Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene: The Aftermath

Despite my parents & my brother both wanting me to stay with either of them, I stuck out the hurricane at my place by myself.

Being alone doesn't bother me, even in a crazy situation like that. From following the news on the storm, I didn't think it was going to be strong enough to blow the house away or anything.

However, I was bracing myself for a certain level of carnage, while stocking up on the survival essentials: jugs of water, a freezer full of ice, trail mix, pizza, & of course beer.

It started raining around 2PM on Saturday & I went to my parents for dinner then drove back afterward, before it really picked up at night. It seemed like there was non-stop rain but, fortunately, a lack of extremely violent winds. The rain didn't stop completely for about 20 hours. Around 2AM when the center of the storm was supposedly passing by, I went outside onto my back patio & it seemed like a normal rainstorm.

The next afternoon, the only damage I could see was a big tree that fell in the yard across the street. I had a couple leaks, but my house was still standing.

It wasn't till the day after when I realized how much water had been dumped on the area. There's several lakes near me, & alot of roads had sections that were flooded over.

Unfortunately basement flooded from all the rainfall, so I was sitting on my cellar steps pumping water last nite. All of a sudden a helicopter started flying overhead. My brother texted me the report he saw on Action News 6. Someone had tried to drive through a blocked section of road that had flooded & need to be rescued about a mile from me.

I've seen some Youtube videos of the flooding & it's pretty extreme. Despite the unstoppable power of nature, though, it's impressive how resilient people can be in such harsh conditions.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vacationing Through Disasters

This past week I was on vacation in Cape May, NJ with my family.

We really had a great week... but got stuck between 2 natural disasters & had to evacuate the shore a day early. Perfect timing!

Earlier in the week, the uncharacteristic earthquake hit the East Coast from the epicenter in Virginia.

US Geological Survey
Magnitude 5.8 - VIRGINIA

Amazingly, although I was at the Jersey Shore & everyone else in our family experienced it... somehow my brother & I completely missed it!!!!

I am still in disbelief that I missed a friggin earthquake. My brother & I were on the beach, which is fairly secluded & only had about 12 other people at the most along the whole stretch.

At the time of the earthquake, we were either:
1) in the water jumping around playing with the awesome Waboba ball & didn't feel it somehow.
2) passed out lying on the beach & didn't feel it while we were snoozing.

Either way it's crazy.

My other brother was with my parents crabbing on a pier & they felt it. My sister was napping with my nephews at the rental house & everything started moving. I came back from the beach to see if she was coming down & she asked me if I felt the earth shaking. I had no idea what she was talking about, & thought she was making a joke about my nephew pooping.

Anyway, then we got the news of Hurricane Irene approaching, & Friday evacuation orders were given for Cape May. So, we left vacation a day early & I've been preparing for whatever this monstrous fractal whirlwind is going to bring.

We're already getting some rain in southern NJ... so, unlike the earthquake, I don't think I'm going to be able to miss this storm.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Interactive Planetarium

The infinite scale of cosmic space can make any earthly concerns seem insignificant.

I came across this interactive program that lets you view the heavenly bodies from different perspectives & times.

There are alot of customizable options & it's fun to play around with.

An amazing tool like this makes me think about the tremendous effort by ancient civilizations to track the thousands of visible celestial bodies.

It's awe-inspiring that, over many generations, our ancestors were able to record, visualize, and predict the relative movements of the myriad stars & planets using their limited technologies.

Trying to understand the vast forces of nature makes us realize our small place in the world, which is itself just a speck in the cosmos.

Cosmic Politics

Saw this on BoingBoing

The Daily Show: World Class Warfare

Jon Stewart & the Daily Show blew some gaping holes in some of the right-wing/Fox News talking points the other night. It's always fun to watch.

The race for the Republican Presidential nomination has been a real clown show. It's pretty bad when your field of candidates make Mitt Romney look like the most appealing candidate.

Obama has been a corporate centrist, but from the way some of these people talk you'd think he was Socialism incarnate.

I personally would like to see a Perry/Palin 2012 ticket. Then we can see who are the truly craziest citizens in the country.

Anyway, The Daily Show has really been properly tearing into the Fox propaganda lately:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Graham Hancock on Ancient Civilizations

"Gold Sun Stone Pyramid"
from The Monkey Buddha Bazaar

One of the books I'm reading right now is Graham Hancock's "Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth's Lost Civilizations".

It's a great read... an investigation of the ancient anomalies & structures that exist around the planet. These kinds of mysteries from the fog of distant history have always fascinated me.

Graham Hancock describes the abundant evidence that mankind's past is much richer and older than traditional history allows. So far, it seems like he isn't making any truly controversial conclusions in the book (such as- everything was made by UFOs). Mostly, he simply points out the many truly unexplainable discoveries that don't fit into the currently accepted historical narrative.

Fortunately, the information we are learning about these cultures is now growing exponentially. Thanks to the expanding field of archaeology, with its improving techniques & technologies, we are learning more about our ancient heritage than ever before.

I'll talk more about the book once I finish it, but on The Daily Grail I saw this excellent video of a presentation Mr. Hancock gave about the same topics that are in the book. It's definitely worth the time to watch:

Paths to Wisdom w/ Steven Seagal

Steven Seagal imparts Zen wisdom:

I have just experienced satori.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Obviously, It Was Aliens...

After talking to my brother & some of my friends recently about the program "Ancient Aliens" on History Channel, I had to make this graphic. The series attempts to investigate the world's mysteries and how they may relate to extraterrestrial visitors.

I think the show is mildly interesting, but definitely don't take any of it seriously. To it's credit, the discussion of ancient anomalies brings to light the many questions that still exist about the history of our species. The series also has alot of footage of interesting places around the globe.

However, some of the assertions made by the various "experts" are simply outrageous in their ignorance. The most hardcore of the 'ancient alien-ologists' like Giorgio Tsoukalos in the picture above, confidently assert that almost any phenomena we don't understand is UFO-related. They are as bad as traditional archaeology when it comes to underestimating the imagination & ingenuity of ancient man.

One of the worst segments I've seen was about the ancient Mayan culture. I've read alot about the Maya, & I rolled my eyes when they started talking about the sarcophagus lid of Lord Pakal. This stone lid has decoration which has been described as a 'rocketship,' but it's not:

A minimal amount of research would uncover the truth behind the art. It is a stylized depiction of the Mayan World Tree, with the underworld beneath Pakal. Doing a search for Mayan World Tree shows several images of the same cosmic motif, without the 'spaceship' appearance.

What really is amazing is the astronomical knowledge the ancient cultures knew, which they incorporated into their art & architecture.

What really blew my mind, though, was when 'UFO archaeologist' David Childress said one of the the dumbest things I've ever heard on TV. While discussing the fall of Mayan civilization, he claimed it was possible that the people 'disappeared' because they were all taken off-planet in spaceships!!! I couldn't believe such blatantly false information wasn't edited out of the show.

If that was the case, how did I have a Mayan descendant driving me to the airport when I was in Mexico? It's pretty well-known that the Mayan people spread south, into Belize & Guatemala where they live today.

Anyway, to sum up my feelings on this whole "ancient astronaut" idea:

I do think there is most likely life throughout the universe.
(For all I know, Earth could be a zoo for inter-dimensional beings to observe.)
However, I don't think "aliens" should be the default answer to every mysterious aspect of human history, especially feats of colossal engineering.

Human imagination is a powerful force in it's own right.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Arthur C. Clarke on BBC Horizon

In the latter part of this video from the 1960's features one of the great visionaries of the 20th century, Arthur C. Clarke.

He presciently talks about the state of current communication technology.
The concepts he discusses, analogous to modern tech like cell phones & the Internet, were just imaginative science fiction in the early 60's.

However, human imagination, manifested in works of science fiction, can often drive scientific discovery & development.

When I was younger, I used to watch his awesome TV show "Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers".

One his best known works is the epic movie, "2001: A Space Odyssey".

He was a true genius & definitely inspired me when I was growing up to try to be a forward thinker.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Universe is Brain-Shaped

This is the 1,000th post I've written since I started this blog over 6 years ago, in 2005.

Although I don't usually have time to post as often as I'd like, this is a great creative outlet for me.

Since I'm usually busy creating visual art, I'm not sure how else I would get to write about all the topics that interest me.

Anyway, for a milestone post such as this, I decided to reveal one of the funda-mental mysteries of the universe, in graphic form:

I've also added this design to my Cafepress shop, The Monkey Buddha Bazaar, featured on different items:

"The Universe is Brain Shaped"

“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world.”

-Siddhartha Guatama, The Buddha

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Dear Human...

I thought this comic was pretty funny, even if not entirely accurate:

Click to see it all:

Monday, August 08, 2011

The First Web Page Ever

20 years ago, the first "page" of information went online, beginning the development of the World Wide Web.

When I was a kid, I thought that having to use encyclopedias & going to the library to research any given topic was a real pain in the ass. The Internet (despite the abundance of garbage & ridiculousness) has already clearly revolutionized the human race & is the catalyst for profound changes to our world.

Even for people my age and older who grew up without the capability of digital search engines, the almost magical ease of The Web is still easy to take for granted. The volume of knowledge (& stupidity) existing in the virtual realm is amazing, especially when you consider the rate at which it's increasing.

Despite all the effort and creativity that's gone into it, it's always possible that a natural or cosmic event could destroy mankind's digital archive- & everything else we've worked for- in an instant.

People are currently trying to ensure preservation of cultural artifacts like the Internet. However, it's possible that tens of thousands of years into the future, it will be something like the granite sculptures of Mount Rushmore that will have more of a lasting legacy than our virtual mountains of digital data.

On the other hand...
Maybe by that time in the future, mankind will have begun colonizing space with spacetime warp drive systems & we'll have a Galactic Internet among the stars, instantly connected through quantum entanglement.

Either way, I (probably) won't be around...
so it doesn't really matter.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Shark Week Morsels

Sharks, especially Great Whites, epitomize the ultimate savagery of nature. A predator lurking unseen in the depths of the sea, they cause fear in all but the craziest of people.

In honor of Discovery's Shark Week, dedicated to these awesome creatures, here's a fun bunch of random shark stuff:

Gorilla riding a shark.

This is what happens
after the battle in the pic above:

Sharks in Space:



Tracy Morgan
is craaazy:

Words of wisdom

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Hidden World: Zen Pond

I saw this video on MindTV & was mesmerized by the views of various microscopic lifeforms.

The zen-inspired music adds an introspective quality to the footage of the life that exists all around us, but is unnoticed by our normal perception.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Un-restricted Hand of the Free Market

Several years ago, I was at a relative's house for a BBQ.

There was a guy there who was a real "know-it-all" and was going on & on about how the government should stay out of the affairs of business and "The Free Market".

He argued that there was never a place for government regulations, or any other kind of interference with private economic activity.

A person with any common sense realizes that this is simply a stupid idea.

Being someone who enjoys discussing politics & current events, as well as having already had a few beers, I couldn't help injecting myself into his little tirade.

My ultimate point that I kept coming back to was this- without any kind of oversight or regulation, the end result of free-market capitalism is, inevitably, slavery.

I mean this in both a virtual and real sense. Most people in developed countries can be considered virtual slaves, due to the predatory elements of capitalist economies that lead to personal debt. This is probably the most freedom-restricting element of modern society.

In a real sense, also, the insatiable quest for more valuable forms of capital will eventually lead immoral people or corporations to fully exploit the human being itself- seen as just another commodity to be owned.

The other guy's argument was that the public wouldn't let exploitation like that happen. He claimed that the customers would demand ethical behavior from banks & business. This is, of course, completely absurd.

Especially at this point in time, it is painfully apparent that left to their own devices, powerful corporations & organizations will endlessly exploit people for their own financial benefit.
That is why the world economy is in the chaos it's in now.

Although government is clearly an imperfect institution, Democracy is the last line of defense against the parasitic nature of "The Free Market".

Just because I'm cynical about the Capitalist system, I don't consider myself to be a Socialist or anything like that. I prefer to think beyond labels... & to just do things that work regardless of the system it supposedly belongs to.

Anyway, our semi-friendly debate ended up with neither of us persuading the other.

However, I feel like my argument was based on demonstrable fact. The other guy's argument was basically an Ayn Rand fantasy world- that would, in reality, be an escalation of the financial disaster we experienced from the years of Bush/Greenspan economic policy. These policies were an admitted failure, and we are still trying to deal with the consequences today.

In truth, such things as the economy, budgets, & even money itself are all abstractions, nothing more than tools we use in the real world. Humans are always capable of evil, so these abstract tools can be misused as systems of control to restrict real people.

Fortunately, they can also be improved & changed as surely as we can change our own minds.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Monkey Drawing a Skull

I saw this interesting picture on FFFFOUND!.

It's a watercolor by an artist named Walton Ford.

This brooding monkey genius, creating a mechanical drawing of a skull, seems to be a reflection of the artistic & scientific achievements of man.