Alan Watts was a British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker. Best known for making Eastern philosophy digestible to Western minds, his radio broadcasts, books and talks turned people on to new ways of thinking. He introduced the youth culture to The Way of Zen, he put forward the idea that Buddhism could be seen as a form of psychotherapy rather than a religion, he engaged with and explored ideas of human consciousness as well as man’s relationship with nature…to me at least he embodies the world-thinker, astride cultures, taking what is relevant or useful and leaving the dogma. He died in 1973 at the age of 58, at his cabin on Mount Tamalpais. Recently though, people have been setting extracts from his lectures to animations and montages, uploading them to YouTube where his words are enjoying a renaissance...
Colonial plankton organism, Chaetoceros debilis (marine diatom), magnified 250x by Wim van Egmond, of the Micropolitan Museum, Berkel en Rodenrijs, Zuid Holland, Netherlands. The Atlantic always finds the best pictures. Here it shows the winners of the 2013 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. Started back in 1974, the contest invites photographers and scientists to submit images of all things visible under a microscope.
First place this year went to a 250x view of a marine diatom by Wim van Egmond (above), showing the complexity and stunning detail of its fragile helical chain. Other entries included close-up views of ladybug feet, mollusc radula, dinosaur bones, nerve structures in embryos, and much more. Enjoy a journey into mini things by clicking here. Needless to say, best viewed large!
There are certain varieties of whales in the seas of Iceland that may be eaten by men. One of these is called humpback; this fish is large and very dangerous to ships. It has a habit of striking at the vessel with its fins and of lying and floating just in front of the prow where sailors travel. Though the ship turns aside, the whale will continue to keep in front, so there is no choice but to sail upon it—but if a ship does sail upon it, the whale will throw the vessel and destroy all on board. Then there is a kind of whale called the rorqual, and this fish is the best of all for food. It is of a peaceful disposition and does not bother ships, though it may swim very close to them. Because of its quiet and peaceful behavior it often falls a prey to whale fishers. It is better for eating and smells better than any of the other fishes that we have talked about, though it is said to be very fat; it has no teeth. It has been asserted, too, that if one can get some of the sperm of this whale and be perfectly sure that it came from this sort and no other, it will be found a most effective remedy for eye troubles, leprosy, ague, headache, and for every other ill that afflicts mankind. Sperm from other whales also makes good medicine, though not so good as this sort.
Then there is one that is scarcely advisable to speak about, on account of its size, which to most men will seem incredible. There are, moreover, but very few who can tell anything definite about it, inasmuch as it is rarely seen by men—for it almost never approaches the shore or appears where fishermen can see it, and I doubt that this sort of fish is very plentiful in the sea. In our language it is usually called the kraken. I can say nothing definite as to its length, for on those occasions when men have seen it, it has appeared more like an island than a fish. Nor have I heard that one has ever been caught or found dead. It seems likely that there are but two in all the ocean and that these beget no offspring, for I believe it is always the same ones that appear. It is said that when these fishes want something to eat, they are in the habit of giving forth a violent belch, which brings up so much food that all sorts of fish in the neighborhood, both large and small, will rush up in the hope of getting nourishment and good fare. Meanwhile the monster keeps its mouth open, and inasmuch as its opening is about as wide as a sound or fjord, the fishes cannot help crowding in in great numbers. But as soon as its mouth and belly are full, the monster closes its mouth and thus catches and shuts in all the fishes that just previously had rushed in eagerly to seek food.
Originally quoted in Lapham's Quarterly, which says: From The King’s Mirror. Composed in Old Norse during King Hákon Hákonarson’s reign (1217-1263), this anonymous instructive work takes the form of a father-son dialog and may have been intended for the king’s sons. The kraken, a fabled sea monster of Scandinavian invention, may have originated with a rare sighting of a giant squid. In addition to the humpback variety, the text mentions Greenland right, horse, red-comb, and white whales.
On April 12, 2013, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) reached its final orbit, 705 kilometers (438 miles) above Earth. One week later, the satellite's natural-color imager scanned a swath of land 185-kilometers wide and 9,000 kilometers long (120 by 6,000 miles)—an unusual, unbroken distance considering 70 percent of Earth is covered with water. That flight path—depicted on the globe below—afforded us the chance to assemble 56 still images into a seamless, flyover view of what LDCM saw on April 19, 2013. Stretching from northern Russia to South Africa, the full mosaic from the Operational Land Imager can be viewed in this video. Read and view more at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Feat... You'll probably want to stick it on full screen. Make sure you've got some suitable music to hand.
