Monday, April 26, 2010

King David, Vermont, and a Duck that Goes "Quark, Quark"

Title of the attached painting is "Thirteen Galaxies." I was watching a Discovery Network show about how the Universe was created during and shortly after the Big Bang, and I mean shortly. Real shortly. There is a unit of time called Planck Time and is the length of time that it takes light to travel 1.616-something meters, about 5 feet. It's a pretty short interval of time - about a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second. So, pretty short. But given that the earth's orbital speed around the sun is gradually slowing down, it won't be that short for long. And then Ben Franklin thought up Daylight Savings Time.......but that's another story.

One of the fascinating aspects of the Big Bang is how energy/mass/time are all created in that one instant 13.73 billion years ago when everything goes KERFLOOEY and expanded and created everything in that nanonanonanonanonanonano second. Sir Edwin Hubble, who we sent up in orbit to watch stars, noticed that the galaxies were speeding away from each other, and concluded that, "Wow, the galaxies are speeding away from each other." By plotting their speeds and directions, Hubble was able to imagine the galaxies reversing their courses and ending up at the same space/time point. Scientists now can even back track from the present Universe and shrink the Universe mathematically using giant superconducting colliders and crashing elementary particles into each other and taking really cool photos with really cool digital cameras way back down now to about the first trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. They have found all kinds of cool stuff: quarks, and gluon plasma, leptons, baryons, and antiquarks and antibaryons...... And I don't have a hard time with any of that. "God" explains all the stuff we can't otherwise explain in most scientists' minds. As long as they don't create the black hole which sucks the Earth into oblivion on some nice Friday afternoon while I'm out golfing and enjoying time with my friends or out on a date with my sweetheart, I'm okay with all their crazy experiments. Dr. Emilio Lizardo in "Buckaroo Banzai - Electroids Across the Eighth Dimension" comes to mind.

Then there's the Big Fight between Matter and Anti-Matter. The two forces were quite busy annihilating each other willy-nilly in those first few nano-seconds, and Matter won, but just barely. Just a bit more Anti-Matter and we wouldn't be here. I think that's why we have the Matterhorn. And that's why things matter. Just remember, though, never have pasta and antipasti on the same plate; the results could be quite messy.

I can mentally and conceptually shrink the Universe to the size of our solar system given that atoms are mostly empty space and molecules are mostly empty space and matter is mostly empty space, as is the ice cream bar I had last night and the cheeseburger I ate yesterday. In fact, space is mostly, well, space. And I can mentally shrink the Universe down to the size of our Sun or even Jupiter, or Earth, or Mercury. I can mentally shrink the Universe to the size of Nebraska or even Vermont.

I am reminded of a passage in Joseph Heller's "God Knows," a fictional autobiography of King David, where King David is full of braggadocio about his many victories in battles and conquests of tribes and foreign lands and is quite proud of himself that he took a kingdom the size of Rhode Island and turned into a kingdom the size of Vermont. Puts it all into perspective, doesn't it?

So back to the shrinking Universe. I can mentally shrink the Universe to the size of Mount Rushmore, or even a refrigerator, or maybe a case of Budweiser, maybe a basketball, and a softball, or a tennis ball, or a golf ball, or a large marble and even a little cat's eye marble, or a pea, or even a BB. But any smaller than that defies all rational logic and systematic thought and is just plain ridiculous.

So I'm left contemplating the Universe compressed and shrunk to the size of a BB and wondering how God did it anyway........ Did you hear about the first duck created in the Universe? It said, "Quark, Quark."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Made in America

A few thoughts on a beautiful April afternoon about the state of the union......

I noticed that Sarah Palin is starting to tell her crowds that she is not calling for violence although in response to an Alaska Militia, apparently training to overthrow the US Government, she used the phrase "not at this point." Perhaps the threefold increase in threats against political leaders had something to do with that. She and Michele Bachman got together in Minnesota and didn't have a thought between them...... If nothing else, that one is a former Governor and unsuccessful candidate for Vice-President and one is a Representative in the US Congress proves that in America anything is possible. I still don't get it....... I enjoyed watching Dumb and Dumber with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, but this is ridiculous. And all their militaristic and murder and gun rhetoric - metaphors they say - provide the meta-narrative of their movement.

Nine violent Hutaree Christian Militia members were arrested recently.....tip of the iceberg I suspect. And they are about as "Christian" as Osama Bin Laden is "Islamic." Perverions of faiths are, well, perverted. Joe Conason speculates about a possible US "dirty war" and lists the growing numbers of politically and racist motivated threats against Democratic leaders which have now led to numerous arrests. Perhaps caught up in the "fun" of it all, the mentally disturbed are even threatening Republicans now. And the Tea Partiers continue to be against everything as far as I can tell, but what they are "for" remains a mystery. Even the anti-tax message gets pretty fuzzy when the numbers of Tea Partiers who receive government benefits or subsidies of one kind or another are factored in......... They appear to be mostly against other people getting subsidies or benefits. And a pretty sobering thought: I saw a video of Sean Hannity addressing one of his crowds who cheered when he mentioned Timothy McVeigh "wannabees," you know, that guy who killed 168 innocent people in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. You've got to be kiddingme......

The GOP has it Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans without ever mentioning George W. Bush's catastrophic handling of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath while Chile's new President Sebastian Pinera studies the failed response of the last Republican Administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina in order to do a better job of responding to the human needs following Chile's terrible earthquake just a weeks ago. "We don't want to make the same mistakes," Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno said. "The idea is to prevent..... what was done (so) poorly."

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell decides to launch Confederate History Month and forgets to mention slavery......oops. That idea of secession that pops up in Alaska and Texas and Virginia provides such a fun time for the perpetrators of the ever-shrinking pie of Southern Strategy that changed the south from Democratic to Republican a few years ago. Lee Atwater repented, but not many others.

And Barack Obama signed a treaty this week which will reduce nuclear arms in the world by about a third. President Reagan's Secretary of State George P. Schultz praises the treaty and says this is the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Dumb and Dumber mentioned above thoroughly and stupidly trashed the treaty while simultaneously worshiping at the throne of Ronald Reagan. Cognitive dissonance anyone? And something I don't understand is why in the world would President Obama sign off on an assassination order of an American citizen? What happened to the rule of "LAW" which he so eloquently expressed during his campaign? This is for me the biggest disappointment so far with our new President. On the other hand, I guess, if I were a militia plotting the overthrow of the US government, this might make me a bit more nervous.

A dust-up between President Obama and the thoroughly corrupt possibly drug-addicted President of Afghanistan causes Liz Cheney to go ballistic in defense of Afghan President Karzai, who was so completely ignored by her Dad's administration that that country sank into, I fear, an irretrievable drug induced anarchy of corruption and war lords while His Royal Highness Karzai (pun intended) goes about his merry way as Mayor of Kabul. How much Kabullsh** should we take anyway? And I don't get why Ms. Cheney is so upset in general given that our President decided early on not to prosecute her dad for war crimes and has quietly adopted so many of the worst Cheney/Bush policies in regard to enemy combatants, etc., etc...... She should be grateful, not bellicose.

The stock market is hitting new highs every month during the Obama administration, corporate profits are up, but unemployment remains high --jobs remain hard to find, although I personally have four. I do wish I could find one, though.

So there you go.....on this April afternoon.

ps. My son is going to Bellevue East's prom tonight, and boy, does he look good in a tuxedo!