Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘science’

Sink Your Teeth Into It

51r5342n2LL._AC_US218_Flash Fiction by Cathbad Maponus.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

If you like short shorts that cross many genres (horror, fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, etc.), then definitely get yourself a copy of Flash Fiction. There are trips into the future, into space, present unrealities, and lots of killing, dying, and violence.

Writing flash fiction, also known as short shorts, is a unique endeavor. Having an entire story make sense, grab your attention, and surprise you, all with a few sentences, is not an easy task. At least to do it well isn’t, and Ms. Maponus does it very well.

A couple of my favorites in this well-crafted collection are “The Veil” and “Old Man Jasper”. Some of the titles are as clever as the stories, such as “The Cat Wore Prada”. Here is one that I read twice, and enjoyed both times.

IF SHE REALLY IS…

“Henny Porter, ye are charged of witchcraft. Do ye plead guilty and beg the Good Lord’s forgiveness?” The Magistrate questioned.

“I gladly admit I practice the Craft!” Henny offered cheerfully. “Aye to the first part; Nay to the second.”

His face ghastly pale, Pastor Franken spoke. “Henny! Do you realize what such an admission means?!”

“Do not worry, Parson,” Henny replied, smiling warmly.

The Magistrate pounded the gavel. “Henny, you are found guilty of Witchcraft. Ye shall be burned at the stake at dusk!”

That night, it rained fire. Many bodies were buried; Henny’s was not among them.

After looking around a little on the web, I discovered that there are not that many collections of short shorts, and some of them seem questionable. Flash Fictionby Cathbad Maponus, is one you can sink your teeth into (perhaps literally).

What Might Be

51+1RXtBEpLspirits at the dawn of day by simon boylan.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Spirits at the Dawn of Day isn’t a light happy romance, or straight up suspense. It’s more like a search for meaning in an internal mystery. If you want fluff, or continued conditioning for an unconscious life, don’t read this. If, on the other hand (or two), you don’t mind looking inside and at the world, with new perspectives and insights, then climb aboard. The story literally crashes itself into existence and takes readers’ on an inner journey, by following the external travels of Josh, an Australian company CEO, who is leaving Japan after a business trip.

All Josh is thinking about is his usual drink, sex, money, and status. After a tragic incident turns his world inside out, Josh seeks out his old friend from college (Alex), and travels around the world looking for answers. He meets up with a philosophy professor on a New England farm (who is reminiscent of Dr. Richard Alpert, who left academia and became Baba Ram Dass); a Kundalini yoga teacher, at a retreat center in Sedona, Arizona; a doctor in Dalian, China; the doctor’s martial arts instructing wife; and a man in Japan; whom he had a connection with from the beginning of the story.

There are in-depth and far-reaching conversations and debates that take place between Josh, and each of those he meets, which include science, philosophy, spirituality, suffering, meaning, love, the environment, business, society, and how they all do, or don’t, intersect and effect one another. The dialogue is not stuffy, or the least bit boring. They contain many of the elements that exist within our lives when we talk personally with a friend, therapist, clergy, teacher, or relative. In many ways, these conversations remind me of the film My Dinner With Andre, in which two men sit down for dinner at a New York restaurant and talk about everything under the sun (and moon).

In Spirits at the Dawn of Day, Mr. Boylan has taken an honest and striking look at what might (or can) happen when the world (and our perceptions of it) becomes something different than we have previously known, or allowed ourselves to see. Perhaps, he may be asking, is it possible to awaken to our inner and outer environment without having to fall from the sky in order to do so? If so, how do we do that? If so, how can we use this story about Josh and his awakening in our own lives? The final question in this story says, “We are all creating the world of tomorrow… Are you consciously creating your part?”

A Drop of Water

A teaching from Mistress Tarantino, as transmitted to Master Winnie of the Poo Chang around 44 A.D. Excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

images-1Space, the final frontier . . . it is outside ourselves and within. We are a drop of water within a mighty ocean and that ocean is a drop of water within a larger ocean. The drop of dew we see upon the grass contains an entire universe and each entity within that drop is a universe unto itself.

It’s all macro and micro, though some may mistakenly call it retro. If you think, for even a miniscule second, that you are the center of the world or that your ego exists unto itself and outside the rest of life, you are deep within the illusory world of Mara or as some like to call her Mirror.

