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3 April, 2010

UPDATE: the new address for the music diary is – click the logo and go there now:

Briefly: I haven’t updated in a long time because I haven’t found anything better to say that my previous entry. It’s an ideal that has really had a life changing impact on me. I hope it does the same for you. … Also, I have started a music diary – to sort of… blog my experiences as I try and guide my way through this dead spot I’m in creatively. It’s an understandable dead spot, but I don’t want it any more. …


28 January, 2010

As the ancient myth makers knew, we are children equally of the earth and the sky. In our tenure on this planet we’ve accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage — propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders — all of which puts our survival in some doubt. But we’ve also acquired compassion for others, love for our children, desire to learn from history and experience, and a great soaring passionate intelligence — the clear tools for our continued survival and prosperity.

Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain, particularly when our visions and prospects are bound to one small part of the small planet Earth. But up there in the immensity of the Cosmos, an inescapable perspective awaits us. There are not yet any obvious signs of extraterrestrial intelligence and this makes us wonder whether civilizations like ours always rush implacably, headlong, toward self-destruction. National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatical ethnic or religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars.

-Carl Sagan

(Maybe the most powerful message I’ve ever heard. In a summary, Sagan was saying that … yes, as a civilization we’ve grown, evolved into todays man (which isn’t just limiting evolution to the physical and biological, but expanding it to our ideals), and brought with us all the troubles of trial and error, some of which can be a death blow to human kind. But we’ve also been able to acquire these other better features that allow us to grow and are also the key to our continued evolution. We are all equal, not just to each other, but to every atom of every dust, every gas, plasma, and matter in the universe – we are all made of the same stuff. When we die we are no different than a star. When a star dies and explodes, it distributes every bit of itself into the rest of the universe creating new stars or contributing to new galaxies, new life forms. One day, the same atoms that made up our body will make up a new star somewhere. So why shouldn’t we be infinitely positive about our life on this planet and where we are going, conscious or not?)


20 January, 2010

Well into the new year, and just at a month since my previous entry, I thought it may be a good time to throw something at you. It may not be too terribly interesting though. … I’m about to choose from a summary I wrote for one of my classes… hm…. Tycho Brahe it is (I just wrote this one today):

Tycho Brahe (Tyge Ottesen Brahe) was a famous 16th Century astronomer and alchemist from Denmark (in what is today Sweden). During his attendance at the University of Copenhagen, he became increasingly frustrated with the existing astral charts in that none of them matched. Thus he realized that the only way to go about correcting this problem was by systematically creating accurate charts himself. This he became notable for as being the first of his kind, at least in the Western world. Apparently he became very possessive of these charts, even keeping them from his sometime associate Johannes Kepler, the only worthwhile astronomer other than himself in the area at this time.

Tycho is also famous for his “golden” nose, which he received in a fight while at school in Germany. It seems likely that Brahe had several different noses which he used and wore (a bit like Captain Hook’s hook) for different occasions. Primarily it is thought that he wore a copper composite piece as it was softer and more comfortable on the face than a heavier metal like gold. … In 1572 Tycho made his most famous discovery in the constellation Cassiopeia, which he titled de nova stella (the “new” star). This is the origin of the term “Supernova”. A supernova is, in fact, the death of a star. It is my understanding that there are two ways a star can die; the death or “overheating” of the core of a star itself. Tycho’s Supernova is a Type Ia, meaning that it came from a white dwarf star in a binary system. Briefly, a Type Ia is when one of two stars in a system expands it’s outer layers (as it begins to die) which merges with the relatively newly formed white dwarf, thus increasing the core temperature of said white dwarf, causing the star to “overheat” and explode. In the end, the explosion effectively acts like a multivitamin to the galaxy and ultimately, the universe.

Tycho was given the island of Hven by the king Fredrick II of Denmark to build an observatory on. From here he could continue his experiments, develop new tools, etc…Eventually, after the death of Fredrick, he had a falling out with the new King and left the island. In 1599 he came to Prague and became employed by the Emperor, Rudolph II. In 1601 he died of Uremia (a kidney disease). His work was continued by Johannes Kepler, who, with no ease, acquired Brahe’s works from his family. Though Brahe struggled his whole life to define the Laws of Planetary Motion (continually being hung up on the movement of Mars), Kepler (benefitting effectively from Brahe’s work) in fact was able to understand them through the discovery of the ellipse.

