Friday, August 16, 2013

Top 10 Tools

Humans.  We are part of the planet and yet we set ourselves apart.  how?  We have a brain capable of advanced abstract thought.  Are we unique in that respect?  Mostly.  There are probably some other animals that have some kind of thought process similar to that of our own.  Oooh  how about those opposable thumbs?  Yeah lots of primates have them.  On their toes even.  With both a fairly big brain (though our TV programming might make me second guess that) AND opposable thumbs we can conquer the world.  How?  Through the use of the tools we create.  I list for you now the 10 tools I like the most.

10.  Lever - Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I'll move the world.  Archimedes had it right, the lever of course the simplest of machines, the lever is something we figure out before we figure out language or Angry Birds or anything.  We use it to lift and shift things that are too heavy for us to manipulate directly.  You don't like the lever?  Try its modern day equivalent the crow bar.  Yay Lever!

9.  Pulley - The pulley or more specifically, block and tackle.  The ability we have gained through some rope and some wheels are really amazing.  We can lift things in the air that no one man could lift ever.  A person can lift many times their weight thanks to this little invention.  Thanks to this device, we were able to navigate the oceans and build great structures.  Just a rope and some wheels.

8.  Vice Grips - Why is this on the list instead of pliers or scissors?  Because I love vice grips.  They are my go to household tool of choice.  A locking pliers, vice grips have so many uses and utilizations that I think no home should be without several.

7.  Fire - Fire is an element not a tool.  I know I know.  Yet we use fire as a tool all the time.  Thanks to fire we have cooked food, tempered metals, smelted ores.  We control heat and use it as a tool to create the other tools that create our physical civilization.

6.  Corporate tool - This is an individual that has sold himself and his opinions to a large corporation or business concern.  They have no motivation except self promotion and attempt that through corporate promotion.  Often the corporate tool gains their lively-hood from the corporation they serve, but not necessarily.  Sometimes they represent an entire industry and are a sunshiny spokesperson ready to defend to the business death the industry they find so important.  Individuals are of little consequence to corporate tools.

5.  Screw Driver - In our modern day society 90% of all the fasteners used are screws.  As a result the screwdriver is the tool we probably have more of than any other in the house.  The problem with the screwdriver is the head.  The Philips head and the flat head are the most commonly known.  There are other drive heads that adorn the lowly screw such as the hex, star, and square head.  The Philips is also sometimes misnamed as an imposter to it's doppelganger the Frearson.  They look the same with a cross on top of the screw that does not continue to the edge of the screw.  But the Phillips has rounded corners inside the cross.  This is to allow the screwdriver to pop out with enough torque.  The Frearson has squared edges that allow the driver to hold no matter the angular pressure to the screw head.

4.  Magnetism - Another elemental force, Magnetism is a force that determines much of our life on the earth.  Without it, we lack a lot of control of electricity.  Natural magnets are the closest things we have to real magic on earth.  They were often called the lode stone because all of the sudden, all of your ferrous metals became much heavier towards the magnetic stone.  Now Magnets are required for nearly every modern convenience we have.  You may not use it every day as a tool, and yet every day it's properties are used on your behalf.

3.  Knife - Early on, there weren't a lot of tools, because we had to invent them.  Since we were hunters we needed to invent knives.  The knife was a universal hunting tool much as it is today.  A sometimes weapon, a knife was indispensable for maximizing the separation of meat from bone and skin.  Attached to a pole, the knife becomes a spear.  The knife might be the most essential and clever tool early man devised.

2.  Wheel - I heard it said that the wheel was probably thought up by early man seeing felled trees rolling across flat land in a wind storm.  I don't know if that's true, but It's just as likely as anything.  The wheel allows us to use leverage on the pulley.  It drives our cars and creates analog control.  Until we can come up with levitation the wheel will continue to be the most used and often taken for granted tool in our bag.

1.  Hammer - When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  As soon as a cave man figure out tasty things sometimes were held in hard containers, a rock became their first hammer.  The application of blunt force is used in everything from art to manufacture and it all goes back to the lowly hammer.  Claw, ball or sledge, the hammer is ever at our disposal more than willing to direct our kinetic energy into a single directed point.  I'd rather be a hammer indeed.

Well another one just barely out of the chute.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

10 things we Believe in

Belief is the next best thing to fear.  Belief is only partially rational and it's normally based on the outcome of a very limited sample.  Some things we believe so much that it is very much impossible to get them dislodged from our heads even though we've seen hard facts to the contrary.

