Stardust children

Just on the off chance you haven't already heard this: The universe started with mostly hydrogen, helium, etc... the lighter elements. Then those clouds of H2 slowly attracted each other because of gravity, and formed into tighter balls that started to fuse and convert the hydrogen to heavier elements.  These are the heavy materials necessary to life: Iron, Carbon, Oxygen, etc...  When those stars eventually exploded, those materials were thrown out into the universe and eventually formed into our planet, providing materials which randomly arrange into shapes which then act as a pattern for similar arrangements, where the more adaptable ones are more likely to reproduce and evolve into what we have become today.

Everyone of those processes are understood, at least to a basic degree, by science today. They can be tested, duplicated on the (much) smaller scale, and used to predict the future. We can control them (a little) and use that to our advantage (or not).

How can anyone be MORE in awe than to know that BILLIONS of years and fusion and explosions of energy on a STELLAR scale where required to come to this point at this time to make this CHILD! And if you read them enough books, they can come to understand most of how they came to be! How much more wonder, interconnectedness, beauty, and design do we need?

Many times I've looked at my kids and thought or even said "you are made of stardust"... Now get back to your homework! You have miles to go before you rest. Push the rock a little higher this time, young Prometheus.


the Holy Number of the Pi

Today is Pi day. I hope you will be inspired by this reading from "the Holy Science", book of Mathematics, chapter 3, verses 14 and 15:

"And on the day of the Holy Number of the Pi, being the 14th day of the 3rd month, starting at the 15th hour and the 9th minute, shall begin the measuring of the circles. Except on the 14th day of the 3rd month in the 15th year, when the measuring shall begin in the 9th hour and the 26th minute and the 53rd second and shall be holier than thou... will ever see again.

And the circles shall be measured, and all the circles, and the measuring of them shall be twice; once around and once across, and the measures shall be divided, the one into the other, the smaller into the larger, and the quotient begat of the division shall be as the Holy Number of the Pi, and there shall be much rejoicing. 

And if the quotient be not as the Holy Number of the Pi, the digits being numbered with the digits of one hand, then those who measure will be sorrowful and will wear the eye frames of birth control and protectors of the pocket and there will be much wailing and gnashing of pencils. And the measuring shall be measured again, and the High Priest of the Holy Number of the Pi shall measure and the dividing and the checking of the quotient from the Holy Number of the Pi shall also be of the High Priest. And if the numbers be holy then the measurers who did measure the measures with out true measure will be punished... in Pi mercy. And the punishment shall be that they shall measure the measures, and divide the measures, until the quotient be the Holy Number of the Pi as far as the digits of the one hand, no more, no less.

Yet if the High Priest of the Holy Number of the Pi finds that the quotient of the measures of that circle matcheth not the Holy Number of the Pi, then the circle shall be cast down, and shall not be a circle, and shall be stricken from the records of the circles, and never measured in all the land. For the Holy Number of the Pi is most holy, and may never be questioned, for it has been reviewed by the Great Peer, and found to be holy."


Ultimate Arguments or It isn't want your willing to die for...

This is copied from a whole 'nother world. I didn't write it, but I don't want to loose it and I'd like my kids to read it some day, so this seemed like the place to put it. It's... harsh... but honest and for the most part... I think it's true. I hope they never have arguments on the "ultimate" level, but if they do, I'd rather they had thought about this before hand.
The ultimate argument in the course of human events, whether personal, national, cultural, or political in nature has always been, "Do what I want or I will kill you."

Sucks huh? But the fact is it works like a charm and it doesn't have to be cool with anybody or fit anyplace into a neat world view or some fanciful Disneyland idea of a just universe. The meek may inherit the earth, but only after the strong have moved elsewhere and don't want it any more. Yeah, it's like that and it's always been like that. The pen is only mightier than the sword when the pen can convince a whole lot of swords to stand behind him.

When a person or culture approaches you, the opposition, with the commitment, willingness, and ability to use lethal force to get something done, and you do not have an equal or greater ability and willingness to respond in kind, then you do what they say or you die. Shake and spin and dance and bleat however you like, this has not and will not change. It is human history.

