Sunday, January 12, 2020

Neuralink Brain-Computer Interface


Well, it took only 10 years... but technology is finally catching up with my concept for the "iThink" Apple-branded brain/computer interface.

The Neuralink tech that is being developed by Elon Musk's company uses thread-like electrodes that are embedded into the brain using a device similar to a sewing maching. The threads are implanted directly into the brain, but not directly connected to neurons.

Engadget:

This concept is truly dystopian & frightening to many people, but I think it is the next logical step in the "meta-volution" of the human mind.

As much I love the natural world and feel like it is good to disconnect from the web & devices from time to time, the organic structure of the brain will soon need to be augmented beyond the external digital tools we are currently using. The rate of digital information flow and capabilities of A.I. are just advancing too quickly for biological evolution to keep up.

Some of the abilities that could result from tech like Neuralink are:

• "Telepathic" brain-to-brain communication

• Instantaneous mathematical and scientific calculation

• Access to an unlimited databank of multi-sensory media

• Virtual or augmented reality that is directly experienced in the mind

• Expanded multi-dimensional consciousness beyond our current "single point" awareness

• Real-time language translation

• GPS combined with Google Maps to facilitate information-rich navigation

• Etc., etc., etc.

Yes, this technology has the potential for negative uses (mind hacking, unwanted advertising, inability to disconnect)... but ALL tools have that risk. This is the danger that sci-fi classics such as Star Trek's "Borg" and The Matrix have tried to warn us about. However, the same tools that could be extremely dangerous also have the potential to create amazing beauty & benefit for humanity.

As the late, great Timothy Leary said:

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

"The level of intelligence has been tremendously increased, because people are thinking and communicating in terms of screens, and not in lettered books. Much of the real action is taking place in what is called cyberspace. People have learned how to boot up, activate, and transmit their brains.  

Essentially, there’s a universe inside your brain. The number of connections possible inside your brain is limitless. And as people have learned to have more managerial and direct creative access to their brains, they have also developed matrices or networks of people that communicate electronically. 

There are direct brain/computer link-ups. You can just jack yourself in and pilot your brain around in cyberspace-electronic space." 

-Timothy Leary (Chaos & Cyber Culture) 

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Below is the Apple iThink concept that I envision back in 2009:

The Monkey Buddha Achives:



Sunday, January 05, 2020

"Adam and Eve" by Alexandr Kumpan

There's nothing I love more than seeing an image that stops me in my tracks & makes me think "....WTF?!?"

This illustration by Alexandr Kumpan that I saw on r/ImaginaryMindscapes did exactly that - with alien creatures that look like a cross between xenomorphs + jellyfish taking on the roles of Adam & Eve, consuming some strange forbidden fruit. This is just one of the artist's collection of disturbingly psychedelic images.

"Adam and Eve" 
by Alexandr Kumpan





Sunday, December 29, 2019

Gut Health & Mental Health



There are so many things that influence our state of physical & mental being that are interrelated, yet we are relatively unaware of them.

One thing I've been interested in for awhile now is the relationship between the microbiome in the gut & it's effect on not just our physical well-being, but also our mind and emotions.

Science Focus: 

When you see the entire human body has a fully-integrated system of trillions of cells, bacteria and other microorganisms, this idea of seemingly separate parts influencing each other seems less far-fetched.

The gut-brain connection results from chemical signals being produced by the microbes in the intestines affecting the nerve endings in the digestive system, which travel up the vagus nerve into the brain. 

There is also speculation that gut bacteria digest fiber to produce fatty acids that travel through the blood stream & have an epigenetic effect on gene expression in brain cells.

Whatever the mechanism may be, there is a clear link between what we eat and both our physical & mental state. Getting proper nutrition is not the only dietary concern, but we should also be mindful of how the food we eat could possibly lead to inflammation or other effects that could influence our overall heath.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Review: "Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker"


Last night I went to see the final installment of the 9-part "Skywalker" story. It is something I have been waiting for my entire life of 42 years, being a die-hard Star Wars fan since I was a child.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

I will leave a spoiler-free general review first, then get into more specifics with a "spoiler alert".

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It "felt" much more like a Star Wars movie than The Last Jedi, but Episode 9 was just as much as a mixed bag for me as was Episode 8 (and really all the Star Wars movies) - with things I thought were great, as well as choices that I thought were downright horrible. However, I felt the same way about parts of the prequels and original trilogy, so my in-depth criticism is not unique to the sequels.

