Monday, May 30, 2011

THE FLAVOR OF THE DAY, aka The questionable quark.

I recently spoke to a self-proclaimed quantum physicist. She sold water softeners. She was a nice lady, and a lot of fun, and I was speaking to her over the telephone about a business matter. Let's just call her "Marge". Here is part of the dialogue:

Me: So Marge, what do you do for a living?
Marge: Me and my partner own a businees.
Me: What kind of business?
Marge: We sell water softeners.
Fair enough...two hard-working entrepreneurs selling quality products to the American consumer. I respect people like that. Let's continue...
Me: How did you get into that field?
Marge: My partner, he's a quantum physicist. Yeah, he knows all about
quantum physics, and he is teaching me. You know, you can get cancer
and stuff from the vibrations in your water if you don't get rid of
those free radicals.
After thinking about my daughter's dorm at Kent State, which was right where the infamous shootings took place in 1970 (get it..."free radicals", hha ha), she asked me to wait because a customer was coming in.
I heard the following:

Marge: Are you here to get a water softener?
Customer: Yes.
Marge (estatic): Oh my! It is good to meet someone else who is interested
in metaphysics.
WAIT! The jig is up! You said METAphysics! I knew it. You have no idea what you are talking about, do you Marge? Besides, I never heard of a physicist working for years, and spending tens of thousands of dollars to get a PhD, only to become a water softener retailer.
What does any of this have to do with Kool Aid, that delicious sugar water, flavored with toxic dyes, that was such a staple of my 1970s childhood? Only this..Kool Aid had a lot of "Kool" flavors. Let me explain...
"Quantum" simply means a measure ("quant" ity) of anything. However, in popular literature it has come to be equated with subatomic physics. This means means measurable particles below the atomic level. When I was in science class, as a pup, we were taught there is nothing smaller than an atom. Even then, there was a lot of literature about subatomic physics, most notably from Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, but from other lesser knowns, as well. It was all based on an original paper by Max Planck, a true genius whom most kids never learn about in school, sadly. But anyway, according to my junior high school teacher, who also taught phys ed by the way, and never took off his whistle, I learned the atom was the bottom of the rung.
That is not the case. Let's touch on a teeny bit of science and no, it will NOT be boring. Use your imagination! When you do that, very little in life IS boring. Quantum theory (aka "quantum mechanics") have SO MANY implications, that one could easily write twenty volumes on the subject and not scratch the surface. It affects the unified theory, string theory, the space time continuum, um, oh, never mind...let's talk about a cat. If you are a cat lover, don't be offended. I am not, so here we go:

