Einstein, Rubber Woodchips and Minibikes on Steroids (in reverse order).

Hello all:

Well I’m feeling better today, psychologically at least, so let’s do a bit more travelogue:

I hung around Maryland long enough to confirm that the T.V. taping wouldn’t be soon enough that I’d just have to drive back and forth to New York. Then I split for Pann and Lee’s on Long Island. I planned for the trip to be slow, with at least one overnight, probably even more than two, in the Maryland or Pennsylvania back country. But that didn’t work out.

It’s virtually impossible to park on any of the smaller roads I encountered. Greenery grows right up to the edge of the pavement, usually pretty deep, shoulders drop off or climb sharply away from the pavement, and there’s only room for two cars to pass on the hardtop. The only place to park off the highway is someone’s driveway. Even the small towns I encountered seemed to only encourage parking in the lots of the stores, which seemed very likely to draw the attention of authorities.

So I got back on the New Jersey Turnpike and beelined to Long Island. Interestingly enough, the service areas, which are usually in the median between the opposite lanes of travel, were better to sleep in than anywhere in the Maryland back country I had seen. Not just because they were legal, but also quieter. Where I was, at least, Maryland seemed like a motorcycle racetrack. The State apparently has a constitution which guarantees the right to connect the tailpipe directly to the valve cover, with no muting device of any kind in between. Loudest damn bikes I’ve ever heard, and everyone seemed to have them. One guy even came by where I was Trumpeting the sun down on a tiny little thing that he could of thrown over his shoulder, but which sounded like a Harley that had undergone an only partially successful sex change operation.

One other very interesting thing about the New Jersey Turnpike service areas was the mulch they use for their trees. I noticed this stuff first because of how deep it was. The tree roots were buried sometimes two or more feet deep in a strange looking substance which I had to inspect carefully to identify. It was made of ground up old tires, painted reddish brown to imitate redwood bark. I really don’t know what to make of it. Was it to keep weeds from growing? To stave off attacks from some type of beetle? Or, and this is probably by far the most likely, to get rid of old tires? How this is going to shake out in the long run is totally a mystery to me. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if this “mulch” is as effective at killing the trees as it is at killing weeds. Just slower. One thing’s sure: grinding up old tires doesn’t make them go away.

I have to be back in DC on the second for the interview, so I’m going down on the thirtieth. The van has been acting up, and I want to leave plenty of time to get there even if I have auto trouble on the way. From the distance of the West coast, New York and DC seem much closer than they are. It’s about a 5.5 hour drive, just going straight. And that’s if you don’t have traffic hassles, which is at least somewhat unlikely.

I’ve tried to capitalize on the scheduled TV interview to get attention from local radio stations, but to no avail yet. One big problem is that it’s hard to get through virtually anyone’s security to actually talk to a show host, or even to lay a book on him/her. Still a problem, after a number of variations of the attempt.

What I have gained from being in New York so far is mainly insight into exactly how large is the task environmentalists of all sorts have in front of them. While there is a palpable yearning amongst large numbers of people to believe, in their own ways, in Gaia, there’s virtually no opportunity to do so. Central Park is a great park. But that’s all it is. It’s not Gaia. Not in the sense that a mountain range or the ocean is. I suspect it’s safe to say most New Yorkers have never seen either. Traveling to distant locations is the purview of the rich. My guess is that the closest the majority of New Yorkers have ever come to seeing Gaia, other than by looking at the sky, is the Hudson or East rivers. Even the sky is barely noticeable through the towering heights of the skyscrapers.

Let’s not quibble about the fact those rivers would be spanned and traversed and bordered on all sides by the city. But let’s also not discount the fact that a glance or two is not equivalent to having multiple long term exposure. The average city dweller, which means the vast majority of Earth’s population, no longer has much of a concept of what Gaia is. Such a person has no reason, whatsoever, to doubt the false proposition that has brought us to the edge of Gaia’s total destruction. That proposition is that everything in the universe is about human beings. It looks to city dwellers as if we shape and control everything, and therefore as if we created it. Hell, it’s ours.

This is most decidedly a religious issue I’m trying to address. I’m no theologist, but all the religions I know the first thing about have as their most basic assumption the idea that humans are the central entity of the universe. For what it’s worth, I’m also not as naive of religion as a lot of people are. “The universe is about us,” is most definitely the central assumption of western culture, and nothing Gallileo or Copernicus or Newton or Einstein or anyone else has done has chipped that belief.

Even physicists, who usually claim theirs is not a religious endeavor, aspire to nothing less than putting the universe at human command. I mention it because many dispute the non-religious nature of physics, and especially so when we’re talking about that subset of physics called cosmology. Your philosophy can’t get much more human-centric than that. Science in general reflects this same bias.

Next time: Let’s talk about why George keeps going off on this religious jag.

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