Thursday, August 28, 2014

Life is Absurd

Whenever things seem serious & overwhelming, we should maintain our sense of humor with a deep realization of the absurdity of our situation.

This graphic I saw on FFFFOUND! states it very simply:


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: "War God" by Graham Hancock


 On vacation this year, my summer reading of choice was "War God: Nights of the Witch".

Author's Website:
"War God", by Graham Hancock

I've also read Graham Hancock's excellent book about lost civilizations, "Fingerprints of the Gods". That book was a non-fiction investigation of ancient history, but "War God" is a novel, set in Mexico during the Spanish conquest of the Americas.

I am very interested in Mesoamerica cultures, such as the Aztecs, Maya, and Inca, and have studied them for many years. Before starting "War God," I read a book about the writing system of the Maya and how it related to their rulers. "A Forest of Kings" by David Freidel & Linda Schele was a scholarly read that was very detailed with archaeological  & ethnographic information.

Despite all the knowledge you may gain about a given culture, nothing helps you understand the lives of the people of the time like a good narrative or story. A character-driven story puts you mentally into the experience of the culture, like a virtual trip into another time & place. I believe video games can do the same thing- more so than movies or TV, in which you are a passive observer. The Mel Gibson movie about the Mayan culture "Apocalypto," however, is an example of a movie that effectively puts you into the setting of a certain time period. "War God" would also lend itself to an awesome cinematic rendition of a historical culture.

Anyway, "War God" is definitely a good story, and is engaging from the first chapter. Although I took periodic breaks from reading it over the last month or two, I was always looking forward to picking it back up & continuing the trip back to the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

Although I was very familiar with the history of the Aztecs (or as they called themselves, the Mexica) and the conquistadors, Graham Hancock has presented their story in a way that kept me wondering what would happen next.

The book takes place from the perspective of many different characters, including major historical figures such as the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, and the Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés. These powerful personalities are joined by the experiences of more "common" characters- such as Tozi, a young girl who has magical powers, or Pepillo an innocent boy who joins the expedition as a page for a sadistic Inquisitor priest. Despite the number of characters, their various perspectives are integrated very well, and give a sense of an all-encompassing view of the story's events.

There are many deep questions Hancock addresses in this novel- including the opposing human characteristics of brutality & compassion, the influence of religious ideology on people's thinking, the dynamic between two clashing cultures, the nature of the visionary experience, and the effects of the individual upon human history.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading "War God" and found myself looking up much of the historical information presented in the book, to gain a better understanding of this era.


This is the first book of a trilogy, and I look forward to reading the sequel, "War God II: Return of the Plumed Serpent", a reference to the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, or Kukulkan to the Maya.

If you have any interest in Mesoamerican cultures (especially the Aztecs or Maya), American or world history, or just an enthralling narrative, I would highly recommend "War God" by Graham Hancock.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Letter Clock™"

 

This is a funny idea I had awhile back... to make a clock using the 1st letter of each number's name (like "T," for "Twelve")

After extensive research online, I was astonished to discover that this idea hasn't already been created... so I did!!!


*It is now available in The Monkey Buddha Bazaar on Cafepress, in different styles:

"Letter Clock™"
by Paul Micarelli

http://www.cafepress.com/monkeybuddha/11504079

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Space Eye

After my last post about the fascinating space objects that are finally being beheld by the human eye, I came across this cool animated GIF.


Here's another one I found:


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Space Encounters

There have been some very interesting images released lately, showing encounters with bodies in outer space.

It is hard for the human mind to grasp the practically infinite expanse of space- which contains countless stars, planets, moons, comets, and trillions of other bodies slowly moving throughout the Universe, over endless eons of time.

The first photo is the space probe Rosetta's rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is 2.5 miles wide. Humanity now has its most detailed look ever at a comet up-close. The Rosetta probe is now orbiting the giant mass of ice & rock, but is scheduled to actually land on its surface soon!

European Space Agency:
Rosetta Arrives at Comet Destination




The lack of visual context in the photo above makes it look like a giant boulder, and I really didn't realize the size of the comet nucleus until I saw the photo below. It shows the comet in comparison to the city of Raleigh, NC.


