Quaking in Our Boots

Today was the first day that earthquakes weren’t in the local news. All week long there were reports of barely felt seismic tremors up north in the Sea of Galilee (Tiberius and Kinneret) region, 2-3 on the Richter scale. Then the day before yesterday there was a tremor down south in Eilat. All told 5 or 6 tremors made the news but seismologists say there were actually about 19. There were a lot of discussions on TV and radio about these tremors being foreshocks days, weeks, months, or years before the big one we’re due for. You see, we are straddling the Syrian-African fault-line. I did a little Wiki research and it turns out that major earthquakes were preceded by minor tremors in only 40% of the cases in recent history. Not much of an indicator. Some seismologists say that the minor earthquakes along a fault-line actually relieve the tectonic tensions between the shifting plates, so maybe our tremors are putting off the inevitable. That would be a good thing.

Nobody really knows whose fault it is, Syria’s or Africa’s. Anyway when God told us about the Promised Land, I think He was crossing His fingers.

The series of minor quakes took our minds off the more immediate tensions with which we have to deal: Smiley Nuclear Iran, Chemical Syria, and the Hezbollah. It was kind of nice not to think about them for a week.

Then I got to thinking about Gödel’s Proof about logical systems, that they can never be both consistent and complete, but more about that in another post.

That tripped a wire leading to Russell’s paradox about the set of all members not contained in any set. All sets contain members except for empty sets, so these members all belong to one set or another, or maybe to two or three or more sets. Russell was concerned with all those elements that aren’t members of any set at all. Now elements can be any old thing: people, plants, animals, numbers, statements, whatever. I thought about the set of all people who don’t belong to any set.

I think I’m in that set. A lot of you are too. What characterizes such people? The more you find out about them, the harder it is to characterize them, not matter how hard you try. They don’t put much stock in an opinion that has no other justification than the fact that it is widely held or espoused by a person of importance to a bunch of people. They may listen to the opinions of others but they form their own opinions and make their own choices for better or worse. The things they value are of no value to anybody else. They’re pretty lonely people because the rest of the billions of us have trouble seeing, hearing, or thinking about things that are not mainstream, pre-digested, and post-analyzed. The least common denominator and the most common denominator have nothing in common, nothing to share, nothing to transact.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a meeting of the set of all people who don’t belong to any set?

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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1 Comment

Filed under about writing, Essays, Dilemmas, & Philosophy, Prose

One response to “Quaking in Our Boots

  1. I don’t know. I’d probably have nothing in common with them, except for the fact that we’ve all got nothing in common with each other… 🙂

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