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Blue Lion's Lair

Hunting for Answers and Devouring the Issues

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Tag: space

OK. I’m back after a couple of days of camping with the kids and getting my minivan fixed. Let’s get right back to the countdown.


In 14th place we have Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson.  If you’ve ever looked up into the night sky and wondered what you were looking at, this is a great book to have.  This book is, by far, the best book for an introduction to astronomy.  Mr. Dickinson covers all the important topics and the photos used in this book are spectacular.  There is a thorough discussion of the various type of observation equipment, descriptions of the most famous stars and constellations, some great seasonal star charts, and more essential information.

However, the part of this book that puts it on this list is a section that does an amazing job of showing just how large the universe is in comparison to our planet.  He starts with a picture of the Earth filling the frame of a picture in the first step.  With each successive step the picture is further from the Earth such that the sides represent 10 times the length of the sides of the previous step.  This process is followed until the picture is showing the bounds of the known universe.  This is the single best description of the scope and size of the universe I’ve seen that makes it perfectly understandable.  Even if you don’t buy the book, you should read this chapter to get a good idea of your place in the universe.


In 13th place we have Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch.  Actually, this is now a series of 9 books.  I read the first three and found them very interesting.  If you believe the premise that Mr. Walsch has been getting information from God and writing it down into books, there’s some very interesting concepts here.  Personally, I believe that something is going on here.  How much of the information is direct from “God” is open for debate.  Of course, considering my understanding of us all being God, I guess everything written by anyone is at some level direct from God.  As you can see if you read the Wiki article about the books, many of the ideas about God in these books are in close alignment with my own.  These books started me down the path to the understanding of God and the universe that I believe now.  I guess you could say I’m the rational side to Mr. Walsch’s emotional side.  That’s one key difference between us.  I still recommend these books to the believers reading this blog.  The belief “challenged” will not find these books helpful in the least.


The next entry is another series of books.  I’m talking about the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien.  Ten years ago, these books would have been firmly up into the top ten.  Now they’re coming in 12th place.  For many years this series was the single best example of fantasy and world creation ever accomplished.  It is still a singularly classic achievement.  I’ve read these books more times than I can remember.  For a while, during high school and college, I probably read them about once a year.  These books did much of form my ideas and concepts of good and evil and the understanding that we can never give up or surrender when our lives and way of life are being threatened.  The only reason these books have lost some of their influence on me is probably mainly due to familiarity.  However, there are also two more recent fantasy authors who I now have to place higher on my list and both will be in my top ten.  Please don’t let my preference for these other authors take away from Professor Tolkien’s masterpiece.  Without his work, neither of the more recent fantasy series coming up would exist.


My last “runner up” book comes in at number 11.  That’s Give Me a Break by John Stossel.  Mr. Stossel actually has two books out and they are both well worth reading.  Mr. Stossel is a libertarian and in many respects that’s where my politicial outlook lies as well.  These books explore many of the areas that government regulation actually makes worse than if they just did nothing.  They also discuss many areas where the media are driving unreasonable fears in the public and ways in which the free market should be used as the best way to fairly distribute resources.  These books will make you laugh at the ridiculous, but also get angry and disturbed by the lies we hear every day.

I believe Mr. Stossel is the single best reporter on Network TV today.  If I see a show that he’s done I will always sit and watch it.  He’s one of the few honest reporters who is more concerned with the facts he can find than the political outlook he’s trying to project.  Yes, he has a perspective that he wants people to agree with, but his perspective is informed by facts, not by the way he’d like things to be.  This is apparent by the “conversion” of his perspective from a pro-government intervention one to the libertarian view he now holds.  I’m actually shocked that ABC News has not only kept him employed, but has increased his visibility over the years.  I guess I have to give ABC credit for allowing an alternative view point to thrive.  In any case, John Stossel’s books are worth reading.

That’s all the runners up.  Next post starts into my top ten books.  This is where the real fun begins.

OK.  So when I conceived doing a top ten books everyone should read article, I thought I could stop it at 10 books.  As I kept looking back at the books that have influenced my thinking, the list kept growing.  I kept finding books I wanted to recommend to everyone.  As it stands, the list is now up to 18 books.  So, I’m going to make this a Top 18 Books Everyone Should Read Article.  Well…..actually, it’s a lot more books than that.  Some of the entries are series of books.  I’ll have a final book count at the end.

So without further ado, here is the list starting from spot number 18.


In 18th place we have the Story of Philosophy by Will Durant.  This is a great introduction to the field of philosophy.  It starts out with the ancient Greek philosophers and winds its way through history and describes the lives and philosophic works of the major philosophers.  I very much enjoyed the first part of this book starting with Plato, Aristotle and the other Greeks.  I have to admit though, that once I got to Schopenhauer, Kant and some of the more “modern” philosophers, I started to lose interest and find the whole subject depressing.  The lack of morality and any meaningful existence that is discussed did not answer the questions I was looking for.

