Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dragging myself back to something I didn't like because I'm not ready for something new even if it's better.

Echew that.

Friday, December 30, 2011

There's going to be some artificial snow at the Civic Center to let kids see what that's like. Natural snow falls there every few decades. Enough snow to be at all deep, less frequentlythan that.

They seem to be practicing in preparation, because there has been snow on the lawn on either side of the main entrance to City Hall.

Some San Francisco kids and adults and dogs have seen snow because they've been other places. I was privileged to see a San Francisco dog who hadn't seen snow until he was being taken on probably his usual walk around the Civic Center.

He stood stock still on the snow where there was usually lawn. He slowly and carefully raised his right front paw and looked befuddled, in a clear and forthright dog way. He raised an lowered that one paw again and again and looked at any available humans--his owner, people passing--with a very big "Wha. . .?" vibe. He could have just walked off the snow back onto the sidewalk, but he kept raising and lowering his paw, awaiting explanation, or clarity, or something.

A wonderul drawn book is called "Feynmann," about Richard Feymann, important, influential, funny physicist. Not a graphic novel--a graphic autobiography, done in his voice from the many words he left behind.

I recognized some of the words from "Surely You Jest, Mister Feyman" and a couple of other of his books I've read, but some great stuff that wasn't at all widely available is there too.

He worked way out there in physics, and he really wanted people to understand, really, deeply. One thing not widely available before that's well done is a lecture he gave to non-scientists in New Zealand to explain what the work was that he won the Nobel Prize for.

A cab driver in the US told him he saw him on TV after he won the Noble, trying to explain. The cabbie said Feynman should have said, "If I could say it in three minutes, it wouldn't be worth a Nobel Prize."

But Feyman really wanted to be able to explain it, in a reasonable number of minutes, to non-specialists. He went to New Zealand to try to explain the Nobel work to some people in general, so if the lecture was a big flop, it would be a big flop that happened far away from his usual hangouts.

The "Feyman" book shows him giving the lecture, and, part of the time, telling the audience what they're thinking. Thought balloons coming out of audience members heads shows that is what they are thinking.

As he explains the theoretical work he and his two Nobel sharers did, the audience members are thinking "This is too weird." "Why?" "It doesn't make sense."

Feyman is telling them scientists who found the theory are thinking the same kind of thing. Who knows why? Right, it doesn't match common sense, and it is true anyway.

He is saying that scientists have some of the same resistence to modern physics that the audience members do hearing about.

What he is saying, most of all in the lecture is, "Don't leave."

Don't walk away from this because it's uncomfortable and odd. Stay because it's true.

I haven't struggled much with taking in Feyman et al.'s Theory of Everything Else, as he sometimes called it. I also haven't left.

I appreciate him identifying the process. It's not just that some of the truest and most important physics is hard to understand.

It's that to the extent that one can understand it, it's viscerally hard to take in. One wants to go somewhere else.

Something I've struggled with more, so far, that with Feyman's work, is the idea that you can know how fast a subatomic particle is going, or where it is, but not both.

Learning in detail how they got to know that is very uncomfortable. I thank Feyman and this book that brought forth the New Zealand speech for helping me learn to notice the difference between being uncomfortable because I don't understand and being uncomfortable because I have started to understand and really, really don't like what I'm understanding.

Feeling that difference will help me, like the dog, not leave, but put my paw down again and feel if I can feel what's with reality better with this paw drop.

My size makes me local and limited in what I can easily understand as true.

Me and the "what is snow?" dog and amoebas and viruses are so much bigger than sub-atomic particles that how much bigger we are is part of what I really can't understand in the way I can understand what happens up here where balls bounce and can be followed.

I'm reeling in confusion far above what I've made of.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The answer is inside rhythm, inside the rhythm we can move through. I don't know what that rhythm is. I've got to be still and let it engulf me in its time
That's what I didn't think of when I was searching. That I had it all the time.

The movie "The Wizard of Oz" is worth a jillion just for that reminder--you had it all the time.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pop2012 at Oracle Arena, the basketball arena in Oakland, will happen March 31, 2012. Tickets went on sale December 1, 1011. Many shiny cards were out about it in mid-November. Looks, on the cards, like a rave, but the hours are less than a classic rave--7 pm to 2 am.

