What is…

Keep on Trekkin

As I did at the end of 2013 & 2014, so I do again here at the end of 2015 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:


Feature - Washington DC-1




That’s the summary for 2015. Some are carry overs from 2014, but I finished the blogs in 2015, after my last post on travels (see: Travels of Spocklogic II) in December 2014 or earlier if I made additions. As I alluded to in recent entries, I will take a break from this Cogito Ergo blog for a while in 2016. I’ve had 20 years of internet exposure and been blogging for 10 years (see: 20 Years of Internet and Mapping the Internet). I hope to return again with a fresh perspective down the line. There’s plenty to explore in the Cogito Ergo blog archives until then (see the link to: Browse Blog Posts). Best wishes for the New Year 2016! See you in the future…



As I did at the end of 2013, so I do again here at the end of 2014 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year are a couple of blogs I finished and some reviews that may be of interest:



That summarizes some travel selections for 2014. I did travel to Italy also in July 2014, and have some links to share for photo collections I put together for a special year in Erice to celebrate a 40th anniversary of the International School of Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy (ISAMS):

Rino: 40 Year Erice Celebrations (2014) – Erice, Italy
2014 Erice Workshop: 30 July – August 5 – Erice, Italy
People (2014) – Erice, Italy
Places (2014)
– Erice, Italy

In addition, I traveled to China again this year in November 2014, but am still working on my travel blog for that, so it will have to wait until my 2015 account of my travels. I will make this type of entry something traditional at years end to cover where I have been and what I have done in travel ways. It’s all rather like the City on the Edge of Forever perhaps…





I had some international travel this year (Poland, Italy and China) and got to wondering on these trips what exactly is news? It’s certainly true from my perspective that what is news in the USA is not news around the rest of the world. The USA remains a very isolated place, covering only specific stories related to terrorism, racial division and political conflict, at least on the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, etc…). There is a good deal more happening in the world than the people of the USA are exposed to. Be this as it is, I experience some backlash culture shock when I return to the USA after such international trips I take. At first I don’t want to even see it – the murders, celebrity scandals, terrorist threats, political infighting, and otherwise dismal state of the world from USA viewpoint. The world at large is not really like that, however, and what the USA media portrays is mostly a vision of a country so isolated from the rest of the world that it can not even see its nose in front of its face. It’s sad really, and the USA is supposed to be a world leader.

I often spend my lunchtime at work looking at the news on the internet. It’s astounding the stories that are so USA-centric, almost narcissistic. On top of that a good majority of them focus on negative aspects or have some slant towards ‘exposing’ something that will shock you. Headlines are designed to draw you in with a teaser, keep you hooked – addicted to what’s new. I find these tactics rather repulsive, but I am human too and find myself drawn into such stories time after time. It’s like a drug you can not resist. I have often used the analogy of how children like candy, but you don’t give them candy and  feed them healthy foods so they grow up well. It is analogous with the public, and the media should not feed them junk, but a healthier diet. It’s all economics, of course, and cereal makers target kids with the sugar just as networks target adults with the sensational. It’s clearly wrong, but seldom criticized. Money rules, sex sells, gloom and doom attract, terror remains a tale of trauma, and politics are pedantic to the point of soap operas. What has this world (from a USA viewpoint) developed into?

I have reached the point that I don’t want to look at it (the news) anymore. It’s all negative, for the most part, and I don’t want that as part of my being anymore – for peace of mind sake. Here are just a few things I want to say about some news topics obsessed on by the USA today. My apologies if these viewpoints offend anyone, but here goes:

1.) I’m just plain sick of the Middle East and the Arab world. I’ve had enough of it over and over in my lifetime and leave them to themselves is a policy I would like to see.
2.) I don’t want to hear about murders, kidnappings, rapes and other sundry crimes. I’ve had enough of it over my lifetime and why is this stuff always increasing year after year?
3.) Communism is a dead end – everyone knows that. Let economics decide the future of places like Russia and China. Spare me the rhetoric days past in cold war ways.

The ultimate question I suppose, putting my philosophers hat on, is simply: What is News? News is anything that is new, but does it have to be mostly negative? Could it be mostly positive? As long as money is driving the news cycle, it will remain negative because ‘if it bleeds, it leads’. It is not just money, however, and something more insidious I believe. Politicians are, by their very nature, great manipulators of their surroundings and other people. They could not get elected without that character. Why we would want people like that leading us is beyond me, but it is so. Anyway, the politicians play the media like a fine tuned instrument. Most of the people in politics are the biggest con-artists ever to exist. They call the shots and manipulate the media too. The networks think they are reporting news, but are mostly being played with and, for the most part, the stories that want to be told get told and the stories that don’t want to be told are kept secret. In reality this is how our system of freedom in the USA works.

