Monday, September 26, 2005

Truth in Numbers

The anti-war rallies around the country 9/24/05 were obviously not aimed at our soldiers. How can you have anything but the utmost respect for people of your own generation willing to give their life for the safety of our country?

What the majority of Americans now understand is that the civilian leadership has intentionally misled and incompetently handled this entire invasion/occupation in a way that is hard to describe except for 'criminal'.

It is not the military, or even war, that is objectional. I consider m
yself pacifist, but I recognize that national defense is an unavoidable reality. However... what is not just objectionable, but truly dangerous, is misleading the country into a war of aggression that violated international conventions and America's ideals, and then entangling our military assests in a nationalist insurgency. Meanwhile, our domestic situation is grim and our Treasury has been reduced to one big I.O.U. There needs to be complete and overwhelming opposition to this Administration's destructive policies. These protests and demonstrations are one step in holding the government leadership accountable for their failures.

Washington, DC
September 24, 2005

• Pro-Peace: @100,000-300,000 People

• Pro-War: @200-400 People

"Please tell us more lies, Mr. President!!!!!"

"Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9)

"War creates peace
like hate creates love."
- David Wilson

"Terrorism is the war of the poor,
War is the terrorism of the rich."
- Peter Ustinov

"A patriot must always be willing to defend
his country against his government."
- Edward Abbey

"Winning a thousand battles is not the supreme excellence.
The supreme excellence is to subdue the armies of your enemies
without even having to fight them."
- Sun Tzu

"If there is one principle more deeply rooted
in the mind of every American,
it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest."
- Thomas Jefferson

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can,
only as one who has seen
its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Secrets of Da Vinci's Challenge

As a designer, I feel that all my work can be considered art - regardless of whether it's a package graphics, art for stationery products, or toy/game design. "Da Vinci's Challenge" is a special case for me, though, because it carries more of a classic sense of what art is; a creation that can evoke intellectual and emotional response, holds symbolic meaning, and has a unique aesthetic value.

The most amazing thing about "Da Vinci's Challenge" as a piece of functional art is its timeless heritage. The pattern of interlocking circles that defines the playing surface of the gameboard is an ancient symbol known throughout history by various names; The Flower of Life, the Language of Light, and the Language of Silence... all of which hint at the transcendental and mysterious essence of this beautiful design.

Flower of Life Carving at Osirian Temple in Egypt

The oldest known physical example of this symbol is in the 6,000 year old Osirian Temple in Abydos, Egypt. The temple was a subterranean complex dedicated to Osiris, the god symbolizing death and regeneration... the afterlife and resurrection. The once-underground chambers are the most ancient of all the ancient Egyptian ruins. "The Flower of Life" symbol is carved with laser-like accuracy on huge granite blocks in the temple walls.

In the context of ancient Egyptian mystery religions, "The Flower of Life" represented the infinite, yet structured matrix that subtly forms the reality we experience. This underlying order can be called God, the Universe, the Quantum Field, the Tao, or whatever you prefer to call it. It is the complete, all-encompassing flux of the world- from the smallest electron fields to the largest scales of the cosmos.

This symbol was used by ancient priests and spiritual initiates as a mandala, a geometric or symbolic pattern that is used to focus on a particular state of mind or experience. "The Flower of Life" was used as a meditation on Unity and Interconnectedness. This is not some metaphysical, abstract mumbo-jumbo, but reflects the basic nature of the world we live in.

Every aspect of the universe is connected and meshed at a base level. Science has firmly demonstrated the mystical concept that the cosmos is nothing but patterns of energy vibration interacting at different levels. The real Mystery is how this seemingly random quantum soup organizes itself into recognizable forms and a mind that can perceive these forms. It's easy to say, "God does it all." God IS the mystery, though, so in order to really understand this statement, one has to really investigate the Mystery!

When you look into ideas such as sacred geometry, divine proportion, fractals, physics, cosmology, and other such disciplines, you gain a greater appreciation for the beauty and unexplainable complexity of the universe. The greater your awareness of the structure and nature of reality, the better prepared you will be to utilize it to the benefit of yourself and others. Because of the connective neural structure of the human brain, our mental perceptions of the entire universe are based on our perceived patterns of causal or physical connection. "The Flower of Life" perfectly illustrates this ordered intricate web of scale, structure, and vibration that defines the world. "The Flower of Life" represents the face of God more ideally than any anthropomorphic painting by Michelangelo.