All the shiny cards say along with pix and date and time, "Be smart+Be aware+Your body is a temple."

That's sounds more sincere and a little more likely to work than the tag on commercials--"Drink responsibly." It would be a fine thing to have something as skilled and appealing as a commercial to show what drink responsibly would look like.

The "Your body is a temple" words don't have instructions, but seem like that might evoke in some people a touch of slightly wiser behavior. "Drink responsibly," as presented sounds very "We had to say this, we said it."
Make the bad thing be a little less true by how I act today.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Peter Berger is a sociologist. In his intellectual autobiography, "Adventures of an Accidental Sociologist," he tells of a Christmas when he was four or five.

His parents gave him an elaborate model train set. When he ran over to it, he did not turn it on. Instead, he lay flat on his belly next to the train and talked to the passengers.

Knowing what the gift is for for you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More comic books about more things can mean greater accuracy. Where Nelson Mandela grew up, it was not built up, and it was very beautiful. As "Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book" makes clear.

A book written only and not drawn might have said that he grew up in a area that was, like much of South Africa, gorgeous, but it only would have said it once. In the authorized comic book, his early life events happen, and there's beauty and beauty again always in the background til it's time go to cities that are less beautiful.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grace grows slow. Grace grows fast. Grace knows how to grow from here to the needed there.

The needed there and the dreamed-of there are not always the same place, grace knows. A reason to vary the grace grows pace is so we can grow to like what we need and see it when we get there.
The European Renaissance as a way of thinking--we're still in it, except the Renaissance gushed beauty, and we don't.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wjat December demands of us may be different than what we demand of December.
In his preface to his comic novel "Joseph Andrews," Henry Fielding writes of comic writing, burlesque writing, and serious writing.

In burlesque writing, the writer exaggerates some part of a character or situation to make it completely unrealisitic, an amusing monster.

The comic writer, in contrast, must, more than any other kind of writer, be true to reality "since it may not be always so easy for a serious poet to meet with the great and the admirable, but life everywhere furnishes an accurate observer with the ridiculous."
It didn't work out the way I had dreaded, so I didn't have an excuse to lose my temper. I was kind of disappointed.
Instead of violence, persistence, to say "We mean it" in a way less mean.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Montesquieu is amazingly merry to read, in his "The Spirit of the Laws."

I think it's because he was doing his life work, writing this book, after tons and years of research, and doing it well.

Montesquieu, for a person living inside the USA political system, is a jolly, smart grandpa. He's the balance of powers guy, the fellow who thought much and wrote clearly about how different parts of government could check and balance each other, and people in general could have liberty because of government containing itself from within.

"The Spirit of the Laws" was published in the mid-1750's. The US Constitution was made in the late 1780's. Monstesquieu's writing, which is wondrous easy to read for what it is, was in fact read by and influential on the constitution makers of here.

I think one reason he was having fun is that he really accepted human nature. He didn't expect human nature to change.

But he'd studied republics of history and thought that focus on checks and balances could improve the republic form. It would use people's drive for power for their team as a way of containing the drive for power of other government teams, and having it be so government could get it work done but not squash people.

The way balance of powers was written in the US Constitution and plays out on a daily basis wasn't was he envisioned it in detail, and in some ways, in general. But his ideas about what balance of powers was for, the spirit of it, in fact, lives on in daily basis in sober governemnt offices that are contained by other government offices from going to far.

I think it's fun to read Montesquieu not just because of his vast historic importance--credit where credit is due--but because he was so happy about dealing with the way actual humans are and happily sure that a way could be worked out the work with what humans actually are and get a good result--a better result, in fact, than had ever existed before.

It's like an antedote to utopian thinking, which can be dangerous, to read him. We humans, as is, can do much better if we think wisely and design our rules well.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Things can be heard which do not speak, such as plants and objects.
I want to send you a golden "and" and also a golden "AND."

Big. Tall. Not solid gold, because they're to climb on, and slide and play, and clown, and see new angles and angels.
It would feel scary to say I'm happy, so I'll issue a statement saying I'm content.

It is funny that the word CONtent is about CONtent, but the word conTENT is about process.

Lots of kinds of CONtent feels fine if the process is contentment.
Pebbles under shallow water in sunlight look each like a new kind of jewel.