Monday, September 13, 2010

756 College Town Life & Book Look

756 College Town Life and a Book Look

News item: MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin police say a street musician apparently upset by criticism of his music bashed a man over the head with his guitar, slammed another person into a wall and wrestled with an officer before being arrested. Ah, life in a college town. The street musician, known as "Bongo Jesus" is 31 years old. A bit old for this kind of thing. But recently shenanigans like this have become age-indifferent.

The other day, pushing a cart out the right-most of two sliding doors, each wide enough for three or four pedestrians at a time, and this ancient guy blocks the way. "This is an entrance, not an exit," he snarls and refuses to move. The automatic door has opened from the inside. The "Entrance" sign is visible only from the outside. It is on Groucho's left. By this time, he's inside and his adversary says "Well, you entered, so what's the problem?" "I guess you can't read," he says. "Yeah," replies his adversary "that's because you were my English professor," which he wasn't. Thought for sure this guy was going to either stroke out or call the cops to report the brash young adversary (age 68, for the record.) Good thing neither of us had our guitars with us!


Book Look: The Grand Design, Stephan Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

Hawking is the premier cosmologist to tread the earth since Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman and Murray Gel-Man wrote and theorized. He is known for his "Brief History of Time," his continued and worsening paralysis and the similarity of his appearance to Alfred E. Newman. Mlodinow is a physicist at Cal-Tech. They are being maligned and brutalized by the religious right for "trying to exile God from Physics" and "banning God from physics," and embracing atheism. None of that is true. Their primary thesis is: God may or may not exist but is not necessary to explain the creation or evolution of the Universe as we know it. You don't need to read Hawking's dense prose to understand what he's getting at. But it's highly recommended, especially for those who are ready to throw God Grenades. What's more important about this work than the work itself is the storm it's raising on the religious right, a great many of whose adherents never have read a physics book -- or at least one that goes beyond Newton, and who can't conceptualize beyond their fairy tale concept of creation.


Richards Readometer Rating: 1. No question.

===Readometer Key:
1 - Buy it.
2 - Wait for the paperback.
3 - Take it out of the Library.
4. Flip through it at the book store.
5. Forget it.


New occasional department, with apologies to the late Earl Wilson for snitching the title:

Wish I'd said that:

"(T)his eve of 9/11... light a Yahrzeit candle, a votive candle, a

taper.. light something to remember those who died so innocently, yet brutally, at the

hands of barbarians." From friend and colleague Ted David, writing on Facebook on 9/10/2010.


3 comments:

Ron Krumpos said...

In "The Grand Design" Stephen Hawking postulates that M-theory may be the Holy Grail of physics...the Grand Unified Theory which Einstein had tried to formulate, but never completed. It expands on quantum mechanics and string theories.

In my e-book on comparative mysticism is a quote by Albert Einstein: “…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”

E=mc², Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

Wes Richards said...

More on the guy who left the note.

http://www.peacenext.org/profile/RonKrumpos

And my reply:

Ron: Thanks for reading and for your comment. Far be it from me to try to second guess either Hawking or Einstein. As I'm sure you know as well as I that Einstein was a controversial figure during his lifetime, as are many pioneers in many fields. He often ran afoul of his contemporaries because of his cosmological ideas, his rejection of quantum theory as it was understood and used in the mid 20th century, and for some of his spiritual and political views. He was, however, a great pioneer, an incomparable genius in his field and the standard against which much is measured, even today.

But I have found that in their later years, many great men and women come to viewpoints either contradict or at least conflict with the works that establish them as public intellectuals. You find this with people such as James Joyce and Alfred Sloan. When Einstein died in 1955, he was considered an old man -- mid 70s -- which we now barely call "elderly." I have long thought that he and others of his intellectual stature came down with "death bed conversion syndrome," a natural consequence of a great thinker anticipating his own death.

Hawking, although only in his late 60s also realizes that because of his illness, he likely will not live all that much longer and no doubt is thinking differently from the way he thought 30 years ago.

I, for one, have no ideas of the mysteries of deities, the afterlife, parallel universes, miracles or anything akin to that. I certainly don't have the brain power to determine any of that, but read with interest some of the works of some of those who believe they can divine what's going on "out there."

Again, thanks for reading and if you would like to continue this discussion, I'll be happy to hear from you at my "regular" e-mail, wesrichards@gmail.com

Wes Richards said...

More on the guy who left the note.

http://www.peacenext.org/profile/RonKrumpos

And my reply:

Ron: Thanks for reading and for your comment. Far be it from me to try to second guess either Hawking or Einstein. As I'm sure you know as well as I that Einstein was a controversial figure during his lifetime, as are many pioneers in many fields. He often ran afoul of his contemporaries because of his cosmological ideas, his rejection of quantum theory as it was understood and used in the mid 20th century, and for some of his spiritual and political views. He was, however, a great pioneer, an incomparable genius in his field and the standard against which much is measured, even today.

But I have found that in their later years, many great men and women come to viewpoints either contradict or at least conflict with the works that establish them as public intellectuals. You find this with people such as James Joyce and Alfred Sloan. When Einstein died in 1955, he was considered an old man -- mid 70s -- which we now barely call "elderly." I have long thought that he and others of his intellectual stature came down with "death bed conversion syndrome," a natural consequence of a great thinker anticipating his own death.

Hawking, although only in his late 60s also realizes that because of his illness, he likely will not live all that much longer and no doubt is thinking differently from the way he thought 30 years ago.

I, for one, have no ideas of the mysteries of deities, the afterlife, parallel universes, miracles or anything akin to that. I certainly don't have the brain power to determine any of that, but read with interest some of the works of some of those who believe they can divine what's going on "out there."

Again, thanks for reading and if you would like to continue this discussion, I'll be happy to hear from you at my "regular" e-mail, wesrichards@gmail.com