Some of Paul's Thoughts and Beliefs

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Last revised October 10th, 2010

Politics UFOs/Life Out There Nuclear Energy Space: Where Next? Religion Threat

Okay, dunno why anyone would really care what -I- think, but some people out there do, so here's a collection of odd thoughts, beliefs, and (no doubt) ramblings. :)

US Politics

First, a look at my take on US politics.
I'm fiscally conservative, but also a social liberal (for the most part). Hence, I don't care too much for the Religious Right's influence on the Republican Party, but on the other hand, I'm a firm believer that government has generally been trying to do too much for too many, and that it desperately needs a good shrinking. Fiscally, the GOP works well for me, although the Libertarian Party would be a slightly better fit.
On the other side of the aisle, I'm no fan of the Democratic Party's endless pandering to various pressure groups from whom it seeks to gain votes...labor unions, the so-called 'working poor' and welfare moms, gays and lesbians, you name it. It tends to make the party a many-headed monster, a beast that spends too much of our money to make people like it. And yet, I support some generally-Democratic social concepts, like social tolerance, as long as no quotas or set-asides are involved.

So, I come closest to what's called a "right-approaching" libertarian -- a libertarian who comes to the fold by way of fiscal conservatism. However, I'm not a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party since they go a bit too far in their extremism. A true pity, since they generally have good ideas and, were they a bit less wild, might actually have a chance of collecting a few votes in November. Unshakeable convictions are a fine thing, but compromise -- especially when you have a better chance of effecting changes from within the system -- is a better thing, IMHO.

Maybe I should form my own party. Anyone with me? :)

Specifically, on various issues:

Alien Civilizations and UFOs

My friends sometimes look at me oddly when I decry UFO reports as hogwash and balderdash. "But, Paul," they ask, "if you believe in life on other worlds Out There, how can you not believe in UFOs?!"

Well, it's easy. Space is deep. Space is vast. It's so vast that mathematically, numerically, I'm certain there is life, and intelligent life, somewhere Out There. There may be life elsewhere in the Solar System, but not, I suspect, intelligent life.....
--But just as I'm sure the Sun will rise tomorrow, I'm sure there are others out there somewhere who look up at their skies (or perhaps they've conquered those skies, as mankind will someday do) and wonder if they're alone, too.

Okay, back to aliens. :) Remember, Space is Deep. Alien civilizations might occur, say, an average of a few hundred lightyears apart. I'd be astonished if there was one within, say, a 40 lightyear radius of our star system; the nearest is likely much farther away. That's a lot of territory to cover -- there are hundreds of stars within 40 lightyears of the Sun -- and it takes time to cross those vast gulfs, forty years even at lightspeed, much longer if more conventional speeds have to be used. It's not a contradiction to believe in extraterrestrial intelligence and not believe UFOs are dropping in every Wednesday; it's more a sense of "we know they're out there; eventually, we'll hear from them... or, one homes, we'll find them ourselves!"

As for UFO visitations and government cover-ups, puh-leeze! Our government can't even keep small secrets; there's no way they could keep a large secret like a UFO coverup. If we were being visited so frequently, why the heck haven't our alien visitors just landed on the White House lawn and said "hi there"? (Ahh, but you say "They're studying us first. They have a prime directive that forbids them from interfering." Sure. Uh-huh. Whatever you say....)

Nuclear Energy

I've noticed something curious about anti-nuke activists: when I ask them probing questions about nuclear power -- how it works, what nuclear fusion is, etc. -- they don't have a fuckin' clue what they're talking about. I'm not a huge fan of nuclear fission power, but it's what we got, and overall it's cleaner than coal by far, and more dependable than wind and solar. (Plus there's that whole pesky night-time thing.) Nuclear fusion power -- with an unlimited fuel source, great efficiency and little or no leftover waste -- is the way we should go, but we're not funding it well enough.
(It's funny how people hear the word "nuclear" and get this glassy-eyed stare. "Uh, that's evil." Sure, dude. Smoke some more pot and watch more of The Simpsons, okay?)
"But Paul, nuclear fusion is pie-in-the-sky stuff! We've been trying to get that for years!" Yep, we've been trying...with all-too-limited funding. But we've now exceeded the break-even point in test reactors, so we're over the hump. Keep a Google eye out for the progress of the ITER Project in Europe, a global consortium working on the next generation of testbed fusion power reactors.

"Gee, Paul, does this mean you like nuclear bombs?" Nope, and I applaud the world's efforts to limit them and decrease their numbers. We're talking apples and oranges here: a thermonuclear fusion bomb is not a fusion power plant.

Photovoltaic solar power, while a great idea, remains too expensive for large-scale power generation: it would take a solar array dozens of square miles in area to equal the output of just one conventional nuclear power facility. That's dozens of square miles of ecological impact. No sun reaching the ground means no plants, no animals, etc. Plus, solar cells are expensive and environmentally damaging to make, and a large array would also require a huge infrastructure to build (concrete and steel supports, miles and miles of wire, and an army of people to keep the cells clean). Funny how this gets overlooked by nearly everyone who's into solar power.... For a GREAT description of the problems inherent in this, see James P. Hogan's excellent piece "Know Nukes," collected in a few of his collections and anthologies.

Where Should We Go Next In Space?

Good question, made better by the recent discovery of useable water on the moon's surface. Before that discovery I'd have happily said "skip the Moon, it's a bare rock," but now there are more possibilities. It will be much easier to build and maintain a permanent base on the Moon, and Luna's one-sixth gravity and available materials would make building larger ships on the surface much easier.

After the Moon, I say we should head for the Asteroid Belt. Yea, I know, we'll probably end up going to Mars instead......and I think that might be a mistake. While Mars does hold some answers to questions we have and would be a fine research destination, ultimately we'd reap more benefits by exploring -- and exploiting -- the Belt. Lots of raw material, stone and metals, a weightless environment to manipulate it in, the potential of moving it to a closer orbit for convenience, maybe even melt and reform asteroids into colonies and bases..... The possibilities are limitless.

--But, we'll probably go to Mars instead, because it sounds neeter. Well, I'm sure neet-sounding destinations are a great way to plan the future of your species, aren't you?


I'm agnostic, and a "recovering Catholic." I have friends ranging from Wiccans and pagans to Protestants and Catholics (most of my family); I even know a couple of people who have been practicing Satanists. I "fell out" with the Catholic church after I realized one day when I was about 12 or 13 years old that, hey presto, the world and all I saw had a scientific basis in truth and reality.

I could be considered a Deist (like, e.g., Ben Franklin before me) because I don't rule out the possibility that a Guiding Force set the universe in motion 15 or 20 billion years ago -- this is popularly called "The Great Watchmaker Theory," wherein Someone got things ticking and has since left for sunnier realms....

In any event, I refuse to "diss" anyone on the basis of their religion. All seem equally valid, and although religions have caused a heck of a lot of death and destruction on this world, they can also be great forces for positive change. (At more cynical moments I'll observe that at the very least, they can keep otherwise idle minds occupied. :)) I'll just observe that overall, in my personal experience, the most well-adapted people I know tend to be from more permissive faiths and belief-paths -- pagans, free-thinkers, agnostics, etc. -- while the followers of stricter faiths seem a bit more uptight and less adaptive. Food for thought.

Believe what you want. In the end, the same Sun warms us all, and the same stars beckon to us from high above.

The Gravest Threat to America not AIDS.
It is not overpopulation, nor is it pollution.
It is not the Republicans, nor is it the Democrats, though to be sure both can be part of it.
It is not crime, nor is it drugs, smoking, gay pride, regional rivalries, states' rights, black power, white power, or purple-and- chartreuse power.
The greatest threat to America wasn't even the Soviets, nor is it the Communist Chinese, nor was it Saddam Hussein, nor evil space aliens intent on taking over the world.
No, the gravest threat we face is something far more insidious: what I call The Great Dumbing Down of America. We see it everywhere: How can you combat this evil miasma of shoddy thinking, rampant mediocrity, pseudoscience and political correctness?

Strive To Think. Strive To Achieve.

Seize the day and don't stop at anything less than doing your best, no matter what the Mavens of Mediocrity tell you. Does it seem like a certain music group isn't as good as someone else who's less popular? Maybe even a whole style of music? Does it seem like a certain book, touted by the agents of political correctness, isn't really that good? Guess what? You're not wrong! They aren't that good after all, and you can find better stuff if you look hard for it. Sometimes you have to do some digging to find diamonds in the rough, but it's worth it...and the journey can be a worthwhile adventure in itself.
Without good thinkers and gung-ho achievers, we are doomed to sink in an ocean of mediocrity, crap and swill.

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