Unfortunately, there was one specific aspect of this movie that really killed the film (& now perhaps even the entire series) for me. This detail, really an omission, resulted in me leaving the theater fairly disappointed once I realized that it wouldn't materialize (pun intended). See below in the spoilers for what I am talking about.

Throughout "The Rise of Skywalker", there were truly "WTF!" moments where I was completely thrown through a loop, usually in a good way. Although I had ideas in my head about what I would've like to see, I also appreciate unforeseen twists- as long as they make for a good story.

If you are a dedicated Star Wars fan like me, you obviously have to see this movie in order to see how this "trilogy of trilogies" ends. However, there is plenty to both love and criticize, so it is undoubtedly going to be as divisive as the rest of the Star Wars saga.

Read on, if you want to see my specific thoughts on "Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker".



****WARNING!: SPOILERS BELOW****
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So, I'll start off my more in-depth review by saying that this Episode contained several things that I hoped for & have posted in this blog.

When I saw that the Emperor and the ruins of the Death Star II would be involved, I hoped that a horror movie vibe would be used, with Palpatine haunting the ruins like an evil spirit in a haunted castle. Although it didn't play out exactly like this, the Death Star and the Sith planet of Exogal definitely had a horror film feel to them, in both the visual and sound design. Although he wasn't a Sith ghost, the re-animated Emperor Palpatine as a clone zombie (or whatever the hell he was) turned out to be pretty creepy. I thought having his decaying body connected to the giant mecha-arm thing was pretty cool. In addition to being one of the more "fun" Star Wars movies, with very effective humor (unlike The Last Jedi), it also had the scariest moments of Star Wars movie. It might frighten the crap out of little kids at certain points.



Whereas in "The Last Jedi" we got to see the first Jedi Temple & got some Force philosophy from Luke, in this movie we got to see Sith artifacts, rituals, and planets, which was something new & interesting.

However, one thing that the movie got wrong right off the bat was having the movie open with Kylo Ren on a smoldering forest planet, but with no indication that this planet was actually Mustafar- the lava planet where Darth Vader was defeated by Ob-Wan and resided in his imposing fortress, seen in Rogue One. I had no idea, & found this out after seeing the movie. I can't believe they wouldn't show Vader's castle or give some sort of clue that the planet was Mustafar. In fact, focusing more on Kylo Ren exploring his grandfather's former abode while encountering aspects of Vader's past would have been awesome.

*Sigh*

I have a lot of "should have" criticisms of this movie... God, where do I start???

Let me just get out what I see as the biggest, most egregious flaw in "The Rise of Skywalker" -

WE NEVER SEE 
FUCKING ANAKIN SKYWALKER!!!!!  

"GGGGAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!" (That is my nerd scream of disbelief and disappointment) The ONE thing that I (and many other fans) thought needed to happen in this movie did not happen. How are you going to wrap up the story of Anakin Skywalker & his family and NOT show Anakin's spirit appearing at some point???? In his own words, "It's outrageous, it's unfair!!!" This decision is absolute friggin' insanity and ruined the entire movie for me, especially when it gets to the end of the movie and we see Luke & Leia's ghost appear to Rey. I was ready to see Anakin (& maybe the countless spirits of other Jedi) appear in the wide open space behind them, which would have been epic.


But no, this scene passed, the movie ended, and I realized that Anakin is basically persona non grata in the final trilogy of a series that is supposed to be about him & his damn family!!! The frustration and incredulity I feel as a life-long Star Wars fan who has been immersed in the lore of the stories is maddening.

On the topic of Force ghosts, although it was cool to see Luke as a Force ghost, the effect seemed kind of "off" to me. The apparition seemed too blue, or clear, or something that didn't feel like the original trilogy's appearance of the Jedi spirits.


Anyway, after I got home and was reading other people's reaction to the movie, I realized that Anakin WAS in the movie - with the other voices of the Jedi, calling out to Rey to defeat Palpatine. Sorry, but that is just not good enough for me. I could barely tell which voice was Anakin's or the other Jedi. On the other hand, having the stars in Rey's vision as she's lying on the ground materialize into the different Jedi or some other way of visualizing them would have had so much more of an impact. Imagine seeing Anakin, Qui-Gon, Yoda, Obi-Wan, Ashoka, etc. all appearing before Rey - it would have been amazing. Nope, we got a bunch of jumbled up voices with a closeup of Rey's face... a massive lost opportunity to connect to the iconic characters of the entire saga.

Now on to the big reveal... that Rey is actually a Palpatine, the Emperor's granddaughter! I mean, come on!...

Although I guess it's an explanation for why she is so ridiculously overpowered, this idea is still a bunch of straight-up BULLSHIT. The twist in The Last Jedi - that she really was no one & had no family - should have remained intact. The idea that someone with no special lineage can still be strong in The Force is a powerful concept. Nope, we have to re-twist the twist & make Rey a Palpatine, because... why the fuck not?

Then, we get Kylo/Ben finally turning back to The Light for a few minutes, so.... he & Rey kiss in the middle of this creepy Sith temple??? So I guess Rey loved Ben all this time, despite his murder of countless innocent individuals, genocide on a planetary scale, & mental and physical abuse to her personally. I thought Padme's love of Anakin despite his descent into The Dark Side was hard to swallow, but this was a point in the movie where I was like, "Yikes, this is bad".

The final insult to the whole treatment of the Skywalker lineage was to have the last Skywalker (Ben Solo) die, but PALPATINE'S bloodline lives on & takes the Skywalker name??? What the hell?!? Ok, there's some poetic justice in the Emperor's offspring renouncing his dark side legacy and taking the namesake of his antagonists. However, the way it was done with the random old lady in the desert asking her name was so forced & such a ridiculous way to end this saga. Then Rey finally lights up her yellow saber at the end of the movie, never having got to see her use it. I'm sure this is setting up the future "Rey Chronicles" movies ($$$!!!) where we'll see her new lightsaber in action & her training new Force sensitives.



I was hoping that Rey would use the "Skywalker" name as a formal title, describing the new line of Force users that would have shamanic connotations.

I've been on a rampage here & could probably write a small book about my criticisms, so let me backtrack and say what I DID like about this movie.

Speaking of shamanism, I felt like there was some interesting shamanistic undertones. In the beginning, the scene when Rey was levitating in the woods showed her connection to The Living Force, the natural source of life and energy.


Also, when she & Kylo each entered the Sith temple, from the side there was a cool visual of a line of light behind them in the darkness. This was like the "light bridge" that a shaman passes through on the way to the underworld. Once in the realm of the dead, the shaman brings back knowledge or supernatural abilities to facilitate healing the individuals of the community.

Another aspect that I thought was good was the introduction of healing as a Force ability. This spoke to the shamanistic nature of The Force and it's users. Unfortunately, I felt it was overused, with everyone bringing each other back to life.

At first I thought it was dumb that Ben was able to bring Rey back to life at the expense of his own life. However, I read afterward that by doing this act of self-sacrifice, Ben was able to achieve what his grandfather Anakin was unable to do- bring back the one he loves from death. So, Ben did what Anakin couldn't on several fronts due to fear- he destroyed his master Snoke and became the ruler of the galaxy, and also saved the one he loved.

I thought Leia being trained as a Jedi and having her own lightsaber was pretty neat, but why wouldn't this have been known earlier? It also makes a lot of the events of the sequel trilogy nonsensical. Why didn't she reach out through The Force to her son earlier? Why couldn't she have trained Rey instead of Luke in the first place?

Although there were a lot of really cool things to come out of the sequel trilogy, I think as a whole Disney (Kathleen Kennedy, JJ Abrams, Rian Johnson, & everyone involved in producing this trilogy) basically fucked it up.

All the Star Wars movies have plot holes and cringe-worthy aspects, but the new trilogy was basically a movie-to-movie re-hash of the original trilogy with very limited imagination. There were so many angles that could have taken the series in a fresh direction, like exploring the ramifications of a malevolent A.I., or introducing an existential alien threat from outside the galaxy, or having Snoke be a corporatist whose extravagance & power depended on exploitation of the masses, etc., etc., etc. However, we got endless retreads of the "Empire vs. Rebellion" dynamic. Oh wait, this time there's a planet that can destroy other planets! Oh, no no wait, this time we have a gigantic FLEET of Star Destroyers that came from out of the blue, with planet destroying cannons on each of them!!! Ugh.

I could have lived with all the flaws if they would have at least tied up the Skywalker saga by addressing Anakin in some way that provided closure to his legacy. Instead, there was barely a mention of him and no sign of him at all in any of the movies. It really is a fatal flaw that has soured my outlook on the whole sequel trilogy.