Now you’re smart.

You’re welcome.


20 December, 2009

Here is a quick update. If you’ve read my essay on Liberal Elitism, than this is a definition of an applicable term or state of the Liberal Elitist.

“Asshol-iness” (or, “Asshol-ier-than-though”): When one suffers from acute Liberal Elitism, causing sharp criticism at one or a body of people about their habits and virtually becoming an extremist at preaching the way of the Liberal Elitist causing karma-esque balance to the Liberal Elitist world, thus keeping the “Liberal” (and humbling) part a primary function of their ways.


4 December, 2009

Just wanted to drop off a post of an essay I recently wrote for my psychology class.  It is actually… just a mini-essay, if even that.  But it has a familiar theme in it, if you know anything about me.


During my studying of our book “Exploring Psychology”, I noticed two references to Carl Sagan.  One was a direct quote and one was regarding a study on apes which cited a book by Sagan and his wife in regards the behavior of apes and the relationship to man.  I thought it was incredibly interesting that the highly renowned astronomer would be cited in the book not once but twice!  So I researched to find what I didn’t know about Carl Sagan and his relationship to psychology.

I’d like to give a little background on myself before I continue so that one can better understand my particular interest and view and, admittedly, bias.

I am a Humanist/Rationalist (in a similar vain to Isaac Asimov) and a member of the Long Now Foundation.  The Long Now hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s “faster/cheaper” mind set and promote “slower/better” thinking – creatively fostering responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.  Put more succinctly, we hope to get people out of their narrow and “short here” mind set and looking toward the distant future of humankind.  Certainly Carl Sagan’s ideas of the universe fit into a much bigger here and a much longer now for mankind.

I was semi-surprised to find that Sagan had as little to do with the science of behavior and mental processes as he did, considering that he’d been mentioned at all.  This being said, it makes complete sense that he would delve into the mind and the human condition.  As Sagan might have said, in our quest for the discovery of the cosmos, our search to know our place in the universe, it is important to first understand ourselves; why we are, what we are, and who we are.

In Dr. Sagan’s essay The Fine Art of Baloney Detection, we find a set of questions with a logical underpinning that encourage us to be skeptical and detect fact over “baloney” in science and truth, a concept relative to the Scientific Method.  “What skeptical thinking boils down to is the means to construct, and to understand, a reasoned argument and – especially important – to recognize a fallacious or fraudulent argument”, Sagan says.  The human mind wants things to be simple.  It wants realities to be non-complicated.  So it searches for patterns and the easy way out, which often leads to false science and supernatural beliefs.

But this condition is satisfactory to the majority of man.  They thus become people who directly experience only themselves here and now and often fail to consider, evaluate, and plan situations that are removed in time or space that pertain to others’ experiences, and that are hypothetical rather than real to them.  Carl Sagan stressed the concept throughout his work that it is important to transcend the present and mentally traverse temporal distance, spatial distance, social distance, and hypotheticality to imagine the possibilities of what our universe is capable of.  Does this mean we can’t come up with some half-brained theory about magic or UFO conspiracies or anything like that?  No.  But will it pass the Baloney Detector?  Will one give up to the truth once revealed?  Or will they hang on with a confirmation bias?

The argument exists that this ability to transcend the “short here”, the ego driven mindset of many today, is made possible by the human capacity for abstract processing of information.  Research shows that there is considerable similarity in the way people mentally traverse different distances, that the process of abstraction underlies traversing different distances, and that this process guides the way people predict, evaluate, and plan near and distant situations.  Sagan points out in his documentary film series “Cosmos” that the brain is a clear product of mammalian evolution.  That it is its own cosmos, in a way.  … And why should we be bound by our lower instincts when we are capable of so much more.  Indeed, “we are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

Joseph Snodgrass 02009DEC04
Internet references include: (for Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” series), (“The Fine Art of Baloney Detection” by Carl Sagan), (The Long Now Foundation)