Monday, April 30, 2012

Bits of Terence McKenna

For reasons unknown, I just finished listening to a 10 hour workshop of pure crazy wisdom by the Master himself, the late Terence McKenna. It took awhile, but I listened to it in segments when I could.

It would be an understatement to say that McKenna was one of the most unique visionary minds of the late 20th century. He passed away in 2000, but thanks to the Internet, his brilliant madness lives on.

Reality Sandwich:

Some of his ideas are still waaaaay out there, but he was loquacious and witty in a way that was completely genius & novel.

Whether or not his various individual theories were correct, he introduced a concept that I think should be further examined- the fractal modeling of time.

I think fractal models can greatly increase our understanding of both space and time, in the same way the development of calculus has advanced science greatly since Newton's day.

Despite McKenna's tendency to externalize his wacked-out experiences onto the Universe-at-large, both physical and temporal experience are ultimately only in our heads.

Here are a couple select nuggets of Terence's crazy wisdom that I've seen posted recently:

 Terence McKenna: Art

Terence McKenna: Life is a Joke

Monday, April 23, 2012

Computer Animation 1971 & Today

Recently I've posted about the extraordinary vision of Steve Jobs & Arthur C. Clarke in regards to the development of computer tech.

As a graphic designer I'm interested in the history of art & computer graphics, in particular.  Studying the tools of the past helps me appreciate the current state of graphic art tech. The Macs I use now are finally on par with the speed and versatility that I feel is satisfactory for my creative work.

This video was posted on Neatorama... & made me glad to have my current version of Photoshop! It was produced by National Research Council of Canada in 1970.

It is a glimpse at the beginnings of digital art, which has continued evolving to increasingly mind-blowing levels.

Despite it's primitive appearance by today's standards, the idea of moving around points of light to create recognizable imagery was just as magical then as it is today.

The fact that nothing but a string of 1's & 0's, simple ying/yang binary elements, can be used to create entire virtual worlds never ceases to amaze me. 

The World Was Always Awful

I saw this funny idea for a book cover on fusion anomalog:

The World Was Always Awful
A Guide to World History for People who Romanticize the Past

I always argue with my Mom about her belief that the world used to be a better place in years past. As the title of the fake book suggests, there have always been awful things going on, since the beginning of human history.

'Better' & 'Worse' are value judgments, so whether things have improved or not is mostly a matter of personal opinion.

Most people who think that life was better in the "Good Ol' Days" are mostly thinking back to a time when they were younger. At the time, they were probably just ignorant of all the horrible crap going on around the planet. Of course things seemed better when we were younger. A young person has no idea that genocide, disasters, crime, & other horrible things are going on everywhere... all the time!

Another factor contributing to the common perception that society is descending into chaos is the 24-hour cable news cycle. We now hear all the crazy stuff happening around the world, in real time.

Although there are plenty of bad things happening in the world, my personal view is that the state of humanity is improving overall. It would be cool to be a temporary time-traveler, but I would definitely prefer to live my life NOW than at any time in history.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Arthur C. Clarke: A Visionary Legend

I just came across 2 videos featuring one of my personal heroes, the sci-fi author, inventor, & all around genius Arthur C. Clarke.

When I was younger I used to watch his TV shows Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers & Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Universe.

His unyielding curiosity & vision have continued to inspire me & countless others, even after his death in 2008.

The Monkey Buddha archives:

 My last post was about the creative & marketing insights of Steve Jobs, which helped to jump-start the era of the personal computer.

In this 1974 video that precludes the creation of Apple Computers by several years, Arthur C. Clarke correctly theorizes about the potential application of computerized devices. At the time, the primitive computers were big enough to fill a small room, but his predictions about compact digital devices that would allow people to instantly communicate throughout the world proved to be accurate.

The next video is an excellent hour-long documentary, hosted by Clarke, about the mathematical construct known as fractals

The Monkey Buddha archives:

These simple, recursive numerical patterns were first converted into their now-familiar complex graphic form by Benoit Mandlebrot.

 How Stuff Works:

The infinite intricacies of Fractals have revolutionized our understanding of the universe & have spawned endless applications, from generative computer art to the internal antennas of cell phones.

I personally believe that fractal properties give valuable insights into many aspects of the world we live in.

One cannot begin to understand the nature of Reality without thoroughly studying & understanding fractal geometry.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Apple I Advertisement

Currently, I'm reading the biography of Steve Jobs on my lunch breaks.

Despite already knowing alot about the founder of Apple Computers, I'm really enjoying the read. It's a great story that gives enthralling insight into the creation of what I consider to be the greatest creative tool ever produced- the Mac computer.

My life has run parallel to the development of microcomputers. The Apple II was shipped around the time I was born. The early encounters I had with Macintosh computers were in elementary school, & later we used them in our high school science classes. I was using Windows PCs at home, though, & they sucked.
It wasn't until my design classes in college that I began using Apple G4 computers regularly. In my career as a professional designer, I've used Power Macs exclusively. Windows is like a leper to me, I don't even want to touch it.

On fusion anomalog I saw this ad from 1976, featuring the original Apple I homemade computer. It was basically a circuitboard, but it could be attached to a keyboard & a TV or monitor, which was revolutionary at the time.

The original Apple logo is on there, too. It has the look of an engraving & is much different than the iconic apple with the 'byte' taken out of it.

I've recently read the section of the book about the start-up of Apple, in the garage of Steve Job's parents. Steve Wozniak basically engineered the computer components & Jobs was the one who figured out how to market it.

Despite being a weird mix of a guru-like personality & a completely insufferable jerk, Steve Jobs had an indomitable will that obviously produced amazing results.
Even with his many flaws, Jobs really was a genius. He's influenced the course of human events as much as any single person in the modern age.

"Space Ape" Art Print

On OMG Posters! I saw this awesome image of an astro-primate by Paul Jackson & had to post it.

When I first started this blog waaay back in 2005, (during The Bush Dark Ages) the other name choice I considered for it was 'Space Ape'. It stemmed from the recognition that we humans are basically hairless monkeys who learned how to temporarily escape the atmosphere in metal containers.

However, I thought "The Monkey Buddha" better reflected my personality & the myriad things I thought I'd be posting about.
Monkeys & Space are still 2 things that are guaranteed to get my attention, though.

Anyway, this is a really striking picture & contains as much gravitas as humor.

Tank.Axe.Love Posters

Monday, April 09, 2012

Scale of the Universe 2

I posted awhile ago about an interactive animation that allows you to use a slider to visually travel through the spectrum of scale that encompasses the Universe- from the quantum level to the most expansive areas of the cosmos.

The Scale of the Universe has been recently updated with more info & animated graphics.

This is one of the most mind-blowing conceptual tools I've come across on the web.
Unfortunately, even presented in such a simple & accessible format, the vast nature of reality is ultimately impossible for the mind to fully grasp.

I think that studying fractal geometry, and especially how it applies to generative computer art, has helped me develop a better understanding of the Universe. The natural world is full of recursive patterns & self-similarity on all scales.

Friday, April 06, 2012

"Grandma" by Chase Stone

On Superpunch, I saw this amazing digital painting of a grandmother and child observing the home planet Earth from an orbiting space station. It evokes a very real & emotionally stirring vision of the human experience in the future.

by Chase Stone

This weekend a bunch of my family is getting together at my parent's house for Easter dinner. My very extensive family are the most important connections in my life. It's deeply meaningful to see the strong bonds formed between grandparents, parents, children, and 'Uncle Dudes' like myself & my brothers.

Now that we have a new generation of nephews & nieces coming up, I've become even more aware of the limitless possibilities that the future holds for the human race. These infants & toddlers who already know their way around the iPhone's digital interface will be hopefully one day be commanding the starships that will begin to explore our area of the galaxy.

Sometimes I wonder how people living thousands of years from now & traveling to other stars will relate to planet Earth. Will it become a legendary place, that space colonists only see in pictures?

I guess it all depends on how fast travel can take place throughout space & how easily people can stay in contact among the stars. Maybe technology, like hyperspace or gravity warp drives, will be developed that will allow future space travelers to return to Earth relatively quickly. Perhaps traveling to Earth at least once in a lifetime will be like a spiritual pilgrimage to Jerusalem or Mecca in the current age.

What I love about this painting is the beautiful simplicity of the scene- yet it still conveys a vast, mind-expanding sense of space, time, & the wonder of Life.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Health Care Debate

by Tom Tomorrow

Recently, the Supreme Court has been hearing arguments for & against the 2010 health care law, The Affordable Care Act.

The country has to wait until June 2012 to see whether the Court upholds, or rules against part or all of the law. The hang-up is on the idea that the government mandating people to get health insurance is "un-constitutional".

The preamble of the US Constitution states:

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

It's the government's responsibility to promote the general welfare, and what is more fundamental to the welfare of society than it's health?

Anyway, regarding this pending decision, I agree with the premise of this article I saw on TPM:

A reversal in the health care law might be a major pain in the ass at first, but the backlash might lead to a more progressive health system in the long run.

I've always believed that there's no reason that an employer should have anything to do with health insurance coverage of its workers.

Business should be completely out of the equation.
I'm totally socialist when it comes to health care. The federal government should be THE single-payer in some kind of universal health care system, without private health insurance companies.

Hopefully, one day we can start to unravel the absurd systems that cause such staggering inefficiencies & unnecessary hardships into the functioning of society.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Narcissism Test

 I have a positive self image, but I try to be humble & keep things in perspective.

However, I also believe that you need to truly love and appreciate yourself to be an effective contribution to society at large.

Therefore, I was amused to find that, by scoring a 22 on this quiz, I'm clearly past the level of narcissist (which is a score of 20). My highest component trait scores were in Exploitativeness & Self-Sufficency.
God, I'm soooo awesome...

Right after I took this quiz, I also came across this image of the comic strip character Calvin that seems appropriate: