Category Archives: Thinking and Pondering: Science, History, Analysis and Over-Think

The Cost of Wonder

In the stories I read and the stories I write, the world is a place steeped in magic and there are things beyond the ken of the average human being. The world is beyond the explanation of science and reason and what is seen is only the skin of the universe and beneath that is the space between worlds.

I populate that space with monsters and I’m not the only one. Horror writers, fantasy writers, the writers who wrote our first stories filled that abyss with creatures that would drive a body insane. It would break someone’s mind to see the things that the outer reaches of reality would contain.

Let’s assume that was true. Let’s assume that the world we live in and breathe in and take in is deeper than comprehension. Let’s assume that there are wonders that you cannot imagine. It’s beyond your physiology to imagine. There are wonders….

Assume the potential cost is your sanity. Assume that searching for these dark and wonderful and awful places could cost you your peace of mind and your ability for a good night’s sleep. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s likely. You will see a non-Euclidean geometry that will bend your mind’s rational thought unto the breaking point.

Imagine it anyway. Try to imagine it. Fill your mind’s eye with sights unseen and unheard and unthought.

Now, the question is, would you pay the cost? Would you risk it all to know that the world is less than solid? Would you risk everything for a glimpse of wonder?

-D-

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I Want to Go to There

This is Mars:

Stolen from NASA

Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to go into space. Most of the science fiction I grew up with was all about how awesome it is to explore space. I read space books and I watched the Star Trek and I fed my imagination on final frontiers and strange new worlds.

I’m less interested in the physics and the engineering behind it all. I’m more interested in exploration, discovery, experiencing something new. Because HERE there may, in fact, be dragons. We know so little about what Mars holds. Hell, we’re still surprised by things that we find on Earth.

There’s a venture that’s taking shape now called Mars One. They’re planning on having a viable, human settlement on Mars by 2023, which is only eleven years away. The reason why they feel confident about that timeline is because they’ve made no allowance for a return trip. Their idea is that the first trip to Mars is a one way trip. You go and you will never come home.

They plan on sending four people to Mars to start and then more people every few years to build up the settlement’s population. Rovers and supply shipments will get the base ready for them before anyone arrives planetside. The plan is to ensure that the colony will be as independent from the Earth as possible, so they’ll be sent equipment to make use of their surrounding environment. Which, if I forgot to mention, is MARS.

If they, for some reason, came to me tomorrow and said, “Do you want a one-way ticket to Mars?” I would seriously consider it. I wouldn’t do it. I think. But I would be severely tempted.

So just a heads up Mars One. If you need an astronaut, I’d be your willing, but unable guy.

-D-

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Tell Me Why, Amendment One

I normally don’t talk about politics. I think it ends up being a preaching to the choir situation, where your enjoyment of the entry comes from whether or not you agree with me already. I don’t think I’m going to change any minds and I think, at best, I can just get people to understand where my views are coming from. Which is fine. I think the country would be in a better position right now if people spent less time trying to force everyone to agree than if they just tried to spend five minutes trying to understand where someone is coming from.

So that’s what I’m going to try and do right now. I want to understand. I want you, the reader, if you disagree with me, to tell me where you’re coming from. I’m doing this, because I really do not understand. I am lost. I am incapable of empathizing.

Here’s the issue: In my old state (North Carolina), they’re going to vote on Amendment 1. It defines marriage as being between a man and a woman and they’re voting on this tomorrow.

And I want to know why, because this kind of thing makes me angry. In point of fact, I’m pretty fucking pissed off right now. I do not, cannot, comprehend the sheer amount of cussedness it takes for one human being to try and restrict another human being’s happiness when no-one is being hurt. These are consenting adults. These are individuals who have made a decision to legally bind themselves to one another. And you are saying no.

Why are you saying no?

That’s all I want to hear from you. I don’t want to change your mind. I don’t want to enter in a discussion with you. I have no ambitions or designs upon your opinions, even if those opinions are about to strip rights from your fellow citizens.

