Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Truth Of It


It is the mystery. It is the beauty. It is the love.
That is God!
Not the belief. Not the theology. Not the doctrine.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The evolving complexity dysfunction

What is a Global Positioning System? Precision in timing, leading to accuracy in position, leading to display of location information, matching reality.

What is a map. A simplified scaled down representation of geographical reality. What if we scale it back up again? What have we gained? What have we lost? We have re-gained complexity, we have lost simplicity. We will have re-gained detail, and lost an easier to recognize lay of the land. The solution to this is found in a scalable map of lesser of greater detail on your GPS. But this evolving complexity dysfunction bleeds over into other tools we use. Take paper maps for instance. You may make the map of simple detail, or heavier detail, but they cannot be scalable, their nature being paper. The more detail they have, the less functional they are for the average citizen. Paper maps are loosing the evolutionary race to electronics. But electronics are more complex to use and maintain. Seniors are befuddled, the young enthralled. Heads-up displays are taking us closer to the complexity of reality by adding layers of information on top of reality. Is this truly helpful? Yes, to a point and for some purposes, but when does the tool overwhelm; when does the information become dysfunctional? Texting while driving is the first clue we have. Death by texting is a very real - reality. Overwhelming information can kill. We are reaching our limits to deal with it, in some areas. Perhaps a simple map of less detail works better in some cases than that which we have recently wrought.

I think in the area of evolving complexity dysfunction we will find other areas that fit into this scenario sooner rather than later. One that strikes me is the fragility of the general infrastructure. That, to me, is the greatest threat to civilization as we know it. We rely on it too much, necessarily so. There are things that can take it out, and we are not prepared. A perfect solar super-storm. An atmospheric nuclear blast. God knows what else. If any major part of our infrastructure is taken out for any length of time, recovery may not be possible. Forget the gun. I suggest you buy a case or two of pork and beans, a portable water filter, and a paper map.

Chasing Crows

A murder and a dying dog coyote in the woods~

Sometimes I am the greatest recipient of my own hides. Sometimes what things were when I was there rarely occur again. Sometimes the cachers who came did not do the same things to achieve the same results as I had hoped they might. But people vary. Things change. The world is a dynamic place. It is its nature.

This is a story of crows. It is also a story how a box alone is not the thing meant to be found. But boxes are easy. People have schedules to keep, jobs and families to care for. This is also a story of how different from us crows really are. I am no expert on crows or people but how we vary in how we go about life is obvious and stunning.

For several years I had noticed flights, gatherings, of crows over my house every evening as the day grew dim. I grew in curious fascination of this. I wished to learn where they were headed and why. I began to mark a waypoint every time I had my GPS with me and I saw a group of crows fly overhead. A pattern developed which was of course the same as what I visually observed. Southwest to northeast. But now I had some degree of mapping to plot out a general heading and possible destinations. I decided it was time for the chase.

Dusk began to draw near. I kept one eye on the crows above and one eye on my gps and it’s mapping. Up the hill out of Mill Creek I went. Out on Seattle Hill road I noticed the crows dropping out of their flight. Dipping and swooping, cartwheels and twists to the ground, so I pulled over. There was a pond in a construction area where they were putting in a new development. This unlikely place is where the crows were gathering. Now I notice crows are coming in from the southwest, the west, and the east. Most are simply standing around. Many are playing. All are cawing. Some are dive-bombing the few seagulls that are mixed in. I’m seeing a personality developing here. Crows are a swaggerly lot. Playful, verbose, macho, and the obvious, mischievous.

So I’m thinking “What gives? Surely this is not THE place where they go.” And it was not. What it was, was a primary staging area, much like others far to the North or East, where they gather to make an entrance in force to their nightly roost.

After about twenty minutes of flights arriving and increased chatter, some of them began to rise. And then more, and more. I went with the first group so as not to loose them. Down Seattle hill road, just as I suspected. And there, out into the farming flats of the Snohomish valley they went. Now you’ve all seen it. Farm fields converted to high yield cottonwood forests. These quick growing woods eventually become your toilet paper. They are trees but lack any strength and often do not make it through the first good blow of weather. Well, there is such a forest here in the valley. And this was to be the roost.
I drive out on a dirt farm road between fields and find the nearest spot to the forest. It is a gate, that says not to trespass and that it belongs to a hunting club or something.

