Category Archives: environment

The Butterfly Effect: Wings, Blades, Eyelashes

Layman books on physics litter a portion of my bookshelf. I’ve read some of them and do remember the butterfly effect. A butterfly in Africa flutters its wings and a hurricane develops near the Florida coast. The innocuous becomes the monumental.

If the delicate wing of a butterfly alters events so dramatically, what about windmills? While windmills create a more benign form of energy, they may also alter events on this planet.

Machines and humans live symbiotically. Separation may no longer be possible. Machines keep increasing farm yields to keep both the weak and strong alive. Computers run commerce, governments, medical, and artistic endeavors. Travel, the worldwide version we crave, requires machines that consume vast amounts of energy. Small-tech devices meld with our bodies.

Over 7 billion pairs of human eyelashes flutter today. Nature tries to cull our ranks with bacterias and viruses and we fight back.

The human/machine creatures root for a clean, healthy planet. To maintain both is irrational. At some point, something must be sacrificed.

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/the-butterfly-effect/

 

Word Crimes

Rosencrantz: What are you playing at?
Guildenstern: Words, words. They’re all we have to go on.
           Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

She chastised me because I used a word. She told me a person cannot be Oriental, since it is degrading. I was out of the loop, I did not know. The preferred word is Asian, a person can be an Asian.

What’s in a word? It helps us communicate and limits our communication at the same time. It can be artificial, complex and ever-changing. There is heaven and hell in those words. Take pleasure in its playfulness and beauty. Find frustration when communication fails.

In Latin, orient simply means east. That was the origin of the word and the end of it became insulting. Evidently people from Asia don’t call themselves Oriental, and it’s best to call people the name that they prefer. I learned that calling a person Oriental is an antiquated term that calls to mind a time when Western peoples viewed Asians in a subordinate way.

So Asian or Asian-American is preferred. And so is African-American. Say Native-American instead of American Indian. An Indian is actually an Asian. We end up chasing our tails.

This whole idea of hyphenating Americans is a bit odd to me since hyphenation carries its own inherent flaws.

The word America is named after Amerigo Vespucci. An Italian explorer, Amerigo stumbled upon what is now part of Brazil. An early mapmaker decided to name this part of the world America after this Amerigo guy and plunked that label onto his map. Soon other mapmakers started to label the lands north of Brazil as America also. So by chance, the continents were called North and South America.

So where does this leave hyphenated Americans? You give up the words like Oriental and Black in exchange for the name of a dead-white man that poked his nose into an indigenous population beyond his own borders. I don’t see a vast improvement. Other words such as black, white, red, and yellow also fail to accurately describe human beings.

The West creates more word crimes than anyone else. Through a modern political lens, Western civilization has a name, and that name is evil. The word and the land America may find itself in jeopardy.

Native-Americans crossed into the the Americas about 25,000 years ago; relative newcomers to this land since humans first appeared on the planet about 160,000 years ago in East Africa.

In more realistic terms, we are all East Africans that have wandered far across the globe. A politically correct analysis: We torment the rest of the animal and plant kingdoms, and tamper with the climate and the earth’s crust. All of humanity is the real evil in this world view. Paradise was lost when humans entered the scene.

The world and the words in it are not perfect and never will be. Can’t we just relax and enjoy our discourse and disagreements without a call to self-flagellation? Do the best we can, do no purposeful harm, and move on. That’s all we have to go on. Go peacefully.

The New Cosmos Quandary

I’m hooked on science shows, especially the ones that deal with the creation of the universe. Science fiction is always on my reading list. Yet the new Cosmos television series sticks in my craw.

The cosmic calendar that Neil deGrasse Tyson so dramatically explores for us is riveting. After the Big Bang, human beings appeared on the scene on the last day of the year. Modern man only happened upon the planet during the last 14 seconds. We are so late to arrive to this Big Bang party.

Then Neil begins to state that humankind wields the power to alter the climate of the planet it lives on and that this is important. The machines we build, the power we use, will destroy the planet unless we change our ways.

But Neil, think of what your show brings to light. Even if humankind is the sole force of climate change, does it really matter if humans change their ways or not? Worse case scenario, most forms of life on the planet die. Did you not show us innumerable other planets in the universe with infinite possibilities of lifeforms on them? So earth loses most of its living creatures, aside from cockroaches perhaps, why is this such a monumental loss to the universe? You just brought us into focus with infinity, so who cares about the last 14 seconds?

Mankind built a now crumbling Stonehenge over five thousand years ago (or seconds ago depending on how you view it). The Great Wall of China got its start nearly 25 hundred years ago and has never been fully intact. Both castles and nuclear reactors will succumb to a heap of dust. In the grand scheme of the cosmos, everything we do is so insignificant and fragile. The earth will move on with us or without us, unless we are successful in blowing it up. Then the universe, considering its vastness, may not miss one measly planet.

In the scope of the new Cosmos series, why is climate change such a big deal? To me, that came out of left field.  The series dwells on the insignificance of mankind as it relates to the universe.

The very premise of the Cosmos series negates the consequence of a climate change focal point. Unless . . .  is there a god on our side tipping the balance? Nah, that can’t be it.

What motivates the creators?