earth itself a wasteland if only for a thousand years. That is long enough if we only had the Earth to live on as a species. Even if only a million, a hundred-thousand, ten-thousand, or even possibly a thousand humans existed in a viable settlement somewhere else, the human race would survive — at least long enough to possibly repopulate the Earth or somewhere else. The more other places, the further away, the greater the chance of survival.

I think that we could look at alien species travelling to Earth having reasons similar to these if not others. I also likely have missed some of the reasons we travel away from the Earth or explore. These might be reasons that aliens come to the Earth.

Only One?

Nobody says when we go exploring or just “out there” that we only go for one reason, and in fact we do not go out there as a unified group. Right now we have different nations going into space with differing agendas. Even within nations there are different groups.

There are all sorts of divisions. Educational institutions have different programs supported by different groups from corporations to the military. Sometimes universities and colleges join together. Corporations sometimes form specifically to create a launch vehicle and sometimes to answer a challenge and win a prize. The military has it’s own program or programs and will ask for bids from corporations.

Each group going into space can be going for one or many reasons and they might join together or work at odds with each other.

I think that while perhaps alien cultures might be more unified — even great one minded space-faring insect races — they might have as many varied purposes and reasons as us and there might be many groups and races visiting us… or one race with many groups.

Looking at Why We Might Be Visited

So I think when we look at possible UFO sightings, I think we should ponder that when we investigate or try to make contact. We might look at making contact we might consider ourselves as primitives making contact with ourselves or even curious animals and how we would react to such. Perhaps we might learn a lot if we do so. Do we act like a terrified lab rat or violent savage? Or a tractable animal to the dissection lab? Or perhaps an aboriginal ready to make peaceful and constructive contact even if we are not at the same level in technology. We might still be worthy knowing as “people” rather than as curiosity.

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Green Gold! — Green is the new Black!

A person might wonder where the smart money might be in the process of being invested right now. The money being invested in secret ways so as not to upset the balances… balances that are toppling some traditional towers of bureaucracy and economics. Petroleum products are valuable, but the cost of production is increasing and even though price can be increased, the higher the price the more efficiently people will use it.

…they will also seek alternates!

There are alternate energy sources to invest in like direct and indirect solar power. Direct like solar panels and solar heated fluid power plants — reflected sunlight might heat a fluid like water to steam to turn a turbine or another fluid in a radiator to otherwise turn generators or pumps. Possible alternates to invest in include wind, wave, tide, and falling water (often held behind a dam) all somehow turning a turbine or pump. Traditional oil and gas giants are investing in these things.

Of course they are also investing in soy, corn and Canola fields. Bio fuels are alternates with many vehicles running on ethanol or ethanol gasoline mixes already. There are more local moves to collect methane as well. Bio-diesel is an alternative that is being looked at.

Still, there are a lot of red herrings. Solar panels can only gather so much energy per square metre or even square kilometre. The Sun only puts out so much energy and every bit of Sunlight captured by a solar panel does not strike the land below it. That is something to consider. If you cover an acre of land with solar panels, that field does not get direct sunshine — or at least a very reduced amount of it. The same goes for other solar power.

Harvesting water’s power has effects too. Every hydroelectric project covers acres of land and even if that land is not farm-able or log-able, it would be lost from an ecological point of view. Tamed rivers also are not necessarily the same as wild rivers. Wave power stations also reduce wave action of the waves that pass them and tidal power plants have their effects on tidal flows. Granted they might be less than damming a river.

Even wind farms have an effect on the wind that passes through them and large enough wind farms would have an effect on in the very least local micro-climates.

Now some of the effects might be desirable. Solar panels can shade and cool buildings and perhaps other areas that we might want cooled. Tidal and wave power-plants might reduce errosion of some shorelines — which might become very important in the near future. …and wind farms… hmm…

There is a definite conflict of interest when it comes to bio-fuels. We need food too!

All the corn, soy, and Canola that is sent to the hydrocarbon industry is diverted from the food industry. When there are hungry mouths to feed this is a problem. The amount of ethanol that can be produced from crops is much less than can sustain the amount of fuel, etc. that we use currently even if we use all of it for fuel.

It is great to gather the methane given off by a landfill or compost to power the trucks which collect it around the city, but that is just a small part of things.

There are other resources. I am not speaking of coal or other fossil fuels or even nuclear power in the form of fusion or fission or something more exotic whether you believe Tesla had a discovery or not. There are projects that work to do what fields of grain do, but better — converting sunshine, air, and water into hydrocarbons.