However, since the creation of Wikipedia, you can probably find much of the philosophic  information from the book there.  The book does a better job describing these men’s stories than Wiki.  For these reasons, I have this book at the end of my list, but I still recommend it to fill in your knowledge of this subject.


In 17th place we have Chaos, by James Gleick. I read an earlier edition of this book some years ago, when Chaos Theory was brand new and no one had heard of it, much less understood it.  The search of patterns in what previously had been thought to be completely random is extremely interesting and although we see it all around us, it takes a fairly large amount of computing power to crunch the numbers and repetitions involved.  This book was brought back into my memory by a recent Nova special on PBS called Hunting the Hidden Dimension.  This fascinating look into fractal mathamatics, Mandelbrot, and applications in nature brought me right back to reading this book.  Cool stuff for people interesting in how the world works “behind the curtains”.


In 16th place we have Hyperspace, by Michio Kaku.  This book is full of mind bending stuff.  However, this book provided me with the first description of higher dimensions that made sense to me.  If you ever see Kaku on TV, he has a great way of explaining things.  This book has been somewhat superseded for me by two books by my other favorite cosmologist, one of which is in my top ten.  However, Kaku’s description moving from a two dimensional world to a three dimensional world as an analogy for 4th dimensional space/time first got me interested in the subject and started the juices flowing in my brain on the dimensions of time and space.


Next up in 15th place is an odd sort of self-help book called Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz.  Many successful individuals have used the concepts in this book to reach their goals.  The main thrust of this book is that your brain is a fantastic goal reaching and problem solving machine.  You need to provide your mind with an accurate self image and set positive goals for your future.  Your brain will figure it out if you let it.  Basically, if you want to change who you are, change your mind.  Those who know me will recognize one small way I use what I’ve learned in this book.  I often find myself having an aphasia event, where I can’t remember the word I want to use or the name of someone I want to talk about.  I usually work around this by finding a synonym or trying to describe who the person is.  I know, however, that if I stop thinking about the word or name and let my mind work on it in the background, the answer will pop into my head in fairly short order.

Next time we’ll do number 14-11.  The books get better as we go deeper into the list.  What won’t change is the eclectic selection.  I’m nothing if not eclectic.

In the truly excellent science fiction TV show, Babylon 5, created by J. Micheal Straczynski (or Joe to those who know him) there is an episode dedicated to the question “Who are you?”.  This episode, entitled “Comes The Inquisitor” is available via Hulu.

There is a scene in the episode where one of the main characters, Delenn,  is asked over and over again in brutal fashion “Who are you?”  Delenn first answers with her name.  That, she is clearly shown, is not the right answer.   She is confused.  She doesn’t know what the “Inquisitor” is getting at.  In the end, she realizes the Inquisitor is asking “What is most important to you?”  “What do you stand for?”  “What values do you live your life by?”  It is only at this point that the testing ends.

So, who is the Blue Lion?  Clearly it’s not my name.  We can wear names like clothes.  Whether you call me Blue Lion, or Leo Blue, or Hey, you!!  Cranky guy.  It doesn’t matter.  It does not change who I am.  I guess the best answer I can give, is in what do I believe?  What are my values?  What would I be willing to die for?

Above all, I believe that life, everyone’s, life is unique and important.  If you’ve read my earlier posts you know that this is because I believe our lives are “God experiencing all there is to experience” or “the Universe figuring itself out (nod again to Joe Straczynski)” depending upon your view of a “Creator”.  Every person should have the right to seek out their own happiness as long as that does not impinge on the rights of others.  Since you need to be alive to pursue your happiness, I can state this as everyone has the “inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  The Founding Fathers of the Unites States got this exactly right.

I believe the most evil thing people can do, except under one circumstance, is to destroy another human life, as that is the ultimate abrogation of that person’s rights.  Strangely, maybe paradoxically, I also believe that you have not only the right, but the responsibility, to protect your life and the lives of those you love.  Those you love can, and often does, have a very broad definition in my book.  This leads to the one exception to the rule.  It is not evil to kill another if that other presents a credible threat to either your life or liberty, or the life and liberty of someone you love.  I wish I could say that you can wait to take action until after someone is being attacked, but by then it will often be too late and you’ll end of not saving the person who’s life you were trying to save.  I’m also not saying to kill everyone that threatens you.  It’s a judgment call that each person will have to make for themselves depending upon the situation at hand.

The Blue Lion puts a large amount of value on honesty.  Dealing with other people requires you to have credibility.  Always being honest accomplishes two things.  It cements your credibility and it keeps you from having to remember which lie you told to whom.  Trust me, as you get older the memory is one of the first things to go.  Don’t make it any harder on yourself than you need to.

