Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Our choices are a foundational aspect of life. If I stand up right now, I can either turn to my right or to my left. How could someone predict in advance what I would do?

But I am made up of atoms. Does an atom have any choices to make? It seems kind of ridiculous to ask, but if atoms do not have any choices and everything is predetermined by physical laws, then how do I have any choices? Can a whole bunch of atoms together make a real choice, even though they are individually predetermined by physical laws?

I suppose it seems irrational to say yes. But then again, think of the magical things that relationships create. The sum is greater than the parts, or else the relationship would have no point! Hydrogen is not water. Oxygen is not water. But they come together, along with the right conditions, and they flow over and under the land. Neither could do that alone under the current conditions of the earth.

What about music? I can play a C, and I can play an E. They sound similar - individual tones at different pitch levels. Yet when I play them together, an interval is created - a major third. It has a character that the individual notes absolutely do not have. It's magical. We are not hearing two tones. We are hearing their relationship.

Identity only exists within the context of relationship. I am nothing without you, my family, the earth that I stand on, and even the farthest galaxy. You and I are only here because of this cosmic balancing act.

So yes, perhaps genuine choice can emerge out of atoms without choice. Or do atoms exhibit a kind of choice in their own way? I'll be pondering this question a bit over a few posts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Hello! Now that the string piece is completed I look forward to blogging a bit more. Writing can really help with clarifying developing thought patterns, and more importantly, blogging is a really enjoyable way to interact with others.

I just finished watching the incredible HBO movie "Temple Grandin". I encourage everyone to watch it. If you are interested in science, in autism, in focus in the face of adversity, in life itself, then you will enjoy it.

Ms. Grandin was able to use the unique perspective her autism afforded her to really look through the "way things are done" and find a better way, a more humane way, to treat animals in feedlots and slaughterhouses. She is currently a professor at Colorado State, a consultant to the livestock industry and an advocate for those with autism. Here is a link to her Wikipedia page - Temple

Claire Danes is absolutely amazing in the lead role. She is so amazing that I didn't recognize it at first. She is so utterly convincing in her portrayal of Temple Grandin that you forget her efforts and feel as though you are watching the subject directly. Amazing stuff.

Thanks to Susan for keeping after me to watch this movie!

"I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we've got to do it right. We've got to give those animals a decent life and we've got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect." - Temple Grandin

Other quotes from the movie:

"Where did it go?" -Temple on seeing a dead horse. The more you contemplate this question, the more profound and mysterious it becomes.

"Nature is cruel, but we don't have to be. We owe them some respect. I touched the first cow that was being stunned. In a few seconds it was going to be just another piece of beef, but in that moment it was still an individual. It was calm and then it was gone. I became aware of how precious life was..."