Monday, October 05, 2015

2016 US Presidential Race- Capitalism vs. Socialism

 Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast
I had a dream last night that I was meeting with & advising Bernie Sanders, my personal choice out of the contenders for the 2016 election.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Although he hasn't been getting as much air time so far from the corporate-controlled media as Donald Trump, Senator Sanders has an ever-growing tide of online & grassroots support. My dream was probably prompted in part by the story I read last night, about Sanders drawing another crowd of tens of thousands, this time in Massachusetts.

Although he has served about seven years in Congress as an Independent, Sanders is running as a Democrat. Siding with the Democrats wisely prevents him from being a third party candidate- who would draw votes away from any other Democratic nominee & result in a Republican president (which in recent history has usually resulted in disaster).

Although Hillary Clinton has been seen as the likely Democratic candidate, this conventional wisdom was proven wrong last time around. As time passes, it becomes more apparent that Hillary's flaws and lack of conviction on important issues are preventing her from gaining the enthusiastic, widespread support that Sanders is gaining on a daily basis.

After the Democratic debates, more people will be familiar with Bernie Sanders, his voting record, and his proposals. When people become familiar with Bernie, they tend to like what they see & hear. For decades, he has worked tirelessly for the majority of  people of this country.

Sen. Sanders has been constantly fighting for the benefit of the average person while exposing the true "welfare queens" of our society, the Wall Street mega-banks, multinational corporations, and the top 1% of the super-wealthy- who are all siphoning off & hoarding the nation's wealth, so they can have more money than could be used in dozens of lifetimes. Meanwhile, reform & investments in infrastructure, education, health care, and the general welfare of our country are neglected.

Robert Reich: 

I have no idea who could possibly emerge out of the current Republican circus to be their nominee. I think the most interesting matchup in the 2016 Presidential election would clearly be Bernie Sanders & Donald Trump.

The Daily Beast

The reason this would be so interesting is that it would be a clear-cut war of ideologies- Capitalism vs. Socialism. Trump is the epitome of American-style capitalism, in which wealth, power, & ego reign supreme. Sanders, on the other hand, is an open advocate for Democratic Socialism, in which pursuit of profit is not the only goal of a society. Instead, some of the nation's wealth should be pooled together to reach common goals that benefit everyone.

"Socialism" has become a somewhat dirty word in this country, thanks to unrelenting corporate propaganda from Fox News, right-wing radio, and other conservative media outlets. However, Socialism is basically the use of tax money to fund effective government & public programs. Anyone who doesn't like the idea of socialism should stop using public roads, the mail, the service of the police, or any other public service paid for by our tax dollars.

I agree that government can be horribly inefficient, but that means we should work to improve it. It does not mean we should continue to privatize public assets, making already-rich people even more money at the expense of the general population. The problem with the conservative approach to government is that they want to destroy it from within, not improve it. This helps no one, & degrades the state of our country as a whole.

Having Trump & Sanders debate the merits of their respective ideologies would give Americans the clearest choice yet of how we should collectively choose to lead this country into the future. I actually think both systems can co-exist, with different aspects of society using socialist or capitalistic means, depending on which achieves the most effective outcomes.

It would be a hell of a comparison, though, and perhaps it would also be the contrast that people need to properly set our priorities as a nation. I am supporting Bernie all the way, but I think there needs to be a substantial debate from both sides about creating a vision of how to run our society. We'll see if we get this debate in the coming year.

Friday, October 02, 2015

'Chimp Skull Extraction' by Paul Jackson

I saw a gallery of cool ink drawings, including this image of the nesting parts of a chimp's head- the face, skull, and brain.

The artist is Paul Jackson and the title is 'Chimp Skull Extraction'. Here's a straight-on view.

When looking up his website, I just realized that I've posted a piece of Paul Jackson's primate-related artwork before:

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Da Vinci's Challenge" App Concept

 As a graphic design student at Rowan University, in 2001, I created a strategy game for my senior project.