This excellent YouTube comment by "nhstorrs" puts it in perspective:
No way. This is amazing! Landsat flew right over the spine of the birthplace of the human species, and at the same time the birthplace of agriculture. This is where we came from, and the environment which might be said to have had the biggest impact on what made us. . . us. There could almost be no other landscape so interesting to see in one large glimpse as this one.
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/54105345 w=700&h=390] Muck diving gets its name from the conditions - sediment and mud and so on. Calm and shallow, but low visibility, but then it's the muck that makes it interesting, as it's the perfect habitat for unusual, exotic and juvenile organisms that make their homes in the sediment and "trash" that compose a muck dive. Creatures like colorful nudibranchs, anglerfish, shrimp, blue-ringed octopus, and rare pygmy seahorses.
Lembeh Strait is near Sulawesi in Indonesia.
You're going to want to view this "large" or full screen if you've got the bandwidth.
Khaled Sultani, who made this, says: "Lembeh Strait diving - simply one of the best place in the world for muck diving and macro photo+videography. Shot with Sony Cx550 with Light & Motion housing; with sola lights."
The song is "The awakening of a woman" by Cinematic Orchestra.
Spring is like a perhaps hand (which comes carefully out of Nowhere)arranging a window,into which people look(while people stare arranging and changing placing carefully there a strange thing and a known thing here)and
changing everything carefully
spring is like a perhaps Hand in a window (carefully to and from moving New and Old things,while people stare carefully moving a perhaps fraction of flower here placing an inch of air there)and
without breaking anything. -- e e cummings
Colossal says: "Filmmaker Neels Castillon was on a commercial shoot a few days ago, waiting to catch a helicopter flying into a sunset, when suddenly tens of thousands of starlings unexpectedly swarmed the sky in an enormous dance known as a murmuration. With his director of photography, Mathias Touzeris, the two filmed for several minutes capturing some pretty magnificent footage. You might recall a similar murmuration video from last year shot extremely up close and personal using a camera phone that went viral. How do thousands of birds simultaneously make such dramatic changes in their flight patterns? After tons of research, scientists still aren’t sure. The music is Hand-Made by Alt-J." [vimeo http://vimeo.com/58291553 w=700&h=400] Until recently, it was hard to say what made the murmurations possible. Scientists had to wait for the tools of high-powered video analysis and computational modeling. And when these were finally applied to starlings, they revealed patterns known less from biology than cutting-edge physics. As Brandon Keim puts it on Wired.com:
Starling flocks, it turns out, are best described with equations of “critical transitions” — systems that are poised to tip, to be almost instantly and completely transformed, like metals becoming magnetized or liquid turning to gas. Each starling in a flock is connected to every other. When a flock turns in unison, it’s a phase transition.
At the individual level, the rules guiding this are relatively simple. When a neighbor moves, so do you. Depending on the flock’s size and speed and its members’ flight physiologies, the large-scale pattern changes. What’s complicated, or at least unknown, is how criticality is created and maintained.
It’s easy for a starling to turn when its neighbor turns — but what physiological mechanisms allow it to happen almost simultaneously in two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds? That remains to be discovered, and the implications extend beyond birds. Starlings may simply be the most visible and beautiful example of a biological criticality that also seems to operate in proteins and neurons, hinting at universal principles yet to be understood.
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/56093731 w=700&h=390]
BY BOBBI KATZ
when night guzzles up
the orange sherbet sunset
and sends the day
October is when jack-o’-lanterns
grin in the darkness
strange company crunches
across the rumple of dry leaves
to ring a doorbell.
when you can be ghost,
a creature from outer space…
And the neighbors, fearing tricks,
give you treats.
Amazing composite image this. We really are spinning around the galaxy on a big rock. The Perseids meteor shower: The Perseids are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are so-called because the point from which they appear to come, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus. The name derives in part from the word Perseides (Περσείδες), a term found in Greek mythology referring to the sons of Perseus.
Says photographer David Kingham:
Last night I went out to Snowy Range in Wyoming in search of dark skies for the Perseid meteor shower. I wanted something special for the foreground and I knew the Snowies faced in the perfect direction to get this shot. I started shooting at 10pm and didn't stop until 5 am, I had to change my battery every 2 hours which made for a long night. The moon rose around 1am to light up the mountain range.
This is a composite of 23 images, 22 for the meteors/stars and 1 taken at sunrise for the foreground which was lightly blended in. I also corrected the orientation of the meteors to account for the rotation of the earth (this took forever!)
I had a great night which was made even better because I spent it with my newly adopted dog Emmie, she was a trooper!
Free wallpaper downloads on my website! www.davidkinghamphotography.com/night/h626c32b#h626c32b
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/46296980 w=700&h=390] Olympic Vermin is such a great title for this video, featuring the scruffy creatures of London having their own mini-Olympic torch lighting. I have to say, I’d almost rather watch this then the real Olympics. Those rats are pretty cute (but you know, not in real life). Nice work from Amael Isnard and Leo Bridle.(via)
Checked in on The Atlantic for the first time in a while, and saw these gorgeous images. Lovely Sky Monsters is a series by Camille Seaman, who partnered with storm chasers to track down and photograph a magnificent cloud type - the supercell. Do definitely make time to look at the original set, and also her pictures of icebergs.
“I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know - unless it be to share our laughter. "We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.
"For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.”
James Kavanaugh on his first book of poems There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves. An ex-priest, he wrote it in the early Seventies when he was living in a tiny flat in New York, surviving off peanut butter and processed cheese. He died in 2009 at the ripe age of 81.
Here are three from it:
Where are you hiding my love? Each day without you will never come again. Even today you missed a sunset on the ocean, A silver shadow on yellow rocks I saved for you, A squirrel that ran across the road, A duck diving for dinner. My God! There may be nothing left to show you Save wounds and weariness And hopes grown dead, And wilted flowers I picked for you a lifetime ago, Or feeble steps that cannot run to hold you, Arms too tired to offer you to a roaring wind, A face too wrinkled to feel the ocean's spray.
I saw my face today And it looked older, Without the warmth of wisdom Or the softness Born of pain and waiting. The dreams were gone from my eyes, Hope lost in hollowness On my cheeks, A finger of death Pulling at my jaws.
So I did my push-ups And wondered if I'd ever find you, To see my face With friendlier eyes than mine.
plus of course
There are men too gentle to live among wolves Who prey upon them with IBM eyes And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon. There are men too gentle for a savage world Who dream instead of snow and children and Halloween And wonder if the leaves will change their color soon.
There are men too gentle to live among wolves Who anoint them for burial with greedy claws And murder them for a merchant's profit and gain. There are men too gentle for a corporate world Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass And pause to hear the distant whistle of a train.
There are men too gentle to live among wolves Who devour them with appetite and search For other men to prey upon and suck their childhood dry. There are men too gentle for an accountant's world Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass And search for beauty in the mystery of the sky. There are men too gentle to live among wolves
There are men too gentle to live among wolves Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove Such gentle men are lonely in a merchant's world Unless they have a gentle one to love.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Gz7mGISJ5M&w=700] Written by Randy Newman and covered by AT LEAST 60 major artists, from Nina Simone, Neil Diamond and Dusty Springfield to Peter Gabriel, Katy Melua and even Val Kilmer(?)
I like Norah's version, but you're spoilt for choice, so have a play and find your own favourite (Nina's version is Jamie Cullum's Desert Island disc - it's the song his missus, Sophie Dahl, sang him the first time they met).
Broken windows and empty hallways A pale dead moon in the sky streaked with gray Human kindness is overflowing And I think it's going to rain today
Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles With frozen smiles to chase love away Human kindness is overflowing And I think it's going to rain today
Lonely, lonely Tin can at my feet Think I'll kick it down the street That's the way to treat a friend
Bright before me the signs implore me To help the needy and show them the way Human kindness is overflowing And I think it's going to rain today --- "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" as written by Randy Newman Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public. There are worse things than these miniature betrayals, committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things than not being able to sleep for thinking about them. It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse and worse.
This is by Fleur Adcock. She wrote it in December 1973 - right in the middle of the Winter of Discontent. As she says in "Poem for the Day 2" (where I spotted it): "There were power cuts, a rail strike, shortages of every kind (a note in my diary on the 15th says that I managed to buy the last oil lamo in East Finchley). I had a cold, an elderly friend had just died, and all was bleak. The occasion for the poem was probably some minor cause for embarrassment that was keeping me awake, bet then all the more serious matters came crowding in. I thought other people would recognise the sentiments."
But then, you read something like this and look out of the window on a nice sunny day, and think about the walk you're going to have by the river or the lovely family you're about to see, and it seems a little silly to let those things come stalking in. I love this poem. You can read it in a funny way too. It makes me feel better.