The day grows dark. I am perhaps nearly a mile from any paved road. It has a very isolated feel to it. Black shadowy crows swarm over the tops of these trees. Some sit on their tops. Others dive-bomb the others. All are causing a great noisy ruckus. Great troops of northern tribe crows arrive, as well as some from the east and west. The numbers have grown into the thousands! It is an amazing thing to witness. It is nearly dark. These crows look like a multitude of shades from hell. Ah, but to add to the atmosphere there are coyotes in the nearby woods and they add their song to the chorus. It is spooky, but not nearly so much as the next night when I come again. I wanted to make sure this gathering occurred on a regular basis, and it certainly seemed to. But this night, replace the coyote’s song with a sound from hell itself. Whether coyote or dying dog, I don’t know. But such a thing made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I’ve never heard anything like it before. Certainly an anguished sound, almost as if something unnatural were in the throes of labor. If I had to guess, it is what Fen Dweller would sound like, but this was no fantasy and it was close.

So this is where I planted my cache. I called it A Murder Of Crows, an arcane term for a flock of crows. It is also the name of a story I wrote long ago. I came back several times afterwards, not always seeing the crows, but almost always hearing that thing in the woods. People found my cache, but very few if any bothered to find it at the right time, between dusk and night. Now the lives of crows have it that they roost in fall and winter but in spring they go into a nesting pattern and break from the grouping routine. Thus any cache finds then did not produce results as well.

So not all caches are for the cache hunters. Sometimes they hold much more meaning for those who plant them. Yes, it is a strange cache and a strange idea… to be out chasing crows. But that’s just me. I just wonder what that thing is out in the woods.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I don’t know how we could have known.  It is an immersion into the universe we seek. A return to knowledge we have never had as human beings. It draws us like fire. Like love. We know it, and yet we don’t. We wish it’s return, yet we know not what it is. But it is us, and it knows us.
It is a wondrous thing. Each time we find the answer that solves all the mysteries of the universe, it reveals more questions than the answer. Each time we stumble and fail, we progress further forward. Each time we are brave enough to fail, we succeed. Thus it is with the Higgs. A hint of success but not a complete success, and yet it seems it may reveal much more than we had ever dreamed it would. Imagine. The void is not empty. Space is full of potential. And more than that, space is tactile. We float in a dream dreaming a dream about a dream of reality. And what can one say about that? It is lovely!
Such is the place where men meet the gods. To achieve a level where we are not only aware of the universe, but we can now peer into its workings to such a point where we can see that not only is it profound, it is infinitely profound. Like Pi. It is infinitely ordered. It is a well of mystery which we can solve, and when we do it reveals an even deeper mystery. Is it teaching us? Leading us on by the hand to an ever greater level of understanding? I think that is the nature of existence. And our destiny as well.
And what of the gods? Some say there are none, some say there is but one. I say it is a question that means little due to our lack of understanding. But here it is, as best as I can put it as I understand it: Why is God invisible? Why doesn’t he pop up and say here I am? Why doesn’t he help everyone in need? 1. We don’t understand what we are talking about, and 2. A good parent teaches the child to be a man. What would you do if you didn’t have a father? Become the father you wish you had had. Become the ideal! What good is there in anything but that?
Ah but there I stray again into my own esoteric theology. Not what I was here to say. What I wish to say is celebrate! Science, religion, philosophy, divisions we create! They are all the same thing! Celebrate! We reach for the stars, the gods, the answers! And why? Why! I think inside each of us knows. We just don’t have the language to state it.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Editorial- What is God

Editorial- What is God.

Scientists- well, some of them anyway- argue there is no God. They feel they have shown there is no need for God, so there isn't one. They say the universe can generate, even must generate on it's own. I have a few arguments against some of that, but that is not my point here. How we define God is.

Atheists, a cynical lot, have taken up the religion of "no-god". Really more cultural and political than theological, but not always. Frankly I think agnosticism makes sense, but atheism...not so much. Agnosticism says "Not sure", atheism say "There isn't". You can't prove a negative so they must be claiming fact through belief.

Believers, are often the defensive flip-side of atheists for the most part, though not always. At least many believers these days seem to be living a religion of cultural defense. Hardly the religion I was brought up in. Really not a religion of faith at all. Just a cultural war. And frankly I never understood  why belief would make the difference of salvation anyway. Would God punish me for believing what I thought was true? Right or wrong He would love me anyway, would He not?

Me? I happen to think we have a weak, quite shallow definition of God. Put simply, we are wrong about what God is. And therein lies the problem. Am I right about my definition? Probably not. Much too simplistic. God is most likely far beyond whatever we can perceive. Hopefully I'm just a smidgen closer.