I also believe that decisions need to be made on the basis of reason, not emotions, in almost all instances.  Emotional decisions, very often feel like the right thing to do, but more often than not end up making a mess of things, because they do not take the law of unintended consequences into account.  Welfare is a perfect example.  It feels right to help people who are struggling (the psychological basis for this is not as altruistic as most people think as it’s usually an ego boost to the helper), and in many cases it makes sense to do so to a limited point.  However, helping people for too long tends to make them dependent on that help.  This lessens that person’s liberty and even their dignity over the long haul.  Since the helpers (I’m talking about good people trying to help here, not those trying to take advantage) don’t intend this to happen, its an unintended consequence.  Help has to be temporary and people need to be made responsible for their own lives again as quickly as possible.

My studies of economics have shown me that capitalism is fairest way to distribute resources.  Read Basic Economics 3rd Ed: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell to get an idea of why this is true. Capitalism, makes those who need a resource most pay the most for it.  It also takes into account human nature.  Now, while I understand that every regulation or tax put upon Capitalism in some way constrains the free will of people to do as they want and slows the growth of an economy (the rising tide does lift all boats, even if it doesn’t lift them evenly), I recognize that rules need to be agreed to and followed so that less evolved people do not take advantage of the more evolved ones.  I also recognize that governments, that need to exist to enforce the rules and protect the populace from outside harm, need funds to accomplish these tasks.

Last of my core beliefs is that representative democracy, in other words, the US system, is the best, most practical form of Government yet invented by humans, at least for humans.  It gives each person a say in running the country, which directly impacts their lives.  However, it is also workable from a practical standpoint.  Pure democracy would mean everyone voted on everything.  In the end, noting but the voting would get done.  The sad fact that our current leaders are out of control and driving this country into a hole, doesn’t mean the basic system is bad.  In fact, in the not too distant future, the system will probably work very well to change the current leadership.  If the leaders we had, actually followed the Consititution and didn’t make things up as they went, we’d be better off than we are now.

As you can see, the answers I have found to the question of “Why are we here?” has had a major impact on “Who am I?”.  I have hopefully explained how my answers to my questions about God, the Universe, and why we are here, rationally (again, hopefully) lead to who I am.  As we go forward, we’ll start to look at “Where am I going?” and “How do I get there?” from both a personal level and at the group levels.  These questions are more practical in nature, and not so esoteric as what I’ve discussed up until now  Until then, good hunting.

Yesterday I wrote about how time is necessary to spread out all the possible things that can exist and make them “experience-able”.  Today we take that one step further.  While time separates one moment from another, space is the thing that separates one object from another.   In this, space performs a similar role as does time.  That of spreading the “everything” out so that it can be experienced.  Therefore, it can be said the the result of the existence of the space-time continuum, is that all the things that can possibly exist, in all the ways they can exist, are spread out so that each is discrete and distinct from all others.  If this weren’t true, then there would be no ability to experience anything.  Lucky for us that we happen to be properly designed/evolved to be able to experience the dimensions of time and space.  OK…..maybe luck doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it and that’s a subject I’ll get to.

For now, lets consider all the things that exist in our universe.  Not just the physical things, but the other aspects of reality as well.  I’m talking about things like temperature, lighting, color (related to lighting), abundance or lack thereof, and even emotions and our judgments of good and evil.  If you look at each one of these aspects, it turns out that they are all defined relatively.  In other words, in order for the definition or measurement of one of these aspects to have meaning, they must be compared or related to other values of that aspect.  Not only that, but each definition of measurement is on a continuum of some sort.  For instance.

  • Hot is relative to cold.  Yes, there is absolute zero, but all other temperatures are relative to it.
  • Light is relative to dark.  Again, very similar to the temperature relationship.
  • Up is relative to down, right is relative to left, forward is relative to backward
  • Speed is relative, at least up to the speed of light.
  • The future is relative to the past.
  • Blue is relative to Green, microwave is relative to infra-red
  • Even good is relative to evil.

In many of the above cases, one side of the aspect defines the other.  The best example of this is good and evil.  If evil didn’t exist, no one would know what good is.  Everything would just be.  Unfortunately, evil is necessary.  That doesn’t mean that there have to be evil people.  However, the experience or history of evil must remain in order for people to appreciate and fully experience what good is.

What does all this mean?  Well…this is truly the universe of the relative.  Everything is relative.  This relativity is what makes experience of more than time possible.  In fact, without the other relative aspects of the universe, time while it would exist, would be pretty meaningless.  I can’t think of a worse hell than having to exist through time with absolutely nothing else to experience.

I know that many people use the “Everything is relative” line to justify not believing that absolute good and evil exist and that the definitions are in the “eye of the beholder” so to speak.  This is just plain wrong.  There are rational definitions of good and evil.  I plan to lay them out in this forum.  But first we need to address a few more concepts before I can do that.

In any case, the definition of Blue Lion’s Theory of Relativity is this.  Everything is relative to something else.  Without this relativity, there would be nothing to experience and therefore no reason for life, or even the universe to exist.