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Monday, November 22, 2004



For a change, I decided to go back to my bridge between world history and local events. To a significant extent, history serves to unify and give perspective to other topics.

It's still a bit early to tell whether the recent battles in Fallujah have had the desired effect of curbing the insurgency, but finding and cleaning out weapons caches and the like can't hurt. I haven't seen much discussion of what has been planned next, but hopefully it will be possible for the military to give attention to other trouble spots within the country.

Given the rabid hatred of some of the major groups of Palestinians for Israel, I'm not too optimistic that Arafat's successor will be a major improvement. Certainly, anyone wishing to have his position will have to contend with numerous other people and their backers who covet that same position and influence. That person dare not be too moderate, given the tendency of terrorists to treat their own people who are too friendly to their enemies as traitors. That's a self-defeating policy in the long run, but sometimes it does take a long run. In the meantime, the best Israel can hope for is that more moderately inclined would-be leaders among the Palestinians will at last have a voice.

Friday, November 19, 2004


More subjects

I set aside the work on physics for a while, and moved on to finish the rewrite of earth science. I'm not as interested in earth science as I am in other areas, but buried among the topics is the possibility of focusing on North America more closely, as a lead-in to other subjects.

I made rather more progress on reviewing elements of culture and society. Doing more work on language learning, picking up my studies of mathematics, and dusting off some of my ideas on education are some of the things I need to work on. I started a review of the world's largest corporations, and again I was rather disappointed at how little progress this yields. I'm going to have to do some comparative statistics on these, by nations and industrial sectors, in order to make much progress.

I'm going to start spending a little time on reviewing my spanish and picking up a little vocabulary in other language, at www.mylanguageexchange.com

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Still more science

I finished up my rewrite of my mechanics section. This later section deals with gravitation and relativity, and I copied a few formulas into my growing "handbook" that will be useful when I pick up astronomy again.

I haven't been able to leave chemistry entirely alone, but I have started up some work on chemical reactions that should better organize what I have and what I expect to be working on. Several of the entries are rather sketchy. Since, as I have mentioned before, the number of possible reactions to consider is a matter of combinatorics, (nCr; combinations of n substances taken r at a time, with r being 1, 2, or 3 reactants), the number of reactions to consider grows much faster than n itself; and the number of possible substances is itself growing much faster than the number of elements involved. It's not practical to consider them all at once, so I have started taking one reaction in a given class, with hopes of elaborating on it in future versions.

I did manage to move past astronomy into Earth science. I've been reviewing minerals, with am emphasis on the major rock forming minerals, and types of rock. It shouldn't take me too long to work through geology.

As far as moving beyond science, I took a crack at breaking down material culture and manmade objects a little more. Since my study program has resisted practical application for some time, any progress at all here is encouraging.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


More science

I've been trying to move beyond science, but in continuing what I started and planned yesterday, I didn't get as far as I wanted. I've finished up a review of classical mechanics that puts a little more emphasis on the rigid-body and the non-rigid body aspects that are most useful outside of physics itself, but I'm going to have to come back to it eventually.

I also finished a rewrite of chemical compounds and added a few more of them. In organic chemistry, I'm starting with varieties of the carbon skeleton. These get more numerous and varied with each additional carbon atom added. I've also started looking at the oxygenated derivatives of the simplest hydrocarbons, methane and ethane. More of these are liquid at room temperature, compared to methane and ethane which are gases: This probably reflects the effect of hydrogen bonding among these molecules.

I also cleaned up and consolidated my astronomical information, which was scattered among several loose pages and worksheets. I didn't make any progress on mapping stars, except to note the standard coordinates of the 5 brightest and 5 nearest, so I can later convert them to the 3-dimensional mapping system I am using.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


More steps

I tried to get a state picture ID today, but I need some proof of residency documents. One of them that I can get is a Voter registration card: I tried to register before the election, but apparently my registration got lost somewhere. The County clerk's office hasn't caught up on all the post-election work, so it may be a little while before I get that.

I made a little progress in my review of mechanics, and added more information on some of the elements. The next step will be to expand my list of compounds and look up some of their properties. I also tried out my scheme for conversion from standard astronomical directions to the 3-dimensional coordinates I am using in my galactic map. I kept making mistakes, so it took a lot more work than I expected, but I finally got my directions to match the sky map, so I can start plotting the location of more stars, once I get this summarized and organized. But there are other topics that are more useful than this.

