cafés: the key to overcoming study-blocks

13/12/2009 at 22:57 | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I don’t know what it is about coffee, or about the coffeeshop atmosphere, but there is something about it that makes it easy to overcome motivation-blocks and move into the realm of active thought.  Something about my weeks makes me completely shut down on Saturdays.  Literally, I spend my Saturdays in bed all day… maybe watch a movie or two… then read a bit of a book and ponder how depressing my life is (which it really isn’t – but on Saturdays it feels like it is)…  But on Sundays, I try to get out.  Last week, I was at school (I should probably go in later today and make some buffers, actually).  This week, I am at a local coffeeshop.  (That’s right, I’m breaking with society’s norm, and I am not at Starbucks!)

Mid-December finds this place packed with students studying for finals, and people visiting with friends before the holidays really kick in.  It’s a little loud at times, but there is nice music in the background… and lots of light… and I love picking up on little conversations around me…. It just feels more alive, I think, than a university library.

Mid-December, the libraries at the university – even the arts one – are filled with tension.  You can feel it when you walk in, and your steps echo through the place.  Only a few students look up, you feel that they are thinking: “why the hell are you here if you can’t walk quietly?!”  The ones that don’t look up send the message that despite your loudness, they are scared enough for exams that they don’t care anymore; “fuck your shoes,” they are saying.

What am I doing today?  You ask – well, apart from getting motivated about my life and how crappy it isn’t (positive self-talk is important!).  I am working on finding answers to some theological questions my friend Daniel has sent me.  I know nothing about the theology he is presenting… but I do know some things about an opposing form of thought that he is interested in.  The only problem is that since I do not know much about what he is talking about… understanding his questions is extremely challenging.  Actually, while I respect his beliefs… I do not find the questions as important.  The nuance of when God created the universe… whether there was a gap in time between the creation of the universe and His existence, these things are issues that I am not very much concerned with.  But, I find Daniel’s knowledge of the philosophy of science interesting…  So, there needs to be some give and take!

Anyway, the moral of all this rambling is that I have not yet found a better cure for lack of motivation than going to a café, doing some reading, and seeing other people – just seeing them makes me feel more human!

Ok… I’m off to read up on creationism….


Part 2: reality check.

07/12/2009 at 23:57 | Posted in science | 11 Comments
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I came into the lab yesterday (yes, on a Sunday), and was pleasantly surprised.  One of my labmates was also in, and she had brought her friend – let’s call him Daniel – along.  He’s a grad student in another department, studying New Age thought and science.  We ended up having a nice chat about the very topic I had brought up here earlier – why religion and science are fighting a duel, and what is the root of this battle?

From what I understood, this fight is simply one of egos.  It was refreshing to hear someone say something that was so clear, so simple.  It’s not because science or religion is fundamentally at odds with the other, but that scientists and religionists have massive egos that apparently need feeding.  Good for them.  I proudly consider myself a scientist, but I respect that I am merely studying one source of knowledge… something that seeks to describe half of our universe.  Anyway.

As for the root of the battle, apparently that starts when the Moor libraries are captured and St Thomas Aquinas begins to integrate Aristotelian physics with dogma.  And of course, after that, if anyone sought to build/modify Aristotle’s work, I guess it was considered to be against the Church… hence the whole situation with Galileo.

So, that was quite an exciting experience for me!  Of course, if I have misunderstood, I am very open to learning more.  Thoughts?

studying reality MUST be shitty – part 1

03/12/2009 at 23:06 | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Since starting my grad studies, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to fess up to what I do.  People, obviously, ask: what do you do?  And when I inevitably say “oh, I’m doing my Master’s” and specify the subject… they are stunned (I probably don’t look much like a scientist), and the conversation fizzles from there.  And I’m stuck wondering if I should try and demean what I do… or appear interested in their work, or just let the conversation fizzle out and walk away awkwardly.

(often, I try to appear interested in what they do – it backfires as soon as that line of questioning is over)

The odd time, I’ve had people ask me about my project.  They listen for a bit, and then suddenly the conversation becomes one in which (apparently) I am the Devil’s apprentice, and the world’s problems and apocalyptic destiny is completely and utterly my fault.  Then they start to wonder aloud about how such a wonderful person with so much potential could fall into such an obvious trap.  If these people were strangers, I might tell them to eff off, but sadly, more often than not, they are friends of the family, or spouses of my friends, etc.  In other words, even as they heap injustices on me, I have to smile and nod and praise their obvious greater insight.

For a while now, I’ve been following the tags on wordpress, and I am amazed at the results that I get when I search under “science”.   So many people are ranting about how terrible science is, and how much it denies God and the like.   I actually find it rather confusing.  Why are they considered mutually exclusive?

Science is a means by which reality can be investigated.  Religion is also a means of investigating reality – this is why they are two repositories – sources – of knowledge.   And there are not two realities.  It is simply that within this one reality, there are two human conditions, the physical and the spiritual.  This is why spiritual attributes such as love, generosity, kindness, and justice have an effect on our physical world, just as lack of such spiritual qualities also does (ie. Hate, greed, malice, and injustice).  The physical, contrary to what many believe, also has an effect on the spiritual.  Consider the effects of such physical accomplishments such as speech and communication, transportation, medicine, and housing, on the amelioration of the human condition, and how much that has advanced our abilities to acquire and develop spiritual qualities.  Consider how the detrimental physical things that we see in society – the development of armaments and war, poverty, consumerism, to name a few – how much these things hurt our hearts and cause our souls pain.

So when these links between science and religion are so clear to us, why do we fight and attack each other so much?

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