Is God The Creator? Yes, I suppose, but that is not what he "is".
Is "He" a correct way to refer to him? No, I don't think so, but we have limited language and limited minds. Forgivable.
Is God outside looking in? No, I think its more like we are inside looking outward.
Are there miracles? A profoundly stupid question. What isn't a miracle? I call the world a mundane miracle, not because it is mundane, but because people generally are. They are too blinded by their everyday life to see the miracle that lies beyond their doorstep.
Does he break his own laws, (in fact, break his miracle), to perform what we call a miracle? God, knows. I don't. I think there is something much more subtle here than we generally can perceive.
Does God actively engage in our lives? Again, I think we are thinking too anthropomorphically. I think the better way to view this is in terms of connections with the sacred. The greater we connect, the greater the connection; much the same as virtue is its own reward.

So what "is" God? Or rather what do I think the better definition of "God" might be? Well, "All". Everything. We live in God. Frankly I don't see how anything can exist outside of God. If God exists, existence can only be made up of his substance. How could it be otherwise?
Does this mean we are God? Hardly. Though we are made of the essence of God, just as we are and every element in our bodies are made of the essence of stars and novas and supernovas.
Are the scientists of a certain view wrong? Only in their limited range of vision. If you view God as something other, or outside, separate, no matter who or what you are, scientist or preacher, you've limited your options significantly, and limited God. You've made God in our image.
What if there is no God? Well, there is the question of can something come from nothing, or better put, can existence come from non-existence? Scientist say yes. But what if you operate from outside of space and time. A non-place of absolute non-existence. A profound nothing, nowhere, not! No energy, no laws, no quantum physics, no vacuum, no void. This may have in fact never existed. Perhaps it always was. In my mind a close definition of God.

Einstein is often slighted for his use of the word "God", and his views on cosmic religion. I think he referred to himself as a religious agnostic, or some such thing. I guess I'd refer to myself as a non-religious believer, but religious agnostic would work just as well. Einstein, and a few other scientists believe they see, not a god, but a profound sacredness in the cosmos. A beauty and elegance in the math. An impossibility in the physics. One that connects all things. One that has created (or is) a set of conditions whereby if one little inkling of a variant were introduced -in any number of things-, nothing could exist. If I were a good writer and took the time I would list a few of these things. Believe me, they are there and they are an amazement! If one factor were changed just the smallest bit stars never would have been created. If changed the other way, they would have lasted a very short time. How can conditions be so perfect? The physics so harmonious?

So yes, I think there is a God, and no because I think the term too limited and locked into our own image. He is much more than that. A profound inherent sacredness in the universe I think is closer to the truth. And this sacredness is the basis for all there is. This is what we can experience; that profound inherent sacredness. This is what we can and do connect with on occasion. Einstein did not believe in God, but he did recognize this profundity that he saw in much of his work, and realized that there was something there that was sacred at the most fundamental level of all existence. I recognize that too. That to me "is" God.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A World of Dust

A World of Dust

These are the days when angels whisper, “This is a world of dust.”

Here light and darkness consume each other; fade into each other; and drain into a hidden place. Here entropy rules the day; the great leveler, the third hand of Shiva, the destroyer of worlds. It has gripped our throats and slowly squeezes our life away like the dark night overthrows the day.

Order rules no more! The laws bit by bit break. Water and earth become brown, white and black – gray. The physics of the world eats its self. No more do the old bonds hold. Chaos takes center stage where ordered distinction once held court. How is it the universe comes apart?

First a frayed thread, then a seam, the garment falls into dust at our feet. Time is over-ruled, place looses meaning.

All the world, all the universe, see the coming of this dark night of death, this Passover where Lamb’s blood will save none. From one end to the other it comes, advancing on all there is. It is a lost brother, a twin, come to claim his place after a long and arduous Odyssey to strange and unknown lands. Dark matter returns.

The symmetry is breaking, no longer us and him, no longer a separate peace. Now only the peace of half-darkness, half-being , no being at all. It creeps across the galaxies, a plague, a cloud of dust, snuffing out their lights, their distinctions, their swirl of life. We see them blink into a smothering extinction, and it comes. It comes to choke us as well. We smell the first of it. The dark stench of nothingness.

We merge our differences, our pluses and minuses, our is’s and opposites, whatever that may be. The particle and lost anti-particle, the polar opposites, join to become…what? A dust of no distinction. The differences erased, distinctions now forever denied, the mundane miracle we knew and lived as life but too oft ignored, evaporates before our eyes. It is to be no more. Such a shame.

Dark matter creeps across space and time and we haven’t even known what it is, if it was even really there, but now we know. Now we fear.

Where have you been my dark brother? What things have you seen? Did you live as we did? A mundane miracle revealed? Once we were one, joined at the hip before our separate ways we went. Now we re-unite with no great love and become one again. Two joined brothers bound in a struggle to destroy the other and in doing so destroy themselves as well. Ahh, it was bound to be I suppose. Opposites attract. But for that while…, that brief while, that while of eons, it was a miracle! And God did rule in his proper place. Don’t you agree?