Another amazing image of quiet, breathtaking beauty is this one of Saturn's moons, Rhea & Epimetheus, transiting the planet with the rings visible in the background:


The final image is not as clear or detailed as the previous ones, but it is still mind-boggling in its technical achievement. The New Horizons spacecraft has taken video imagery of Pluto being orbited by its largest moon, Charon.

Daily Mail:

The spacecraft got this imagery while 262 million miles from the planetoid. The fact that we can process light into discernible photos from that far away is pretty astonishing. The scale of the Universe is truly incomprehensible...



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Was the Buddha a Shaman?


 I came across this article that contemplates whether Siddartha Guatama, "the Buddha," was a shamanic figure.


In the sense that he supposedly achieved altered psychic states & then brought back a message or wisdom for other people, he could probably be considered a shaman.

Besides exploring this specific connection, the article gives fairly detailed historical information about shamanism, Buddhism, and the use of psychoactive techniques in these traditions.

In an earlier post, I talked about the connection between the figure of the Buddha to that of Jesus Christ:

Monkey Buddha Archives:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Emerging Technology

I saw this video on Neatorama that outlines some of the major technological breakthroughs that are now in progress:


As I write this, in the year 2014, the human race is experiencing an unprecedented acceleration of accumulated knowledge.

The traditional branches of science are continually branching off, into countless specializations of research and application.

New scientific fields and discoveries are snowballing into a dizzying amount of information that any single human brain cannot completely absorb.

Luckily there are now sources that can distill all this info for the generalist, like myself, to quickly appreciate the latest science news. One of my favorites is the weekly graphic summaries posted to Reddit/futurology:



As the brilliant Arthur C. Clarke stated, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The emerging technologies of the near future would have been considered fantastic impossibilities, even in the very recent past.

If the human mind can conceive of an idea, there is a good chance that the idea can be manifested into reality. Of course, there are constraints- such as the resources, time, & effort that are able to be devoted to its realization.

The one major technological trend that people seem to be most afraid of is the merging of human biology and consciousness with machines & their digital interfaces. When our minds and bodies are eventually transformed by the synthesis with "artificial" systems, there will undoubtedly be many positive and negative aspects that will have to be considered.

However, I think it's inevitable that there will be continued use of technology to augment our senses, physical abilities, and mind. Exactly what kind of paths this direction will lead us on is the fascinating question that we will just have to wait to experience, as time flows on...

"Apple iThink"
Concept by Paul Micarelli



Monday, August 11, 2014

Deadly Facts About Water

Water is the essential fluid for life.

As a Pisces (water sign), I feel a deep affinity towards water- in addition to enjoying it as my primary drink and a medium to swim & bathe in.

I found this graphic to be extremely funny. It shows how even something benign, like water, can be twisted into a danger that is hazardous to human health.

(click for larger size)

FACT!
100 PERCENT OF ALL PEOPLE 
EXPOSED TO WATER WILL DIE!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Tool-Using Monkeys

I saw this animated GIF on Cheezburger.com that shows two monkeys using a heavy stick to crack open a nut.



The use of tools has been one of the characteristics that have been traditionally used to distinguish human superiority to the rest of the animal kingdom. 

As we discover that other living creatures also share "human" qualities- such as tool use, language, aesthetic judgement, empathy, and self-awareness- it becomes apparent that there is not a clear line dividing us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

We are animals, despite any religious or philisophical argument that claims otherwise. The human race is nothing more than a group of monkeys that have figured out more sophisticated technologies.

Not that this is a trivial thing at all, but there is definitely not as much of a gap between us and the "beasts" as we think...

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

"Meta Morphosis"



"Meta Morphosis"
by Paul Micarelli 

I've had this little crystal skull & a bunch of rocks of various shades that I've been wanting to use for this artistic side project, that I envisioned awhile ago.

The circle of changing stones represents the continual transformation that one experiences in a lifetime, while incarnate in the world of matter. 


I decided to overlay stars over the spiral design for a background. This gives the impression of the galaxy we are within, & also the dynamic "Ying-Yang" energy of creation.

