I’ve been reading about the early days of computers ((‘Turing’s Cathedral,’ by George Dyson) and one thing has struck methat I hadn’t considered before: we’re creating the digital DNA and artificial intelligence of future digital entities. Everything we have done with computers since their inception adds to the collective “being” of the next generation, allowing an evolving and increasingly complex core to develop over time.
An example: The very first instructions in code were for simple tasks, such as adding or subtracting. Those tiny sequences continue to be preserved today in every digital device made.
When I wrote the poem "Whatever Happens to a Leaf" in 1999 there lay within it the core of my philosophy of life and death. If the context of the scientific notion that we are but born of dead stars from the ashes and dust of an extreme unbridled supernova, my leaf analogy of what happens to humans when they die simplifies the question so often asked of me, "What happens to us when we die." My answer, troubling to many, accepting by some, is "What ever happens to a leaf when it falls from the tree is the same thing that happens to you and me."Our existence is coexistent with the leaves on the trees, as we are with all living things. The evolutionary trek that brought us to the very day you read these words is the same chain from the branches of evolutionary life we clung to from our earliest days and which we cling to still.
Why do we have to love Texas? Because they teach us so much about our species. Here's a brief synopsis of an article from Governing Magazine.
The Texas Department of Agriculture just approved a new policy re-allowing soda and fried foods in public schools. "Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Thursday restored the option for public schools to serve certain fried foods and soda by lifting a decade-old statewide ban on deep fryers and soda machines."
“We are working to put an end to a one-size-fits-all approach mandated from Austin," Miller said in a press release. "We want families, teachers and school districts to know the Texas Department of Agriculture supports their decisions and efforts to teach Texas students about making healthy choices."
The author (John Burke) of the following quote, from an essay entitled Technology and Values, was educated at Boston Latin, MIT and Stanford and was, in order, a metallurgist, B-17 bomber pilot and prisoner of war, executive for Cummins Diesel, establisher and owner of an engineering firm, grad student and recipient of a doctorate at Stanford and assistant professor of the history of science and the history of technology at UCLA.
The essay was included in a volume called The Great Ideas Today - 1969 published in 1969 by Britannica Great Books.
The two scarcest commodities on this planet are money and time. We never seem to have enough of either one. But this isn't true of everyone. Some people have lots of one, some of the other, and some lucky people have both. How can this be? I have a socioeconomic theory that the time/money ratio is in fact an indicator of economic class. Here's how it works:
If you have both time and money, you're probably affluent. You simply have the money and don't need to work that hard for it, if at all. Consequently, you have lots of time too. The world is your oyster. You can have your cake and eat it too.
Several times a year the Vatican has children release and let fly white doves over the crowds in St. Peter’s Square as signs of peace. During one such release the horrified crowds witnessed a mid-air attack by a hungry crow and seagull when they killed the pope’s blessed doves.
To prevent this brutal contraindication of papal peace, the Swiss Guard acquired a female Harris Hawk with a four-foot wingspan. Like Michael armed with a sword in his hand, the hawkeyed bird of prey perches at the ready to slay these winged dragons who dare to publicly eat the holy symbols of peace.
Recently the Jewish Community of Amsterdam took up the question of repealing Spinoza’s excommunication. The banishment, effected in 1656, has never been formally challenged despite many promptings over the years from within the congregation of those whose ancestors ordered Spinoza’s expulsion.
The present congregation convened its own review board, as well as comissioned an advisory board of scholars and philosophers to consider the question. Several precedents related to revoking such a harsh sentence. (Indeed Spinoza was the only one of Amsterdam’s exiled Portuguese Jews to be so disgraced.) It was established the person in question need be alive, and show some measure of recognition, as well as contrition for their transgressions.
Last night, I dreamed I had to run around and update everyone’s config files. Their settings were out of date. I knew they would run better with new settings, and so I updated those files, one after another. When I woke up, I realized that the dream wasn’t talking about literal config files — it was talking about something deeper, the underlying principles and rules by which most of us operate. Something in our basic configuration as a society isn’t working anymore.
Before I lose you, a config file is really just an old school word for settings. It’s the file where certain software stores the basic settings it needs to operate. But there’s a subtle difference. I work with web sites and I update settings all the time — but I don’t often update the config files which tend to stay the same except under unusual circumstances. These are very basic settings that underlie everything the software does. In a sense, they’re almost unconscious, which is what our own “configuration settings” tend to be.
Being a Five- Light town, Brattleboro , has long been kept in a fishbowl where its local activities are open to public view in the tri-state area.
iBrattleboro, on the other hand, is in a virtual fishbowl where all manner of lively extranet conversations take place.
As a species of the genus microcosmos, we worldkins here are not far removed from a city of 8 million. The superficial differences are obvious but this corner piece of real-estate, proportionately speaking, has a knit of a tighter weave that is a daily, simulated reality of character interaction.
the lesson of the moth
By Don Marquis, in “archy and mehitabel,” 1927
i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires
Does not the first generation who must endure the changes to a new world have the hardest time living through it? Will there be any free space left to sit on the ground “and tell sad stories of the death of kings?”
Have you not heard the lament of our resident philosopher, Spinoza? The call to action from our resident documentarian, Chris Pratt? Is this site created by Chris Grotke and Lise LePage as much for the future as it is for the past and present?
What is it about the future we seem to fear so much? Will we all end by “dining on ashes” paralyzed like lumps of coal on a fire?
We have to start somewhere.
Grammy Nominated Drummer , Matt Wilson leads his trio in a tribute concert honoring VJC Founder, Attila Zoller
By Jonathan Stein, MA, RDT, CTP,
Contributing Editor, Collapsing into Consciousness
This essay is intended to be but a nudge in the direction of greater awareness, and not an in-depth exposition of the challenges that we face as a species. The crux of this short writing will, hopefully, direct my readers toward an awareness of one potential aspect of the solution to personal and global transformation. This facet pertains to gratitude and awareness of beauty.
"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism." [Einstein]
What all mammalian animals have in common is that they share the workings of a spinal column topped by a brainstem. Fundamentally, these are essentially the same in all of us animals. The brainstem contains the pathways to where all brain activity passes through to the rest of the body and is structurally connected to and a continuation of the spinal column.