Thursday, October 31, 2013

Monkeys in Creepy Masks

For Halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to post this photo series I saw recently.

In southeast Asia, monkeys are used as street performers & often have strange costumes or unsettling doll masks, like the ones in these pictures.

Terrifying Portraits of Indonesia’s 
Street-Performing Macaques

They are are like little creatures out of a strange, horrifying nightmare!

Thankfully, it seems like some action is taken to prevent the abuse of these animals.

by Finnish photographer Perttu Saksa

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Roundhand Lettering Demo

I'm a professional designer, so I consider myself to be very creative. However, when I see people with this kind of skill & talent, it also makes me realize the limits of my abilities.

In this video, master pinstriper Glen Weisgerber shows his technique for roundhand lettering. It always amazes me to see artists do freehand work like this.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How to Confuse an Idiot

How do you confuse an idiot???
It's easy, & hilarious.

Click this link to see...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Contract with the Universe

I saw this on Dedroidify & thought it was pretty awesome.

It is a "contract" between The Universe & the 'Life Form' reading it:

click for larger size:

It was originally posted on the Facebook page for Symphony of Science.

Seeing the terms of our existence spelled out like this makes you realize how lucky we are to have such a rare chance at Life.

The whole idea is great - humorous & profound at the same time. I especially like how The Universe's signature is a brushstroke containing a vista of space.

So, are you living up to your end of the agreement?...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"White Lotus Flower" & "Under the Big Green Leaf"

I added a couple new items to the Photography section of my Cafepress shop.

The Monkey Buddha Bazaar:

They are both pictures I took at Longwood Gardens, which is full of amazing sights. 

The first is a radiant white lotus flower against the dark water of a pond. 

The lotus is a symbol of spiritual growth & enlightenment, emerging from the murky depths of our mundane physical existence.

The second photo is an abstract close-up, underneath a large leaf.

I really like the veins & the flowing texture inside the bright green areas.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Movie Review: "Gravity"

This weekend, I went to see the movie "Gravity" in 3D.

I saw the trailer for the movie & read the rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I love anything related to outer space, so I definitely wanted to see it. I'm glad that I did, because it was an awesome movie that's as close as most of us will ever get to the experience of being an astronaut. Basically, the story follows Bullock's character, as she is separated from the space shuttle and must keep finding her way to temporary safety while in space.

From the very beginning, the cinematography is amazing. The movie opens with a beautiful vista of our home planet, Earth, that fills the movie screen. A white speck comes into view orbiting the planet, that slowly pans into the space shuttle on which the astronauts, played by Sandra Bullock & George Clooney, are working. This beautifully gradual zoom is the first scene in a movie full of awesome camera work, effects, & editing, The scenes alternately go between the wide, empty vacuousness of outer space, & the up-close, personal situations of the astronauts. There are points where you even get a 1st person view from Sandra Bullock's perspective, such as looking out from inside her helmet as she's taking it off. However, all these viewpoints flow together seamlessly into a very suspenseful virtual ride in Earth's orbit.

The movie does an excellent job at making the viewer feel the crushing isolation that one must feel in the vast emptiness of space. It also shows how physically vulnerable we human beings are out there, without the help of our technology and intelligence.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson has famously criticized some of the scientific inaccuracies in Gravity. However, he also said there was a lot that was right with the movie & that he enjoyed it. I'm pretty well-informed about science, so there were a few pretty big errors that I saw during the movie. For instance, the distance between the different country's space stations are probably much farther apart then they are portrayed. Also, there's simply no way any human being could endure the craziness & physical punishment that Sandra Bullock's character had to go through. Despite my inevitable criticisms, these pale in comparison to the experience of being in space that "Gravity" simulates.

I've posted here before about mankind's destiny to travel among the stars. This movie reveals how pathetically little we've truly adapted to life in space. We have barely transitioned to surviving just outside our atmosphere. We literally have light-years to go before we are ready for extensive space travel, even within our own galaxy.

There are also deep themes of rebirth & transformation throughout the film, such as scenes of Bullock in a fetal position inside a womb-like space capsule. She also emerges from water in a baptismal scene where she can be said to be re-born. Like the classic "2001: A Space Odyssey," these scenes could also allude to the transformation of humanity, into a new being that exists beyond the confines of our current world.

"Gravity" was an awe-inspiring movie that helps put our feeble, yet miraculous, lives into a much wider perspective. I recommend it for anyone who loves science, astronauts, or just a great thrill ride through the deadly darkness of outer space.

Official Monkey Buddha Rating: 8.0

Friday, October 18, 2013

Monkey Computer Publishing

Since I'm posting monkey gifs, here's one that shows a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how The Monkey Buddha blog is published.

This is how all my thoughts are carefully transferred into the virtual world of the Internets...

seen on FFFFOUND!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Homer Simpson's Monkey Mind

In Buddhism & other spiritual practices, the purpose of meditation is to tame the "monkey mind".

It is a term to describe the normal state of consciousness- in which an endless stream of thoughts & internal mental chatter interfere with the direct awareness of reality.

This state of mind is illustrated by the monkey in this animated gif, persistently banging cymbals inside Homer Simpson's head.

How to Meditate

Monday, October 14, 2013

Omni Reboot

 Omni Magazine- November 1978
This is an issue from the year I was born,
featuring cover art by H.R. Giger.

When I was growing up, my Mom would take me & my siblings to the local library to check out books. My thirst for knowledge was as great back then as it is now, so I would check out a wide array of books each time I went.

I've posted before about the importance of my early reading habits to my intellectual development. Specifically, I mentioned the many interesting Usborne books I used to love as a kid- about UFO's, Monsters, Ghosts, and the Future.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Even at a young age, these books reflected my interest in the many mysteries of the world.

Omni magazine was another publication that inspired my interest in both science & the strangeness in the Universe that science attempted to explain. I would take out 2 or 3 Omni magazines from the library at a time to read. My young, curious mind couldn't get enough of the far-out ideas in their pages.

 As a credit to the many other people the magazine inspired, Omni has finally been "rebooted" online:

There is no better medium for an intellectual forum which has been such a rich source of vision regarding technology, futurism, & Fortean phenomena.

Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, it is now also possible to go back and read old issues of the magazine, in digital format:

Internet Archive:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Size Comparison of Sci-Fi Spaceships

Several years ago, I posted a chart showing the sizes of various spacecraft from science fiction:

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

I recently came across an even more expansive chart, comparing the sizes of a large number of sci-fi spaceships, from such stories as Star Wars, Star Trek, and even games like Halo & Deadspace.

It is an awesome reference guide to the endless possible ways that we can travel among the stars!

The chart was made by DeviantART user, DirkLoechel:

Click for a hi-res view:

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Colbert Report: "Not a Game" Government Shutdown Game

The Colbert Report is one of the few shows on TV that I consider required viewing. I've been watching since the 1st episode, & Stephen delivers consistently brilliant satire on the current state of affairs.

As can be expected, he's had a field day with all the absurdity surrounding the 2013 Government Shutdown.

The other night, he had this awesome segment that combined some of my favorite topics- politics, humor, and games!

He introduces some 'Government Shutdown' board games, such as
• "Operation: Denied Due to Pre-Existing Condition"
• "Not Sorry!"

Then, he plays the patently ridiculous, yet depressingly accurate, "Not a Game: The Government Shutdown Home Game" - based on the shenanigans surrounding the standoff around 'Obamacare' & the government shutdown.

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

Monday, October 07, 2013

"A Night at Sea" by Paul Micarelli

I've added another image to my gallery of 3D art that I've been posting online:

A team of glowing ships silently hover over the deep ocean toward their base- a bioluminescent colony, floating on the waters of an unknown world...

by Paul Micarelli

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Cell Phone & Toy Phone Evolution

I had posted about these nesting dolls that were modeled after different stages in the development of the cell phone:

On The Chive I saw this picture showing the stages of various cell phone brands, along with the corresponding changes to the designs of toy phones!

It's a great example of how children's toys naturally reflect their culture, with its tools & technology.

After all, toys can be aids for helping kids role-play, to figure out how to be adults & use grown-up things.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Politics of the 2013 U.S. Shutdown

I still follow national politics very closely, but nowadays I don't write about it as much as I did during the Bush Dark Ages.

However, the ridiculous clown show surrounding the government shutdown, led by the Tea Party mutiny within the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, has literally forced my hand into typing a reaction.


My news & perspective comes from a wide variety of sources: the Google News & Pulse News aggregators, TPM, Democracy Now!, CNN, Bartcop, Politico, BBC, Fox News, MSNBC, PBS, etc.
One of the problems with today's political climate is that many people only get their news & opinion from limited sources, usually just those that affirm their existing worldview.

As brain-dead as their commentary often is, I often visit FoxNation or other ultra-conservative media outlets, to get a handle on how people (whom I usually don't agree with) see things. Conversely, it's also easy to tell when someone starts sputtering talking points & bizarro facts straight from Fox News, when it's clear they don't understand the reality of the situation.

I've always been an Independent voter, but generally I think the Republican party is wrong on most policy positions. They're ideas are often short-sighted, usually benefiting a narrow set of interest groups. Through endless obstruction & political stunts like this shutdown, they've also shown they simply can't run the federal government effectively. Despite the myth of their superiority on fiscal matters, the modern GOP have a pretty poor record of racking up public debt & governing in a way that does not advance positive solutions for the country.

The staggering incompetence of the Bush administration screwed the country and the global economy over 8 years. Their "Shoot first, ask questions later" cowboy approach to foreign policy left our country mired in *un-funded* trillion-dollar military occupations, which we are still trying to fully extract ourselves from. On the domestic front, they tried their best to give away everything in the public domain to Wall Street - by further deregulating the markets, so people lost their savings to the Great Casino, & by attempting to privatize Social Security.

Since Barack Obama was elected, the stated goal of the political opposition has been to make this President fail, at any cost. (I'm old enough to remember when criticizing President Bush was akin to anti-Americanism & treason, in the eyes of his supporters.) The Republican leaders have been quite open about the fact that their main objective is to oppose ANY progress the President, Democrats, & the reasonable Republicans seek to make.

Anti-Government politicians are the ultimate hypocrites, & they're also the masters of self-fulfilling prophecy... Their constituents are convinced that government does more harm than good, so they vote in these buffoons to prove them right, by causing chaos once in office - eliminating public programs & making the political process dysfunctional.

In fact, many Republicans actually ran on the promise of shutting down the government, as if this was a badge of honor!

Because I'm interested in this political theater for some reason, I was flipping through the cable news channels late last night as the shutdown loomed. Rachel Maddow had a good piece on the overt nature of this destructive political goal, leading to it's culmination last night:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

For the 2 years when the Dems had control of Congress, after Obama was elected in '08, there was actually a fair amount of meaningful legislation passed.

Since John Boehner & the GOP have been running the House of Representatives, though, little of note has been advanced by them- except for 40+ failed attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act, ACA, or "Obamacare".

Thanks to the partisan gerrymandering of Congressional districts, Republican candidates in deep red areas have been forced to lurch farther & farther to the right... and, in many cases, lower & lower on the IQ scale. This has given rise to the completely anti-government "Tea Party" faction of Congress, which is responsible for the current state of affairs.

I have no love, or even trust, for the government by any means. However, I do understand that there are hundreds of thousands of public workers providing vital services every day. One of the benefits of being part of an organized society is a working government to keep things running smoothly.

The fringe element of the GOP has wildly miscalculated their strategy by willfully neglecting their basic duty to keep the government running, so the country can function. These ideological Reps. have no sense of responsibility or history, and they have completely ignored what happened last time their party, led by Newt Gingrich, tried to fold their arms & stomp their feet, at the expense of the nation:

Attempts to blame Obama or the Democrats for refusing to go to conference, or negotiate on terms, for a continuing resolution is bullshit. The Republicans in the House could agree to fund the government right now, by advancing the clean CR bill waiting for them. The merits & flaws of the Obamacare law can then be debated through normal procedure. It is a separate issue- one that should have no bearing, whatsoever, on whether government continues to function in a regular manner.

Despite claims by both sides, that it's their opponents who will not come to the negotiating table, it's now pretty obvious that the GOP have wanted to use this lack of a settled budget as leverage to hold the country hostage- in exchange for their demands for blocking the ACA from being implemented. The GOP is trying to twist the normal order of business, so they can hijack the legislative process.

The crazy thing is that the shut down doesn't even affect Obamacare, which is still funded! Also, the fact that millions of people are visiting the website, even causing system crashes, shows just how much people need health insurance.

The shut down is frankly a stupid strategy, & it's going to have serious consequences for the Republican party. Conservatives stuck in the Fox News/Right-Wing Radio alternate reality bubble seem to think they're doing the will of the people by shutting down the government. They are going to find out that not everyone is living in their distorted fantasy world, & the scrutiny of the real world is going to judge them harshly.

The often-used description of these conservative hard-liners as "tea-hadists" is completely justified. The Republican Tea party caucus is a small group of fanatics inflicting widespread, real damage on the general population, to force their ideological agenda.

To be clear, I don't think Obamacare, nor the President himself, are without their flaws. He has said himself that there's always room for improvement in the laws.

However, Pres. Obama consistently been the adult in the room, pushing to get important things done, in spite of an obstinate minority party. The petulant right-wingers would rather let the country fail, than allow Obama any perceived victories. He has still been able to advance certain policy goals- by outmaneuvering the Congressional Republicans, who cannot let their base see them doing anything but obstruct the evil Kenyan Socialist.

John Boehner has been pathetically ineffective as a House Speaker. Now he has been totally undermined by the self-serving weasels in his caucus, like Ted Cruz & Eric Cantor. You may not like Nancy Pelosi, but she would not have allowed this kind of subversion when she was Speaker.

Despite the right-wing rebellion in the House, thankfully there are still Republicans who haven't gone way off the deep end.

I don't often agree with the governor from my state, but Chris Christie (R-NJ) correctly calls the GOP shutdown strategy simply "irresponsible":

It's even more rare for me to agree with Rep. Pete King (R-NY), but even his crazy-ass recognized this is going to have a negative effect on his party & the country:

So, it's been almost 24hrs & the standoff is still going on. At some point, the House Republicans are going to have to realize this is a suicide mission & agree to stop this madness.

The irony of the whole situation is that the ACA is actually a relatively conservative health insurance system! It's a product of the Heritage Foundation & "Romneycare" the system implemented by the cyborg former gov. of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney. The insurance is still provided from private companies, & now there will be competitive markets for businesses to compete. These are originally conservative ideas.

The people who don't see the necessity of individual mandates, apparently don't understand the concept of "insurance". The purpose is to get the maximum number of people enrolled to create as large a funding pool as possible. It's not that hard to figure out. The idea that people should be left to fully pay their own health care costs is idiotic & selfish.

If dirty, hippy, socialist liberals (like me!) had our way, there would be a single-payer, or Medicare-for-all, system of nationalized health care. The private insurers would be outlawed entirely. Conservatives may gasp or grimace at that idea, but people's health care should not be administered by for-profit private corporations. Those profits are unnecessarily adding to the already exorbitant  health care costs in this country.

I'm always baffled by the argument that the government has no business being involved in health care. 

It's not specifically used as a basis for legal interpretations, but I'd say look no further than the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution. It clearly states the people's government is meant to "...promote the general Welfare". What could be more crucial to the general welfare of the citizens of a country than their health?!?!

One could also look to Article I, Section 8, Clause 1,  the Tax & Spending Clause:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

If people could look past their ingrained aversion to all things government, they'd see that having & funding essential public services, including health care, are essential to improving the standards of living for everyone in society.

Sure there's always potential for abuse & corruption in the various gov't agencies & services, but that doesn't mean we should abandon the idea of a representative government that can work for its citizens. We need people in office who believe that the power of government can be effective, not people who think that government needs to be "drown in a bathtub".

We cannot even have these debates about social policy, until the Congress gets its act together & starts to operate in a normal way. This means the Congresspeople have to stop drinking whatever's making them lose their minds & move forward with the business of the nation.

The onus is on the House Republicans to simply agree to keeping the government running & it's employees working, with no legislative strings attached.