Time Travel

Apparently there is an aspect of Quantum Theory called retro-causality which suggests that something could be done in the future that would affect what occurred in the past; something you could do now that would change what happened then.

It all has to do with sub-atomic particle ‘entanglements’; apparently, simply observing one of an entangled pair changes the nature of the other one which alters what was a micro-second ago. Extrapolating from this brings into focus an idea sci-fi writers have been exploiting for decades: time travel. While some theoretical physicists are pretty sure time travel can’t happen I have to wonder: as I was passing a local elementary school recently, a question on the school’s electronic poster board asked: Do you have a student in Kindergarten next year? Any definitive answer to that question would suggest there are, indeed, people living in the future.

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The World Without Us

There’s a lot of discussion these days about whether or not humankind is putting excessive pressure on our earth’s finite resources. Population growth, new technologies for extracting fossil fuels, depletion of forest lands, loss of clean fresh water sources, garbage in the oceans, over fishing, the list goes on and on.

I was reading an interesting commentary on what would happen to our world if humankind was suddenly to disappear, how quickly it would rebound, become healthy again. Such a scenario, human extinction that is, is not all that unthinkable in view of international tensions these days.

Such thinking made the book, The World Without us, by Alan Weisman, compelling reading. Mr. Weisman suggests that, in his believable future world, infrastructures would begin to fail, the New York subway tunnels would flood almost immediately and within a few hundred years our most solidly built brick, mortar and concrete structures would crumble. Native vegetation would push up through asphalt roadways hastening nature’s reclamation of the earth. Coral reefs and sea life would rebound as the resilient oceans healed themselves.

Even 500 years later the earth, it seems to me, would be a much more attractive place to be; except, of course, I wouldn’t be there; unless I could somehow live in the future. But, I guess that’s a whole other issue.

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Progress

I’ve been thinking about what the concept of progress means these days. I’m pretty sure that, from a materialistic standpoint it has something to do with economic growth: increased consumption to drive increased production to hire more workers to then increase consumption; seems pretty circular and pretty unconcerned about depleting the earth’s finite resources.

My inclination is to see progress more in terms of a bigger picture that has to do with mutual respect for each other and our environment. I really thought we were moving in that direction but recent events have truly shaken that belief. I thought pluralism and tolerance for others was being widely embraced. Sure, there are pockets of reactionary dissidence, even dangerous terroristic hostility, but I really thought that most of us were on the same page, you know, as far as mutual respect for social and cultural differences.

It’s hard not to fall into pessimism, even though I know large numbers of people think as I do. I guess it may be time to take things more seriously, take to the streets, I suppose; shout from the roof tops. And in emulation of our new president I’ve decided not to pay my taxes this year. Who’s with me?

 

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A True Reality

I’ve been wondering about the idea of objective universal truth, whether there can be such a thing. I guess it stands to reason that within mathematics and logic it certainly exists. And when it comes to science, inductive reasoning establishes certain truths that pretty much must be considered objective.

But, universal ethical truths are a bit difficult to get a handle on. I suppose if we accept the innate value of nature and all people, fair treatment for everyone and everything should be accepted as a universal moral truth, although, cultural differences might make ‘fairness’ a somewhat relative idea.

And when it comes to aesthetic judgments universals are even more elusive.

I guess it’s just an inherent characteristic of human nature to pursue undeniable truths; some innate connection between mind and world; a beyond doubt, true reality. Such an inclination must be where religion comes from.

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Personal Identity

I’ve been thinking, lately, about what characterizes one’s existence, about what constitutes personal identity. I guess it’s pretty clear that who I am now is not, in a variety of ways, who I must have been newly born in terms of cellular make-up or cognitive capabilities, which makes me wonder when, exactly, did I happen. And, even within memory my experiences have changed me in many ways physically and psychologically. If I’m not now who I was, who, I wonder, will I become? Think about those folks aboard the Starship Enterprise who enter the transporter room as Captain Picard or whoever and have their molecular structures disassembled. Can they really be who they were after reassembly?

I’ve been reading an intriguing sci-fi series by Richard K. Morgan who introduces the concept of ‘cortical stack’, which is a structure atop the spinal column, at the base of the brain containing one’s entire being: memory, personality, essentially whole identity. The idea is that if the body is damaged or destroyed the cortical stack can be transferred into an awaiting body or ‘sleeve’ so that an individual can resume existence in a new and viable physical skin, and as long as the cortical stack isn’t destroyed one can live forever. The idea, I suppose, is not dissimilar to the age old concept of immortal soul that will live on after physical extinction.

I guess I have to accept right now what I appear to myself to be, but I do relish the idea of becoming, which is certainly what will happen, whether or not an existence beyond the physical/psychological is in the offing.

