Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Infect Enceladus

Infect Enceladus

A modest proposal


NASA has announced that there is hydrogen in the plumes from Enceladus, presumably from interaction of liquid water with tidally-heated rock. This plus the CO2 also found in the plumes would be an energy source for methanogenic bacteria. But since this source is not all eaten up, that suggests that though there is a hospitable environment for life on Enceladus, there is none there as yet.

That is shown by the “tiger stripes” of Enceladus, which reveal that the under-ice ocean bears the pristine blue of water devoid of life. This stands in dramatic contrast to the muddy – and dare I say shitty? – brown of the cracks on Titan.

          NASA has a planetary-protection protocol, forbidding the spread of life from Earth, lest it endanger native life. But if there is no life on Enceladus, though there could be, then I say let’s put some there, just to have neighbors in the solar system.



Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Feline Monarchy

          Feline Monarchy


Mark Twain once proposed that some country have a royal family composed entirely of cats. I second the motion, and add these thoughts on the system:

          The royal palace and staff shall be modest; I propose a small apartment adjoining the legislative chambers, which the royal cats shall have free run of. His Feline Majesty and his queens shall be fertile; no castrating His Highness; hence the palace shall be a cattery, exporting kitten princes and princesses. The line shall be bred for regal tolerance of strangers, for His Highness must greet politicians, paparazzi and crowds.

          The cat-king is of course a figurehead; the Prime Minister holds the real power. However certain powers are reserved for His Feline Majesty alone, subject to his sole command, ‘until cats learn to talk’. These are all powers forbidden to human government, and granted to the cat on condition that cats remain mute.

His Majesty is granted sole ownership of every excessive government power, which the written constitution enumerates; a negative bill of rights. For instance: the cat, and the cat alone, can regulate speech; establish religion; prohibit arms; prohibit alcohol; prohibit drugs; suspend habeas corpus; wage war without Congressional approval; eavesdrop without warrant; and torture.

          It is therefore vital that no human ever occupy the Feline Throne. This is in line with the normal function of cats; here humans put a cat on the throne to keep human vermin off of it. To keep humans off the cat-throne, the constitution shall establish a series of rigorous felinity tests.

          Amongst the felinity tests are: Purring. Personally catching, killing and eating mice and rats. Jumping up three body lengths onto a platform one foot square. An hour in freezing cold air without wearing any clothing. Being held upside down by his feet three body lengths above a hard surface, dropped, and landing on his feet. Passing through a hole one inch wider than his head.

          Anyone arrogating royal powers must take a rigorous felinity test.



Monday, May 29, 2023

Why Truth?

Why Truth?



Letter to friends and family, on Monday, November 20, 2017:


On this, my 60th birthday, I ask your indulgence to consider a dangerous philosophical question:

Why truth?

- and related questions:


Why justice?

Why honor?

Why honesty?

Why integrity?


- and so on. Why not their opposites: falsehood, tyranny, dishonor, lies and corruption?

I am not arguing in favor of those opposites; I shall leave that to Mr. Trump and his gang of dupes, collaborators and crooks. I am for truth, justice, honor, honesty and integrity, but I’d like to hear some reasons why. I question truth because I love it.

Trump and his gang have plenty of reasons for the lies that they love; though in truth those reasons are not reason; they are madness; for “why reason?” is another question in play here. Why reason? Why not madness?

Truth, justice, etc. all support each other; they argue for each other; but so do falsehood, tyranny, etc. The former group has a strategic, long-term advantage; but the latter has a short-term tactical advantage, as Mr. Trump’s gang has demonstrated. Truth can truly speak for itself, but falsehood can falsely speak for itself. Why favor one over the other?

I question truth because I love it. But why love? You can argue that truth, justice and reason lead to life, liberty and happiness; and these are true arguments. But why happiness? Why liberty? Why life?

Like I said, these questions are dangerous. I ask these dangerous questions because now they are political.

There is a paradox of origin at work here. Truth has true reasons for itself; those true reasons also have true reasons, and so on. But what starts the chain? Or perhaps it goes around in a circle, or a web. But what holds up the web? Something that’s not truth? But how reliable would such support be?

Perhaps the web of truth needs no support, it just floats. But that would not be proof; it would be faith. Must we take truth on faith? And leave falsehood to pride?