Monday, March 1, 2010

Cox on Time

Those readers who enjoyed Brian Cox's discussion of the Large Hadron Collider might also appreciate this series of videos on the nature of time. Cox has some fascinating things to say about this enigmatic, but essential part of our lives. This is part one of a six part BBC series:

Cox seems to assume that time is a part of our objective world, but what if Kant was right in saying that time was really a part of our mental apparatus and that apart from a mind, time is nothing? If Kant is correct then time is simply the way we apprehend experience. It's a subjective phenomenon. If there were no minds there'd be no time.

If this is true, though, then it follows that there really was no time before the appearance of minds in the world. There were events, of course, but they were not embedded in any time, at least not the time that our minds impose upon events.

Think of events in the history of the cosmos as frames in a strip of movie film. If we run the movie in "real time" it may take 14 billion years to view everything that occurs in it from the Big Bang to the appearance of mankind. If we speed up the film the events still all occur, and occur in the same relation to each other, but they whiz by twice as fast, or ten times as fast, or virtually instantaneously, depending on how fast we run the tape.

If all this is true then the question of the age of the earth and the age of the universe is moot. The creation event happened, the universe unfolded, and ultimately minds appeared. Those minds look back on the evidence for the evolution of the universe and conclude that had those events been observed they would have taken 14 billion years of the observer's time, but in fact, since they weren't observed (except by God), they happened virtually instantly.

Minds perceive events as forming a "time line" upon which the events reside. The line has a beginning and stretches into the indefinite future. If there were no minds, however, the totality of events would be more like a point than a line.

If time is indeed a subjective phenomenon, like our perception of color, then our sense of vast ages of time having elapsed in the "past" is simply an illusion.


Census Snoops

2010 is a census year and the Census Bureau will be soliciting information about you this year that they have never sought before and which Jerry Day thinks they have no constitutional authority to ask you for. He makes a pretty good case that this year's census is in large part a government intrusion into our privacy that attempts to gather information which is none of the government's business. Give it a look:

Thanks to Ernest for the link.


The Anti-Obama

One name being mentioned with increasing frequency when the talk turns to the question of who the GOP candidate might be in 2012 is Mitch Daniels. Daniels is the current governor of Indiana and Mona Charen fills us in on his background. Her column should be read in its entirety for what it tells us about the man, but this excerpt might pique your interest:

When Daniels took office in 2005, Indiana, which had been enduring Democratic governors for 16 years, was running an $800-million deficit. Four years later, it had a $1.3-billion surplus. Daniels accomplished this without raising taxes (as 66 percent of states have done); in fact, he passed the largest tax cut in state history. Nor did he cut essential services like education, as 40 states have done. As Mark Hemingway reported in National Review, "In the last three years, the state has repaid $760 million to schools and local governments that had been appropriated to finance the state's deficit spending." Additionally, Indiana has hired 800 new child-welfare caseworkers and 250 state troopers, all while cutting the rate of increase in state spending from 5.9 to 2.8 percent annually.

Having experience in successful governance isn't the only thing attractive about Daniels. Charen goes on to tell us more:

Daniels has successfully courted business investment and has welcomed "two Toyota plants, a Honda factory, a $500-million Nestl� facility, and a British Petroleum project that will bring $3.8 billion to the state."

This is a laboratory of successful conservative governance. As Daniels put it to NR, "Our health-care plan is health savings accounts for poor people. Our telecommunications policy is deregulation. Our infrastructure policy was the biggest privatization in state history." And his spending policy was less is more.

A former chief of the Office of Management and Budget (under George W. Bush), Daniels is known for his incisive mind and mastery of detail. In addition to government service - he also worked as an aide to Sen. Richard Lugar and as Ronald Reagan's political director - Daniels has headed a conservative think tank, the Hudson Institute, and served as president of Eli Lilly's North American operations.

Not only has he governed but he's also run a major business. No wonder they call him the Anti-Obama.