Kostas Kiriakakis is an illustrator. In an illustrated cartoon muse, he explores the collection of Questions and Answers. Not your typical cartoon.
They ask: Who will You make peace with?
If you’re in the Vancouver, BC area, there is a free concert and the 2nd annual attempt at the world’s largest human peace sign. The Mayor has officially proclaimed it “Kindness Day.” (The local theme)
One of the performers, Ranj Singh, an Indo-folk-rock musician and fav of mine, did this related song.
Peace, Ranj Singh:
(That’s the seawall in Stanley Park)
Here’s my fav Ranj song, Fly Away, performed by the river. It’s with his former band, The Discriminators. The sound is not as good but its a great song. This version has a slow build:
Just remember – Peace begins within.
As you may know, our ears loose their sensitivity to the outer ends of the audible spectrum with age. This can be exacerbated by noise extremes and loud music, such as I enjoyed in my youth playing drums in an acid rock band. As the principle goes, if your ears are ringing afterwards, you’ve done some damage. The longer the ringing, the more hearing you’ve blown off.
Here’s a little test for your ears, best done with headphones. Although they didn’t help in my case.
When you browse the products in a store and are searching for a specific brand, where might you be expected to find a bearded baseball card, an autographed girls photo, and a multi-million dollar painting? Why Amazon, of course. Who knew Monet was so available? Amazon recently opened a new fine art section, featuring some rather pricey artworks being offered by various local galleries.
Someone with that kind of budget for art would be pretty unlikely to buy through a reseller. It’s not exactly discreet. And who carries plastic with $5 million on it? Do they even offer such a thing? (consider the insurance cost for a stray card)
The effort has attracted some cheeky “buyers” feedback (“I returned it – the Monet was used”) and price comparisons (Warhol vs bulk canned soup). I notice several of the highest-priced Monet’s are gone now. Some galleries may not consider such attention desirable. Not to mention some observations, like on a Norman Rockwell for close to $5 million: Is it art or “just an illustration”? But look – free shipping.
I wonder how many are adding to their Wish list. Missed birthday anyone?
I suppose if you enjoy throwing some extra cash around and advertising it on Amazon and Facebook, it’s an option. Bet your home insurance company may not appreciate it though. Better get that rider. And a better security system.
Hey – the Monet poster (Nympheas) is on sale for $2.76, regular $15. I can afford that! Over in Artwork though, not Fine Art.
PS – there are thousands of more modest paintings to choose from under Fine Art. And if this helps some of the smaller galleries survive, great. (this is reseller, not Amazon stock)
Ever heard of Elon Musk? TED branded him a serial entrepreneur, but that’s an understatement. He is a practical visionary:
1 – the co-founder of Paypal
2 – the CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors. Their new all-electric model S has just been named by Consumer Reports as the highest rated car ever! It’s still a luxury car but it’s phase 2. Phase 3 is a mass production model. And the company has posted it’s first profit. That will keep it going.
3 – he’s involved with solar power company SolarCity
4 – and he’s the chief designer at SpaceX, a reusable rocket company. They’re already doing work for NASA and the space shuttle.
His TED talk from February this year:
CBC’s The National does a special on the current economy and how it’s being managed. It’s not what you may think. Low interest rates and a massive increase in the money supply have notable issues. Is it working? It is creating a massive increase in personal debt while hammering savers in multiple ways. Interest rates have to go up some time, which will also hammer those in debt. One adviser indicates everything is in a bubble now due to the artificial manipulation. What the piece fails to note is the profound inflationary pressure there is with a massively increased money supply. That devalues current incomes and investments and increases prices. One interviewee jokes about money under the mattress but its valuation still depends on the money supply.
Recently, I was sent links to a couple of short on-line general science and religion knowledge quizzes by Pew Research. What is particularly interesting is the detailed stats from the original study showing how well people did on specific questions, overall and so forth. You’ll see that with your results.
The Science Quiz (13 questions)
The World’s Religions Quiz (15 questions)
This article at Slate talks about it. For example, that 42% don’t know the most basic fact about global warming….
An interesting debate has arisen around the way TED determines what talks they consider acceptable. While they will happily host a talk on life purpose or on a writer’s muse, they have characterized some neuroscience research as “a bunch of goofballs.” Given that this was in response to pulling 2 talks, it suggests their attitude about same. Also on their no-no list, the medicinal value of food.