Actually there are two sorts of projects that I know of. One is looking to produce power more directly with a sort of organic solar power system. That one is using chemicals that do the job of chlorophyll to capture the energy of sunlight by capturing electrons and transporting them from one location to another where they give up the electron… producing a current and so acting as a source of electricity. The chemical after releasing the electron can be reenlisted to be expose to sunlight again and pick up another electron and repeat the process.

The other project is a lot less far fetched. That project consists of large cylinders with transparent panels filled with a type of fast growing algae. The algae grows quickly absorbing water, air, and sunshine and after a short time is harvested to be used to make biofuel, food, and the raw materials for other hydrocarbons.

The towers of Algae clustered close together, but still open enough to absorb sunlight could convert the sunlight much more efficiently than other crops and directly into hydrocarbon. There is still the limit of how much energy the Sun puts out, but they could be put anywhere really, even floating at sea.

Of course they still take up space and can only produce so much.

But, I think the smart money might be going in directions like this. There are a few other green directions that make economic sense. But I’ll leave that for later.

Sweet.

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The Islanders

Consider a primitive tribe living a Neolithic existence on an island. They have a fairly advanced culture and have fine pottery and weaving skills and they grow crops to feed their population and us nets and fish traps and are very healthy. They’ve begun experimenting with metallurgy in the form of gold and silver jewellery as well as tin and lead and some others to make alloys.

For some reason they haven’t dabbled much in making rafts and dugouts. The weather keeps them from being to see far off across the moving waters to see what is beyond.

What is beyond? There is a city. The island is in the mouth of a large misty river and surrounding the island is a metropolis of a modern city. They do not wish to intrude on the islanders idilic life although they have conquered land, sea, and air. But now, the craftsmen of the island are on the verge of being able to create rafts and dugouts.

They are a proud and curious people who will want to explore the unknown. How will they react to discovering that essentially they are just “reinventing the wheel”? While their dugouts might take them off the island it might take them days to reach land for the currents are strong and treacherous and the dugouts and rafts are very simple. The people of the city can travel the distance in minutes. They have craft that can hover quietly over the island, hidden in the clouds or just off the coast, observing the native islanders.

The island and the city are fictitious. I am not going to answer why the islanders haven’t discovered water craft yet or why they haven’t see aircraft over the island. Nor am I going into why the “civilized” people haven’t intervened.

What I want to consider is the islander point of view. All of a sudden they discover that all the possible land beyond their horizon, all the dreamed of “other islands” which are open and free to explore are occupied by people much more advanced by them. In a sense they are a curiosity. Not quite denizens of some zoo, some anthropological experiment, or the butt of some joke. They are more the subject of guided or misguided kindness to allow them to learn and discover the world for themselves. I won’t say it is for spiritual reason, or cultural, but just in this little thought experiment that it “is”.

How would they feel on their discovery of their place on the cultural-technological ladder?

How would We feel?

We live on this Island Earth in our Solar Archipelago. We might be visited by “beings” with much more advanced technology than we have. They may know “physics” “chemistry” “biology” far more advanced than ours allowing for engineering and technology far beyond what we can create or perhaps imagine… or only can now imagine.

Considering this, what then is important? I mean in the long term. The hard sciences might nearly become a hobby after we reach a certain level because once we reach out to the stars we will have access to other hard science knowledge and after some education perhaps be at a point to advance what is there… if we can comprehend it. Or perhaps we might be advanced to be able to comprehend it.

On the other hand, perhaps what we should concentrate on are the spiritual and social aspects of society — the things that perhaps make us unique. I would suggest concentrating on the positive side of the spectrum. I think concentrating on the arts and culture, and perhaps heritage to keep our identity solid and our own. I think that working to make our society robust and resilient enough to withstand discovering such a big change in our position in the universe would be in order as well.

These things might be very important, but it might also be still important to get us to a position to get to the stars, or prove our potential to do so, or to get to a position to do so…

Of course some might say that would signal a time to close the preserve?

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Bottom of the Heap

(I actually wrote this 26 Feb 2011)

This is very speculative and not a post of belief by any means.

“How can there be evil in the world?”

Illustration of the Devil in the Codex Gigas, ...

Illustration of the Devil in the Codex Gigas, folio 270 recto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“How can there be evil in the world?” or bad, or sickness, or pain… or in the universe? — that is a question I hear asked quite often and perhaps though I don’t ask it myself often I do sometimes ponder an answer to give.

The pat answer “God works in mysterious ways.” while is in truth a Truth that I believe is an answer is not very satisfying to give to people who are asking that question — especially people who are distraught and have just lost a loved one and are grieving or to people questioning their faith for whatever reason.

I have other answers I have given and worked out, but this is one I pondered today. The ills of the world perhaps are there because it is the only way there can be a world in which we can have a world with individuality. Perhaps it is those ills that distinguish this possible creation as one where we can be individuals separate from each other. Without the potential for conflict there would be no need for choice. Without the choice for greater goods there would be no lesser evils.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What I am meaning is that in order to be individuals we have to be able to choose our own path and that means there need be different directions to take. With perfection isn’t there only one path? Can one path be more perfect than the perfect one? In order for there to be choice “perhaps” there has to be a path that might be less perfect, less good and with a less good path then there are lesser and lesser good choices that might be made that lead away from perfection.

I wonder as I write this, if this is the true meaning of that original sin. The Original Sin being the first turn from the Path of Perfection? The fact that there was this branch on the road we could take meaning that this was intended so that we might actually have this individuality?

Like I wrote at the beginning, this is very speculative and not a belief.

The Simon & Schuster Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs...

The Simon & Schuster Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures: A Visual Who’s Who of Prehistoric Life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not saying by this that God is granting us free licence to sin or hurt each other or to stray from a path leading to God. What I am saying is that the very Universe is what gives us the ability to choose God. That gives us the ability to love God by choice rather than by directive. We can chose to deny God’s existence if we choose, or even to turn others from God. But foremost we have the choice to love God by choice.

I wonder, if on saying this people might ask me if the world might be a little less bad. I think, perhaps, if there are parallel worlds, that perhaps some might be less bad and hence have less choice and less individuality.

English: Chocolate cake with chocolate frostin...

English: Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting topped with chocolate shavings, misocrazy (flikr) http://www.flickr.com/photos/misocrazy/234833296/, attribution required (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perhaps there might be layers — like one of those strange cakes which are cooked by pouring a thin quarter inch – half cm layer at a time into the cake pan before broiling (Yes, I meant broiling, not baking.) so as to create a distinct layers. Each layer could be a different flavouring or each could be a stronger flavouring, though traditionally they are a fairly simple though very tasty  light cake.

( This type of cake is called a

Honigtorte: mehrere dünne Tortenböden, dünn au...

Honigtorte: mehrere dünne Tortenböden, dünn ausgerollt, nacheinander gebacken, dann die runde Form geschnitten, die trockenen überflüssigen Ränder werden zerkrümelt und mit zerhackten Nüssen gemischt und zum Schluss auf die Torte gestreut, zwischenden drei Schichten ist Honigcreme (evtl. mit Butter vermischt) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Schichttorte which is a version of a  type of cake called a Baumkuchen.  I would have said stack of pancakes, but figured that this is a neat sort of cake I have only heard of once and the differing flavours more like a cake thing. I figured you could create a virtual rainbow with different cake flavours and colours. Though reading about them figure that isn’t very traditional.

You can find a picture of a cake like I describe here: Hochzeitsorte – Wedding Locations) The page is in German, but the purpose is to show the picture. You could get Google Translate to translate it for you, but the recipe seems to be for a different sort of cake.

English: Level II Multiverse: every disk is a ...

English: Level II Multiverse: every disk is a bubble universe. Universe 1 to Universe 6 are different bubbles, with distinct physical constants that are different from our universe. Our universe is just one of the bubbles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The point of this cake analogy is that each layer could represent greater and greater freedom of choice and greater individuality that goes along with it. Let’s say the freedom of choice increases as you go down and the very bottom has a layer of syrup or jam representing total chaos. The top has nearly no choice and above that icing representing total order.

Perhaps chaos and order are not the right words to use because chaos and evil often are equated and there are negative connotations to too much order and a lack of freedom. So both order and chaos in totality are seen as negative things.

I do not equate Love with order and Hate with chaos… perhaps disorder is a better word? Last night I read/heard that “fear” is the opposite of “love”?

Level 2 multiverse

Level 2 multiverse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether or not these parallel worlds exist, considering them we might look at this world we do live in. We have a choice of whether to believe in God or not and we have a choice of whether to help others or not. Sometimes it looks like we don’t have choices, but while they might not be easy to find, I believe they are there if not just in the way we look at what is happening.

If there is a stack of layers and we represent one layer and one “us” in a stack of parallel “us”s — perhaps, we are the ones with the greatest amount of choice? Perhaps we are the ones with the stickiest choices to make and the greatest mountains to leap? Perhaps, also we have the greatest occasions to shine? Perhaps we are at the bottom of the heap?

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