Archive for September, 2016

Do you feel me?

2016/09/10

Empathy is central to the evolution of our minds, a critical aspect of our species’ survival.  Empathy is the ability to understand how another person feels, by putting yourself in the position of the other mentally.  ‘Walk a mile in my shoes’ is a common way of describing the process, although few people will walk a mile in anybody’s shoes these days.

Without empathy, we feel no hurt when we hurt others, and they feel no compunction to save us  when we are in danger.  We have to see a little bit of ourselves in everyone else, so that we can fit in, and so that we can relate.  What we see in others depends on the person, and who we are, and what we want to see, but feeling like we have something in common makes it easier to share, to feel trust, to admire.

Probably we all desire for things to be better, but working towards that goal, making the compromises necessary, requires trust and sharing.  We are one people, one family, sharing this tiny speck of matter whirling through the emptiness of space.  What happens to one of us could happen to any of us.  Without each other, we are nothing, for we will be forgotten, and what we achieved lost.  We are all important enough to save, everyone of us has worth.   Empathy is what we need to succeed, empathy is how we will grow.  Do you feel me?

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Can we try that again?

2016/09/06

Failure is a essential part of success, because it is through our failures that we learn the most.  Avoiding failure means to avoid creating, experimenting, modifying.  The fear of failure is used as a prod in our society, and we learn to look down on people who have tried and failed repeatedly.  We must expect failure when we are learning, instead of harping on perfection.

We should avoid heaping shame on people who fail, instead building them up for trying again.  Progress is impossible without failure along the line.  Judging a person for their failures is an easy way to destroy their soul, their will to live.  We evolved in an environment where the group needed every one working together to survive.  People helping each other in whatever way that they could, everyone having unique strengths to contribute.

Reinforcing each other is counter to the capitalist ethic, which fosters competition, exploitation, and greed.  Community is equated with communism, sharing with those with less is looked down upon as socialism.  The individual can override the rights of the group, putting the existence of the group in danger.

Every individual will die, but the group has the potential to survive.  Without the group, the accomplishments of the individual, what the individual learned, will be lost, forgotten.  Our ego lets us believe that we are important, but none of us are worth all of the future.

Some other way

2016/09/06

The explosion of the Space X rocket on the pad in Florida brings back to the fore the question of how to put humans into space.  The rocket that blew up during a pre-flight procedure was a proven launcher, having a number of successful launches.  Yet, the concentration of energy required for vertical launching makes the machines extremely sensitive to flaws or errors.

This is of little consequence when dealing with cargo, but for human payloads, the risks are considerable.  Launch vehicle failure can occur without notice, and any kind of an abort after lift-off will result in the complete loss of the vehicle.  Conditions must be as close to perfect as possible before a launch will be attempted, and the slightest discrepancy can bring about a scrub.

Taking off like an aircraft allows for many abort points without losing the whole vehicle, all the way through the launch. Takeoff can be refused, and the orbiter can separate from the carrier wing and return to the launch site, or abort to orbit.  Avoiding the performance requirements that vertical launching puts on launch vehicles should be first and foremost in designing a manned launch system.

By lifting the launch pad to 50,000 feet, we can allow our spaceship to use all of the energy stored aboard for gaining speed, instead of wasting much of it fighting gravity’s pull while deep in the atmosphere.  At no point do we have to use all-or-nothing strategies: losing an engine on the way to orbit should not mean catastrophe, just a longer climb.  We want reliability, not ultimate performance, when we are putting people into space.

Debt is destroying America

2016/09/04

Debt is denying a whole generation of jobs, places to stay, and self-respect.  Debt is consuming the money supply, creating little liquidity in a bubble-like environment.  There is nothing to flip anymore, there are no safe investments, living off of your investments is just not going to work now, and retirement is a nightmare.

But we are all still the same people that we were ten, fifteen years ago, so what has changed?  Debt.  No matter how you look at it, we are all in debt, no matter what our supposed worth.  But it is all just numbers in machines, it is not anything real, tangible.  Debt is not a place to live, nor is it key to a good job.  Debt is what holds us to the grindstone, wearing away our humanity.

Debt is destroying the American economy, poisoning innovation, stifling education.  We should all be helping each other out, sharing what we have.  When I have something extra, or unused, or rusting away, someone else can use it, maybe even keep it, because I know that when I need one again, one will be there for me.