Notably, Rupert Sheldrake’s pulled talk was on the Delusions of Science. As one contributor (3rd letter below) observed, “The materialist worldview is a belief system based on ten core beliefs. Many people call this worldview science. The method of science and the worldview of materialism are actually two different things.” This is where it becomes troublesome – when a scientist fails to differentiate between their beliefs and science, they introduce non-objective bias.
It was also noted by several that paradigm-busting is how science progresses. New research must meet with skepticism and be tested but some have made skepticism a trademark, another fundamentalism. Richard Dawkins has famously called himself a “militant atheist”.
The sequence to date:
After a few complaints, Sheldrake and Hancock’s TEDx talks are pulled from the main channel. Vocal objections caused them to repost the clips on the TED blog as a discussion point. However, the talks were misrepresented and TED was obliged to retract some statements.
They then pulled the TEDx branding from a West Hollywood event, who decided to go ahead anyway.
I’m also aware of another event in IA that similarly lost it’s TEDx designation for being subtitled “Consciousness and Transformation.” They also went ahead. Some of the talks sounded excellent and only one mentioned consciousness, by a Kilby award-winning physicist.
1 – On April 18, Deepak Chopra and 5 other scientists responded in an open letter. Not real well written but it made some valid points.
2 – The next day, TED responded. They fairly indicate they have to draw a line somewhere. And it’s not always clear. But their attitude and name-calling is not serving anyone.
3 – Later that day a letter from Chopra and some 15 other scientists, each contributing a segment. Some of these comments are excellent. “Censorship almost always arises from some political agenda.” “A robust science of consciousness threatens no one but dogmatists.” And so forth.
Personally, I don’t have a high regard for using drugs to induce altered states of reality. This may bring brief but typically distorted expanded perception. But it doesn’t help real development and won’t give reliable insight. And it can cause serious after-effects. From people I’ve talked to that have done it, it pollutes the finer nervous system. As such I’m not a fan of Hancock. But does the talk deserve “semi-censorship?” Debate certainly.
On the other hand, I’ve read some of Sheldrake’s work and heard a talk he gave on how laws of nature evolve. As the contributors comment, some of his work is excellent research. Some of his books are used as university textbooks. But his talk did directly but gently confront science vs worldview.
Another question I’ve not noticed raised. TED suggested they can’t vet all the videos from TEDx events but I have to wonder how they determine what they do post. Their YouTube channel currently has 1,375 videos. Given there has been thousands of TEDx events, that is but a fraction. Chopra notes that Dawkins talk is posted but his rebuttal is not.
When I was getting my grad degree, we spent a little time exploring the difference between science, pseudo-science, and proto-science. The last uses the scientific method to explore new paradigms but is not yet established as a science. Pseudo, on the other hand, talks science but does not use proper methodology. Thus calling another scientists work pseudo-science is high insult. I would suggest proto-science is where Sheldrake and other contributors are working, especially around subjects like consciousness. Some people seem to be forgetting that.
Awhile back, I wrote about a TED talk that framed “Earth” as a dark ages term. That we lived on an ocean planet and there’s far more life in the water than on land. How land is a 2D flatland while the ocean is 3D.
It was a cool talk. Similar references have more actively suggested a name change for the planet. From space, we are indeed a blue planet. However, we’re still talking surface appearances. Under all that water is more earth. And there remains more earth than water. But that’s just the crust, like the skin of an apple. Even deeper is the mantle made of viscous rock. The earth’s crust is just the solidified surface of that. The mantle makes up 84% of the earth’s volume. Would it be a better representation?
And then there’s Lovelock’s Gaia theory that shows that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet. Our oxygen-rich atmosphere is one example. The name Gaia is Greek, from the goddess or personification of the earth as the mother of all.
Perhaps that’s the best idea of all. Gaia recognizes the earth as a whole interdependent system that supports life. A useful reminder for all of us.
Leo Widrich recently wrote an article for Lifehacker.com called “The Psychology of Language: Why Are Some Words More Persuasive Than Others?“
It’s an interesting exploration of language, including asking how a message makes you feel, new paradigms coming out of brain research, and the myth of body language dominance. Some interesting tips like avoiding adjectives and sticking to the Who, What, Where for questions. Surprisingly, they also suggest avoiding the “to be” verbs like ‘is’ for good reason. And he lists the 5 most persuasive words, many you see in advertising all the time. He closes by emphasizing you keep the ratio favouring positive statements.
Some of his tips apply to conversation too. I’ll let you read the article for details.