Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Wednesday, 2017.04.26
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

		Oscar Wilde

2007.04.29

The Truth Never Changes

Except when it does. The Truth defined by Claudius Ptolemy stood for some 1,400 years before the Truth defined by Nicolaus Copernicus ground Ptolemy’s cosmological Truth to dust. The Truth had changed. When one Truth, however, stands as long and has as deep a roots as Ptolemy’s, it can take a great deal of time to be eroded by the new Truth. Such was the case with Copernicus’ Truth. When so many of a society’s beliefs have been built upon a particular Truth, society is loath to relinquish the old Truth in favor of the new.

It is the same for personal beliefs and what each of us perceive as the “Truth.” An attorney friend of mine leverages this inertia when questioning witnesses in court. He begins with “Would you agree the Truth never changes?” The answer to this question is usually “Yes.” The one exception I know of was when this question was asked of a research MD expert witness. Science types, if they learned the idea of science at all, know the Truth changes. But the average bear believes the Truth, as they understand it, is as solid as a block of stone. My attorney friend then skillfully guides the witness into acknowledging the Truth of the case he is presenting. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

When the battle is between one who knows the Truth changes and one who believe it does not, my money is on the one who knows they are dancing on quicksand.

There are, of course, areas of human experience where the unacknowledged absurdity of immutable Truth make the experience what it is. Take this for example…

The Bean

It’s “The Bean”, as the locals call it, in Chicago. I took this picture last week while there on business. Is it art? Does it reveal a Truth to you?

Most of the visual arts are lost on me. I know what I like. Asian calligraphy and the works of David Lee and Frances Ku are particular favorites. But “The Bean” wasn’t revealing any Truths for me that day. That is, not until I looked no further than my own feet. There it was. The Truth revealed just as clearly as if it had been, well, chiseled in stone.

AT&T Plaza

It’s a commercial. (I did say most of the visual arts are lost on me. That’s probably why I play piano and cello rather than muck about with paint or clay.) But what about this…

Wacker 1

Found this after wandering East on Wacker to Lake Michigan. Again, no Truths were revealed, not even chiseled in stone. But I do know it had puppies…

Wacker 2

I shall leave the subject of Truth from Art alone and instead focus on the Truth that drives, reassures and comforts most of us. It’s the Truth of “reality.” But here again, there is an often unacknowledged contamination of subjectivity. There is the Truth of facts and the Truth derived from those facts, the interpreted Truth.

Just West of where I live can be found baked into the stone footprints from some long dead giant lizard. Virtually everyone agrees to this fact. The footprints are there. The creature, and any such creatures like it, have long since vanished from the planet. Where the Truth of these footprints becomes schizophrenic is in how the fact of those footprints are interpreted. My interpretation, and the resulting Truth I carry around, says those footprints were left there millions of years ago. Others interpret those prints has being no older than a few thousands years, what with the Earth not being older than some particular reference claims. A single Truth of fact with two associated, yet incompatible interpreted Truths.

A popular and politically correct Truth to hang your hat on these days has to do with global warming and whether or not it’s an established fact. My read is that it isn’t. Man’s experience with the weather is just too small a window from which to claim having any kind of clear view of what the global climate is doing. One hundred years ago, some scientists and much of the press was all abuzz with claims that the next ice age had begun.

I believe it is a good thing to reduce the amount of pollution we, as a species, spew into the atmosphere. I’ve believed that since high school when the high pollution alerts in Denver, compounded by the city’s infamous temperature inversions, left the air smelling like a sewer for weeks. Today, even with the population having growing significantly, the air is much cleaner. The global warming hysteria has not deepened my conviction in this regard.

So Al Gore is burning tons of jet fuel to haul is ass around the globe in order to set up circus tents and parade his “An Inconvenient Truth” dog and pony show. (Sidebar: When was it the Academy created a slide show category for it’s award?) I’m left with several questions. Who’s Truth is Gore selling? Inconvenient for whom? How can such a complex issue contain just one Truth? Frankly, I don’t think the Earth gives a damn about us. 4 billion years ago it was a sea of molten rock with no atmosphere. Life has been wiped clean from the surface and recreated anew probably more times than we know. The hysteria about global warming is a self-serving one and those on Gore’s band wagon are more interested about their own skin that saving the planet. The planet will save its self and will do so with the same indifferent cruelty and violence from which it began.

Listening to Gore and his evangelists leaves me with the creepy feeling that the solution to the “problem” of global warming is for others to solve (usually through some sort of sacrifice) so that they can continue living the life to which they have become accustom. (Man, are they going to be pissed if some killer asteroid is discovered for which they can’t buy impact offsets.) Setting the problem to rights, assuming it exists, will take something Al Gore and the eco-elites are apparently incapable of: An Inconvenient Effort.

[Edit History]

2007.05.01

Interesting article from ScienceDaily (“Earth’s Climate Is Seesawing, According To Climate Researchers“) illustrates my point about our window to the nature of Earth’s climate being rather small. For all their credentials, the scientists really don’t know for sure what is happening with the climate. Those that claim to be sure, probably aren’t honest scientists. (H/T Bryan at Hot Air)

2007.05.02

Added link to David Lee’s work at Lahaina Galleries.

2006.01.26

Jesus in the Checkout Line

Thankful to have survived another season of holiday shoving…er…shopping, there are a few things which stand out about the past few months, in particular, that give pause to reflect on just what motivates the galaxy of agendas among the teeming masses each November and December. By the time the corporate marketing machine had “The Big Push” to full power, I had pretty much tuned out – the paper was down to Sunday only delivery, the TV and radio off for weeks at a time, SPAM filters nicely tuned and most shopping done on-line when I already knew what I needed and from where.

I’ve never been easily led by marketing campaigns anyway. As a kid, there just wasn’t the level of saturation there is today. Since then, years of Zen meditation and Aikido practice have instilled a strong sense of balance when it comes to material things and the stuff I consume. The set point for that balance is definitely on the minimalist side of the scale where less is more. Having less stuff, less reliance on things and “services” gives me greater liberty and freedom. This type of life style kills more sales pitches than anything else I know. Back in the mid 80’s, for example, when I didn’t have a TV, the cable TV companies would go door to door pitching their service. “I don’t have a TV” squashes any deal they may be offering and renders any strategy for overcoming objections DOA. Likewise, complaints from people around me about the cost of cable service carry about the same level of interest as complaints about the cost of escalator service on Jupiter. (more…)

2004.09.06

Infected with Hate

[Note: Much of this article was written in the months following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2001.]

On September 11, 2001, the unthinkable became all anyone could think about. The stunning reality is that, in fact, the unthinkable had been well thought out. With a great deal of planning, a small group of humans meticulously thought through every step, solved every obstacle. They thought the unthinkable until it became the familiar.

We are left to ask what is the path that led to these events? Surely not the faith of Islam any more than beer makes a man psychologically capable of murder. It’s something much deeper within the individual that makes such heinous acts possible. Self-rightous self-loathing, a festering maggot riddled sense of self provides the fuel. The larger context, intentionally or not, provides the spark. In this case, shallow interpretations of Islam by warped minds, false prophets bent on installing their personal hallucinations on the world, provided the incubator to collect and raise an army of sick individuals. It didn’t have to be Islamism. There are a wide variety of candidates floating around the world. (more…)

2004.08.31

Canary’s in the coal mine (in the land of democracy)

[Note: Much of this article was written in the months following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2001.]

One of the “superpower” traits of America’s government is it’s sheer size as well as the colossal power of it’s potential military punch. However, it does not possess any “superpower” qualities we like to ascribe to comic book super heroes. Rather our government is a collection of garden variety human beings, bundles of emotions teaming with conflicting desires and tangled by primal drives. Hardly the substrate for collective superpower capabilities.

The thing about bringing groups of people together, you only get superior capabilities in rare circumstances. In the case of large groups, like governmental bureaucracies, what typically results is something that functions closer to it’s least common denominator. Expecting such an organization to protect us from other smaller groups of humans with malicious goals is a bit like expecting peace of mind when enrolling your children in a daycare run by unfit parents. (more…)


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