Sunday, November 29, 2015

Star Wars: Prequel Marathon 2015



Yesterday, my brother & his wife hosted a marathon showing of the so-called 'Prequels' of the Star Wars movies, Episode I,II, & III. He played it on the projector screen & we had a fun time. We are anticipating the release of "The Force Awakens" this month with viewings of the existing saga.

It was the first time some of the girls there had ever seen any Star Wars movies. My girlfriend is watching the series in 'machete' order. On our own, we've watched Episode IV: "A New Hope" & Espisode V: "Empire Strikes Back". Yesterday she had to do work for nursing classes, so she missed Episode I- but watched  II & III. She was resistant to the whole "Star Wars" mass culture phenomenon, at first. With only "Return of the Jedi" left to see, she has come to enjoy them, especially Yoda. "Return of the Jedi" is my favorite movie of the original trilogy, with the culmination of the Skywalker/Vader story. Missing Episode I: "The Phantom Menace" did not take away from her experience. That is my least favorite movie of the entire saga, so far, so I didn't think she'd be missing too much. Besides the horrible Jar-Jar character (unless he's a secret Sith Lord), Episode I is just okay.

The prequels get progressively better. Despite my love for the movies, I've criticized many of George Lucas's descisions. However, I don't agree with people who criticize the prequels to the point of not wanting to recognize them at all. Even after watching them again, I personally think Episode II: "Attack of the Clones" is a great movie, and Episode III: "Revenge of the Sith" is an awesome movie.  The tragic story of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader is one of the most compelling hero journeys in fictional history.

It will be interesting to see how the Star Wars story is continued in the future films that Disney plans to produce.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Future of Food: Yeast Vats

I've been recently posting a series concerning The Future of Food. This is of the utmost importance for human beings, if we are concerned about our continued existence.

It is the time of year when we in America celebrate Thanksgiving, which is completely based around the necessities of food & family. As humanity advances and situations change, who knows what kind of food-based innovations & customs will arise?

Legendary science fiction writer Isaac Asimov envisioned a possible future in his book, "Prelude to Foundation" At the Galactic Capital world in the story, food was for a time grown using microorganisms. The nutrients were created from vats of yeast & algae, then flavored.


Gizmodo:


Yeast is already grown & used as a food product with many nutritional properties. However, it cannot currently be used a singular source of nourishment.

 Time:

In the future, perhaps people will be able to refine the production of this yeast, or other microorganisms, to yield more benefits.

Nutrition Stripped:

Self Nutrition Data:

Monday, November 23, 2015

"Black and the Blues" Band Reunion


This past summer, I went to a reunion jam for "Black and the Blues," the band that my Dad and his childhood friends formed in the 60's.
 
They were influenced by the mid-century icons of rock n' roll and, of course, the band that influenced the entire generation- The Beatles.

From the top: John, Chuck, Paul, & Charlie

Anyway, the get together was alot of fun. The guys were jamming on an impromptu set of songs, while our families filled the house listening, singing, and clapping along.

My brother Justin took video of the event, and he recently uploaded the songs to his YouTube page. Here is a link to the playlist:

 MicPros Videos:

They performed an original song that was published in 1966 that I posted about before- "I'm Sad"




The "Black and the Blues" band members:
• John Carnuccio
• Chuck Emma
• Paul J. Micarelli
• Charlie Pestritto

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Digital Expansion Into Space


I believe that one of the major factors in the survival of the human race is the migration of our species off-planet, into space.

One aspect of our expansion beyond Earth is the ability to communicate and access the information infrastructure that we call The Internet.

The interconnected electronic hive mind, made of signals and data storage, has become an integral part of the human experience. Space colonists or long-term travelers will need ways to stay connected to whatever digital information network humanity is using.

I saw this article about NASA's plans to create a laser broadband that can be used to transmit data in the immediate area of the solar system.

ExtremeTech:

As for data storage moving into space, we are already beginning to send artifacts of humanity to the moon.

 New Scientist:

Any where humans go, we will also take physical objects with us, so it's good to think about how to create things that can withstand environmental extremes.

Ultimately, I think we will have to develop some form of communication similar to the "FTL (Faster Than Light) communication" in the game series Mass Effect. If not through the use of advanced space/time relays, than perhaps through quantum entanglement or some yet undiscovered technology...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Primitive Technology


I'm not sure where, but I came across this website and YouTube channel about using ancient methods of tool & material use in the wild.

Wordpress:

YouTube:




There are many things that are fascinating about re-learning primitive ways of living. For one, it is amazing that the human mind/body can adapt & use it's surroundings to alter reality for its needs.

Watching these videos shows how difficult it is to just survive without the support scaffolding of many thousands of years of human civilization.

It is also interesting that we are using modern technology, computers and the Internet, to spread this information about our ancient technological heritage.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Future of Food: Space Farming


This is part of a series of posts I'll be doing about a topic that's vital to the ongoing survival of mankind:


Ultimately, the future of food lies off-planet, because for long-term sustenance of humanity we need to eventually move into outer space.

NASA is already experimenting with growing produce in the International Space Station.



Not only will space travelers need to be able to grow food staples with the resources available in their isolated location, they will have to ensure regulated conditions to keep the process going indefinitely.

I thought this article gave a good overview of the challenges that space farmers and gardeners will face as they try to maintain plants in spaceships or on other worlds. It also gives some background on the development of plant life here on planet Earth.

Gizmodo:

Future farmers in space will have to deal with issues like atmospheric changes caused by the plants production of oxygen & humidity. The effects of any microorganisms present will also have to be understood. Recycling water supplies will also be very important for both plants & humans.

As the article states, it's possible that humans will not directly interact with the crops at all, and robots will actually do the growing & harvesting.

Here is a computer rendering of automated agriculture aboard a space craft, from one of the awesome projects at Spacehabs.com:


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Futility Frog

I came across this crazy meme on Weird Wide Web.


"You have been visited by futility frog
'like' and nothing will happen
comments are meaningless
share if life is just yawning blankness
we will all die alone and be forgotten."

Holding two opposing views & contemplating paradoxes don't cause problems for me, personally.

On the one hand, I think Life and existence are miraculous phenomena- in which each & every manifestation of consciousness is an integral part to the whole of Reality, on all scales. Each life form, each cell, each molecule, each atom, is amazing & wondrous.

On the other hand, I also recognize my own mortality and relative insignificance to the incomprehensible vastness & complexity of the Universe.

So, I can also relate to "Futility Frog" in a Zen sort of way, but not really feel the despair that it may instill in most people because of attachment to their own ego & sense of being.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Science of Shamanism

Tempo © Alexandre Segr├ęgio - www.alexandresegregio.art.br

 Shamanism is a general term that describes many approaches to traditional healing & spiritual guidance. All ancient cultures around the world have has a form of shamanic practice, where an individual in the community had the ability to go into altered states of consciousness through various means & perform sacred functions.

With the rise of Western medicine, indigenous shamanism has been seen simply as an antiquated mode of dealing with sickness, environmental problems, & social issues. The practice of shamans and medicine men & women was seen to be mostly suggestive ritual for show, to cause a placebo effect on the subject's mind.

Although Western medicine is good at dealing with the mechanical & chemical aspects of human physiology, it is very short-sighted in many areas. For instance, modern medicine has no real working approach to the energetic aspects of the body. It is a simple fact that there are interactions & imbalances of energy throughout the body. These are interconnected with the physical biology of a lifeform, but are also a set of systems unto themselves. This includes the mind and also the subtle energies that our bodies contain & transmit.

By getting past cultural & cognitive biases, Western researches are beginning to understand the efficacy of the shaman's practice.

Huffington Post:

For instance, pharmacology is benefiting from knowledge gained from shamans about plant medicines. Pharmaceutical companies usually look to take a plant with beneficial properties and break them down into compounds and chemicals that can be manufactured in pill form. The problem with this approach is that there could be interactions of many different compounds in a particular plant that interact to effect the patient. However, it is a positive development that modern medicine is recognizing the information that native cultures possess as useful.

When shamans or healers in the Amazon were asked how they figured out the effective plant combinations they use, they claim that the plants told the people, directly. Although information about the plants and animals of a particular location must be passed down from generation to generation, maybe it's also possible to gain the initial inspiration from consuming or interacting with plant life. This might sound absurd, but it leads to another characteristic of shamanism that is being investigated with more scrutiny- the experience of altered states.