Is it for religious reasons? Have you read your Bible and you’ve read that bit about how God doesn’t want men to lay with men as they lay with a woman (Lev. 18:22)? If you’re religious, I can see how that might be a reason. These are the holy words of God. You don’t want to disobey them. That’s a sin. You’ll go straight to hell for ignoring His words.

Do you also make sure to keep your woman outside of the house during her menses? She’s unclean, you know. Needs to be purified. That’s Leviticus 12. Whole chapter on how filthy women are when they’re menstruating. I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of good, Christian women who obey any of those laws, even if they are the holy word of God.  Not a lot of Christians nowadays who pay attention to any of the old laws though. They ignore the dietary laws. They ignore the laws about the Sabbath. They ignore any laws about sacrifices or stoning. Not a lot of adulterers being stoned nowadays.

So why not ignore the whole bit about men laying with other men? You find it so easy to ignore everything that’s inconvenient for you or your family. You pick the one thing that’s so easy to do. All you have to do is hate someone that’s different. You ignore Jesus when he says “Sell all that you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven.” (Mark 10:3). You ignore when Jesus says that the second most important thing (after loving God) is to love your neighbor (Matthew 22 36:40).

Do not hide behind your holy book when you deny your fellow man. Do not cower behind religion when you hate someone who is different from you. Have the decency and the backbone to acknowledge the fact that your hate, your contempt, your bigotry comes not from holy words or from saints or angels, but from yourself.

Are you trying to protect the sanctity of marriage? Do you think, for some reason, that marriage can be ruined by two people with the same genitals getting hitched? I think marriage can be ruined by spousal abuse and domesticate violence. I think a marriage can be ruined by alcoholism or drug addiction. I think a marriage can be ruined by two people who no longer love each other. I think a marriage can be ruined by infidelity or boredom or illness or bottled emotions or money problems.

But I don’t see YOUR marriage being ruined by Adam and Steve getting hitched, just like I don’t see your marriage getting ruined by Stephanie and Adam…ina. Marriage is not an institution, a grand old building that can be ruined by one thing. Marriage is a legal contract between two people. So explain to me how the sanctity of your marriage is being ruined by two dudes. Please. I want to know. Explain to me in excruciating detail why this is the case.

Because I…do…not…understand. And I’m furious. And I’m not a gay man trying to get married. So I can’t even imagine how anyone in that position must feel. Even if they don’t want to get married, I imagine they’re pretty pissed that someone is telling them that they can’t just for pure pissedness.

So tell me, in the comments below, why? That’s all I want. Tell me why you don’t think same-sex couples should enjoy the same legal benefits as different-sex couples.

I’m done yelling. I’m ready to listen.

Please

Why?

-D-

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And then I Found Five Dollars

I saw five dollars on the floor of a Dunkin Donuts today and I spent a good couple of minutes deciding if I should pick it up or not.

On the one hand, I just found twenty dollars the other day, which seems like I’ve found my fair share of money for this month already. I should let someone else find the money to rebalance my karmic wheel.

On the other hand, I don’t believe in karma and I just recently lost my job, so I kind of need all the money I can get, even five dollars of floor money.

On the other hand, if I need five dollars THAT badly, I could just not get an iced coffee and thereby save just about that amount.

Then there’s the fact that someone will see me pick up the money. Maybe they’ll think I’m just trying to steal someone else’s money. Maybe it’s their money and they’ll be angry that they see me picking it up. Or worse, it’s NOT their money, but they’ll claim it is and then I won’t have a leg to stand on.

So if I do pick up the money off of the floor, I need to make sure no one sees me, because otherwise I might be called a thief and have to give up the money and leave the Dunkin Donuts with my head hanging in shame while all the other customers glare at me in righteous indignation.

And while I’m thinking all this, a young woman with a baby carriage picks up the five dollars and I council myself that a woman with a baby needs five dollars more than me and I made the right decision.

Dylan Charles

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Parallels

There is something powerful about the idea of parallel worlds; the notion that there is a universe for every potential outcome. For every particle that either decays or stays, for every time you turn left or right, for every sun that goes nova or expands; there is a Universe. Every choice you made or didn’t make, there is a you living out the consequences of that particular decision (or non-decision).

The very idea of it, the basic fundamental underlying principle of it, is an enticing one. There are an infinite  number of worlds out there, an infinite number of Earths spinning around an infinite number of Suns and there are some that are beyond your understanding. They move to a different rhythm than our own universe. They are bound by rules we couldn’t understand. Their physics is not our own.

But, ignoring the grandiosity of those Worlds, the ones that kowtow to another universal constant than our own, there are the Worlds that differ from ours in mere mundanity. The ones where you altered your life with a small decision and the resulting consequences are completely beyond your ken, because they never happened, at least, not in this World.

Every decision you make, every choice you take; they split into a thousand different possibilities. What you do, what you say, what you hear and then act upon; they branch out into an array of consequence, spreading beyond your capability to understand. And all of these outcomes exist in their own pocket Universes. The Multiverse is a spider’s web of What If that exists in the tangible.

And that is perhaps what is most compelling for me; the fantastic buried in the mundane.

Dylan Charles

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Superstitious

I consider myself a skeptic. I don’t believe in things that I can’t verify through either my own experience or through the scientific research of people who get paid for that kind of thing. If I can’t touch it, taste it, smell it or see it, or if it hasn’t been verified in a lab somewhere, then it doesn’t exist.

That being said, I’m still bound up in superstition. I believe it’s possible to jinx an event. I believe certain numbers are just, inherently, better than others (three, six and nine are a good combination). I believe silver is a “good” metal. And places where bad things have happened feel…haunted to me.

Rationally, that whole preceding paragraph feels incredibly silly. I know absolutely none of that is true. There’s nothing about a number that makes it quantifiably better or worse than another number. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I put in nine packets of sugar into my coffee, in three groups of three, specifically because three is a good number. I feel slightly better knowing that my coffee has been sweetened three by three.

The whole thing reeks of a touch of the obsessive compulsive or the remnants of those things I believed as a kid. As I got older, I stripped away each and every of those beliefs in the metaphysical and the supernatural. The afterlife, psychic ability, ghosts, hauntings; I drove them down to their knees with reason and killed them one by one.

But belief dies hard and in tiny little ways, they still exist. My subconscious is haunted by ghosts and demons, created by my own desire to believe that there is magic in this world, even if I know there isn’t.

So…even though I know it’s silly, I’ll hold onto those fragments, because three is a good number (but not as good as six) and silver can keep the monsters at bay and there are places where the bad things happened that are truly haunted.

Dylan Charles

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Confronting Confrontation Confrontationally

I’ve never been a very confrontational person. I prefer sulking and passive-aggressive snarking to out and out telling someone off. Any attempt to “get up in someone’s grill” usually leads to a mild sputtering and a red face on my part. Even just thinking about it makes me want to throw up.

It took me a long time before I was comfortable with talking to strangers on the phone or making small talk with strangers on the bus. Confrontation is ten steps above that and makes me break out into a rash.

But lately, I’ve been able to actually deal with issues that require slightly more backbone. For example, after repeatedly being woken up by our upstairs neighbor’s partying, I marched upstairs at 3am and snippily told them that they were making it hard for me to sleep and marched back downstairs. And they stopped making noise! After I said something! That still astonishes me.

And it doesn’t sound like much, but I consider it a major skirmish and one that I won no less!

And the other day, Emily and I were cornered by a scam artist who I’ve seen downtown before peddling different sob stories. Instead of doing my usual, “Oh…no…sorry….no…change” mumbling as I walked away, I called her out and we walked away.

A year or so ago, I never would have done that. I’m finally starting to stand up to situations that I otherwise would have crept away from or ignored hoping they would go away.

I think, in some small ways, I’m turning into a grown-up. Maybe.

Dylan Charles

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