Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”

31 08 2008

Five days and twenty-three hours.

That’s how long it took those avian special agents to find my new car. With my old car, I could go for months without so much as a drop of their uric acid wonder touching my car, but, then. they probably sensed that I didn’t care about that car. That car had a nice protective coat of dirt, with just enough cleared away for me to see my way down the road. That car was a Jeep disguised as a Ford Focus. At least, that’s how I treated it. Every now and then, I’d nearly get us stuck way out in the middle of nowhere on a rugged truck trail with no help in sight. Once, we came upon a small creek crossing the road, where deer looked up at us as if to say, “What the heck are you doing here?” I saw the telltale signs of a high-clearance vehicle getting stuck, complete with the broken planks that had been shoved under the tires and the frayed rope tied to a stick that people used to pull it out. Never mind that the ruts it had carved were deeper than my wheels were tall. Yes, folks, I still attempted to pass. But that was the old car. Something inside me wanted to make this new relationship work where all the past ones had failed. Sure, when the newness wears off I’ll probably stop treating her like a lady, but, for crying out loud…

My car is not a toilet!

Fortunately, a wet rag was all it took to thwart the efforts of those cloacas with wings.

I mean, seriously, how would they like it if I tried to sneak up on them and do my thing on them? Yeah, not so funny anymore, is it?.

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The tangential model

30 08 2008

Everybody knows that the Big Bang is an established fact.  Well, today’s students are not much encouraged to think beyond that idea.  This is unfortunate, because much of what is taught about the origins of the universe is not scientific at all.  Before we go shooting our audience in the foot, let’s examine the principle of the Big Bang:

According to the Big Bang, all matter in the universe originated from a single point [C] and blasted outward from there.  For our purposes, let’s call this radial expansion, because that’s exactly what it is.  What they will tell us is that if they can prove that the universe is expanding, then they have conclusively proven the Big Bang.  In fact, the evidence generally does demonstrate that the universe is expanding, but one does not have to look beyond one’s nose to see that they have proven nothing.  Sure, they set the stage and acted the part, so when they find the evidence that they claimed they’d find we all shake in our boots and worship their intellect.  However, if the Big Bang, by chance, did not happen to be true, then what would be the case instead?  This is important to ask, because not considering the alternatives means coming to a conclusion prematurely and being stubbornly wrong.  Here’s a model of the universe if their radial model just happened to be wrong:

In this picture we have the various parts of the universe all located at any point and traveling in any direction.  The previous model, the radial model, works from only one starting point and the parts of the universe travel in all directions, so it only explains one possible scenario.  However, this model is good for almost anything else.  We’ll call it the tangential model.  In this example, particle x may initially travel nearer to the center [C], but in the long run it will travel far away from it.  Particle y, though not traveling directly away from C still gains distance from it with every second.  Particle z just happens to be traveling directly away from the center [C].  The principle is the same as what happens if a person is lost in the woods and panics: any direction other than the right one will only take you away from where you need to be.  So, too, if every object in the universe is not headed directly for the center, where they might collide at exactly the same instant, then they will all go away from the center, ultimately.

   Zooming away from the previous picture ten times gives us this picture (above), which shows us the same thing with a little more time added in.  Relatively speaking, the particles’ points of origin appear to be closer together, and their paths of travel appear to be more radial-like.  Given enough time, it will look very much like the radial model.  However, it will never be a Big Bang, because they did not start at the exact same point.

 
Getting back to the radial (Big Bang) model, here we have a generalization of the size of the universe over time.  Technically speaking, the slope decreases slightly with time, given the collective gravitational force, but for our purposes the theoretical model is simpler to work with.  In this case, every object is flying away from the center at a constant speed (slope), so the universe expands more or less evenly with time.  This gives us a basically straight line for a function of size (radius, to be exact) versus time.  Einstein was hopelessly vexed at a certain problem, though, that the universe is, in fact, not expanding linearly.  As measured, it is expanding at an increasing rate.  He tried to add a meaningless coefficient into the equation to account for this, but he never had an explanation for it.  Conveniently, the alternative model fits this evidence perfectly:

 
This is an overview of a universe with the tangential model.  It starts at some unknown size and gradually begins to expand.  With time, its expansion becomes more and more rapid as the various parts begin to move in a more and more radial-like path, traveling ever more directly away from the center.  The shape of this function is essentially one half of a parabola.  The exact starting size of the universe can be anything, and the shape of the curve can vary greatly, depending on how the particles were set in motion to begin with.  None of these factors have to be anything in particular.  That’s the beauty of this model; it works for just about anything.  It’s like the difference between having only perfectly square continents with perfectly straight rivers, versus having continents shaped any way at all and rivers winding any way they like.  Now, let us consider what would happen if the tangential model were true and the Big Bang theorists insisted on pounding this round peg into their square hole.

 Here we have the above, tangential curve, shifted over to the right to give ourselves some room.  “T = 0” is the true starting time of the universe.  If we were living in an older universe, at point a, then the “scientists” would see the speed of expansion and extrapolate back to point x as the starting time of the universe.  It would really be older than they thought.  In a younger universe [b], those same geniuses would think that the universe started at point y, but the universe would actually be much younger.  Let’s say, just for our own amusement, that the universe was very young [c].  Then they would say that the universe was billions of years older than it really was, and they’d be so far off that it would be hilarious.

 So, how old do they say the universe is?  Sixteen billion years old, to be precise.  Well, “precise” is a gross exaggeration, but that’s exactly how they present it.  It happened that two teams of scientists, unbeknownst to each other, happened to be comparing the speed at which stars are moving away from us to the distance they are from us in order to determine the exact age of the universe.  Both published their papers within weeks of each other.  Had this not happened, they might have collaborated and produced a wild piece of prevarication and told us it was all precisely true.  Instead, one team determined that the universe was eleven billion years old, and the other said it was twenty billion years old.  That’s one heck of a margin of error.  I would have gotten an F in physics if I had tried to report a number like that.  That kind of discrepancy is to be expected with the tangential model, but they weren’t using the tangential model.  Their model, the radial one, demands a perfect match.  It is true that the properties of the tangential model hyperbolically approach those of the radial one with time, but in the early years of the universe there would be quite a bit of difference between one star and the next.  What they demonstrated was a younger universe.  One might also ask what heavenly bodies they were looking at.  They weren’t looking at the sun, because that isn’t flying away from us.  They weren’t looking at the meteorites, which actually collide with us.  They must have excluded the planets and every star in our galaxy, which are not speeding away from us.  In fact, they had to ignore every single orbiting relationship in the universe, because the Big Bang could never produce a single orbit.  That’s okay, because it’s not like there are any orbiting bodies in outer space, right?  Right!?  Okay, so outer space is full of orbiting relationships between celestial bodies.  So, what the heck were they looking at, anyway?  They selectively looked at stars in other galaxies and only at their relative speed and distance to us. They excluded everything else.  How nice.

 Occam’s razor, in a nutshell, states that the simplest explanation is usually the best.  Because the tangential model works for most situations, it becomes the simplest explanation.  The radial (Big Bang) theory can only be true if certain conditions are met perfectly.  Therefore, as a rule of thumb, one should consider the tangential model first.  So why don’t they?  That’s really a matter for the psychologists; people like to have their understanding complete and orderly.  It gives a sense of comfort.  With the Big Bang, all history culminates at a single point and then it’s done.  There’s nothing further to consider.  All loose ends are tied up neatly.  With the tangential model, all history begins at some entirely unknown state of existence, at only a very vague time period, and even if they could determine when the universe was started and what it was like at the time, there would still be more loose ends than they would know what to do with.  In the beginning, there would be an ordered universe suddenly springing into existence as though put there by God himself.  That’s what they don’t like.

 





The hypocrisy of fighting proselytization

28 08 2008

There are those who think it a sin to try to convince others of one’s own religious beliefs.

I take that back. There are those who think that tying to convince others of one’s own religious beliefs is a sin, so long as those religious beliefs are Christian. These same people make no mention of other religious groups, so I must conclude that they are concerned only with Christians. In Iran, such people are prominent, being the highest political leaders in the nation. There, it is a crime punishable by death either to convert to Christianity or to attempt to convert another to it. I’m not going to waste time writing about Iran, here. I don’t speak Persian, and if I did, this blog would never get inside the country anyway. No, I am talking about a particularly open-minded class of American who believes that it is a Christian’s foremost duty to keep his religious beliefs to himself. We can talk football. We can discuss politics. We can even have a chat about the Eightfold Path. If we mention the name of Jesus in any other context than that of an expletive, then we’ve crossed the line into that deep and dangerous gray area of, and I quote, “shoving your religion down my throat.”

Ah, yes…America is built on the free exchange of ideas. We hold firmly to the value of free speech. In fact, we extend it so far as to say that the freedom of speech inherent in painting oneself green and running naked on the White House lawn is a sacred rite. Well, maybe not completely naked. However, any effort to share Christian values is not seen as free speech, but as an attempt to stifle others. I have been told not to share my faith, or that if I do that I am only reacting out of insecurity about my beliefs. The irony in this is that in telling me this, these same people have attempted to share their own beliefs with me, as an effort to actually change my behavior! (Gasp! Oh, the horror!) Oh, wait…I forgot, it’s okay for them to try to get me to change my views and actions, but the reverse is a form of oppression.

