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All People Matter

A Big Feature Of Existence Was Set Right At The Big Bang—Samness And Difference

The only point at which there was sameness was before the Big Bang.

Ever since that point, there have been differences.

This is so even though the different things consist of the original matter expelled by the Big Bang.

Right away the nature of being was set.

There was a common point of origin and an existence made up of many different things.

This is useful for understanding everyday life.

It is not difficult to grasp the fact that common origins, differences and contradiction are at the center of things.

Nothing other has ever been the case.

August 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Interesting And Expansive Definition Of Life—No Matter How Stupid Everything May Seem, We All Have The Ability To Think Deep Thoughts

I recently read an interesting definition of life in New Scientist magazine.

New Scientist is a challenging and accessible weekly that I subscribe to in print and on-line.

We all merit things that both respect our intelligence and that are accessible.

This definition of life was put forth in an interview by a Australian cosmologist named Charlie Lineweaver.

Here is a portion of the interview from New Scientist

So how would you define life?
To the extent that the question makes sense, as a “far-from-equilibrium dissipative system”.

What do you mean by that?
A system that feeds on the free energy associated with the gradients in the environment. For example, a hurricane is a dissipative structure because it feeds on the free energy of air pressure, humidity and thermal gradients. Hurricanes dissipate the free energy – they undo the gradients and bring the environment closer to equilibrium. That’s what life is. We take chemical energy and undo it – move it closer to equilibrium.

By your definition, a hurricane and a star are both alive. Are you really saying that?

If you want to chain me to a black and white view, then yes, I am. The distinction between far-from-equilibrium dissipative systems and near-equilibrium features is clearer than the traditional boundaries that people put on life and non-life… 

I’m far from being a scientist af any kind. I’m a lowly blogger. But I’ve been thinking about this definition of life for a few days now.

What this Lineweaver gentleman seems to be saying is that anything that draws energy from the environment–whether that environment be terrestrial or up in space—is life of a kind.

While the article does not address the subject, I wonder if this concept might make an airplane or an automobile a type of life. If that seems odd, don’t we often consider the idea that machines could at some point act in an autonomous way? Don’t machines more and more each day mimic what we thought before were things that only people could do?

(When I use the word “autonomous” I mean to the extent that anything is autonomous in an existence in which everything is interdependent on something else.)

The interview with Professor Lineweaver has gotten me to thinking about the value and nature of any entity or system that changes or has some impact of one kind or another.

Professor Lineweaver uses the term “chemical energy.” But for the purposes of our day-to-day lives why limit our ideas even to that broad framework?

We sometimes talk about situations and issues that “take on a life of their own.”

Maybe that common has phrase has more meaning than we realize.

There is such vitality all around us and this vitality is present every day.

All people have the ability to see the world around us in many unique and intellectually valid ways.

The expansive concept of life put forth by Professor Lineweaver can be used as a helpful point of reference in your own ideas about life, energy, change and existence. This can be so even if you have to read the interview a few times like I did to get a more clear idea of what he was saying.

No matter how idiotic so much of life is each day, we all have the ability to think deep thoughts and to apply our thoughts to everyday life.

July 24, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Welding—-Melting, Pressing, Hammering

Above is a picture I took of people welding a ship or a barge of some kind at the Houston Ship Channel.

(Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)

Here is a history of welding. At the bottom of that history are other welding related links.

Here is a definition of welding from Merriam-Webster

Join together (metal pieces or parts) by heating the surfaces to the point of melting with a blowpipe, electric arc, or other means, and uniting them by pressing, hammering, etc.

Sometimes we hear about concepts and themes of unity and connection. Such talk might conjure up images of peace and cooperation.

It is not always that way.

Sometimes things are brought together by—“melting with a blowpipe, electric arc, or other means, and uniting them by pressing, hammering, etc.”

September 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hard Working, Imaginative, Polluted & Brutal

I visit the Houston Ship Channel sometimes because the channel is hard working, the product of imagination to have made the salt water sea reach 50 miles inland, polluted, & brutal in a way with huge ships and giant quantities of goods and chemicals of all sorts.

(Above–The Houston Ship Channel. Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)  

These qualities of hard work, imagination, polluted by the world, and brutal in ways we don’t always realize are what I am and what you are.

The world around us is what we are as individuals and as a society.

The world around us is hard-working, imaginative, toxic at times, and brutal.

Make the effort to see the world and what each of are as individuals for both good and ill.

A great book to read to learn about the Houston Ship Channel is Energy Metropolis–An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast.

July 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Many Planets Flying Through Interstellar Space—Look For Others On This Path Through Existence

The galaxy may be filled with planets that are not orbiting any sun.

(Above–Interstellar planet as depicted by NASA.)  

From NASA

“Astronomers… have discovered a new class of Jupiter-sized planets floating alone in the dark of space, away from the light of a star. The team believes these lone worlds were probably ejected from developing planetary systems. The discovery indicates there are many more free-floating Jupiter-mass planets that can’t be seen. The team estimates there are about twice as many of them as stars. In addition, these worlds are thought to be at least as common as planets that orbit stars. This would add up to hundreds of billions of lone planets in our Milky Way galaxy alone….it is likely that some planets are ejected from their early, turbulent solar systems, due to close gravitational encounters with other planets or stars.”

I can relate to these interstellar planets. I’m certain many people can relate to these planets.

While you may be in a secure orbit in many aspects of your life, it still can be difficult to find a place in existence.

Close encounters with bad people and selfish people can send us out on an uncharted trajectory.

The general tone of our society can make you want to detach yourself from what is taking place.

The good news is that even when flying around on your own, you are in the company of many other such planets.

You are still part of the galaxy as a whole.

In your life, look for those on a similar flight path through existence.

Remain loyal to the things you value and to the best aspects of our society , while seeking out others like yourself who may orbit no specific star.

May 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Each Day That Boats Come To Call At The Port Of Existence Is A Good Day

A City of Houston park I have come to enjoy is Tony Marron Park.

A portion of this park is along a section of Buffalo Bayou that at one point saw a great deal of boat traffic between Downtown Houston and the Houston Ship Channel.

Boat traffic has long since stopped at this section of the bayou.

As you can see from the two pictures above, there is still evidence of where the boats once stopped.

There are just no boats.

While my father was dying last month, I wondered about all the people he must have known over his 80 years.

They were all dead or otherwise gone. I was not aware of many people who dad was still in touch with in life.

When I walk along the trail at Marron Park and see where there was once life and activity, I think how we should value each day that traffic comes to call at the port of life and existence.

This traffic can be people, things we learn, ways that others communicate with us, opportunities to do constructive things, or—to be literal-minded–even a real boat.

Even the most routinely scheduled service is at some point rerouted or ended.

Take advantage of each day that you are on the path of some channel or route of existence.

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Structure Is Freedom—A Plane Is Able To Fly For A Reason

The Hospice people I talked today to in regards to the terminally ill person in my life were solid. I spoke to three nurses and a social worker.

The folks at Hospice do the work of existence.

Existence has a structure of life and death. Freedom comes from structure.

In an airplane last week, I thought about how the plane can fly because existence has a structure that we make use of to gain the speed and mobility of air travel.

Today I saw the Ohio River flood its banks because it has been raining. (Above –The flooding Ohio River today.)

Seeing the flooding river, I was thankful for existence, structure, and freedom.

(Below—A river–either the Mississppi or the Ohio– as seen for my airplane window in February of last year.)

(Photos copyright 2011 Neil Aquino)

March 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Airplane Trip I’m Taking Soon Has Value—Let Us Do Our Best In A Complicated World

I’m going to take an airplane trip in the next few days.

I’ll be flying on the type of plane you see above. That plane is a Embraer ERJ 145. ( Photo by n4451.)

Why will I be taking this airplane trip?

Because I’ve made the call that the money it costs to buy the ticket, the time it will take to make the flight, and the time I’ll spend in the place I am visiting, are worth the costs.

This is not to define what we do with our lives as no more than mere financial transactions. The power of money should conform to needs of people, not the other way around.

A nation governed on an opposing principle is a nation governed illegitimately.

Every decision we make has some basis. We have the ability as individuals to determine why we should act in one way and not in another. We have the ability as individuals to use our resources of money, time, and energy in the way we see fit.

Yet if the basis of our decisions extends no further than our own interests, we are giving up the best aspect sof our individuality.

As individuals, we have the ability to be with others in hopeful relationships, and to work with others for shared goals.

Every action has a cost. This is good. This helps assess the value of the way we spend our lives.

There is, of course, another question. Does the trip I’ll be taking merit the impact my flight will have on others I do not know?

On one hand, my ticket will help pay people’s salaries.  On the other hand, the airplane will emit pollution.

I don’t have the answer to the worth of this trip in this context.

I don’t have all the answers.

To say you do not have all the answers is not to abdicate responsibility for your actions.

Rather, it is a commitment to think life out to the extent you are able.

The things we need to assess the value and worth of our actions are all around us.

Our relationships, our thoughts, an airplane and other accessible technologies, our energy, our time, other people, our imaginations.

Let us do our best in a complicated world.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Just Because There Are Stairs Does Not Mean There Is A Way To Move Up—Maybe You Can Build Your Own Staircase

Just because there are stairs, does not mean you have a real chance to move on up.

(Below–Galveston Seawall.)

(Below–Downtown Houston.)

(Below–The Alki Beach area of Seattle.)

(Below–Galveston Seawall.)

(All photos copyright Neil Aquino.)

any people work very hard and yet they just can’t seem to advance.

Here is a series of articles from the liberal political magazine The American Prospect discussing the difficulties of the middle class in the U.S. and offering ideas on how to make the situation better.

There are many ways in life we might feel that the chance to move up is somehow frustrated or blocked.

In these cases, you’ll just have to try to build your own staircase.

For example, I met my need to communicate my ideas to others by becoming a blogger.

I don’t mean to neglect the role of circumstance in life.

It is a fact of life that sometimes the staircase of existence has been knocked loose or leads no place but underwater. A lot of talk about pulling yourself by your so-called bootstraps is junk. Life is sometimes rigged for the good of the few and at the expense of the many.

One good way to build a staircase for yourself is to have some help. Help might come from friends and family. Help might come from the government in the form of assistance for education or with a grant of some kind.

Maybe you can build a staircase that others will use as well.

Without forgetting that sometimes stuff is just not going to work out, you still need to make use of the life that you have.

The good thing is that things in life often work out for the best, and that there are many people out there who share your goals and who are willing to help.

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You’ve Got To Have An Awareness Of The Parts To Grasp The Whole

As I’ve said before, you’ve got to have an awareness of the parts to understand the whole.

Abobe you see a picture I recently took of some parts that will soon be part of a larger whole.

Things just don’t appear from thin air. They exist for a reason. They exist because they were made. They exist as a result of the things that made them.

When you are trying to understand something, whether it be a machine or some fact of our society, try to see the parts that make the whole.

Doing so will help you understand what is taking place.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

I Reflected On The Nature Of Existence This Evening

I went to the Cincinnati Reds baseball game this evening.

I had ice cream for dinner. Also, since as you can see in the picture the Ohio River was visible from my seat, I looked at the flowing river and reflected upon the nature of existence.

June 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Pictures Of Your Friendly Blogger—Contrasting Aspects Of Our Shared Existence

Here are two pictures of your friendly blogger.

I know I don’t look so friendly in these pictures. You’ll simply have to take my word for the fact.

In this first picture I am at Burnet Woods in Cincinnati, Ohio on what was a very cold day this past February.

In this next picture, I am at the Houston Ship Channel just a few hours ago. This was a much warmer day in Houston then the day you see pictured in Cincinnati.

Burnet Woods and the Houston Ship Channel are places with both organic and man-made elements.

These are aspects of existence that are found in each of us.

We are partly our own creation and we are partly a creation of things beyond our control.

I dig both these aspects of our existence.

I took these pictures by myself with my iphone.

The ability to be alone, and still to be able to share what I’ve done alone with others is yet another contrasting aspect of the existence we all share.

What an interesting world and existence we all share.

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping Relationships Together As Existence Moves Things Apart

A longtime friend will be visiting me for a few hours today in Houston. His name for the purposes of this blog is George from Cincinnati.

George from Cincinnati is seen above as he was 20 years ago. He is the kid in the glasses behind and to the left of the older gentleman. The older gentleman was known as Shorty.

The kid to the left of George in the white shirt was Scott. Scott is dead now which is a source of regret. I’m certain that Scott and I would still be friends were he not dead.

George from Cincinnati and I have been friends for maybe 25 years. When you ponder that the very laws of existence compel objects to move apart from each other, there is a lot to be said for a long term friendship.

