Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A floating and dreamy stream of consciousness; based on nothing whatsoever than drifting dreams and ideas.

Sometimes when I sit back and let my mind drift off to the warm waters of the stream of consciousness, I wonder what will the world look like in a decade from now; three decades; a century; a millennia.  I think of the great advances in technology and science.  The discovery of new methods of travel in space, jumps in medical technology, international collaboration to deal with the greater threats to the human species vice improving methods of killing each other.

I think watching Halo: Legends and playing plenty of Halo: Reach might have a lot to do with my more wistful thinking as of recent.

Perhaps too the words of Stephen Hawking when he stated several months ago that it was quite possible for humans to begin deep space travel and colonization within two centuries; should we not manage to kill ourselves off by our endless follies.

Yet, on a more tangible level, I wonder what will happen in the next few years as I finish school, search for a job, and settle into a new career.  It bothers me in some sense that I see two scenarios:

The first being that we continue our follies in constantly abusing our only habitable ecosystem through the foolhardy burning of fossil fuels for what we consider indefinitely; not investing in clean technologies; continue to wage wars of conquest and mass murder in the Muslim word; continue to sow the seeds of hate and anger; and continue that headlong sprint to extinction.

The second being that my generation wises up as do the following generations and start to stem the tide of destruction we are visiting upon our planet and our own fellow humans.  That we start to move towards emphasizing the importance of education; whether it resides in science, music, art, or literature.  Just to name a few.  That new steps are taken to protect consumers and the working man.  To reach out and help the poor.  Work to move against the destructive tendencies we have; to rehabilitate minor offenders to become model citizens instead of just tossing them into a prison with other persons hardened by years of prison sentences and forgetting about them; to rehabilitate our veterans returning from war; eliminating nuclear weapons; eliminating the need to arouse needless suspicions about our fellow human and race headlong into dangerous arms races.

I have no desire to see my children be drafted or volunteer to fight in a war that only leads them to death or suffer crippling wounds both seen and unseen so the wealthiest criminals in the world can continue to gorge on their war profits.  I have no desire to see them inherit a world on the brink of environmental catastrophe either.

I'm well aware there are forces of nature that are beyond the scope of human power to prevent; the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region of Japan is just but one example of that power.  Near Earth Objects, gamma ray bursts, the big rip, the Yellowstone caldera exploding; all are forces of nature that I and other humans have no control over.  There is no malicious or loving or omnipotent "god" out there controlling the events of the world.  If there is a god, it would reside in the subatomic level, those particles and subparticles that govern how reality unfolds.

But there is no grand plan.  And that's great, because there exists no foretold destiny.  We make our own luck.  But we are very capable of our own destruction as well as our own triumph.

So what do we want?  That hundreds millions of years from now humans have to deal with the crisis of the sun expanding and engulfing the earth or that the Earth is eerily silent before the sun expands into a red giant?

Again, just a floating and dreamy stream of consciousness; based on nothing whatsoever than drifting dreams and ideas.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


On March 11, at 2:45 JST, a 9.0 earthquake struck northeast Japan. Within minutes, large portions of human civilization were obliterated by the power of that earthquake and a tsunami that reached heights of thirty to ten feet.  Whole cities and towns were swept away such as Sendai, Ishinomaki, Miyako, and Soma.  All that remain are debris of homes, scattered vehicles, and empty areas where buildings once stood. 

The images of floating houses, cars adrift, and debris aflame surging with the ocean water into the farmlands of Tohoku flashed across television screens across the world.   The images hit closer to home than the disasters that hit Haiti in 2009 and the regions along the Indian Ocean after the 2004 tsunami.  Having lived in Japan for three and a half years, seeing those devastated regions reminded me of the areas of Japan that I visited and lived.  Sleepy villages populated with fishermen, day workers, parents, children, grandparents along the coast.  Cities sitting on the coast, opening to the ocean through ports, with office workers milling through the streets to their offices or a noodle shop for a late lunch. 

The current death toll estimates have reached 20,000 persons, with thousands still missing in several towns. 

An illustration of this loss of life is captured in a photograph of backpacks collected in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture.  There are red and blue backpacks, splattered with mud, many still have the small stuffed animals of the student's favorite TV or comic characters attached.  The bright colors contrast with the sober scene of the piled packs with no children around.  Those students who once walked to their school, with their small charm's bells jingling in the morning air are unseen; only 24 of the 84 students from Okawa Elementary School have been found.

Stripped of the particularities of one's own culture, by the awesome power of the natural world, there are no differences among human beings.  There is a need to reunited with family or loved ones; a desire to return home; the need for shelter and warmth; a need for the basic necessities of food and water. 

There is also the solidarity in humans reaching out to help their fellow human in time of disaster.  The international community reached out to Japan to assist; the United States launched Operation Tomodachi, a joint US Navy and Japanese Self Defense Forces operation to assist those in Tohoku; Korean, Chinese, British, and Californian firefighters trained in post-earthquake rescue operations flew to assist in searching for survivors; and donations to humanitarian organizations from those across the world.

Here at the Valparaiso University, efforts have begun to help raise money for those affected by the earthquake.  The Undergraduate students held a prayer service at the Chapel of Resurrection and collected donations during the Bach Collegum Japan concert. 

How can the Law School community chip in to help?  Right now I along with other student organization leaders are planning several fund raising events, ranging from food sales, to collection jars, to collaborating with other planned events to help raise money for the Japanese victims.  One event coming up is collaboration with the VUSL Running Club's annual Ambulance Chase.  If you are unable to donate money, understandable since we are all in the same debt boat together, there is still a need for around fifteen volunteers to help with various duties during the race.

Other ways one can help is to donate money to the American Red Cross: https://american.redcross.org/site/Donation2?idb=0&5052.donation=form1&df_id=5052
Another is via a Google Donation directly to the Japanese Red Cross: http://www.google.co.jp/intl/en/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html
And another is via the Lions Clubs International: http://www.lionsclubs.org/EN/lci-foundation/disaster-relief/japan-update.php
                                                     At Shimoda Elementary, 2006