I’m Just a Ghost

I’m Just a Ghost.

Dreaming All Over

Dreaming All Over.

Christians and Government

Christians and Government.

Stone God

I recently saw an advertisement on television that asked people to support the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a non profit group dedicated to maintaining the political separation of church and state.  Let me tell you, it surprised and saddened me that this was being done.  Fundamentalist Christians in the United States of America are meddling in so many things nowadays that the rest of the country feels it must take up metaphorical arms against them in order to protect the constitution.  Now it’s the decedents of the persecuted doing the religious persecution.

What sane person can say that among all the problems and troubles we have today, the words “In God We Trust” on our money is important.  Better we should write, “God, punish the moneychangers who cheat and rob us, let them see jail time.”  That’ much more appropriate.  Or just drop it all together.  There is nothing wrong…

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Faster Than Light

“If you are in a spaceship that is traveling at the speed of light,” asks comedian Steven Wright, “And you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?”  Good question. 

Recent research at the has recorded tiny particles, neutrinos, as having travelled faster than light.  This has been a revelation for numerous groups of people: astro physicists, quantum physicists, science fiction writers, religious leaders, time travellers and flat worlders.  It is a revolutionary discovery and one that brings all sorts of possibilities to mind.

The first thing that comes up is, “Now we can time travel!”  In fact in some articles it was mentioned that this was a dangerous possibility.  We really could go back and kill Hitler.  And Hitler could come to Disney World. 

In fact, we can no more travel in time at light speed than we can at the speed of sound.  The universal constant is a speed limit, not a time machine.  I’ve always thought someone could go faster than light.  It’s just that they were going so fast we couldn’t see them.  They could have been racing around the universes for eons and we’d never know it.

In February of 1984 a supernova flared in the sky.  This was light that traveled millions of miles for years and years.  Scientists were excited that they had the opportunity study such phenomena.  But now the speed of these superluminal neutrinos has been calculated and astrophysicists are looking for a neutrino burst from the nova approximately four years prior, or the speed that faster than light neutrinos would have traveled in advance of the light.  Does that mean the neutrinos time traveled?  No, it means they went faster than 67,061,662.92 mph, that’s all.  No time travel, just a ticket from the light speed police.

Einstein’s equations posited that as an object approached light speed it’s mass increased exponentially.  That means for an object to attain light speed it would attain infinite mass.  Since infinite mass is unattainable, nothing could go at or past the speed of light.  Coincidentally, neutrinos have no mass, so you can take a zero all the way to infinity and it’s still a zero.  So that solves the infinite mass dilemma.  I doubt seriously an object could reach infinite mass anyway because as it approached that state, it would form a black hole.  I would think the speed of the atoms being sucked into the center of one would come closest to light speed as they are racing into a growing, concentrated mass.  Of course we’ll never know as light cannot escape from that type of gravitational well.  We can only watch the suns set on the event horizon.

However, if black holes were collecting all matter, they would soon swallow up the universe. So what happens in a black hole?  That’s for our next little thought journey.


Parallel Universes vs Schroedinger’s Cat

One of the reasons I love pondering Shroedinger’s equation and his thought experiments is that it deals with the possibility of a dead cat.  Me being a dog, of course.  But the idea of multiple states of existence occurring simultaneously is fascinating.  In Schroedinger’s world all possibilities are open until an outcome is observed.  Then all the others disappear.  However, that’s not necessarily right either.

Consider this: instead of all other possibilities collapsing, that is disappearing, perhaps they continue to exist simultaneously after the observation is made.  This particular model is what I’ve always called a branch model.  It’s much like a decision tree, except that it always goes forward without looping back.  Think of it this way.

Time is a continuous road.  If you come to a fork in the road, you have a choice to go to the right or to the left.  Whichever one you choose is the branch of the journey you will use.  However, if you choose the other branch your journey will be different.  Different routes, so to speak.  When you make a decision, you take that route and move past it.

But what if you decide to go the other way?  What if you also take that route.  At that fork in the road you split the journey into two routes or two realities.  You number one goes to the right, you number two goes to the left.  You have each entered a new timeline or universe, if you will.  And think about this:  Every time you make a decision, you create another reality.  It’s like following the branches of a tree from the trunk out.  You start with a limb, then it splits into two smaller limbs, then into branches and twigs, etc.  And if you follow every possible route it takes many journeys.  But if you are creating realities each time you choose a branch to follow, you can follow all the branches to the ends at the same time.

Still not making sense?  Did you ever hear anyone say that if you start making good choices it will bring you back to the straight and narrow road?  Well it’s basically the same principle.  Say you are standing in front of an angel and a devil.  You choose the devil and your next choice will be different than if you chose the angel.  That is because each choice takes you into a different reality.  And when you make one choice, you also make the other choice. Then the two of you make the next choices.  And with each choice you create another set of realities.

So Schroedinger’s theory goes only so far, that when a choice is made, all other possibilities collapse.  But if you want to go beyond that, the possibilities don’t collapse, the don’t disappear, they just fall away from where you can see them into another reality where another you goes on with his/her life.

And that makes me think really hard about my choices.  I know that every choice I make will create the reality I live in.  That means that through my choices I can create my reality.  And if I can create my reality then I can make my world a better place.

Thanks, quantum physics!

Schroedinger’s Economics

The tangle of quantum physics is a pattern of thought which includes observation as a defining variable in the outcome.  In 1935 physicist Erwin Schroedinger posed a thought experiment in which he brought the quantum principle of entanglement into the macro world.  Schroedinger started with a cat was put in a sealed box with a radioactive particle and a bottle of poisonous gas.  If the particle decays, the poison is released.  If not, the poison is not released.

Here’s the weird part.  To the universe outside the box the cat is either dead or alive because we don’t know.  And because he is either dead or alive, he is both dead and alive at the same time until someone opens the box and observes the state of the cat.  Among other things, this experiment makes us think about the divergence of timelines.  The life of the cat and, I suppose, the cat owner, are traveling along in nice straight parallel lines.  Suddenly the cat is scooped up by a crazed physicist and shoved in a box.  The cat owner is insanely angry and beating on the old professor, crying and yelling about how she wants her cat back.  Schroedinger holds her by the shoulders and says, “We must wait a few days”.

So the two timelines are still parallel, owner’s outside the box, cat’s inside the box.  Finally Schroedinger goes to the box.

The owner asks, “Is my cat dead?”

Schroedinger answers, “Yes.”

The owner says, “Are you sure?”

Schroedinger says, “No.”

She gives him the stink eye.  “What are you talking about you crazy, catnapping maniac?”

Schroedinger says to her, “Your cat is dead.  Your cat is alive.  Your cat is both until I open that box.  Once observed, the probabilities collapse.  Then your cat is either dead or alive.”

The cat owner shoots Schroedinger and opens the box.

This is where those timelines diverge.  If the cat is alive, their timelines continue on in tandem until the cat wanders off or its owner is struck by lightning.  If the cat is dead, only one timeline continues on, the owner, without the cat.  So the owner’s timeline, when she opens the box, splits into two possibilites: dead cat, live cat.

How does this appy to economics, you ask?  Well here it is.  There are two different views of investments.  There is the classical investor’s physics paradigm where when the stock market falls, he loses money and it if rises he makes money.  This is a short term view and for long term investment, not really indicative of what the outcome will be.

On the other hand, the quantum view of investments is that when the market goes down, she has not lost money.  When the market goes up, she has not gained money.  In the quantum field of thought, only when it is observed, or in this case withdrawn, can the value be assessed.  So in the quantum view of economics, money can go through twists, turns and permutations, but is not measured until it is called back to it’s point of origin.   Assesment is what makes assests have value.

So, if you are like me this is completely confusing, but I’ve tried to muddle through it.  The main points have to do with observation causing collapse of alternative outcomes and divergent timelines that exist immediately prior to that collapse.  And, of course, how to use these insights to observe investments, especially in the stock market.

And finally, keep your cat at home.

Tax Cut Voodoo

Magical thinking is the belief that facts can be changed by repeating words or phrases that are not based in reality.  In this case it’s that cutting taxes will cure our financial problems.  Ask any Tea Partier, tax cuts will solve the financial problems of the United States.  Big businesses will use that money to expand and hire more American workers, money will be spread around and everyone will share in the wealth.  All this if we just cut taxes.

Unfortunately, the reality is that big businesses have had tax cuts and still do have them and none of these outcomes are happening.  Unemployment is still high, businesses are still shipping jobs overseas and citizens are losing their homes in record numbers.  This is the actual result of tax cuts. Still, there are a lot of folks in Congress are sprinkling dried toad powder into bowls of stumpwater, chanting their magical spell: Tax cuts will save the nation.

In the past I have asked senators and congressmen who’ve contacted me for my support to explain the tax cut magic to me.  None of them have answered me.  And I’m not surprised because when you really start looking at the system, it makes no sense.

  1. The biggest employer in the United States IS the United States.  If the Federal Government stops spending, jobs are lost.
  2. When jobs are lost, those who lose them are no receiving incomes.
  3. People without incomes are not getting tax cuts.
  4. If folks aren’t getting tax cuts (or incomes, for that matter) how are they going to spend?
And in an economy where no one is spending, no one is making money.
Then, when you have tax cuts, state and local governments have to let employees go.  These people live in communities where grocers, auto repair shops, plumbers, electricians, contractors, lawyers, doctors, farmers, teachers, shopkeepers, funeral home directors and other businessmen and woman live by making money providing goods and services to the people in their community.  With their customers out of work, these people stop making money.  And under these circumstances, who is going to expand, even if they are getting tax cuts?
Meanwhile huge corporations who built their wealth on the backs of hardworking Americans are treating their employees like first wives who got them through college then leave them behind for a more attractive, cheaper workforce.  Except these corporations aren’t paying their child support. Tax cuts won’t be spent in the United States.  Tax cuts these companies receive go to India and Thailand and China.
So my question is, when based in reality and not wishful thinking, how do tax cuts actually help our country at this time?  In a recession or depression, spending money is the only thing that helps.  And the only folks with the where with all to do that is the federal government.  The Roosevelt Administration put into place programs to employ workers such as the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps.  He also put regulations on banks that maintained integrity in our financial systems until the Reagan Administration.  When Reagan started dismantling our carefully crafted safeguards, the result was the great Savings and Loan failure beginning with the Penn Square bank in Oklahoma City.  Further dismantling has been done until the thin line between corporate banking and personal banking disappeared.  The loss of limits created an environment in which speculators and unscrupulous investors made mortgage loans into snatch and grab schemes and defrauded Americans out of billions of dollars.  This loss of regulation, the “gud fer bidness” attitude of the Bush administration left Americans out in the cold.
So now we’re being held hostage, being fed a thin gruel of “tax breaks” as the ultimate nutrition for the country.  Look around.  Tax breaks won’t help the citizenry.  They won’t have an effect on those of us in the most need.  They will only help those who are already draining this country dry. And where will they put their money in off-shore accounts and investments.
Spending in the United States is bad mojo.  But if you really believe in magic, maybe tax breaks will help.  And maybe Santa and the Easter Bunny will will bring us gold from the end of the rainbow.
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