Let’s face it, folks: telling people that it’s wrong to share their views in an attempt to convince others is a self-contradictory lie. Yes, it’s even self-contradictory if they are Christians who share their beliefs. I know it’s convenient to have a double-standard, though.

Then there’s this notion that I’m full of myself if I think I have the truth and you don’t. Hmm…someone didn’t think that one through too carefully. Oh, wait, I forgot, I’m full of myself if I’m a Christian and I think I have the truth and you don’t. I knew I was missing something. Yes, because it would be silly to assume that I’d be trying to convince you of something that I did not believe in.

No, no, you have the truth. I’m wrong. I’m only trying to convince you otherwise.

You’re right. You have the truth. I have the truth. They both completely contradict each other, but neither of us are wrong! The laws of reason and logic just twisted themselves into a Gordian knot to accommodate you, and I am an ass!

(Deep breath) The person who tells me that I can not insist on having the truth that someone else does not, must, himself not believe that he has the truth that I do not, or he would be contradicting himself. I must therefore assume that he knows that he is wrong, and that he is attempting to convince me of something that even he does not believe, in which case I will not believe him. Therefore, I might logically continue to believe that I am right. I can not be proven wrong simply because I am wrong to believe that I am right. It’s a baseless argument.

I believe that the odds are that any given person reading this post is more likely on their way to Hell than Heaven.

Oops…I just did it. I shoved my religion down your throat.

Comments? Oh, well, if you agree with me, then there is nothing to say. If you disagree with me, then your only point would be that it is wrong to attempt to share your views with others, so I will spare you the temptation of betraying your own beliefs by posting a comment.





Dear Diary

23 08 2008

It is with a certain trepidation that I begin this blog.  My first inclination is to bolt like a wide-eyed rabbit, running for the safe anonymity of the nearest hedge.  Maybe that’s exactly what I should do.  Overall, my impression of blogging is that it is a very public diary.  You know how dairies all come equipped with those feckless little latches that couldn’t stop a six-year-old brother from reading your innermost thoughts.  Odds are, it’s because every diary writer has the secret subconscious desire to have someone curious enough to peek.  Why write a thing if there is no chance that anyone will ever read it?

Never mind.  I kept a journal once.  Perhaps, “kept” is not the correct word.  Rather, I wrote venomous entries in a spiral-bound notebook, only to re-read them days later and hate them enough to rip them out.  It seems that any opinion that I felt desperate enough to put on paper was an opinion that I was likely to disagree with shortly.  How then, can I express myself in a blog?  I might be the first to post a dissenting opinion at that rate!

Well, here it is, my first post.  I passed-over several incendiary topics for the first post, because I realize that this site is not yet fully refined.  I don’t find it becoming to make strong assertions while my title still says “Just another WordPress Blog.”  Sheesh…who could take me seriously?  The first question that I posed to myself was whether I could produce anything but blather.  After having spent some time perusing the various blogs that people put out there, I am convinced that producing a palatable piece is not something that comes from sitting down one evening and spewing catharsis all over the screen.  Some people seem to knee-jerk hard enough to kick their computer across the room.  They usually have a comment list a mile long from people more rational than them, trying to shed light in the blogger’s darkness.  And those are the interesting blogs.  Other blogs seem to be so down-to-earth that I find my self nodding-off in agreement.  I came back to consciousness once to realize that a thousand-word essay on something that I couldn’t argue with did a surprising about-face in the last paragraph to reach an awful conclusion, but I didn’t bother commenting, because I knew that there was no great likelihood that anyone else would ever read that far.  People can’t be convinced by an article that they don’t have the attention span to read, especially when there’s something good (so to speak) on the television.

I tried to be a professional writer, once.  In all honesty, I hope the manuscripts I submitted were never actually read by the publishers I sent them to.  The only responses I ever got were form letters, so that’s encouraging.  I tried re-reading a tome years after I had written it, and I could only hope that the publishing companies are wont to hire illiterate staff.  The next thing I send them will be an essay on the benefits of hiring non-English speaking illegal aliens.  They’re cheap!  They don’t leave a paper trail!  They’re absolutely immune to bad writing from English-speaking sophomoric writers!

So read it quickly.  I know I have a category for archived posts, but I have a feeling that none of them will ever make it there.  Blast…now how do I delete this thing?