A number of subatomic particles have been discovered, and more are being identified all the time. Now remember, we don't actually "see" these things. I wrote, in a previous blog entry, about the unfathomable size of the universe, well this is still about that unfathomable size, only at the other end of the spectrum: the miniscule. We found them mathematically because they are too small to see.
So (I will get to the cat in a minute. Hold on.), two of the most noteworthy particles are quarks and leptons. When I was a kid,our gym/science teacher showed us a model of an atom. It featured a nucleus, surrounded by electrons. I believed this just like I believed the standard health class rhetoric about the 4 food groups, and the idea that the Ruskies were going to nuke us while we lie in bed.
In fact, the atom consists of many particles, including quarks. A quark can exist in one of 6 flavors. "Flavor" simply means the quark's orientation vis-a-vis other quarks. That is because every quark has an anti-quark. Just like every proton (+), has an opposite electron (-). Yes, opposites attract. Ask my wife. So anyway, everything in the known universe has an opposite, including quarks. This has non-scientific implications. Christianity, in its most basic sense, is a story of good versus evil. God versus Satan. If one accepts the premise that good and evil are opposite one another, a complete "no brainer", then it is readily observed in the physical world. Again, everything has its opposite, so this validates the concept of sin. If you love someone, Mr. or Ms. Unbeliever, that in itself confirms the existence of sin.
Also, subatomic particles appear to behave with no rhyme or reason. Or do they? Perhaps their behavior is so complex that we are unable, or do not have the intellectual capacity, to ascertain and identify the patterns of behavior. So, the fact that we do not understand everything about God does not mean He is nonexistent. Just as mathematical evidence of quarks exists, evidence of God exists. Again, physical realities validate spiritual possibilities.
Oh yeah, the cat. A nice fellow named Schroedinger explained one reason we may not be able to determine the behavior of subatomic particles, and quarks in particular. In his hypothetical scenario, a cat is put in a box, which is then a vial of poison gas is put inside. The vial is attached to a Geiger counter. If the box is opened, it releases the gas and kills the cat. If left closed, the cat remains alive. However, if it remains closed, how do we KNOW it is alive? It is an assumption. So, the question is asked, "Does the mere act of observation, in fact, change the phenomenon being measured? I say "yes". As a doctoral student, we account for this when doing research. So, remember the proverbial question, "If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody sees it, did it still fall?" If something happens at the subatomic level, and we do not see it, does that mean it did not happen? No.
Here is the corollary: BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT SEEN, HEARD, OR OBSERVED SOMETHING ABOUT GOD, DOES THAT MEAN IT IS DOES NOT EXIST? Of course not! There is a preponderance of evidence. Christianity is NOT just a matter of blind faith. Evidence exists in nature. Just as a physicist affects subatomic particle relationships in his or her efforts to observe them, we too affect our perception of Christ when we try to perceive Him, because we are flawed, and we taint everything we see. We bring our own biases to Jesus and see him through OUR prism.
The old paradigm: Science and faith are opposite one another. MY paradigm: My faith is VALIDATED by science because the creator, Jesus Christ, is not just The Savior, The Great Physician, and Master of our Souls. He is "Chief Scientist" as well.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Jack Webb. What a jerk! He seems like three middle school principles all combined into one. He seems like a Drill Instructor from Parris Island (without the hitting). He gave many a stern lecture about “pot, weed, herb, Mary Jane, joints, wacky weed, etc. The scourge of the planet. According to Jack, as well as the police officers who brought the stuff into our 6th grade health class, it is a “gateway drug”, eventually leading to LSD or heroin. Someone who smokes that stuff could eventually have “flashbacks”, or space out and jump off a cliff. Weird! I don’t know what’s weirder: the weird things pot is supposed to do, the weirdness of so many people refusing to look at facts rather than hearsay, or law enforcement establishment’s obsession with it. Oh yeah, here is another weirdy….some hippy types, are obsessed with making it legal, like it is a big crusade, akin to the civil rights movement or universal suffrage.
Let’s look at some paradigms:
#1) Pot is a scourge, and a symbol of all that is wrong with America’s moral degeneration.
#2) It’s no big deal.
Here is MY paradigm: Let’s not focus on pot, per se. LET’S FOCUS ON PRIORITIES. America is so many things. People are multifaceted. People LOVE simplistic solutions. That way, their life can be orderly, and they are not burdened by the anxiety that comes from not having a firm grasp of their world.
Instead, let us look at ALL the issues facing us in our world. Let us examine ALL the ills that plague our world. We cannot possibly list them all. The first and foremost problem is sin. All other problems stem from this. Sin manifests itself in many ways: greed, lust, dishonesty, addictions (which enslave), poverty, ignorance, a lack of love, etc.
