Friday, May 27, 2022

America, This Is Exactly Who We Are!

We are a nation that loves our guns more than we love our children.
Don't waste your time telling me that we are not. 

Our inaction over gun violence since Columbine almost a generation ago
shows exactly what we value.
If we truly cared, we would have acted, made changes, addressed gun violence. 

President Biden got it right when he addressed the nation 
after the horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary School 
in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022:

"As a nation, we have to ask: 
When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?
When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?"

I remember only too well when this national horror and shame
burst into our consciousness:
Columbine.  Colorado.  April 20, 1999.  Twenty-three years ago.

And the school mass shootings have piled up non-stop ever since.
Sandy Hook.  Stoneman Douglas.  Santa Fe.  Red Lake.  

We are a nation that is willing to endure too many of its citizens slaughtered 
by gun violence, because we love our guns more.

I live in Colorado where fellow Coloradans have been slaughtered
in school and in church and at the grocery store and at the movie theater.

Aurora.  Boulder.  Littleton.  Denver-Lakewood.  Highland Ranch.  Arvada.
All sites of some of the mass shootings in our Denver Metro area alone.
I can't keep track of them all.  There have been too many.
We do not act to decrease gun violence and mass shootings.  
We live with the risk because, as a nation, we love our guns more.

Almost five years ago, a mass shooter in Las Vegas fired a thousand rounds
from the 32nd story of the Mandalay Bay Hotel 
on a large outdoor group of concert goers. 
60 slaughtered.  411 wounded.  Over 400 more injured in the ensuing panic.
Obviously the bodies weren't piled deep enough, because we have failed to act.
We, as a nation, love our guns more.  

How many bodies from hated-based killings, homicides, drive by shootings, 
roving killers, suicides, and deadly gun accidents 
will it take to outweigh our love for guns.
Far, far more than anywhere else in the world.

Spare me your blather about thoughts and prayers and grief and God,
those of you who take money from the NRA for your political gain.
Those of you attending The National Rifle Association Conference 
in Houston, Texas this weekend,
while the truly-grieving parents of Uvalde, Texas
are arranging funerals for their dead children shredded by an assault gun ~
the AR-15 style rifle, dubbed "America's rifle" by the NRA.

You love your guns more than you love our nation's children, citizens, and residents.
Your actions speak far louder than your blather,
as you hold your hands out for more gun money.

"America's rifle" is a rifle that was designed to shred human beings on the battlefield.
As President Biden said, 
"Deer aren’t running through the forest with Kevlar vests on, for God’s sake."

Children are our hopes, our dreams, our futures.
They are precious to us.
They fill our lives with love and meaning.
Each one deserves to be cherished and loved and guided and protected.

The parents, the siblings, the extended families who have had children
slaughtered by guns will never be whole again.
That lost child will be missing from their lives for all the decades to come.
They are irreplaceable.

So much joy, happiness, love, and potential ripped from families in a heartbeat.
Gone.  Forever.  Irreplaceable.
What might the children have become, have done, if they had lived?

Today I quickly pulled random pictures from my extensive collection of photographs.
Most were taken by me.  Some were not.

Most of these children are the ages of the Uvalde children who were slaughtered.
They come from around the world and from several generations.

Most are anonymous children who crossed paths with me in fleeting seconds,
children who touched my heart with their innocence, vulnerability, honesty, 
their beauty, and sincerity.

Some are personal.  
Because it is at the personal level that we can truly grasp the horror, 
truly imagine the terrible loss of someone we love and could never replace.
Lost, not just in the moment, but in all the years of our future.

We could start to address gun violence by passing laws 
that the majority of Americans support:
* actually providing more funding for mental health screening and treatment
* mandatory and universal background checks
* licensing for gun purchases
* a national "redflag" law.

We have to begin somewhere, somehow to reverse 
the tide of gun violence that is drowning our nation.

Gun violence and mass shootings are complicated problems,
and finding solutions will not be easy.
But until we act we will continue to show the world that we are the nation
that loves its guns more than it loves its children.

