More Bread on the Water

When I went out last to the Skeptics Society meeting in Pasadena, I had to apologize to the presenter for my difficult questions. My three sites (Love Returns here at WordPress, and the philosophical treatise at the original everdeepening) are not random ruminations, but develop messages. In interacting with other intellectuals, I tend to drive conversation into those oceans of meaning.

The challenge is their eclectic foundations: physics, philosophy, theology, spirituality, sociology, politics, and psychology. I have been blessed to live in an era during which people exploring at the edges of those fields have been nibbling at each other’s cheese, so to speak. Unfortunately, those feasting on the resources established to support mainstream thinking have also become adept at avoiding discussion of alternatives.

But I am proud of the body of work I have amassed, and believe that it deserves consideration. Since I earn enough to make ends meet, I’ve decided to finance that process through Stumble Upon.

It’s bracing. I set up two campaigns, one pointing at Love Returns and the other to the New Physics page here. I went in pretty hard, setting up to spend $100 a week. In both cases, I decided to target under-forty audiences, expecting that they would be more open to new ideas.

I was warned when I established the advertising campaign for my books. Click-through rates are about 3%. So while views on my sites have indeed mushroomed, only about one in twenty appear to actually click through to read the development outlined in the initial page.

Feedback is limited, much as it is here. New Physics has gotten three likes in 300 views. Love Returns four likes and five dislikes in 500 views. I’m actually surprised that it’s that positive: the target audience are Christians, and I was expecting dogmatism to push the dislikes far higher.

When I was in my first year here, I had a couple of visitors from the Philippines start at the very first post and walk all the way through my blog. That hasn’t happened in either of my Stumble Upon campaigns. People pick and choose their content, based upon the thumbnails on the anchor page.

But people are looking. I can’t maintain $100 a week, given that I’ve got $100 a month already in outlay here and at Wistia for the video feed at Love Returns. I’m not expecting anybody to contact me to ask me to come speak to them. But I think that I’m getting enough click-through activity that I’ll keep it going at about half the current outlay. That corresponds to 1000 views a month between the two campaigns. We’ll see if it tails off at some point.

Rock of Egos

NASA’s New Horizons probe is flying through the Kuiper Belt (home of the Solar System’s comets) and about to survey a large rock. The rock is named “(486958) 2014 MU69“, which would sound nice when tweeted from R2D2, but is a terror for newscasters.

So NASA is running a contest to select a name to attach to the rock for their PR campaign. Recommendations include “Mjolnir” (Thor’s hammer) and certain mythical cities in the heavens.

My suggestion is “Ziggy Froid.”

The rationale? In honor of David Bowie, of “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” Because “Ziggy” is a diminutive of “Siegfried” and “Sigmund” which ties in to the Norse mythology of the Arctic Circle through Wagner’s series of Ring operas. And because “Froid” – French for “cold” – is a near-homonym of “Freud,” evoking my sense that it’s crazy to attach names of power to the first rock that we happen to encounter in the Kuiper Belt.

Though there’s no purpose served, you can visit the contest site and vote for my entry.

Anti-Matter Antidote

On my New Physics tab, I have a set of links that document some important facts that are unexplained by modern particle theory. These aren’t obscure points of experience. Rather, they include facts such as “the proton weighs 50 times as much as it should” and “quazars precede galaxy formation.” They are “first order” facts that should cause every particle theorist to blush in shame.

Experimenters at CERN have now magnified the problem.

The reigning theory of the universe holds that it formed from a super-hot gas – so hot that the very fabric of space contained more energy than the existing particles. As the universe cooled, that energy was converted to particles.

One problem with this theory is that energy is converted to matter through a process called “pair production.” You can’t make only one particle – you have to make two.

Specifically, the particle comes with an “anti-particle” with equal mass and opposite charge. The conundrum is that those particles attract, and when they meet, they annihilate each other. The matter and anti-matter convert back to pure energy.

This leads the physicists to wonder: how did we end up with a universe composed only of matter? In principle, there should be equal amounts of matter and anti-matter, and every solid object should be annihilated.

The answer proposed by the theorists was that matter and anti-matter are slightly different – and most importantly in their stability. Anti-matter must disappear through some unknown process that preserves matter.

The experiment reported today attempted to measure differences between the most important building-block of matter – the proton – and its antiparticle. None was detected.

In consequence, everything created by the Big Bang (or the Expansive Cool – take your pick) should have disappeared a long time ago. There should be no gas clouds, no galaxies, no planets, and no life.

If that’s not a reason to be looking for new theories of fundamental physics, then what would be?

Fire From on High

Were the bullets like the angry fists that pummeled your growing body?

Was the scurrying below meaningless, like the gambling that you used to hide your pain?

…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.

[NIV Gen. 2:17]

Is that the only escape from the sorrows of this world? An escape into death?

Was that the truth you wished to communicate before you took your own life?

Oh, dear brother, why were you immune to the Lord’s promises? Did no one tell you?

I will give you a new heart and a new spirit. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

[NIV Ezek. 36:26]

For now you have fallen prey to the illusion of death. The savior reached out to you with a healing embrace, but instead of receiving that gift, you chose to bear arms.

Hurricanes to Hell

I first heard the claims from a Mormon colleague at work. The constellation Virgo was overlapped with some planets creating a configuration of twelve lights in the sky. On Monday night at Bible study the parallels with Revelation 12 (in which the Sacred Mother descends with twelve stars in her tiara) were elaborated further: one of the lights was Jupiter, which exited the constellation on September 23rd, the basis for claims that the seven-year trial of tribulation was now under way. Only one element was missing: the simultaneous descent of the dragon. The claim was that NASA had somehow “blocked out” that part of the sky, hiding one-third of the stars (the dragon’s tail?).

I kept on stating firmly “The stars in Revelation are angels,” but the speaker wouldn’t listen, doggedly pursuing the story, repeating “But there’s more.”

Given this propensity to seek material evidence of God’s forthcoming intervention, I find it wondrous that nobody has linked the first letters of Harvey, Irma and Maria to spell out “HIM.” Santa Maria is also Christ’s virgin mother. Powered by the sun and arriving in hurricane form, she struck Puerto Rico at night – I’d assume hiding a full moon.

For those that followed the video series out at Love Returns, we know that we’re well past Revelation 12, close to the seventh bowl in Revelation 16. I won’t support that claim here, however, for there’s something revealed more directly by the tragedy in Puerto Rico.

Samuel was the first to warn God’s people concerning the limitations of government, and the Resurrection itself must be taken as repudiating all earthly powers.

Puerto Rico is a potent support for the argument that government is destined to betray our hopes. As a center for drug manufacturing, the island had a successful economy until about 2005, when Congress ended tax credits that benefited pharmaceutical companies that manufactured there. Shipping goods from an island nearly 1000 miles from the mainland is expensive, and the factories soon closed, kick-starting Puerto Rico’s descent into poverty.

Maria devastated an island already on the verge of collapse.

Why did Congress end the tax credits? A hurricane is a dramatic event, focusing our awareness of tragedy, but many communities in rural America are facing similar circumstances. Corporate American has off-shored their jobs, and constricting government payrolls are knocking the legs out from under small town economies. Into that misery the pharmaceutical industry is pouring a torrent of opioids.

The anger of rural America delivered the White House into the hands of a petty tyrant. In tweets to his sycophantic chorus, Trump attacked the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital, stating that her incompetence was the reason that FEMA hadn’t been able to deliver aid to 3.5 million American citizens facing slow death from thirst, hunger and disease.

Trump’s cruelty was triggered by the words of Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, recorded earlier in the day criticizing the Administration’s characterization of the relief efforts as “wonderful.” Mincing no words, she pointed out that people were dying, and that if an effective response was not mounted immediately, the federal government would find itself presiding over a genocide. Clearly suffering from trauma, Cruz characterized Trump’s attitude as that of one consigning citizens to “die like animals.”

But of course.

It is not government that delivers us dignity. Government is not worthy of our faith. It is only in God that we find the strength to suffer in dignity. Facing death, it is only to the faithful that certainty is given that we possess a spirit intended to receive infinite love.

So, please, Mayor Cruz: don’t pray to government. Pray to Him, for it is the lack of Him that has brought us to this impasse. The physical and social forces that brutalize the poor are huge, and far beyond the capacity of governments to overcome. Security, dignity and grace are found only in God.