Somewhere on this list we would eventually come to “marijuana”.
I have NEVER smoked marijuana. Honest Injun. When I was in junior high, these guys came on the bus, wearing jean jackets, and stinking. I asked the kid sitting next to me, “What’s that smell”. Answer: “marijuana”. The marijuana users I knew were not my friends. They always acted like they were “burned out”. They would say things like, “Heey Maaan…..(nothing to follow. Just a foggy, distant look”. I thought it was some kind of physiological brain damage phenomenon. Now, I realize it was an act, perhaps of self-delusion. They were playing a role. Nonetheless, they got bad grades and spent time in detention, so I did not want to smoke pot and become one of them. Besides, it was sometimes made clear to me as a child, that I was worthless and a real screw-up (authority figures). I was bound and determined to NOT let that be prophetic. Nah, I just studied and kept my nose clean. Anyway, whether I smoked it or not is rather immaterial.
As I said, two police officers came to our school with a glass case chalked full of all kinds of drugs, like pot, heroin, amphetamines, whatever. We saw what a joint and a hash pipe look like. I did not live in an urban area, and would probably have gone through my entire 1970s childhood never giving that stuff another thought, outside of the latest Starsky and Hutch episode. Now, this demonstration, for some kids, was like putting gasoline on a fire. They thought it was cool, and fantasized about maybe actually trying it. Exercise in ignorance.
There was a scene in Dragnet where a baby drowned in a bathtub, while the mom was high on pot. The thought is actually morbid. But…have you ever read in the paper about someone smoking pot, then beating their wife, or getting into a fight and killing someone? How about people with emphysema or cancer, caused by pot? Do you know someone who smokes 3 packs of joints a day? Is it possible? Yet, alcohol-related deaths are common, whether by accident or scirosis of the liver. People become violent and kill other people, or crash vehicles. Cigarettes kill people regularly, on a large scale.
On the other hand, I see no redeeming value in using non medicinal substances. I think pot is NOT a good thing. However, I want to tell you about Robert McNamara. In case you do not know, he was the president of Ford Motor Company, and later Secretary of Defense. Under his leadership, “cost-benefit analysis” became the flavor of the day. The concept is simple. It is the old techniques where someone makes two columns, plus and minus. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of each option and make a decision. McNamara is now vilified by many. He is responsible for the methodology that resulted in many Ford Pinto deaths. Bottom line: Ford decided the burden of spending an additional 11 dollars per car, to install a safety device to keep fuel tanks from exploding, exceeded the value of the human lives that could statistically be lost by the explosions. Also, he applied the infamous “body count” as a measure of success in Vietnam (a tremendous military success, nonetheless). However, the cost-benefit of Marijuana enforcement is worth looking at.
Statistics are very malleable, but every estimate I have found, indicates tens of billions of dollars spent annually in the U.S., to fight a war on marijuana.
Our border is porous. We are fighting a prolonged, HUGELY expensive war overseas. We are printing money at unfathomable rates, because we do not REALLY have it. We have urban violence, murders, hardcore drug proliferation, white collar crimes, and prison overcrowding…blah, blah, blah. We have a limited pie, a finite amount of money to spend. We need to decide HOW MUCH we want to spend, and WHAT programs we want to take the money from, because we must be realistic, money spent somewhere means it cannot be spent somewhere else.
In some states, medicinal marijuana is legal, while it is illegal under federal law. A lot of incongruities exist. There are SO many issues…juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, lack of respect for the law, moral degradation and the collapse of the nuclear family. Also, there are the issues of wisely spending finite law enforcement dollars, gaining tax revenue, regulating the quality of what is ingested, etc.
Laws against marijuana are a mid-twentieth century phenomenon. Traditionally, it has been legal, and was used as far back as the 19th century American West. We are kind of in limbo, and I don’t like limbo. I hope our society will make a decision either way, with pot, and then move on with it already! Stop the confusion and inconsistency under the law. As believers, we are to follow the law, regardless, but it would be nice to know what message our government is giving.
My paradigm: Cost-benefit analysis. What are we going do with our law enforcement dollars that will give us the most benefit? Marijuana is one of many sub-issues within that greater question.
See ya!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Alright, we have all had our laughs. Funny! Good times! Good, decent people who think Harold Camping is nuts...wicked people who look down on the scum (Christians), and who think they are the scourge of the Earth...arrogant, educated humanists who look down, disdainfully, at the harmless, right wing hicks...and finally Christians, who either are embarrassed at these shenanigans or are saddened: It is over. The Great Rapture scare of 2011! By the way, Mr. Camping has been telling Christians to NOT attend church for several years, so he is not one of us. He runs a cult. Anyway...
By now, it is clear I am going to renege on my previous commitment to write on marijuana. That will be a labor of love reserved for another day.
Now, I believe the Bible teaches Jesus is going to return, and He will first protect his Church, by taking them away from this Earth, which will endure tribulation. (although it, in fact, is already enduring tribulation, and has since the beginning of recorded time. But, it is getting worse, simply because humans can damage the Earth, kill each other, and destroy ecosystems like never before).
This blog is not about theology, but about paradigms. So, here is a paradigm for ya: Why do we discuss WHEN Christ will return (unbelievers, bear with me)? First of all, time is a human construct. There is NO SUCH THING. That can be validated scientifically and, for those who believe in the Bible, through Scripture.
The concept of the space-time continuum originated with Einstein. In the most fundamental,kindergarten sense, it is the idea that, after the Big Bang, the universe as we know it emerged in four dimensions (Since that time, the idea of eleven dimensions has emerged which, of course, is a subject for another day). Three of these dimensions are spatial, which we can discern with our eyes. The fourth cannot be seen, which is "time". So, we identify EVERYTHING in our creation by three spatial dimensions, and time. For instance, I am going to the local grocery store. I know it exists, because I can identify where it is in a three dimensional world. I also know it is there NOW. Viola: the space time continuum!
So, although scientists recognize the space-time continuum, which is literally HOW we know natural things exist, it REALLY would not exist in the absence of man. The whole idea of a "space-time continuum", i.e. three dimensions plus time, was invented by people. We are natural, EXTREMELY finite beings, so we have to think up this stuff, in order to understand everything around us. The universe, according to the theory of relativity, is ever-expanding. It expands in all directions. Three dimensions, not just one. Yet, mankind thinks of time in a way that is linear.
We (non scientists) tend to think (such and such) is going to happen at a particular time. For instance, it is going to rain tomorrow, or CHRIST IS GOING TO RETURN ON MAY 21st, 2011. The whole idea is fallacious. Modern cosmological theory contends that the universe is INFINITE, a concept which our minds are literally not engineered to understand. It is supposed to be expanding and contracting, and engaged in a series of big bangs...blah, blah, blah. Anyway, this is not a linear concept. But, we think LINEAR. In other words, we view this world as traveling from point A to point B, using that make believe railraod we call "time".
Christians fall victim to this, because the Bible teaches that Christ WILL return. However, he stated, "I am who I am" (Exodus 3:14). Revelation 4:8 shows us the angels praising God by singing, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." The footnote in my study Bible states, "God's power and holiness extend from eternity past to eternity yet to come." Also, reference Isaiah 41:4.
I want to present two views: Secular, and Christian. Most people in these camps THINK they are opposite from one another, but how wrong they are!
Modern cosmological theory states (arguably)that our universe consists of a never ending series of big bangs. It is not linear, because there is no end. IT JUST IS. Do you see the big clock at the beginning of this blog entry? Twice a day, that hand winds around full circle. It starts at 12 midnight, and eventually it ends up pointing, again, to the twelve. It has come full circle. This illustrates the cyclical big bang theory.
Regardless of denominational persuasions, true Christians agree on this: God created a perfect world, but it was contaminated with sin. God solved this problem in the person of Jesus Christ. The end of the current age is coming, with the return of Christ. Then, the world will be RESTORED TO WHAT IT ONCE WAS. Bible students often speak of God's dispensations (plans for the ages), but the fact is, we are NOT proceeding from point A to point B. There is NOT a time in the future when we will end up somewhere where we have never been. According to Christian theology,the purpose of Christ's sacrifice was to restore the ORIGINAL relationship we had with God, i.e. to make things right. So,think of Adam's fall in the Garden at 12:00 on a clock dial. Then human history progressed to 1:00, 3:00, 7:00, and we may be at the 11th hour. Who knows? But, according to our faith, one thing is sure: the hand will once again be on the 12:00. God's original plan for man will be restored. It is not a linear trip to some future, as of yet unrealized, destination. Christ is ultimately setting BACK the hands of time. We are going BACK to where we started. Because, you see, God isn't GOING TO BE anything. He just is.
Here is a take away: Don't plan on "being". Don't look forward to "future" events. JUST BE! God has made us in His own image. He wants us to emulate Him. He said, "I am that I am". HE JUST IS. So we, too, should just be what He wants us to be. When we do that, we understand His salvation, because PAST does not really exist, not does future. His salvation is from everlasting to everlasting. He has wiped the slate clean, and restored us to what He initially chose us to be.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Operation Flying Saucer!

No, I’m serious! The Brazilian government had a top secret program called “Operation Flying Saucer”. OK, it was really just “Operation Saucer”, but a little hyperbole goes a long way when you’re writing a blog. Apparently, in 1977, this effort began because Brazilians were reporting hundreds, if not thousands, of UFO sightings over a relatively short amount of time (UFO is Unidentified Flying Object to the uninitiated, ha ha). Can you IMAGINE the U.S. government ADMITTING they had such a program? Ridiculous, right? Ever hear of Operation Blue Book? If not, just look it up. I can just imagine a meeting of the Brazilian National Security Council(notice how I translated this from the original Portuguese):

National Security Advisor: Mr. President, we want to tell you about super top
secret program: Operation Flying Saucer.
President: Holy Moley! Is this what I think it is?
Advisor: Yes, Mr. President. We are being visited by flying saucers.
President: Have we captured one yet, and reverse-engineered it?
Advisor: No, don't be ridiculous.
President: Listen, is this room secure? No leaks! There could be a worldwide panic.
Uruguay is desperate for this kind of intelligence,so they can hit us
where it hurts.
Generalissimo: We'll be ready for them, Mr. President.

A "nut" (highly unorthodox individual) posted this diagram on that paragon of truth, the internet. It is a supposed diagram of a reverse engineered flying saucer (at area 51, no doubt).

So far, I have been having fun with this, but now for the serious part. Remember, this blog is about PARADIGMS. We need to step out of our old paradigms, and think outside the box. I will take us to that point, but first I need some background information; a little context, if you will.
Here's the deal: A.J. Gevaerd, editior of the Brazilian "UFO Magazine", investigated this program. The government acceded to his inquiries, and tacitly admitted the program did exist. Colonel Uyrange Hollands (ret.), of the Brazilian Air Force elaborates on the now unclassified mission of the program:

1) To collect as many witness reports as possible about the lights and objects being seen and that performed the strange attacks.

2) To register the lights and objects in the jungle with the highest photo and film technology available.

3) To engage, if possible, in a coordinated attempt to contact the "intelligences behind the phenomena".

