Archive for December, 2009

UFOs Spotted Over Vancouver Island

December 31, 2009

A little back story.

I’m currently teaching a course dealing with science and technology (in broad terms) starting with a unit on astronomy, cosmology and the big, bad universe. One theme I address is the possibility of intelligent life in the universe. I mention Giordano Bruno and the three S’s: Sci-fi, SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and Sagan (et. al.). But the best pedagogical paradigm for this stuff is the Drake Equation. Frank Drake, a pioneer in exobiology, laid out the parameters for the possibility (and probability) of contacting another sentient life form, possessing a technological civilization, somewhere in our galaxy. The equation is an exercise in odds, each variable (distribution of habitable planets and life, emergence of consciousness and technology, and, perhaps most importantly, longevity of any given civilization) exploring an important factor in the overall idea.

Even given the 100 or so billion stars in our galaxy, the odds are generally long.

Which is why it’s silly to me when someone seeing a few unexplained lights in the Christmas night sky around Nanaimo becomes the pretext for a discussion about intelligent life in the universe.

Admittedly, I saw the witnesses on the local news and they seemed…Credible. Yet, untrained observers often think they see strange lights in the sky (heck, the most commonly seen UFO is the planet Venus), and as Jung ably argued, there’s something in the collective unconscious that strongly linked these “observations” to “flying saucers” in the atomic age. Of course, the aliens were us.

Actual encounter with extraterrestrials, if it ever comes, will not be of the “little green men” variety. More likely a brief moment of communication picked up from a distant (and in all probability, long since dead) alien civilization. Good thing, since they are also liable to be completely incomprehensible, scary and something we wouldn’t want on our doorstep

Still, I think, perhaps overly optimistically, that 2010 will be the year we discover we’re not alone.

This fact alone would change everything.

Are We Building Electronic Cathedrals in the Sky?

December 29, 2009

Well, are we?


December 22, 2009


December 19, 2009

Happy holidays!

Random PKD Quote No.1 (In a Series)

December 18, 2009

This is the most deliriously bent passage of fiction I’ve read in the last week. Note that during that time I was also reading this.

“And, even as the objects in her office settled massively against her, they became, on another level, remote; they receded in a meaningful, terrifying fashion. They were losing, she realized, their animation, their — so to speak — working souls. The animae which inhabited them were departing as her powers of psychological projection deteriorated. The objects had lost their heritage of the familiar; by degrees they became cold, remote, and — hostile. Into the vacuum left by the decline in her relatedness to them the things around her achieved their original isolation from the taming forces which normally emanated from the human mind; they became raw, abrupt, with jagged edges capable of cutting, gashing, inflicting fatal wounds. She dare not stir. Death, in potentiality, lay in every object; even the hand-wrought brass ash tray on her desk had become irregular, and in its lack of symmetry it obtained projecting planes, shot out surfaces which, like spines, could tear her open if she was stupid enough to come near.”

From Philip K. Dick, Now Wait For Last Year (New York: Daw Books, 1981 [1966]), 69.


December 17, 2009

St. Ann’s

December 15, 2009

New Vision

December 13, 2009

Well, that’s it…I’ve moved over to photoblogging. The first few posts will be some of my old favorites from here. But there will be fairly regular new content. Check it out and if you like the pics, add me to your blogroll!


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