Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reflections on Reality

By Rich Kozlovich

Did you ever have a SHAZAM moment? All of a sudden you get this flash of insight…. SHAZAM ….all of a sudden we understand something that we have been working on mentally for some time, maybe even years. As I grow older I find that this happens much more often than in years gone by. How does that happen? I can tell you that age makes up a part of it, because clearly the brain’s abilities change as we grow older. I read James A. Michener’s book “The Source” when I was 19 and enjoyed it. I read it again when I was 30 and understood it.

The ability to draw correct conclusions from incomplete data is a work of the brain that is a very necessary gift, but there still has to be a reason for it. Everyone has this ability in varying degrees, but are we capable of training our minds to do it better? I believe so! I believe that this is done by absorbing a great deal of information and thinking a great deal about a great many small things. All of this is being filed and correlated by the brain without any conscious effort on our part. Eventually we will have a brain full of seemingly disparate and useless information that will come together into some cohesive form. A bit here, a bit there and all of a sudden..SHAZAM... you have the whole story with the informational gaps filled in automatically. How large those gaps are depends on the individual. That at least was my analysis of what was happening.

Scientists have always been interested in what they call Eureka moments. I recently read an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, June 19th entitled “A Wandering Mind Heads Straight Toward Insight - Researchers Map the Anatomy of the Brain’s Breakthrough Moments and Reveal the Payoff of Daydreaming”.

The article outlined some examples such as Archimedes discovering how to calculate density and volume while taking a bath. Sir Isaac Newton allegedly discovered the law of universal gravity by being hit on the head by an apple, Descartes developed what is now known as coordinate geometry by watching flies, Einstein was thinking about trains and lightening when the idea of special relativity flashed into his head and Tesla was walking with a cane when he first thought of alternating current.

They report that there is a difference between analytical thinking and insightful thinking and “daydreaming” is the key. “Kalina Christoff of the University of British Columbia on Vancouver makes the point that the “mind wandering is a much more active state that we ever imagined, much more active than during reasoning with a complex problem.” She suspects that the flypaper of an unfocused mind may trap new ideas unexpected and associations more effectively than methodical reasoning. That may create the mental framework for new ideas. You can see regions of these networks becoming active just prior to people arriving at an insight.”

No one really knows what triggers SHAZAM moments, but reflection, meditation, daydreaming, or whatever you may wish to call it, allows the mind to work unhindered by structure. The brain can’t work on anything if there isn’t anything there to work on though. Reading may cause eye trouble, but the lack of reading definitely causes ignorance.

Another article that caught my eye in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Thursday, June 25th was another example of why it is impossible to deal with or please the greenies.

It appears there’s a 58 foot high dam on the Cuyahoga River near Akron, Ohio called the Gorge Metro Dam. A company wants to turn this small dam into a small hydroelectric power plant that will serve about 2,000 homes. Green...right? The dam is already there...right? All that is required is to alter it a bit by putting the plant there and create access roads to green can you be? Well…that is the rub.

The project is being stopped by the Ohio EPA and the Summit County Metro Parks and about 20 other groups who claim the dam serves no useful purpose, impairs water quality and prevents fish from moving upstream, so therefore the dam should be torn down. Furthermore, the project would require clearing four acres of part for a new road and the plant itself and that would ”potentially endanger plant species”.

I thought that was really interesting because when they stocked Lake Erie with Coho salmon and they went upriver they died…on someone else's property, and really made a huge stink. Without creating next year’s brood because the water quality is natually unsuitable for reproduction. What about other fish. Who cares? They aren’t salmon and will adapt.

It gets better. Remember this is a “renewable” energy source to 2,000 homes. That also is the rub because it is “only” 2,000 homes. What if it was for 200,000 homes? They would then say that the project was entirely too big versus entirely too small. It gets better. They refuse to even allow them to conduct an environmental impact study to “demonstrate the benign nature of the project”.

There is no green that is green enough to satisfy those who are “green”. I wonder if there is anything green enough to satisfy those who are insane. Oh wait...SHAZAM...They are green!


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