Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Times, They Ain't a Changin'

Recently, Popular Science shut down the ability to make comments on its website.

You'll notice that there are no comments on that article … uh … yeah … Actually, when I first looked at the article it showed "Comments" with a count of "zero". Now the article has links to Twitter, Facebook, etc. In other words, Popular Science welcomes comments, just not on their site.

This has been a topic of online conversation, blogs, and news, and rightfully so. The main argument I've seen was concerning whether or not this was censorship. Well, for one, it IS a private entity and has the right. It's not a publically-funded entity, where that would be an issue. Being able to make comments on a site is not a "right", but an option provided by the website to stimulate conversation. But unfortunately, spammers, trolls, and people being plain rude have ruined comments. No longer a means of discourse; just a way to be coarse.

As usual, I'm going to look at this from a different angle. One that looks at part of the article (linked above) that has been brushed aside.

PopSci (I LOVE that shortened name, by the way) believes that things like the origins of climate change are apparently without opposing scientific proof. Comments that shed any doubt on the "popular consensus" are detrimental and need to be shut down.

Let me remind you: Whenever you remove dissension to scientific findings, you have removed the validity of those scientific findings.

Take a moment and read that again. Let it sink in. Really. I'll wait.

History has proven that there is no such thing as empirical scientific absolutes. Let me give you an example. For about a century, scientists were convinced that light was a wave. In 1905, Albert Einstein challenged that conviction in that light was not only a wave, but also a particle. Now, according to the majority, Albert Einstein was wrong. Two decades later the dual concept of light was finally accepted. It took two whole decades for the MAJORITY of scientific EXPERTS to admit that they COULD be wrong.

It is this same hutzpah today that plagues the scientific community. Without such men as Albert Einstein challenging the status quo, we would not have the scientific breakthroughs of our day today. I know, "but that was Albert Einstein". In 1905, Albert Einstein was a patent clerk with a passion for physics, not the Nobel Prize-winning man we came to admire much later.

Again, history has proven that there is no such thing as empirical scientific absolutes.

Scientists today suffer the same malady that those in Albert Einstein's day suffered: unmitigated arrogance. They fully believed that those before them were genuine, sincere, but seriously misguided in their understanding of (name the subject), and that they themselves were far superior in their intellectual comprehension of (that same subject).

Until those, and their supporters, understand that those in our future will also consider US borderline Neanderthals in OUR expertise, the true ability for scientific expansion will be arrested. And Popular Science has willingly supplied the handcuffs.

© Emittravel 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wisdom from the Porcelain Pulpit #3

It's J.P., with more "Wisdom from the Porcelain Pulpit".

I was reading a book (and minding my own business … ) called "Living it Up" by George Burns, when a chapter hit me between the eyes. I wanted to share with you the impact it left upon me.

The book was published in 1976. The copy I'm reading is in a compilation entitled "The Most of George Burns" (published in 1991 by Galahad Books - a division of LDAP, Inc. - ISBN: 0-88365-782-1). This is not the first George Burns book I've read, so I was used to hearing his voice in my head as I read. His humor rang loud and clear through his writing so absolute that you couldn't help but hear him. And the same is true with the chapter of "Living it Up" that hit me so hard: "No More Applause".

The first sentence: "On August 27, 1964, Gracie passed away."

Gracie Allen was not only George's partner on stage, but his life off it. George passed away in 1996. That's 32 years after she died - and he never remarried. Gracie was George's inspiration, his joy, and his soul mate. He talks in the chapter of the last few months together, her passing, and how he "coped". I was crying when I finished reading it. I wanted to read it out loud to my wife, one more time, before sitting down to write this, but I couldn't make it passed the first sentence. Who am I kidding? I didn't make it through the first sentence at all. Lisa read it to me - since it would be "fresh" for her. And I cried even more the second time through.

Why did I cry? What was it about their story that struck me so? I never met them. I only know OF them. I've seen some of their work. But I've never known them. So, why did I cry? I think it was that I connected with George on his love for his wife - with the love I have for mine.

George talked about going on after Gracie was gone. I've wondered what life would be like without Lisa - and I have difficulty imagining it. I can't imagine each day, trying to live beyond the eventual routine, without her. I've even hoped that I would go first - so I wouldn't have to deal with the loss. (Lisa has such a stronger character than I, that I figured she would make it fine without me.)

George said that after a time that he stopped crying on his visits to Gracie. He said that he discovered "that there are just so many tears one can cry and that crying is not going to change a thing."

Maybe so. But for now, when I think of life without Lisa, the tears DO make me feel better.

© Emittravel 2013