I bring all this up because I lately hear a lot of people talking about what they are willing to die for, as if this is somehow the ultimate sacrifice. Whether six feet of Arlington, or a green hippie funeral with the Grateful Dead playing in the background, we all get there eventually. We all end up dead whether we ever fought a battle, or took up a cause, or did anything meaningful with our time on this rock to make a difference about anything. Death is not a moral sacrifice, it is a certainty. We all have a ticket on that bus and we will all one day climb aboard whether we were ever committed to anything in our whole fucking lives or not. We may postpone it and few actually seek it, but we all get death in the end.

Killing, on the other hand, is a choice. You can easily go from one end of a human lifespan to the other without killing anyone at all. Most people manage to do it. At whatever point in life it occurs it requires an action and it requires a level of commitment. An enemy can make you dead, they cannot make you kill. People who die at the hands of others usually did not choose to do so. The people who killed them were the ones that made the choice and committed to a course of action.

The thing I notice is that when the entity that is willing to kill meets the entity that is only willing to die there isn't much difficulty in working out who gets to go home that night and fuck the prom queen. The meek in most cases inherit however much of the earth it takes to cover them up and not much more.

General George Patton, who was undeniably a crazed bloodthirsty son of a bitch, pointed out in a famous speech that you don't win by dying for your country. You win by making the other silly son of a bitch die for his country. Yes, not a pretty paradigm but it works. It isn't nice and it isn't cool and we don't get to sit around weaving hemp jewelry and waving a sign on a stick while we do it. Still I'd have to say it's fairly clear to me. If you tell me "I am ready to die for my beliefs" and your oppositions tells me "I am ready to kill for my beliefs" I may not be able to tell you who is right, but I can damn sure tell you who will be left.

When measuring a level of commitment I don't look at what people are willing to die for. Lots of people are willing to risk death rather than quit smoking, dying is something we all have to do eventually. When I am measuring a level of commitment I always ask "what are you willing to kill for?" In the end the measure of total commitment to an objective is not what I might give my life in pursuit of, but rather what I would take someone else's life in pursuit of.


Being green IS an American value... we've just forgotten.

Copied and edited from an ageist rant... less most of the ageism, plus some technical points and clarifications. Blame Russell.

Back then, in the 1950's and 60's in America, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled; without being crushed, melted, and reformed, which costs more than washing.

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. A lot of that clothing got made. Things got fixed, and you could fix them because they were made to be fixed.


We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. We valued our appliances, tools, and cars and we took good care of them... and they lasted.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

- The VW Bug, best selling car of /all time/ was massively popular then and got better than 30 miles per gallon, 36mpg was the stated value!

- The Model A ford (and there were a lot of them still on the road in 1950) got 25 to 30 miles per gallon. Of course, it was a death trap, and had a top speed (if you were crazy) of 65 mph.


Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. err... actually, it turns out that a high mpg car is probably greener than mass transit


Even a Camry (rated at 28mpg) gets very close to beating the bus on average. Rail is about twice as efficient as a car, IF the train happens to go where you need it. But still, Bikes beat everything but walking, and keep you in shape... if the cars don't kill you.


Locally grown food was the rule rather than the exception. In most metropolitan areas, the grocery van (and the milk, and bread and everything else) came to your house once or twice a week, serving everyone in the neighborhood in ONE trip, instead of each person driving to a different store at different times.


In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

MIT Professor Walter Lewin (a /rock star/ of physics lectures) says that the energy the average American consumes today "... is the equivalent of having 100 slaves working for me like dogs 12 hours a day"


We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Your clothes dryer puts about 4.4 pounds of carbon into the air /every single load/.


Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaper#Debate There are pluses and minus either way, but in a multi-child family, with a diaper washing service, cloth diapers do use less energy, if more water.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. Kids read comics and books and they played outside. Remember outside kids? It's that thing that goes by the windows of your car. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

Ok, look... I'm not saying we should go back to the 1950's in every way. We've made a lot of progress since then: Women are treated a LITTLE better... and now have the opportunity to work all day and THEN "make" dinner and "care" for the kids and husband. Safety is much improved; these days you can be a complete idiot and yet survive. Corporations are well regulated which prevents pollution and economic collapse. And I do think life is more open now, more connected and more examined. Our technology is worlds ahead of what it was; the intertubes give us access to information we don't need almost as fast as we ignore it.

But we tossed the baby out with the bath water. Frugality, and with it sustainability, went into the ditch. We got lazy, fat, and stupid. Looking back at what was /right/ in the 1950's might do us some good today.