Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: The Twilight Zone

It's New Year's Eve, January 31, 2016... the arbitrary designation of the end of one year, and the beginning of another.

Although it is a cultural and social creation, the idea of a new year is a symbolic time of change & renewal. Personally, this past year has been very transformative for me. I got engaged to the love of my life, celebrated my Dad's retirement, enjoyed vacations in the Poconos & the shore, and experienced significant professional growth.

For the world at large, 2016 was a crazy year, perhaps defined in the minds of many by an event that would have been considered totally absurd a year ago. Narcissistic womanizer, reality show host, & life-long con artist Donald J. Trump won the Electoral College vote to become President-elect of The United States of America.

It was an outcome that stunned most people, and it still feels like an episode of "The Twilight Zone". I saw this image of Rod Serling in front Trump at the Oval Office and thought it summed up the feeling perfectly.

 seen on Weird Wide Web

If a moral, competent, and wise Republican had existed & won the election, the sense of dread would be much less. However, the majority of the country (who did not vote for this dangerous buffoon) is horrified that they are now subject to all the idiotic decisions he will undoubtedly make, or pass off onto his cabinet of swamp dwellers & a regressive Congress.

He hasn't even been sworn in yet, and almost every day he's making headlines with his ignorance, shameless lying, and crass behavior. This was his New Years' message, calling his fellow Americans "enemies" instead of "opponents".

We are so fucked with this man-baby running things...

He just gave his first press conference as President-elect, and for some bizarre reason had Don King out there with him, wearing a ridiculous outfit & waving American, Israeli, and Russian flags. Can you imagine the conservatives heads exploding if Obama made a spectacle of himself like this? I'm going to make a list of all the things Trump's done already, but imagining the reaction from right-wingers if it was Obama doing it instead.

Trump is completely incapable of giving a detailed, well-thought answer to any of the questions, because he doesn't really know or truly understand a goddamn thing. He thinks whatever comes out of his mouth, no matter how inaccurate o downright wrong, should just be acceptable.

Then I read comments of more conservative websites, and it makes me think we are now a nation of internet trolls, or half the country has completely lost their minds.

I'm getting ready to enjoy a New Years Eve out in Philly with my fiancee & my family. We will be enjoying ourselves & not worrying about the potential disasters the next four years will bring. However, the country and the world will soon be faced with the unimaginable circumstances of a President Trump.

The important thing is to take of yourself and your loved ones, and do your best with any situations that may arise. I don't make any New Years resolutions, because if I want to do something, I just do it. The key to a fulfilled life is self-awareness and motivation to live fully and in the present moment. I will continue to live this way into 2017 & beyond...

Friday, December 30, 2016


I recently came across the work of French artist Yvan Guillo, aka "Samplerman", and thought it was a really unique concept.


He basically digitally remixes old comic strip art into surrealist imagery that is psychedelic and mostly nonsensical. It is really intriguing and forces the brain to look for meaning where there is none, by design.

It's Nice That:

These are a few examples of his work, one resembling a spiritual mandala and another reflecting his usual abstract approach.

He also creates animated images:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

RIP Carrie Fisher

Yesterday, actress Carrie Fisher passed away after having cardiac arrest on an airplane. She went for 10 minutes without a pulse, so the chances were slim that she would recover, but many had hope that she would somehow pull through.

People around the world are saddened because of what a unique and vibrant personality she had in real life. She overcame addiction and mental illness to endure as one of Hollywood's most endearing and funny celebrities.

However, it's undeniable that the significant impact she had was due to her character in the Star Wars movies, Leia. This role model for generations of women is one of the most iconic female characters of all-time.

Star Wars Wiki:

Thanks to the newest Star Wars trilogy, starting with "Episode VII: The Force Awakens," her portrayal of Leia has undergone many transformations over 40 years. It is an amazing testament to the vision of George Lucas and to Carrie Fisher's abilities as an actress. I made the montage above to show how she and her role of Leia has transformed over time.

The character of Leia started out as a baby, in the prequel Episode III- the daughter of Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker & queen/senator Padme Amidala. After Anakin's fall to the Dark Side, Leia was secretly adopted by Bail Organa, of the royal family of the planet Alderaan. She was a princess and the youngest Senator in The Galactic Republic. This is how we see her in the original Star Wars movie, now called "Episode IV: A New Hope".

As Emperor Palpatine grew in power and replaced 'The Republic' with 'The Empire', young Leia was part of the Rebel Alliance to oppose the tyranny of this oppressive regime. After The Senate was dissolved and her home planet destroyed, she continued to be a leader of the Rebellion throughout the original trilogy.

