Quote for Today: L.R. Knost

Child Together Family People Parenting Mother

Challenging boundaries is not simply social rebellion. It is the catalyst of social evolution. When systems go unchallenged, they grow complacent and corrupt. Raising generation after generation of rule followers and conformists may be more convenient for society, but it inevitably leads to tyranny and, ultimately, revolution. Raising independent thinkers, conscious objectors, and peaceful activists creates a social balance that can endure. Peaceful parenting, then, by its very nature, is socially responsible because it creates the catalysts of social evolution that protect our society from the complacency and corruption that lead to tyranny and revolution.

L.R. Knost, InHumanity: Letters from the Trenches

Public Domain Image via Maxpixel

Quote for Today: Assata Shakur

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this is the 21st century and we need to redefine r/evolution. this planet needs a people’s r/evolution. a humanist r/evolution. r/evolution is not about bloodshed or about going to the mountains and fighting. we will fight if we are forced to but the fundamental goal of r/evolution must be peace.

we need a r/evolution of the mind. we need a r/evolution of the heart. we need a r/evolution of the spirit. the power of the people is stronger than any weapon. a people’s r/evolution can’t be stopped. we need to be weapons of mass construction. weapons of mass love. it’s not enough just to change the system. we need to change ourselves. we have got to make this world user friendly. user friendly.

are you ready to sacrifice to end world hunger. to sacrifice to end colonialism. to end neo-colonialism. to end racism. to end sexism.

r/evolution means the end of exploitation. r/evolution means respecting people from other cultures. r/evolution is creative.

r/evolution means treating your mate as a friend and an equal. r/evolution is sexy.

r/evolution means respecting and learning from your children. r/evolution is beautiful.

r/evolution means protecting the people. the plants. the animals. the air. the water. r/evolution means saving this planet.

r/evolution is love.

Assata Shakur, 2012

 

Public Domain Image via Pexels.com

Quote for Today: William S. Wilson

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We have, after all, an increase in the energy available for further evolution; we can use the energy of our position relative to the probabilities in the future to reach the future we desire. The full use of this energy is just beginning to be explored, and we have the opportunity open to few generations to create our best opportunities. We must not slacken in our desire now if we desire a future. The pressure of probabilities on the present increases the momentum of evolution, and as the voluble helix turns, and turns us away from our improbable satiation, we can see that the shadow cast on the present from the future is not black but rainbowed, brilliant with lemon yellow, plum-purple, and cherry-red. I have no patience with those who say that their desire for light is satisfied. Or that they are bored. I have myself a still unsatisfied appetite for green: eucalyptus, celadon, tourmaline, and apple.
William S. Wilson, “Desire”, Why I Don’t Write Like Franz Kafka
Public Domain Image via Pixabay

Quote for Today: Rachel Carson

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Eventually man, too, found his way back to the sea. Standing on its shores, he must have looked out upon it with wonder and curiosity, compounded with an unconscious recognition of his lineage. He could not physically re-enter the ocean as the seals and whales had done. But over the centuries, with all the skill and ingenuity and reasoning powers of his mind, he has sought to explore and investigate even its most remote parts, so that he might re-enter it mentally and imaginatively.
Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us

Quote for Today: Wendell Berry

And I knew that the Spirit that had gone forth to shape the world and make it live was still alive in it. I just had no doubt. I could see that I lived in the created world, and it was still being created. I would be part of it forever. There was no escape. The Spirit that made it was in it, shaping it and reshaping it, sometimes lying at rest, sometimes standing up and shaking itself, like a muddy horse, and letting the pieces fly.
Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow

Creatures of the Wind: Theo Jansen’s Strandbeesten

We are born with the urge to build and make things. What does this creativity tell us about our origins?

Strandbeest by Theo Jansen Public Domain Image by Axel Hindemith

Strandbeest by Theo Jansen
Public Domain Image by Axel Hindemith

Since 1990, Dutch artist Theo Jansen has been designing animals from PVC pipe and walking them up and down the beach. His search to create new forms of life has many sources of inspiration, from Biblical creation stories to Darwin’s evolutionary theory, but chiefly springs from his delight and surprise at his own existence. Nature calls him to imitate and be co-creative with the forces that shaped the world.

Jansen’s kinetic (moving) sculptures are called Strandbeesten, or beach beasts. They don’t require food or gasoline, but are propelled by the wind, harnessing impressive energy. The first Strandbeest had to be dragged into the wind by hand and would then shamble back up the beach in the opposite direction. Later versions had propellers, and then, finally, wings which are attached to a central segmented crankshaft that moves the feet. The beasts have no electronic parts and are remarkably ingenious and beautiful feats of engineering. Some, like Animaris Percipiere (Jansen has given them all Latin Scientific names) have “stomachs” made from bottles that store air pumped to high pressure by the wind and a system of bicycle pumps. Once the bottles are uncapped, motion is guided by “muscles”, lengths of pipe that extend. The Strandbeesten roam the beach like immense skeletons, responding to the air that fills their sails. Delightful!

Some find Jansen’s imitation of nature uncanny. The Strandbeesten blur the lines between art and engineering as well as those between artistic creation and offspring. The word animal comes from a Latin word that means “having breath”. The use of wind power recalls the breath of life God gave to Adam in the garden of Eden. Jansen has likened the measurements of the PVC segments to genetic code (DNA). Does Jansen have a god complex or is he simply responding to the creative impulse? This question is valid for artists of all disciplines. The answer has often led to the banning of creative pursuits that make traditionalists uncomfortable.

What I found about this experience of making new forms of life is that you discover all  the problems which the real creator must have had creating this world.

–Theo Jansen

Wouldn’t you like to know how the world was made? If you could participate in adding to that world, wouldn’t you do so, no matter how much you failed in the execution? Imitation can be a sincere form of homage. Jansen knows he will never be able to understand the source of life, but that doesn’t prevent him from exploring and celebrating it.

Ventosa Siamensis image © David Smith with CCLicense

Ventosa Siamensis
image © David Smith with CCLicense

Perhaps the most exciting part of his process is that it inspires others to take care of the Strandbeesten. If we can learn to take care of these simple constructions who are incapable of thought, then that gives hope that we will may become more protective and aware of the natural creatures that are so much greater than anything we can make with our hands.

Quote for Today: Seth Shostak

© Doug Kline with CCLicense

© Doug Kline with CCLicense

There is little chance that aliens from two societies anywhere in the Galaxy will be culturally close enough to really ‘get along.’ This is something to ponder as you watch the famous cantina scene in Star Wars.

…Does this make sense, given the overwhelmingly likely situation that galactic civilizations differ in their level of evolutionary development by thousands or millions of years? Would you share drinks with a trilobite, an ourang-outang, or a saber-toothed tiger? Or would you just arrange to have a few specimens stuffed and carted off to the local museum?
Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer, SETI

Alien Birds of New Guinea: The Birds of Paradise Project

© Ivan Teage with CCLicense

© Ivan Teage with CCLicense

Evolutionary biologist Ed Scholes and wildlife photographer Tim Laman have spent a great deal of the past ten years in the untamed wilderness of New Guinea studying the family of birds known as Birds of Paradise. The 39 species which are native to this range of forested islands are anomalous. Nowhere else on earth have birds evolved to possess the astounding variety of colors and behaviors which the male Birds of Paradise employ in their courtship displays. Brilliant plumage and skin colors, voices that sound like aliens from outer space, shape-shifting abilities, specially designed feathers and bodies, and elaborate choreography can be found among these extraordinary birds.

The Cornell Ornithology Lab continues to sponsor the ongoing work of Scholes and Laman and has put together an amazing website containing many videos of their work. I could spend a week there and not grow tired of the beauty and uniqueness they have captured on video. Here is an introductory video for the project, sure to peak your interest, followed by three videos that focus on a specific type of bird. There are plenty more on the website!

Next, the amazing dance of the Carola’s Parotia. Check it out, this guy has the moves!

Do you remember a strange bird from the introductory video that looks rather like a psychedelic smiley face, hopping around on a branch in front of a female? Known as the Superb Bird of Paradise, he is a fantastic shape-shifter with a built in ability for optical illusion. Weird and stunning.

Finally, the King of Saxony is notable for his gorgeous “wire” plume feathers and his voice, which sounds like it is from another planet. Watch what happens when coordinates his voice and his feathers. These birds are showmen.