We can't throw up our hands, give into despair, not act, 
even with powerful industries, lobbies, and political forces arrayed against us.
We can't continue like this, huddling and hiding 
in schools and stores and theaters and beauty spas. 
We must demonstrate that we are a nation that loves its children more than guns.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 20, 2022

Matt Haig's "The Midnight Library," Shrödinger's Cat, and Sex in the Park

Recently a good friend and former third grade teammate from Sunrise Elementary, Susan, 
invited me to join a new book club with some retired colleagues, the Sunettes.
It had started while I was in Hawaii, so I missed had the first two meetings.

"I'd love to," I said.  "When are we meeting?"

"On Thursday afternoon," Susan replied.

It was Sunday evening.  "Okay!  What's the book?"

"The Midnight Library by Matt Haig."

Ahh.  Teachers, libraries. Perfect! I thought.  
I vaguely remembered hearing of the book,
A New York Times bestseller.  "I'll order it tonight."  
After slogging through Philip Goff's Galileo's Error for weeks, 
I needed an easy read and a break from philosophy, quantum physics,
and my favorite, Schrödinger's cat.

My Favorite Cat
Sorry, Grumpy Cat ~ You've been dethroned!

I coughed up an extra $2.99 to have Amazon deliver it the next morning.
My week was shaping up to be hectic, and I didn't have time to run to a local bookstore.

When Haig's novel hit my front step late on Monday morning, I dove right in.
No time to read the back cover or inside jacket,
and besides, sometimes it's fun to jump into a book with no preconceptions.
Like when I started a new school year without reading the cum files on my kiddos.
I wanted to spend time with them and form my own first impressions.

With a hot cup of coffee, I settled in to read, pirate style with an eyepatch.
Three hundred pages and one eye, this was totally doable in three days.

Like No Pirate Ever!

I read the opening line:  "Nineteen years before she decided to die, Nora..."
Oh, oh!  I thought.  The novel started with a bang, an undisclosed tragedy.

On the third page, nineteen years later
and twenty-seven hours before Nora decided to die, I read,
"And although she had studied enough existential philosophy..."
Oh, no! Philosophy! I thought Nora wanted to be an astronaut or glaciologist!
What happened?

It was downhill from there.  Her cat Voltaire had been killed.
Nora was a suicidal young woman on antidepressants and anxiety medications.
Too close to home for someone who has struggled with
depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts forever.

Nora decides that she is crap at life and swallows an overdose of her meds.
At 00:00:00, midnight, she walks into an immense library and time doesn't advance.
She meets her high school librarian, Mrs. Elm, who had delivered the news
of her father's death nineteen years before she decided to commit suicide.

"So, I am dead?" Nora asks?

"... Between life and death..."

Damn! I thought.  Quantum Superposition.  Here we go.  
I swear my favorite cat will make an appearance.

Alive or Dead?
"To be, or not to be?"

So begins Nora's adventure in the Midnight Library,
stuck between life and death at 00:00:00.
The library books enable Nora to live different lives,
each life in a different world where she made different choices.
Before time runs out, how does she answer the ultimate question:  
"What is the best way to live?"

Damn! I thought.  The multiverse.  A possibly infinite number of parallel universes,
including one where Louise is getting it right.

I'm not going to say any more about Matt Haig's amazing novel The Midnight Library
except to say that I absolutely loved it.
I connected more with this book than perhaps any other I have read.

So what happened to my post which I was writing last Thursday night
after the book club meeting with my dear Sunrise friends?
I was utterly exhausted after a week of multiple appointments,
enthralled reading and rereading,
and enthusiastically discussing the novel with the Sunettes.

I started to write my post, but I got distracted
by Schrödinger's cat and played in a rabbit hole instead.
When I realized what had happened, it was after 2:00 am,
and there was no way I was going to get anything published.
Not this night.  Not Friday.
But in some parallel universe I did get it published ~ lol!

So here are some Schrödinger cat funnies that I enjoyed:

It has taken me a long time to wrap my mind around
Schrödinger's cat and quantum superposition.
So if you haven't heard about my favorite feline, here's a quick introduction.

Schrödinger's cat is one of the most famous thought experiments in science.
We are often so locked into empirical evidence in science 
that we forget that thought experiments are useful exercises.

"A thought experiment is a hypothetical situation in which a hypothesis, theory,
or principle is laid out for the purpose of thinking through its consequences."  (Wikipedia)
Depending on how the experiment is structured, it may not be possible to perform it,
and, there may not be a need or intention to perform it.

Schrödinger's Cat in Quantum Superposition, Both Alive and Dead 

Consider Schrödinger's unfortunate feline.
The poor creature is trapped in a steel chamber that is sealed off from the outside.
Sealed in with the cat is a Geiger counter containing a tiny amount of radioactive material.
Within an hour, or maybe not, a single atom of the radioactive material will decay.
When an atom decays, the counter tube discharges, 
and through a relay it releases a hammer 
which shatters a flask of hydrocyanic acid and kills the cat.

The radioactive decay is random, and therefore so is the cat's survival or death.
In quantum physics the cat is in a state of superposition, simultaneously alive and dead.
Only when the container is opened by an observer is the superposition resolved.
The cat is dead, or the cat is alive, 
depending upon whether an atom radioactively decayed or not.

My Former Most Favorite Feline, Grumpy Cat

Schrödinger wasn't promoting simultaneously alive-and-dead cats as a serious possibility.
He was illustrating the absurdity of the existing view of quantum mechanics in 1935.

The prevailing theory, the Copenhagen interpretation, maintained that a quantum system
remained in superposition until it reacted with or was observed by the external world.
When this occurs the superposition collapses into one or the other possible states.

"Schrödinger's famous thought experiment poses the question, 
"when does a quantum system stop existing as a superposition of states
and become one or the other?"  (Wikipedia)

PETA exposes animals suffering in laboratories, in the food industry, 
in the clothing trade, and in the entertainment industry

I probably should have introduced Erwin Schrödinger, an Austrian-Irish theoretical physicist (12 August 1887 - 4 January 1961).                                     

Schrödinger in 1933

Schrödinger won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933 together with
English theoretical physicist Paul Dirac for their work on quantum mechanics.  

Schrödinger was interested in explaining
that an electron in an atom would move as a wave.  
This resulted in the Schrödinger equation, which calculates
how the wave function of a quantum mechanical system evolves over time.  (Britannica)

A Cat Comedian

I will always struggle with the quantum world and how it forces us to see the universe.
I wish I had been born with the gift of understanding higher mathematics.  
I hit a wall with algebra and geometry and just forget calculus and statistics and beyond.

I can sense mathematic's clarity and beauty, but its exact meaning eludes me.
Too often I feel like Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon.
If I had understood higher mathematics, I might have become
an astrophysicist, a cosmologist, or an astrogeologist.

Well, Himself, my sometimes-not-so-Ever-Patient husband, 
is trying to tempt me away from cats, quantum theory, mathematics, and posting.
He knows how to work with ADHD personalities:  
Warn them in advance that closure is coming at a specific time.

He told me about ten minutes ago that he would make me his summer cocktail,
if I would join him for a drink in thirty minutes on our warm deck
(before the snow starts to fly tomorrow).

That gives me about five more times to listen to
and a chance to add some more Schrödinger cat funnies.
(You may have to click on the volume button in the lower left of the video, if you wish to listen to the video.)

I'm sorry.  I am out of control.  This is my favorite cat, and I can't help myself!
And this feline has been the target of many, many funny jokes.

Schrödinger's cat is alive!

"I'm making the cocktail," Himself is calling.

Closure is approaching.
Just one more funny, and it has nothing to do with my favorite feline.
It is just too darn cute!

"Your drink is ready!"

Closing time.  
I wonder how editing will go after one of Terry's potent cocktails?


And for Rain's Thursday Art Date prompt of May Flowers, Pollination, and Birds,
here are five photographs:

May Flowers Along Piney Creek
Aurora, Colorado
May 5, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved

Sex in the Park ~ Pollination 
Cottonwoods are dioecious.
Female and male flowers (catkins) are borne on separate trees.
Top:  Female       Middle:  Male       Bottom:  Female with Seeds Embedded in Cotton
They are cross-pollinated by the wind.
The female catkins produce seeds embedded in cotton which are dispersed by the wind.
Along Piney Creek Aurora, Colorado
May 2020 and 2022
June 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved

A Male and Female Mallard Pair ~ Birds
Along Piney Creek, Aurora, Colorado
May 5, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved

Stay hopeful and creative!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved