Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Circle Trademarked

This post is hereby a notice that The Monkey Buddha has trademarked & copyrighted the form known as "The Circle".

The newspaper USA Today is first in line to get sued by my extensive team of high-powered lawyers, since they had the audacity to simplify their corporate logo into a plain blue circle.

Stephen Colbert had some fun with this provocative decision on his show:

*Okay, obviously, this is a joke... since a general shape, like the circle, cannot be claimed as intellectual property.

However, it's meant as a thought exercise in what it means to "own" an image or creation.

iPhone & the Dematerialization of Tech

It's easy to take for granted how many features are conveniently packed into our ever-present mobile devices.

Miniaturization and consolidation are the future, and one day all these functions may be accessible right inside our head with an iThink neural implant.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

I came across this graphic from the CATO Institute, illustrating the many physical gadgets that the iPhone has replaced:

Here's another (slightly more humorous) comparison I saw on fUSION Anomalog that also demonstrates the consolidation of physical technologies:

Friday, November 23, 2012

David the Cookie Monster

Yesterday, I got to visit with alot of my Dad's side of the family for Thanksgiving dinner. It's always fun playing with all my nieces & nephews because they are full of imagination & pure joy for life.

Today is my nephew David's birthday. He is a funny little guy, who's developing a personality that's part loveable scamp & part bad-ass attitude.

 I took a series of photos while he was having an absolute blast- eating his favorite delicacy, cookies & milk.

His faces are hysterical, so I made them into an animated GIF & uploaded it so I could show people on Facebook. It's too funny not to share.

For his Cookie Monster birthday party last weekend, I also made this graphic for him:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Relativity in a Photo

I forget where I saw this picture, but using the amazing Google Image Search helped me find its source.

It was featured in the 2011 National Geographic Photo Contest. 

The photographer, Don Chamblee, captured the inside & outside of a moving streetcar simultaneously.

The result is a strikingly simple visual representation of the Theory of Relativity.

Although there's alot of calculus in Einstein's famous formulation, it's basically the recognition that every mind is an independent point of reference. Each person's singular manifestation of consciousness in space & time defines that particular experience.

The thing that's hard for most people to wrap their heads around is that Reality and Consciousness have been experimentally proven to interact. It is not a one-way street, from external cause to our affected perceptions.

We are part of a interconnected Unity... manifested for a short time as a process that we recognize as the form of individual human beings.

2012 and Fractal Brain Theory

I came across this excellent 2 hour lecture by Wai H. Tsang that thoroughly examines the structure and functioning of the brain & how it relates to consciousness.

Although there's alot of neurobiology & medical information in the talk, there's also some really great insights into more subtle aspects of human nature.

He wraps up his detailed talk with some wonderfully profound connections around 1hr 03min into the talk. I'd recommend at least watching the final 1/2 hr. segment.

One realization he points out is the seemingly fractal quality of the realities experienced in our minds.

On my iPhone right now, I'm reading the e-book of Robert Anton Wilson's "Prometheus Rising". The book describes the theoretical "Circuits of Consciousness" model describing the neurological & epistemological basis of one's mind.

One thing R.A.W. stresses is the idea that attentive self-examination of one's own mental states leads to the ability to 'meta-program' oneself.
This refers to the ability to break out of unconscious mental & behavior patterns, through a feedback loop of self-awareness.

By understanding how our own brains create the various phenomena we call "consciousness," we're more likely to develop a more informed, complex view of ourselves & the reality we experience.

"Zoom" by Rafa Jenn

I saw this cool print on OMG Posters!

It is a very simple (but beautifully executed) example of fractal design- containing self-similarity at various scales.

by Rafa Jenn 

Ape Man vs. Wonder Woman

This is a rare glimpse into my personal life:

Wonder Woman gave me quite a smackdown...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Cloud Atlas" Review

This week, I saw 'Cloud Atlas' & I highly recommend it. The movie weaves together several interconnected storylines that take place throughout various times.

The scenes take place in the 1800's, the 1970's, the current day, a futuristic "Neo-Seoul" in the year 2144, & what I believe is an apocalyptic off-world colony in the year 2321. The same actors are playing different characters for each time period, but the makeup & acting are so superb that it's not even noticeable.

It's an amazing work of art, that makes you think on a whole different level. If you are someone who like to ponder deep, philosophical issues then you must see this movie.

Even though the film itself is a wonderfully bold endeavor, there's alot of subtle details & aspects to the story that make it necessary to watch it at least twice to fully appreciate. Visually, "Cloud Atlas" is awe-inspiring. The various settings throughout the different eras are used to their maximum effect, and they give a profound sense of man's fragility & transience in the larger landscapes we inhabit.

Despite our temporal nature, "Cloud Atlas" also shows the transcendent effect that individual souls can have over time, extending beyond their singular lives to effect the world to come.

It is a movie that is hard to describe effectively, & just has to be seen. Your mind will be greatly expanded by this cinematic masterpiece.


The Power of Sleep

I saw a link on BoingBoing to PBS Newshour's interesting segment looking at the nature of sleep. Although sleep is something that everyone does, it still an enigmatic process in many ways.

PBS Newshour

Toward the end, the video also has some info about meditation and it's benefits. In my life, I try to make plenty of time for both sleep and meditative stillness.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Type Designs by Zag

Although I've seen his work on various sites, it's worth checking out the gallery of Shahir Zag:

There are some great ideas & witty expressions amongst his work.

This one reminded me that World Was Always Awful, but there are also examples that are positively inspiring.

GIFs of Infomercial Idiots

I consider myself a connoisseur of infomercials. The worse the product & the advertising... the more I'm entertained by it.

The Monkey Buddha Archive:

Since my teenage years, I've studied the shameless TV personalities & the shoddy wares they have peddled - Billy Mays, Marshall Sylver, & of course, The Master, Ron Popeil.

One thing that always cracks me up was how the infomercial always makes completely normal activities seem like a total pain in the ass, or even a recipe for utter disaster.

I saw a great blog linked on Sad & Useless and BoingBoing that features nothing but animated GIF images of these hapless fools in various infomercials.

You should scroll through the collection at least 3 times to appreciate the full absurdity of it:

I think WDTSG stands for the 'Where Does This Show Go' forum & FWP is 'First World Problems'.

Waking Times

I came across an excellent website, with thought-provoking articles on all kinds of interesting topics.

The themes include meditation, GMOs, environmentalism, The Archaic Revival, scientific exploration, & more.

There's so many good articles, it's tough to pick out single examples.

I have it bookmarked in my browser:

It's great to have resources online that contribute to elevating people's consciousness...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Dream Within a Dream

"All that we see or seem, 
is but a dream within a dream."
 -Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Resurrection of Barackhenaten

Four years ago, Barack Obama defied conventional wisdom by being elected President of the United States. Millions of people realized that, unlike the 2 buffoons on the "McPain" Republican ticket, this guy had some intelligence to fuel his lofty rhetoric.

Before he was elected in 2008, I half-jokingly compared him to the rogue Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten- who eliminated the various cults of the time & instituted a religion only worshiping the Sun deity, Aten.
Though he's not as radical as the ancient sun-worshiping king, Barack Obama has earned a similarly lasting place in human history.

Although I've been quick to point out the President's flaws over the past few years, I also realized that America's interests are much better served by keeping Obama in office instead of Mitt Romney. I don't think Romney is a fundamentally bad guy... but he's a capitalist ideologue, a religious zealot, and a smug billionaire who would have governed with big business in mind, & not the business of the people.

As I watched the election returns last night, I was tuned in to CNN most of the time. John King did an excellent job analyzing the numbers and reporting on the dynamics of the election. Some of the talking heads on the CNN panel are horrible, but thankfully, there was more reporting than punditry. (Why are Alex Castellanos & Ari Fleisher on TV, but I'm not?!?!)
I was also using the CNN interactive electoral map to follow along throughout the night. Having tools like that makes the process much more accessible & easy to understand.

As I mentioned in my post from Election Eve, I had been following Nate Silver's 538 Forecast (which turned out to be 100% accurate!) & also the Intrade prediction markets. The polling & statistical analysis pointed toward a strong likelihood of Obama winning the Electoral College. It's even being reported now that the Obama campaign was using sophisticated statistical computer models to figure out where their resources would be best allocated.

The right-wing pundits, on the other hand, proudly exhibited their foolishness for the world to see before the election. These knuckleheads not only denounced Nate Silver's scientific computer models, but many also made ridiculous predictions for a BIG Romney win, which had no basis in reality. Fox News and talk radio have created an ignorance bubble in people's minds that's hard to penetrate.

The fact that Romney himself bought into the hype & didn't even write a concession speech shows the arrogance & cluelessness that the country would have been subject to if he had won.

One of the great media moments of the night was the on-air hackery of the right-wing's political guru from the Bush years- Karl Rove, aka 'Turd Blossom'. Rove raised millions for Romney SuperPACs & actually tried to influence their live reporting, in order to benefit his millionaire donors with a Romney election. The rest of the country & facts be damned. The fact that Fox News lets a scumbag like Rove have any kind of presence shows how little credibility they have.

Last night President Obama was re-elected, despite the personal animosity so many people feel toward him. Enough reasonable people were able to see through the right-wing media's distortion of his record to know that his term has been generally positive for the country. If it weren't for the relentless obstructionism of the opposition party, the country would be progressing at a much better rate. People who don't actually understand the workings of government find it easier to blame problems on The President, even if they aren't of his doing.

Unfortunately, the federal government is likely going to be facing more gridlock, thanks to continued Republican control of the House of Representatives. Despite having already wasted precious time & legislative initiative in their failed, petty attempt "to deny President Obama a second term"- the childish, obstructionist mentality of the GOP in Congress is unlikely to change.

I'm an Independent voter, but it's clear the Republican Party has further proven itself to be a political dinosaur, an anachronistic relic featuring the country's most ignorant & regressive ideas. The national party is unable to shake its most foolish members or its ideological chains, stubbornly refusing to recognize the rapidly changing pace of the country & the entire world. You know a political party has problems when you can say that their "Rape Guy" didn't win... & it can refer to more than one person!

*Why wasn't Pres. George W. Bush out campaigning for Romney?.... because the petulant man-child & his Republican administration almost destroyed the economy during his 8 long years. Trotting out Dubya the Smirking Chimp would quickly remind voters just how little of the country's dire straits were actually created by Obama.

The major problem exposed in this election for the GOP & the right-wing is their collective refusal to deal with reality. They cling to antiquated, unworkable ideals and warped perceptions that make them look completely unreasonable to the rest of society. They are a factory of absurd ideas • you can balance the budget simply by cutting government programs • banks and multinational corporations should be free of government regulation • union members are paid too much, but CEOs deserve their obscene compensation; etc. On social issues, the conservatives have completely alienated independent voters, who see nothing but bigotry & irrational fear coming from the Right.

There were alot of important races last night. It was nice to see jackasses such as Allen West & Joe Walsh get kicked out of office. Unfortunately, thanks to the brain-dead voters in her district, it looks like Congress has not yet gotten rid of "The Queen of the Loons", Michele Bachmann.

On the bright side, alot of good people got elected to Congress, like consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren. There were a bunch of progressive women senators elected, which is a good thing for the Senate.

Though anyone in that position is assimilated into the machinations of "The System", Obama is as good a person as anybody to be in the executive office. Until we evolve as a society to the point where we don't need a singular personality to equate with leadership, all we can do is elect someone who is smart & insightful, yet strong enough, to deal with the unimaginable problems facing any President. Despite the many obstacles to his agenda for the last term, Barack Obama has proven over & over again that he is up to the task.

He is handling a job (that would overwhelm most people) with extraordinary tenacity & the will to do what's right for all the citizens of the country. He has been an inclusive President who has repeatedly reached out to his political opposition to create meaningful policy, only to be rebuffed and opposed by the myopic Republicans every step of the way.

The Republican party suffered major defeats as a result of their intransigence last night, but it's doubtful Boehner & McConnell will now magically decide to act in good faith with The President.

Of course, we can always Hope...

Monday, November 05, 2012

Political Madness 2012: Election Eve

Well... tomorrow millions of America's sheeple (including me) will go to vote for a new leader, as well as a path for our country & the world.

It's the culmination of 2012's election season of Political Madness:

I know people of all political persuasions who back different candidates, & also people who will refuse to vote at all. I try to see all sides of all issues. It's understandable why there's so much cynicism toward voting & "The System," in general.

Despite the many flaws in both candidates, and the voting process itself, the act of voting had definite real-world consequences... which I choose to have a say in.
My superficial reason for voting is that I enjoy discussing politics. Complaining about the government if you don't exercise your right to vote is hypocritical.

I'm registered as an Independent. However, anyone who knows me or happens to read this blog knows I'm firmly on Barry O's side in this one. Mitt Romney is almost a caricature of an out-of-touch billionaire, with a horrible personality to match. His stated policies would purposely make government more ineffective, while ceding power to corporate interests & Wall St.

Does anyone seriously think we'd see the following headline under a President Romney?

There are definitely undecided people out there, like my own parents who I was talking to tonight & have legitimate issues deciding which candidate would really be better.  It's true that each candidate & their policies have flaws. I just happen to think Mitt Romney's flaws would be much more detrimental for the country as a whole. For the record, here are some unbiased comparisons of the candidates:

Find the Data:

The argument that Obama's made the country worse (or has not done anything), is disputable at best. The economic numbers are mixed, but the economy's at least improving compared to the situation Bush left. Republicans have this myth of being better on the economy, but that's just a political myth. The national economic numbers since Reagan consistently prove otherwise.

No President will be perfect, but I'm baffled how someone would think Obama is anti-business Socialist menace. If anything, business in general are doing better since he's been in office:

Think Progress:

I blame most of the ignorance in political discourse on Fox News & the right-wing reality distortion machine. The opinion programming on Fox News is simply brain poison. It's important for me to listen to the opinions of reasonable conservatives, who may have insights I haven't thought about. However, Sean Hannity, Fox & Friends, and Ann Coulter are anything but reasonable. Entering their narrow, little world is like taking a trip to some hate-filled, idiotic alternate reality.

Although numbers can always be twisted, the interesting thing about modern technology is the amount of data that can be processed & analyzed in short time spans.
For the past couple months, I've been closely following Nate Silver's popular "538" blog on the NYT website. I've also been watching the Intrade markets for this election cycle. I'm not a gambler & I don't play the stock market, but I think market dynamics is an interesting prediction method. We'll see if the forecasts are correct, but they seem more objective than listening to the pundits of either side.

Of course, statistical models CANNOT predict the Political Madness that inevitable arises during Election Day. 

With GOP-led state governments trying to blatantly hinder people's right to vote, & the questionable state of electronic voting... there are plenty of room for shenanigans.

We will soon see what direction the next 4 years will take. Either way, alot of people will inevitably be pissed off!

*On a side note, my answer to many problems of the Presidency would be to replace the 1-person office with a 5-person executive council. This council would be made of 2 people from each major party, & also a 3rd party candidate. I might expand on this idea another time- but it would be a more representative system.

Until that day, we citizens have to take sides & make a choice. There's NO way I'll be choosing R-Money... but if he somehow wins, I'll probably have plenty to rage about on this blog for the next four years. Until we find the answer, here are some videos of Republican leaders vs. Mitt... and also Mitt vs. Mitt Himself:

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Non-Functional Thoughts

I came across this website of random absurdities, some of which are very interesting & clever:

This also reminded me of one of my all-time favorite SNL segments, Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handy.

Sistine Chapel Turns 500 Years Old

One of the great works of the Renaissance, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, had its 500th birthday.


Michelangelo was famed as a sculptor, but Pope Julius commissioned him to paint the famous frescoes in the 16th century.

He rejected the scheme intended for the design of the painting & instead made the Vatican accept his grand vision for the composition. It's one of the most well-known works of art in the world, with good reason.

I came across this beautiful virtual reconstruction of the chapel, from the Vatican's website:

Friday, November 02, 2012

George Lucas Succumbs to the Dark Side (or Retirement)

The Monkey Buddha Archives

Star Wars: A New Hope came out right around the year I was born.

Some of my earliest memories as a kid were Star Wars related.
I remember watching The Empire Strikes Back at my grandmom's for the 1st time, on a small black & white TV with a grainy picture. When the Wampa snow monster comes out of nowhere & it pounces on Luke, it scared the crap out of me.

 Between me & my brothers, we had tons of Star Wars toys. Even though we accumulated a massive collection of other toy lines, too, vintage SW toys are the only ones I'd bother to keep. What's crazy to me is that my young nephews & cousins kids are all into it now. At my parents house there's a bin full of (non-vintage) figures they play with all the time, from when we were young. It's continuing to stay relevant, inspiring a whole new generation of kids.

As I've gotten older, I've also grown to appreciate the Star Wars films as technical achievements, & also being a modern mythological saga. There are layers of meaning and cultural allusions that are like an almanac of archetypes & metaphors from the span of human history, including our future history!

I never shied away from my admiration of the movies & have always been a true fan. However, like everything else in the world, they have flaws, some of which are really major. I've been an unforgiving critic of George Lucas's decisions on plenty of aspects of the films' production.

For the record, the 2 biggest travesties in the series (for now) are the following-

• The Prequels: 
At the end of Episode III, when Vader has his Frankenstein moment: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

• The Originals: 
At the end of Return of the Jedi, old Anakin's ghost was replaced with Hayden Christenson's ghost. This edit makes absolutely no sense, it is horrible & completely indefensible.

Despite plenty to criticize, the Star Wars movies are works of genius that will be remembered for as long as our civilization endures. They have inspired me my whole life, and informed my cultural, spiritual, and creative understanding.

Now- the imaginative Star Wars universe, that I & so many others have come to know so well, is entering an unexpected new phase.

At first I thought it was an Onion article, but I eventually realized that it was true:


Like I stated before, Lucas's directing & editing abilities have room for improvement. Perhaps Disney's vast resource of talent can use the rich material George Lucas has created to continue and expand the Star Wars Universe.

The Avengers movie was one of (if not THE) greatest superhero movies ever, even to my ultra-critical eye. If Disney can produce Marvel films of that caliber, I think the Star Wars franchise will be okay.

Think Progress: 

On a very positive final note, Lucas won't be hoarding the mountain of money he'll be making: