Friday, November 28, 2008

what else don't we know?

The painting here is called 'After Science' - a simplified reflection on what might come about if our rigid intellectual priesthood of archaeologists was able to follow their own advice and consider some of the evidence that exists before a priori closing the doors to other explanations of human origins. Although strictly interpreted biblical explanations are laughable, so too is the Darwinist theory of gradualism too simplistic.

When the politically correct theories on human origin were first formed, a little over a 150 years ago, they were supported by a relatively few scientific fields of study with a limited range of technical methods. Today, with so many scientific disciplines, specialties and technologies at our disposal, it is an apt time for re-examining the existing theories to see if they really are worth keeping intact, or in need of significant overhauling.

For example, even minimal research into the mathematical, astronomical, and engineering feats of the great pyramid of Cheops in Egypt, supposedly built a few thousand years ago, reveals an architectural masterpiece that required the stacking of one million stone blocks weighing 2.5 to 200 tons (with some interior blocks weighing up to 200 tons) to a great height with a mathematical precision unequaled anywhere in the world. Yet, to apply orthodox theory, one would have to believe that the people who built it were primitive men, using stone tools and a jury-rigged apparatus of ropes and logs!

Even with modern technology, it is unlikely we could reproduce this masterpiece with such mathematical precision. The Japanese actually attempted to build a 20 foot tall pyramid in Egypt in the 1970's using the tools Egyptologists say were the only ones available when the original was built. Not only were they thwarted at every step, reverting to modern tools and methods, but the comparatively tiny pyramid they constructed didn't match up at the apex and they went home defeated. It is interesting that orthodox scholars so often make meticulous demands for proof of advanced technology in antiquity—yet in instances such as this one, their own theories either ignore the current evidence or give absurd explanations.

In fact, the occurrence of knowledge being won, then lost, then rediscovered “for the first time” is far from uncommon even in our documented history. Columbus’s discoveries of America and Galileo’s pronouncement that the earth was round are two such examples. It is firmly established historical fact that Columbus was not the first to discover America, and the ancient Egyptians, Mayans, and Chinese knew that the earth was round long before Galileo’s time.

Alternative historians have paved the way toward a new understanding of human origins that incorporates the early and current research of orthodox anthropology, paleontology and archeology with other scientific disciplines (e.g., archeoastronomy, engineering, geology, mathematics). Even the written and oral traditions, myths and legends of traditional peoples throughout the world are being openly researched and analyzed for further insights.

If any of this interests you I'd recommend: 'Forbidden Archeology' by Cremo and Thompson; 'Shattering the Myths of Darwinism' by Richard Milton; and 'Evolution, Creationism and other Modern Myths' by Vine Deloria, Jr. These three books are intriguing works that put human evolution in its rightful place - as a theory in serious need of reconsideration.

I'm just fed up with so-called 'experts' telling me what is 'true' and since I have the luxury of spending my free time doing and reading what interests me I'll continue doing just that. The world is far older and stranger than the history we've been told and maybe we are too - I already know I am.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

how old am i?

Just as I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever write (and draw) another one, I've surprised myself by doing it again. Boy, is my wrist sore. I doubt you've wondered what it was like when the first boomers hit highschool but I decided to tell it anyway.. one version, anyway. There are millions more.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

eco this eco that

Crow here. The nice thing about having a pair of wings is not having to get passports, earn money for plane fares or suffer the indignity of having to remove our shoes or prosthetic bits when we pass through Security. Speaking of which, a number of my friends are feeling very insecure nowadays and this is a big part of the reason:

"With the possible exception of the rat, humans are now the most numerous mammal on earth"!

I've been traveling a lot these last few years and I've met some pretty fascinating characters of the human and non-human variety. There are always interesting things to learn and as you know, my friend susan has given me an open invitation to share my findings with whoever drops by to visit.

Of the six billion people in the world maybe a billion lead a decent lifestyle; of this billion maybe half can be considered middle class; of this 250 million maybe 100 million earn over $90k a year. Of this 100 million maybe 10 million are close to a million dollars in real wealth or higher. So 10 million out of 6 billion is pretty much the batting average you have achieved using up some terrific non-renewable resources or a 1.6% batting average.

Humans are torn between self interests and group interests. If you define the ultimate group interests as those of society as a whole, then there is clearly a conflict between the two. The focus of this conflict rests with the pursuit of short-term personal gain, which is opposed by the requirement for long-term group survival. The net balance between these two factors determines the nature of economic (and political) systems.

Discussions about nature and the limits it imposes on human society are not new but what's needed are discussions about how to live in some degree of prosperity and avoid ecological collapse. It would be nice if some space was left for the rest of us who share the planet with you. In an effort to provide you more amusement and ourselves more notice, I've started a program to provide silly shoes and funny hats to all the plainer birds and mammals.

The genius of the current capitalist endless growth system is that it offers everyone the promise of stupendous wealth. It depends upon your understanding of wealth, I suppose, but people will put up with pretty miserable lives in the hopes of better lives. Birds such as I and the other creatures I've known simply don't understand this concept since our needs simply involve access to clean air, clear water and a comfy branch to rest on when the day is done.

Now we're running into resource constraints as well as the current economic disaster. It's become obvious that it's physically impossible for the growth to continue forever and, if endless growth is impossible, then at some point the hope of universal wealth must be set aside. People become afraid. That's there's such resistance to ideas like peak oil and climate change - people have to either ignore physical reality or reject the capitalist growth system. Many people would rather ignore reality than give up hope but there may be some relevant ideas we can all consider.

Keep smiling and we'll figure out something. Now I'm off to bake a nice seed cake for susan's birthday tomorrow. Maybe I'll even give her a slice.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

one for three or three for one

Awards.. I got a couple recently and as usual I felt embarrassed about the attention but what's more to the point is that I'm the proprietor of a very tiny blog with about 12 occasional readers. I like it that way but it really does limit me from being able to pass around the awards - never mind the rules about link back to this and don't forget to post a note over there etc. So I've decided to post my own award since it's almost my birthday and everybody knows you can do what you like on your birthday. I'm awarding the phantsythat 'gotta love it' award to the following charming and much more popular bloggers listed below. There are no rules. Keep it yourselves or give it to someone you like. Your choice.

I opened my email a week or two ago and found this highly artistic blog award from my friend, Randal. Since he was using it merely as a bribe to get me to post another of my historic watercolors I did just that and then went over to read more of his contemporary poetry and sports reports - sometimes they're side by side or all mixed up in the same post. The guy's either a marvel or his wife sometimes forgets to put his medication in his breakfast cereal.

Thanks to Utah Savage for the lovely Marie Antoinette award. We both tend to lean toward the Madame Dufarge side of the equation since we're of an age where we've learned the satisfaction of outliving the bastards. You must admit though, the aesthetic appeal of this picture compared to one of a pair of knitting needles and a head in a basket. Utah's been writing her savagely beautiful autobiography as a thinly disguised novel at the same time I've been drawing and telling the adventures of a silly person who shouldn't have been allowed outside by herself.

Then there's Border Explorer who in the midst of moving from her summer home in the midwest to the Texas - Mexico border can still take the time to do justice to memes and pass out awards properly all while continuing her commitments to human rights issues. I mean the lady and her husband are right out there on the front lines and not just writing the odd note to a disinterested legislator. BE asked me for a list of seven favorite albums and to oblige here's what I found under the B's:

BB King - Let the Good Times Roll
Banco de Gaia - Last Train to Lhasa
Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty
Beau Hunks - Manhattan Minuet
Billie Holiday - The Gershwin Songbook
Bjork - Homogenic
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - Let's Make Up and Be Friendly

Oh what the heck. Since I'm already in this far I'm going the rest of the way. The award is for all of you who come by and like it and just in case you'd like to see it it full size:

'Every time when a light rises from you, a light comes down toward you.'

Friday, November 14, 2008

bordering on harmony

The beauty of a thing lies in the fact that the possible perfection, corresponding to its inner nature, emerges.
Al Ghazali

The essential essence of our embodiment as human beings is our sense of perception. A very dear friend who has been a Sufi for many years once told me it was improper to draw pictures of naked ladies and animals. Furthermore, if I wanted to surrender to Islam as I was considering at the time, it was a pastime that must cease. Oh well, that was it for me becoming a Sufi. Buddhism doesn't come with the same stringent regulations and as we all know, practice makes perfect, whatever the practice.

I did spend some time considering the extraordinary beauty and grace of Islamic art as well as the magnificent poetry of the Sufi masters and thus painted a couple of mandalas based on the borders I'd been using for years. Where would they go if they were allowed to define the entire space? As you'll notice, I had a hard time giving up any representation of the natural world. The hummingbirds insisted on being accommodated in this one and where better for them to play? Al Ghazali's thought seemed to echo my impression.

You think that I know what I do, that I belong to myself for one or even half a breath? As little as a feather knows what it writes, as little as a ball guesses where next it flies.

The first mandala I painted was never photographed but was carefully packed as a birthday card to my friend. She was pleased.. or at least she still loved me enough to say so :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

randalicious souvenir

My friend Randal's request for another painting I'm happy to oblige even without a reward or bribe. This one from the late 70's is one of the very few that ever included a male figure since drawing 'manly' men simply eluded me. I think the Gaia Principle was affecting me a lot back then with its philosophy of our natural inclination toward stewardship of this precious planet we're lucky enough to share for a brief time. Of course, I had no clue that my light-hearted rendering of a 'Polar Bear Spring' might actually become a reality as the ice caps continue to melt. Ah well, maybe we'll have an especially cold winter now that we know Hell's frozen over :-)

Crow stopped by a little earlier and asked me to let you all know that if you're a little short of funds there's still time to apply for your Federal Bailout money. Just click on this link to find Taxpayers For Common Sense and their link to the genuine (as in the real, honest-to-God same one the banks have been filing) 2 page document that will allow you to sign up for your share of the $700 billion. Act fast. Offer ends on November 14th.

Finally, for anyone who might be interested in why the investment houses (now banks - where are the tellers?) shouldn't be bailed out with taxpayer money, here's a wonderful article by Michael Lewis who wrote 'Liar's Poker'. The picture alone is worth the effort but he has the gift of describing abstruse financial shenanigans in a comprehensible way. I like that since I don't have Crow's natural ability.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

reality check is in the mail

Crow here. I've been noticing that a few of susan's blogger friends have little tickers on their side bars counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds left in the reign of the current administration. From what I've been hearing about the state of the economy and the continuing meltdown I've been thinking the tickers could be counting the money that won't be available for Obama to allocate when he takes office in January. Things are going to get worse before they get better and everyone had better be prepared for any major changes to be slow.

AIG wants another $50 billion this weekend and who knows what next. The company is expected to post huge third quarter losses again on Monday which are mostly the fault of credit default swaps they shouldn't have been engaging in to begin with. Would anyone in their right mind purchase insurance from a casino? Wasn't it the AIG kingpins that were caught at a posh spa, getting pampered with massages shortly after they were first bailed out? Wasn't it the AIG managment who were defending their spa vacations because, darn it, they worked so hard and they deserved some relaxation? I believe that they said something to the effect that they were under great stress and needed to decompress.

GM needs $75 billion in order to retool but they haven't designed or built the kind of cars people want or need for the past 30 years. The banks all want $100's of billion more. The other insurers want bailout money. The major home builders want bailout money. This is insane.

If we really were engaging in free markets, the failing companies would be allowed to fail and stronger companies that were run intelligently could take their places. Pretending that growth will be constant and unlimited isn't part of a free market system, it's just a scam that the scammers themselves ended up believing. If we're going to have a market, let's have one, and let it really work. If a company can't do business, too bad.

Well, don't be afraid, CHANGE is coming but like Paul Krugman mentioned - couldn't we maybe move it up a bit before all the money's gone? Never mind. Soon it will be sunshine everywhere, birds chirping non-stoppingly and, of course flowers and more flowers. It will be a BEAUTIFUL WORLD starting January 21, 2009. Perhaps we can let Alaska secede and invite Iceland to be the 50th state. There are only 300k Icelanders and they're all very well educated and civil.

Okay, gotta go. I have a night flight planned with a couple of old friends and I see one of them coming in for a landing now. I wonder why he looks worried?

Friday, November 7, 2008

gone but not forgotten

Okay, I'm trying to forget and even now the memory grows dim but the best take I've read on her chances for the next (Heaven forbid it's not started already) presidential race was written by my son, Ben at flyingtotems. I don't know if the towel story was real but it certainly sounds true to character. What was so horrible about the whole thing was that all of a sudden the Republicans were appealing to baseness itself rather than appealing to their political base. There's a big difference.

That's all from me this evening. It was so very nice watching our new president elect introducing his economic advisory team today and actually being able to give thoughtful responses to the reporters questions afterward. I cried all over again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

for Ingrid

Black Man Given the Nation's Worst Job

WASHINGTON—African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation's broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it. Said scholar and activist Mark L. Denton, "It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can't catch a break."

With thanks to The Onion

Sad but true. Nevertheless, along with you guys, I'm still pretty euphoric. For once in a lifetime we've got the brass ring. The monster aren't gone but at least they're no longer holding the reins and tomorrow is another new day.. and the girls get a puppy to take to the White House.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

way back machine

or the miracle of photo shop - ye olde photo shoppe essential elements, that is. The scanned photo was very dark and out of focus but this is almost as I remember the original having looked.

This painting is close to 40 years old and was done shortly after I switched from painting with acrylics and enamels to watercolor, my painting medium of choice ever since. I'd always wanted to work in oils and had been very attracted to the Flemish school as well as the Orientalist tendency to paint in layers of intensely rendered detail. Unfortunately (or not), it turned out I was allergic to oil paints and the thinners. I couldn't be in the same room with a bottle of turpentine without suffering hives and difficulty breathing - which didn't allow much space for getting creative at a time when inhalers and portable oxygen weren't available.

The colors here are too thick, especially on the dragons, but I hadn't yet learned the lighter touch that watercolor requires. Nevertheless, the image is still pretty neat and once again I can relate it to the times we face. Do the dragons represent bankers now hoarding the tax payers $700+ billion or are they hysterical right wing Republicans afraid of change?

I plan on staying on edge until the election is over and done and pray I won't be opening the emergency bottle Remy Martin on November 5th.

In the meantime, I'm working on another story. It's funny but once I start considering one all sorts of images, memories and moments I'd prefer not to remember come bubbling up to the surface and need to be sorted through in order to produce a series of drawings that add up to the baseline of a coherent story.

Remember getting home from a date hours late and having to present a reasonably episodic account of events to your mother? It's kind of like that.