When man landed on the Moon, that was news (it is an inspiration that anything is possible). The latest medical and technological advancements are news (they help people make better choices in their lives). Politics, economics and world situations are news (they make people aware of what is happening in the world). One could go on about what is news and cite many examples with rationale. The real trouble is that it is all manipulated at some level to keep you hooked, addicted to the negative aspects, instead of directing you to think positive. That is what concerns me most and should concern you too. It is time to tune out the negative networks and websites (to a degree) and pay more attention to positive outlets (to a degree). In the end, let the balance of  ‘What is News’ decide – Your dollar, Your voice, Your decision, Your direction will choose the trends in society and What is News…

Here’s “7 O’clock News – Silent Night” by Simon and Garfunkel from their Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme album (1966):

Merry Christmas, one and all – Have a great holiday season!


It’s a big topic for sure. Of course, it’s like art, music, philosophy & other ways of expression, open to interpretation. From my own perspective, and I mentioned it here in a previous blog,  Time Machine – Any Year, “Love is an uncertain & unsteady bridge – You cannot rely on it.” That is just my logical warning, from experience, but not a disclaimer to avoid the feeling.

Basically, you accept another person on faith and trust, based mainly on a feeling and cross a bridge without really knowing what is on the other side or even if you can survive the crossing. This is the risk of Love, in essence, and while it does feel oh so good, it is an irrational act. Some have argued that Love is a form of mental illness, but I am not sure about that. The mental pathways in the brain associated with Love and Hate are intimately connected, however, and although they seem to be polar opposite in emotion, they reside in the same place physically.

Perhaps there is something to the concept of “a thin line between love and hate?” The brain is a dynamic thing and I have always believed it wires itself to how you feel. Reason is always the guiding principle, if listened to, and this helps guide feeling. I think a perfect harmony is feeling letting reason know it needs attention, and reason letting feeling know it needs understanding. Well, I don’t want to make this a soft sell, and basically you are composed of what you think and feel – and the center of who you are arranges everything. Who is the center of who you are? In the 17th century, some believed a person began life a preformed human being, a Humonculous (latin for “little man”). As we grew and asserted our own will, there was still the “little man” inside each of us who pulled all the strings – a part of us, the driving force in opportunity for pleasure: love, hate, obsession, greed, etc. Well, this is just a story in parable that man is driven more by emotion than intellect and must construct some reason to understand it. We have the benefit of living in the 21st century and don’t need that kind of superstition.

But, I stray from my topic and neglect answering the question: “What is Love?” Pure and simple, it is a feeling, and don’t ever expect to understand it, by logic, reason, or medical science. It is a state of being, just like day is day and night is night. It is irrational, and wonderfully so, but it has a dark side too, when it turns to hate, spite, resentment and callous abandonment. I’ve seen it from both sides and can attest to its power to inspire and destroy. I like the words of Judy Collins in her song “Both Sides Now”:

I’ve seen love from both sides, have known the joy it brings and the inspiration it provides in life, and have known the terrible trials it can sink to in spite, animosity, retribution and pain. On balance I have to say the pain in my life has been greater than the joy, but I am hopeful I can turn that balance around again one day to come – in my favor! Yes, I retain a romantic vision – living a life in love with mutual understanding, sharing friendship, giving respect, and supporting each other to the end of our days. Is this just fantasy? Perhaps, but it’s a wonderful fantasy and songs, film & poetry continue to inspire us towards that. Love, and what it is, maybe is not so important as who you are and what your dreams are made of. If two people share the same dream, maybe that’s enough in life, and more than that can not be gathered in philosophy.

Man is inseparable from time - for better or worse.

The philosopher Immanuel Kant believed time is not a thing in itself, but part of our perception. Time as an illusion is common in Buddhist philosophy. In relativity theory, the postulate that the speed of light is a constant, requires that space and time become intertwined (spacetime). In this sense time becomes as real as space. It is sometimes said that Everything is Relative. Is this true? Here’s a Strange Loop:

The statement “everything is relative” is an absolute statement. If “everything is relative” is true then some things (at least that statement) aren’t relative. If some things aren’t relative, “everything is relative” is false.

So, everything is not relative it would seem, and I believe Einstein would agree too. Still, an objective reality outside our perceptions may exist. It’s an absolute, independent of any external conditions. Relativity is just a physical theory of reference frames, and doesn’t hold much philosophical water to make generalizations like: “everything is relative“. Human beings have been bantering around ‘relative truth’ and ‘absolute truth’ since the days of Plato. Arguments can be made to validate/negate each. I guess ultimately a statement is true if things in reality are as the statement says it is. But which reality? The objective one (absolute) or the subjective one (relative). That’s part of the human condition – to live in both at the same time and try to reconcile. Language is not always the best tool, and semantics can be troublesome, but such ideas are always worthy of a discussion.

