I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
April 23, 2017 - 12:48 p.m.
I slept an extra hour this morning, I have no idea why; yet, I'm still sleepy. Why did I write that sentence half an hour ago and then forget I was writing? I have no idea what I went to check online but I stayed there for a while. Oh, right, it started with checking how my fantasy baseball team, The Nashional Batnoses were doing. You don’t want to know. Same with the Mets. I haven't backed a winner since the Cubs.
Yesterday I promised to write about science today. That is to assuage my guilt over not marching yesterday. I have done plenty of other marches and rallies; I have not been sitting on the sidelines so why the guilt? Because there is no cause I care about more than science. This is personal. It's as central to my identity as religion is to a Hassid. But as a person whose values are scientific I understand that public policy should not be based on making me happy. It would be nice but I can find a good rationale for why I should be the one person that society should be geared to please. That shouldn't stop you from keeping me happy.
Under threat of torture Galileo renounced the theory that the earth orbited the sun and said that the earth was still and the sun moved around the earth. The legend is that as he left the inquisition he muttered "Yet it moves" under his breath. The universe doesn't care what you say or what you believe, it does what it does. Science is the study of what it does. You can deny science all you want it doesn't change the truth. Whether Wile E. Coyote knows or accepts the theory of gravity he's going to fall after he runs off the cliff. The Trump administration thinks that if we don't discover risks and deny the risks we already know we won't suffer the consequences. That's a danger to the republic. It's a danger to the world. He says that the climate change is uncertain but his budget cuts the funding to learn more about it.
It goes beyond the dangers of climate change. He wants to make huge cuts in all science funding. Science is the engine of progress. I'm looking around the room I'm in to see how much wouldn't exist without science. It's pretty much everything and so much is unpredictable. Let's start with my computer. It needed discoveries in electricity, quantum mechanics, material science, chemistry, information theory, oh hell, it needed hundreds of scientific advances to exist. There's a smoke detector on the ceiling. Smoke detectors save many lives. It has a tiny amount of Californium in it. That's an artificial element that would not have been created if we didn't have particle accelerators. Nobody built particle accelerators to save lives, but they did. Trump would not be able to tweet without his cell phone. Many of the advances in miniaturization that it requires were original made for the space program. Things had to be made small to fit on a satellite light enough to be launched into orbit. The GPS that has become ubiquitous would not be possible without Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.
One theory of why economic growth has slowed is that technological innovation has slowed. Corporations are spending less on R&D than they used to. The government response should be to spend more. The things that revolutionize our lives come far more from science and technology than anything else. A person in Renaissance Italy did not live that differently than his ancestors in Imperial Rome. Since then our lives have been transformed. If we want things to continue to transform we need to invest in science and to invest in scientific education.
It isn't just about the economy. Like the humanities science improves our internal lives. This comes back to where I started, science making me happy. There is so much out there to delight the accepting mind. I was just reading about naked mole rats, mammals that live like social insects with a queen that bears all the young. We recently discovered that they can live extended times with low oxygen and even with no oxygen at times. There are ways this could lead to medical advances but even if it doesn't my life is better just knowing it. Let's see what's in today's Science Daily. There's the mole rat story and these lead stories:
OK. I did my bit for science. Now to make matzoh brei then go shopping, I'll be out of eggs, and try and get back here to watch as much of the Ladies in The House Online Music Festival as I can. I haven't figured out dinner yet. I might slow cook ribs but if I do that I have to start cooking now. I think I'll just go for cheddarbrats today.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Follow on Feedly