General Lee

General Robert E. Lee married Mary Custis, grand step-daughter of George Washington, and thru this marriage he acquired slaves.  He freed them by 1862, according to his father-in-law’s will.

Lee did not find slavery completely without justification.  [it was] “a greater evil to the white man than to the black race. . . blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially and physically.  The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, and I hope will prepare and lead them to better things.”

Loyal to Virginia, he sided with the Confederates.  “How can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native state?”

He fought for the confederate cause. . . relentlessly. . . and. . . with relish . . .to the very end.

At Mule Shoe,  when all was nearly hopeless, he tried to break out of Grant’s encirclement, to hold out in the hills of Tennessee or Georgia.  In these last days of the war, he sacrificed many thousands of his men.  Few of those men ever owned slaves.

“. . he rode Traveller hastily toward the fighting.  He encountered terrified soldiers, streaking back in chaotic flight [from counterattacking union forces], “Hold on!” Lee shouted, seeking to stem the rout,  “Your comrades need your services,” The terrified men refused to heed his admonition, “Shame on you men, shame on you!”  Ron Chernow.

He would not negotiate release of captured Negro Union soldiers who had been southern slaves.

Lee was West Point and studied Napoleon. He was successful, on defense, on his home turf, at Bull Run, at Fredericksburg, at Chancellorsville, but not so effective, on offense, on unfamiliar ground, outside of Virginia, at Antietam or Gettysburg.

Strong on tactics, not so much on strategy.

While Lee attacked the front porch, Grant would attack the kitchen and bedroom“.  William T. Sherman.

He had Grant’s respect, but not his awe.  “After I crossed the James, the holding of Richmond was a mistake. . if he left Richmond when Sherman invaded Georgia, it would have given us another year of war“.

At Appomattox, Lee dressed. . .  like a victor . . . in his very finest silver grey.

I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”  Ulysses S. Grant

Following Lincoln, and ‘malice toward none‘, Grant refused his sword, and sent him freely off .  Only five days later, Lincoln was assassinated.

Lee’s stature in the South has been mythic, both then. . .  and. . . to this day.  His equestrian statue in Lee Park, Charlottesville, is . . .26 feet high.  For Robert E. Lee. . .and many other southerners. . .something northerners don’t seem to understand. . . to this day. . .is that homeland freedom, not slavery, was the issue of the Civil War.  It is hard to remember the times when your land is all that you have, and you defend it with your life.

The best Union General, General Lee?  ” McClellan, by all odds“. . .!!

 

God Stuff

What something is, is different from what something is not.   It is fundamental logical truth that when something is something, it can not also, then, be what it is not.

What physicists seem to have found, however, is that the very basic stuff of reality. . . is both what it is and what it is not.  It is both continuous and discontinuous. . . smooth and flowing like a wave, and discrete and moving like a particle.

Physicists today call this wave-particle stuff quantum fields.  Quantum fields are invisible ghosts of potentiality.  Undisturbed, they are undulating waves of continuous possibility.   Disturbed – ‘measured’ –  ‘observed’, they are moving particles and events.

Erwin Schroedinger discovered an equation that describes the state of a given quantum field and how it behaves.

There is no ‘energy’ in the Schroedinger equation, a central point that means that whatever is ‘waving’ in the Schroedinger wave equation is neither energy or matter.  It is terribly important that no one knows ‘what’ is waving in the Schroedinger wave equation.”   Stuart A. Kauffman.

Slam a quantum field with an intense point of energy.  This is what Particle Accelerators do.  With long tunnels of accelerating electromagnetic and superconducting powers, they drive particles to ever higher speeds, and focus them, with extreme precision, to collide into each other – “like aiming a rifle at a mosquito sitting on the moon“. Leon Lederman  From how the blasted bits of debris scatter, and where they scatter, physicists learn about quantum fields.

There are different kinds of quantum fields, it seems, quantum fields of gravity, of electromagnetism, and of nuclear forces.  They must be unified in some way.  This was something that Albert Einstein was trying to discover in the last thirty years of his life.

Peter Higgs, in Scotland, 37 years ago, figured that a certain other kind of field must also exist, a field that interacts with radiation and energy, and creates mass, and the material world that we can know.  When particle accelerators became powerful enough, in 2012, the Higgs field was found.

Quantum fields seem layered, creating a Universe like a giant jello cake, in which some layers allow electromagnetism and the speed of light but no mass, and some with gravity that allows mass and planets and galaxies.  The layers jiggle as events occur. . .  not totally randomly, but with predictable probability . .  and a with mysterious unity.  Where there is a bounce one way, there is somewhere else a bounce the other way.

“Over the 20th century, we came to picture all forms of matter as accumulations of transient disturbances in ubiquitous fields.  Some of those fields, when cold, create space filling mists – the Higg’s field is one.  Like morning dew, they are spontaneous emanations, thrown off as the fields settle into equilibrium.”  Frank Wilczek.

The universe is expanding, at an ever accelerating rate.  Back in time it had to have been very small, and then exploded in something like a nuclear explosion. . . the Big Bang.  Initially, with intense heat and energy, it expanded. . . and then in time it cooled.  Like a mists becoming water, the layers of quantum fields came to be.  And God said . . .

 

 

Tyrant Lizard King

600 million years ago, in the Burgess Shale fossils of Canada, one can see dramatic changes happening in evolution.  Life is exploding in form and diversity.  Nature is experimenting wildly, with body shapes, body parts, eyes, and heads, fossils that look like Pixar animation.  We aren’t sure why, but at that time, animals started eating other animals . . .alive.  The dance of predator and prey, it seems, was creating an evolutionary storm

It is one thing for life to learn to survive in the elements, to be able to find and digest food, reproduce and survive the weather.  It is another to survive the attacks of other living beings, to outsmart other beings that are trying to outsmart you.  A spiral of deceit and evasion and ferocity develops.  Both predator and prey push each other to get bigger, and quicker, and meaner, and smarter . . . fast.  

Forward 350 million years, as the great single-continent land mass, PANGEA, is splitting apart,  causing a hell-fire holocaust of volcanic eruption called the Permian Extinction, predator and prey evolution culminates in the age of the dinosaurs.

as the world was going to hell, dinosaurs were thriving, somehow taking advantage of the chaos around them”  The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs,  Steve Brusatte.

Prey became bigger and more herd-like, utilizing defense in numbers and size, and more and more armored with horns and plates of skin. The Sauropods, like Argentinosauris – the largest animal ever on land on Earth –  were four London buses long and five stories tall.

Predators became more and more cunning and vicious killing machines.   Initially it was the crocodile, Archosauros, that ruled the killer world. Then came the Allosauros, the “butcher of the Jurassic”.  Finally came the  most ferocious hunter and killer of our planet’s history. . . Tyrannosaurus Rex.  

Movie maker Steven Spielberg, did not have to exaggerate the evil, monstrous nature of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

T. Rex appears, almost exclusively in North America, 85 million years ago.  He was 35-40 feet long, could weigh up to 7 tons, had teeth the size of bananas, 58 of them, the head the size of a car, and massive, bone crushing jaws capable of 3000 pounds of pressure, the strongest bite of any known animal on earth. His skull was built like an airplane fuselage, to withstand the forces of his bite.  All his action was in his head.  He didn’t chew. . .he ripped and crushed.  He bit deeply and. . . pulled.    

T. Rex hunted in packs. He had exceptional low frequency hearing.  Like a seismometer, he would know, from far away, where you were.  His camera eyes were the size of grapefruits.  He had satanic horns for eyelashes.   He was covered in scales and feathers like some freakish Mardi Gras nightmare.

 T. Rex was the largest predator that has ever lived on land in the 4.5 billion years of life’s history on Earth.  This meat lusting monster travelled in packs!  He had bird’s lungs, and could breath in his bones.  He could run 25 miles per hour.  He was as smart as a chimpanzee. . the animal today that is thought to most closely rival human intelligence!  He had very good smell.  His only ‘weakness’ – he couldn’t turn well.  

Empathy was not much in the T Rex brain.  Young T. Rex may have wanted to get away from Momma T. Rex as soon as possible.

To this day, there is no fossil evidence of T. Rex eggs. . . .

Triceratops seems to have eventually been his main prey, a 40 ton gargantuan – the size of 5 elephants – with very thick scale and a giant, goring central unicorn horn. He was hard to bite without getting pierced.  

 T. Rex was just so good that his success was likely spelling his own doom, as he would eventually kill himself out of food.  Before that, only God, it seems, could stop this Devil on Earth, and it seems God actually did. 

Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops were present on the Day of the  Chicxulub asteroid impact 65 million years ago, the great inferno that brought to an end the Age of Dinosaurs, and T. Rex, and the spiraling horror show of predator and prey.    

Birds are the only surviving dinosaurs today.

Nature it seems, for a long time was better at making killers than cooperators.  Only small, nocturnal, rodent mammals, running under foot, at night, could co-exist in the Tyrannosaurus heyday, too small to bother with for T. Rex.  Only after the asteroid impact could gentler predators, and greater cooperation. . .the age of mammals. . . flourish.  

Eventually came Humans, as good at cooperation as T. Rex was at killing. They may be next to put themselves out of business. . .  if God doesn’t.   

Science Priest

Isaac Newton got the concepts right, perhaps better than anyone else in history.    Mass is quantity of matter.  Momentum is quantity of motion. Force is change in motion. Change of motion is acceleration.  Mass is resistance to force.  Force equals mass times acceleration.

F=ma

This equation “is the basis of our mechanical, civil, hydraulic, acoustic, and other types of engineering; it used to understand surface tension, the flow of fluids in pipes, capillary action, the drift of continents, the propagation of sound in air and in steel, the stability of structures like the Sears Tower or one of the most wonderful of all bridges, the Bronx-Whiteston Bridge    Leon Lederman

Alone on his aunt’s farm, to escape the plague after graduating from college, he developed the laws of motion for both the planets in space and falling bodies on earth.  To explain his laws, he developed a whole new system of mathematics, the calculus, which gives dynamic change to geometry.  He is still the greatest scientist of all time.

He seemed to know that his mind was different.

Common people did not know how to abstract their thoughts from their senses.  Speaking always of relative quantities or measures, they are thus unable to discern the true, real world that lay beyond their perceptual cloaks.”

He was certain that his ideas were correct.

He was not much interested in convincing others. He avoided argument – the ‘legal sphere’.  Why waste one’s precious time?  He kept his discoveries to himself for almost 20 years, until Edmond Halley,  of Halley’s comet, pressured him to publish.

Born into the puritan tradition, an orphan raised by priests, he was a devout believer in God, and an exacting student of the Bible.

He was a ‘natural philosopher’ and that included theology.  Getting the concepts right meant getting God right too.  Be clear about God so as to be clear about Nature.  God is both immanent – in all things, and transcendent – above all things.   Absolute Space is the universal presence of God.  Absolute Time is the omniscient consciousness of God.  The Laws of Nature are Transcendent, like their creator.  Gravity, like God, is a omnipresent, a universal power, active everywhere.

The principles I consider, not as occult qualities supposed to result from the specific Forms of things, but as general laws of Nature, by which the things themselves are formed; their truth appearing to us by Phenomena, though their causes be not yet discovered.”

As We are in God’s image, our reason is God’s gift to us to discover the laws of nature.  And as God is unitary, so is truth.  Truth must be consistent and agree with observation.  Science, for Isaac Newton, was a religious calling, Our human reason can be trusted.

His great treatise,  Philosophiae Principia Naturalis Mathematica – the greatest book of science ever written – for him, was written in the tradition of Moses of the Bible.

And yet he remained humble, mindful of what he didn’t know.

Thus far I have explained the phenomena of the heavens and our sea by the force of gravity, but I have not yet assigned a cause to gravity. . . I have not as yet been able to deduce from phenomena the reasons for these properties of gravity, and I do not ‘feign’ hypothesis.”

Isaac Newton gave the same intensity that he gave to natural philosophy, to the study of Christian history.  Any polytheism is blasphemy,  and always leads to corruption. . .  in all things, in theology. . . and in natural philosophy.

His studies convinced him that the notion of the Trinity was wrong –  a giant conspiracy starting at the Council of Nicosia, with the falsely added 1 John 5:7, and 1 Timothy 3:16 verses to the King James Bible.  In his time, in England, denial of the Trinity was a capital crime.  He kept these views to himself.

Sir Isaac Newton didn’t like music, poetry, or literature.  He never married, and had no known personal companion.  He was buried in Westminster Abbey . . . ‘like a king’.

Alien

A fish won’t stare at you, but an octopus will.  They watch you, with their human-like camera eyes, as much as you watch them. They are the smartest animal that has stayed in the sea, the only invertebrate – animals with no backbone – with a large brain.   Though as primitive as shell fish, they have as many neurons as a dog.

Octopus are hunters and predators, but with no physical defense.  Unlike their ancestors, they did not retain their shells.  They can ink the water to escape, and do instantaneous camouflage, and a few are poisonous, but mostly they are mobile, and smart. . . brains over braun.  Two thirds of their brain cells are in their eight arms.  They can squeeze thru an opening as small as one of their eyes.

They are minds that swim.

Their squishy bodies, with no hard parts, are pure tasty, and quick, digestible meat.  They are hunted by all the predators of the sea.  Their life span is short, they die shortly after breeding just once.  Life is risky, they go for broke.

They are ingenious at escape, and always try.  They have been known to open a jar . . . from the inside . . . to get free.  They seem able to recognize particular individual humans.  When they escape, they are uncanny at picking the moment you aren’t watching them.

When you work with fish, they have no idea they are in a tank, somewhere unnatural.  With octopuses it is totally different.  They know they are inside this special place, and you are outside it. All their behaviors are affected by their awareness of captivity.”  Peter Godfrey-Smith

They have been found to have perceptual constancy –  they understand an object is the same object, from different points of view.  They have comparative memory analysis – they can bring past experiences to bear on present situations and decisions .  They have curiosity.  They will interact with something, even when they know they can’t eat it.  They do step by step action, like other animals with consciousness, they can navigate mazes.

They are not considered to be social, but divers have known then to ‘high five’ each other . . . !

They have three hearts and blue-green blood.

We humans are not just conscious, but also are self-conscious, we have awareness of ourselves along with our awareness of the world, an eerie sense of two-ness that haunts us, and we sense that the octopus has that too.

Meeting an octopus, is, in many ways, the closest we are likely to get to meeting an intelligent alien.” Peter Godfrey-Smith 

They may BE alien.  Scientists have very recently decided that since their genetics and intelligence are so much a leap from their origins that some of their DNA, literally, may have come from outer space, carried in the spray of meteors from outer space.

the genome of the Octopus shows a staggering level of complexity, with 33,000 protein-coding genes more than is present in Homo Sapiens. . . the possibility that cryopreserved octopus eggs arrived in icy bolides [in meteors] several hundred million years ago should not be discounted, as that would be a parsimonious cosmic explanation for the Octopus’ sudden emergence on Earth circa 270 million years ago.”   Steele, et. al.  Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, March 2018.

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