Just Plain Bill.
When I was a kid — way back in prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the earth and most people didn’t even have black and white television or remote controls yet, there was a show on radio called “Just Plain Bill.” I’ve used that appellation for myself many times since.
I was born in the year my people call 1939, in the plain little town of Sunset in North Texas, in the United States of America, on the third planet of a plain yellow star we call the Sun. It was, and is, about 30,000 light years from the center of a plain spiral galaxy known as the Milky Way. Plain, that is, as spiral galaxies go. Even the plainest spiral galaxy is pretty spectacular, as you can see here!
I’ve been in the Lone Star State ever since, except for a couple of short stays in California as a kid and one in Oklahoma as a young man.
I would like to tell you that I’m a tenured Professor of Microbiology at a large, highly respected university, and that I have Ph.D.’s in astrophysics, history, chemistry, and linguistics, as well as lesser degrees in anthropology, math, philosophy, computer science, daydreaming, girl watching, and a dozen or so other fields of study.
I would also like you to know that I’ve written over 300 books on more than 60 different academic subjects and that I publish the results of my research in at least two refereed scientific journals every month. Sometimes more.
But nothing in those last two paragraphs would be true — except maybe the day-dreaming and girl watching parts. I’m NOT Dr. Dearmore. I’m just plain Bill.
I actually do have a couple of years of college, and I wish I had a lot more; but I’m mostly self-educated. I have time to study — especially now that I’m retired — and a compulsion to learn as much as I can.
I also seem to have a talent for simplifying difficult ideas to make them both interesting and understandable for other people. I made a pretty good living doing it for a few years, but you’ll have to judge for yourself. Not everybody agrees, of course. Oh, well!
Even when I was spending 40 to 60 hours a week writing software documentation, web pages, employee manuals, and various other materials for my last employer, I spent most of my own time reading and studying a wide range of subjects to satisfy my hunger for knowledge. As a result, I consider myself an informed non-professional, writing for other non-professionals who may not have the time or desire to study the things I do.
The late Isaac Asimov, author of almost five hundred books and many thousands of short stories, articles, and essays, referred to himself as a “professional explainer.” I’m not a professional anything, and I have neither Asimov’s talent nor his education. On a smaller scale, though, an explainer is exactly what I want to be.
I want to keep this site both interesting and thought-provoking, as well as informative. I write in a very informal style. I can say “this writer did such and such,” but I’d rather say “I did it.” And you may have already noticed that a few sentences here don’t even have a subject and predicate, in spite of what your grammar teachers told you. Like this one, for example.
My main purposes for this blog are:
To help myself think skeptically and rationally.
To encourage my readers also to think skeptically and rationally.
To use skeptical, rational thinking to understand a variety of difficult and sometimes controversial concepts and (when possible) to reach appropriate conclusions about them.
To share some fun with my readers. After all, skeptics need fun, too.
I want to infect you with an enthusiasm for learning that you’ll spread like the flu. I want to show you the wonderful stories of science and reality in interesting and simple ways so you’ll catch the same fever of discovery that I have.
When I discuss scientific subjects here, I am not likely to ever argue against established scientific principles. I am NOT a scientist; so I am not qualified to do that, even if I were so inclined. I may occasionally try to explain both sides of a genuine disagreement among scientists, but my purpose will be to simplify them and make them more understandable.
You’ll find few footnotes on this site; but I’ll provide links to related information when it seems helpful.
For anybody who’s read this far, here’s a little more personal information:
I’ve been referred to from time to time as a “space nut” (or more often, simply as “spacey” or “nutty”). Actually, I am very enthusiastic about science and technology generally, and about space exploration and utilization in particular.
I enjoy reading good science fiction when I have time. It stirs the imagination and explores possible futures, so we can think about them before we get there. Isaac Asimov (the “professional explainer”) was one of my heroes, along with Carl Sagan, Ben Bova, Stanley Schmidt, Robert Heinlin, and other great speculative writers.
I was raised a very strict and devout Independent Baptist Fundamentalist, but I eventually got over it.I am now an atheist and secular humanist. (Read Saved in the Nick of Time, if you would like to know about about my “de-conversion.”)
Politically, I usually tend to be on the liberal side. I am pro-choice, pro-freedom, pro-humanity, pro-science, and very pro-skepticism. I used to favor the death penalty for some crimes, until we began learning from DNA evidence that we were convicting so very many innocent people. Under present circumstances, I can no longer support a death penalty for any crime.
I have an assortment of offspring, some of which I helped produce through natural biological processes, and some of which I acquired the easy way. By getting married again.
Though I’ve been divorced from my second wife since August of 2000, I still tend to forget which offspring are mine by biology and which are by choice. Well, I don’t really forget; but I love them all and consider them my own.
I’ll be adding to this blog from time to time. If it stimulates anybody to genuinely think about something he or she might not have considered otherwise, it will have served a worthy cause. Regardless whether or not that person ever actually agrees with anything I have to say.
Originally published in my now defunct website, www.NoBull.ws.