Monday, November 15, 2004


Forward motion

A few days ago I started another pass through my notes, which I am gradually expanding and connecting to one another. I'd started on physics, and set it aside to begin working on something else. Today I went back to that, and did more review of the concepts of particle kinematics, the mathematical description of motion. I got through that, but wasn't ready to tackle an expanded review of kinetics (the laws of motion). The needs of physics suggest I give some extra attention to mathematics, this time through.
I've updated chemistry recently enough that I skipped over that, but I've been trying to find a better way of organizing chemical information, and it's about time I expanded my notes on various elements.
I found enough clues in my review of mathematics that I can do the conversion between astronomical coordinate systems, from the usual system based on projecting the earth's axis and equator into space to one centered on the sun but oriented with the galaxy. This isn't really a practical area of study, but it's fun and useful for science fiction purposes. I'm attempting to construct a 3-dimensional map, or at least the data for one, and I have the beginnings of naming conventions for directions, so I can look at the sky and tell roughly where the sectors of my map are. Most of the nearest stars are small, red dwarf stars that are only visible with a telescope, and don't even have names, only catalog numbers, while most of the brighter ones are great beacons visible from far away.
I also skipped over geology, but did some work on expanding my biology section, as far as listing the major terrestrial biomes, or types of community, such as tropical rain forest, shrubland, and desert, and reviewing the rudiments of biological history as outlined by paleontologists.
I miss my trusty (25-year) old HP-25C calculator, back in Nebraska. I decided that the computations I've been wanting to do, which involve trig and exponential functions and the like, were enough to justify spending some of my precious earnings on a "proper" scientific calculator. There's nothing like having the right tools for the job.

Sunday, November 14, 2004



I've finally been paid for delivering the phone books, and getting over the touch of flu. Also, my parents got me a certified copy of my birth certificate and sent it to me, so I can now start the process of getting a photo ID, which will make a number of other things easier. Sometimes, a little bit goes a long way.

I've reached a point in my scientific studies that requires increasing amounts of mathematics, so I'm picking up a basic calculator. Computing amounts of energy available from chemical reactions, theoretical planetary temperatures, and converting astronomical coordinates to a different mapping system (for science-fiction purposes), and simple mathematical models of natural systems all are much too slow with paper and pencil only.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004



I had difficulties arranging for a ride to church Sunday, so I was going to go to the student ward. While I was waiting, a member stopped to leave his daughter there, mentioned that he was going on to the regular ward, so I asked for a ride, and made it there.
A different man offered me a ride home, and on the way asked me if I wanted a job. It was a temporary one, delivering phone directories, and he suggested that we take a compact area that I could do on foot. He picked me up Monday morning and got a route doing the local mall, and a nearby trailer court. He helped me out doing some businesses on the side streets, then left me at the mall to deliver to all the business there, and then took me to the trailer court in the afternoon. I wasn't able to finish it before dark, but we came back Tuesday and I finished the trailer court, and we finished the rest of the route. Unfortunately...I was suffering what feels like a touch of the flu (feverish, achy, and weak) at the same time I was lugging a cart full of phone books up and down the hilly streets.
So, I passed up the chance to take an extra route, but I did earn enough money that I won't be quite so badly pinched for cash once I get paid in a couple of days. I've run out of paper for my studies and writing, too, so I should be able to get back to my studies soon. I have a couple of nagging questions I want to go back to and look up the answers. Some of them are physics questions, some are chemistry questions, and there are several other related ones.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


Wait just a minute

I've tried working the history and going backward, and I've found time and again that it doesn't much motivate me. So, I started over (again), in noting a few topics that were interesting to me, and noting ideas. By classing like ideas together, and rewriting the list, I have once more something of a narrative that I can expand, with repeated passes, until it contains more of the subjects of my greatest interest, which tend to lie at the frontiers of what I know.

I find myself needing to go back to physics for some of the fundamentals. I'm building up chemistry by starting with the most common elements (astronomically speaking), their compounds, and mixtures of them. The number of possibilities of things to consider grows explosively, and trying to keep track of them is something of a challenge. I find myself also needing to consider elements of astronomy, as I deal with theories of the formation of the earth, and I've been speculating on the course of its development. I'm also very much interested in the presumed origin of life, starting with inorganic chemistry. Moving into the human realm, I find that I need to take nature as an essential background, and then add interactions among people and the foundations of culture and the institutions, communities, and history of societies on top of those. In all these areas, there are things I have to skip over because they aren't well understood, or at least I don't understand them. What I have problems with is deciding what subjects are most important when the number of possibilities is growing or has grown explosively.

Friday, November 05, 2004


Bridging history

Yesterday I mentioned the idea of constructing a connecting bridge from a broad scale of history down to a daily level of events. Today I spent my allocated research time to building that bridge. It isn't very wide, as determined by connections to varieties of events, but it's something I can work on.

There aren't many grand ideas connected with this: it's a matter of filling in details from the sources I have. There are all kinds of connections to peoples that are hanging loose, so to speak, so I want to work on a similar bridge from a world-wide perspective to a local one.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Broadcasting ideas

I've more or less settled into a routine of activity that I need to expand.
A significant part of my day has involved going to the University library to do study and writing related to my knowledge base. I can't possibly put up everything here, but I'm going to start including some of the ideas that I generate during my studies. A lot of them are bad, a lot of them duplicate things that others have, but I hope some of them are original enough to start a conversation. Then, I go to the town library to check my e-mail and, sometimes, this blog. I need to reserve more time to go out and make visits to places and people.

A number of years ago, I encountered a play-by-mail game called Lords of the Earth, which was something of a simulation of history. I was fascinated by it for a good while, but due to financial and other obstacles, dropped out. I wanted to do something based on it, with other elements of historical realism involved. Computer games such as Civilization II are also interesting to me. Something like this could have some educational value. For practical purposes, however, I need to start connecting my studies of history to current events.
For historical studies and research, I tend to work backward, from the known to the unknown, but the passage of time adds events going the other direction. There is often a gap of some time before current events are assimilated into histories, and newspapers and the like aren't in the business of providing histories as background to their daily chronicles of events. More coherent stories have to be written, and rewritten, as events unfold. I've tried organizing the content of newspapers, but it has to be reorganized and connected to other areas, some of which aren't yet well developed according to my ideas of organization.

Similarly to the organization of history, I'm also working on analyses of society, and again trying to make a connection between the large-scale elements of world society to the small-scale part of town I live in. I can quickly mentally bridge the gap, but there are a lot of details to fill in, and connections to other areas can be a challenge.

Another major topic of my outline of knowledge is the institutions of society. This is connected to history and to particular peoples, so once again, trying to coordinate these with independent investigations into history and peoples is a formidable challenge. I'm particularly interested in the connection of religion with other elements of society. Since I classify secularism as a religion, elements of the cultural conflict between secular political liberals and Christian conservatives in the United States are in part religious. Similarly, the current war in Iraq has elements of a conflict between Islam and the mingled secular-Christian culture of the United States.
The just-concluded elections resolves a great deal of uncertainty about the direction of the country, though certainly not all of it, and I haven't fully bridged the gap between national and local perspectives.
Economics are also very important: I'm trying to work out another large-scale to local bridge, but my analysis of large corporations keeps waiting in the wings.

I have had a tendency to work my knowledge base from the history or the scientific ends, but most of the work that I need to do to connect it more directly to my life has to come in the middle, in the areas of culture that I have comparatively neglected. I've recently decided to reverse the order I usually take these in, which seems to make it easier to make progress in thinking about the connections.

As the number of subjects I am interested in goes up, the number of connections between them goes up much faster. I like to try to be comprehensive and consider as much as possible, but it's mathematically impossible to do it in a finite amount of time. I have to pick and choose what I am going to work in, which means some tough decisions about what to set aside. So far, my choices haven't been the best. But I'm working on it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Been a while

I see that the last time I wrote was to complain about my dental problems, some two weeks ago. Those have cleared up now, thanks to the antibiotic. I'm making slow progress on getting better established: I managed to contact my bank in Nebraska, and requested checks with a local address so I can get to the money in it, I'm waiting for a duplicate of my Birth Certificate, and I've made it to the regular ward and begin the process of gettign active in it.
No good news on the job front, unless I count the rejected application for employment, which I could have predicted.

If there were such a thing, I would seek employment as a consulting generalist.
Years ago when I was trying to decide on a college major, I found myself putting together a program of study that include the fundamentals of most of the majors on campus. It wouldn't have gained approval, since it didn't include any upper division work, but that was what I was interested in. Since I've had problems getting into and staying in school but have an incessant thirst to read, study, and learn, I've picked up a fair amount of this introductory material by my own study. I've examined and outlined science textbooks, encyclopedias, college catalogs, the Library of Congress scheduling catalogs, the yellow pages, math textbooks, sociology and anthropology and history textbooks, and various lists and compilations of all kinds.
So, what is all this good for? Not much...except that I can look at almost any problem from a "Different", or sometimes multiple different perspectives. Some of these things I can tutor at an elementary level. But I don't know how to "Sell" this package without proper credentials or proof of expertise.

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