Bitsy is snoring fl at out on the fl oor of our little travel trailer, taking up the entire space. She has been bored stiff for the past four days while I, first, slept for two days more or less, and then worked for two days to produce the current blog/podcast, and so today she rejoiced in a whole afternoon of social interactions.
We arrived a bit early at the end of the rail line in Santa Fe, because we like watching trains come in, and so chose the opportunity for a bit of restful meditation while waiting for the event. Or at least I meditated. She watched and waited for something more interesting to happen. Which it surely did. What fun to meet my cousin Nancy, whom I have not seen since I was more or less about 6 or 8 years old. We had at least two lifetimes to talk about, while Bitsy flirted with every passing dog lover, and finally tried to make friends with the entire trainload of people heading back to Albuquerque.
The great power of basic science is that it lets us spend our time doing things that are more useful than fighting about our personal opinions. We can use the elegant immutable facts of life to make technologies, and then we can use the technologies to do something good that we otherwise couldn’t do.
But is that what we usually choose to do? More often, after we have powerful technologies, our heads swell up until we believe our power is the same as wisdom and our opinions are the same as facts. Now that’s just silly, but that’s what some people think. And then we start to fight, we call it debating, about whose opinion is more important. And by that time we are in more trouble than we were before we had the power. Nobody’s opinion is as powerful as an immutable fact, because we can not change the facts.
A fact is a reality that doesn’t change. The most important thing we need to know about science — it’s a method to figure out what is the difference between a fact and an opinion. And it does this by physical measurements. Science is the study of measurable facts using the scientific method. The whole point of the scientific method is to prevent personal opinions from influencing our evaluation of the measurable facts.
An opinion is not any of these things. We do have the power to change our opinions, and in my opinion we should consider our opinions with great care, first on the basis of the facts we must deal with and then on the basis of good choices that reflect our positive human values.
Fighting over facts is like those gorgeous fighting fish that have long trailing fins and all sorts of colors from red to blue, and they live in little aquaria. One fish lives on each side and they are divided by a pane of glass. Apparently the fish believe they are more powerful than the glass, because they never stop fighting to get through the glass so they can tear each other to shreds. They spend their whole lives doing this, and then they die.
That’s very romantic, and I suppose it’s fun if you like nothing else more than you like fighting, or if you think winning is more important than anything else in the world. I don’t. I think winning is mostly a way to hurt other people while pretending you did something good, because whenever you win, everyone else loses. And that makes them mad. Pretty soon everyone is mad at everyone else, and looking for something to fight about, even if it doesn’t make any sense, acting like a bunch of fighting fish and never accomplishing anything more useful than proving we can do something better than somebody else can do it. Well, everyone can do something better than someone else, so what does that prove?
I can accomplish my goal better if I know the difference between the things we know to be facts, and the things we know are not facts, and the things we don’t know. So science is about facts. Technology is also about facts, but technology is not basic science. Technology uses scientific facts to make things to sell or to use. It’s too bad so many people are confused about this, because the difference is as big as the difference between God and man. God made the unchanging facts. We use basic science to study the facts. We use technology to make things to play with.
It’s not much different from a chimpanzee using a stick to dig food out of a hole. God made the tree, the chimpanzee broke it into a stick to use for a technology, but the chimpanzee did not make the tree and he cannot change the way trees are made. Neither basic science nor technology can change the facts, but science can help us to understand them, and technology can help us to do good things without causing harm.
Or not. Our job is to choose.
The podcast of this post may be downloaded at:
How cold is it?
Pickup wouldn’t start this morning. Two days ago I forgot to take my gallon of coffee water out of the pickup into the house. In the morning, frozen solid, so I brought it in. I also threw out several inches of ice from Bitsy’s water. This morning, two days later, coffee water still has ice floating on it and Bitsy’s chunk of water is still sitting there. Snow has not melted from the peaks to which I am going next Monday.
But we still went out in the 40-50 mph wind to Santa Fe’s amazing four-acre dog park.
This is not a big deal expense or effort, and as you know I will soon be moving to a place without electric, and combustion fumes make me sick, which is why I am moving. Sounds good news to me, they say it costs about $5 to make and lasts a couple of years. I think a better investment than a stove. Now everyone please send me ideas about how to keep the inside of the house warm without burning anything. Yes, there is a house. That’s one good thing. There are other good things, the foremost being that the air is clean to breath healthy. (Now if I can find clean and healthy food to cook??)
For those of you who have followed he tale of my pickup that died every time I tried to hitch it to the trailer so I could transport the washer from the ranch into town to put it in the Peach Clubhouse, here is the end of that story.
Sorry I was too busy to take a picture, but you can check out the picture of the Peach Clubhouse, which is on the Peach Clubhouse permanent page of this blog you. Click on it in the upper left corner, and that’s where I was carrying it to. And the steps I encountered. But to get back to the story.
I did purchase a come-along, which turned out to be defective, but I jerry-rigged a way that I could make it work and got the washer into the trailer and managed to raise the ramp. That was the second time the truck died, just as I got the trailer hitch centered over the hitch receptacle, and here came A-1 towing. Again.
Then the truck got fixed (again) and I put it under the gooseneck hitch of the trailer, holding my breath because it was at that moment the truck always seemed to stop running and get sent back to Pickups Plus, where they did a great job of tracking down one problem after another until – - –
Everything went very well and I drove away, with two flat tires on the trailer, but it has four. So we rocked and rolled over to my tire place and had a nice chat with people I haven’t seen since last year, to give a good start to the morning, they aired it up, and I drove into town, stopped in the road in front of the clubhouse, and with some difficulty removed the washer from the trailer and dragged it up to the front steps.
One little old lady cannot drag a washing machine up a set of steps.
And here is the best part of the story.
You’re waiting, I know. It’s taken about six weeks.
So a person I didn’t even know stopped, also in the middle of he road, and dragged the washer up the steps for me.
Hooray for neighbors and communities, right!