Thursday, 24 December 2009

Ear to the Ground

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Natural quiet is a rapidly disappearing resource. According to acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, there are only seven or eight naturally quiet places?????????defined as where the sounds of nature are unbroken for intervals of at least 15 minutes during daylight hours?????????left in the United States. None exist in Europe anymore. But if you travel far enough to remote corners of the Earth, and listen carefully enough, you can still find them.




Acoustic ecology studies were established in the 1960s by naturalist/composer R. Murray Schafer and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia as an attempt to define the relationship between humans and their environment, as mediated through sound. With a focus that spans both science and art, the continuum of acoustic ecology often attracts individuals who are part researcher, part composer, and part adventurer.

Listen ...

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Happy Christmas

Interview With The Perennial One

"I got a gift that I wasn???t expecting, and that gift is to be alive and well at 76. I see all these friends of mine who say, I???m going to be 40, I don???t know what to do, and I say, Wait until another 30 or 40 years and you???re going to feel much better."

A Bit Rich: Calculating the real value to society of different professions

to what extent does what we get paid confer ???worth???? Beyond a narrow notion of productivity, what impact does our work have on the rest of society, and do the financial rewards we receive correspond to this? Do those that get more contribute more to society?

Our report tells the story of six different jobs. We have chosen jobs from across the private and public sectors and deliberately chosen ones that illustrate the problem. Three are low paid ??? a hospital cleaner, a recycling plant worker and a childcare worker. The others are highly paid ??? a City banker, an advertising executive and a tax accountant. We examined the contributions they make to society, and found that, in this case, it was the lower paid jobs which involved more valuable work.

The report goes on to challenge ten of the most enduring myths surrounding pay and work. People who earn more don't necessarily work harder than those who earn less. The private sector is not necessarily more efficient than the public sector. And high salaries don't necessarily reflect talent.

in my experience, the NEF report tells us nothing we didn't intuitively suss out before, only the probability of realizing their result appears to be directly proportional to one's real talent and engagement, and inversely proportional to one's occupational remuneration.

Put another way, could it be people are in fact proportionally paid specifically to overlook this reality?

Monday, 21 December 2009

Telepathy Link Found in Lab Experiments?

???What we have found is that if you place two different people at a distance and put a circular magnetic field around both, and you make sure they are connected to the same computer so they get the same stimulation, then if you flash a light in one person???s eye the person in the other room receiving just the magnetic field will show changes in their brain as if they saw the flash of light. We think that???s tremendous because it may be the first macro demonstration of a quantum connection, or so-called quantum entanglement. If true, then there???s another way of potential communication that may have physical applications, for example, in space travel.???

While Persinger???s experiments could prove groundbreaking, he remains doubtful about his controversial findings reaching his colleagues, ???I think the critical thing about science is to be open-minded. It???s really important to realize that the true subject matter of science is the pursuit of the unknown. Sadly scientists have become extraordinarily group-oriented. Our most typical critics are not are mystic believer types.  They are scientists who have a narrow vision of what the world is like.???

And from the Abstract:

One indication of entanglement between two particles is a change in parity or spin in one when the other is changed in order to maintain constancy of the system. Our experiment was designed to discern if this phenomenon occurred at the macroscopic level between the electroencephalographic activities of brains of pairs of people, separated by about 75 m, with various degrees of ???entanglement???. About 50% of the variance of the "simultaneous" electroencephalographic power was shared between pairs of brains. Pairs of strangers were positively correlated within alpha and gamma bands within the temporal and frontal lobes. However the power levels within the alpha and theta bands were negatively correlated for pairs of people who had a protracted history of interaction. The latter result might be considered support for the hypothesis of macroscopic entanglement.

I knew you were going to say that.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Vegetarian Myth: A book for people who eat.

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This was not an easy book to write. For many of you, it won’t be an easy book to read. I know. I was a vegan for almost twenty years. I know the reasons that compelled me to embrace an extreme diet and they are honorable, ennobling even. Reasons like justice, compassion, a desperate and all-encompassing longing to set the world right. To save the planet—the last trees bearing witness to ages, the scraps of wilderness still nurturing fading species, silent in their fur and feathers. To protect the vulnerable, the voiceless. To feed the hungry. At the very least to refrain from participating in the horror of factory farming.

     This book is written to further those passions, that hunger.

The mark of a good journalist is an endless stream of connected details that compels you to go that one more paragraph on before putting it down; the mark of a good writer is not being able to find one small part better than the others to cite in a blog post to give you the gist of what they are saying -- even if you steadfastly won't read the book, even if you don't trust the sources over your own, read just this one teaser page, the opening of Chapter One, the overview of the background, the motives, the situation, the vision of change and proposition of a solution, and if that alone doesn't leave you wanting to know more about the food you eat, all of the food you eat, vegan and otherwise, then move along folks, there's nothing more to see here.

But if it does, then by all means tune in to Lierre Keith, radical feminist on a planet-saving mission ...

 

“The Vegetarian Myth is one of the most important books people, masses of them, can read, as we try with all our might, intelligence, skill, hope, dream and memory, to turn the disastrous course the planet is on. Or rather that we are on because of our abuse of the planet. It’s a wonderful book, full of thoughtful, soulful teachings, and appropriate rage. My admiration for Lierre’s sharing of life experience and knowledge is complete. Thank you.” (Alice Walker)

 

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The Science of Success: When Bad Genes Turn Good

This new model suggests that it???s a mistake to understand these ???risk??? genes only as liabilities. Yes, this new thinking goes, these bad genes can create dysfunction in unfavorable contexts???but they can also enhance function in favorable contexts. The genetic sensitivities to negative experience that the vulnerability hypothesis has identified, it follows, are just the downside of a bigger phenomenon: a heightened genetic sensitivity to all experience.

The evidence for this view is mounting. Much of it has existed for years, in fact, but the focus on dysfunction in behavioral genetics has led most researchers to overlook it. This tunnel vision is easy to explain, according to Jay Belsky, a child-development psychologist at Birkbeck, University of London. ???Most work in behavioral genetics has been done by mental-illness researchers who focus on vulnerability,??? he told me recently. ???They don???t see the upside, because they don???t look for it. It???s like dropping a dollar bill beneath a table. You look under the table, you see the dollar bill, and you grab it. But you completely miss the five that???s just beyond your feet.???

Though this hypothesis is new to modern biological psychiatry, it can be found in folk wisdom, as the University of Arizona developmental psychologist Bruce Ellis and the University of British Columbia developmental pediatrician W. Thomas Boyce pointed out last year in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. The Swedes, Ellis and Boyce noted in an essay titled ???Biological Sensitivity to Context,??? have long spoken of ???dandelion??? children. These dandelion children???equivalent to our ???normal??? or ???healthy??? children, with ???resilient??? genes???do pretty well almost anywhere, whether raised in the equivalent of a sidewalk crack or a well-tended garden. Ellis and Boyce offer that there are also ???orchid??? children, who will wilt if ignored or maltreated but bloom spectacularly with greenhouse care.

At first glance, this idea, which I???ll call the orchid hypothesis, may seem a simple amendment to the vulnerability hypothesis. It merely adds that environment and experience can steer a person up instead of down. Yet it???s actually a completely new way to think about genetics and human behavior. Risk becomes possibility; vulnerability becomes plasticity and responsiveness.

Curiously, almost verbatim, a good astrologer would tell you precisely the same thing: "The planets IMPELL, they do not COMPELL" and then the whole picture taken to balance the disparities and salve the anomalies to achieve that whole-system balance which contains all the elements. Is psychology finally catching up?

About twenty some years ago I had a conversation with an officer of a BC psychiatric org; at that time the darling of psychiatry was a notion called Dynamic Personality, an 'innovative' idea that proposed an extension to Piaget's levels of human development through to the adult years, postulating a growth to the human psyche. It was very novel. I pointed out that Shakespeare's Ages of a man speech had already outlined this idea, and what's more, any competent astrologer would be able to not only map the progress for specific people, but also, unlike psychiatry, the astrologer could make a prognosis as to when the condition would change, often an important motivator for people in trouble. Notice that change doesn't imply better or worse, only that the scene changes; what one then does with this 'genetic' program is still largely personal free-will, and just as with the 'interventions' in this article, one can augment one's free-will with information from the greater whole-system view.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Celebrating 90 Years of Udo Kasemets

Udo Kasemets has written many pieces of music during his 90 years on the planet, including ambitious translations into sound of the works of eminent poets and scientists. But he says he is still looking for the answer to the most basic question about his art: What is music?

“I don't really want to be considered an accomplished composer, or something like that, because I'm still learning," he says, during an interview between rehearsals for his fraCtal fibONaCciERTO, which New Music Concerts is performing at the Betty Oliphant Theatre Sunday. “I still haven't got my answer, as to what music really is, and this is probably why I've had this long life."

“I thought it was important for a conductor to know what music is from the inside out, to know how it is made and put together," he said. “And that meant learning composition."

Kasemets walks with a cane, his speech is slow and his hair is snow white, but his capacity for wonder is that of a small child. “Fascinating" is one of his favourite words.

If anyone is able to take in the show today at the Betty Oliphant in Toronto, please do send on my regards and birthday wishes, and prepare yourself for a musical experience like no other. John Cage said that he only learned to play chess so he could hang out with Marcel Duchamp; truth be told, I only learned to create computer gear so I could hang out with Udo, which was every bit like hanging out with all three of them at once! :)

Friday, 11 December 2009

Natural Selection? Guess again ...

The researchers then compared four models of speciation to determine which best accounted for the rate of speciation actually found. The Red Queen hypothesis, of species arising as a result of an accumulation of small changes, fitted only eight percent of the evolutionary trees. A model in which species arise from single rare events fitted eighty percent of the trees.

Dr Pagel said that the research shows speciation is the result of rare events in the environment, such as , a shift in , or a mountain range rising up. Over the long term new species are formed at a constant rate, rather than the variable rate Pagel's team expected, but the constant rates are different for different groups of species.

The work suggests that may not be the cause of speciation, which Pagel said "really goes against the grain" for scientists who have a Darwinian view of evolution. The model that provided the best fit for the data is surprisingly incompatible with the idea that speciation is a result of many small small events, Pagel said.

The paper is published in the journal Nature.

More information: Venditti, C., Meade, A. & Pagel, M. Nature advance online publication (2009); doi:10.1038/nature08630

It still doesn't satisfactorily explain how bird wings could come to be out of land-dwellers when generations upon generations would have to endure useless not-arms/not-wings until the first flight-ready version emerged (or where they all penguin-like first?) but this does explain why we don't see a continuum of unfit species on the egress everywhere we look, at least not until some cataclysm (like man) befalls them.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The World Question Center 2009

The Edge Annual Question 2009

Through science we create technology and in using our new tools we recreate ourselves. But until very recently in our history, no democratic populace, no legislative body, ever indicated by choice, by vote, how this process should play out.

Nobody ever voted for printing. Nobody ever voted for electricity. Nobody ever voted for radio, the telephone, the automobile, the airplane, television. Nobody ever voted for penicillin, antibiotics, the pill. Nobody ever voted for space travel, massively parallel computing, nuclear power, the personal computer, the Internet, email, cell phones, the Web, Google, cloning, sequencing the entire human genome. We are moving towards the redefinition of life, to the edge of creating life itself. While science may or may not be the only news, it is the news that stays news.

And our politicians, our governments? Always years behind, the best they can do is play catch up.

This year's EDGE question for WHAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING? is out and while I haven't read them all, spot-checking a dozen or so I'm finding this to be the most despondent and depressing list of expert resignations they've yet put out. When asked "What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?" we find Susan Blackmore expecting to be pushed off the planet, Brian Eno witnessing the mass-disheartening of humanity, Richard Dawkins expects chimps cross-bred with humans and even Alan Alda chimes in a prediction that we always do the worst with what we get and we'll just blow ourselves up anyway.

I notice they did not ask Rob Brezny, but nonetheless I find this year's report to be extremely encouraging, because it means all these 'great' minds have boxed themselves into a corner, pressed themselves against the Limiting Edge and who knows, with a bit of luck, maybe one or two of them will fall off that edge entirely and discover something wonderful.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Christmas Curtain Raiser

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Traditional carol mash-up by Sinfonia alumnus Ross Hasting, "Christmas Curtain Raiser" (Alfred Publ 1971) rendered here by the Heritage High School Concert Band (aka the Marching Mountaineers)

Augmenting reality in Japanese shopping malls










Augmented reality systems appearing in Japanese shopping malls









AR systems present a real field of view of a physical environment augmented by computer-generated imagery (CGI), thus combining the real world with the virtual. They are often interactive in real time and sometimes the images are three-dimensional. In Japan AR technologies are finding their way into digital signage applications and store windows, showcasing products and giving shoppers additional information on products.

One example is Toppan Printing Co. Ltd., which has been testing a terminal resembling a in three Ito-Yokada supermarkets. In this system potential shoppers register on the Toppan website and receive a QR (Quick Reference) code. (The QR code is a relative of the barcode but consists of a pixilated rectangle rather than stripes.) The shopper presents the code to a camera on one of the terminals in the store, and then receives a sample product. When the sample product is held in front of the camera the terminal displays an image of the product with the description superimposed upon it.

Furutanisangyou Co. Ltd. is using a non-real-time AR technology in a "Magical Mirror" system that allows shoppers to see how outfits would look on them without needing to try them on. A similar system, the "Virtual Mirror," was demonstrated in the CEATEC 2009 trade show in Tokyo by Germany's Fraunhofer Institute.

The Magical Mirror has a number of cameras, one of which captures an image of the shopper, which is then displayed on a LCD. Images of selected clothes are then superimposed on the image of the person, with the system processing the digital images to make them fit the person's image.

The clothes shown in the composite image are available for sale in stores in the underground shopping mall where the system is located, and the image includes information on where the clothes can be purchased and what sizes are available. The Magical Mirror allows a shopper to "try on" up to six different items of clothing at the same time, even if they are sold at different locations, and this allows the shopper to see how combinations of clothes would look together before buying any of the items.









Augmented reality systems appearing in Japanese shopping malls

"Magical Mirror." Image: TechOn

Another AR experience is being provided for shoppers in Shinjuku Ward in Tokyo at the children's department of an Isetan department store. This AR system is being exhibited until December 25 this year and was developed by Sky & Road Co. Ltd. and Sony Music Communications Inc (SMC), in conjunction with Total Immersion, a French software company that provided the AR development kit.

In this system, one or more people stand in front of a display screen and camera. An image of the people is then displayed on the screen with a virtual image superimposed on it, placing them in a virtual "wonderland," such as a winter snow scene or a magical fantasy land.

via TechOn
?? 2009 PhysOrg.com

here is an essential difference between Japanese and Canadian research. When I was working in AR at the University of Toronto ETC Lab's ARGOS project we were funded by DCIEM and MRCO, and focussed exclusively on exotic gundam-scale futurist industrial applications such as remote-mining and tele-medicine, and star-wars military uses like remote piloting and bomb-disposal robots. In Japan, however, they are using the same gear, the same math and the same algorithms to engage commercial interest by employing pretty models in solving the everyday problems of buying consumer goods.

Guess who gets the better funding :)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Lion, Tiger and Bear (Oh My!)

Tiger, lion and bear form unusual friendship

Rescued eight years ago during a police drugs raid in Atlanta, Georgia, the three friends were only cubs at the time and barely two months old.

Delivered to the Noah's Ark animal rescue centre in Locust Grove, Georgia, the decision was made to keep the youngsters together.

"We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together," said Diane Smith, assistant director of the Noah's Ark zoo.

"To our knowledge, this is the only place where you'll find this combination of animals together, they are our BLT, (bear, lion and tiger).

"They are totally oblivious to the fact that in any other circumstance they would not be friends."

"It is wonderful and magical to see a giant American Black Bear put his arm around a Bengal tiger and then to see the tiger nuzzle up to the bear like a domestic cat. When Leo wakes up the three of them mess around for most of the day before they settle down to some food."

"You just have to remember who you're dealing with when you are with them though.

"It's when you forget that these fellows are wild animals that you get yourself in trouble."

Monday, 7 December 2009

NEPTUNE Canada: Go-live Webcast

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NEPTUNE Canada has completed deployment of 800km of fiber on thePacific Ocean floor powering 5 undersea observatory nodes at keyresearch locations with over 200 instruments and sensors connected tocomputing and data storage facilities at University of Victoria. Inmany ways this project represents the epitome of cyber-infrastructruelinking remote instruments to computers and scientists around theworld."NEPTUNE Canada offers a unique and exciting approach to oceanscience. Traditionally, ocean scientists have relied on infrequentship cruises or space-based satellites to carry out their research.But NEPTUNE Canada will change this. They are building the world???sfirst regional-scale underwater ocean observatory that plugs directlyinto the Internet. People everywhere will be able to ???surf theseafloor,??? and ocean scientists will be able to run deep-waterexperiments from labs and universities anywhere around the world.

Tuesday Dec 8 at 10am PST, the Neptune Library will kick off with the webcat.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Porgy and Bess Complete (1952)

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On the Guild Historical label, a live recording of the complete staging of George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess featuring Leontyne Price and William Warfield, featuring Cab Calloway as Sportin' Life

Download: Porgy_and_Bess_Complete_1952.rar

In 1952, when the first virtually complete recording of the work was made for American Columbia (CBS) the US State Department subvented a world tour which lasted over three years and which brough the opera to many countries including Britain, Italy, South Africa and many countries in South America. It was this world tour that first alerted audiences to the mastery and vocal beauty of soprano Leontyne Price, and this recording comes from a broadcast by the company in Berlin, September 21, 1952

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Escaping the Blame Game

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via Futurity.org ??? Viral case of the blame game comes news of a paper to be published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology on the infectious power of thinking the worst:
When people blame others for their mistakes, they learn less and perform worse. This problem is magnified when blame becomes embedded in the shared culture of groups and organizations. Yet, little is known about whether???and, if so, how???the propensity to blame spreads from one person to another. Four experiments addressed this issue, demonstrating that blame is socially contagious: observing an individual make a blame attribution increased the likelihood that people would make subsequent blame attributions for their own, unrelated, failures (Experiments 1, 2, and 4). Results also indicated that this ???blame contagion??? is due to the transmission of goals. Blame exposure led to the inference and adoption of a self-image protection goal (Experiment 3), and blame contagion was eliminated when observers had the opportunity to alleviate this self-image protection goal via self-affirmation (Experiment 4). Implications for research on causal attributions, social contagion, and cultural transmission are discussed.
the complete paper can be found at the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology : Blame contagion: The automatic transmission of self-serving attributions; for the impatient, a summary from World-Science:
In one ex??pe??ri??ment, half the par??ti??ci??pants were asked to read a news??pa??per ar??ti??cle about state Gov. Arn??old Schwarze??neg??ger blaming spe??cial in??ter??est groups for a con??tro??ver??sial spe??cial elec??tion that failed in 2005, cost??ing Ca??l??i??f??ornia $250 mil??lion. A sec??ond group read an ar??ti??cle in which the gov??er??nor took full re??spon??si??bil??ity for the fail??ure. Those who read the first piece were found more likely to blame oth??ers for their own, un??re??lat??ed short??com??ings.

An??oth??er ex??pe??ri??ment found that self-af??firm??a??t??ion in??oc??u??lat??ed par??ti??ci??pants from blame. The ten??den??cy for blame to spread van??ished in a group of par??ti??ci??pants who had the op??por??tun??ity to af??firm their self-worth. ???By giv??ing par??ti??ci??pants the chance to bol??ster their self-worth we re??moved their need to self-pro??tect though sub??se??quent blam??ing,??? said Fast.

read the rest at world-science.net: Blame game "contagious", and remember, it's never too late to pit yourself against the 21-day detox challenge at A Complaint-Free World.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Standing the Test of Future Time

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Ah, The Future. Whatever happened to The Future? Y'know, I kinda miss The Future.

A photo-essay tour through Pierre Cardin' Le Palais Bulles (Bubble Palace) ca.1970 -- Cardin was also the designer responsible for many of the space-age fashions seen in such films as The 10th Victim.

Getting In On the Miracle

What is a miracle? It is not the intercession of a supernatural being into material affairs, not an event that violates the laws of the universe. A miracle is something that is impossible from one's current understanding of reality and truth, but that becomes possible from a new understanding.

A miracle is more than an event: it is an invitation. It says, "The universe is bigger than you thought it was." It invites us to step into a larger world, in which new things are possible. A miracle can blow apart our world if we accept it. Indeed, sometimes we do not accept it; sometimes we relegate it to the category of "that was weird," an exception to life, and we preserve normalcy and think and live as we always have, as if nothing had happened. When faced with an event that defies our usual explanations, we discard the event to preserve the explanation.