Here is where we look at a commonly existing paradigm and begin to step outside the box. As a metaphor, imagine you are sitting in a new car, admiring how it looks, sizing it up, making value judgments about it, and drawing some definitive conclusions. Wait, first STEP OUT of that car, then step back 10 feet. NOW examine the car. It is a whole new perspective, right?
The common paradigm for UFOs has been the idea that they house alien beings from other worlds. Maybe so. I am a Christian, and I have yet to find anything in the Bible that states that is NOT true. We know that the Bible does NOT contain all of God's truth, although what is in it IS truth. Try finding something in the Bible about the periodic table of elements or the NBA (you get the point). John 21:25 reads, "Jesus (God) did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." So, the existence of these aliens is possible. However, bust out of that paradigm. They are UNIDENTIFIED flying objects. They could be anything. They could be yet misunderstood weather phenomena (I don't think so personally, but it is possible). They could be SPIRITUAL beings. In a future blog one day, I will discuss the three dimensions of our known world, and the evidence that there could be more dimensions, as well as the strict limitations of our senses. I will not go off on a rabbit trail. I just want to say these things could be supernatural, and not natural. That IS my own take on it, although I admit we should not paint UFO sightings with a broad brush. They could be a collage of many things, including people who have a vivid imagination or want attention, and in some cases downright schizophrenia.
Let us take a minute to think about my own beliefs on this subject. The UFO phenomenon is absolutely real. Many educated people, including President Jimmy Carter and some scientists, have seen them. I, myself, had a sighting in 1980. I also think SOME, if not all, of these UFOs could be of a spiritual nature. In Ephesians 2:2 (NIV), Satan is called the "ruler of the kingdom of the air". The King James version calls him the "prince of the power of the air". We read how Daniel (Chapter 10) prayed and fasted for 24 days, but his answer was delayed because the angel who was delivering the answer had to do battle with the Prince of Persia. Also, Ezekiel (Chapter 1) saw a wheel in the sky, and described it in clear detail.
As a side note, I remember when, in the 1980s, a Bazetta, Ohio police officer said he "chased" a UFO. It was on the local news because they had his radio transmissions where he was giving the play-by-play to headquarters (the dispatcher). I really don't know why you would chase a UFO. You can't catch it. Anyway, there is no context for this. It is just interesting, and I thought I would mention it.
As a little "teaser", my next blog will be about marijuana.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Flickering Flames Affect My Brain

Last weekend, Lydia and I went "back home" to Warren, Ohio for a little Mother's Day visit (When we lived in Ohio, Pennsylvania was "back home"). One of our common activities, starting in the summer and extending into the fall, is to visit our friends Dan and Vicki, on their piece of property. It is like a little Ponderosa in the country, and when weather permits, it inevitably includes a campfire. I am not going to talk about the fun and enjoyment of a campfire. Most red-blooded Americans, at least where we are from, have some kind of warm and fuzzy campfire memories. People talk, eat hotdogs (referred to as "weenies", only when cooked over a campfire), and generally relax. Many boy-girl relationships have blossomed around a fire, I am convinced. I have also noticed, it is like a truth serum. People engage in small talk and reminisce, talking about old times or how they hate their boss. Often, somebody throws a wrench in the works and mentions currents events, whether in the world, or in their own life. Eventually, prolonged exposure to the flickering flames casts a spell, a slowly building hypnotic state. During that time, some people begin to succumb to the truth serum and share the things that are buried inside, that they would not talk about under more stressful, guarded circumstances.
This brings me to the point I want to talk about. Campfires can be fun, but I am not going to go down that road. Rather, I want to mention something that is rarely talked about when sitting around a fire. WHY does it mesmerized us? Somebody might say, "It is relaxing". Yeah, but WHY? It can't be just because it is a focal point for us to look at. I don't get the same effect from going into a backyard and staring at a tree. I can' t invite people to come over to my house so we can stare at a tree and have good times. Insert "stare at a picket fence". You name it. It doesn't work. No, there has to be something more because, I am telling you, I am one of the easier prey. When I began looking at the fire, I fall victim to its seductive charms pretty quickly. I stare...stare and listen....stare and talk. It absolutely has to be a physiological process in my brain. Incidentally, let me say it is not just fires. I am captivated by the ocean surf. I can sit by the ocean, frolicking from time to time, all day. I rarely grown tired of it (I am an "ocean person". You either are one or you are not.). I visited my daughter once, and she has a radio that doubles as a nature sound machine. You can turn it on and listen to a soundtrack of the ocean surf, or the woods, the rain, or a waterfall. I like them all, but the ocean surf actually sooths me to sleep. She bought me one of these machines of my own.
Anyway, I am going to ask my son-in-law,the physician, about the physiology of the brain, as it pertains to this subject matter. In the meantime, I have two directions I want to go with this. First, the idea of hypnotism (if you are fundamentalist Christian, I love you, but don't wig out, like "If you are a Christian man, you shouldn't be messing with that stuff". I get it. However, I do not believe in Christian Stalinism. I just want to discuss this. As a college admissions officer, I speak to people from across the country, every day. Because I work with doctoral and masters degree candidates, I often speak to people who are quite accomplished and have strong formal educations. I spoke to one such man recently who was a hypnotherapist. He was not a self-styled kook, but an actual practitioner, licensed in his state. But, he did hypnotism. He kind of weirded me out when he told me he could hypnotize somebody over the phone, as we were in fact speaking over the phone, and he said, "How do you know I didn't hypnotize you just now as we were speaking?". However, I told him I have no desire to be hypnotized, nor do I allow myself to be, as I am not susceptible to it. I did not mention the fact that I have the Holy Spirit, as a believer, etc. Anyway, he gave me a kudo. "Right you are!". Indeed, according to this guy, you have to want to be hypnotized, and some people are susceptible, while others are not. So, we got into a deep discussion of what hypnotism is, and is not. Most people talk about it flippantly and do not even know. Even hypnotists don't agree and Christians (that's me, by the way) are often misinformed. That is not my point, however. The point is...well, let's keep this fundamental. Does anyone here remember Pavlov's dog? Anybody who took basic Psychology 101, or has even done some light reading on the subject, understands this is the quintessential case study on cause-and-effect. The guy rang a bell when he fed some dogs. Eventually, he stopped providing food when he rang the bell, but the dogs continued to salivate when the bell rang. They associated the bell with food, simply enough. OK. This is, arguably, part of the whole hypnosis thing, according to my psychologist friend. It is association, and just as a dog does not say "Hey, that bell usually means it is time to eat. Therefore, I will begin to create more saliva to eat a meal", a person who is hypnotized does not say the following: "Now that I have snapped my finger (or clapped my hands, or whatever other distinct act triggers the response), I will stop desiring a cigarette". It is cause-and-effect, like the bell and the dogfood. So, is that part of the campfire effect? Is it a cause and effect relationship, where it casts a hypnotic spell over those who are most willing and susceptible? Remember, going to a campfire event is an act of WILL. You go there because you DESIRE to be relaxed and enjoy it...just like someone who subjects himself or herself to the hypnosis of a therapist. I dunno. So, that is one direction on the subject, and here is my second.
Could it be that the mesmerizing effect of a campfire, ocean, or you name it, is strictly a physiological phenomenon? I am not a scientist, of course, but I do have my Time/Life book on the human brain. That sounds so non-intellectual, but actually, it is a fascinating resource for a lay person, and when I bought it, I read it in one day. That is how cool it is. However, I could not really find anything in there which I could bring into this discussion. I did a Google search, and I found something written by a guy who said, if you stand around Stonehenge, while staring at a flickering candle, some kind of pulsations start in your brain, and..........that is when I quit reading this tripe. I think he was going to say aliens would come or something. I also found out something about flickering flames and brain damage, only to find out it was a Pink Floyd album. So, I did eventually find a couple of academic papers on the subject. A basic theme seems to be the theory of evolution (let's not start that discussion, but yes, it is a theory). Some academics theorize that prehistoric man would spend large amounts of time gathered around campfires, this being their only source of light, cooking, and safety during the evening. Therefore, over extremely long periods of time, the human brain developed, and was wired, in such a way that it has an affinity for flickering campfire flames, and associates them with other brain processes, like reasoning and communicating. Shamans, and other religious types the world over, use fire. It is used in some sorts of meditation. Remember, Shamanism in all its forms goes back a long way, well before Christianity.
Anyway, it is what it is. But, it is an interesting subject, if you ask me.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


