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 The Dreaming Universe
From Future Hi: I've been reading Daniel Pinchbeck's excellent psychedelic travelogue Breaking Open The Head and one of the most profound realizations of his experiences is the depth and reality of the spirit world and the beings which live in the interstices between mundane life and the subtle dimensions of dream and vision. From the machine elves of DMT to the "heavenly ones" of ayahuasca, the ancestors of eboga and the mushroom people of amanita, the plant psychedelics seem to show the vast terrestrial and extra-terrestrial intelligences present throughout nature, like a waking dreamworld shut off by the human species' deadly insistence upon scientific rationality and numeric evidence. This dreamworld seems to be a very real place, and its star-lit landscapes home to many forces.

This morning my sleep found me in contact with some such force or spirit. The realms of dreams and the psychedelic experience are kindred and tap into the same continuous landscape of spirit and imagination. Within this place arise archetypes and patterns, as well as apparently sentient entities common to many visionary experiences and often bound in some familiar way to the agent of invocation. Elvish or alien beings, for instance, are a common experience of those who blast into the DMT space, lending a consistency and presence to their fundamental existence beyond mere hallucination. Similarly, in tracking my dreams I've realized an interior map of places I commonly visit. A rocky coastline, a large grocery store, an apartment complex - these among others recur in my dreams, uniquely altered in each, but consistent as ideals. I've been mapping this internal geography, and in perceiving this fundamental pattern my dreamscape seems to exist regardless of whether or not I'm dreaming.
[ | 14 Jun 2004 @ 17:07 | PermaLink ]

 Biophilia
picture From WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: One design methodology that's gaining popularity in the green movement is "Biophilia". It's not a new idea--Edward O Wilson first proposed it twenty years ago--but in the last few years studies have begun to be done, showing it has significant and measurable effects on people's state of mind. The idea is that people function best in environments like the ones we evolved in, with other life around and with spaces that are more like habitats than like Cartesian boxes. Biophilia dovetails perfectly with green building because it involves giving buildings natural lighting and outdoor air, plants, water, and generally blurring the boundaries between building and landscape. Furthermore, it gives green building more of a soul than merely improving HVAC and fluorescent lighting.

In biophilic spaces, patients recover more quickly, students learn better, retail sales are higher, workplace productivity goes up, and absenteeism goes down. Sometimes the differences are up to 15 or 20%, which is huge (and retail sales can increase by a staggering 40% just from daylighting); in many workplace environments, the financial gains from even a 10% increased worker productivity can pay for a green retrofit two or three times over. This is a much more effective bargaining tool than energy savings, as most offices spend 100 to 1000 times the amount of money on salaries as they do on building energy.

Some success stories for Biophilia include Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater (widely considered the most important piece of American architecture in the last hundred years), ING Bank headquarters in Amsterdam (where absenteeism went down 15%), and Village Homes in Davis, California (which local real estate brochures describe as “Davis’s most desirable subdivision”). A Rocky Mountain Institute article describes it further:

Judith Heerwagen... and Prof. Gordon Orians... surveyed people in a variety of cultures and locations around the world to see if there were a preferred image of landscape. What they and others found is that people prefer landscapes that have copses of trees with horizontal canopies, water, elevation changes, distant views, flowers, indications of other people or inhabited structures—all elements that indicate possible food, shelter, and places to explore (or, as Heerwagen and Gordon Orians describe it in The Biophilia Hypothesis, “habitability cues, resource availability, shelter and predator protection, hazard cues, wayfinding and movement”)...

biophilic [building] design attributes include:
- the use of dynamic and diffuse daylight,
- the ability to have frequent, spontaneous and repeated contact with nature throughout and between buildings,
- the use of local, natural materials,
- a connection between interior and exterior surfaces,
- natural ventilation,
- a direct physical connection to nature from interior spaces, and
- direct visual access to nature from interior spaces.

[ | 13 Jun 2004 @ 11:32 | PermaLink ]

 Synocracy
picture From Synergic Earth News: Timothy Wilken, MD writes: How will we make decisions in a synergic future? In today’s world 2004, it is assumed without question that majority rule democracy is the best way to organize humanity. To even offer a criticism of majority rule democracy is to invite an immediate and often emotional charged attack on oneself. We are quickly asked to choose between majority rule democracy or the dictatorships of communism/fascism. We are quickly reminded that if we don’t like it here in a majority ruled democracy, we are free to leave. ... But what if there were something better? ... Synergic consensus is a much more powerful mechanism of decision making than the majority rule of present day democracy. Synergic consensus occurs when a group of humans sitting in heterarchy negotiate to reach a decision in which they all win and in which no one loses. In a synergic heterarchy, all members sit on the same level as “equals”. No one has more authority than anyone else. Every one has equal responsibility and equal authority within the heterarchy. The assignment for the heterarchy is to find a plan of action so that all members win. It is the collective responsibility of the entire heterarchy to find this “best” solution. Anyone can propose a plan to accomplish the needs of the group. All problems related to accomplishing the needs would be discussed at length within the heterarchy. The proposed action for solving a problem is examined by all members of the heterarchy. Anyone can suggest a modification, or even an alternative action to solve the problem. All members of the heterarchy serve as information sources for each other. The heterarchy continues in discussion until a plan of action is found that will work for everyone. When all are in agreement and only then can the plan be implemented. The plan insures that all members of the synergic heterarchy win. All members are required to veto any plan where they or anyone else would lose. But all vetoes are immediately followed by renegotiation to modify the plan so the loss can be eliminated. (03/10/04)
[ | 13 Jun 2004 @ 11:32 | PermaLink ]

 Arnold Toynbee, Time Traveler
picture From Future Hi: Arnold J. Toynbee was a renowned historian. His life work, "A Study of History", was a ten-volume tour-de-force, covering all of known history in considerable detail, charting the patterns to the rise and fall of a number of distinct civilizations. He wasn't just any historian. Rather, he had a unique ability to transport himself into the fabric of the history he was writing about. He talked about...

"the experience of a communion on the mundane plane with persons and events from which, in his usual state of consciousness, he is sundered by a great gulf of Time and Space that, in ordinary circumstances, is impassable for all his faculties except his intellect. A tenuous long-distance commerce exclusively on the intellectual plane is an historian's normal relation to the objects of his study; yet there are moments in his mental life -- moments as memorable as they are rare -- in which temporal and spatial barriers fall and psychic distance is annihilated; and in such moments of inspiration the historian finds himself transformed in a flash from a remote spectator into an immediate participant, as the dry bones take flesh and quicken into life."

So, when he visited the sites of historic events, or considered their components, he didn't just mentally catalogue them and analyze them. He oftentimes had experiences of merging into them. He just has to approach the site of the theatre of ancient Ephesus, and then...

"At the instant at which this historic panorama impinged on the spectator's eyes, the empty theatre peopled itself with a tumultuous throng as the breath came into the dead and they lived and stood up upon their feet. 'Some... cried one thing and some another; for the assembly was confused, and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.' [Acts xix. 32.] Those two dishevelled figures must be Gaius and Aristarchus; that ineffectual-looking creature must be Alexander. What is this rhythmic roar into which the babel of tongues is resolving itself? Will Gaius and Aristarchus escape with their lives? Thank Heaven for the intrepid town clerk's promptness and presence of mind. But at the moment when the cries of 'Great is Diana' are dying down and the clerk is beginning to reason tactfully with the crowd, the life flickers out of the scene as the spectator is carried up again instantaneously to the current surface of the Time-stream from an abyss, nineteen centuries deep, into which the impact of the sight of the theatre at Ephesus had plunged him."

Nothing special, you say? Doesn't prove anything? No, it doesn't. Maybe he just had a good imagination. Lots of people do stuff like that. Sure, but they don't all write a comprehensive world history. Anyway, the point is one of past history, or future history, being an experiential reality you can step into. We're not talking about time travel machines here. But we're not either talking about merely mental exercises and visualizations. We're talking about a state of consciousness beyond intellect. If you want to know how it was, or how it will be - go and look. Be there.
[ | 13 Jun 2004 @ 11:32 | PermaLink ]

 Reverence
picture
Those who realize harm can be done to others by any use of force against them, and the worthlessness of the goods that can be acquired by force, will be very full of respect for the liberty of others; they will not try to bind them or fetter them; they will be slow to judge and swift to sympathize; they will treat every human being with a kind of tenderness, because the principle of good in him is at once fragile and infinitely precious.

They will not condemn those who are unlike themselves; they will know and feel that individuality brings differences and uniformity means death.

They will wish each human being to be as much a living thing and as little a mechanical product as it is possible to be; they will cherish in each one just those things which the harsh usage of a ruthless world would destroy.

In one word, all their dealings with others will be inspired by a deep impulse of reverence.


- Bertrand Russell, Political Ideals (1917)

[ | 12 Jun 2004 @ 18:44 | PermaLink ]

 The Diamond Age
picture From Future Hi: The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology has an easily readable overview of the likely path of the development of nanotech, the timeline, the issues, the dangers.
Molecular nanotechnology (MNT) manufacturing means the ability to build devices, machines, and eventually whole products with every atom in its specified place. MNT is coming soon—almost certainly within 20 years, and perhaps in less than a decade. When it arrives, it will come quickly. Molecular manufacturing can be built into a self-contained, tabletop factory that makes cheap products efficiently at molecular scale. The time from the first assembler to a flood of powerful and complex products may be less than a year. The potential benefits of such a technology are immense. Unfortunately, the risks are also immense.

Even a primitive diamond-building nanofactory can create products vastly more powerful than today's versions. Electrical power can be converted to motion, and vice-versa, with one-tenth the power loss and about 108 (100,000,000) times more compactly. Computers can be a billion times smaller and use a million times less power. Materials can be about 100 times stronger than steel. This means that most human-scale products would consist almost entirely of empty space, reducing material requirements and cost. Most of the rest of the product would be structural, easy to design. Even the simplest products could be software-controlled at no extra hardware cost. Manufacturing of prototypes would be quite rapid—a few minutes to a few hours. Because manufacturing and prototyping are the same process, a successful prototype design could immediately be distributed for widespread use. A designer working with a few basic predesigned blocks could design, build, and test a simple product in less than a day. Products with complex interfaces to humans or to their surroundings—information appliances, automobiles, aerospace hardware, medical devices—would be limited by the time required to develop their software and test their functionality. However, in some fields the high time and money cost of manufacture slows other parts of the development cycle; this effect would disappear. An explosion of new, useful products could rapidly follow the widespread availability of a nanofactory.
In Neal Stephenson's science fiction "The Diamond Age" (which is a fabulous book), a typical apartment had a Matter Compiler in the kitchen. It was plugged into a feed of basic atomic components. And then you could basically ask it to manufacture on the spot pretty much anything you'd know how to ask for. Which would be built atom by atom. It is called the Diamond Age, because diamond would become one of the easiest and all-around most useful materials to build stuff of. You just need carbon atoms, which are in plentyful supply, and diamond is a very strong material, and transparent. Your windows would quite naturally be made of solid diamond.

Anyway... in twenty years or less!!?! This is serious, folks. Yes, obviously, if somebody makes workable nano-assemblers and figures out how to power them, then one thing will take another, very quickly. Then they can build duplicates of themselves. And then hardware suddenly is just a matter of software. I.e. you need just some raw atoms and a blueprint. It is going to cost nothing. The world will never be the same. And, no, it won't just be a nice appliance to have in the kitchen. Everything will change pervasively.

So, there's a big hurry to solve the moral and organizational and security issues around this. If anybody can download the plans for a nuclear bomb or the ebola virus, and press a button to build them any time they want - then what? So the race is on, to either build some kind of sofar uninvented safeguard into such a system, or for humanity to figure out how to organize itself so as to survive such capabilities.
[ | 12 Jun 2004 @ 18:36 | PermaLink ]

 Synthetic Biology
picture From WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Engineering life to do our bidding is damn hard. It's made even harder (and more dangerous, though that's a story for another time) by the law of unintended consquences: living beings are incredibly complicated, and they mutate quickly and in unexpected ways, and we simply don't understand them all that well.

Enter synthetic biology, which we might call the practice of using bits of DNA ("bio-bricks") to build pseudo-organisms which can grow and act (even replicate) in more precisely-controlled ways -- creating "machines" which are not quite like anything found in nature, and yet clearly, in some basic ways, alive, or at least akin to the living. It is, in essence, a biotech way of hacking the law of unintended consequences.

This Scientific American article does one of the best jobs I've yet seen of explaining synthetic biotechnology.

The article stops short of exploring the dangers and pitfalls, the unintended consquences of a field of endevour designed to skirt around the unintended consquences of tinkering with the structure of life itself. Not too much precautionary principle here. Still, if you're interested in the future biotechnology (and if you're interested in the future, you ought to be, whichever side of the issue you tend to find yourself), this is required reading.
[ | 12 Jun 2004 @ 18:36 | PermaLink ]

 Why Good Things Happen to Bad People
From Synergic Earth News: John Brand writes: Let me define my terms. By "good things" I do not mean ideals valued among the noblest of human principles. Included among such majestic goals would be the dispensation of justice based on equity, the rightful distribution of goods, the pursuit of philosophy, the arts, and the profoundly spiritual. By "good things," in this column, I imply what our materialistic society values most highly: conspicuous consumption, tax evasion by the super rich, awarding non-competitive government contracts, golden parachutes, obscene stock options, off-shore companies, accounting finesses, and sundry other such exploitive gambits. In short, by "good things" I mean the advantage the favorite few exercise over the masses. By "bad people" I do not mean those caught "in flagrante delicto" in extracurricular, sexual adventures. Heavens to Betsy, even a larger number of priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams than we are wont to admit would have to be called bad by that standard. "Bad people," in this column, are folks who pontificate about petty, moralistic issues but are quite willing to eliminate the protection of the "Bill of Rights" for all those with whom they have serious disagreements. Bad people are those who crow about democracy but disregard and even undermine the constitutional balance of powers. "Bad people" manipulate the system to satiate their rapacious appetites. They are folks amassing large bank accounts by devious means. They hold powerful, judicial positions based on passing a litmus test. They exert tremendous political influence flaunting any sense of social responsibility. How does it happen that the above listed good things accrue to such bad folks? To put it briefly, the spin masters have been able to make three lies sound virtuous and cause the virtuous to sound evil. (03/08/04)
[ | 12 Jun 2004 @ 18:36 | PermaLink ]

 Knowledge and Warriors
picture Some Carlos Castaneda quotes:
“A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war: wide-awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance. Going to knowledge or going to war in any other manner is a mistake, and whoever makes it might never live to regret it.”

“A rule of thumb for a warrior is that he makes his decisions so carefully that nothing that may happen as a result of them can surprise him, much less drain his power.”

“A warrior chooses a path with heart, any path with heart, and follows it; and then he rejoices and laughs. He knows because he sees that his life will be over altogether too soon. He sees that nothing is more important than anything else.”

“A warrior is a hunter. He calculates everything. That’s control. Once his calculations are over, he acts. He lets go. That’s abandon. A warrior is not a leaf at the mercy of the wind. No one can push him; no one can make him do things against himself or against his better judgment. A warrior is tuned to survive, and he survives in the best of all possible fashions.”

“A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting.”

