June 7, 2013

Destination Unknown

I am fond of finding, or creating, Thought Experiments as a way to focus attention on a particular problem. I created this one during a recent family discussion on how to balance life's competing values. Try your hand at how you would "resolve" it:

... You wake up and find yourself in some kind of vehicle, a bit like a black London taxicab. You try, but cannot find a way to converse with the driver, who is positioned in front of some kind of translucent, but foggy screen. You notice in front of you a computer touch-screen, labeled clearly: "Next Stop". Below the heading you see the following list of buttons:

   _ Visit Job Center
   _ Visit Family
   _ Visit Entertainment Hall
   _ Visit Museum on Brain Functioning
   _ End Trip

You have no idea if you are permitted to select more than one destination. You also do not know what "End Trip" means.

Question: What is your thought process before touching the screen?

[Note: I could simply have asked which destination do you touch first ... but I felt the more detailed "how do you analyze your thought process" question was more appropriate for this blog].


Image Credits

- London Black Cab, photo by DAVID ILIFF (CC-BY-SA 3.0, 2007), from Wikipedia at, image cropped for height by c emerson
- The Passing of the Growler, published in Punch Magazine (Public Domain, 1907), Wikipedia, ibid


April 16, 2013

Gettin' Jiggy Wit It

So what could you say, if someone else were to say, a string of words along the trail somewhere, where such words include a variety of thoughts, kind of like the variety of thoughts, which are magically included, among those very words, which were penned, and then voiced so sweetly by the Beatles, so (relatively) long ago:

When I get older, losing my hair,
many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine,
birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I'd been out 'til quarter to three,
would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
when I'm sixty-four?

So what could you say, what would you say, to that?  Maybe you could say, maybe you would say, let's just get 'jiggy wit it' ... If so, then all right then.



- When I'm Sixty-Four, by the Beatles (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band -1967)


- "Bring it, Whoo, Uhh, uhh, uhh, uhh, (Hoo cah cah), Hah hah, hah hah, Bicka bicka bow bow bow ... Gotta get jiggy wit it"

- Gettin' Jiggy Wit It, by Will Smith (1998)

- Images of sheet music, from Sheet Music Plus at

- Earlier post, It's All in the Music

- This post was updated (last paragraph), 7:30 pm, same day


March 30, 2013

Death Valley ... a place to stop, look and listen

Death Valley Nat'l Park:  a place to stop, look and listen.

Especially nice on a Harley at 70 mph.

Or on foot ... as the sun is falling


Now to find a quiet place to read.

Some place more elevated, say 4500 feet, but not at Telescope's rocking 11,331 feet. Snow in Death Valley in late March? Absolutely. 91 degrees on the floor; 40 degrees at 5 am where I'm camping.


The flora seem not to mind. Barrel cacti and saltbrush alike.

Heading home for the night.


I love shadows and windscreens.


See you on the road one day.



- photos courtesy c emerson (March 2013)
- Death Valley Nat'l Park
- Furnace Creek, California (91 degrees)
- Wild Rose Canyon (60 degrees)
- Telescope Peak (35 degrees)
- Mt. Charleston, NV (through the windscreen)
- A warm shower and soft bed (gorgeous)

While you're at it, check out my latest post, "Self: What it is like to be you" on Ideas are Physical.

March 7, 2013

Household Wealth Back ... For Whom?

USA Today says: "Surging stock prices and steady home-price increases have finally allowed Americans to regain the $16 trillion in wealth they lost to the Great Recession ... [but] ... The regained wealth - most of it from higher stock prices - has been flowing to richer Americans."

That sure sounds like some Americans are more American than other Americans.

Both CBS Nightly News and PBS News Hour, while reporting the recovery, failed to mention which group has directly benefited the most (at least so far). I couldn't find any online American news sources that seemed to cover this point. (They may be there but I didn't find any on my google search of "household wealth recovers").

I had to go to the New Zealand Herald to get this detail:

The rebound in wealth has benefited mostly wealthier Americans. The Dow Jones industrial average has just set a record high, and roughly 80 per cent of stocks are held by the richest 10 per cent of households.

And for the past five years, middle-class Americans have sold stocks and missed out on much of the rebound. In the October-December quarter, Americans dumped nearly $466 billion in stocks and bought $229 billion in bonds, the Fed's report showed.

For most middle-class Americans, home equity is their largest source of wealth. National home values remain about 30 per cent below their peak.

Any thoughts?


March 3, 2013

Is Space = God?

Over on Robert Oerter's blog (remember my God is Possible series a few months back?), the professor has continued his posts about the possible scientific Fine Tuning of the universe. The idea is that certain physical parameters are both highly improbable and extremely critical for the emergence of life in this universe.

I have supplied various comments on that subject on the professor's blog, since it relates to the possibility of God's existence.

The following thought occurred to me: If space is something that can expand, then space is a "thing" with describable properties. If so, then this changes the question about Fine Tuning of parameters to a question about what space itself is. It also raises the interesting question of what space is "in"?  In Aristotelian terms, this would put space back into the category of having (or being) substance, and as such, space itself could be the ground of all being. This we are accustomed to calling "God", to put this into a form that St. Thomas Aquinas might have used.

A thought worth thinking about, I think, in commemoration of my grandmother, who was born this same day, in 1897, in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.

This is also a thought I will want to explore further on my new blog, Ideas are Physical, but feel free to comment on this here.