Clearly, I am passionate about this story because it's one that I've grown up with, and it has informed me about life, the world, and myself since I was a little kid. Because I am such a devoted fan, I have also been an extremely harsh critic. I will continue to see "The Rise of Skywalker", as well as the other movies, multiple times over the years because they still entertain & inspire me. Maybe my opinions of some of these negative aspects will change, but I doubt it. The stupid things that George Lucas did still seem totally fucking stupid to me. Unfortunately, Lucasfilm & Disney did not hire me as a consultant, so we are left with the movies we have.

As flawed as they are, the Star Wars movies are still part of an epic saga that incorporates philosophy, spirituality, humanism, and a sense of wonder & possibility that will inspire people for generations. I feel fortunate to have witnessed the unfolding of such an amazing work of fiction over the course of 42 years, and look forward to sharing the stories with my children. It has been a truly awesome journey.

"May The Force Be With You"...


Sunday, December 15, 2019

"Rome" TV Series


I recently finished watching the HBO series "Rome" with my wife. We have been watching it sporadically and finally saw the final episode this weekend.

Inspired by this show, I recently posted about an artist re-creating the likenesses of the Roman emperors.

The show follows the rise and fall of Julius Caesar, the first autocratic leader of ancient Rome. Of course, the show features many other characters, some historical such as Marc Antony, Brutus, and Cleopatra.


We enjoyed the show, and I think the production values & writing were really good. Like humans today, the ancient Romans were full of interesting personal tendencies and cultural norms. Some of them were similar to our current behaviors, some were wildly different. I think the show did a great job of showing many aspects of Roman home life, religion, politics, and everyday experience.

The thing I love about well-produced historical TV or movies like this is the ability to really place the viewer into the time period being presented. The detail of the costume and set designs gave an excellent sense of the Roman experience. The re-creation of the city of Rome, with it's varied locations, provided a sense of accuracy that helped make the story believable.


My only complaint about the show would be the use of British accents for the majority of the characters. This took me out of the immersion that the show otherwise provided very successfully. Why wouldn't the actors use Italian or Latin accents, even if they were speaking English? It was just a weird choice that led to some cognitive dissonance for me as I watched it.

Despite that minor flaw, overall the show was really good and touched on the major historical events of Caesar's life. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in historical dramas or ancient Rome.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Ape Agape

I recently came across a couple psychedelic simian images on the Shamanic Sacra-Mental Spaces blog that I thought were pretty awesome.

The first one is "Stoned Ape Theory" by Tim Marr. It illustrates the theory espoused by Terence McKenna (whom I've posted about a lot here) that our primate ancestors had an evolutionary boost from eating psilocybin mushrooms that was a factor in accelerated cognitive development.


The second "Ape Agape" image is by Samuel Farrand, and would be the next step after the previous picture! After ingesting a psychedelic compound, the ape's experience transforms into a energetic mindscape of abstract patterns.


This image reminded me of the 3D image I created called "Psychedelic Symbiosis", which drew a comparison between the structure of neural and mycelial connections.



by Paul Micarelli

Friday, December 06, 2019

Gothic Nautilus

I see a lot of content of all kinds, and love looking at amazing artwork that blows my mind. However, sometimes I see something that stops my online scrolling, & I'm just "Wow'd"!

This laser-cut stainless steel sculpture, Nautilus Penta, by artist Wim Delvoye just made me amazed - at what the human mind can conceive & what the technology it excretes is capable of actualizing.

It is an intricate gothic-style cathedral spiraling into itself to create a nautilus shape.


I have experience laser cutting 2-dimension pieces, and something like this is just insane to me...



Sunday, November 24, 2019

Fractal Broccoli


 I've seen photos of Romanesco broccoli online, identifiable by the fractal arrangement of its florets.

Fractals are basically self-similar patterns, with the same characteristics at various levels of scale. Romanesco has at least 3 levels of self-similarity, with groupings of smaller florets on the larger florets.

I finally saw this visually interesting vegetable in the supermarket for the first time, so I knew I had to get it! I wanted to see how it tasted.

Below are some photos I took, with both a regular & a macro lens. The last photo is the result - the steamed Romanesco broccoli for dinner, with baked chicken and waffle fries w/ Sriracha.

It was definitely more bland than regular broccoli, but I always spice up my veggies anyway. I like the texture of the Romanesco much better. It didn't have the little leaflets on regular broccoli that get stuck in your teeth.

Anyway, I will definitely get it again for other dishes. Besides, I love to look at the fascinating fractal form, so it's worth getting for that alone!



 


Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Mandalorian - Episodes 1 & 2 Review


Since I don't even own a TV anymore, and definitely wouldn't subscribe to Disney+, I took my friend up on an invite to watch the first couple episodes of the Star Wars series "The Mandalorian".



There are spoilers further down, but I'll give a general review first.


"The Mandalorian" refers to the main character, who is from the planet of warriors called Mandalore. His armor is similar to that of the infamous bounty hunter Boba Fett from the original Star Wars trilogy, although it is not known if Boba Fett's "father" Jango & his armor were actually Mandalorian.

Overall, as a life-long Star Wars fan who is very critical, I think the show is really good. The production quality is great, and the excellent practical effects look even better than the occasional CGI that isn't quite as polished as the movies.

The story & characters so far are engaging, and truly feels like it takes place in the Star Wars universe. There are familiar alien species in the background, hints of the Imperial remnants that exist after Return of the Jedi, and technology that fits well visually with the "look" of Star Wars.

For instance, in the second episode, the story involves a Jawa sandcrawler - so you get a look at the gypsy-like scavenger/trader society these little creatures live in.

We also get to see a lethally efficient IG-model assassin droid in action & it's awesome (see the trailer). In Empire Strikes Back, IG-88 basically just stood there with the other bounty hunters assembled by Darth Vader.

The great thing about expanded content, like this series, is that there's a chance to explore aspects of the Star Wars characters & details in more depth.

I would definitely recommend checking it out if you're a Star Wars fan, and really love diving into the infinite depth of the mythos.



*****SPOILERS AHEAD*****



So the big twist at the end of the 1st episode was that the precious bounty that The Mandalorian was contracted to retrieve for a former Imperial official was a 50-year old "baby" of Yoda's species. Even though the child was in an immature, infant-like state, it is shown to be already able to manipulate The Force in significant ways.

If I would've read this idea before seeing the image or the episode, I would've been skeptical that it could be pulled off without being ridiculous. However, I thought it was pretty cool, especially as the Yoda baby basically becomes The Mandalorian's little sidekick in his levitating crib during the 2nd episode. It helps that the CGI for the character is great, and looks much better than the various spacecraft in certain scenes. The little baby, obviously strong in the Light Side of The Force, and a ruthless bounty hunter, charged with keeping it alive, make an interesting duo.

I'm definitely into the story, and look forward to seeing how this unexpected pairing plays out.


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Animated Chakra Energy

I have done quite a bit of research and thought on the ancient concept of "chakras," or centers of energy that exist as aspects of our being.

Chakras are often considered a mystical or esoteric concept, an abstraction that is visualized as a focus of meditation. However, these energy centers correspond to physical centers of neurological and glandular importance.

I created this animation using the Forge of Neon app, illustrating the flow of energy through the chakras within and around the human body.

by Paul Micarelli

After I finished it, I kept adding more details - imagining how the energy would interface with the surrounding Unified Field, absorbing and transmitting light.

I thought the "Thousand Petaled Lotus" that is supposed to blossom from the crown chakra would be analogous to the cascading bio-electric fields that our body creates.

by Paul Micarelli


My wife & I have taken Kundalini classes that have given me a deeper perspective on this concept. She now teaches a "Chakra Flow" yoga class that progresses through poses focusing on the 7 major chakra centers.

Several years ago, I created a Chakra Ascension Series that illustrates each of the chakra points as a progression of an individual through ascending levels.

Here is an animated GIF version of the series:

http://monkeybuddha.blogspot.com/2014/08/chakra-ascension-series-animated.html

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Autumn Leaf Macro Photo


 Macro photo of a multi-colored autumn leaf. 

by Paul Micarelli
 
The fractal contrast between the green & red, with yellow in between, is so vibrant.

Then you look closer and see the microscopic texture, and realize that there are millions of cells working as a system & forming this structure...

We exist in a practically infinite continuum of scale, from the quantum to the cosmic... (and this doesn't even include other dimensions that may be outside our ability to experience or comprehend, at all).

Thursday, October 31, 2019

How Roman Emperors Looked

There are many ways to recreate and visualize aspects of history. I've written about using 3D rendering & virtual reality to see what ancient buildings and areas looked like.

Reconstructing the past can also be done using physical media. My wife & I are watching the series "Rome" and I love how the visual presentation really puts you into that time period. My only complaint about that show is that the Roman characters all have British accents... it makes no sense!

Anyway, after watching an episode of "Rome" I was looking up paintings & busts of Julius Caesar, and looking to see if anyone tried making modern-day representations of him. I came across this article about the Césares de Roma project, in which sculptor Salva Ruano accurately recreates the faces of Roman emperors.

wesee.ist:

The classical white marble busts we are used to seeing are modeled accurately, but really don't express the humanity in these ancient people. It is pretty stunning to see these hyper-realistic faces, based on ancient busts and other reference. The life-like details, along with the effective lighting, bring out the personality in their likeness.

Here are a few of the more famous emperors:

Julius Caesar :



Octavian (Caesar Augustus) :




The OG Neckbeard, Emperor Nero :




This video I just found shows the incredible about of detail that Salva Ruano puts into these sculptures:



Friday, October 25, 2019

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker - Final Trailer


 I am 41 years old and was born when the original Star Wars came out. Since my earliest memories, the Star Wars saga has been my favorite fictional work, and has contributed so much to the person I've become.The imagination, the mysticism, the vision have inspired me my whole life - including into adulthood.

I always hoped that I would live to see this saga conclude as a "trilogy of trilogies", even after it seemed like the Prequels would be the end of the movie series.

I've had my fair share of criticisms of all the movies, but it's only because I love the movies so much, and they are such an important cultural phenomenon of our time. The Last Jedi, which has proven to be a very divisive film, had some of the very best and the very worst of the Star Wars legacy in it.

I can say that the trailers for the 3rd trilogy have been awesome - due to the cinematography, the stellar music by John Williams, and great editing. After seeing the final trailer for Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker, I can say I'm hyped for this movie and hope the saga is concluded in a proper & meaningful way.



As the one trailer for the D23 Disney Expo showed, this is a conclusion of a truly epic story arc that spans decades in both the real world, and also in the fictional galaxy far, far away.



Dark Rey with a double Sith lightsaber.. Whaaaat?!?!?
Just a Force Vision, or a  clone???

It is late on a Friday night, and I could go on for hours about this stuff, so here are a few things that I think need to be in the final movie of the Skywalker saga:

As I just said, this is the Skywalker saga. There needs to be some kind of resolution to the story of Anakin Skywalker's family. Besides his grandson Kylo Ren's obsession with his mangled helmet, "The Chosen One" has been mostly absent from the Sequel trilogy.

Emperor Palpatine is clearly playing some kind of role in this movie. He is another character who has spanned the entire 9 movie stretch (I think the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO are the only characters to appear in all the movies, which is a great statement on how AI might be able to continue beyond our human lifespans). At first, I thought it would be cool if Palpatine's spirit somehow stayed intact, and his evil ghost haunted Kylo & Rey as they made their way through the Death Star, making this movie like a sci-fi horror flick.

Is this an ancient Sith throne, or the seat of power for another unnamed entity?


However, the trailer makes it appear that Palpatine is in a physical incarnation. Perhaps he is a "scarred & deformed" mecha-Emperor - whose grotesque remains are held together by technology & his indomitable, malevolent will. That would be an interesting angle, one explored in The Clone Wars cartoon where Darth Maul survives & has cybernetic limbs.
 

Speaking of the Emperor, there is a confrontation between Kylo & Rey in the iconic ruins of the Emperor's Death Star throne room, which somehow survived the atmospheric entry and impact as the battlestation crashed into the moon of Endor.


It would be awesome if we see the spirits of the "thousand generations" of Jedi who live on in Rey manifest somehow. My personal wish would be for Anakin, Luke, Leia and Ben should come together as 3 generations of Skywalkers in spirit & physical form to finally defeat this evil power.

Perhaps Leia faces Ben/Kylo at some point, like an inverse of Luke facing his father. There are many interesting possibilities.

I am hoping that the title "Rise of Skywalker" refers not only to the return of Anakin Skywalker in some form, but also to a new approach to Force users that rejects the rigid standards of the Jedi/Sith and blaze a new path - known as "Skywalkers" in honor of the legendary family.

"Skywalker" is a term used in shamanic cultures to refer to someone who takes visionary flight, and was clearly a reference used by George Lucas when creating this story. The best aspects of Star Wars are the mystical & philosophical elements, and I look forward to seeing what The Rise of Skywalker adds to this mythos.

There also looks like there will be some amazing large-scale conflicts. They hopefully will have more weight than the slo-mo space-chase and alien racehorse escape of The Last Jedi.


One big question and the source of endless internet fantasies is the nature of Rey & Ben's connection (dubbed "Reylo").


Do they team up at some point, and what happens? Does she just look past the fact that he was a murderous, power-hungry megalomaniac? Does Kylo die, and Rey carries on the Skywalker legacy in name only? Do they forge an alliance and together start a new line of Force users? Whatever is decided, it should at least give a sense of purpose and finality to their story, and the saga as a whole.

Well, those are my thoughts for now, but I'm sure I will have plenty more to say once I actually see the final movie in the Skywalker movie saga. Only a couple months to go for the culmination of a lifetime of being a Star Wars fan!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Nervous Twitch

When I saw this image of a disembodied nervous system on The Weird Wide Web, my spine & neck twitched involuntarily.


Perhaps the self-realization that * the energetic system forming this experience of "being" is a fragile, stringy arrangement of organic tissue * struck a nerve.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A.I. Logo Design

I was browsing stories in Apple News & came across this article about A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) systems being used to explore graphic design.

Venture Beat:

Being a designer who specializes in logos and branding, this piqued my interest for obvious reasons.

I've long thought that creative disciplines, whether commercial or "fine" art, would be one realm that would be somewhat safe from imminent dominance by machines. However, reading stories like this make me realize that A.I. as a design tool may be much more powerful and imminent than I thought.

Really, it's not surprising that information systems & deep machine learning can be used to generate novel visual elements. Like real life, it's a matter of inputting enough reference material and giving some parameters to adhere to certain needs. Ultimately, it's pattern recognition, and it's something the human brain excels at in certain ways. The speed at which computers and neural networks operate certain functions compared to the brain means that A.I. may be able to deliver sophisticated and relevant solutions to visual design problems instantly, with many effective choices.

I'm not worried for my career at the moment, because the human element will likely be necessary for the foreseeable future. Just like Photoshop did not actually take away artist's jobs, it actually created more & took them to a new level - I suspect a similar quantum leap will happen, when A.I. becomes widely used as a design and idea communication tool.

Brand New:

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Visualizing the Speed of Light


The nature of light, including the speed at which it propagates through space, is something that's difficult for the human mind to understand fully.

Add relativity into the mix, and the properties of energy and light become downright mysterious.

This GIF by James O'Donoghue using NASA imagery, although showing the speed that light travels, really highlights the vast cosmic distances that exist beyond our human & planetary scales.


This visualization illustrates the difficulty that the human race is going to have with space travel by "conventional" means - by which I mean trying to accelerate through physical space to a percentage of light speed to reach other star systems.

I think the answer is the development of technology that has been imagined in Star Trek and described by Bob Lazar, who claim to have worked on reverse-engineering spacecraft at the S-4 facility near the once-secret, now-infamous Area 51 test site.

We need to create technology that is able to manipulate gravity in such a way that it can warp space-time, so that the traveler is warped to the destination faster than light would be able to travel through the same space. I think the ideas of Nassim Haramein are leading us in the direction of technology.

Whether it's eventually feasible remains to be seen, but it seems to be the only way to travel through interstellar space without taking generations of humans, or centuries of sending out AI-driven machines.

Perhaps another option is to become beings of pure light ourselves, so that relativistically time stops altogether. However, then our need to explore and physically experience things would be irrelevant anyway...

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Extremes of Vehicle Gendering

Recently, I've come across a couple vehicles in the town where I live that stopped me in my tracks.

They represented the extreme opposites of masculine/feminine duality that exists in so many aspects of life, apparently even in automobiles.

The first one was a truck that I saw in the parking lot of a liquor store, dubbed "The War Wagon" according to the spray-painted lettering on the side. It resembled a vehicle that would be present in a Mad Max, post-apocalyptic hellscape. I guess South Jersey is close enough...



Right down the road, I saw this pretty little Jeep at the local supermarket. Painted black with pink trim, and, yes, eyelashes on the headlights - this model of mobile femininity was the perfect balance to the gritty machismo of "The War Wagon".



BONUS!:

This is a RV that I've seen parked in various locations that I call "The Yahweh-Mobile".
It's covered in religious sayings, Bible verses, and the general feel of insanity that manifests through people covering their car in obsessive text or imagery.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

MANDATORY BIPARTISAN LACTATION CELEBRATION


I recently posted about reaching 1 million page views, and it made me realize how rewarding my 15-year blogging journey has been. I've been able to share all kinds of interesting, weird, and awesome things. I've archived some of my own life and my creations, as well.

I am in my forties, and equal parts cynically jaded & also stuck in perpetual child-like wonder. I still love science, art, spiritual philosophy, and all types of knowledge- but the flood of information in modern digital media makes it difficult to pick topics of sufficient interest to share or discuss.

Especially when it comes to politics, I've become numb to the sheer stupidity and corruption of it all. When I was younger, this blog was a political forum for my disdain and ridicule of the George W. Bush Administration and neoconservative lunacy.

With the election of Donald Trump as President and our plunge into a political situation that is ridiculous and regressive to levels that were unimaginable previously, it is easy to want to throw up your hands and just say "Fuck it all". The human race will die out one day, the Earth will be swallowed by the Sun, which will eventually burn out, and the rest of the Universe will go on in the endless patterns of creation and destruction for billions of years. None of this crap matters in the cosmic scheme of things, yet here we are. So what do we do?...

I'll tell you what we do... we express the absurdity of the situation and break down mental boundaries like the artist know as Beeple (Mike Winkelmann). All of Beeple's art is mind-blowingly amazing, but I saw this gem on Instagram and was like,

"Wow, this is some exquisite non-sense!" 

This pretty well portrays the wackiness that we humans are immersed in right now.

MANDATORY BIPARTISAN LACTATION CELEBRATION 🇺🇸
by Beeple



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Monday, September 16, 2019

The Monkey Buddha - 1 Million Page Views!

 
Between working my full time job as a graphic designer, keeping my side businesses going (Paul Micarelli Design and Fantasy Photos), helping my wife with our brand Conscious Living for You, being a husband, and trying to find time for myself, I haven't been able to post on my blog nearly as much as I'd like.

So, I opened up Blogger to post something tonight and realize that I missed a milestone I knew was creeping up...  The Monkey Buddha has passed 1 million page views since I started this blog, back in 2005!

June 28, 2005

It took me almost 15 years to get that many views, but I've never advertised or really promoted this blog in any way. It has always been simply a creative outlet for me to share and write about the things that interested me.

As you can see in the screenshot above, my most viewed post is, much to my continued amusement, "The World Was Always Awful".

I have had many people contact me over the years or leave comments through the blog. I've even met some friends and clients from it. It has been rewarding to hear how people enjoy enjoy reading it, and it's mind-boggling to think about how many people may have been affected, influenced, or just entertained in some way over all those years.

If you happen to be following The Monkey Buddha, or just landed on this post somehow, leave a comment below with your thoughts on this virtual information outlet I've created. Hopefully I can continue to post here for at least another 15 years! By then, I will be uploading information to the holo-blog through my Apple iThink implant.

This about sums ups my feelings right now:


Sunday, September 01, 2019

Super Zoom into a Pen


I saw this animated GIF on Reddit and loved how well it demonstrated something I've talked about on this blog many times. The Universe is not discrete levels - such as quantum, microscopic, macroscopic, or cosmic.

The Universe is actually a continuum that can be "zoomed" in or out to practically endless degrees.

This world , which we get to experience in our limited capacity, is infinite and full of incomprehensible detail.

Here is the trippy original video, titled "The Super Zoom," which is actually a digital rendering. It also shows the scales at which the zoom is taking place.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Summer Nature Photography

I have been spending a lot of my free time outdoors this summer. I am working a full-time graphic design position, in addition to keeping my own businesses going on the side, so any chance I get I like to be outside relaxing & enjoying nature.

I've added a bunch of new photos I've taken over the past couple months to my album:

by Paul Micarelli


A wasp eating honey off my plate after I finished eating breakfast outside.
Closeup of a tiny ecosystem in the soil of a potted plant.

Macro photo of a tiny spider that was hanging by our back door.
A closeup of a small praying mantis that was hanging on the side of our deck.
A purple flower growing in our garden.
My wife Loretta is trying her hand at growing some vegetables, here is a closeup of a ripening cherry tomato.

My wife Loretta is trying her hand at growing some vegetables, here is a closeup of unripe cherry tomatoes that look like little watermelons.
This plant seemed like it had died, but my wife Loretta brought it back to life.
Loretta was sitting in the grass next to me & jumped up when she felt this frog bump her butt.
Deer grazing in my back yard early in the morning as I was getting ready for work.