Bob McPhail 5:30 p.m., May 25
- Community Blog
- Encanto Gas Holder
On Needing a Bigger Boat
As we approach the Fourth of July weekend, thinking about America today reminds me of that infamous warning in Jaws: “You're going to need a bigger boat.”
This past decade has had a lot of surprises for us as a nation, and we are different than we were at the end of the last millennium. The challenges of dealing with anti-Americanism in the world has led us to creating a Department of Homeland Security. I am not saying that this is a bad thing, just not what we were expecting or hoping for as our peace dividend when the Berlin Wall came down. These same challenges have us currently involved in two wars overseas, where we have yet to properly verbalize an exit strategy that won't have us involved in regional wars in the same places a decade or two from now.
I see it as refreshing that a number of us have brought about the Tea Party movement, not necessarily because I agree with everything it does or everyone it embraces or even pays attention to, but because the Tea Party movement represents a popular need to re-think the idea of America.
It points to our dire need for bigger ideas.
For the last few days, I have been trying to digest A. Garrett Lisi's 2007 paper entitled “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything” which is just that if you happen to be familiar with the concept of unifying the standard model of particle physics together with gravity into a grand unified theory based on E8 Lie algebra with appropriate sub-algebras. The reason I am attempting to understand this paper is because Lisi just came out with his “Explicit Embedding of Gravity and the Standard Model in E8” which pretty much requires one to have a passable understanding of the Theory of Everything. The main idea is not that there is heavy math-major thinking involved in both papers, but that Lisi does appear to provide theoretical physicists with a mathematical tool kit big enough to explain just about everything in the realm of particle physics.
Lisi happens to be a graduate of the University of California at San Diego.
Officially, I am not nearly so educated as he, as all I have going for me is a couple of associate degrees with honors, one of which happens to be in mathematics. I am much more confident in my other degree in data processing, where I was introduced to systems analysis and design. On looking at a system of fifty states and territories containing well over 300 million people, I can tell you that America needs some better processes for maintaining its place in the world, and that is going to require us to get a bigger boat.
All of my life, I have been involved in education as a tutor. I first started teaching beginning piano lessons here in Encanto at the now-closed Payne School of Music on Imperial Avenue, back when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I picked up my instructor's badge as a cadet officer in my junior year of JROTC, then later made it through the NCO Academy and Drill Sergeant School at Fort Knox while assigned to the Old Guard, the President's escort battalion. While getting the data processing and math degrees, I was tutoring the maximum of thirty hours a week as a San Diego Community College District part-timer in just about any subject I had passed. I was also earning extra pocket money tutoring privately in courses that I'd never taken, mostly on the strength of my eighth grade class in speed reading. As far as I am concerned, there is never getting enough education, and there can never be enough intelligent discussion of issues about getting a bigger boat to float some bigger ideas.
In my future blogs, I want to share some bigger ideas with you. I want us to have a discussion about the way things are, and about how we can make them better in the not-so-distant future. We may have our differences of opinion, but as long as we attack each others' arguments and not each other personally, what we write here at the Reader may be helpful for the rest of us to see over the sides of a bigger boat than the one we have now, where most of us are stuck riding things out down in the hold.
Lisi, A. G. (2007) An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything
More like this:
- Near death — Jan. 2, 2013
- SATs, Tutors, and You — Feb. 16, 2011
- Letters — Nov. 17, 2010
- What Power Do We The People Have? Maybe More Than Civic Leaders Want Us To Know? — Nov. 1, 2010
- I'm Afraid of Americans — May 28, 2008