Besides the philosophical meaning that can be drawn from "The Flower of Life" symbol, there is also rich mathematical knowledge that can be found within the perfectly symmetrical form of interlocking circles. Leonardo da Vinci used his keen intellect and sense of observation to study the geometries found within the Flower of Life.

Flower of Life Studies 
by Leonardo da Vinci

The pattern is deceptively easy to create. It is begun by simply overlapping 2 identical circles, so the edge of each circle touches the midpoint of the other.

This symbol itself is one of the most ancient and universal symbols known to man. The intersecting circles form a central shape called the 'Vesica Pisces' which, in Christian art, is the basis for the 'Jesus fish' and also the symbol of the womb that the Virgin Mary is often portrayed within. This is a symbol more widely used and much older than Christianity, though. It is a symbol of life, creation, vision, and birth. Incidentally, the Vesica Pisces also defines the energy patterns that lead cells to organize into vital human forms such as the eye, the urethra, the womb, and the mouth. When you start to see such patterns in nature, it is almost as if you are looking into the programming code of reality and the mind.

The third circle is added by placing its midpoint on one of the places where the first two circles intersect. Now the pattern has been establish and it becomes a self-replicating pattern. This step in the pattern can be seen to symbolize the Trinity where a third-dimension of Spirit and Space define the Creation pattern so it becomes a self-regulating phenomenon. From now on, a circle can be placed with its midpoint centered anywhere that the edges of two other circles intersect. The pattern can continue to be repeated and extended endlessly.

A circle is considered rightly to be the perfect form. It represents 'oneness' and 'completeness' its edge has no beginning and no end, but a definite form. This is the fundamental shape that represents the planets, the stars, the moon, the eye, bubbles, water drops. It is the most efficient and sound way to structure matter.

A circle is also the most pleasing to the eye, because of the structural self-similarity. This is easy to prove through understanding human nature. When we are first born, our mind is programmed to search for circles!!! We are automatically drawn to the circular eyes of our mother for recognition, and the round nipples of our mother for nourishment.

This is truly the universal form, and has become the optimal natural shape to guide the survival instincts of human life. Even when we grow older, we are entranced by the circle and compelled to reproduce and continue our species through such mechanisms as our attraction to the 'round' parts of the anatomy. This is part of the wonder of the process of nature and how it is organized in such a fascinating, yet effective way.

The symbol made from the seven circles at the center of "The Flower of Life" is called "The Seed of Life". It can be seen as a metaphor for the 7 days of Genesis from which all Creation expands out of the One, the single center circle. From this basis, the pattern of Creation can expand indefinitely and can contain endless number and types of forms. "The Flower of Life" is a representation of the infinite, yet orderly, matrix that describes both the interconnected structure of the mind and of the Universe that it perceives.

The shapes and colors of the game pieces in "Da Vinci's Challenge" represent the duality that seems to be ingrained in our mental experiences and perceptions. The patterns that are made using these shapes on the game board can be seen as a representation of the infinite forms that can arise from the underlying matrix of order in the Universe and in our brains. The dual black and white colors, as well as the triangle and long oval shapes can be thought of as representations of yin and yang, male and female, active and passive, 0 and 1 binary characteristics that our duality-based consciousness is trained to experience.

By contemplating the overall, random pattern these shapes make when they are all placed on the the underlying matrix of the game board by the end of the game- you can draw comparisons to the structure and nature of the universe and the infinite forms that also arise from basic elements and principles.

All good art and symbolism packs the maximum amount of information in the minimum amount of space. "The Flower of Life" has been recognized throughout history as a symbol of prime importance because of the infinite amount of geometric, spiritual, and symbolic information that it can represent.

I encourage you to explore the concepts I've talked about here to help deepen your understanding of your own mind and the world we experience through the limiting filter of the mind. From the beginning of its conception, "Da Vinci's Challenge" has always been intended to be a source of insight, inspiration, and a connection to timeless wisdom for everyone who encounters it.

Most of all, I hope it continues to be a source of enjoyment and bonding for those who play it.

The Official Facebook Page: 

Thursday, September 22, 2005

We ARE the Web

Check out this thought-provoking look at the evolution, immensity, and possibilites of the Internet, by Wired magazine. There are 5 pages and it's a very interesting read...

"This planet-sized computer is comparable in complexity to a human brain.

Both the brain and the Web have hundreds of billions of neurons (or Web pages).

Each biological neuron sprouts synaptic links to thousands of other neurons,
while each Web page branches into dozens of hyperlinks.

That adds up to a trillion "synapses" between the static pages on the Web.

The human brain has about 100 times that number -
but brains are not doubling in size every few years,...

...the Machine is."

(This unexplainable similarity on different scales is another example of our Fractal Reality.)

Da Vinci's Challenge Award Update

I have updated my awards post for the game, with two new entries; recognition from the Canadian Toy Testing Council and Dr. Toy.

Da Vinci's Challenge Awards

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lifting the Veil of War

This story is really shocking in its possible implications.

Basically, two undercover British commandos ended up being detained in the Iraqi city of Basra. They were apparantly wearing local Arab clothing, but were driving a car full of weapons, ammo, explosives, and remote detonators. When confronted by Iraqi police, they shot and killed police and civilians and tried to get away. They were apprehended and jailed, but they were broken out by British tanks that smashed down the walls! It was really important to get these guys out of incarcaration! It's not like like they were being held by Al-Qaeda, they were in the hands of the authorities.

The disturbing possibility this situation reveals is that not all the car bombs and 'insurgent' attacks are perpetrated by Iraqis. When our American military is hit, you can be sure it is Iraqi fighters setting the bombs. However, this incident makes all attacks on civilians suspect, because now we see there could be a covert 'divide & conquer' strategy going on by the occupying forces.

The media is already spinning it as soldiers dressed in civilian clothes collecting information, but do you need all this weaponry and gear just to collect information?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Organic HTML

A site that interprets web code into ikebana, which is a Japanese art of expression using flowers and plants.

Some more info on this cool concept:

Here's the crazy-looking 'Plant of Death' that generates from The Monkey Buddha:

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Burning Bush

When things get really crazy, sometimes the only thing left to do is laugh.
I dare you not to laugh at these clips!!!

• Andy Dick plays President Bush's 'Speechalist,' Harlan McCraney. Video

• Will Ferrell shows us what happens behind the scenes at the ranch in Crawford. Video

• Ed Helms from The Daily Show discusses Hurrican Katrina. Video

The best part of that last clip is their list of Bush Administration Disasters (B.A.D.?)...,
which are obviously being carried out in alphabetical order...

Osama & Jenna... Queer Revolt... Zero People Left on Earth... I'm laughing just typing these out!
I was cracking up when I saw this on TV, but that's why I watch The Daily Show every night.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Human Dilemma

Being faced with a situation as immense and devastating as this hurricane has a jarring effect on people. The situation makes you face, on a consious or subconsious level, the dilemma of the human experience. There is a saying that evokes it quite nicely:

"Be noble, for you are made of stars.
Be humble, for you are made of dung."

I think about that quote all the time. Seeing corpses floating on the water makes us face that one inevitable day where we, too, will be nothing but rotting flesh. We are bodies lumbering around, but... driven by an inner light and energy that is the great mystery. This subtle, yet all-encompassing light is the other side of the coin, the spark of motivation that, once faced with the reality of death, accepts the struggle and continues onward because there is nothing left to fear. It is evident in the compassionate souls who are motivated by empathy to help their fellow human beings in whatever way they can, especially in such a time when so many people are experiencing such misery. To say the situation (or anything, for that matter) is good or bad in an absolute sense is not realistic because there is no isolated cause and effect in the universe. It is beyond simplistic, human ideas as 'good' or 'bad'. Is there a 'bad' galaxy'? On such unimaginable scales, these terms are as significant as a dust particle settling on an ocean floor.

Really contemplating this kind of crisis not only destroys the normal conception of quality, but it also throws the concept of scale through a loop. Each life is such a complex thing, and miraculously beautiful. The immense process of human life functioning on this planet is also enough to fill anyone with wonder. However, a disaster like this shows how fleeting and tiny the human race truly is on a cosmic scale. The idea of thousands of luminous human lives being snuffed out for no reason is alot to face. We should question what makes us human and what are we going to do with this moment, and each of the limited number we get to experience only once.

Fractal Reality

Speaking of imponderables, here are some more amazing fractal animations.

Fractals are one of the most important modern conceptual tools in understanding the structure of reality.

We live in a Fractal Universe!

Fractal Animations
Fractals are said to have 2 1/2 dimensions - because even though it is a flat surface, it has infinite repeating detail that you can zoom "into" forever.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

DaVinci's Challenge, Now in Most Major Retailers!!!

I took a ride around the shopping centers yesterday and saw Da Vinci's Challenge on the shelf at Target! It should be in almost all of the big chains within the next couple weeks. It has already been in Barnes & Noble, Borders Books, Toys R' Us, and the specialty retailers for about half a year. The Wal-Mart by my work didn't have it yet, but its being renovated into a Super-Mega-Giant Wal-Mart, so they are a little disorganized right now.

It's definitely exciting and mind-blowing to see my creation in stores across the country, but unfortunately my pragmatic and skeptical nature always expects the worse. I just can't help thinking that either; nobody will buy it, I'll die before it gets really popular, or we'll all be destroyed in a nuclear armageddon if it really starts taking off. Even getting to this point, though, is something I've always been working toward and hoped for, but never really expected.

I think the key thing I've learned from my experience so far is that you have to recognize that you can actively create and form your reality, with the right awareness and intention. We sleepwalk through so much of our life... unquestioning & unaware ...and, as a result, find ourselves hopeless slaves to our situation and surroundings. 'Reality' is nothing but the perceptions of your own mind...

Anyway, here are some snapshots of retail game shelves I took with my camera phone:


Toys R' US (in Times Square NYC!)

Barnes & Noble
(The first time I saw it on a store shelf)

Oops, My Mistake...

At first, I attributed the problems of our so-called leaders in dealing with the crisis caused by Hurricane Katrina mostly to sheer incompetence and diverted resources in Iraq.

I had a huge paradigm shift, though, when my friend Phil was discussing with me the plan to renovate the area as a resort/casino haven like Las Vegas. Suddenly the lack of action to minimize the flooding and destruction of property, and the desire to remove all the poor residents out of the area made perfect sense. Pay these displaced souls some rock-bottom compensation, bulldoze the city, and build up a profit-generating developer's paradise. It may be considered cynical to think that the people in power would not prevent a
major US port city from being destroyed so private developers, companies, and the government can make a killing from a new resort/port area, but I think it is simply naĆ­ve not to consider it, especially considering the dismal track record of this White House regarding public vs. corporate interests.

Developers Had Wanted New Orleans to be a Las Vegas

I also had a debate with my Mom about how much blame to put on Bush individually. I don't believe that President Bush himself mis-managed all the federal responses, the rebuilding contracts, and the gas price-gouging. That's Dick Cheney's job... duh!!! (Where do you think he was the first week of the crisis? I guess it takes time to plan the systematic exploitation of the American people for the benefit of Halliburton and KBR.) Her argument was... why didn't Clinton build up the levees, etc? I'm glad she eggs me on and makes me really consider my position on these matters (which is usually summed up as; George W. Bush and his Administration are a malignant cancer devouring this country).

Regardless of how much people would like to blame Clinton, the local governments, or the "sinners" at Mardi Gras, the facts are the facts.

**The report quoted below has plenty of concrete examples of the Bush Administration and Congress's mismanagement of our national resources. I'm an Independent, so I don't automatically think Bill Clinton or the Democrats are some kind of saints. However, compared to the corrupt, incompetent Oil-garchy sucking the life out of this nation, even Mr. Burns from The Simpsons looks like a responsible, caring leader!

The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush had promised "no net loss" of wetlands, a policy launched by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency then announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce.

I'm finally winning them over!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Emperor Zero

As Rome burned, Emperor Nero fiddled.

As New Orleans drowns, and the USA sinks along with it, Bush fiddles with a guitar.

Yahoo! News 8/30/05

As always, a goddamn disgrace.

He can't even pretend to play the guitar
without help from someone.

The Disaster President

What a national tragedy, for so many different reasons.

By wasting both our military and our treasury in an unwinnable foreign occupation, the Bush Administration has once again proven that its own criminal incompetence is a greater source of terror and chaos for America than any former CIA-sponsored Muslim boogeymen living in caves. The complete inability to make rational decisions by our leaders has furthered the destruction of a major American port city.

New Orleans District of Army Corp. Of Enginners Face Budget Cuts
(from 6/05!)

Louisiana Nat'l Guard Troops Watch Katrina from Iraq

A Diminished FEMA Scrambles to the Rescue

• And if you actually need complete, irreffutable proof that the so-called President is not only incompetent beyond belief, but also a serial liar...
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." - George W. Bush

Director of Security Chertoff nor FEMA Director Michael Brown have any disaster or crisis management experience. They are lawyers and political hacks.

By the way, Michael Chertoff the Director of Homeland Security who is all over the TV after this hurricane is a DUAL-CITIZEN!!!
Does it make anyone feel safer knowing that Bush & Cheney have placed our national security and crisis management in the hands of a person with dual loyalties, and to a country that has been caught spying in the Pentagon and feeding our intelligence false information that has led us to war, no less!

The political levee is only beginning to break for the establishment in Washington DC.