22 April 2007


Harnessed for survival was her mind
Honed for logic, better to protect
Ever guarded, keen and circumspect –
To wonders and anomalies was blind.

But watch her vision’s scope embrace life’s close
The infinite seems closer now to hand
Her courage and horizons may expand
And gain the more as less remains to lose.

The brains in which we live were not evolved
For syllogisms nor for cultured arts;
Some mysteries require to be resolved
Brains yoked together seamlessly with hearts.

This world holds terrors we dare not avow,
And wonders that surpass what we’ll allow.

~ Josh Mitteldorf

21 April 2007

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.

John Muir, born this day in 1838, founded the Sierra Club and helped create an American will to preserve natural splendor. 

20 April 2007

“The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens...The more still, more patient and more open we are when we are sad, so much the deeper and so much the more unswervingly does the new go into us, so much the better do we make it ours, so much the more will it be our destiny...

That which we call destiny goes forth from within people, not from without into them.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

19 April 2007

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown;
Let us possess one world; each hath one, and is one.

~ fr The Good-Morrow by John Donne, 1572 - 1631

18 April 2007

This past weekend, fifteen-year-old swimmer Jessica Long won the Sullivan Award for Best Amateur American Athlete.  Jessica has no legs, but swims as fast as all but a few top swimmers in the world who have four limbs.  Weekends, she’s a rock climber.

New York Times article

17 April 2007

Homuncular Flexibility

We imagine that our nervous systems are designed by evolution to be perfectly fitted to our bodies, with nerves hard-wired in place to perform the tasks that are most useful to us.  But there is another possibility: perhaps each of us learns in childhood to understand the signals from the body that we have, and to control its movements with the nerves that we have.  More biofeedback, less intelligent design.

People can readily learn to move a cursor on a computer screen using electrodes on their scalps – potentially a huge boon for quadriplegics.   

Jaron Lanier has experimented with more fanciful possibilities, giving people virtual bodies in a virtual world, to see, for example, if people with human brains can learn to manipulate a lobster’s body effectively, including lots of extra limbs.      

“The more flexible the human brain turns out to be when it comes to adapting to weirdness, the weirder a ride it will be able to keep up with as technology changes in the coming decades and centuries... if you think in terms of how human experience can change, then this is the most fascinating stuff there is.”

16 April 2007

Kafka and Max Brod went to a seance.  Afterwards Brod was amazed that the leg of a table seemed to move of its own accord. “Wasn’t that amazing, Franz?” Brod exclaimed. “No,” said Kafka,“What is amazing is that the sun rises every morning without fail.”