[ | 11 Jun 2004 @ 15:26 | PermaLink ]

 DNA Computing
picture From Future Hi: As the lines between real and manufactured continue to blur, and science approaches finer and finer resolutions down to the subatomic scale, emergent technologies are rapidly evolving to radically alter the way humans interact with Nature. Increasingly we are wresting the fundamental tools of creation from the hands of the gods and employing them for our own purposes. A prime example is the discovery that DNA computers can be used to solve extremely complex mathematical problems much more readily than their silicon counterparts. This ingenious bit of repurposing appears to have many practical applications, as noted in the article cited below. But perhaps far more importantly, DNA computing represents a powerful element contributing to the relentless information feedback loop, coiling more & more tightly towards a
dramatic shift in the way humanity regards itself. Nature helps us build better computers, better computers help us build more accurate models of nature and plumb the depths of matter which, in turn, allow us to build even better computers. Information feeds itself. Technology is rapidly accelerating, hurtling us towards a not-too-distant future where the human imagination will manifest itself everywhere in Nature. ...
[ | 11 Jun 2004 @ 15:18 | PermaLink ]

 Sweet sweet Flower
From Swanny the Tinker: SWEET SWEET FLOWER

Sweet sweet flower, I care for thee.......

Though thou hast no arms to hold me, no lips with which to kiss,
Thou be est a truth of some sort, an expression most plain,
of some kind of love of which manner I canst not say.

Yet as I gaze upon thee, my senses are ataken by thy form and color
and scent and hue. I know not why I love est thee, and I know not if thou
love est me, yet in thy essence, thou dost speak to my soul, not as in words
for ears, but in whisperings to my heart,

And as thou dost tremble and dance in breezy winds, I am filled with
a wonder most grand and seek not to know this magic spell, nay,
but only to give thanks for the beauty and grace that thou art....
and thru the years and seasons four, I watch and wait as yet again
thy dost thy perennial display to and fro through life and deaths door.

Sweet sweet flower, I care for thee.


A. G. Jonas (*) 2004
[ | 11 Jun 2004 @ 15:18 | PermaLink ]

 Scientific Adventure
picture From Synergic Earth News: The New Scientist Interview -- To geologist Simon Lamb, mountains are much more than lumps of rock. He has spent much of the past decade in Bolivia trying to find out how they evolve. What does it feel like to spend all that time in the mountains? It is extreme. The altitude is a problem. You have half as much oxygen as at sea level and that is stressful because you never feel completely well. It is hard work to move around, you have to force yourself. The other problem is that there is little infrastructure there. If your vehicle breaks down or somebody gets ill you quickly go from a situation where everything is fine to one that is life-threatening. You might have your breakfast and plan to do something, then by lunchtime you are fighting for your life. It takes a while to recover from that. Eventually, it takes it out of you psychologically. You become more reluctant to take risks - that becomes the biggest problem. When I first went to Bolivia we were adventurous, because we didn't know what could go wrong. We did an awful lot of things that later on in the project I wouldn't have dreamed of doing. What sort of things go wrong? There was one time when we wanted desperately to get to the summit of a volcano to sample some gases, but we couldn't see a way to get there. Then a miner said he knew how to take a party of people up the volcano. In fact he was humouring us: he didn't know the way at all. First he took us up the wrong volcano, so we ended up having to climb two volcanoes instead of one. After all this effort we were determined to get the gas sample. It got dark, the guide panicked. He knew he was in trouble and he more or less abandoned us. We were floundering around in the dark trying to feel our way down. We were at our limit. I was pig in the middle between the guide far in the distance and the other two people in our team behind. I was using a flashlight to signal to them where I was, while keeping an eye on the guide and shouting to him. It was a close thing. When you are in the mountains, does anything distract you from your geology? Definitely. You suddenly step back and say this is an incredible place to be. We have seen herds of vicuna, and foxes. You can be driving through Bolivia's Alto Plano, come over a hill and see a huge lake covered in flamingos, and they all suddenly rise up. There can be moments of immense beauty, especially late in the day when you get this wonderful low evening light - a rich light, it has a lot of orange in it - and the landscape becomes almost like a painting. It's fantastically beautiful. You do fantasise that you want to get back to civilisation, you want a hot shower, a meal at a restaurant, you want to pamper yourself. But when you get to the city it comes as quite a shock. You immediately regret being back, and straight away you are looking forward to going away again. That's the great thing about these long field trips: you always have the thought that you'll be off again in a week and a new adventure will start. I feel privileged to have experienced all that. (03/08/05)
[ | 11 Jun 2004 @ 15:18 | PermaLink ]

 How the digital revolution is reshaping the news
From Smart Mobs: An insightful article from South Africa's Mail&Guardian, on how cheap digital technology is revolutionizing the way news is gathered, disseminated and perceived — and in doing so, how it's stoking a controversy.

Over the past weeks, the world has reeled to the pictures of US troops abusing Iraqi prisoners and the beheading of US contract worker Nicholas Berg.

These events were recorded by participants or bystanders. The images were posted on the internet, making them directly, freely and immediately accessible around the world.

In other words, journalists played no part in recording or interpreting the images. No editors intervened, government censors and spin doctors were impotent.

According to Steve Vines, publisher of a Hong Kong weekly news and political satire magazine, Spike " the main barriers to publishing - cost and geography - have vanished and the result is explosive.

What is clear, Vines said, is that unfiltered, uncensored images are now starting to drive the menu of the mainstream news oulets.

After Web-logging became a news source for conventional media after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the next step, "Vblogging," will enable those with a desire and a little technology the chance to write, shoot, edit and distribute video journalism on their own, even from the field," forbes.com, the website of Forbes magazine, says.

So the challenge to traditional journalism as the determinant of what is news and how news should be filtered will only intensify.

And the debate about whether undigested news is objective, useful and moral is bound to sharpen".


Related articles and analyses:

-- Visualizing War & Disaster - Poynter Institute

-- The Military as Citizen Reporters

-- Citizens as Camera Phone Reporters
[ | 10 Jun 2004 @ 23:59 | PermaLink ]

 Why Time Flies When You Are Having Fun
picture From Synergic Earth News: BBC Science -- Scans have shown that patterns of activity in the brain change depending on how we focus on a task. Concentrating on time passing, as we do when bored, will trigger brain activity which will make it seem as though the clock is ticking more slowly. The research, by the French Laboratory of Neurobiology and Cognition, is published in the magazine Science. In the study, 12 volunteers watched an image while researchers monitored their brain activity using MRI scans. Volunteers were given a variety of tasks. In one they were told to concentrate simply on the duration of an image, in another they were asked to focus on the colour, and in a third they were asked to concentrate on both duration and colour. ... It is thought that if the brain is busy focusing on many aspects of a task, then it has to spread its resources thinly, and pays less heed to time passing. Therefore, time passes without us really noticing it, and seems to go quickly. However, if the brain is not stimulated in this way, it concentrates its full energies on monitoring the passing of time. This may make time seem to drag, but in fact it is probably a more accurate perception of reality. Indeed, the researchers found that the more volunteers concentrated on the duration of the images, the more accurate were their estimates of its duration. Lead researcher Dr Jennifer Coull told BBC News Online that many of the areas of the brain involved in estimating time were the same that played a key role in controlling movement, and preparing for action. She said this overlap suggests that the brain may make sense of time as intervals between movements, in much the same way as a musician marks time with his foot, or an athlete anticipates the sound of a starter's pistol. (03/08/05)
[ | 10 Jun 2004 @ 23:59 | PermaLink ]

 Freecycle
picture
From Ming the Mechanic: Via Creative Generalist, check out Freecycle. Don't just throw unneeded stuff away and buy new. Put it up to be picked up for free by people in your local area. And you can be at the receiving end too, of course.
One rule: everything posted must be free. Whether it's a chair, a fax machine, piano, or an old door to be given away, it can be posted on the network. Or, maybe you're looking to acquire something yourself? Respond to the posting directly and you just might get it. After that it is up to the giver to set up a pickup time for passing on the treasure.
Seems to happen successfully in several hundred cities. And simply through e-mails in yahoo groups.
[ | 10 Jun 2004 @ 23:59 | PermaLink ]



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Here you will find a cornucopia of ideas, resources, connections, information, inspiration and surprises, all aimed at growing, creating or discovering a world that works better for all of us.


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2004-09-15
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  • Human-Caused Global Warming Confirmed
  • Consensus & Consent
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  • 2004-06-13
  • Biophilia
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