When we moved to Pittsburgh,two years ago, I got in the habit of sitting "out back" and relaxing each evening, gazing at the summer sky. I have always liked astronomy, and as a boy in the 70s, I watched Star Trek reruns, dreaming about how "cool" it would be to travel accross the galaxy. I even took a college course in the subject, but the Cosmos began taking on new meaning for me recently. The older I get, the greater the revelation that my life is finite, and I am but a fraction of a grain of sand in the entire universe (that is OUR universe, as it is theorized there are more than one). The fact that we are so miniscule and the universe so unfathomable, strengthens my faith in God. It also elicits great reverence and respect. He owns all this, yet He still cares for me. Amazing!
Lydia and I began attending lectures at the Allegheny observatory here in Pittsburgh, complete with fascinating speakers, tours, and sometimes viewings. The first time we went, Lydia and I got to spend a couple of hours viewing the heavens with a super zealous observatory employee who was more than happy to pull some "OT" for us (overtime, to you youngsters). I clearly saw what I was told was a galaxy. I simply could not comprehend it, yet I comprehend that it is incomprehensible.
Stop, take a breath, and allow the following information to soak in. Really digest it. If you are normal, and really absorb it as I am asking, it will take your breath away:

THE SOLAR SYSTEM, ALONE, IS TOO BIG FOR US TO IMAGINE. The distance from the Sun to Earth is 93 million miles. Can you imagine outrunning light? What can be faster than light? Theoretically, nothing. To us, light seems instantaneous, at 186,000 per second (approximately). However, it takes about 8 minutes for light to reach us, from the time it leaves the sun. Pluto, the farthest "planet" (not the farthest celestial object), is estimated to be 3.7 BILLION miles from the sun.
Some scientist think there are 300 BILLION suns in our galaxy. The closest, Alpha Centauri, is 4.4 light years away. It would take 4.4 years, traveling at the speed of light, although in theory, reaching that speed would cause matter (you and your space ship)to become pure energy.
They believe there are 100 BILLION galaxies in the Universe.
There are theorized to be a huge, perhaps infinite, number of universes. I once googled theories on how many universes exist. Yes, if you are like me, you were indoctrinated, in 6th grade science class, with the idea that the universe, by definition, is singular. In other words, when we speak of the universe, we are speaking of know,infinite creation. But, by use of mathematics neither one of us probably understands, that is believed to not be the case. You may say, "That is impossible. There has to be a beginning and an end. There has to be a final number, a final amount,of anything". You say this because the human brain is wired into a paradigm that says infinity does not exist. I am about to stop myself, because that is a subject so fascinating that it is suitable for its own blog.
Don't worry if you are not overly hip to the whole cosmology/astronomy thing. This is not a blog about astronomy, per say. It is about critical examination of paradigms. However, at future times, I will elaborate on antimatter, black holes, the space/time continuum,the eleven dimensions of space, and how they ALL bear testimony to God Almighty.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Welcome to my blog

 My wife, Lydia, and I ride to work together nearly each morning.  During that time, she often speaks on the telephone with her sisters.  But, when she isn't, I share things I have been thinking about.  She is sort of my Freud. She just listens.  Anyway, I sometimes think of things with no apparent context, but in fact there is a reason. I am interested in many things, perhaps being eclectic to a fault.  I see things, which remind me of other things, that are interesting, that make me wonder why certain things are or are not.  I will share some of those as they occur here. Often, they are things that are in some way related to my faith, because that is who I am.  Yet, I also think about science, history, nature, people, animals, stupidity and genius, kindness and cruelty.  I think of all things in an overall context of my relationship to God, but when doing so, I like to turn things inside out and look at them from a different paradigm, and see how it really works.  If you are a pollyanish, hymn singin', legalistic type of Christian, at times you will not like what I write. If you think Christians are superstitious, you will think I am an ignoramus. I don't care.  This blog is my world...ha ha!  I have known bankers, visited a governor at his mansion,had lunch with congressmen, dinner at a billionaire's home, and toured the West Wing. I also know the guy who lives under the bridge her in Pittsburgh, and the janitor at my job, and frankly, I like them more.
   My first entry will be a little discussion of our universe, because it just plain fascinates me.  But first, a word about MTV. Why MTV, you ask? (assuming you do ask). When MTV was first "launched", I was a young lad, but I remember how revolutionary it television. It reminds my of the launch of my blog.  3....2....1....lift off. Music television is on the air.