Tuesday, 17 August 2010


Of course there are - but I cannot identify them for the entire cosmos. My limited knowledge must leave that to better-trained minds that continue to probe at the perimeters of human intelligence. My curiosity is aroused when I realize that our current Gods, scattered about the globe but with concentrations here and there, and who bear watching, are using the same old techniques our ancient Gods used on us, but instead of needing an entire universe they are content with small boxes called computers.

Some 13.6 billion years ago, this time around, you and I were in that minute speck of compressed energy into which our Gods inserted a few laws of physics, including the one about changing-yet-indestructible Energy, before exploding the speck, and creating Time, so that we could fly off to find endless new destinies.

It was quite a show for 9 billion years or so. You and I, alternating between energy and matter, inhabited numerous stars, exhilarating as we went super nova, settling down to form planets only to keep repeating the process. Finally we found ourselves on the surface of a new planet later known as Earth. Many of our friends were also here but in the form of numerous elements some making up various depths of the planet. Our only laws were those of physics, but we had no clues about them. Blind trial and error was all we had. One day a couple of us bumped into each other. That was fun! We got a few others to join us, eventually discovering we could entice even more in to permit us to reproduce. This was so much fun we reproduced in great numbers - but there was a catch. We had changed from energy to matter but we needed energy to permit us to remain in our new formats which we rather liked but we were surrounded by masses of matter in their own formats so we had to find, again by trial and error, what we could safely consume to convert to energy. There were now so many of us that we were forced to compete, finding it was often easier to eat each other than to find new sources of food.

This cruel competition grew, forcing us to mutate into better-adapted formats. A few made good choices and went on to continue the mutations. Those that made poor choices were discarded to try again. Mercy was unknown. For 2.3 billion years we kept mutating into innumerable one-celled living beings. Then a couple of us merged and were successful in assigning duties. Did that ever spawn a myriad of new life forms, all competing for food and homes! Survival meant developing a rude form of memory then intelligence. But we found that we could no longer reproduce at random. We had to find mates among those designed like us. So we tended to protect those like us and to prey on those who were not. Greed was paramount. Compassion, mercy, respect, and such values had yet to evolve.

Multi-celled life came with an Achilles’ Heel. As Life had evolved in specific environments, Death was sure with major changes in this environment - land, sea, or air. The interruption of the flow-in and the excretion-out for mere minutes was fatal. Now, most of our current Gods are creating, supposedly with safeguards, new life forms out of current life forms by manipulating genes and DNA instructions.

More intriguing are groups like the Gods at the University of Michigan who are starting from scratch and copying our old Gods by first using a source of energy called electricity and designing DNA laws to insert as computer codes into a matrix concealing cells of energy where they would have to be found. And sat back to watch.

Lo and behold! Just like our ancestors, electronic elements fused, finding they could duplicate themselves, but also were in a highly competitive environment to reach the cells of highest energy. They were then left alone to go where Destiny is taking them.

With hands off, our Michigan Gods can observe these new creatures, called Avidians, evolving just like we did. For thousands of generations now, Avidians have been testing their surroundings and mutating, discarding most mutations as useless but occasionally making dramatic advances towards intelligence. At the Odense, Denmark, August 2010 meeting on artificial life, evidence will show that Avidians have achieved memory, one of the steps needed for intelligence. It took us over 13 billion years to achieve the rudimentary intelligence we now have. It appears our new Gods, in human format, may reach this level faster.

Yet, it can all be ended by pulling the plug - unless these new critters evolve the intelligence to circumvent our life-support systems. We fear the inevitable day when the plug is pulled on us and our trillions of parts return to their separate lives at least for a time. In this universe they cannot be killed. But can our Consciousness? It took so long to build might it not be preserved on some cosmic tape or disc? We can hope that our motto, Per Ardua ad Astra, may contain a truth we never imagined. We do need the help of Gods, but are they us?

Thursday, 12 August 2010


Approaching the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain a few words are warranted. Of all of the aerial battles that have been fought since the formation of the Royal Flying Corps in May 1912, our Wing of the Air Force Association of Canada here in Colorado Springs has selected the Battle of Britain as the crucial one to remember and commemorate each 15 September which was its climax in 1940. Having produced Wing newsletters, now for 24 years, that included comments on 4 successful invasions of Britain: Celtic, Roman, Saxon-Angle-Jute, and Norman, plus 3 unsuccessful ones: Spanish, French, and German, there is bound to be repetition as I dare to comment again.

Yes, we can justifiably bask in Churchill’s words: “Never in the history of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.” But, we also need to heed the critics who argue it was the Royal Navy that was the main obstacle to an invasion and that the frightening invasion preparations were just huge bluffs because Hitler never intended an actual land invasion as he needed his manpower and resources for his drang nach osten obsession.

However, had the Luftwaffe been able to establish and maintain air superiority over the UK, no land invasion would have been needed. The immense buildup, including Commonwealth, Polish, Free French, Czech, Norwegian, and US forces in the UK would not have been possible; the factories that turned out the 4-engine bombers, tanks, and so on that played such a decisive role would have been flattened; British harbours would be the graveyards of the ships needed to sustain the country.

While the UK did not stand alone as is too-often stated, for the 1940 Battle of Britain it provided 79% (1,878) of the pilots who flew the Hurricanes, Spitfires, Defiants, Blenheims, and Beaufighters and almost 100% of the ground crew. Other pilots were from: Poland 141, Canada 88, Czechoslovakia 88, New Zealand 73, Belgium 26, Australia 21, South Africa 21, Ireland 8, United States 7, Rhodesia 2, and Palestine 1. Of the 446 killed, the majority were 348 British, 29 Polish, and 20 Canadian.

Before I leave, let me explode a myth: “Chamberlain the Appeaser”. With an electorate still traumatized by the bloody losses of WW1, Chamberlain had to tread cautiously even though he knew the threat the dictators posed. He estimated that things would come to a head with Hitler in 1939-40 and re-armed accordingly, but had to do it quietly as the joke goes: As a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, he knew how to manipulate account books so it went unnoticed as he changed Hangers, coat, into Hangars, aircraft. But Hitler’s demands at Munich came in 1938. Chamberlain had no recourse but to capitulate. However, by September 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland, Spitfires were coming off the line and new squadrons were being formed in substantial numbers. He now had some muscle. He went to war.

While Britain, France, and the USA must accept the major blame for paving the way for Hitler by vindictive handling of Germany and Austro-Hungary after WWI, there is no denying that WWII was thrust upon us and few now remember just how close we came to losing that war and plunging into a long dark age of human cruelties. This surely would have happened had not Chamberlain started his rearmament in time.

We can never thank enough those millions of people from so many countries who suffered, sacrificed, and died in all corners of the world to avert that fate.

While the Battle of Britain was one small, short, intense battle in a 6-year struggle, it was the first to give us hope and it was vital in retaining the UK as an aircraft carrier and as a launch pad for ultimate victory.

We, now basking in the wealth and comfort of a free society, should turn out in droves to remember, honour, and thank all those whose lives were torn so violently from them. Those who can retain dry cheeks have no inkling of the intensity and horrors of that struggle. Many try but collectively we are not doing enough to eradicate the root causes of wars.