18 February 2007

Flinch not from the unknown.   Welcome change.   Embrace the unexpected.   

Remind yourself as often as necessary that the mystery we encounter is largely benign.

Plan for all that we can, and seek logical explanations with industry but with honesty.  Stand ready still in each moment for logic to be exhausted, for reality to defy understanding.   Receive thus the gifts of grace in the guise of tragedy.

– Josh Mitteldorf

17 February 2007

In the last days of the fourth world I wished to make a map
for those who would climb through the hole in the sky.

My only tools were the desires of humans as they emerged from the killing fields,
from the bedrooms and the kitchens.

For the soul is a wanderer with many hands and feet.

The map must be of sand and can't be read by ordinary light.
It must carry fire to the next tribal town, for renewal of spirit.

In the legend are instructions on the language of the land,
how it was we forgot to acknowledge the gift, as if we were not in it or of it.

Take note of the proliferation of supermarkets and malls, the altars of money.
They best describe the detour from grace.

Keep track of the errors of our forgetfulness; a fog steals our children while we sleep.

Flowers of rage spring up in the depression, the monsters are born there of nuclear anger.

Trees of ashes wave good-bye to good-bye and the map appears to disappear.

We no longer know the names of the birds here,
how to speak to them by their personal names.

And when you take your next breath as we enter the fifth world there will be no X,
no guide book with words you can carry.

You will have to navigate by your mother's voice, renew the song she is singing.

We were never perfect.

Yet, the journey we make together is perfect on this earth
who was once a star and made the same mistakes as humans.

We might make them again, she said.

Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.

You must make your own map.

~ Joy Harjo, abridged from  A Map to the Next World

16 February 2007

By using subdimensional shortcuts akin to what is now called quantum entanglement, we'll become able to send information over great distances with no energy cost. In effect the whole world can become linked like a wireless network, simply by tapping into the subdimensional channel.

This universal telepathy will not be limited to humans; it will extend to animals, plants, and even ordinary objects. Via the subdimensions you'll be able to see every object in the world. Conversely, every object in the world will be in some limited sense conscious, in that it will be aware of all the other objects in the world.

Rudy Rucker

Rucker works at the nexus of philosophy and computer science, where many scholars take for granted that the human brain is a deterministic machine, a computer like the one on which I’m writing, though with vast memory and a rich architecture.  Does consciousness then emerge when humans inevitably construct a machine of sufficient proportions?  Rucker says ‘maybe not’ – that perhaps consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of complexity, but depends on a realm of its own, perhaps connected to the aspects of quantum mechanics that physicists still find puzzling.

The Lifebox, the Seashell and the Soul (What Gnarly Computation Taught Me About Ultimate Reality, the Meaning Of Life, and How To Be Happy)

Audio interview on this topic

15 February 2007

It’s less than a decade since two lines of astronomical observations led cosmologists to accept the unnerving idea that most of the matter in the universe takes a form that is thus far unknown to science.  I’ll say that again: more than 90% of all the substance of the universe is not atoms or molecules or electrons, protons, and neutrons, or any of the exotic particles that physicists have discovered in accelerators.  More than 90% of the matter in the universe is something else, and we don't know what it is.

How will we ever know?  Here’s an observation that might offer a handle on this question.  In today's Nature is a paper by Stanford astrophysicist Stelios Kazantzidis describing observations of galaxies that have lost almost all their ‘normal’ matter.  He shows with a computer simulation how this might have come about, by collision with another galaxy.  Perhaps we can learn something about ‘dark matter’ by observing dark galaxies that are made (mostly) of the stuff.

story on Science Blog

14 February 2007

because finally
after all the struggle
and all the years,
you don't want to any more,
you've simply had enough
of drowning
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness,
however fluid and however
dangerous, to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.

David Whyte

13 February 2007

“The Old Testament God rules with a heavy hand over a static moral world, but I believe that our world is instead presided over by an alternative entity, the Native American deity, Coyote.  Coyote is indestructible, lecherous, hilarious, and improvisational, frequently straying toward catastrophe, and surviving...Many native creation myths do not feature a world that was perfect in the beginning, but one that was made by flawed, humorous creators who never finished the job.  In that world, there was  never a state of grace, never a fall, and creation continues...In Yahweh’s world, only the good do good, and only virtue is rewarded.  Coyote’s world is more complicated.”

Rebecca Solnit, from Hope in the Dark

12 February 2007

Happy 198th birthday to Charles Darwin and Abe Lincoln, born the same day in 1809.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” ~ CD

Many brilliant and dedicated people have been forgotten by history, but Darwin is among those who has been widely lionized, while his legacy has been deeply distorted.  Darwin the naturalist, Darwin the patient observer described the complex interplay between cooperation and competition in nature.  But his legacy has been hijacked by biological ‘neo-Darwinists’ who insist that cooperation in nature is an illusion, and economic ‘social Darwinists’ who elevate ruthless, inhuman behavior to a social norm.  

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my ax.” ~ AL

Lincoln was another complex man who cast a two-dimensional historic shadow.  Early in his career, Lincoln denounced American imperialism that led to the Mexican American War. He did not easily go to war over slavery, but attempted to steer the country away from slavery with rhetoric and political maneuvers.  He provoked the attack on Fort Sumter that justified his war to the public; or perhaps he was dragged reluctantly into war.  He decried slavery in deeply moral language, but lacked the vision to imagine a full multicultural, multiracial social fabric for America.