Blog Archives

Technology: Presence & Time

So I’ve been pondering what to write for a next post.  I was looking at other posts with the daily prompt about use of phones which caught my attention.  They are useful, but they can also control you if you let them because they ring off the hook and people can nowadays text you like there’s no tomorrow.  Texts can be simple like “Dinner’s ready” from a family member to another family member in a different room, or about getting together.  They can be more complicated telling a story of something that recently happened, though that could also be a phone call instead of a text since longer messages aren’t as often sent by text as far as I can tell in my minimal text experience.  It depends though, sometimes that is the case and sometimes it is not.  Either way, technology can take you away from the present moment and into another space, for one reason or another.

This brings me to another pondering, as I’ve recently read The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.  Now The Time Traveller within the book travels hundreds of thousands of years into the future.  He views completely different worlds that are nothing like that where we currently reside.  The social hierarchy of creatures is vastly different, being that it seems humans have evolved into two different species somewhat, at least it appears that the Time Traveller interprets these two species as being derived from humans if I read it correctly.  Some might consider such a long way off in the future to be a daring feat for someone to take when trying out a time machine, but is it that big of a deal?  Would it be better to jump 5, 10 or maybe 50 years into the future to see where things have evolved to before jumping elsewhere?  Would it be most useful to see yourself in the future or past when traveling time, or seeing beyond yourself and to look at the world itself?  I’m not sure I have all these answers, but I think it would intrigue me more to see where the world and humanity goes than to see exactly where i end up or where I’ve been.  Some days my opinion might differ, but I’m living in the moment right now as I create this post.

What are your thoughts?

Denialism & Colonization

A concept that I first formally learned about through reading Michael Specter’s book Denialism is the idea of setting aside reality, to push forward with your own agenda, or avoid a reality which is perhaps less acceptable to ones self.  Specter tends to apply this concept to science and technology, where it relates to the medical field and drugs/medicine themselves.  He touches on such things as vaccines vs. autism, homeopathy and going organic compared to non-organic foods and the like, as well as the scientific study of drugs such as Vioxx and their results vs. the reality which companies and such looking to sell the drug were interested in seeing.  Somewhat of a political aspect of denialism is also shown in the book, particularly around AIDS/HIV and Africa.  I found it to be an intriguing book!  It has sparked some thoughts in my mind as to things I could write.  Therefore, I may write further about the book in another post if I see fit, but I thought applying the general concept to a trilogy written by Kim Stanley Robinson, the books Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars would be appropriate.

The Mars trilogy takes the human population from planet Earth and sees it colonize the planet Mars over a couple of centuries, starting around the 21st century.  It sees us through growing troubles on the planet earth, while mostly focusing on the development of things on the (initially) Red planet.  The main characters seen throughout the three books live on Mars and go through the normal issues which we see in our everyday life such as conflicts of various natures and relationships growing and conflicting.  The thing that interested me most was that they are also speaking of various perspectives; from political, scientific, economic, and religious/philosophical, among others that affect the overall outlook of the new Martian civilization.

As with probably just about anything, there is a form of denialism which takes place in the trilogy.  In fact, one could say that this denialism that comes to my mind at the moment, is what caused troubles on earth to worsen; if not begin.  It is that of corporations looking out for themselves with little or no thought of the environment, its plants, nor animals, nor its people which as a whole were ultimately responsible for creating them out of nothingness in the initial stages of industrialization.

Corporations, in the trilogy, become larger bodies called “transnationals” or “transnats” and they are less focused on a democratic way of operation and more on making bigger and bigger gains; the goal being to compete to see who might become the biggest and ultimately be able to control the interplanetary market.  There are buyouts of smaller companies in the process to become bigger and better.  They have their own intentions for development on Mars, along with all those perspectives coming from the initial 100 people who first arrived on the planet.  The transnats become metanats who want to take control of what goes on within the Mars civilization.  I remember that some of the discussion amongst the first 100 was around different concepts and was intrigued that Buddhist concepts were referred to in discussing the fate of the mars civilization that would be built.

A Buddhist outlook is much different from that of the corporate cultures in the novels.  It is one where living in harmony is of utmost importance to strive toward as opposed to focusing upon the ego and desire.  A Buddhist outlook or philosophy tends to shy away from sins such as gluttony and greed.  So there is a big contrast in the novel between what some of the first colonizers of Mars had in mind for the planet and what could potentially come to said planet depending on which voices reign in the end.  I don’t want to give away too much of the story line in this post, so as not to spoil things for potential readers as to what comes of either the Earth or of the planet Mars.

But there is also much focus in the book on scientific development and just how development of Mars should take place.  Some believe in the more natural approach whereby living off the land is best, others have thoughts around wanting to play around with the planet’s atmosphere and land in order to have the planet mimic that of Earth’s geography in a sense.  Both of these seem like they could make sense, but one is more or less playing God and looking to be in control, and the other is going with the flow of things.  Clearly, people do not have full control though, as in the Mars Trilogy, right from the get-go things happen that are not planned or anticipated at all.  Life is a mystery.  You never know how things will unfold.

54th Anniversary of Michael Jackson’s birth

I thought that, today, it would be fitting to somehow acknowledge Michael Jackson on the anniversary of his birth, his 54th birthday. Though he may not be here in physical form anymore, being that he had the public following which he did, there is much that he left behind, from his creations to the perceptions of others as well as what you may call his teachings or ideas on life. He had the ability to show these ideas through the creation of music, performance, and short films throughout his life (as well as the occasional book and/or interview/speech).  In looking at things that he and others have said I found the following:

The media first turned the trial into a freak-show by emphasizing Jackson’s peculiarities rather than his humanity, and stoked the ratings with constant, trivializing coverage while other, far more important stories went under-reported or completely ignored in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Washington, D.C. The press might respond by saying, ”We gave the people what they wanted.” My response would be, ”My job is to give them what they want. When he steps into a recording studio, it’s Michael Jackson’s job to give them what they want. Your job is to give the people what they need.”

Stephen King, in “The Sideshow Has Left Town” (14 June 2005)

What an interesting excerpt from a piece written by Stephen King around Michael Jackson and his trial to fight off allegations of child abuse!  It looks to me like it really sets the record straight on what goals belong to which professional in the public arena.  Those who are intended to entertain, strive to give the public (to which they are entertaining) what that public wishes to see.  Those who are intended to bring forth world events on a regular basis (such as news media) are intended to give the people facts and news about the events going on around the world.

One could argue that the facts were being presented by news media as necessary pursuant to their roles.  However, my impression was often that there was some level of suggestion in many reports that had some implication of guilt on the part of Michael Jackson, long before the jury had any say in the matter.  Kind of unfortunate for it to be that way; what sells is what’s news, apparently.

From my perspective, Michael Jackson had the right idea:

Just because it’s in print doesn’t mean it’s the gospel.

He even had a song about it, Tabloid Junkie.  Anything can be said or written; the more bizarre, sensational or just plain “out there” the better it sometimes seems as far as sales and public interest.  I was rather shocked to see one particular story reported on CNN, as it was quite clearly to me the kind of thing of tabloids.  The idea of him having a voodoo curse put on people such as Stephen Spielberg among others, bathing in sheep blood, and ceremonially having cows slaughtered in relation to the curses is really bizarre.  At the time, I thought that CNN was a source for news, and I could never actually believe that story to be news no matter how much anyone might pay me or how much of a sales and marketing job was enforced upon me.  To give them the benefit of the doubt, they must have just momentarily confused the character Wacko Jacko with the man who is Michael Jackson.  They really seem like two completely different people.

This individual who may have put curses on people to get back at them for things, and slaughtering animals in the process seems nothing like Michael Jackson reacting the following way to an insect on stage (at about 2 minutes into the video):

It might stand out as different, unique, but with a completely different intent than the above.

Then there’s something Gotham Chopra, wrote, “Michael Jackson and Kim Jong Il” in The Huffington Post (5 July 2009) which speaks of Lisa Ling, and Euna Lee being detained in North Korea.  He spoke to Gotham about whether there might be anything that could be done.  Michael Jackson thought that maybe if Kim Jong II were a fan of his, that might enable him to sway the North Korean leader to free these two individuals.  He also said the following:

Gotham writes: “I explained to Michael that there were larger geo-politics involved, nuclear programs, a new administration trying to assert its foreign policy strategy (Obama), and another one in NK possibly going through some sort of transference of power.” Which might be a typical response from most people, but here’s a different and I would say a rather touching response:

“Yeah,” Michael said wistfully, “but if someone wants to do something good, they just can. They don’t really need to worry about all that other stuff.”

It might not always work to just out of the blue be able to do something good, but if it doesn’t I would like to pose the question:  Did we really believe we could accomplish that good thing and let that belief surpass any fear or uncertainty we felt about accomplishing the good act?

From Gotham Chopra’s account, it seems as though Michael Jackson goes beyond the role that Stephen King suggests is his role.  He not only gave the people what they wanted, through his skill and ability as an entertainer, but he wanted to give so much more.

As can be seen through the lyrics of such songs as Heal the World, Black or White, Man in the Mirror, Will you be There, Earth song, and others; Michael Jackson, or the power that used him as a vessel through which to communicate, had a vision of humankind living in community with one another, regardless of race or creed or other differences.  His music, his way of living seems to show humankind as best lived in communion with one another and with a Higher power (regardless of whether this Higher power might be a higher self within us, or something completely outside of us; perhaps a combination therein which is the Creator).  It can be argued that how he lived was strange and bizarre, but is that argument using sensationalism as a basis to prove its point, or does it take into account all sides including the good?  You can decide.

What a rollercoaster those 54 years have been!  I’m suddenly reminded of Michael’s “Leave me Alone” music video, which has imagery of the circus atmosphere and also includes a rollercoaster ride.  The song is from his Bad album, which celebrates its 25th anniversary with a release in September of Bad 25, including the first officially released concert from the Bad world tour.

Feel free to watch the “Leave me Alone” video here:

Neil Armstrong: a story of Community & the Power of Positive Thinking

“Neil was among the greatest of American heroes — not just of his time, but of all time. When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation. They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable — that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible. And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.” — U.S. President Barack Obama

So I’ve been reading news of Neil Armstrong’s passing, at age 82, on August 25, 2012.  I began to think of what impact that which he did and said had for us still today.  It’s not every day that someone even thinks they’re going to be able to set foot on the moon.  But to actually make it happen, that takes some positive thinking and a little help from a community which can build the craft which enables flight to the moon as well as others involved in such a mission.  I thought this related to some of my other posts in a sense, because it shows both that Neil and those who were working with him never gave up on a dream to ultimately set foot on the moon for the first time in history and it also demonstrates what grand things community can accomplish.

Of course, a lot of focus is currently on Neil himself and his famous quote:  “It’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”  But there had to be others involved in the mission to ensure it was possible, and that it went smoothly as well.  Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were also astronauts that were a part of the moon landing mission.

No doubt, Neil Armstrong, himself, did something spectacular and is admired by many for his mission to the moon; but as Barrack Obama includes in the above quote “he and his fellow crew members” worked together, there was a team effort.  Neil, himself, seems to have understood that his act of stepping out to land on the moon was only a small thing for himself, but an amazing occurrence for humanity or “mankind” as a whole.  He saw it as his mission as a part of a team, and that the team should be acknowledged as opposed to just him.  Thus, he never spoke about it to reporters or the media.  The name and the event of the moon landing is often noted, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in the media or in interviews at all.  He seems to be a very private individual, and by some of the things I’ve read, I’ve questioned if his personality type would be an introvert (to tie this in with one of my other posts about personality).

I never used to think that much of this one mission to the moon, as I was not here when it occurred, and it’s basically common knowledge as far as I’m aware, that it happened.  But maybe my perception also had something to do with having a father who has always said that nothing is impossible, if you believe in it.  What Neil accomplished could only be done by believing in the fact that it was a possible mission to complete, because focusing on the fear of it failing miserably would never be able to cause it to work as well as it did.  If it worked, despite of such a fear, it would be a bit of luck rather than anything else that made it happen; not the power of positive thinking on the part of Neil, as well as his crew and all others involved in making the mission a success.

May he rest in peace now that his time, on earth, as Neil Armstrong is complete.