Among the innumerable mortifications that way-lay human arrogance on every side may well be reckoned our ignorance of the most common objects and effects, a defect of which we become more sensible by every attempt to supply it. Vulgar and inactive minds confound familiaritv with knowledge, and conceive themselves informed of the whole nature of things when they are shown their form or told their use; but the Speculatist, who is not content with superficial views, harrasses himself with fruitless curiosity, and still as he enquires more perceives only that he knows less.
Sleep is a state in which a great part of every life is passed. No animal has been yet discovered, whose existence is not varied with intervals of insensibility; and some late Philosophers have extended the empire of Sleep over the vegetable world.
Yet of this change so frequent, so great, so general, and so necessary, no searcher has yet found either the efficient or final cause; or can tell by what power the mind and body are thus chained down in irresistible stupefaction; or what benefits the animal receives from this alternate suspension of its active powers.
Whatever may be the multiplicity or contrariety of opinions upon this subject, Nature has taken sufficient care that Theory shall have little influence on Practice. The most diligent enquirer is not able long to keep his eyes open; the most eager disputant will begin about midnight to desert his argument; and once in four and twenty hours, the gay and the gloomy, the witty and the dull, the clamorous and the silent, the busy and the idle, are all overpowered by the gentle tyrant, and all lie down in the equality of Sleep.
Philosophy has often attempted to repress insolence, by asserting that all conditions are levelled by Death; a position which, however it may deject the happy, will seldom afford much comfort to the wretched. It is far more pleasing to consider that Sleep is equally a leveller with Death; that the time is never at a great distance, when the balm of rest shall be effused alike upon every head, when the diversities of life shall stop their operation, and the high and the low shall lie down together.
It is somewhere recorded of Alexander, that in the pride of conquests, and intoxication of flattery, he declared that he only perceived himself to be a man by the necessity of Sleep. Whether he considered Sleep as necessary to his mind or body, it was indeed a sufficient evidence of human infirmity; the body which required such frequency of renovation gave but faint promises of immortality; and the mind which, from time to time, sunk gladly into insensibility, had made no very near approaches to the felicity of the supreme and self-sufficient Nature.
I know not what can tend more to repress all the passions that disturb the peace of the world, than the consideration that there is no height of happiness or honour, from which man does not eagerly descend to a state of unconscious repose; that the best condition of life is such, that we contentedly quit its good to be disentangled from its evils; that in a few hours splendor fades before the eye, and praise itself deadens in the ear; the senses withdraw from their objects, and reason favours the retreat.
What then are the hopes and prospects of covetousness, ambition, and rapacity? Let him that desires most have all his desires gratified, he never shall attain a state, which he can, for a day and a night, contemplate with satisfaction, or from which, if he had the power of perpetual vigilance, he would not long for periodical separations.
All envy would be extinguished if it were universally known that there are none to be envied, and surely none can be much envied who are not pleased with themselves. There is reason to suspect that the distinctions of mankind have more show than value, when it is found that all agree to be weary alike of pleasures and of cares; that the powerful and the weak, the celebrated and obscure, join in one common wish, and implore from Nature's hand the nectar of oblivion.
Such is our desire of abstraction from ourselves, that very few are satisfied with the quantity of stupefaction which the needs of the body force upon the mind. Alexander himself added intemperance to sleep, and solaced with the fumes of wine the- sovereignty of the world; and almost every man has some art, by which he steals his thoughts away from his present state.
It is not much of life that is spent in close attention to any important duty. Many hours of every day are suffered to fly away without any traces left upon the intellects. We suffer phantoms to rise up before us, and amuse ourselves with the dance of airy images, which after a time we dismiss for ever, and know not how we have been busied.
Many have no happier moments than those that they pass in solitude, abandoned to their own imagination, which sometimes puts sceptres in their hands or mitres on their heads, shifts the scene of pleasure with endless variety, bids all the forms of beauty sparkle before them, and gluts them with every change of visionary luxury.
It is easy in these semi-slumbers to collect all the possibilities of happiness, to alter the course of the Sun, to bring back the past, and anticipate the future, to unite all the beauties of all seasons, and all the blessings of all climates, to receive and bestow felicity, and forget that misery is the lot of man. All this is a voluntary dream, a temporary recession from the realities of life to airy fictions; and habitual subjection of reason to fancy.
Others are afraid to be alone, and amuse themselves by a perpetual succession of companions: but the difference is not great; in solitude we have our dreams to ourselves, and in company we agree to dream in concert. The end sought in both is forgetfulness of ourselves.
Samuel Johnson, 1709 - 1784.