As a professional artist and generally creative person, I have often found myself generating ideas or visions while in trance-like states. It's called being "in the zone" and it is a state of mind that many people engage in, whether they realize it or not. Even scientists have made great discoveries while in various degrees of altered consciousness. This can be done through meditation, fasting, enduring extreme conditions, mind-altering substances, rhythmic drumming, ecstatic dance, and any other technique that gets the brain out of its normal mode of operation.

As humanity progresses & continues to discover its roots, shamanism and other indigenous practices will continue to be rediscovered and integrated with our ever-expanding knowledge base. Perhaps one day soon, this ancient wisdom will be commonly used to heal body, mind, & spirit as a integrated whole. This is the essential purpose of the shaman, and it is vitally needed in our world.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Star Trekonomics


I have been a fan of Star Wars my entire life. Although I was never really as into the other major sci-fi franchise, Star Trek, I can appreciate the vision of a future that is more directly related to people of Earth & humanity's place in the galaxy.

There is going to be a new Star Trek series produced for TV. That news prompted me to post this article I read recently, after wondering how the fictional economy of the Federation worked.

Medium.com:

It seems as if both the Star Trek & Star Wars civilizations use a medium called "Credits'. However, the economic systems appear to be much different, overall .

Star Wars seems more capitalist, in the sense that Credits act like currency, as we know it. Credits can be accumulated by corporate entities & individuals- while others without access to this wealth are poor, or even slaves. Although the Empire is a fascist dictatorship, with the Emperor directly in control of the military machine and the industries that feed it, regular individuals can still use Credits for goods and services like we use money.

The Star Trek Federation, on the other hand, has no currency, per creator Gene Roddenberry's rule. Federation Credits exist to facilitate an accounting of energy and resources in certain cases, but money is not needed for basic existence. There is also currency among the various alien races and other means of exchange of goods & services. However, there is no poverty among the Federation member planets, and society's main goal is the enrichment of all people- not accumulation of personal wealth. Thanks to technology, such as replicators, the need for physical "things" is easily fulfilled. The real goal becomes to create a better society, so all people benefit. The article above explores some of the technical possibilities behind this model of a galactic economy.

Star Trek Wikia Alpha:

What I like about these kind of fictional models, like the one used in Star Trek, is that they are an opportunity for human beings to dream a new reality into existence.  Collectively, we should constantly be re-thinking the way we do things.

People usually can't think beyond the existing possibilities- of Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, Fascism, etc. Perhaps there is a way to conduct society that is completely outside any of these traditional modes. Bitcoin is one system that is a step in breaking free of the bounds of familiar economic models.

Nature.com:

The ideas of 'money', 'capitalism', or even 'economics', are not universal. One day, they will be replaced by new ways of interacting.

Practicality should not be as much of a concern for creating new paradigms, as much as simply imagining alternative possibilities. If humanity has a goal, we can most likely achieve it together. The details can be worked out through ingenuity & cooperative activity. If that goal is the eradication of poverty and de-emphasis on greed and wealth acquisition, then it can be realized.

Science fiction and visionary stories about our future gives us an outlet to manifest creative solutions to problems & situations that the human race may encounter.

No matter how much we try to envision these situations, though, the future will still manage to bring us outcomes that we currently cannot even imagine...

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Future of Food: Floating Farms

Earlier this year, I posted Future of Food: Urban Farming, about the creation of soil & aquaponic gardens in cities. This practice provides fresh produce to communities is major population centers.

I plan on having an ongoing theme,"Future of Food", which anticipates the ways humanity will deal with the basic necessity of nourishing itself.

In many ways, for us to create new ideas to move forward, we have to take inspiration from the past. One civilization that also used the idea of floating gardens were the Aztecs of Mexico. It was an aquaponic system, meaning farming was done in conjunction with a water system using fish & their waste as fertilizer.



I saw this modern concept for a massive floating garden on a barge-like vessel. They are called smart floating farms & are harvestable ecosystems unto themselves.

Inhabitat:

Undefined Ideas: