Researchers in Switzerland are claiming they have created a brain/chip interface allowing a 36-year-old patient with ALS to communicate for the first time in months using nothing but his brain. The first message this cutting-edge technology freed from the mind of the patient?
“I want a beer”.
The second was that he loved his son.
Quick movie review. The Batman. It was good.
It was a well-delivered story presented with a unique aesthetic. It is dark and slow in the tradition of detective noir. There is narration done in a raspy voice driving the story along. Everyone whispers or yells. Lots of slow blowing horns adding dramatic effect to very slow moving scenes.
Batman is a detective. The character was introduced in 1939 in issue #27 of Detective Comics. This movie blends modern and gothic visuals into an invoking but not quick moving mystery. My favorite part is the silliness taken seriously with solving the Riddlers clues. It was truly an homage to the Batman and Riddler interactions from the 1960s TV series. Silly riddles solved in a serious tone.
Another deal breaker when interpreting the Batman character is obviously the toys and the Batmobile delivers. Not my favorite of all time but such a bar can hardly be the standard. An excellent action. Some laughter sprinkled through. Catwoman kills it. Go see it.
In 2021 the Future of Life Award went to Stephen Andersen, Susan Solomon, and the late Joseph Farman. Past winners of the Future of Life Award have been Vasili Arkhipov and Stanislav Petrov, both of who are credited with saving the world from nuclear war. Please let that sentence resonate for a moment. If EITHER of these 2 men had made a single different decision at a single moment in their lives our history afterward would have had us learning what it is like to recover from a nuclear conflict.
Math is super hard. It comes easy to very few and is far from intuitive to learn. I may have said it a few times but I heard it a million, “when are we ever gonna use this?”. It was the 1980s when I first confronted this question and there were no exciting answers at the time. Be an engineer or an accountant. That was the accurate answer. Science and math did not have the strong relationship they enjoy today. But as much as math hated me I always gave it maximum effort because there was one cool answer to the “when will we use this” inquiry… Astronaut.
I wanted to be an astronaut so bad. Partially because of childhood visits to the E.P.C.O.T. center, but mostly because of Lea Thompson (if you know you know). I actually did attend Space Camp, it was an amazing experience, I met amazing people, and had tons of fun. It was also made abundantly clear there were no tech advancements on the horizon getting my oversized ass to space, and there were some serious high performers in line for a shot. People who did their math homework and LOVED it!!.
People like the aforementioned Stephen Andersen, Susan Solomon, and Joseph Farman. They did their math homework. In doing so they discovered a gaping hole growing in the Ozone layer and sounded the alarm. Think about that for a moment. They used math and raw data to see an invisible hole in the atmosphere when the tools to verify it had yet to be invented. They showed POLITICIANS raw data and enough of them believed the scientists they began to initiate change. A massive public education campaign was launched, laws were charged, and the healing began before the data of the ozone layer had been verified. This is humanities biggest victory to date and we a debt of gratitude to the people who save our asses time and time again.
Stephen, Susan, and Joseph are all going down in history as weaponizing science and math for the benefit of all life on Earth. We do not need nuclear weapons. We need to celebrate minds that see the world through lenses invisible to most.
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”
-George Bernard Shaw
As we teeter on the edge of nuclear war can we take a moment to acknowledge how exceedingly bizarre the world is? It is possible a conflict may soon escalate to a level largely accepted to be the end of civilization in its current evolution.
In 1963 some Turkish dude knocked down a wall in his house and rediscovered an underground city that was 280 ft. deep with about 18 levels and could house approximately 20,000 people. 80 years later and it is still not fully excavated and explored.
Venice Beach has been referred to as an open-air insane asylum. I have no challenge to this description, but some days are crazier than others. Some nights it is just a sleepy little beach town, the crashing waves the only commotion. Others nights? It definitely helps to find comfort with chaos. I can tell around sundown what kind of night it is going to be. I think there is a life lesson in there somewhere. Some nights are calm and some are stormy. If you have walls keeping you shielded from the dark and scary please give a moment of gratitude. There are a lot of people out there facing the night scared to death.
Venice is chaotic but it is so very beautiful too. Any sunny day will find children and laughter as background music amongst street performers and radios blasting.
I remember more dog names than the people and I am not sorry. I am not sorry at all. So many well behaved doggos. It is so satisfying.
I also love the people who just cherish their dogs and give zero fucks. Some have lavish baskets towed behind bicycles, peering out with condescension like a Pharoah observing their kingdom while sitting on a silk pillow wearing sunglasses and a fedora. Named Madame Ferndale or some shit. I love it.
Little weiner dogs that can barely keep their heads above the sand looking like they’re playing water polo trying to fetch a ball. It is constant cuteness overload. There is a pit bull named Bean that chases the skaters around the pools in the skatepark. I do not think the owner even skates. Nobody seems to trip about it. I love places where people have better shit to do than to get upset about a little disruption.
“You can’t learn when you think you already know.”
If you do not know how to play the guitar it seems very hard to learn. If you see someone who can play the guitar it may seem like they know a great deal about it. But if you ask a good guitarist they will often tell you they know very little. If you ask a great guitarist they will tell you they know even less.
Learning is the great paradox because nothing can be learned without the realization of there being much more to learn. The act of learning itself creates more to learn. Pretty clever design.
I have had a passion for learning my entire life. It was largely extinguished through the systematic trauma of the public school system. My spark was defended by a few remarkable teachers for whom I will be forever grateful. I learned that learning, as with any skill, can be developed through the exact same principles which allowed me to accumulate muscle mass and athletic ability.
Start simple, repeat efforts by the thousands and thousands, and adapt.
Learning is sustained through humility. I find 2 things to almost always be true. Things are much more complicated and nuanced than can ever be assumed at first observation. There is always an overlooked simplicity to be discovered.
Take rocks for example. I know that they come in varying textures and what not. I know there is a science of geology dedicated exclusively to rocks. But when I spend even a moment thinking I could possibly comprehend the scope of what is known about rocks I laugh. Go give Amazon a search on geology books. Look up rocks on Wikipedia and see how many links you can get through. They can tell you everything about rocks. They can look so deeply at rocks they can tell the past. When it was formed, what it is composed of, how it ended up where it was found. They show us what animals from eons ago looked like. I could write for years and never scratch the surface of even a single Geologists PhD thesis. We are studying rocks we collected from other planets. My only flex is being able to pick out good skipping rocks.
Lifelong learning is where good and great part ways. The good apply gained knowledge, the great relentlessly pursue more.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ― C.G. Jung
When we accept reality as it is we miss the entire point of living.
The world is defined by its artists. The writers tell our story. The visual artists bring it to life in vivid detail and invoke raw emotions. I weep for those who don’t consume art. They choose to live a single life when it is possible to live many.
To honor the past is powerful. It enriches the present and gives value to the past. These pictures capture and energy of an era but were moments as fleeting as any other. These are the giants we stand on the shoulders of today. I like the Hollywood light. It acknowledges the theatrical nature of the place. The iron is real, the lighting is good to though.
The present is boring without the past, and hopeless without the future.
“Anyone who sees the world at 50, the same way they did at 20, has wasted 30 years of their life”
The celebration of advancing age is upon me once again. The 71st day of the year will mark my 44th lap around our sun. The year is still young but 2022 has been a pretty great one so far. The 43 before that were pretty bumpy but I seem to have caught a small pocket of smooth sky. I learned a while back a complete restart of life can be what it takes to finally get sailing on a proper heading. Life will inevitably throw obstacles and disruptions our way and it can be easy for these to be the only incidents altering our life. Changing a job in pursuit of a better one is a choice, doing it because one gets fired is not. A fulfilling life is one lived on purpose.
One insight I would like to share is that the process is all there is. Having goals is great. They give plans and endpoint, but the achievement of a goal is a most unsatisfying moment. The process is all there is. If you practice rollerskating you will find it rewarding to learn new tricks or techniques, but it will immediately be on to the next goal. The stories you will tell will be about the big spills. The moments of struggle. These are the ones filled with life. I am not hating on achievement, but life got really fun the moment I realized the hardest moments were going to be the most important.
*I did not proofread this so I apologize for any errors.
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”
Shocking is the realization we are under no obligation to be unhappy.
This sounds simple and obvious at first. It really is not. We often find ourselves unhappy for no reason. So the idea of being under no obligation to be unhappy when there is no reason to be unhappy is easy on the ears. But what about when you are unhappy for a valid reason? What about when something terrible happens to us? What about when someone is an asshole to us? What about when we have frustrating setbacks or get sad news? We have no obligation to be unhappy then either. We always have permission to be happy in the moment, any moment.
The sad truth is almost nobody feels the way they feel in any particular moment on purpose. If someone is in a good mood or bad is decided by the aggregate of preceding experiences. Got a good night sleep, caught a few green lights on the way for coffee, good mood. Kept waking up throughout the night and stubbed toe, bad mood. It is a superpower to choose our moods on purpose. The entire idea of mindfulness starts with being aware of what mood we are in as a reflex. Mindfulness is training the brain to be sensitive to, notice, and alert us to our current state, as well as changes to our state. That’s really it.
“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”
How can life be so beautiful and peaceful and so chaotic and uncertain all at once? It was a beautiful day at the beach. The forecast called for rain and despite a gloomy morning it turned out to be a sunny and vibrant day. A 3 on 3 basketball tournament drew a crowd at the world famous Venice Beach basketball courts. The largest nuclear power plant in Europe was fired upon by a belligerant invader and is reportedly on fire. Soooo…. There’s that.
A difficult balance to strike in uncertain times is to not abandon the long game while maximizing the here and now. Losing hope is how evil wins. Stay focused on your journey. There is something indestructible about the decision to continue into the darkness. To keep following the path committed too even when the outcome is not guaranteed. This is where adventure occurs. This is where we gain victories and experience. Accumulate some wisdom and maybe a few lessons to pass on to the following generations. So don’t lose hope, but also quit putting off being happy. Regardless of the outcome we will never regret making the choice to live larger and love harder.
“I don’t know what World War III will be fought with, but the next war will be fought with sticks and stones”
-Chilling warning about the consequences of nuclear war. Not an Einstein quote.
History is an interesting teacher. It proves the boundlessness of unpredictability. Prior to capturing fire, nothing about fires in nature hinted that humans would harness its energy. Nothing about seeing birds fly implied humans would conquer the skies. Nothing about a lightning strike gave clue to humanities electrified future.
Nuclear energy is not the last advance humans will make.
That being said, there is a power hungry moron tipping the world towards a nuclear conflict. As a born and bred Gen X’er who went to bed as a child having nightmares of such things, I think it needs to be talked about.
My childhood was bombarded (pun absolutely intended) with imagery both in entertainment and education, of nuclear annihilation.
(What are the odds of being born into the generation following humans just gaining the ability to end it all)?
The book Hiroshima was required reading when I was a CHILD!! I don’t remember the exact age I read this first hand account of 6 people who survived the nuclear attack on Japan, but I was very young. It contains storied from people who survived while others close to them were vaporized. They speak of seeing peoples shadows burned into the ground from being incinerated faster than they could fall. Blackened fingernails and rapidly growing tumors from the radiation poisoning. The skies raining radioactive ashes. This was all from a firecracker sized explosion compared to the weapons on ready today.
We did not have active shooter drills in my school. The necessity of which today are an absolute failure of our society. I do however remember air raid drills. Alarms would sound and they would have us get under our desks protecting the backs of our heads with our hands. Again I do not remember the specific age but I was young enough to fit under a desk, so it had to be the 1980’s. As I sat crouched under the desk happy I wasn’t suffering through the scratchy clacking of chalk on a giant green board, it dawned on me the technique was unlikely provide much protection from the blasts from the “educational videos” we had watched. When I asked the wise elder in the room, “would this save us from one of those blasts?”, the teacher replied with a most unreassuring “probably not”. It was Texas after all.
Nuclear annihilation was a top of mind concern for years and years, and eventually Gen X just grew numb to it. So numb we spared our proginy from traumatic stories of the nuclear boogie man that could fall from the sky and incinerate them at any moment. Letting them know getting vaporized in the flash is the best case scenario because the unlucky survivors were destined to become deformed feral predators.
And here we are 30 and more years later and the drums of war are pounding, and many people seem largely oblivious to the stakes. This may be a dick move but here is a simulation of how it could look. It is not good.
Whatever the outcome of this conflict I hope it reignites the awareness of the importance of denuclearization. A society with nuclear weapons is a temporary one.
A writer I am a fan of claims The Munsters and The Addams Family were the two most important sitcoms in history. His reasoning? The shows coincided with the transition from desegregation to integration. These stories were ones where the outcasts were the good guys, yet rejected for their appearance. The oddballs saw the good in everyone that failed to see it in them. It showed people proud of their unique identities and being tolerant towards those that judged them.
Society is currently not giving itself enough credit for how far it has come. The world is not a static place. It is evolving and we will always be in some stage of adapting to change. I look around Venice and see people who understood that assignment. This place has reinvented itself more times than the Batman character. A portrait of inclusion. Chinese masseurs next to an Egyptian bazaar next to an empanada stand. “Freshly baked! If you don’t like them you don’t pay” the man chants with a carnival tone.
Venice reminds me of the families I grew up with through reruns. Being different is celebrated here. I am pretty sure The Munsters have a tattoo shop on the boardwalk.
As I approach 44 years of age I remember the contrast of these shows with the real world. A tattoo was recently a sign of high rebellion. A mohawk made you an anarchist. Not just to the neighbors, but to the authorities as well. A t-shirt for a heavy metal band was more ostracizing than a proper felony. Non-conformity was not tolerated. Words like inclusion held no weight. These behaviors came with the threat of “nobody is going to hire you” and they were correct. We have come a long way. Just a short time before that era having long hair was enough to put you beyond the social fringe.
I think there is this misconception the year 2000 was insignificant because we didn’t have flying cars and moon bases yet. The 1990s was a dark age. All of the movements that have gained traction were basically still at ground zero in the 90s. Racism and all sorts of phobias were much more the norms than they are today. Coming out of the closet was a cancellable offense, now it is protected by federal law.
The rumblings of a nuclear conflict are loud today. There are people living the worst nightmare imaginable right now. Let’s all love one another a little extra for a while.