Rowan Today:

The game was based on an ancient symbol I had learned about, called "The Flower of Life". This pattern of interlocking circles has been used in art & architecture all over the world. It has been found on the walls of the Temple of Osiris in Egypt and was studied in depth by Leonardo da Vinci.

The classic game I designed came to be known as "Da Vinci's Challenge" and has won some of the top awards in the toy industry.

Monkey Buddha Archives:

I am now looking for a new publisher, and also for a way to get an electronic version of the game developed. I created the animation below to demonstrate the way I envision an app or video game to look & play. I know that experienced game developers would have many ways to make it look even better.

For more info, ideas, or licensing opportunities, please email (delete the spaces) or visit the official Facebook page. Thank you.

This animation shows concept art for a "Da Vinci's Challenge" app or video game.

"Da Vinci's Challenge" is an award-winning, classic strategy game, based on the ancient wisdom of sacred geometry. The game board is 'The Flower of Life' symbol, used in the art and architecture of many cultures around the world for thousands of years.

The game play is simple, yet full of strategy:
• Use the triangle & oval pieces of your color to form the 'Secret Symbols' on the score sheet.
• You can block a Symbol being made by your opponent to play defensively & prevent them from forming a pattern in their color.
• A player can strategically place a piece to form a 'combo pattern'- where two or more Secret Symbols are formed in a single move.
• The player who scores the most points by the end of the game- WINS!

Game Inventor & Graphic Designer:
Paul Micarelli
Patent #7114721
All material © 3 Amoebas, Inc.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Nihilisa Frank

In addition to my fondness for ridiculously crappy design, I also enjoy art that celebrates absurdity.

On several websites, I've seen links to this amusing Tumblr blog. It features images that combine the rainbow colors & cutesy animals seen on artwork by "rainbow-gulag" founder Lisa Frank- with nihilistic quotes that reflect despair, emptiness, and a sense of existential crisis. It's a great mashup of contrasting elements, on par with Nietzsche Family Circus.

Look upon these images, and feel the sense of a happy, bright brand of nihilism.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Horrible Knockoff Transfomer Toy Design

Despite being a graphic artist who takes pride in creating pleasing designs, I also have a great love for really, really bad design, which never stops amusing me.

I saw this abomination on The Chive, in a post about bad toy knockoffs. It looks like it's supposed to be a Transformer-style toy, but the colors and packaging are hilariously crappy.

The name says, in Mexican/Italian colors, "Knight Rider Becames Robert" instead of what I believe should be, "Knight Rider Becomes Robot". This, along with the crazy overall neon color scheme and primitive graphics, makes for a memorably bad example of graphic design.

After a little research and reading comments on other blog posts, it seems to be a ripoff of Super Gobots Zeemon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Deciphering the Mayan Language

For many years, I have been fascinated with the art & culture of the ancient Maya people of Mexico.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

On The Daily Grail, I came across this informative history of the decipherment of the Mayan language & glyphs.

Ancient Explorers:

It is a very interesting look at all the brilliant minds & fortuitous events throughout the 20th century that led to the rediscovery of the Mayan language.

During the Spanish Conquest, much of the heritage of the Maya was systematically destroyed by the conquistadors like Cortes and friars like Diego de Landa. The combination of greed and religious fervor, along with a sense of ethnic superiority, led the Europeans to wipe out a culture rich with art and knowledge of nature, mathematics, and astronomy. Of course, the Maya were human and had many brutal aspects to their society, as well. However, the loss of knowledge and life was horrific and inexcusable.

It is amazing that certain geniuses from around the world were able to slowly reconstruct the lost language & ideas of these ancient people, centuries later. Of course, the pattern-detecting abilities of the human brain played a huge part in this, but I also wonder if there is a kind of all-pervasive information field on some level, that our minds can tap into to unlock or access information. Maybe once something is created or thought on a mass scale, it can be pulled back up within a certain time or under certain conditions.

Regardless of how this feat of archaeology has been performed, we are now the benefactors of all the research that has gone into the complex history of the Maya. There is a lot to learn from the limited information we have from them, and there will undoubtedly be more discoveries in the future.

On a related note, this summer at a flea market I came across this exquisite art book that replicates a Mayan codex-style book. It was about the Mayan calendar & their system of numbers. It's called Calendario Maya (1997) and came in a woven pouch. At first, I thought it was just a plaque because of the hard cover, until I opened it and saw the beautifully designed pages inside.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wolf Spider Eating a Cricket

This is another post with more pictures added to my nature album... but these aren't as cute as the last ones.

by Paul Micarelli

I was coming home from work one day, and saw a large black critter run under the ledge of my front door.

It was dark, so I used the flashlight on my phone to look below the edge of the step. I saw that it was a very large spider holding & eating a big cricket.

I was like "Woah!" & obviously had to try to get some photos. I couldn't really see what I was doing because of the short ledge- which I put the phone right up against, so I could get as close to it as possible. I tried to tap the screen to focus, but it was too dark to see. I just took a bunch of pics with the flash to see what I got. Luckily, the spider was too busy eating the cricket it was holding to run away.

When I felt like I had some good images, I chased him into a small flower pot nearby and carried it to the woods. It kept jumping out, so I'd scoop it back in until I got it away from the house.

It was a pretty big spider, and afterward I confirmed my suspicion that it was a wolf spider. I got pretty close on it, so it looks even crazier in the photos.

Little Green Caterpillar

I've added a couple photos to my album of nature pics:

by Paul Micarelli

I saw this tiny green caterpillar with red spots & cool markings crawling on a leaf. I picked up the leaf and got in close with my iPhone to get some pics of it. 

My finger in the one photo to give an idea of its small size. It was about as long as my fingernail.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mandelbrot Fast Zoom

"Illumination" by Paul Micarelli

Fractals have always been a subject of deep fascination for me. I've created fractal images & posted about the fractal-like qualities of reality here many times.

The Monkey Buddha Archive:

Fractals are mathematical formulas that result in infinitely complex images when plotted point by point. When calculated on a computer, it's possible to "zoom" in & out of the image to render the image at different resolutions. In fact, I like to think of fractals as being 2.5 dimensions, because there is a "virtual" dimension of depth when you zoom throughout the image.

The main feature of fractal geometry is the recursive nature of the visual elements. As you zoom into & out of the picture, there are self-similar features that continuously appear. I wouldn't go so far as to say the the Universe is a fractal, but it definitely contains fractal-like qualities & features.

On Awakening Our Truth, I saw this animation of a zoom into the Mandelbrot fractal, named after the discoverer of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot. It is 15 minute long & shows the endless continuum of features that a simple fractal formula can produce.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ape Making Fire

On fUSION Anomalog, I saw a sequence of animated GIFs that show an ape using matches to light a fire & roast marshmallows.

This is one of the many examples that demonstrate tool use among animals, especially primates. The perceived gap between human beings and other creatures is not as wide as traditionally believed. Primates, in particular, have most of the same senses & perceptions that people do. It's just a matter of degree when it comes to our respective cognitive abilities.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

The bonobo's name is Kanzi, and here is more info about ape intelligence & communication.


Here is a video showing Kanzi lighting the campfire.

I recently read a book about baboon communication & social hierarchies that was interesting. It was another reminder how close we humans are to animal behavior in so many ways.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Star Wars- Visual Poetry

Being a lifelong Star Wars fan, I've posted a lot about the movies over the years.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Like so many other people, I'm anticipating the next installment "Episode VII: The Force Awakens". It will be interesting to see how the series plays out after the events in "Return of the Jedi". From what I've seen so far, it looks like it could live up to the high expectations.

One of the reasons I think that the Star Wars saga is one of the greatest works of fiction of all time is the sheer artistic vision that went into them. The story & visuals draw from sources of history, myth, and art from around the world.

This video examines the visual poetry among the scenes. thematically linking the various movies together. There are many correlations that I've never noticed, even after seeing them so many times. It's really well done.

Youtube Link

Friday, September 11, 2015

Drawing in 3D Virtual Space

I saw this cool video last night, and it brought forth many thoughts on the future of virtual reality & how we will use this technology to create new mental experiences.

Master Disney animator Glen Keane uses VR tools to create and explore virtual spaces, that only exist as abstract data and as experiences in the brain of the individual.

The merging of consciousness with the luminous world of digital information is another step in the evolution of what we know as the mind. There is a strange interplay of inner thought and external stimuli going on here, that could be a transition to an entirely new mode of thought & perception.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Barn Spider

I added a couple more spider pics to my gallery of nature photos.

This large spider had built a massive web across the entrance to the barn behind my house.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Visualizing Magnetic Fields

 We have an invisible world around us. Energetic fields permeate our space, and humans have no biological way to detect these forces.  We are surrounded by magnetic fields, radiation, and the majority of the light spectrum that are hidden from our senses.

This video, called Magnetic Movie, explains magnetic fields and how they would "look" if we could see the lines of force they produce.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Spiral Motion of the Solar System

Anyone with some awareness of our cosmic situation knows that The Earth is a giant rock that is spinning & also orbiting around the Sun.

However most people don't realize that the Sun (& therefore the entire solar system) is also orbiting the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

I've posted before about the motion of our solar system and how the fact that the Sun is in motion relative to the galactic plane causes the planets to trace out helical paths through space.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

I recently came across another animation visualizing the dance of the planets around our closest star, as they travel around the center of the galaxy.

This led me to investigate how accurate these representations really are. I found this excellent article that explains what is right & wrong about these animations.

Universe Today:

There is another animated GIF in the article, by Rhys Taylor, that depicts the motion a bit more accurately. It turns out that the orbital plane of the planets is about 60ยบ relative to the motion of the sun. So, it looks more like this.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

"It's Not Worth It"

On Reddit, I recently came across a link to this article about Linds Redding, a designer & art director who died from esophageal cancer in 2012.

Business Insider:

Redding wrote an essay reflecting on the time & work he put in with his ad agency, in light of his terminal illness.

His conclusion was that personally connecting with people & family should be one's top priority. Some people are so fixated on success & their job that they don't make time to actually enjoy life.

Linds Redding:

This resonated with me, because I am a graphic artist and have posted many times here about art & design.

I don't feel like what I do is useless, but I also realize many of the products & packaging I create are ultimately disposable.  One quote in the essay, by his typography teacher, stood out to me: "We are fillers of landfills." That is a pretty cynical view, but to some extent, true.

Throughout my adult life I have been keenly aware of my own mortality and the transience of all human endeavor, including my own.

I have entertained the question, "Why bother with anything, if no trace of it will exist in a billion years, anyway?" The only answer I can come up with is, "Because I am here, and I feel compelled to do so."

Through the lens of impermanence, it's easy to question the relevancy of any commercial profession. I definitely don't think I'm "saving the world" with my professional work, as Redding put it. However, I truly enjoy it and can express a lot of creativity through the variety of projects we get. I've also spent time on plenty of my own art and other creative work, like this blog. I find any creative outlet immensely satisfying. I definitely try to keep a balance between my job, creating art, & my personal life.

I think each person should question their existence every day, on both the personal & cosmic level. Doing so makes you aware of how little precious time you actually have in this life, and gives you the "perspective" that Linds Redding was trying to convey.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Nature Photography- Summer 2015

I added a few more photos to my photo album of nature pics:

by Paul Micarelli

These pictures are from this summer, before I started the album online. I'll continue to add older photos from previous years & any new ones I take.

I love nature & being outdoors, and have been lucky to see many different creatures in my lifetime. I am endlessly fascinated by the endless diversity of Life.

This is one of the many rabbits around my house, blending in with the leaves:

This dragonfly was busy devouring another insect, so it was too busy to notice I was sneaking up close to it to get this picture:

I was outside my work one day & heard a loud rustling on the side of the building. This groundhog was trying to get past the gate to the yard:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Painted Greek Sculpture

 I've posted before about the discovery that ancient Greek sculpture was not plain white marble, as previously believed. The Greeks actually painted their sculptures in vivid colors.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

I recently found more articles about this realization, which is changing the way we think about classical art.

Harvard Magazine:

We weren't the only ones to have a misinformed view of art history. During the Renaissance, artists like Michelangelo sculpted in white marble, because this how they believed classical sculpture looked. All the paint from antiquity had been stripped away by that time, so it appeared that the ancient Greeks & Romans created bare marble statues.


 This is just one of the ways that technology is helping us gain a clearer view of our ancient past.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Slaughter Beach Spider

Last week, my family was on our annual summer vacation at Slaughter Beach in Delaware.

My family are experts at vacationing & relaxing. I started out the vacation by going with my girlfriend to visit her family in Avalon, NJ for the weekend. On Monday, we took the Cape May Ferry to Lewes, Delaware and drove to Slaughter Beach, where my family was staying.

It was a great week and we all enjoyed ourselves. I love sitting on the beach, running by the marshes, watching the sky at sunset, then making a beach fire pit in the sand under the stars. Being in nature is what I enjoy the most.

Nature can also be creepy, though. On the last day of vacation, my brother Joe almost ran into this large spider which had trapped a butterfly in its web. I added it to my album of nature photos.

"Slaughter Beach" definitely lived up to it's name in the case of this spider & its unfortunate butterfly prey.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Atmospheric Bacteria

One of my recent topics of particular interest has been molecular biology & microscopic life.

Many people don't even realize that each of us human beings is actually an ecology of microbial life, living symbiotically with human cells. We are a biome of billions of tiny life forms essential to our physiological functions.

The reason I don't fear germs, bacteria, etc. is because not only are they throughout our body- they are everywhere!

Research is showing that microbes even live in the air, all the way up to the very edge of our atmosphere. I saw an article on Neatorama about living organisms that survive floating miles up, at the edge of space.

Here is the National Geographic article with more info about the research:


Monday, August 17, 2015

Morphing Logos

As a graphic designer with over a decade of commercial experience, I've created my fair share of logos.

A good logo can become just as iconic as the company, service, or product that it represents.

This is a set of animated GIFs that show logos from some of the most popular companies, and the images morph to show how they changed over time.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Perseids Meteor Shower 2015

 Last night, I sat out under the starry sky around midnight to watch some of the Perseid meteor shower.

Design You Trust:

Luckily, it wasn't too cold out, and the night sky was very clear. For the hour or two I was out there, I saw at least a dozen meteors. A few of them were very bright, with visible smoke trails. Early on, there was a meteor that was so large that it looked like a missile shooting across a large section of the sky!

Although they are known as shooting stars, meteors are actually small pieces of rocky debris that fall into our atmosphere. As they hit the air & burn up, we see the result as a fireball with a trail streaming behind it.


The annual Perseid shower is caused by Earth's orbit crossing the much larger orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. As we pass through the debris field, hundreds of rocky fragments floating in the wake of the comet are pulled toward Earth.

 Most of these meteors burn up before they get near the surface of the planet, although some that impact the ground are later found, when they are designated as "meteorites".

One of the biggest priorities of the human race should be to locate large asteroids that have the potential to cause major damage should they impact the planet. There are giant rocky bodies hurtling through space that could cause major planetary catastrophe, yet humans are blissfully unaware of the potential for disaster that exists because we have not made the effort to plan for such an event.

Hopefully, the cosmos and its random processes spare us for awhile longer until we get our act together. We either need to find a way to track & deter an asteroid, or we learn to exist off this planet for extended periods of time...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Limits of Human Vision

 Look into my eye....

I saw this interesting article about the sense which I find most important, being a visual artist:

BBC Future:

Originally a congregation of cells that evolved to react to electromagnetic radiation, the organ we call the eye is one of the countless marvels of biology.

Despite the power of sight, our eyes only pick up a small slice of the energetic reality surrounding us. We adapted to see only what we need to to survive in our particular circumstances.

The Monkey Buddha:

As technology advances and digital interfaces are developed to enhance our senses, it's possible that one day humans will be able to detect other energy wavelengths or have a wider range of vision.

I always wondered what the "resolution" of human eyesight is compared to the pixel dimensions of computer screens. It turns out we see at about 120 pixels per degree of arc, which ends up being around 500-600 megapixels.

The eye and visual perception are sources of constant wonder for me. The ability of the eye and the brain to process light energy into recognizable form is a marvel, but it is also fundamental to how humans and other lifeforms perceive our world.

Emails That Every Designer Fears

I saw this funny and disturbingly accurate list of email headings that a designer like myself would dread seeing in their email inbox.

Sad and Useless:

Luckily my studio doesn't really have to deal with clients like these, but I've seen plenty of similar requests over the years. 

People don't typically understand the patience & mental telepathy required to be a good graphic artist or designer. This is probably true for any profession where you interact with people in any capacity, though.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

3D Model of Brain Cortex Cells

There are few technologies that have been as useful for advancing our understanding of the world as computer imaging & 3D modeling.

Using computers and software to simulate previously unknowable systems, we can visualize phenomena from the microscopic to the cosmic scale. One area where these visualizations are extremely helpful is in biology and anatomy. The human body is an extraordinary collection of parts & processes, and there are aspects of it that can only be experienced through computer simulation.

I recently saw this article about the imaging of a small slice of a mouse's brain neocortex, or gray matter.

Huffington Post:

The neocortex is the outer area of the brain that is responsible for complex information processing. The area of brain tissue that was studied was smaller than the cross-section of a human hair, and was sliced up into extremely thin slices. The slices were scanned & the area was reconstructed digitally, so it could be analyzed in precise detail.

The imaged area was based around two nerve cells, and included all the other cells that intersected that densely-packed space. The different cells are encoded using colors to differentiate them. The awesome thing about having a digital model is that the various elements can be separated, isolated, and manipulated to understand their different aspects.

I am fascinated by these kinds of studies and the insight they give into ourselves & the incomprehensibly complex nature of our bodies.

Here is a link to the study from Harvard University:

This short video gives a concise description of the study & the visual representations of the cortical tissue.

I've previously posted about the complexity found within single one of these brain cells.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

 Reality consists of infinite layers of endless detail, that exists on all scales

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Deep Dream Images


I recently posted about software code that Google researchers have developed, using computers set up as neural networks.

The Monkey Buddha:

The computer uses a feedback loop of image recognition algorithms to find features in the imagery,  and then enhance them. The Google engineers dubbed the process "Inceptionism," because the computer keeps going deeper into the image to discern features & patterns. Even if there isn't really any recognizable elements in the visual data, the computer will still process the information & try to find familiar forms. The images that are filtered through the software often end up with a trippy, bizarre, or dream-like appearance.

This research can give us a lot of insight into the nature of consciousness and altered states of all types. By modeling the way the brain recognizes & processes patterns, we will develop a deeper understanding of our own minds.

There is a web app I saw on Gizmodo that takes the Google code and allows you to upload your own photos & apply the different filters.

There's no control over the parameters for each filter, but it's fun to plug different pics in and see how they turn out.

I put a bunch of my own photos through the various filters and created a gallery of images. The results were mostly pretty interesting. My favorites were made using the "Botanical Dimensions" filter.

There are more images in the linked gallery, below.

Picasa Web Album:

Of course, I had to try adding the effects to The Monkey Buddha logo:


This is a self-portrait that came out very strange:


Here is a crazy rendering of my girlfriend Loretta. The original photo was taken by her friend Tessa from Colour Contessa Photography. I think she looks like an otherworldly Aztec goddess.


Finally, here is a psychedelically serene picture of The Buddha: