Friday, August 27, 2010

It's always been that way, I might say, meaning, often it's been that way for as long as a remember, which is not very long.

An excellent feature of the book "Is Pluto a Planet? A Historical Journey through the Solar System" by David A. Weintraub is it shows how often the list and number of planets has changed through human history.

The Greeks thought the Sun was the planet and the Earth was not.

Vulcan was a planet that ninetheen century smart people believed in and earnestly expected to be found to explain oddities in Mercury's orbit. Vulcan wasn't found. Einstein's theory of relativity explained and accurately predicted the oddity of Mercury.

As more and more moons of planets were found, they were called planets too, until it seemed like they were too many and they were called moons and not planets. That is, it was decided, after asteroids started being noticed in quantity, that to be called a planet the object had to directly orbit the sun, not orbit something orbiting the sun--and so of course orbet the sun itself.

Same thing with asteroids--the first found were called planets but then there seemed to be too many, so they were called asteroids, or minor planets.

"Is Pluto a Planet?" is good with that historical perspective of changing ideas of what a planet is. It is good also to read to get a feel for the many objects and many kinds of objects that are orbiting the sun, as we are.

I like when he talks about "the object we call Pluto." There are lots of objects out there; what we call them varies; their amazingness and beauty does not.

David Weintraub being a professional planet studier, he often gets asked the question who used to name his book: Is Pluto a planet?

He really likes the question because gives him a chance to talk about all the different kinds of objects in the solar system, how we noticed them, what we've named them, what they are like.

I feel reading his book sometimes part of a grand procession around the sun, sometimes part of a gangling group. Hundreds of asteroids, eight or nine biggish to gigantic planets, and now we're just starting to notice the beyond Pluto group, which many think includes Pluto--the Kuiper Belt Objects. We've noticed few--there are very probably many more to notice.

Pluto kind of had a slow motion treatment like the first asteroids got. Ceres, a large for an asteroid asteroid noticed early was felt to be a planet by many until folks got a feeling for how many asteroids there are. Pluto was the outermost planet for a good long time because star scientists theorized and then found the Kuiper Belt.

When things we call planets in our solar system threaten to rise to number far above ten we humans feel that is not okay and make new rules to keep the count down.

But the many objects revolving are there before and after we notice them, and I get to live on one in part of the large, slowly being revealed, elliptical parade.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Knit grit.

Some little bits of stuff used to be part of a bigger thing that got ground down and spread out.

Sometimes it's time to take the little bits in hand and find how the fit together to make a new and different bigger thing.

Sometimes that is what you are supposed to do.

Fitting three grit bits together in a way that implies a different way to have a future is enough work for a life. Probably a life that did that would also do plenty else, but that in itself would be enough. Sitting in corner, quiet inside, feeling how to knit together this particular group of grit.

Yarn can be knit. Yarn feels soft. Bones seem hard.

Bones can knit themselves together after being broken apart. Humans can help bones do that with wise positioning. Knit grit.

Monday, August 23, 2010

All that is clever eschew. Do not do.

If you had no cleverness and were galumphing toward the goal on the straightaway, without much money, what would you do?
Some distant beeps in the city go beep, and others, longer, have a touch of the Doppler effect.
Conversational snippet from two women talking on the sidewalk:

--". . .so the other man on the board--"

--"There are only two men on the board?!"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Every rectangular shape a blessing, and every triangle. Irregular shapes a blessing, and I get to move among these.
Sylvia Ashton-Warner wrote a non-fiction and fiction book about the same material. "Teacher" (non-fiction) and "Spinster" (fiction), both superb books, are about her teaching kids to read who are poor and live in a forest.

She is supposed to teach them to read out of book about and for children who have much more money and many more manufactured objects. She has tried that, and that is no longer what she is doing.

She is demanding that they tell her key words, that each of them tell her key words for them, and she puts the words, one by one, on index cards, which them belong to the kid.

If it is obvious to her they just throw some word out there to get her to leave them alone, she doesn't leave them alone. She pushes til she gets words they care about. "Eels." "Canoe."+

Some carry the index cards with their key words around like comfort toys--increasingly worn out and always around.

She wants them to read from their hearts and their lives.

Life is amazing. It's amazing after reading "Teacher" and "Spinster" to read Ashton-Warner's book "Myself," which is a diary she toward the beginning of her teaching
career. Amazing to read this in the diary: "To me, never will teaching be other than a necessary source of income, a professions drifted into on account of the hours and the fact that others did it Never!"

Wow. Even as she is writing that, she is obviously caring a lot about teaching. And fighting the caring, looks like. I've just started reading "Myself." It'll be interesting to see if she is transformed and if she noticing she is transformed in the time covered by this diary into the person for whom, when she was in the classroom, nothing on Earth was as important as helping the kid find the key word, the link between learning and being alive.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The background vroom of cars and the occasional beep seems more cheerful since the sun came out.
In this small town, we are used to the ways we do things in this small town. The Milky Way can go its way; we'll go ours, in this small town.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The kid crying in a public place seems a little old to cry but persists.

Cry, cry, cry. Stop crying to breathe in. Cry, cry, cry.

Why, why, why? It sounds like it's about seventy per cent phony melodrama made up by an immature mind and thirty per cent real suffering. Sort of like our reasons for going to war.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Including my body in, including you, is bigger than I've been. Born again.
Maybe over-cleverness will destroy us--we the people of this planet.

Maybe over-cleverness is a phase on the way to knowing how to be the kind of beings we are on the kind of planet this is, wisely, and while singing.
Nicodemus was an important person, so his freedom of action was constrained.

He couldn't easily and visibly do things that people who thought he was important thought he shouldn't do. He might become less important.

He was a recognized, inside-the-system values and religion guy, Nicodemus. He wanted to hear in person a man who preached outside to whoever showed up.

Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night. He didn't follow the crowds in the daytime.

He asked Jesus how he could be saved. Jesus recommended that he follow the rules that folks like him usually followed.

Nicodemus said he already did that and implied that he still felt hollow.

Jesus said, "You must be born again."

Nicodemus said, "You mean I must enter again my mother's womb. Not possible."

But I bet the image of being born again reminded him of a few radical life-improvement activities, and they are what he thought wasn't possible. He went away, it says in the New Testament, sad. Still in the dark.

That is the born again story in the Bible. Saying that someone needs to be born again or has been born again is, in itself ambiguous.

Protestant Christians to whom the idea is important tend to treat it as non-ambiguous. You might be expected to be saved, be born again in a certain kind of room, with a certain kind of people, with certain visible emotional reactions, depending on what that group expects of a member of your demographic who is born again.

And it is expected you will start living and feeling the best values of the group of people in that room where you were born again.

But born again could be something else entirely. It could call you away from the group right there into a search for other people, other places. The good that you try for after you are born again might be different than the good of people around you who frequently use the words "born again."

Nicodemus seems something like Jung's clients who he wrote of who were, many of them, successful, older, had solid lives and felt empty. If people like that have the guts to be open to what born again means for them, we may all get someplace else that is good.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm looking at "The Smithsonian Guide to Fossils," filled with beautiful, precise photographs. I'm thinking about fossil fuels.

The guidebook doesn't include microscopic fossils, which is what fossil fuels are, but the fossils in the guide, brachpods, dinosaur bits, look very old to me and blowing up that much stuff that's that old really fast is weird and presumptuous. It can't end well.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's acity with lots of renters some of whom, when they move, leave a big pile of stuff outside their apartment building.

If the stuff includes books, I look at them. I often take not just books that appeal to me but others, so I can leave the others in laudramats, on top of trash cans, on public benches.

I figure many more people are willing to look at and many adopt books left in publc singly or by two than are willing to dig in a big pile. In a city with lots of readers, books are easy to move by making a simple move or two.
We could meet at the chilly Old Mint Plaza, next to the Old Mint. We could heat it up.
They notice that you're going to be around a while, and they want you to be part of the community, so they ask you to join the crime.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What is my immediate problem?

My immediate problem is that I have no immediate problems, so I'm trying to make something up to fret about.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A human being and woman and astronomer, Vera Rubin, that the galaxies don't look like they have enough matter to move the way they do.

Galaxies, some of them, rotate around a center. If you figure out how much matter we can see, it's not enough to cause the stars to move as fast as they do.

Rubins solution with which many agree is to say there is more matter in the galaxies--we just can't see it. Dark matter is what its called, and scientists would like to know more about it. But they generally agree it exists.

There's one little thing out that that says maybe the solution isn't that the galaxies have more matter that we can't see. Maybe the solution is that gravity works differently outside our solar system than it does inside.

That is a super-boggler for physicists. They are very big on the laws of nature being trued both hither and yon.

But. Two space probes, Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, were launched years ago to fly by the outer planets of the solar system and take pictures.

They did, and they kept flying. They are now out of the solar system and still being followed by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

They are going to fast. By all the scientists know about the laws of nature and expecially gravity, they are going too fast.

So, maybe it's two instances of the same thing--galaxies outside out solar system rotating to fast and space probes outside our solar system moving too fast.

Gravity here and there may be different, and problems can sometimes be solved from another angle that is almost impossible to see, for almost religious reasons.

--Info from "The Trouble with Physics" by Lee Smolin

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Coherence. Balance. Safety.
Today, I'm dressed better for the silvery weather, so I can see better its beauty--rock-colored downtown buildings nestled comfortably against rock-colored sky, downtown advertising colors muted into being part of the world of wildflowers rather than part of the world of lies, green tree leaves hanging between the grey of the sidewalk and the grey of the sky, loving the moist, chilly air they get to float in today.
Clawing my way into myself. Clawing my way out of myself. There must be a world around here somewhere.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

When you can hear an individual car approach, get close, and go away, the city is not at its loudest.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Phast Philosophy.
We live with a shard of hope, and we look at it and touch and feel until we know how to make a pot that will hold dribs and bits of better as they emerge.
A city is full of percussion always, and more downtown.

Heavier percussion than usual occurs when buildings are a'building--tall buildings downtown--and pile drives drives in bases for the new and the high slowly late at night and early in the morning, under bright lights for the workers. The souns is like God's very big bass drum hit slowly when God is at least a little bit angry.

Lighter percussion than usual is now provided by high school students midday weekends, on Market at Fourth, on marching band percussion instruments played with rapid preciscion.

Snare drums, big bass drums--it fits that they're near the Old Navy Store as what they are doing has old, military origins.

Teenagers are often told they are being too loud when, for them, they are are just being, in a way that is natural to them. Creative, skilled percussion at a busy intersection that is noisy anyway is a good way for them to give and others the receive the gift of their intensity. The sound and sound patters are intense. The amount of practising implied by their skill level is intense. It all kind of herds the usual cacaphony around that corner to a better place.

There are different groups of teenage drum players from different high schools on different weekend days. I like the one with a xylophone player. Lightly playing a light tune that skates gracefully above the booms and rat-a-tats, the xylophone sounds like I'd like my steps in the city to be, lightly gracefully making it a little bit better.

One time I lucked out as I was walking within hearing distance of a restaurant space that was being remodeled into being a different restaurant.

The nailing within was of unnecessary complexity, reminescent of the music of the jazz clubs. Walking about fifteen steps ahead of me, also walking toward the nailing sounds, was a man carrying a bongo drum. It had a strap, so it could easily play it while walking, playing around the rhythms that he nailer was creating around the necessity of nailing. For about four lot widths, things were rhythmically complicated and beautiful.

George Gerschwin wrote the music, his brother Ira, the words. One time, George played a tricky new tune for Ira and Ira said that that was going to be tough to write words for and then immediately said, "It sure is a fascinating rhythm, though."

"Fascinatin' Rhythm"--the first two words of the song, the name of the song, the name of the Michael Lasser public radio show celebrating and playing recordings of the Great American Songbook where I heard that fact.

One time I saw and heard the teenagers in the area of 4th and 5th and Market who play marching percussion instruments include a percussion instrument that wouldn't work in a marching band. A guy was behind the snare drummers and bass drummer and xylophonist playing a fireplug with the same plastic drumsticks the snare drummers were using. Like the bongo guy playing with the nailer, he was around and in and out of the rhythm the drummers set.

A city is often hard. Hit it!
I was wondering what was going on subterraneanly and terraneanly and in the sky.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The big news for me in the novel "The Tale of Genji," an old novel from Japan, was that I would be reading along and the characters would be talking about something that happened, and I'd go, "Wait! When did that happen?"

I'd track back and maybe find a tiny, mid-sentence reference to the event happening, or maybe there was no reference at all to the even happening. The characters's reaction to the event was how the reader found out about the event.

That is truly interesting. That might help me understand something about the world sometime that might be useful.

I am a USA person. I know that USA people are often perceived as doing things too loudly, too obviously, too intrusively. "Tale of Genji" showed there are really other ways to be. It is not trying to be obscure, and is in many ways straightforwardly perceptable by me. But it's not a narrative where we necessarily see the event--we come in halfway through a conversation in which the event is alluded to.

That works. A person like me not used to it needs to practice another kind of alertness.

"The Tale of Genji" was probably written by, is attributed to Murasaki Shikibu, a woman, an aristocrat in the 1000's of the current common dating system. When I was reading what I read, a translation of 12 of the 54 chapters, I was having much reaction to the male hero's, Genji's, messing with women, flitting from woman to woman and such like. But I'm most likely to learn useful things not from my reactions to that but, when I got for the whole 54 chapters, how the story is told, from a thousand years ago and more than a thousand miles away.

In one of Jorge Amado's novels, there's a character who is an American woman who has lived in Brazil for years, whose so-so Portugese never gets any better, and who all the characters like. The woman like her more than the men do, partly because the story is happening in the 1930's and she knows about Freud, which is new news.

The women like hearing about Freud's ideas, which are a new way to think about what is happening inside oneself and about how people relate. The men snort.

The American woman is always asking questions about what is happening in the Brazil all around here. The author, Amado, does a great job of making it clear that if she would just be quiet and pay attention she would learn the kinds of things about Brazilian culture that she thinks she wants to know.

But she doesn't shut up. She keeps asking questions that in themselves cut her off from the society around her--the wrong questions about the wrong things.

"The Tale of Genji" is not put on planet Earth for me to exercise myself about a man of many lovers. It's partly her to help me see another way to tell a story.

The event is not described baldly as it happens. We pick up on what the even was as people talk about it. That makes sense. That's a good way to present events among humans. I wouldn't have thought of it, and here's a fifty-four chapter book, of which I have read a mere twelve chapters, to show me how it's done. And to show me other things, too, to the extent that I'm capable of taking them in.
The belly, the tummy, the circle, the base--where truth lives but does not speak in words.

Monday, August 02, 2010

I want to tell the river what to do, based on what I think the river was like yesterday.