It is quite complex and simple. We are separate, yet not. We are part of the whole, yet we are individuals. How can this be? What makes this so? Why does it work this way?

Scientists of the future will describe this phenomenon, of our co‑existence mixed with a sense of separation, as quantum theory or the Tao of physics or some such science. This reality is the yin and yang of the one, the whole, the spokes of the wheel.

Some may find it useful to ponder such a universe or try to make some sense of it all. Just accept it as our shared reality or mutually agreed upon perception and ride the waves.

More scientifically challenged stories at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Transhumanist Novel

41uUKy0oEmLThe Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans
New York Journal of Books
4 February 2014

In-depth philosophical essays and visionary science dressed up as a novel.

If you enjoy philosophy, you’ll love this book. If you’re a science geek you’ll read every word. If you are religious, spiritual, or into the supernatural, you’ll probably dismiss it, misunderstand it, and/or hate it.

Author Zoltan Istvan has taken a thinly disguised autobiography and transformed it into an almost plausible new world thriller that tends to go overboard on pontification and argument by the protagonist Jethro Knights, who becomes the mover and shaker of the Transhumanist movement and literally changes the entire world.

Istvan notes on the last page, “This story, The Transhumanist Wager, is the result of two decades of thought and inquiry into transhumanism and the quest for scientific immortality. I wrote it hoping to change people’s ideas of what a human being is and what it can become.”

A Transhumanist is someone who believes that the human race can evolve beyond its current limitations and can do so by means of technology and science.

The book has its moments. The love story between Jethro Knights and neurosurgeon Zoe Bach is believable and the action sequences in the book are top notch. The philosophy, debates, insights, and vision included in these pages are thought provoking and challenging, as are the observations about the clashes between religious fanatics and fundamentalists and those who believe in science, progress, choice and technology.

From a strictly literary perspective The Transhumanist Wager is nothing more than a collection of in-depth philosophical essays and visionary science dressed up as a novel. There are too many abrupt changes, events, and conclusions taking place in unrealistic periods of time without much depth or nuance to completely engage the reader.

Read entire review and others at NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS

Science of Indigenous Wisdom

Scientific Discoveries Play Catch-Up To Indigenous Wisdom
October 11th, 2012 By Alan Pierce
The Pachamama Alliance

Indigenous knowledge predates the scientific method by countless generations. Perhaps it’s unfair then to fault science for still being in catch-up mode when it comes to understanding Nature as an emotionally intelligent, deeply interconnected organism.

achuar-men-with-spears_290x194

Curiosity Prevails Over Scientific Dogma

An alive and aware natural world is and has been an ancestral truth amongst the world’s indigenous knowledge systems for centuries.

In its necessity for a structured, empirical approach to describing Nature, it is understandable that science has dismissed ideas like plants whispering to each other, animals grieving for their dead, or the illusion of separateness as merely quaint fables, metaphors rather than reality.

However, recent studies and theoretical models suggest such dismissal might be unjustified and, quite frankly, unscientific.

Ideas such as human-like consciousness in animals, extended awareness and communication in plants, or the emotional toll of death on other non-human species are now being given serious scientific thought. Thankfully, the only thing ultimately stronger than human arrogance is human curiosity.

The Science of Indigenous Wisdom

Here is a list of scientific breakthroughs which demonstrate the profound substance of indigenous wisdom, which understands Nature to be more alive and interdependent than science has given it credit for.

In a very formal affair, scientists recently convened to declare that both animal and human consciousness are alike.

Apparently, a grieving process is not unique to humans either. Death rituals have been observed in species ranging from dolphins, to elephants, to scrub jays, and more.

In this informative video, an ecologist provides thoughtful insight into the amazing way in which trees communicate in a deeply interconnected system, which sustains each individual tree and the forest as a whole.

Researchers in Australia have found a way to document a fascinating communication system between plants, one in which the human ear can actually hear the conversation underground.

Perhaps the most universal indigenous perspective is the idea of a world inextricably interconnected, on all levels, and across time. Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson speaks from a scientific viewpoint as he offers very similar sentiments.

Read rest of article and more at Pachamama Alliance.

The Science of Empathy

13e339fThe Science of Empathy: Principles and Practices Teleclass
by Paulette Rao, MCC, BCC

Effective coaches are high in empathy—the ability to tune into the emotional state of the other person and dialogue about what is going on with non-judgment and genuine acceptance.

So how do we, as coaches, enhance our ability to be empathic?

In this hour and forty-five minute class, you will learn how to engage rather than enmesh with your client’s feelings to support the client’s growth process. You will learn how to speak in a way that you become an intelligent mirror for the client, not only sharing back what you’ve heard, but noting discrepancies that seem to emerge among the various statements the client may be making. By sharing these discrepancies in a neutral tone and being descriptive rather than judgmental, you can maintain your empathic approach while catalyzing a space for new insights and sustainable change to occur.

Learning Objectives:

Definition and Role of Empathy
Distinctions between Empathy, Sympathy and Compassion
How to Express Empathy Effectively
Why Empathy is Crucial in Coaching
The Four Components of Empathy
The Challenges to Being Empathic
How We Can Enhance Our Ability to be Empathic

Dr. Marshall Rosenberg the author of Nonviolent Communication describes empathy as a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing. Empathy, calls upon us to empty our mind and listen to others with our whole being.

Sign Up Here: https://scienceofempathy1018.eventbrite.com/

Climate Change Science

From Nation of Change and IPS News
by Stephen Leahy
5 May 2012

Standing Up for the Planet and the Future

There’s been a general perception that climate change is a future problem but with all the extreme weather disasters and weather records the public is being to realise that climate change is here, says Jamie Henn, communications director for 350.org, a U.S.-based environmental group.

“Recent opinion surveys show the more than 60 percent of the U.S. public are connecting extreme weather to climate change,” Henn told IPS.

The U.S. public is not wrong, say scientists.

“All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be,” Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, told IPS previously.

Last year the U.S. endured 14 separate billion-dollar-plus weather disasters including flooding, hurricanes and tornados.

This year, most of the U.S. and Canada experienced summer in winter with record-shattering heat waves in March. More than 15,000 temperature records were broken in the U.S. which had its first billion-dollar weather disaster of the year. In most places, the spring month of April was colder than March.

“What kind of future are we leaving for our children if we keep putting more carbon into the atmosphere?” asks Nix.

As a former scientist who used to work for the oil industry in Canada’s tar sands, he has a pretty good idea of what’s coming unless fossil fuels are phased out. Catastrophic consequences including everything from droughts, floods, forest fires, food shortages, to increases in tropical diseases and political chaos.

“Politicians are not leading. Corporations are only interested in quick profits. They are the real radicals in our society,” says Nix. This is a reference to a high-level Canadian official who accused environmentalists of having a “radical ideological agenda” in an open letter.

“There is no one left to protect the future for our children but the public,” says Nix.

Every day, six long trains each carrying up to 10,000 tonnes of coal from the U.S. and British Columbia (BC) travel the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail line to the Westshore Coal Terminal at Delta, BC just north of the U.S. border. It is the busiest coal export port in North America.

The climate-heating carbon in the coal exported every year is equivalent to the annual emissions for the entire province of BC of 4.5 million people and many energy-intense industries like aluminium smelting and mining, says Nix.

“We have to stop burning coal. Leading scientists like James Hansen have made that clear,” he said.

Nix and other members of British Columbians for Climate Action have asked to meet with government officials to work out a plan to phase out coal exports. Their requests have been ignored. Now they have asked U.S. billionaire Warren Buffet to take action. His company Berkshire Hathaway Inc owns BNSF, one of the largest freight networks in North America.

Buffet has previously cancelled plans to build new coal-fired plants in the U.S. In a letter to Buffet, British Columbians for Climate Action write, “…when it comes to climate change it appears that other people are doing all the suffering while you profit from the very causes of the problem.”

On Saturday, 23-year-old Brandon Cormier wants to inform her local residents in the small Canadian town of Orangeville, Ontario about one of the sources of the climate change problem, Canada’s huge tar sands operation that boils oil out sands under its northern forests.

Cormier is organizing a demo-fest event as part of International Stop the Tar Sands Day*, which is also May 5.

“I am hoping to make local people more aware of climate change, and that the tar sands are a big contributor,” says Cormier, who has never done anything like this.

International Stop the Tar Sands Day has been held annually since 2010 with events in 50 cities around the world last year. It involves playful demonstration-festivals involving music, dancing, costumes, handing out flowers and postcards as part of an awareness-raising effort.

The tar sands operations in the province of Alberta supply the US with more than 2.4 million barrels of heavy oil a day. Considered “dirty oil” because requires large amounts of natural gas and clean water to extract it from the ground, it is under growing international pressure as a major source of carbon emissions and over destruction of thousands of kilometers of forests and wetlands.

“Not many people I know want to help me with this. They think that it is silly being so far away (from Alberta)….But I won’t let that discourage me. It’s everyone’s planet.”

Read entire report at Nation of Change.

Who Are You?

This may sound philosophical, spiritual or religious and perhaps it is, but “it” is as much science as insight and is an ever present reality that “I” am often blind too.

Lately, “I’ve” been seeing, thinking, feeling and observing how everything is connected and interconnected. It’s not the first time “I’ve” become aware of this, but it seems more prominent in my consciousness of late. The person or being that “I” and/or others identify as Gabriel, is both unique and important, as well as insignificant and a small part of the whole.

People, plants, animals, air, trees, water, earth, the planet, the solar system, the universe, the smallest particles and atoms all effect one another and are interdependent in millions of micro and macroscopic ways. Nothing and no one is immune or left untouched by this ever-changing existence of matter, sub-matter, energy and what is seen and not seen.

There are times when “I” am nowhere to be found. When “my” ego or attachment to “my” drama, personality, circumstances, family, friends and community is absent. Such times, moments or nows, are liberating and freeing.

Since “I” am also apart of it all and “my” thoughts, feelings, desires and actions also have effects, “I” am also of equal importance and responsible for co-creating with everything else. Thus, “I” practice taking personal responsibility in an impersonal way with compassion and intention of doing no harm.

So, what am “I” saying? “I”, who am named Gabriel Constans, whose body resides in Santa Cruz California, is known as married to Audrey Blumeneau and “has” 5 children and 2 grandchildren; is filled with gratitude for having the qualities of consciousness and awareness that make it possible for “me” to be and to “live” this experience we call life. Everything depends on everything. “Independence” and separation are a myth and only appear to exist when “we” forget to remember and be.

Our Ancestor’s Children

Not that long ago, I used to think people that were grandparents were very very old. Now, that I am one, I don’t see my self as an “older” person, let alone as ancient as I once thought such generations to be.

Our oldest daughter and her wife had their daughter Ilee (our granddaughter) just over a week ago and she is amazing and beautiful. Our other daughter and her husband, had their wonderful and bright son (our grandson), just about 2 years ago and they are coming to visit us for a week.

It all seems so natural, being a grandparent and being called GaPa or Opa, Grandma or Omi. It’s as if this was always meant to be and the lines of humanity continues. Of course, it’s happening all the time and we are one continuous thread since the beginning of life on this planet, but it seems even more real when it is happening so close to home.

We truly walk on the back of our ancestors or they are at our side (depending on how you relate to them) in everything we think, do or say. The energy from the past travels into the present and the energy we react with and live with now undoubtedly spreads into and shapes the future. The awareness of this reality calls me to be conscious and make wise choices. It calls us all up to take responsibility for ourselves, our communities and our planet.

This is not a matter of doing good or being a “good” person in order to fulfill some imagined self-image of who or what we “think” we should be; it is a matter of physics, action/reaction, science and self-sustaining necessity. The adage that “There is only one of us here” has never been more blatantly apparent and reflected within our world. I pray that I (we) do not turn away and anesthetize ourselves with illusion, suffering and self-imposed forgetfulness.

Even though our species has thrived for thousands of years, many others are now extinct. There is no guarantee that ours will continue. We cannot promise our children or our children’s children that they will continue to carry on their ancestor’s lives and spirits. As long as there is breath, there is hope. I hope I live to see great great grandchildren and continue to have the capacity to love and be loved. More importantly, I hope all forms of life on this planet traveling through space has the opportunity to do likewise.

Erotic Geography

It is no easy task to study geology and geography, without becoming sexually aroused. Sex not only inundates the media and pervades human consciousness; it is intricately laced through college science textbooks. That is the wonderful secret I discovered when my sweetheart went to graduate school at San Francisco State years ago and majored in geography. It was an unexpected, but thrilling side dish to the usual graduate school fare.

As I helped my partner with her studies, it soon became apparent that the most innocent scientific phrase was brimming with sexual innuendo. She found it increasingly difficult to have my “help”, as it usually turned into fits of laughter or charged our libido to such volcanic heights, that any further study for the evening would focus on one another’s anatomy and not the required text.
She would innocently read aloud, “Sedimentary rocks may be horizontal, tilted, or folded, and together with igneous and metamorphic rocks may be divided by joints, broken by faults, or thrust vast distances horizontally. All of these varying conditions are reflected in local and regional landforms. Strong deformation of rock masses producing complex geologic structures is usually associated with present or past margins of interacting lithospheric plates and results from the sea-floor spreading process.”

This quote about geologic structure, from Essentials of Physical Geography Today by Theodore M. Oberlander and Robert A. Muller (1987), may sound innocuous and matter-of-fact to the casual reader, but it is chock full of sexual references and innuendos. “Rock . . . horizontal, tilted, or folded,” has numerous love-making connotations. “Thrust . . . strong . . . interacting” and “spreading” are intricately connected with the erotic.

“Heat energy is the energy resulting from the random motion of the atoms and molecules of substances. The hotter a substance is the more vigorous is the motion of its atoms.” (Oberlander & Muller). These references were, once again, quite amorous. “Heat energy . . . random motion . . . substances . . .” and “The hotter a substance is the more vigorous is the motion of its atoms” are aphrodisiacs of geological proportions.

Geologists, meteorologists and geographers have little knowledge of their sexual promiscuity. Take a gander at this statement from Nyle C. Brady in The Nature and Properties of Soils (MacMillan, 1984). “As water moves through the soil to plant roots, into the roots, across cells into stems, up the plant xylem to the leaves, and is evaporated from the leaf surfaces, its tendency to move is determined by differences in free energy levels of the water, or by the moisture tension.” Give that titillating sentence a repeat read, keeping in mind male and female anatomical response during intercourse and the sexual references drip off one’s tongue.

When I look at the world through desire and wanting, that is all I see. At the time my partner was in her geography program, my senses were fossilized on sex. I saw everything around me as acts of creation and gender. We were all atoms of various persuasions attempting to be absorbed and interconnected through sexual union, while we floated through space on a gigantic uterus called earth. Luckily, not everyone has their lens focused on sex all the time, but with some it would definitely be an improvement.

People, who believe life is essentially unsafe, random and bad, see everything and everyone they meet, as threats or problems. They find the negative, disparaging aspects in their environment and their relationships and are convinced that they are the ongoing victims of a cruel and unjust world.

Folks who think there are limited precious resources and that one can never have enough, experience life with a grave sense of fear and foreboding that supplies will run out before they “get theirs”. Instead of seeing that “limited” and “precious” does not mean “absent”, they scramble to horde and obtain all the material, emotional, intellectual and spiritual wealth possible and are convinced that they will be left high and dry.

Others, intent on obtaining “perfection” and wanting to belong, compare and judge themselves as better or worse than others and are never content to be who and where they are. They believe that so and so is ignorant, stupid or inconsequential, compared to what they themselves have accomplished or vice-a-versa, are envious of those they perceive as being “greater than” or more accomplished than themselves. These judgments fluctuate and change on an hourly, daily basis and leave one mired in the quick sand of separation and isolation.

If we are looking at human beings and the world in which we live, through the lens of hate, we despise everyone and everything. If we peer through the lens of love, we see goodness and beauty. When I maintained the narrow focus of sex, it was the only thing I saw. When I acknowledged my deepest intention and realized that it was not sex, but love and interpersonal connection that I desire, I began to see the love and perfection that already existed. The need to attract, hold and control others to fit my narrow view of love and “being complete” began to diminish.

There are times that I seemingly can’t resist to give simple words and phrases unexpected meaning and my wife and I still can’t read or think about the physical sciences without laughing about our past study experiences and erotic connotations, but somehow, in spite of myself, I can now see the big picture. Yes, the big picture includes the erotic, but it has changed from “nothing but sex” to “everything and communion”.

Tag Cloud