Friday, April 2, 2010

Daily Thoughts 4/2/2010

Reading and Writing Room on the A-Deck aboard Titanic.1912

Daily Thoughts 4/3/2010

I finished reading A Better Pencil today. It is an overview of the different technologies of writing covering pencils, clay tablets, typewriters, blogs, word processing, and other forms of communication across time. I will write some more about it tomorrow.

I took some time to go to the park today to walk around and look at the geese, the pond, the turtles, and the willow trees. It was relaxing sitting on the benches and walking around. Today was a very nice day to relax.

I felt like watching some nonsense today, so I watched Chariots of the Gods on dvd by Erich Von Damiken. It seems utterly silly today. There are better explanations for Easter Island, building the Pyramids, and Troy than they had when Erich von Daniken was writing his book. Jared Diamond's book, Collapse does an excellent job of explaining Easter Island.

Some people claim that Erich Von Daniken created his ideas from the fantastic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft which is rather entertaining. Still it was interesting seeing the various sites which he visited.

We do not get as many requests for books on pseudoscience, cryptozoology, and aliens as we used to. There are also a lot less requests for tea reading, esp, and astrology. People seem to be caught up in technology far more than they are in imaginary places. There are also a lot fewer requests for books on mythology and monsters. It is sad in a way. People have lost their sense of wonder. Science fiction is not as popular as well.

Maybe it has something to do with the loss of interest in the high frontier as well. People seem to be very focused on making money, learning about technology, and surviving. The every day things. It may seem odd that I would link this together. But, there is a turning inward from more abstract goals in the United States. A real loss of a sense of wonder. The United States has pulled way back on its space program while the Russian program keeps on moving ahead.

We are not buying that many books on space as well. There are still requests for books on the Apollo program. I am not seeing many new books being published either. Mainly people are interested in more immediate technologies, especially alternative energy and electronics.


Book pusher said...

It's interesting that people no longer seem to want to read about; out there kind of theories, but also things like space, I guess there really is a loss of a sense of wonder. I used last years International year of astronomy as the basis for promotions and displays which worked well with kids, but kids generally find it pretty easy to get excited about things, they also get excited about things like alternative energy, which is a good thing.
A teacher set a project last year on the theme of mysteries which let the kids explore things like theories about aliens, it was a great assignment, it let them develop their critical literacy and they had a lot of fun with it.

Book Calendar said...

We still get a very small group of people. Science has been very good lately at explaining away things. How the pyramids were built, how they built the monoliths on easter island, and a lot of other things have been explained. People are also becoming more acceptable to the idea of we don't know how they did it.

We still don't know how the Incas cut their stones so perfectly, or how Greek fire was made, or how they moved the giant obelisks in Egypt, but we realize it doesn't have to have a fantastic explanation. People forget things.

Also, it is more acceptable to say I don't understand when it comes to things like the Nazca lines. Cultures are different, and we don't have to explain away the cultural achievements of others that are fantastic. It does not have to be space aliens or a secret power that shows people how to do things.

If we had a more long term focus, like spending the next 600 years planning a Mars colony, like the Egyptians or the Inca we might be able to do some pretty amazing things.

The government has also been doing a better job with describing weather balloons, secret jet aircraft experiments, and spin to get past the conspiracy people.

There are other things to get excited about. We need to be more down to earth so we can go back to space. If we are going to build a mars habitat we should understand how to build a permanent ecology which people can survive in. We also need to be able to build solar panels for the mars and moon settlements that are a lot more powerful than ones we have now.

Book pusher said...

Book Calender, that comment should be a post in it's own right, 'we need to be more down to earth to get back to space' is exactly the kind of thing the kids would have found incredibly inspiring.
At least some of this generation are more accepting of mystery to, they don't neccessarily have to have an absolute answer, as you point out.

Book Calendar said...

Space is a very long term prospect. Solar power satellites are a decent ways away, but the promise is worth working decades for.

Also things like JP Aerospace, airship to orbit projects are monumental long term projects that have potential huge payoffs. The ability to manufacture goods cheaply in space, or the transhab inflatable habitat which is 20x cheaper than the international space station.

You add in things like helium 3 which could be mined on the moon, the only way to easily generate fusion power currently. Again another monumental long term project.

The payoff is in decades. Much like any kind of long term projects to reduce global warming would be. Think decades of work.

People have a hard time seeing past the next three months now.