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What we’re all entitled to

I guess it’s pretty clear there are those among us who presume moral entitlement, whose imagined self-worth provides them the impetus to butt into lines, swerve dangerously through traffic, and, generally, push off the stage those they find to be in the way of their selfish desires. Depending on the degree to which such people imagine their superiority, their behavior may range from petty annoyances to total disregard for the welfare of those around them.

I’ve been reading that there is evidence to suggest egregious behavior of this sort is becoming more and more common and that it threatens to undermine the values necessary to maintain a cooperative, free society. Cooperation all too often depends on realization of personal benefit. The idea of acting in the interests of mutual benefit for all, of equality and justice, is waning, no longer a viable concept for some.

I guess our capitalistic notions of ‘working hard to get ahead’, which certainly accounts for much good being accomplished, can get out control sometimes, a bit too dog eat dog, blinds some people to the true values of mutual well-being.

I’m going to start thinking more about mankind’s common entitlement to a reasonably happy and content existence, maybe spend some time working toward a more just distribution of resources. Maybe I’ll invite the neighbors over for tea.

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Taking Sides

I came across this idea, the other day, a comment by Elie Wiesel that suggested we all must take sides. Neutrality, he said, helps the oppressor, silence encourages the tormentor. I guess he was thinking of his time imprisoned during WWII, but the idea sure seems applicable these days. The problem is it takes a lot of energy to take sides. It’s a lot easier to look the other way, to sink into the peaceful oblivion of a misconceived optimism totally unwarranted by the dire events of the day. A head-in-the-sand situation, I guess. And then there’s the problem of feeling impotent, that no matter how one might choose to act it will be too little to make a difference.

Between the desire to bask in undeserved optimism and rationalizing my non-action, I seem to be keeping my Will well distracted. Some people, I know, will seek out a motivator to guilt them into action. I don’t respond well to cheerleaders and guilt is a fairly constant companion anyway. So I guess, for starters, I’ll resolve to spend some time each morning contemplating humankind’s inclination to base instinctual behavior after which I will relish the purity of the Will evident in nature’s lesser phenomena. Perhaps the collective Will will assert itself at some point. I guess it’s pretty clear, though; I have taken sides haven’t I.

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Rays of Hope

I’ve been thinking how moral proprieties as expressed in popular culture have changed over the generations. Depending on one’s philosophical perspective decadence or enlightenment might be a fairly accurate one-word description, I guess. There have, of course, always been pockets of depraved immorality as well as societies of puritanical absolutes, but what has been found to be acceptable to the cultural mainstream has certainly been changing.

From the standpoint of artistic expression, eliminating taboos regarding visual representation and language usage has certainly been a positive when used to offer insights into the contemporary conundrum, to better express the complexities of daily existence.

But, unfortunately, there appears to be plenty of self-promoters out there who see advantages to be exploited; who use social media to avoid any sort of censorial control. The result being a kind of ugly downward spiral away from thoughtful beneficence and toward anything perceived as attention grabbing, shock value being particularly sought after.

I have to admit I have no solutions in mind to overcome this unfortunate situation other than to continue to live in my increasingly judgmental intuitive world, rejecting or admitting input as I see fit. I will optimistically watch for the occasional rays of enlightenment I know are out there.

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My Intuitive World

Given the uncertainty of the accuracy of any news items these days I continue to exercise my right to accept or disregard what I hear and read according to my intuitive discretion. In my intuitive world, events and reported occurrences, for the most part, pass by, conveyor-like, in a stream that I view from the sidelines. This information elicits from me various responses from mild to vehement, extreme dis-like to guarded optimism.

I wonder sometimes if I should try to take a more active position, assume some sort of public stand, voice my opposition or approval. Except, since I don’t know what to believe, what would be the point?

OK, OK, enough of the negativity, intuitively I know what’s best. In my world I can respond with confidence to my immediate surroundings: the weather, one-on-one interactions with others and so forth; a bit, I suppose, like putting one’s head in the sand, or attaching blinders to block my peripheral vision or wearing ear plugs 24/7. But, who knows, maybe sensory deprivation will yield new and useful insights.

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Truth

There’s been a lot of news, lately, about the dissemination of ‘fake news’. Almost daily, it seems, there are reports of ersatz information being spread around, some of which is pretty incredible. Sometimes it’s reported, people will even take actions in response to these ‘fake news’ stories, which, I guess, must mean they can sometimes be pretty believable.

But now I learn that a pretty large percentage of the population distrusts news sources altogether, which makes me wonder, if the news sources are of dubious believability how do we determine what’s fake? And, if we can’t tell what’s fake how can we know what’s true? I guess truth becomes a matter of belief, which works pretty well, I suppose, when it comes to religious issues but maybe not so much when it involves hard facts.

As far as I’m concerned I’ve got this kind of intuitive scenario in my mind that I sort of fit new information in to, selecting and discarding as it suits my world view. My understanding of things may not always be entirely accurate but my method does give me temporary peace of mind.

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