Such a relationship is an example of keeping things together. 

(Below–Existence racing away from us.)

File:NGC 7331 - Peris.jpg

The New York Times recently ran an article saying that good friendships might be more beneficial for you than even family ties. Here is that article.

From that article—-

Exactly why friendship has such a big effect isn’t entirely clear. While friends can run errands and pick up medicine for a sick person, the benefits go well beyond physical assistance; indeed, proximity does not seem to be a factor.

It may be that people with strong social ties also have better access to health services and care. Beyond that, however, friendship clearly has a profound psychological effect. People with strong friendships are less likely than others to get colds, perhaps because they have lower stress levels.

Last year, researchers studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were alone.

The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared.

“People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to,” said Karen A. Roberto, director of the center for gerontology at Virginia Tech. “Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better.”

June 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Marjorie Grene—Existence Defined By Interactions With Wider World And Not By Self-Awareness

Marjorie Grene, a philosopher of biology, has died at age 98. Dr. Grene is pictured above.

I had not heard of Dr. Grene before reading her obituary in the New York Times earlier this week. 

Life is rough in that you can accomplish a lot, but the first thing you do noteworthy enough for many to take note of you is die. 

There was much of note in Dr. Grene’s life’s story. But the excerpt from her obituary that most caught my attention was this–

“She rejected Descartes’ belief that self-awareness defined the understanding of existence, arguing that meaning comes from interaction with the environment.”

This is excellent. The idea that an understanding of existence is based on interactions with the world around you, instead of on the narrow basis of simply being aware that you exist, is just the thing.

Folks—We’ve got to get out there and mingle in the world of people, places, and ideas. Just being aware of yourself is not enough.  

From the Times obituary—  

Marjorie Glicksman was born in Milwaukee on Dec. 13, 1910, and graduated from Wellesley College in 1931 as a zoology major. She then studied with Heidegger and Jaspers in Germany before earning her doctorate at Radcliffe. She taught at the University of Chocago where she met and married David Grene, a lauded classicist known for his translations of Greek tragedies….In 1944, she followed her husband’s dream and moved to an Illinois farm. As a farmer’s wife and the mother of two children, she got up early to study and write philosophy before beginning farm work. In 1952, the family moved to a farm in Ireland, where the routine continued….The farm life taught her a lesson, she wrote in “A Philosophical Testament” (1995): “Agricultural duties and critical philosophies didn’t mix.”… In Chicago, she had met Michael Polanyi, a distinguished physical chemist turned philosopher; she ended up helping him research and develop his important book “Personal Knowledge” (1958). The book proposed a far more nuanced, personal idea of knowledge, and directly addressed approaches to science

Please click here for the full Times obituary.

Here is the obituary from the Los Angeles Times

Here is a good blog post about Dr. Grene from World’s Fair.

It would be great to be paid to think as was Dr. Grene. Though it is also good that we all have the ability to think about our lives and world around us to a greater extent than we often realize. Maybe some of the ideas discussed on one of the links above will be a springboard to new thoughts of our own.

People are smarter than they grasp.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The People I Know Age At Intervals Of Months And Years

 

Yesterday, walking on Fourth Street in Downtown Cincinnati, I ran into to someone I had not seen in at least ten years. I once knew this person well. 

( The photo is of the 16 story Ingalls Building at the corner of Fourth Street and East Vine. It was built in 1903 and is the first reinforced concrete skyscraper in the world) 

Visiting Cincinnati once or twice a year, I see many of the people I know best at intervals of months or years.

These people see me in the same way.

The person I saw yesterday, as you might suspect, was somewhat older than when I saw him last. 

He was on his way to work and we talked for just a few minutes. For those few minutes, I could see him assessing me and how I have changed in the same way I was assessing him.

Seeing someone at 40 you had not seen since he was 30, if not younger, is a window into aging and mortality.  

Fourth Street is one of Cincinnati’s oldest streets. How many chance meetings and conversations-in-passing have taken place on Fourth Street? 

There is nothing special or unique about me and the relationships I have in life. The value of individuals does not come from being special or different in some way. It comes from the fact of existence itself— Nothing more or less than existence.

November 20, 2007 Posted by | Cincinnati, Relationships | , , , | 1 Comment