Time seems to always float downstream

But what of time? Time does seem to be relative, and has a dependence on the frame of reference of the observer. This is embodied in the Twin Paradox. One brother stays on earth, while the other (an identical twin) travels at the speed of light out into space and then returns home. The result is a paradox – The brother who stayed on earth is an old man, while the brother who traveled is still youthful. This result has been proved by experiment, not with people, but elementary particles and their lifetime. Experiments with atomic clocks flown on airplanes agree with this theory exactly as the theory predicts. How can this be? It seems to have something to do with motion and/or the expansion of the universe.

Where does the time go? To know where time goes it helps to know what time is and where is comes from. A very basic definition might be: Time is the presence of motion and forces and is caused by the expansion of space. This is at least consistent with the idea that time began with the “Big Bang”. In a sense, maybe ‘time really does fly‘. Space began with the Big Bang and has been expanding ever since. So time began then too and is related to the expansion of space. I’m not sure space is infinite, but it’s probably boundless. Some suggest it may fold back in on itself like a Mobius strip. Recent theories talk about Branes, which is short for Membranes, and  M-theory of parallel universes offer an explanation for the our universe.


accessory link: Before, Meanwhile and After the BIG BANG (M-Theory)

Some have suggested that the Laws of Physics are not forever, and may change with time, reflecting the expansion of space since the Big Bang. The laws of physics turn out to be a result of various symmetries in nature including space and time. This is what we know today, but the universe may have been very different at its birth. So, can some conclusion be made on the postulate of the blog: “What is Time“?

The physics aside, I am not sure. It seems to go in one direction, cannot be slowed down by normal means, makes us its slave, and inevitably is master of us in the end. Still, there is a positive viewpoint I see. Were it not for the imperative of time, what would be my motivation to do what I do?  Yes, there is the reality of that sense of limited time, but one just knows what must be done – somehow. It is the limited sense of time that drives me. Maybe time is the realization that everything is finite, even the universe itself. If I had a vision of it, it may be something Dali painted.

Salvador Dali's Perspective of Time

Maybe that is just the essence. Time may be just a perspective after all. It’s not how much of it you are given, but what you do with it that matters – at least for human beings anyway. I can’t speak for the animals of this world like cats and dogs, but perhaps they have some understanding too. My cats seem to have a more instinctive feel for time than I do. Maybe time is understanding that all living things (great and small) have a place and a purpose. Who am I to pass judgment? Time is the fire in which we all burn, so let each burn in its own way…

Perhaps some quotations for thought may delve deeper into the question posed in this blog.

Oscar Wilde said in his novel “The Picture of Dorian Grey”:

  1. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim
  2. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors

Anyway, there is value in perspective. I always retain a perspective as it does put things in context and offers some wisdom in going forward. Art is a kind of perspective. Tolstoy said:

The feelings with which the artist infects others may be most various – very strong or very weak, very important or very insignificant, very bad or very good: feelings of love for one’s own country, self-devotion and submission to fate or to God expressed in a drama, raptures of lovers described in a novel, feelings of voluptuousness expressed in a picture, courage expressed in a triumphal march, merriment evoked by a dance, humor evoked by a funny story, the feeling of quietness transmitted by an evening landscape or by a lullaby, or the feeling of admiration evoked by a beautiful arabesque – it is all art.

Gustav Klimt said:

Whoever wants to know about me as a painter – the only topic of any interest – should study my pictures with care, and try to draw from them what I am and what I am trying to do.

Klimt was part of a movement called the Secessionists. These artists made a search for new relationships to old material, especially Greek myth. The Secessionist motto was “To art its freedom!“. Klimt was particularly concerned with a large theme, the relationship of man to universe. Patterns were one way he used to portray his ideas.

Question for thought: How can patterns be used to make an artistic statement? Patterns themselves are not art, but how the artist arranges them gets closer to an answer I think. And it’s that arrangement that creates the perspective.

Bottom Lines…we all have them, don’t we?

What are your personal limits in relationships with a partner, friend, family member or co-worker? Is there a bottom line, on which, if crossed, the relationship is ruined? What exactly is a personel bottom line and how do you state it? People don’t just wake up one day and find they have reached their bottom line. It happens over time. Maybe reaching a bottom line is something you really learn about yourself through experience. The things that happen to you and the way you react to it teaches you that when someone does this, you are not ok with that. One thing is sure, once a bottom line is recognized, it must be acknowledged and you must be prepared to act on it. Everyone has bottom lines, it just a matter of whether we recognize, acknowledge and act on them.

When boundaries are clear, and your bottom lines are known, there is no misunderstanding. What is the guideline? The bottom line is the end of the line. Boundaries may be key. Your bottom line may be a statement on your personal boundaries. Seems obvious, but applying your own boundaries to another persons actions is hazy.

I am just throwing this out here to see if anyone can add something in theory, experience or conjecture. Think about it…What’s your bottom line and what does it mean?

Next Page »