Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Name a few people that changed your world.

While Suzy and I are debating how great Jack Kerouac and Charlie Parker were, I thought maybe the rest of you could chime in with your own list of your favorite characters, and what made them great to you. I know the obvious is usually someone in your own family, that’s okay, but try to add someone that you think changed the whole world. And say a few things about them...

I'll start! I'm not necessarily going to put mine in any kind of order. I'll just mention them as they come to the top of my mind. Kinda' like the academy awards of my favorite people. These are the people that made me what I am today, for the most part.

Albert Einstein: I know, you guys are tired of hearing about Einstein, but he was one of the first people that ever made me wonder about the things around me. I first remember hearing about Einstein as a small child; even then he was revered as one of the world’s smartest men. I often wondered that, if I studied hard, could I become as smart as Einstein? That statement alone should tip you off that Einstein was much more intelligent than me.

I’ve read a lot of things about Einstein through the years. He always had my admiration. He caused me to wonder about time travel, and would it really be possible to travel back and forth through time. After reading Einstein’s theories about changing time, I came to an understanding that to change time would be so enormously complicated that it would never be practical, as in Jules Vern’s Time machine, where you just set the clock shaped dial, and went to what ever year and day that you wanted to travel to. So Einstein brought me the disappointment of knowing that I wasn’t going to go forward or back in time. Even if I could, I would not get any younger or older with-in my own personnel time frame. Dang!

Einstein so well understood the world around him that he was able to understand how to manufacture an atomic bomb. Building an atomic weapon is hard enough when you already know how to do it, but to just pull it out of your head is pretty amazing. Most people could understand the physics of an atomic weapon if it was drawn out on paper for them, including me. Einstein personally warned President Roosevelt that the Germans were very near to having an atomic bomb back in 1939. Roosevelt launched the “Manhattan Project” to develop our own nuclear weapon, but we didn’t use it on Germany, we used it to stop the war with Japan.

As some of you know, I always wondered about “God” and at what level is God real. I always looked to very smart people for guidance. Einstein was reluctant to speak out against God, possibly because of the vast amount of people that believe in a God, and the fact that most people believe that we were “made in God’s image”. His reluctance to speak out about his disbelief in God prompted many people to put words in his mouth, as indeed we still see today. Many people claim that Einstein believed in God. I think it best to simply quote him:

"The word ‘God’ is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish”

Repeated attempts by the press to present Albert Einstein as a religious man provoked the following statement:
“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”—Albert Einstein.

Isaac Asimov was also one of my Heroes. As a young man I read everything that I could possibly get my hands on. I’ve always loved machinery, and building things. One of the first things that I noticed about machines is that they are always consistent. If you turn the wheel to the left, the machine goes to the left. ALWAYS! It’s not like arguing with my wife, the only thing consistent there is that I always LOSE.

It has been said that Isaac Asimov invented the word robot. The word was actually a Czech word for artificial man or slave. Asimov gave it it's modern meaning that we all recognize; a mechanical-man that follows our instructions. Asimov was a brilliant man that was one of the most prolific Science Fiction writers of all time. I've read every book that he ever wrote many years ago, and it is time to start over. If you don't know who Asimov was, but want to read one of his books, read "I Robot" it was the book that put the word "Robot" into the English Language.
There was no room for doubt about how Asimov felt about God:
“I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.”

I like Robert A. Heinlein. Who wrote "Farnham’s Freehold". I have posted about him before. He was very important in forming some of my thoughts. "Farnhams Freehold" was about the nuclear apocalypse, and life after.

Heinlein was an outspoken atheist, Quote:
“The most ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by H. Sapiens is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of his creations, that he can be persuaded by their prayers, and becomes petulant if he does not receive this flattery. Yet this ridiculous notion, without one real shred of evidence to bolster it, has gone on to found one of the oldest, largest and least productive industries in history.” Robert A. Heinlein

Way up on my list of men that I admire is Arthur C. Clark. Clark described the position in the sky where satellites would remain in geosynchronous orbit indefinitely. Many of the satellites that relay television and other communication signals are positioned in the “Clarks Belt”. Named after him for his intelligent thought on the subject. His calculations of it’s position were exactly right. He also wrote "2001, A Space Odyssey". It was made into the worlds most boring science fiction film. Read the book, forget the film, too artsy.
His feelings on religion follow much the same as all of my other heroes. But he like to remark about religion facetiously, leaving one to wonder how he really felt about the presence of God. One of his quotes was:

"Religion" is ultimately somewhat complicated. He said, "Any path to knowledge is a path to God—or Reality, whichever word one prefers to use".
But he also said:
"One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion."
On his death bed he said:
"Absolutely no religious rites of any kind, relating to any religious faith, should be associated with my funeral."

Just to prove that I am not completely without religious heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King is also one of my heroes. Not for his religious work, but his work for civil rights, and the betterment of mankind.

My two favorite song writers are Kris Kristopherson and Hoyt Axton. I’m not sure about their belief in God.

Any thoughts of your own?


Anonymous said...

Richard Dawkins for providing a glorious view of our place in the universe that doesn't rely upon Bronze Age superstition. Carl Sagan, Neil Degrasse Tyson and others have done a great job too.

Anonymous said...

Addendum... this being the Internet generation, most of my heroes are not individuals, but online communities that provide the same inspiration that a hero does, but also support and encouragement to aspire to greater things.

There are otherwise anonymous individuals who do make a big impact, chance encounters with online content they've produced. In keeping with your post, I'd point you to A. Hughman, who will either resonate with you, or seem like a complete idiot.

Anonymous said...

I confused but that is nothing new. So far folks here are talking about hero's and the post heading says "name a few people that changed your world".
Well, at the moment I say Obama and his administration has changed my world the most. Headaches, twisted up guts and so forth. Not good for an old man I tell ya.


PatsyC said...

My Dad. Carl Sagan. Arthur C. Clarke.
John Lennon. Kate Bush.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thank-you for the A. Hughman link. I've said and felt what so many times, in so many ways. I'm astounded that people would pass off all of that wonder of time and place, and just say that "God did it".

To say a human (A. Hughman) doesn't have a spirit is false. Humans are born with it, and die with it, and if their spirit lives on, it is only in the minds and memories of us remaining.

Soak all the joy that you can, we are only here Once...

Anonymous said...

Dang Ern, what if you are wrong?


Ernie Branscomb said...

Carl Sagan is one that I should have mentioned, but space was running short. I am facinated by any person that gives true thought a chance. Closed minded people that focus on their superstitions miss out on so much of the wonder and discovery of life and the universe around us. Or... are we on the edge of the universe?...I wonder.

Anonymous said...

Well, if we kill them all who will sort them out if there is no God?


Ernie Branscomb said...

"Dang Ern, what if you are wrong?"

Ah, the age old question. Marilyn Vos Savant said that it is better to "believe", that way you have nothing to lose. If you are right you get to go to heaven, if you are wrong... Oh well. But, she won’t be pinned down on the existence of God, she will only approach the subject logically.

“The book of Genesis must be true because God would not deceive us” and “The concept of evolution must be true because so many scientists couldn’t all be wrong.”

I get the sense of amusement that she has when she answers the question about “god”. She answers us like we would answer a child when they ask about if there is really a “Santa Claus”. She doesn’t seem to want to dash our hopes. She must be an incredibly nice person.

suzy blah blah said...

She answers us like we would answer a child when they ask about if there is really a “Santa Claus”.

Sounds like a condescending bitch.

Ernie Branscomb said...

"Sounds like a condescending bitch."

Well she is a little gentler than Heinlein.

“The most ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by H. Sapiens" Heinlein

suzy blah blah said...

All the examples you've given are people who didn't or don't believe in the "Christian" concept of god. As if thier were only one god. Well of course that's ridiculous. I agree. And the people who embrace monotheism are absurd. Imho this is is a multi-universe and their are many many MANY gods. More than anyone could ever imagine. But as I've said in many other threads, I don't believe that there is any one god, or in new-age parlance, "oneness", that is omniscient, omnipresent, etc. For some people their heroes are their gods. They confuse the two similar concepts and end up as hero worshipers. Pathetic.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Are you calling me pathetic… Again!

My heroes are not my Gods. In fact, I often disagree with them. What I admire the most about them is that they “ponder”, they wonder. They don’t confuse dogma with fact. They honestly try to understand the basics of your “multi-universe”. They use their intellect to sort out the scat, winnow the chaff, and reach tangible conclusions. They don’t have the easy way out of simply thumping on their “Book” whatever that might be. If it weren’t for scientific minds, that aren’t afraid to question, we would still be living on a flat Earth.

You may be surprised to learn that you are one of my “Heroes”. I admire your intellect, and God only knows that you “Wonder”. But do I think that you are always right? Do I think of you as a God? Uh, uh. Nope!

Robin Shelley said...


Ernie Branscomb said...

Hah! Beat you to it by 1 minute!

suzy blah blah said...

Ernie, I'm sorry you if you took that personal. I should have phrased it more carefully. I didn't say that you were pathetic, and do definitely NOT think so. I didn't say your admiration of and affection for your heroes is "hero worship". Actually it is quite centered, grounded. I was saying, or warning I suppose, that hero worship is on the extreme end of the scale of one's relationship with a hero. But what I really wanted to emphasize is the similarity of the hero and the god, and suggest an the area where the two definitions blur.

suzy blah blah said...

Not one, two minutes, but it's still qualifies as a minor miracle. How'd he do that?

Anonymous said...

So I go back to "people that changed your world". Gods and inspiration?
Well since I'm not getting hammered on the political side here maybe I will mention some true God's that have inspired me.
I do want all to know this is only a partial list of my God's.
Nancy Sinatra
Susan Dey
Lucy Liu
Suzy Blah Blah
Barbara Eden
Calista Flochart


Ernie Branscomb said...

I was not insulted at all. Maybe I should have thrown an "LOL" or too in there. Sometimes I tuck my tongue too tightly into my cheek.
Besides, I kinda liked being "pathetic."

You forgot Ann Colter. You always use her to scare the liberals.

Ernie Branscomb said...

All of your Gods are women. Isn't there some old bear hunter in there somewhere?

suzy blah blah said...

I think science fiction and stuff is intriguing. I know from experience that it's an empirical fact that one can slow down and or speed up time ... but everybody is in too much of a hurry to understand, anyway, go go go, they want a bumper sticker solution ... I have one or two, I tell them, oh I'm running forwards towards a more graceful place, I don't have much time to consider anything either, specially anything that's already happened (what's that called "history worship"?) LOL! half the time because my poor frazzled self is too far behind most of the time, but btw Ernie, people in the news have been doing these suspension acts lately, suspending their bodies from the ceiling, or something. Well, I don't really know anything about that but, I thought it presented a good sedge-way for me to say that I do a suspension act too, I don't suspend my body though --Suzy suspends time LOL!

happy solstice,

Robin Shelley said...

I think Ernie was referring to his post at 11:46 & my post at 11:47.

Adding to my list:

spyrock said...

elvis, beatles, herman hesse, lobsang rampa, inyat khan, pir vilyat, gurjeif, rumi, matia melchizedek, firehawk and pele, windeagle and rainbowhawk. lightning dove.

Anonymous said...

Dawkins has the best response to What if you're wrong?. The question is absurd on its face.

Robin Shelley said...

Why not?

Anonymous said...

I take issue with 6:20's assertion that Dawkins, Degrasse Tyson, Sagan and so on are not people who changed our world. They most certainly have changed our world. Anyone who promotes reason and knowledge over Dark Age fear and superstition is a force for good in this world.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I know 6:20. He is my cousin. I know that he wasn't refuting what you said. He was simply leading up to what he wanted to say, and you just got sucked into the backwash.

Other than that I agree with you.

spyrock said...

oops, right between the beatles and lobsang rampa goes jack kerouac. i learned how to write by reading his books and after that i learned how to talk. i didn't say much the first 20 years of my life. i did the hitch hiking thing, the working on a peach ranch thing, the working in a cannery thing. eric hoffer also influnced my ideas about labor. although, i easily could have worked in management, i decided to experience the life of the working man and that i have done to almost retirement. at some point i will write and this blog posting is part of that. the subject matter of what i write could be about anything but i see me writing in the context of a sufi teaching story. sort of like a combination of kerouac and rumi who i imagine would be like rumi's teacher shems u'din who was a wild covelo type of man.

Ernie Branscomb said...

If you ever write a book, I'll buy the first copy.

olmanriver said...

I hope that there is a historical narrative, or local history something, on your list of books to write, as well.

Ben said...

Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob changed my world. 28 years ago yesterday.

suzy blah blah said...

oops, right between the beatles and lobsang rampa goes jack kerouac.

Right on. He fills that space well. Kerouac, a modern savant of american literature who practiced a pan-religious spirituality, was very aware of the "one's" true relationship to the "two". But Einstein, a modern scientist who wasn't able to break out of the narrow confines of western mathematics, didn't have a clue.

"The one is the same as the two but the two is not the same as the one" Bagavad Gita.

AJ said...

Ernie, you may enjoy Tim Minchin. He's an Australian singer/songwriter/comedian not afraid to be ever so slightly offensive to people who disagree with reality.

Here's If you open your mind too much, your brain will fall out.

AJ said...

Whoops, Storm is probably a better introduction... A 9-minute beat poem that really gets rolling about a minute into it.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I just now got the opportunity to listen to the Tim Minchin poem that you linked to.

Language = X rated.
Delivery = A
Content = A+

Tim doesn’t need to use the hammer test, he has reality all worked out.

Anonymous said...

Marten Luther King and Peace Pilgrim.
I think he was given a revelation experience before his last speech from that balcony. "I have been to the mountain top..."

Mr. Nice said...

Felix Wayne Mitchell Jr.

After him, people got disappointing.

Tom Hadley said...


Distant Relation said...

I like the blog, especially the history (we have family connections to Branscombs and Mendocino County). Since no one spoke up, I'll stand up for "absurdity," and say that there is one God, the Creator, and the story of His love for us is in every fairy tale and love story, and seen through every telescope and microscope. Faith comes before understanding, so don't expect proof; you'll never find it before you have faith. Once you have it, you can ask for understanding, and you'll have that, too. May God give you all faith, in Jesus' name. :)