Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Save the Date: April 30th

King Christina

I found the bit of the Connections episode speaking of "King Christina."  Interest in her was piqued today on the birthday of René Descartes. Start watching the following clip at 8 minutes 40 seconds in for a brief run down of King Christina of Sweden.


Do say

In the fall of 2001, while a freshman in college, I attended a lecture inside Marvel theater at SUNY Fredonia presented by James Burke. He was speaking about innovations in education, specifically about his proposed "K-Web" or knowledge web (a primitive version of Wikipedia). Since that time I have periodically come back to his Connections television series for inspiration in communicating big ideas. While listening to Garrison Keillor's "the Writer's Almanac" this morning I was reminded of Burke's episode of Connections where he explains how René Descartes died of pneumonia while teaching the matriarch of Sweden - Christina - how to think. Garrison Keillor refered to her as Queen Christina, but I recall Burke reporting that she was known as King Kristina, as sex did not affect the title or power of the head royalty in Sweden at the time. This particular memory of "King Christina" caused a particular resonance within me. A good friend of mine recently had the idea to begin a series of dinners called "Kings' Dinners" where small groups of interesting people gather for dinner, talk about their own big ideas, and record the dialog for for postage on You Tube. The premise being that in reality every person, big, small, young, or old is a king and entitled to breathe their spirit out into the world. Though this idea has not yet manifested, the memory of King Kristina channeling through Garrison Keillor and subsequently triggering my memories of James Burke brings us one step closer to having one of these King's Dinners. So stay on the lookout for a Kings' Dinner coming via you tube to Tom Paine's Ghost. Please feel free to preempt us and record your own Kings' Dinner. 

Though I could not find the clip from Connections where Burke Discusses "King Christina" the following clip illustrates nicely that we are all in fact approaching this Burke's predicted realm of "Saying." 
This web site has almost 3 years of testimony verifying his prediction.


 Here is the writer's almanac for Wednesday March 31st, 2010


Monday, March 29, 2010

Leoš Janáček - Composer

Hats off to Margaret for pointing out the artistic work Leoš Janáček in my post earlier. I may have otherwise missed this brilliant opportunity to learn about he and his works had she not shared that knowledge.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Civil Discourse?

Dawkins furthers Sagan furthers Bronowski

Of these three men I admire Jacob Bronowski most. His series the Ascent of Man, produced in the 1970's, was most influential in my view of the moral realm. Though it is anticlimactic to show this two-minute clip, as it is the absolute emotional apex of the 13 hour long series, I show it here to reiterate the REASON we, collectively, ought to doubt superstition. Arrogance, dogma, and ignorance are the reasons Jacob Bronowski posits for the unthinkable atrocities that happened inside concentration camps. 

"When people believe that they have ABSOLUTE KNOWLEDGE with NO TEST in REALITY this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of GODS."

He then goes on to say that SCIENCE is a very HUMAN form of knowledge. Here I think he means that no reported fact in science is ever thought infallible. No real scientist has ever claimed that the words they have written were divinely inspired, that the new grass species they've identified was revealed to them by angels. Reports come from other human beings all over planet earth. By reproducing  and scrutinizing the incoming results those facts are either confirmed or overturned. 

Recently I became aware of a man named Rudolf Steiner who lived in the early 20th century in Austria. As a philosopher he expended much effort in trying to bridge the scientific and spiritual ways of viewing the world. Though founding Waldorf education and Bio-dynamic farming were major accomplishments he is also widely remembered for founding anthroposophy - a spiritual worldview that promotes inner development by meditating and thinking about NATURAL PHENOMENON in an environment free of sensory input. As I think about the word Anthroposophy I can not help but think of Jacob Bronowski's view of "Science" as a "very human form of knowledge." Science as a concept has, in the minds of many, become a cold word over the last 50 years, devoid of the human face it once wore. Whether it be called science or anthroposophy the guiding principle behind all philosophy based on observation and subsequent contemplation of the natural world relies COMPLETELY on the physical and mental well-being of all conscious people on the planet. Personal freedom humbled by the equality granted to all by our social contract helps natural philosophy work to benefit humanity: longer life span, disease prevention and treatment, irrigation and sewage systems etc. 

When we abandon trust in our fellow man, when we abandon science because of fear, we leave ourselves susceptible to the certainty of dogma. 

In the 1980's Carl Sagan took up this dialogue when he produced Cosmos.  In the following clip  he makes arguments against the validity of astrological predictions while still making the ultimate point that the earth IS influenced by a star - THE SUN. Though some may see Sagan as callous to those who choose to believe in astrology, I take away from his words a further human appreciation.  To me his point about the sun  affirms my respect for the wisdom of ancient peoples in their reference for the sun and their meticulous attention to the seasons. 

But now, in present day, Richard Dawkins comes along and picks up the baton and portrays this dialogue as a battle. The intellectual aspect of the astrology debate Dawkins is trying to get at is subtle yet powerful.  He says in no uncertain terms "both racism and astrology are guilty of facile discrimination, dividing humanity up into EXCLUSIVE GROUPS based on NO EVIDENCE! "
For  skeptical people, people who choose to question ancient practices, this argument delivers a historical foothold.  Why did we as a planet decide that slavery was NOT OK?  Was it because of historical wisdom?  No, it was from a conscious evolution of morality stemming from enlightenment ideals, the likes of which the Texas State School board would rather not have taught in public schools


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Post with the Most: the entries so far

The 2010 Post with the Most blogging contest continues. So far there have been 7 entries submitted. If you write, read, paint, or perform in any way this is an opportunity to showcase your work. Contests like these  help connect and expose you to others interested in pushing citizen generated content into a rich new context. The contest has received some encouraging support from elsewhere in the blogosphere, including Abbas at 3QD and Bora at a blog around the clock.

Here are the entries so far...

Green Years' Resolution by Steffany Boldrini

The Powerful Healing Power of Affirmations by Rena Reese

You'll either get this or you won't by Ivor Tymchak

Monday Musing: the greatest of all time by Abbas Raza
A Natural History of my instrument: by Alicia Jo Rabins  

A Natural History of My Mishearing: by Ed Skoog  

Natural Histories Project: by Sean Hill 

Please submit your own entry by posting a link in the comments below. For more details on the criteria for posts visit the original competition announcement here. In a nutshell, we are looking for entries using at least 3 different forms of media. These forms include, but are not limited to - text, static images, audio, video, and any other medium, even those not yet known to the world.

Thank you for visiting,
may your day be filled with free thought.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Three of this stately species descended on Sheldon lake in Fort Collins, CO this AM.  While walking Ben the usual lake walkers alerted me to their presence at which point I rushed home to grab up my camera and have a dance with these graceful spirits.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Post from a Ghost: Roycroft Speaks

The following words were imprinted on paper by the Roycrofters over 100 years ago.  Along with my grandmother's passing two years ago a copy of the book titled Health and Wealth by Elbert Hubbard came into my possession. For fear of disintegrating its frail leather cover I had not cracked it open until recently.   Once I began reading a few weeks ago I could not put it down.  Being published over 100 years ago and therefore having its copyright relinquished the work is now in the public domain. I feel obligated to share some of these words with you and let Elbert's spirit float through this brave new world.  Careful reading indicates the same discrepancies between freethinkers - lovers of reason, and the mystics - those appealing to blind faith,  have raged eternal and are clearly outlined in this text. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

TPG in the running

The list of nominees for the 2010 3QD Prize in Arts & Literature has been posted here. A poem from Tom Paine's Ghost is entry number 73 out of 79 in the running. This competition is the fourth and final round in this the first year of "the Quark" blogging contests.