10.  The value of money - There was a time when our paper money was based on GOLD.  We called it the gold standard.  The Gold standard has some problems and some benefits.  One of the problems according to our Government was that they couldn't spend more money than they actually had.  So they got rid of the Gold standard.  Where does that leave the value of our money?  Well, it's value is our belief.  In fact, it's the world's belief.  The fact is, our dollar is only based on the whole world believing that it has value, nothing else.

9.  That herbs are better for us than drugs because they are 'NATURAL'  - A lot of us believe somehow that the drugs we are prescribed are effective, but when we see all of the natural remedies we can't help but think they will be effective.  Here is the danger.  The drugs are controlled in their content.  Every pill must behave within a specific range of effectiveness.  Herbs have much fewer controls.  Remember Hemlock and Poison Ivy are natural herbs.

8.  We know what we saw - This one may be the hardest one to swallow.  We rarely if ever witness things as they happened.  Instead our mind helps us build our memory of what happened to the point that it may not resemble the actual event in question at all.  We have an easier time thinking this about other people we know than ourselves.  Phrases like 'seeing is believing' make us believe that what we see is a very good indicator of what is happening.  We are horribly wrong.  How do we know?  Because there are magicians everywhere and they all fool us based on what we know we see.

7.  Santa Clause - An enduring lie we tend to tell our children.  It seems we along with TV and the retailers enjoy perpetuating this falsehood and we as children enjoy believing it.  Well, as I recall, we don't actually believe it until we are told about it.  Then for a while we just assume that it's true.  Then later on we are let in on the big conspiracy but we are told not to let the other kids in on it.  Why?  Who knows.

6.  Some kind of Afterlife - This is real belief.  This one goes deep and it has a lot to do with our sense of self realization.  Once we consider the fact that we are who we are, we can't really think of life without us.  Once we have that bit of thought in our heads, we start considering what actually happens once we die.  This is a subject that few people want to look at with objective eyes.  Instead they wish to look at it with faith.  The difference between belief and faith is the difference between thinking a number will hit on a roulette wheel and actually having money on that number.  There are many different faiths on this world and even atheists can only say they believe there is nothing after this life because you just can't prove it or any other negative.

5.  Science - We believe a lot of things about science.  In fact we believe in science so much that we do things that we can't exactly prove but observe as a repeatable event.  Quantum physics is largely a theoretical science.  This means we just think we know how it works and we devise little tests to see if it's behavior is similar to our theories.  We actually use many things in our everyday life that work based on quantum theories.  Lasers and TV's use the quantum world and we just assume that it will continue to work.  Is science always worth believing in?  In the long run perhaps.  On the other hand, I still see no flying cars.

4.  Our pets understand us - We get pets and we talk to them.  why?  because we don't growl or sniff peoples butts (with any luck).  We talk.  So we talk to our pets.  Do our pets understand us?  no. probably not.  They may understand bits and pieces but for the most part, animals understand actions.  When we talk to them they understand we are regarding them.  When we pet them they understand the contact.  They understand us on the levels that we need to be understood.  We on the other hand ascribe attitudes and emotions to animals that they may not even be capable of.  On the other hand, maybe they do.  who knows?

3.  We know famous people - When we watch tv or read the check out tabloid headlines.  Invariably we are confronted with the actions of famous people.  Many of us will devour these stories and begin to put together a notion about that famous person and decide that we actually know them.  We forget that often a famous person is put up to their behaviors by the very tabloids and entertainment programs that report on them.  They create a public persona that compliments their private one.  Often stars will be caught doing something that will define them to the public for the rest of their careers.  Are they the sum of that single behavior?  I don't know.  Are any of us?

2.  All Medical professionals are good - Especially Doctors. - When we go to the doctor, we look on their wall and they will have a diploma.  That's good enough for us.  We don't ask for grade transcripts we don't ask where they placed in their class.  The old joke is  Q: "What do you call a medical student that is just barely passing?"  A: "Doctor"

1.  That we are Lucky/Unlucky -  I've fallen prey to this bit of belief.  I tend to believe that I'm not lucky.  The funny thing is, when I look at my life, I'm not lucky at what I want to be lucky at, but I'm very lucky in my life.  Many things have worked out against any specific odds.  I really do believe that luck is how we feel about a progression of events.  But when you are in the middle of a streak of bad events, it's hard not to ascribe some kind of supernatural power to it.  When things are really good sometimes we will do the same thing.

I've probably repeated myself on this particular entry, but I am running on empty here.  I'm really a much more shallow person than all this.