This design is available on products, in my Cafepress shop. Please check out the other designs I have there, as well:

 The Monkey Buddha Bazaar:
 http://www.cafepress.com/monkeybuddha/11460991 

Friday, August 01, 2014

"Chakra Ascension" Series- Animated

(click for larger size)

Recently, I posted a series of images that I made back in 2003.

The images show a solitary, meditating figure in different environments. Each setting corresponds to the ancient metaphysical energy system within the body, known as "chakras".

I am not a chakra meditation practitioner, so I approached this as a metaphorical work of art. I finally decided to post the "Chakra Ascension" series, for other people to contemplate.

Now that I've posted all the individual entries, you can see the recap of the entire series at this link:

by Paul Micarelli 

In addition to a free e-book, in PDF format (that can be downloaded at the link above), I also made the animated GIF at the top of this post.

The animation cycles through the series, in order, which gives a better impression of the "ascension" through the different chakra levels.

Please check out the link above for the hi-res images & their descriptions. I put the images, without the descriptions, into a folder & used them as a cycling wallpaper on my computer.

I also uploaded the animated GIF to my Cheezburger account, if you'd like to give it an upvote or share it.

Cheezburger:
"Chakra Ascension"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Poconos 2014: Family Photo

This month, I went on vacation with my family, to a lakefront rental in the Poconos, PA

We all look forward to our vacations together each summer. We've become real pros at relaxing & enjoying our time off. We have great stories and memories from our many vacations over the years.

I've been posting some of the photos I took during the week, mostly nature scenery & crazy things I saw in our travels.

Picasa Web Album:

Usually, I don't post stuff about my family on this blog, but I wanted to include the official family vacation photo with everyone in my immediate family. 

These are the most important people on this planet to me, & I'd like to think I'm preserving their memory on the Google servers, for posterity.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Perhaps our memories will continue on into the far future, even as the Internet inevitably continues to develop into new forms. As humanity & our global information network one day moves beyond Earth into space, hopefully at least the digital remnants of our lives will survive into the future & among the stars.


The Micarelli & Sawyer families 2014: Joseph Micarelli, Sylvia Wong, Justin Micarelli, Johanna Hadik, Greg Sawyer. Gregory Sawyer III, Susanna Sawyer, Mandi Sawyer, Karen Micarelli, David Sawyer, Paul J. Micarelli, Paul M. Micarelli, Loretta De Stefano

Friday, July 25, 2014

Poconos 2014: Hawk Falls


Last week I went on vacation with my family, to a lakefront rental in the Poconos, PA. This year we stayed at a new house. It turned out great, & my whole family had an awesome week.

We didn't really do too much other than eat, drink, hang out by the lake, & go out on the boats. In the beginning of the week, we went to a huge flea market. There, we had our traditional contest to see who could purchase the best 'prize find' for under $5.

The only other day trip some of us took was to the scenic Hawk Falls trail, which is near Hickory Run State Park. It is a short hike of about a mile that ends up at a beautiful waterfall. It's an easy enough hike that we can take my nephews when we go. I go almost every year & it's picturesque location never gets old.

I added some pics from the hike & the waterfall to my photo album.

Picasa Web Album:




Here's a pic of The Monkey Buddha (aka Paul Micarelli), in the wild:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Poconos 2014: Nature Photos


Last week I went on vacation with my family, to a lakefront rental in the Poconos, PA. This year we stayed at a new house. It turned out great, & my whole family had an awesome week.

I've added photos to my Poconos 2014 album of the beautiful scenery that I observed & enjoyed on the lake that we stayed at. It was truly refreshing to be in a natural setting, cut off from technology & social media. I love the outdoors, and spent my time kayaking, fishing & just relaxing by the lake.

Picasa Web Album:




Monday, July 21, 2014

Poconos 2014: Flea Market Finds

Last week I went on vacation with my family, to a lakefront rental in the Poconos, PA. This year we stayed at a new house. It turned out great, & my whole family had an awesome week.

On the weekend we get there, we usually go to a gigantic flea market for part of the day.

Awhile ago, my sister came up with a fun game...

"Find the craziest/awesomest/most ridiculous item, 
for under $5 at the flea market."

Now, I carefully scour tables & boxes when I'm looking around... trying to find that one thing that stands out above the others. My Mom asked me what criteria I used to pick my "Prize Find", but I just know it when I see it.

I've started my Poconos 2014 album with "Flea Market Finds". My "Prize Find" is in the album below, click the link to see more pics of other insane things that were for sale.

Picasa Web Album:
 


 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Wisdom of Nikola Telsa


 Nikola Tesla was an inventor who was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century.

I've posted about Tesla here several times. The more I learn about his visionary ideas & theories, the more I realize what an absolute genius he was.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Besides his tangible achievements, such as the invention of alternating current, radio transmission, and early x-ray imaging, Telsa also worked on advanced technology that is only becoming fully realized in modern times. He proposed beam weapons & wireless transmission of electricity.

Telsa's most important theory, in my opinion, is his theory that electric power can be extracted from the quantum field interpenetrating all things throughout the entire Universe. This is the zero point energy source that will make all other forms of energy production obsolete.

The monkey Buddha Archives:

Yesterday was Nikola Tesla's birthday & his name lives on, thanks to the ongoing appreciation people have for his work. Elon Musk, the billionaire who founded the electric car company bearing his name, Tesla Motors, donated $1 million to the future Tesla museum, at the site of his Wardenclyffe laboratory.

I don't have a million bucks, so I'll honor one of my intellectual heroes by posting some of my favorite Tesla quotes.


"All people everywhere should have free energy sources - 
Electric Power is everywhere present in unlimited quantities 
and can drive the world's machinery without the need for coal, oil or gas"
-Nikola Tesla


 "If you want to find the secrets of the universe, 
think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration."
-Nikola Tesla

"Our senses enable us to perceive 
only a minute portion of the outside world.” 
- Nikola Tesla.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Understanding Monkey Language

I came across this article about a paper outlining the gestures used to communicate between chimpanzees.

BBC:



Humanity has generally assumed that other animals are incapable of meaningful language. Like tool-using, complex communication is one of the characteristics that we like to think separates us from "lesser" species.

However, the more we learn about the animal kingdom, the more we realize that these behaviors are not so unique to humans.

Many animals, especially mammals & primates, have been found to use tools for complex tasks.

Listverse:




More difficult to prove & decipher is the use of "language," for meaningful communication between members of a given species. With more study, this is also being shown to be a trait other animals possess.

Boundless.com

Humans may have the most detailed and abstract use of language, but any living intelligence has the capability of experientially connecting to other living intelligence.

As we learn more about the rest of the life that inhabits this planet, we will continue to decode the languages of animals, and even non-sentient lifeforms such as plants.

BBC:


Perhaps there will eventually be software for us to translate these non-human languages, so we can begin to understand the inner worlds of other beings.

 The Atlantic:

The entire living world is talking... we just don't know how to listen.

I am currently reading an e-book from NASA, about how we would communicate with alien beings. If we can't even understand other life from our own planet, it would seem to be just as difficult to try decoding messages from another world.


Perhaps one day, there will be widespread inter-species communication, where animal, human, & alien life will all live in one harmonious family...

by Gary Soszynski

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Extreme Character Customization

One of my favorite features of video games is the ability to customize your "avatar," or the character you are virtually controlling onscreen.

I've been playing Saints Row IV, which is a ridiculous & fun open world game. It has endless choices for making your character appear however you want him or her to look.

With the emergence of more effective & immersive virtual reality technology, the human mind will be open to all kinds of novel sensory experiences that could not even be imagined previously. You will be able to assume any form you want, & perhaps even experience consciousness itself in new ways.

The question remains whether this VR technology will help to expand the mind's capabilities, or imprison it in a digital "light labyrinth".

This is a great Onion spoof on the endless customization options available in certain games when creating a virtual being.



Thursday, July 03, 2014

Traveling Among the Stars

In my last post, I linked to articles about the Hubble Telescope's view into the infinite expanse of cosmic space surrounding us.

After you really try to ponder the incomprehesible size of our own galaxy (not to mention the rest of the Universe), a fundamental question arises:

How can human beings, in our current physical incarnation, ever hope to travel over such impossibly vast distances?