After finally defeating the Empire & discovering that Luke Skywalker was her brother in "Return of the Jedi," Leia married Han Solo and they had a child. Years later, Imperial remnants would form The First Order. Leia became a general of The Resistance, a military effort to counter this danger that The New Republic's beauracracy was not willing to face head-on.

This was Leia's role in the most recent movie "Episode VII: The Force Awakens" where Carrie Fisher and other original cast members reprised their classic roles. Luckily, she was part of the filming for Episode VIII, which has been completed already. We will have to see where her character arc ends up now that she is gone.

The reason I gave this short rehash of the story behind Leia is to show the tremendous depth of the character she played over the past few decades. She was a princess, a senator, a soldier, a general, and a leader. Far from just being a pretty "damsel in distress," Leia was a woman of strength, wit, intelligence, courage, and conviction in her ideals. Fisher's acting brought out all these traits and qualities, to form an unforgettable presence that will live on in cinema history and in the minds of all those who love these movies.

She showed women (& men) what it meant to be independent, courageous, and to not take crap from anyone, even Darth Vader himself! 

Although she will be missed, Carrie Fisher was able to touch countless people from all walks of life. Her life and work will be appreciated and celebrated indefinitely, and she was a positive role model for people of all ages. It was a life of consequence that anyone would be proud to have led. She is One with "The Force" now, and her legacy will continue into far the future.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Knowledge & Subjective Reality

I am a firm believer in free & open knowledge, and I'm against censorship in almost any form. I also think that the Internet is obviously one of the greatest creations in human history.

However, these ideals are not without their dangers. Despite the promise of unlimited knowledge through a worldwide digital network, we are now seeing a phenomenon that others have warned about...

Instead of expanding everyone's perspective, the Internet is becoming a bottleneck of limited information for many people. People are accessing websites and resources that only confirm their existing worldview. This has become apparent over this last election cycle, in which different parties and groups stuck to sources of news and info that reinforced what they already believe, no matter how inaccurate.

In a year that gave us "fake news" and even a fake U.S. President, the power of knowledge is becoming only as powerful as the belief in that knowledge, for any particular individual or group. Objective facts are proving impervious to the ignorant minds that refuse to accept them.

What this means for the future of society and the knowledge we share is anyone's guess. Companies like Facebook and Google are trying to address this issue, by flagging questionable sources and adjusting algorithms.

This does not solve the fundamental situation that if people are truly free, they are also free to be wrong and misinformed. Short of creating a "Ministry of Truth", there is nothing that we can do to force anyone to accept an objective observation or basic fact. We are now in an Einsteinian world of knowledge- where truth is relative, and misinformation can travel at the speed of light.

In a post-factual America now being led by Trump™-brand propaganda and outright lies, the potential damage that could be done is tremendous. It is up to anyone who values objective reasoning and observable truth to recognize & argue against provable falsehoods. We have a tough fight ahead of us.

Monday, December 19, 2016

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" Review

This weekend I went to see "Rogue One," the first "Star Wars Story" movie that lies outside the main Episodic Trilogies.

Although I tried to avoid spoilers as the release date got closer, I knew that this movie dealt with the lead-up to the original Star Wars film (now known as "Episode IV: A New Hope"). Specifically, it told the story of the Rebel spies who stole the plans for the Galactic Empire's planet-destroying superweapon, The Death Star.

In the beginning of "A New Hope", Princess Leia is introduced trying to take the stolen plans to the Rebellion while trying to find one of the last Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Her ship is intercepted by the Emperor's enforcer, Darth Vader, but the plans manage to reach Obi-Wan after Leia sends them off with the droids, R2-D2 & C-3PO. The farmboy Luke Skywalker gets caught up in the situation & eventually ends up taking down the Death Star thanks to the stolen plans & his connection to The Force, a mystical field of energy that surrounds all living things.

This is the now-familiar scenario that "Rogue One" leads into by the end of the movie, and it does so seamlessly.

•  Here is my spoiler-free review of the movie:

It was a great movie, with everything a Star War fan could possibly ask for in telling this particular story. Despite the regular presence of battles and conflict in the series, this was more of a war movie than any other Star Wars film to date. It focused on the harsh realities and unforgiving nature of battle, while also showing the power of hope combined with the determination to fight for a just cause. As opposed to the storylines of the Skywalkers and Force-wielding Jedi, this movie focused on the experiences of "ordinary" rebel soldiers.

One interesting thing that "Rogue One" accomplished was to gray the area between "good" and "bad". This was especially true regarding some of the tactics of the Rebels. From the point of view of The Empire and its sympathizers, the Rebel Alliance would be considered terrorists- willing to carry out sabotage, assassination, and killing on a large scale to meet its ends. Of course, the Rebel view would be that drastic measures need to be taken in order to free the galaxy from an oppressive military dictatorship. In this movie, you definitely get to witness the oppressive nature of The Empire, through forced labor camps, invasive planetary occupation, and the willingness to commit genocide to maintain fear and order in the galaxy. It's easy to sympathize with the plight of the Rebellion and the people who want to escape the iron grip of The Emperor.

The main protagonist was Jyn Erso, the daughter of reluctant Imperial engineer Galen Erso. Galen is a brilliant scientist was coerced into working on the beam weapon of The Death Star. He is responsible for covertly integrating a flaw into the design that would later be exploited by the Rebels, once they had acquired the detailed plans of the battle station. After Galen was separated from his family, Jyn was raised by the isolated Rebel extremist, Saw Gerrara. Like other women in the Star Wars universe, Jyn is tough, independent, smart, and able to hold her own in the face of seemingly impossible odds.

The supporting characters were diverse and came together to form a ragtag, but dedicated, team who understood the crucial importance of their mission. They were willing to sacrifice their own lives, if necessary, to save the lives of countless billions from the destructive power of The Death Star.

I really liked the blind warrior monk character, Chirrut Îmwe. He wasn't a Jedi, but was a devotee of The Force- which flowed through him as he took out squads of Stormtroopers with his staff. His mantra was: "I am one with The Force and The Force is with me." Interestingly, he and his companion Baze Malbus were identified as "Guardians of the Whills". In the original conceptions of Star Wars, George Lucas envisioned the Skywalker saga as a story told in an ancient book chronicling the events of the galaxy, called "The Journal of the Whills".

Chirrut & Baze were residents of the moon Jedha, which was once an stronghold of the Jedi containing ancient temples and colossal statues. These remnants of The Old Republic are now ruins strewn across the desert landscape since the Empire took over and destroyed the Jedi's legacy there. I loved the visuals of these ruined monuments that hearkened back to a forgotten age. I would love to see movies that eventually explored this location in it's prime, as a site of Jedi power.

Jedha is also a source of Kyber Crystals, which were used in the construction of lightsabers. The Empire is now confiscating all the crystals it can find, for use in the Death Star's main weapon.

In addition to the gritty experiences of the rebel soldiers, "Rogue One" also showed the power struggles and operations of The Empire. The main conflict on this side is between the head of the Death Star project, Director Orson Krennic, and one of the top Imperial officers, Governor Tarkin, who wants to take both control & credit of the Death Star. Only one of these characters is seen in "A New Hope", so one can guess at how this rivalry turns out...

Amazingly, Gov. Tarkin was recreated digitally, since the original actor, Peter Cushing, died. The level of realism achieved by this & one other surprise appearance was an impressive feat of CGI. Star Wars continues to push the envelope of special effects that Industrial Light & Magic started almost 40 years ago.

Another featured character from the original series (that everyone was the most excited about from the previews) was The Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader. If I had one complaint about the movie, it would be that they could have given Vader just a *little* more screen time. I say this because the very limited time he did have was absolutely awesome. I'm not going to spoil his scenes, but it was an excellent handling of (in my opinion) the greatest fictional character ever. You got a quick glimpse into Vader's tortured existence, and a clear understanding of his terrifying power.

As a extremely critical, but fervent Star Wars fan, I can say that this was an outstanding and satisfying addition to the saga's canon. There was a lot of focus on war & battles, and I usually enjoy the more mystical aspects of the stories. However, there were so many treats for fans and the film was visually so engaging, that I got totally swept up in the adventures of the Rogue One squad.

I would highly recommend this movie, and if you consider yourself a Star Wars fan, you should see it immediately! I guarantee you will want to re-watch "Episode IV: A New Hope" (or at least the opening sequence) right after it.

Having loved this saga since I was a child, I feel grateful to experience a new age of Star Wars!

The Official Monkey Buddha Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Thursday, December 15, 2016

VR "Worlds in Worlds"

 On Reddit I saw this awesome video of a virtual reality world, that exists on multiple scales.

It was made using software called Quill, by artist Goro Fujita. This type of brilliant creation shows the deep possibilities present in VR technology.

A fully-explorable continuum could eventually be created that would allow the user to directly explore the quantum > molecular > cellular >human > cosmic scales, in one seamless interface.

This is just the beginning of playing with virtual space to create mind-bending experiences that can open new doors of perception for us. This, in turn, will help us to see the "real" world with new vision and inspiration.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Trump the Gold Shithead

Last night, my Dad & I were watching a town hall with Sen. Bernie Sanders talking to Trump voters.

Bernie was able to hold a rational discussion and clearly express his views to people in the room, even those who had clearly voted for Donald Trump out of pure ignorance & fear. (Meanwhile, Trump can't even hold a press conference about his endless conflicts of interest which threaten the security of the country. )

As I watched Sen. Sanders explain the issues clearly & with the sincere conviction that he is known for, I was thinking, "Damn, this is the man who should be President-elect right now... but instead we're stuck with Bozo the Corrupt Clown." We'd be facing a much brighter future with Bernie Sanders as President, where the concerns of the average worker would be the priority, not the further gratification of the wealthiest 1%.

Instead, the DNC and the Democrat primary voters pushed Hillary Clinton into the general election. She had no chance of winning over those who already saw her in a negative light, but she still managed to gain more of the popular vote by over 2 million people. The same antiquated winner-take-all Electoral College system that gave us George Dubya failed us again. Hillary was definitely a flawed candidate, but to me, she was the pragmatic choice over the inevitable disaster of the fascist man-child. Everything people hated about Hillary Clinton is exponentially worse in Trump.

In the town hall, some of the voters said they didn't really believe that Trump was going to do all the insane things that he said during the campaign. Bernie incredulously asked, "So, you voted for someone hoping they were lying?" It's just so damn stupid & crazy...

Now, all Trump's lies are already falling apart, before he's even sworn in:

• "Drain the swamp"
• "Lock her up"
•  "Build the wall"
• "Repeal Obamacare"
• "I'll release my taxes"
• "Divest from Trump businesses"
•  etc., etc., etc...

It was all bullshit- ridiculous slogans for people who were all too willing to be conned by America's premiere con-man. Now America's facing the most blatantly & unapologetically corrupt administration imaginable, with a pathetically thin-skinned, narcissistic, authoritarian grifter in charge.

To make it worse, he also has a radical right-wing Congress in power that is chomping at the bit to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, and any other program that benefits the working people or the less fortunate. All the horrible decisions the GOP are getting ready to implement makes sense, when seen through the lens of their ultimate goal- to destroy the United States government from within. Do you think this is hyperbolic? Ask Trump's top advisor, dark-sider Steve Bannon:

Now, as the gold paint is already flaking off, Trump is being exposed for the piece of shit that he truly is. I try not to degrade other human beings or see people negatively. However, this man represents the absolute antithesis to everything I value in life. Trump is greed, ego, hate, exploitation, and (worst of all) willful ignorance personified. If you have to tell people you're smart, you're probably a fucking idiot.

"The trouble with the world
 is that the stupid are cocksure
 and the intelligent are full of doubt." 
- Bertrand Russell

Many people recognize that he is a serious danger, not just to this country, but to the world. The writing is smeared with Trump's tiny fingers all over the wall. His supporters don't care and treat this like the winning team of football game, turning their backs and refusing to see it. Instead, they are seeing the gold-painted turd & still think there's value in it for them. When it inevitably hits the fan, they'll realize there's no real gold there, and the entire country will be covered in his crap.

I made the graphic at the top of this post to express this sentiment, realizing that respect & decorum are no longer relevant with this vile, small-fingered vulgarian.

In a sense, I feel like I did back when I started this blog, during the Bush/Cheney Dark Ages. The constant outrages perpetrated by that cabal of neo-cons gave me focus and caused me to become more aware of my personal humanistic values. This new administration, full of predatory swamp creatures, is already shaping up to be even more of a menace. Time is cyclical, and somehow I knew that this descent back into madness was coming.

Many, including myself, will feel energized to fight back against the regressive forces that want to stifle human progress. The best we can do is not be overcome by the foul stench that will be emanating out of DC with Trump & the Republicans running the shit show.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

iThink Tech 2016

Back in 2008, I introduced my concept for an Apple-branded computer brain implant, the "Apple iThink".

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

(Click to Enlarge)

iThink Technical Specifications

• Size:

1.5 x 1.5 x .5 inches

• Symbiosis™ Neural Interface:
Direct brain-computer link means your mind and computer are one!

• Intel Fusion™ Quantum Processing:
Uses the power of the atom to instantly compute at the speed of thought.

• Holographic Data Storage:
The iThink’s tiny internal holochip has a staggering individual capacity of over 666 Yottabytes (1000^8), for seemingly infinite augmented memory

• Intra-neural Communication:
Mentally allow or block any kind of signal you want to send or recieve instantly over the wireless iThink global network

• Perceptual Immersion: Images, sound, & other data are projected virtually into your sensory fields by directly connecting into your brain’s activity

• Integrated GPS and Google Earth:
Receive directions and location information anywhere on the planet, and the ability to be located in case of an emergency

Since I originally created these graphics, I've watched technology continue to advance, as different fields converge to making such a neural implant possible.

Although there are now implants in use that allow communication by thought and remote control of software, we are still a long way off from a device that contains the many features of the iThink.

Without some cataclysmic event happening on a global scale, I don't see the progress of this kind of research ever stopping. There will always be resistance to any kind of implantable devices, and there might eventually be a "Deus Ex" scenario where humans create social distinctions based on cybernetic augmentations. There may be conflict between implant-free "Naturals," and "Enhanced" (or "Cyber") humans with neural or physiological augmentations. Any new technology, no matter how beneficial, usually brings with it slight uncertainty and the potential for misuse.

My iPhone and Mac computer are extensions of my cognitive and creative processes. I feel like these  devices are portals into the global consciousness, while simultaneously augmenting the functions of the brain. However, I often think about whether the digital techno-sphere is a trap for individual consciousness, preventing it from finding freedom in the more spiritual sense. My personal feeling is that digital technology and mobile devices are enhancements, more than they are traps. It depends on how they are used, of course, but I feel that their benefits outweigh the potential danger.

Anyway, I love to speculate on the future of humanity and the new ideas that will lead to revolutions in our world. I have been floating around ideas for even more advanced tech & features, that would be in an Apple iThink 2.0. However, seeing as we haven't come close to reaching even this stage in implantable technology, I haven't created graphics for the next version yet.

In the meantime, I've been compiling "iThink Tech"- scientific & technological advancements that are leading us down a road toward implantable computers which will interact with our brains directly, for completely immersive computing.

Here are the relevant links I've found from the past year:

 Singularity Hub:

Digital Trends:

Big Think:

New York Times:
(Thanks to my good friend Dr. Phil for this link)

PBS Newshour:





"As our minds will attain the non-linear associative powers 
that will do away with the static mold of analog information,
we will finally break through the speed barrier of thought."

Friday, December 09, 2016

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Flower of Life in Commercial Design

This is kind of a random item, but I am very interested in the concept of sacred geometry. The Flower of Life is a symbol formed from a pattern of equidistant, interlocking circles. It is the basis for the strategy game I created, "Da Vinci's Challenge".

I've noticed this geometric pattern being used in commercial design. It's harmonic properties make it very appealing and applicable to a wide range of uses.

My fianceé's mom has this Flower of Life Pattern potholder by Charles Viancin. I decided to take a picture of it to share on the "Da Vinci's Challenge" Facebook page.

Here's another example of the design on a box of tissues:

Friday, December 02, 2016

Jim Bakker Prepping for Trump's America

I was a child in the 1980's, but I remember the beady-eyed little weasel televangelist Jim Bakker & his late ex-wife Tammy Faye. They were one of many in a long line of religious charlatans, who use the medium of TV to separate the downright stupidest people in this country from their hard-earned money.

They were both mocked on Saturday Night Live, and Jim Bakker eventually ended up in prison for fraud, after being exposed for being an adulterer.

Therefore, it's only natural that "Pastor" Jim Bakker is a Donald Trump supporter. Bakker is now out of prison and back to scamming people through a new TV ministry.

Since the election, I haven't even posted about the Trump transition, because it's a maelstrom of a shit-show that is almost impossible to coherently describe without just flipping the keyboard over & saying "Fuck it, we're screwed!" Every single day presents fresh new outrages that portend a President & an administration that will reach inconceivable levels of corruption and utter incompetence.

Everything is so absurd, that we don't even need satire anymore- you just look at what's happening and realize it's completely crazy as it is.

In that spirit, I found this video by Super Deluxe that has taken clips of The Jim Bakker Show and edited them in the style of Tim & Eric. However, Bakker's schtick is already so ridiculous and vile that it's disturbing even without any editing.