Today we can no longer afford to ignore our miracles. The world and its inhabitants are subject now to afflictions for which there is no cure, no hope from within the normally possible. Anyone who truly understands the magnitude of the global ecological crisis knows there is no hope, just as there is no hope for the Stage IV cancer patient, the MS sufferer, the victim of any of the legion of incurable diseases that arose in the late 20th century. Nor is there any reasonable hope for peace and justice in Palestine, or Tibet, or the prison system; nor for the resolution of any of the entrenched iniquities of our world. Long-ignored, the gathering crisis of ecology, energy, economy, and society pierces our complacency now with undeniable urgency, and we realize we have no choice but to accomplish the impossible.

Another way to put it is that it is time to enter miracle consciousness, and another way to put that is that it is time to accept the invitation to step into a bigger world. No wonder people reject miracles, often quite strenuously: to step into a new world is scary. But today, finally, we have no choice. The old world is crumbling around us, and there is nowhere else to go.

As we stand, tentatively, at the threshold of a new and larger world, hanging back, hesitant to step into it and sensing that when we do, a door will close behind us, it helps to be bathed in miracles, not just one but many to show that yes, the realm of the possible is indeed far vaster than we know, and no, we are not crazy for leaving normal behind. I therefore invite all present to share a first-hand story of the impossible, for our mutual inspiration and encouragement. Let us share our miracles: happenings that blatantly violate the laws of physics, the facts of medicine, the axioms of human nature as we have known them. Let us ease each other into a vast new world where healing is possible.

As you read these stories, you may feel a mix of inspiration or even homecoming, side by side with hostility or fear. The vicious stridency of the skeptic, the emotional charge behind the cynic's dismissal of miracles, suggests an underlying fear. If you feel hostile, contemptuous, or anxious as you read certain of the sharings, I invite you to sit with that feeling, explore what is behind it, and not immediately discharge it by explaining it as hoax or delusion. Simply feel the emotional quality of your response. If you find a strong underlying fear, respect it as your protector, a guardian that keeps you from leaving your world before it is time. If, on the other hand, the fear, hostility, cynicism, or dismissal seems old and tired, and the feeling of inspiration or homecoming is stronger, then it shows you are ready for miracle consciousness -- to step into a new normal.

In the passage from one world to the next, the first miracle we accept gives us hope -- the glimpse of a new possibility. The next miracle takes us beyond hope into belief. Belief invites even more miracles, and it bootstraps into faith -- living in the miraculous. Finally, when the miraculous is normal, faith turns into knowing, and we become the masters of miracles, which are miracles to us no longer. Yet always, an even bigger world awaits.

Faith is not a prerequisite for miracles -- the universe is more generous than that. When we grow up against the limits of our world, our growth exerts an unstoppable pressure that creates, in the words of Joseph Chilton Pearce, a "crack in the cosmic egg." The light that shines through this crack takes the form of miracles, visitations from a brighter and larger world. Now is time to begin pecking and pushing, striving toward that light, widening the crack.

The egg metaphor only goes so far. Ours is a collective birthing, in which the emergence of each of us encourages the rest. You might say, we tear at the eggshells of our brothers and sisters. Some emerge before the rest, inhabiting the world of miracles; their continued sanity and effectiveness reassures us that these inexplicable events are not glimpses of madness after all: a sane and intelligent person can live among them.

"There are only two ways to live your life: one as though nothing is a miracle, the other as if everything is a miracle. I believe the latter." --albert einstein

Sun Ra pointed out that the Unknown was greater than the Known. He said we should be looking into the Unknown for our future, that our hope and salvation was in the Unknown because, quite obviously, the Known has failed to save us.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

2012: Information Is Beautiful

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a beautiful and thorough comparison with the exception of one true fact: myth has beautifully transformative power on the human psyche, motivating changework both individually and on the mass scale. It's how we build great things, it's how we quit bad habits, it's how we overcome our internal conflicts and maximize our communal cooperations, which, coincidentally, is the new formal operative biological definition of being 'an organism'.

Skepticism, on the other hand, can lead to illuminating through the masks and veils of habitual points of view, but it also tends to make our butts fat.

So which shall we choose? Door #1?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Mars may attempt communication (1924)

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"Navy desires cooperate astronomers who believe possible that Mars may attempt communication by radio ..."

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

You are invited to celebrate Unhappy Hour

It's a ceremony that gives you a poetic license to rant and whine and howl and bitch about everything that hurts you and makes you feel bad. During this perverse grace period, there's no need for you to be inhibited as you unleash your tortured squalls. You don't have to tone down the extremity of your desolate clamors.

Unhappy Hour is a ritually consecrated excursion devoted to the full disclosure of your primal clash and jangle.

Here's the catch: It's brief. It's concise. It's crisp. You dive into your darkness for no more than 60 minutes, then climb back out, free and clear.

It's called Unhappy Hour, not Unhappy Day or Unhappy Week or Unhappy Year.

Do you have the cheeky temerity to drench yourself in your paroxysmal alienation from life? Unhappy Hour invites you to plunge in and surrender. It dares you to scurry and squirm all the way down to the bottom of your pain, break through the bottom of your pain, and fall down flailing in the soggy, searing abyss, yelping and cringing and wallowing.

That's where you let your pain tell you every story it has to tell you. You let your pain teach you every lesson it has to teach you. But then it's over. The ritual ordeal is complete. And your pain has to take a vacation until the next Unhappy Hour, which isn't until next week sometime, or maybe next month.

You see the way the game works? Between this Unhappy Hour and the next one, your pain has to shut up. It's not allowed to creep and seep all over everything, staining the flow of your daily life. It doesn't have free reign to infect you whenever it's itching for more power.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

On Japanese Aesthetics

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The knife???s simple shape is not seen as poor or raw. Beauty beyond fanciness is an aesthetic principle that is sleeping at the bottom of Japanese perception. A guiding principle also to Japanese high tech architecture and the minimal products of Muji.

Applied to the bento this simply means: Don???t try to be fancy; don???t overdo it. A beautiful bento is done using seasonal ingredients; it is done quickly and easily.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Latest Research results from Rob Brezny's Beauty & Truth Labs

It's not just that we take our everyday miracles for granted. The further truth is that we are fantastically lucky and blessed to be alive at this moment of history.

Among the well-researched points included in the new essay are the seven below.

1. The world has become dramatically more peaceful since the end of the Cold War, with steep declines in the numbers of armed conflicts, acts of genocide, weapon sales, and refugees. In fact, our era is the most peaceful time in recorded history.

2. Crime in the U.S. is at its lowest level since it was first officially tracked. Between 1973 and 2005, the violent crime rate decreased by 56 percent, while crimes against property shrank by 70 percent. The years 2005 and 2006 brought a small increase in violent crimes, but by 2008, the rate had fallen even lower than it was in 2005.

3. After rising steadily since the beginning of time, the number of people in the world living in absolute poverty has fallen by nearly one-third in less than three decades.

4. A Nobel prize-winning economic historian has shown that those of us alive today are far hardier and healthier and smarter than our ancestors, even those of 150 years ago. We get sick less, overcome the sickness we do suffer from better, and live longer. Even our internal organs are formed better.

5. Torture is no longer a commonplace feature of the justice system, as it was in many places of the world for centuries.

6. The rate of child mortality in the developing world has dropped precipitously, while literacy is increasing steadily.

7. Life expectancy is rising steadily. People live more than 50% longer than they did a century ago. Many scientists believe there is no absolute limit to the human life span, and are working hard to extend it.

while you're at it, go get your Pronoic Prognostics for the week ahead.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

In Search of Freedom

That reminded me: I hadn’t read “The Odyssey” since college, and because I was pretty sure that my copy was at the bottom of a carton of books in faraway Minneapolis, I Googled the original text. I browsed several versions before downloading what seemed like the best translation. Because my interest lay specifically with the Sirens (quick Web break to make sure that should be uppercase), I sifted through a variety of classicists’ interpretations of their role. Then — and this seemed reasonable enough — I searched for the “Sirens” episode in James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” I can’t quite recollect how I got to the video for the song “Sirens,” by the alternative rock group AVA, but that put me in mind of Blink-182 (with whom AVA shares a frontman), so I clicked over to that band’s site to check for any updates on the release of its new album, then watched its reunion performance from February’s Grammy Awards. . . . When I looked up, three and a half hours had passed.

And that is why I need the mast. It came in the form of an app called Freedom, which blocks your Internet access for up to eight hours at a stretch. The only way to get back online is to reboot your computer, which — though not as foolproof as, say, removing the modem entirely and overnighting it to yourself (another strategy I’ve contemplated) — is cumbersome and humiliating enough to be an effective deterrent.

Peggy Orenstein wants to stop the net so she can get out; indeed, if they want to imbue communications skills in our twenty-first century children then 'Net Focus' should be a fundamental skill taught in schools from grade one on. I tell my kids how, in my day 'research' meant many trips to many libraries, letters written, lectures and films desperately collected so as to amass sufficient information for any meaningful study -- in their era the key skills is to valve the incessant barrage of information, the judiciously filtre all but that which is most salient to the point, and to be wary of going out looking for information, because where once the hawkers wanted to sell you snake oil potions, today they want your attention drawn to a description of it.

'Sirens' is a pretty apt metaphor, really, and Ulysses was probably wise to keep the access to himself only while empowering the crew to constrain his own experience with it.

No wait, turn back!! I need to look that up on the Wikipedia!! C'mon guys ... just one more YouTube and we can head home. Did you know these Sirens used to record for Polygram? ...

There's another aspect to this that I've blogged on before, on the old site, and that is the slant of the 'information' acquired from a device that thinks 'Java' is a programming idiom and while it incessantly compares Windows with the Macintosh they never actually defenestrate the fruit: Someone once said that computers were a great aid to doing only those tasks that do not need doing, and after now 24 years online, I begin to wonder if the Internet contains any information, any signal within the noise. So rather than buy some software to turn my computer off-line for the day, I just asked the same question of every page and link encountered: Why do I need to know this? ... beyond 'curiosity' that is.

dead cats


And that's how civilization ended, not with a bang, but with an endless childlike abandon into a garden of curios. An auditorium of people stand in ovation before a kitten who has just done a normal silly kitten thing. Like our evolutionarily quite valid thirst for salt, fats and sugars, a 'natural' craving that served us quite well for a million years of nutritional scarcity, our natural craving to 'investigate and understand', our inherent child-like curiosity which brought us to such fantastic understanding of the Natural Sciences over the past dozen millenia is now faced with a situation of our own clever-making where the intellectual mind-candy is delivered by the truckload, with more trucks queued up behind it, mountains of intellectual delights, and we can't stop at just one.

Welcome to the new Calorie Counting.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Are Caring Economics Feasible? ??? YES!

Caring Society, Illustration by Don Baker

Illustration by Don Baker for YES! Magazine. www.evidenceofhumanity.org

Imagine a world where economic systems support our real needs and aspirations: a world guided by a "caring economics" where the main investment is in caring for people and nature.

In this world, the most valued work is the work of caring for people, starting in childhood, as well as caring for our Mother Earth. Leaders recognize that, particularly in the post-industrial knowledge/information era, our most important asset is what economists call "high-quality human capital"—and that neuroscience shows this largely depends on good physical, mental, and emotional care starting at birth. Consequently, childcare in families is supported by caregiver tax-credits, stipends, paid parental leave, and social security credit for the first seven years of caring for a child—whether the caregiver is a woman or a man. Workplace rules such as flex time, and job sharing are commonplace, as businesspeople recognize that when employees feel they and their families are cared for they work better and harder. Training for childcare, primary-school teaching, and other caring professions is a top priority, as is training for elder care. And these jobs are highly respected and well-paid. Parenting education is another top priority. And so it maintaining a clean and healthy natural environment.

There is already movement in this direction, especially in Nordic Nations such as Sweden, Finland, and Norway—nations that often call themselves "caring societies." These nations were so poor at the start of the 20th century that many thousands fled famines (Minnesota was populated by these Nordic refugees). But because they invested in their people through universal healthcare, childcare, generous paid parental leave, parenting education, investment in solar and other alternative power, and other caring policies, today these nations are in the top tiers of both the UN Human Development Reports and the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Reports.

These nations show that caring pays—not only in human and environmental terms but in purely economic terms. They also show that the main obstacle to building a more caring world isn't economic, it's cultural.

 

These "cultural barriers" are, we sadly must realize, considerable. About a year ago I posted a blog bit to the Owen Sound Sun-Times, no great opEd opus, simply to propose that there may be some humanity of value in the content of a short clip from Brave New Films showing the amazing success of the Norwegian prison system. I was called names, I was told to leave the country, I was told to grow up ... all for only suggesting the clip was worth watching! I can only imagine what might have befallen me had I been the one who had travelled to Norway, made the film and then dared to publish it!!

The original Brave New Films clip is now gone, but here's a similar clip found on you-tube

From the many immediate and unambiguous comments to my Sun-Times blog post:

Teledyn, the negative responses to your "Prison for Life" blog speak for themselves. This is not and never will be material for your stand up comedy, unless you are a real clown.
Perhaps some day and on another planet, the good people and their kids will want to mingle with criminals and enjoy a hot dog or a hamburger on a nice day on the Northern Plains of Chryse Planitia.

but ... that was before the world-wide economic crunch, before, as I think Krishnamurti predicted, that after enough eye for an eye soon nearly everyone is blind, it was back when Owen Sound thought it a cushy and highly profitable proposition to get that massive Federal security contract to build, staff and deploy their sacred rights to inflict inhuman mistreatment on the very most 'deserving' wards of the state.

I wonder what they'd say now ...

Amazing Pollution

Media_httpwwwchinahushcomwpcontentuploads20091020091020luguang221jpg_ewfhgdclcdnfolv

Lu Guang (??????) from People???s Republic of China won the $30,000 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his documentary project ???Pollution in China.???

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Billboard - Google Books


Billboard - Google Books: "In its 114th year, Billboard remains the world's premier weekly music publication and a diverse digital, events, brand, content and data licensing platform. Billboard publishes the most trusted charts and offers unrivaled reporting about the latest music, video, gaming, media, digital and mobile entertainment issues and trends."

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Is the solution garbage?

garbage dump
Garbage dump. Waste-based biofuel could cut global emissions by over 80%. (Credit: iStockphoto/Ryerson Clark)

Converting the rubbish that fills the world???s landfills into biofuel may be the answer to both the growing energy crisis and to tackling carbon emissions, claim scientists in Singapore and Switzerland. New research published in Global Change Biology: Bioenergy, reveals how replacing gasoline with biofuel from processed waste could cut global carbon emissions by 80%.

Biofuels produced from crops have proven controversial because they require an increase in crop production which has its own severe environmental costs. However, second-generation biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol derived from processed urban waste, may offer dramatic emissions savings without the environmental catch.

???Our results suggest that fuel from processed waste biomass, such as paper and cardboard, is a promising clean energy solution,??? said study author Associate Professor Hugh Tan of the National University of Singapore. ???If developed fully this biofuel could simultaneously meet part of the world???s energy needs, while also combating carbon emissions and fossil fuel dependency.???

The team used the United Nation???s Human Development Index to estimate the generation of waste in 173 countries. This data was then coupled to the Earthtrends database to estimate the amount of gasoline consumed in those same countries.

The team found that 82.93 billion litres of cellulosic ethanol could be produced from the world???s landfill waste and that by substituting gasoline with the resulting biofuel, global carbon emissions could be cut by figures ranging from 29.2% to 86.1% for every unit of energy produced.

???If this technology continues to improve and mature these numbers are certain to increase,??? concluded co-author Dr. Lian Pin Koh from ETH Z??rich. ???This could make cellulosic ethanol an important component of our renewable energy future.???

Child Friendly

I was prompted to post this just now, the 4 year old is happily playing with some Star Wars figures and his hotwheels cars on the carpet, and the game he is enacting at the moment consists of everyone running around (in the puppet play world) screaming in chaos and panic, "Lockdown Drill!!! Lockdown Drill!!!"

Now keep in mind, little Riordain has never experienced a Lockdown Drill because we boycott the lunacy and pull our kids from school when they are scheduled but dig: he has still picked up on what it is, and why, simply from the ambient conversations, from whatever it was his kindergarten teacher may have said to prepare her wards for 'terrorist attacks' and probably from overhearing our own conversations with parents as we trade stories of the effects of these drills on other, older children.

Did I tell you the one about the grade one little girl who didn't want to go to school because a boy had sneezed during a lockdown, and whatever it was the teacher did about it so impressed her fragile eggshell childlike mind that her dreams that night had been filled with a violence of classmates dying horribly every time they sneezed! True story, one of many I've observed while tracking the keyword on Google, and thus far, in all this time, I have not yet tracked even one actual real-world clear and present danger lockdown, only drills and over-reactions to things like highschool kids entering a school with a camera tripod.

Anyway, I got this video link from Bootsy Collins and with Riordain enacting his little tragedy drama down by my feet here on the after-school of a day that would have been his first Lockdown had he been there, it just seemed apropos to present the two together, for those who care about such things enough to stop them that is.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Toronto Jazz Orchestra - Rex Hotel - 091017

Here's the full 2nd set mp3 from last Saturday's matinee show at the Rex Hotel on Queen Street West under the artistic director Josh Grossman; I'm told this could be the TJO's first bootleg :) so if you like it, and you will like it, do check out theTJO.com and show 'em some love.

Download: Toronto Jazz Orchestra - Live at the Rex 091017

?? Audio : Mpeg 1 layer 3
?? Estimated Duration: 41:46.65s
?? 128 kbps?? 44100 Hz

2009-10-18-071022009-10-18-071012009-10-18-071262009-10-18-071172009-10-18-071162009-10-18-071132009-10-18-07110

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Secret of Business Success: Build a Better World

What's this? One of the world's top 20 most influential business community futurists subscribes to my feed? That in itself was a pretty interesting happening for a Sunday morning, and following the links into @PatrickDixon's Global Change was perhaps more interesting still:
"Biggest ethical test for every culture and every nation: creating a better world, improving life for people. This core value drives every political debate, underwrites all laws, and is the basis of all team leadership. It is impossible to lead effectively for long without using this principle: will the world be a better place as a result of this activity or not? It is the key to all effective management, marketing and motivation."

Now excuse me if I'm over simplifying here, and I mentioned this yesterday on the #greenfest keynote, but if I am not mistaken the pre-occupation pre-MarshallPlan business philosophy of Imperial Japan was always to "Make sense first, then make money, if possible." This Shinto philosophy persisted even beyond the fall of the Imperial Court, driving the fantastic economic gain and infectious demeanor of Japanese culture through the 1960's right up until about 1980 ... right up until the old pre-MarshallPlan administrators and executives started to retire, handing the positions of business authority to the upcoming young execs who had been trained in the 'American' way! I'd underline that twice if I could.

As the Europeans have been lamenting since before the days of the Unsinkable Molly Brown, the 'American' way was always and explicably, "Make money first, and then make sense, if possible." and I offer as proof of that how our community halls and music/arts programs across this continent have been decimated since the post-war years on the grounds that there is no 'business plan'.

Henry Ford himself remarked to Bucky Fuller, "You can make money or you can make sense. The two are mutually exclusive." He'd said that in the context of his refusal to support the military-industrial complex and as punishment had to sit by while his inferior-product competitors were showered with juicy contracts.

And here, now, a decade in on the early twenty-first century, what do we discover? We discover to our shock and surprise and massive book-sales and conferences unprecidented that Grandma was RIGHT!! We discover that all that we should have learned we should have learned in Kindergarten. We discover horror of horrors that Greed For Money is not the business god to worship, that subservience to Quarterly Results is the fast path to a dark downward spiral, and we discovered that the Evil Empire we so sought to arrest and destroy and reform in actual fact had the keys to our own salvation from sin tucked in their kit-bags.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Edge of Science

Why EdgeScience? Because, contrary to public perception, scientific knowledge is still full of unknowns. What remains to be discovered???what we don't know???very likely dwarfs what we do know. And what we think we know may not be entirely correct or fully understood. Anomalies, which researchers tend to sweep under the rug, should be actively pursued as clues to potential breakthroughs and new directions in science.

GET THE FIRST ISSUE NOW!


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INSIDE ISSUE 1 (OCTOBER 2009)

THE OBSERVATORY
  • Doing Science Means Exploring: An Editorial by Henry Bauer

  • NEWS NOTEBOOK
  • "Surely There's Nothing Left to Discover"
  • Just Off By a Factor of 1,000
  • A Mysterious Variation in Radioactive Decay Rates, By Peter Sturrock

  • FEATURES
  • Is the Global Mind Real?, By Roger D. Nelson
  • Pyramid Building in the Americas and Other Archeological Anomalies, By William Corliss

  • REFERENCE POINT
  • A Charged Life: Robert O. Becker and Gary Seldon's The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life, Reviewed by Thomas M. Dykstra

  • BACKSCATTER
  • Straight From The Gut, By Patrick Huyghe
  • The SSE was founded in 1982 and has approximately 800 members in 45 countries worldwide. The SSE publishes a peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Scientific Exploration (JSE), and holds annual meetings in the USA and biennial meetings in Europe. Associate and student memberships are available to the public, and everyone is encouraged to attend meetings and participate with the society.

    Saturday, 3 October 2009

    the Ogori Mystery Caf??

    4erfgbn

    Long story short: "At this caf??, you get what the person before you ordered, the next person gets what you ordered."

    Welcome to the Ogori Caf??!

    As I sat down to enjoy my surprise Appletizer, loving this insane ideaand wondering what would happen if you tried it in America, a Japanesewoman approached the cafe. Since she could actually speak Japanese, shecould read the large sign at the front and, fortunately orunfortunately, got advance warning of what she was in for. Beforemaking a final decision on what to order, she quietly snuck up to me totry to ask me what Ihad ordered, knowing that it would be her unwavering refreshmentdestiny. The staff put a quick stop to her trickery, and I didn'tanswer.

    Of course, regardless of what she ordered, she got the orange juice Iordered a few minutes earlier. But here's one of the moments that makethis experiment cool: she actually chose orange juice, just like I did. So she got what she wanted. Ogori Caf?? synchronicity!

    Before we left, there was one last thing that had to be done:

    Mike went up to the cafe, slapped down a couple thousand yen (~$25),and ordered a little bit of everything: some ice cream, some snacks,some candy, some drinks ??? a Japanese horn-of-mysterious-plentyintentionally set up as a shocking surprise for the next luckycustomer. (After his order, Mike received a single iced coffee.)

    It was so worth it.

    The Ogori Caf?? was an unforgettable travel moment, and an ideathat has stuck with me: It was a complete surprise in our day. Itencouraged communication between total strangers or, in this case,members of the Kashiwa community and a couple of weird guys fromOregon. It forced one to "let go," just for a brief moment, of thetotal control we're so used to exerting through commerce. It led you totaste something new, that you might not normally have ordered. It was adelight.

    Then... as quickly as it appeared, the Ogori cafe was gone.

    Wednesday, 30 September 2009

    amanda palmer: why i am not afraid to take your money

    As One Working Musician put it, "[Amanda] clearly lays out her reasoning for not being ashamed or afraid to ask her fans to pay her for her work. This is one of the clearest statements of what I call the New Artist???s Creed that I have read to date." On a tip from uglyrug, a snip of Amanda's Creed:

    it???s about empowerment and it???s about SIMPLICITY: fan loves art, artist needs money, fan gives artist money, artist says thank you.

    the critics are welcome to criticize.
    they do not have to attend the party.
    and even if they attend the party with rolling eyes, they will not be charged.
    they will be hugged, they will be accepted and entertained, and they will not be given the hairy eyeball if they leave the room without tipping.
    chances are they???ll tell a friend about the next party, and their friend will probably leave a dollar. and tell someone else.

    taking my stand as a virtual street performer is the best thing that???s happened to my career and i revel in it.
    and i love bringing people along for the ride.

    i believe in the future of cheap art, creative enterprise, and an honorable public who will put their money where there mouth is, or rather, their spare change where their heart is.

    So says the self-professed Virtual Street Performer who started her performance career working the street-busking circuits as an inert sculpture, "i do not claim to have figured out the perfect system, not by a long shot. BUT ??? i???d rather get the system right gradually and learn from the mistakes and break new ground... we are creating the protocol, people, right here and now. i don???t care if we fuck up. i care THAT we???re doing it."

    The Staffordshire Hoard







    Early Medieval folded cross







    This hoard is perhaps the most importantcollection of Anglo-Saxon objects foundin England. It compares and perhapsexceeds those objects found at SuttonHoo. Originally discovered by metaldetectorist Terry Herbert in July 2009and subsequently excavated by BirminghamUniversity Archaeology Unit andStaffordshire County Council.

    Leslie Webster, former Keeper ofPrehistory and Europe at the BritishMuseum describes this discovery as:

    "...this is going to alter ourperceptions of Anglo-Saxon England inthe seventh and early eighth century asradically, if not moreso, as the 1939Sutton Hoo discoveries did; it will makehistorians and literary scholars reviewwhat their sources tell us, andarchaeologists and art-historiansrethink the chronology of metalwork andmanuscripts; and it will make us allthink again about rising (and failing)kingdoms and the expression of regionalidentities in this period, thecomplicated transition from paganism toChristianity, the conduct of battle andthe nature of fine metalwork production- to name only a few of the many hugeissues it raises. Absolutely themetalwork equivalent of finding a newLindisfarne Gospels or Book ofKells."

    The images contained in this set invitecomment. We accept there may be someerrors with labelling as this was donein a very short space of time. If you douse these images please attribute asused courtesy of the Staffordshire hoardwebsite.


    For more information:
    www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk and www.finds.org.uk The entire hoard will be catalogued onour database in due course and madeavailable to the public.


    see also http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/011708.html for some context on the biblical inscriptions.

    Sunday, 27 September 2009

    An Anatomical Guide To Monsters

    Anatomy_gamera_

    The people at HuntingLodge.no noted that these illustrations

    Anatomy_godzilla

    by Shogo Endo are from "An Anatomical Guide To Monsters,"

    Anatomy_anguiras

    a 1967 book with text by Shoji Otomo,

    Anatomy_mothra

    adding "If anyone can find a copy, we'll take it!"

    [via Milena]

    Study these carefully. You just never know. In related news, if you're looking for the sort of mini-pickup used in Godzilla - Final Wars
    to transport baby-Godzillas (Minya), there's a pristine (untrodden) one for sale at the video store in Sauble Beach. Again, you just never know.

    Saturday, 26 September 2009

    Enhancing Attention and Cognition

    If there were a surefire way to improve your brain, would you try it? Judging by the abundance of products, programs and pills that claim to offer ???cognitive enhancement,??? many people are lining up for just such quick brain fixes. Recent research offers a possibility with much better, science-based support...

    "when children find an art form that sustains their interest, the subsequent strengthening of their brains??? attention networks can improve cognition more broadly."

    Put another way, yes there are other ways to enhance the humanity in children, but looking at it realistically, will anyone later pay to watch them do those? That said, I often criticize precisely these sort of me-first rationales because the key difference with music or dance training is in the societal dividends that the playing induces, and it disturbs me a bit to see the music shops now brimming with accolades of musical training as some sort of self-improvement, self-enhancing strategy, which is true and good, but they neglect the wider and perhaps more important aspects of community enhancement to be had in a choral society.

    Thursday, 24 September 2009

    Costa Rica Creates Department of Peace

    IMAGINE PEACE: "Costa Rica’s justice ministry was created to oversee the country’s penitentiary systems and supervise research on criminal behavior, but had no responsibility for crime prevention. A 1998 executive decree addressed this lapse by creating the National Directorate for the Prevention of Crime. The recent legislation takes crime prevention in a new direction, replacing the old directorate with the newly formed Directorate for the Promotion of Peace and the Peaceful Coexistence of Citizens.

    “While we talk about prevention of violence, we are experiencing its effects every day. Changing the language and speaking about ‘promotion of peace’ lead[s] us to the roots of the problem,”

    The ministry will take on new responsibilities, including peace promotion, violence prevention (for example, by targeting a recent increase of juvenile offenders), and an emphasis on conflict resolution.

    With this change in name, the focus on prevention of violence has been shifted to promotion of peace,” says Kelly Isola of the Rasur Foundation, the Costa Rican nongovernmental organization that proposed the law in 2005. Having a department of peace, she said, will enable Costa Rica “to benefit from international experiences, which demonstrate that a culture of peace has positive effects in the reduction of violence and crime.”"

    How to make people less likely to want to enhance your life

    Curbyourenthusiasm

    It's very easy. Simply do what most people do: when someone tells or gives you something or sends you a link or a photo or anything you already have or have read or seen, first thing say, "Oh, I saw / knew / have that."

    Me, I see a lot but you'll never, ever hear me saying that. Why? Because the instant you deflate the other person's bubble of joy at giving you something they think you'll like, you make it much more likely that next time they'll reflexively think, "the heck with him/her, why bother?" And you'll be sure to miss out on something that would've indeed been a wonderful surprise as a result of your having been so full of yourself you just had to show how up to the minute you were.

    Common courtesy demands graciousness, perhaps an increasingly lost art but still one worth cultivating, not only for your own good but that of those around you. A simple "thank you" works beautifully. Always has, always will.

    ah, but, you probably already knew that.

    Wednesday, 23 September 2009

    The Smart(er) Car

    Traveling in an urban environment can be daunting, particularly if you’re sightseeing in a new place. If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris, where rental bikes dot the landscape (or in the future, where these awesome energy-generating rental bikes live), you’ve got it made. But for the rest of us? We can either drive, try to learn the mass transit system, or hoof it.

    MIT stackable cars 3

    Thanks to a group of tireless researchers at MIT, we might have another option in the future. These nifty stackable cars, dubbed CityCars, could one day be available to rent, just like those Parisian bikes. They’re electric, so there’s no need to worry about filling them up. You just grab the first fully-charged one on the rack and go. The racks would be located outside of tourist spots and mass transit stops, making it much easier to fill in the gaps in a city’s transit system. And since the project is getting stylistic input from legendary architect Frank Gehry, you know you’re going to look ultra cool riding around in one.

    Yonge & Adelaide tangled up in great swarms of these things would be like an adult version of those electric mini-car derbies they have in the malls for the toddlers! Seriously, though, can you imagine if Toronto closed off all traffic except delivery/emergency arteries and left the rest to the likes of these mutant golf-carts? Set up whole regions as "No Combustion" roadway zones and you can bet your bippie the other auto-makers would rapidly join GM in rolling out special purpose and custom-taste variations of the electro urban-podcar, and who cares if hydro/electric is limited by charge and the lightweight frames limited in speed: It's only really a few km from Steeles to Front St (just seems light-years away) and Toronto trafficbarely ever beats 40km/hr anyway!

    Tuesday, 22 September 2009

    Sunday, 20 September 2009

    Petropolis







    [A tailings pond is a toxic lake so dangerous that air cannon and scarecrows are used to deter wildlife. ?? Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon]
    [A tailings pond is a toxic lake so dangerous that air cannon and scarecrows are used to deter wildlife. ?? Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon]

    One of my favorite films from this year???s TIFF has to be Peter Mettler???s Petrolis.  Mettler, who was the cinematographer for Edward Burtynsky???s Manufactured Landscapes, takes on a directorial role on Petropolis, which visually documents the Alberta Tar Sands.  Given the massive scale of the project, the infrastructures, and the process, Mettler had few choices but to document the project from an aerial perspective.


    [A giant earth mover transports earth mined at an open pit for processing to separate the bitumen. ?? Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon]
    [A giant earth mover transports earth mined at an open pit for processing to separate the bitumen. ?? Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon]
    The Canadian Tar Sands are the largest supplier of oil to the United States and the largest GHG emitters in Canada.  Located in northern Alberta, the Tar Sands consume over 140,000 square kilometers (or an area the size of England).  While the scale and sheer devastation to the landscape is incomprehensible, currently only three percent of the project (or 420 sq. km) has been carried out.  Increasing oil prices is attracting more investors to the Tar Sands.  Currently there are close to 100 projects planned, which total approximately $100 billion.

    simultaneously beautiful and horrifying

    Friday, 18 September 2009

    Evil People

    ???If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart???? Alexander Solzhenitsyn (who knew about evil)

    it's not that we don't really earnestly try the old sift-and-gas approach, over and over and over. it's just that it don't ever work.

    Tuesday, 15 September 2009

    Finally! Coming To Theaters Oct. 23

    Astro Boy is a boy robot who has to use his super-strength, x-ray vision, speed and flying ability to save the things and people he cares about. The new CGI (computer-generated images) Astro Boy movie will be coming to theaters this fall on October 23. Astro Boy will be voiced by Freddie Hightower and Nicholas Cage also lends his voice to the movie. The film is directed by David Bowers. Script by Timothy Harris. Astro Boy is produced by Summit Entertainment and is based on the Japanese anime cartoon character (below) created by Dr. Osamu Tezuka.

    Been waiting hundreds of years for this.

    Monday, 14 September 2009

    A Jazzin' the Schools How-To

    This is a question I have asked myself and wondered why, only I was wondering why years and years ago when Electric Miles was tantamount to heresy; today it is the standard soundtrack of most TV:
    Media_httpdestinationoutcommediaimagessunnojpg_omwzwsmcdkffmpx
    instead of thinking the kids will thrill to some Count Basie, how about appealing to them through the jazz they’ve already been exposed to? Where’s something like the Alice Coltrane program? Where’s the weeklong Electric Miles events? Why aren’t we taking advantage of the bridges that already exist? There’s obviously nothing wrong with Basie but you’ve got reach people where they’re at, not where you want them to be. They’ll get to Basie in their own time, provided you win them over in the first place. As Teachout wrote, “Any symphony orchestra that thinks it can appeal to under-30 listeners by suggesting that they should like Schubert and Stravinsky has already lost the battle.

    There is an old joke in mathematics that defines a 'recursive' procedure as follows:

    1. If you know the answer, say it
    2. if you don't, give these instructions to the nearest person who is one step closer to Douglas Hofstadter

    We all learn and change incrementally. This method is standard procedure in the branches of psychology we call 'change work': you cannot jump from here to the finish without looking at where you are and taking a first step toward where it is you want to go. Even if you're not precisely sure where it is you are going until you get closer to it.