People are dreamers & explorers by nature, so it's no suprise that humanity's brightest minds are at work on solving this seemingly insurmountable problem.

The most promising answer so far relies on some sort of "warp drive"  Such a propulsion system would warp space-time itself around a vehicle, to allow it to bypass the relativistic effects of traveling close to the speed of light.

Like many precursors to modern technology, this is a concept that has been explored in sci-fi, like the classic Star Trek warp drive. Another example is the excellent video game Mass Effect puts you in a future scenario where Earth has joined a galactic civilization, connected by "mass effect" technology that warps gravity- allowing faster-than-light (superluminal) speeds.

Interestingly, a warp drive is how Bob Lazar claimed alien UFO technology worked. Lazar was an engineer who came out with information about Area 51, where he said he worked on reverse-engineering alien craft.


Here are some articles on the advancement of humanity's attempts to develop interstellar space travel.




Gizmodo:




Another possibility would be creating space settlements for generations of humans to live within, as it travels between the stars. I've always been facinated by concept art for these kinds of space stations, such as this set of NASA images:






Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Hubble's Views of Infinity

The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most mind-expanding pieces of technology ever to be created by humans.

It has allowed us to view breathtaking glimpses of the vast Universe, that forever changed our perspective of the reality we live in.

The rich, dense views of distant star fields that have been imaged by Hubble are just tiny spots taken from the cosmos surrounding us. Each of these little slices of the cosmos that Hubble captures shows thousands of galaxies, containing millions of stars each.

When we look at Hubble images & really ponder them, we are gazing into infinities upon infinities. All sense of ego & self-importance is utterly dissolved in the presence of such incomprehensible vastness.

Here are some articles about recent images that Hubble has captured, revealing the practically infinite nature of our Universe.

This article is about Hubble image heic1408a, which shows the visible & infrared light spectrum:

 Slate.com



This article is about Hubble image heic1411, which shows a deep field image in the visible & ultraviolet spectrums:

Huffington Post




Thursday, June 26, 2014

Big Paul's Adventures in History V

I have alot of photos of my Dad sleeping in many different chairs on many different occasions. He has worked hard in the food retail business all his life, but when he gets a chance to sit down & relax it usually turns into a snoozefest. Family events or holidays inevitably become napping opportunities for the big guy.

My old friend Dan J. gave me the idea to have him sleeping right through important times in history. I thought this idea was hysterical & created this series of "snapshots" showing Big Paul experiencing historic events, in his own special way.


This is the fifth set of of "adventures" as he sleeps his way through history.

To commemorate my Dad's birthday, I made the 3 new adventures below.

Click the link to see the whole series:



https://picasaweb.google.com/MonkeyBuddha.com/BigPaulSAdventuresInHistory#6029208951269228626
"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
Lincoln's Assassination

As a gunshot rang out in Ford's Theater, 
my Dad continued to snooze away next to the Lincolns.

https://picasaweb.google.com/MonkeyBuddha.com/BigPaulSAdventuresInHistory#6029208948622013026
"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
First Atomic Bomb Tests
 
The power of an atomic bomb blast 
was not enough to wake Big Paul out of his slumber.

https://picasaweb.google.com/MonkeyBuddha.com/BigPaulSAdventuresInHistory#6029208948897803442
"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
Man Walks on the Moon

Even in the vacuum of space, 
the astronauts claimed they could hear my Dad snoring.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

"Chakra Ascension" Series by Paul Micarelli

In 2003, I created seven 3D images that I intended to be a series.

 Picasa Web Album:
by Paul Micarelli


The images show a solitary, meditating figure in different environments. Each setting corresponds to the ancient metaphysical energy system within the body, known as "chakras".

I am not a chakra meditation practitioner, so I approached this as a metaphorical work of art. I've finally decided to post the "Chakra Ascension" series, for other people to contemplate.

Now that I've posted all the individual entries, this is a recap of the entire series.

*In addition, I've made the series into a free e-book, in PDF format, that anyone can download:


Please click on the link for each chakra level, to see the text of its individual description: