Integration + Biomimicry

April 19, 2013

This is why most technology (esp medical technology) is not sustainable or healthy in the long run – it is not integrated.

If it’s not integrated and holistic, it will have unintended consequences, negative side effects that are equal and opposite counterbalances to the gains attempting to be made.

“Natural ecosystems do not forget about anything; they embody integration. Everything has a specific role, and this diversity of function must be maintained to keep the healthy equilibrium of the biosphere. Unlike linear problem solving, nature always comes up with complex and integrated solutions. These solutions do not rely on simply one organism or function, but rather a network of many that are prepared to adapt. Linear problem solving creates a solution for one problem, whereas in biology, nature is anticipating many. That is why an understanding of biology can play a crucial role in the process of design science. By injecting biological understanding into the preliminary phases of the design process, the designer’s foundation for problem solving can be more integrated, and hopefully it will be easier for them to create a whole systems solution.”

by Griffin Goldsmith, from the Buckminster Fuller Institute

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Photo by Michelle Perry 2013 Montemezzo, Italy

Photo by Michelle Perry 2013 Montemezzo, Italy

It’s snowing.

You know what I find amazing? That during the darkest months of the year, crystals fall from the sky, turning everything a bright, reflective white, filling the space and sky with refracted and diffused beams from the low sun.

Balance. It’s so perfectly balanced. Summer: direct sunlight, lots of it, hot, dry, colorful life. Winter: indirect sunlight, lots of water in crystalline form, diffracting and magnifying the little light there is WHILE storing water to saturate the earth in preparation for the dry, hot, lively summer.

It’s like a purification, everything frozen and cleansed and simplified, reduced back to its roots, killed even. And then from that cycle of purification and reduction and simplification and death, new life bursts forth in spring, fed by the death of the old.

Fuckin’ incredible.

Totally unrelated – A question came to me this morning:
Why aren’t there different species of humans?
Why is there only one species?

There are different species of everything else. Insects: millions of species. Birds: about 10,000 species. Monkeys: somewhere between 230-270. (More on the lack of exact numbers later).

So why only one type of humanoid living on this planet today?

It seems a little weird.

I believe a lot of weird shit. Spiritual shit, divinity, channeling, the Law of Attraction, the effects of energy and vibration. I’ve been reading more into the fringe lately – ie about the the Pleiadians. I’m not entirely sold on the story that alien/reptilian beings that are messing with the earth, though I suppose I do believe in other dimensions and it’s kind of silly to believe in that and not believe there are other beings that I might not be sensitive enough/capable of seeing mucking around in the affairs of this little, ignorant planet.

BUT, I’m not entirely sold yet. I believe the things that resonate with me as truth, and for now, that stuff doesn’t really resonate with me. That we’re all divine expressions of creative consciousness, yes, that resonates. But aliens and reptilians who have sinister plans… I wonder if that’s just not our fearful ego-based selves projecting and giving form to things our limited minds can’t yet comprehend in a way that makes sense in our mythology.

Anyways, one species of human. I consulted google. Obviously I’m not the first person who’s wondered about this. BBC wrote an article about it, explaining in a rather arrogant fashion that Homo ergaster, Homo erectus and Homo floresiensis all died out between 30,000 to 12,000 years ago.

One thing that gets me riled up is how scientific theory and hypothesis is presented as fact. We don’t actually KNOW. I think that scientific writing should be presented as such: THEORY. We believe, we imagine, we theorize, it seems possible that… statements of possibility and imagination, not fact. We don’t have facts. We have imaginings. We have stories. We have theories. The understandings of science is continually in flux; it is not a stable ground on which to construct our imaginings of reality and of ourselves.

Science is a story we tell ourselves, a way to understand the mystery of reality. Much like religion. It’s a set of beliefs, of assumptions, of theories. I don’t believe it should be treated as something different than religion.

Definition of Religion: an organized collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values.

Well, science is also an organized collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to the physical world and the Universe; but in an attempt to separate it from spirituality and moral values.

There’s a fascinating course from UCLA called “Science, Magic and Religion,” 21 lectures given over the course of a semester that discuss how and why science, magic and religion were separated in recent history, and the implications. I found it on the on OpenCulture.com (fantastic for curious seeker gluttons like us). You can download the course for free from iTunes.

I won’t even get into the politics and economics of our broken scientific system, and the paradigm-shifting multi-reality particle/wave/observer effect of the quantum path. Let’s ignore the placebo effect, and I’ll just touch briefly on the problem with the scientific method: the decline effect, discussed in this article in the New Yorker, which posits that “many [scientific] results that are rigorously proved and accepted start shrinking in later studies.”

“It’s as if our facts were losing their truth: claims that have been enshrined in textbooks are suddenly unprovable. This phenomenon doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology. In the field of medicine, the phenomenon seems extremely widespread, affecting not only antipsychotics but also therapies ranging from cardiac stents to Vitamin E and antidepressants: Davis has a forthcoming analysis demonstrating that the efficacy of antidepressants has gone down as much as threefold in recent decades.

“For many scientists, the effect is especially troubling because of what it exposes about the scientific process. If replication is what separates the rigor of science from the squishiness of pseudoscience, where do we put all these rigorously validated findings that can no longer be proved? Which results should we believe? Francis Bacon, the early-modern philosopher and pioneer of the scientific method, once declared that experiments were essential, because they allowed us to “put nature to the question.” But it appears that nature often gives us different answers.”

Let’s go back to species. Seems simple, right? Like something science comprehends, something we understand, something there shouldn’t be any confusion or mystery about. Species.

How many species on the planet? “This number is very difficult to assess, but the discussed range varies from tens of thousands to billions.”

Tens of thousands to BILLIONS!?! That’s a pretty huge fucking gap.
As I touched on before, here are a few numbers of currently identified species (this number is given to change: 9,998 birds, 5,490 mammals, as many as 10–30 million insects.

We can’t even scientifically assess and comprehend the species currently alive, dying, and evolving on our planet, right now; and we think we can understand and explain a few million years of evolution of the modern man?

Or the Universe?

NASA has a daily photo website. Oddly, the image they posted on January 20th 2013 was of an ancient chunk of something man-made, dredged up from a shipwreck in the Mediterranean sea in 1901. It seems to be from the ancient Greeks. And it appears to be some form of an early computer.

Where the hell did this come from?! Thanks for giving me more questions, NASA!

According to our society’s currently commonly accepted scientific “truths” (assumptions) about the linear history and evolution of man, it’s impossible that this technology existed when it did.

From NASA’s site:

“Explanation: What is it? It was found at the bottom of the sea aboard an ancient Greek ship. Its seeming complexity has prompted decades of study, although some of its functions remained unknown. X-ray images of the device have confirmed the nature of the Antikythera mechanism, and discovered several surprising functions. The Antikythera mechanism has been discovered to be a mechanical computer of an accuracy thought impossible in 80 BC, when the ship that carried it sank. Such sophisticated technology was not thought to be developed by humanity for another 1,000 years. Its wheels and gears create a portable orrery of the sky that predicted star and planet locations as well as lunar and solar eclipses. The Antikythera mechanism, shown above, is 33 centimeters high and therefore similar in size to a large book.”

This thrills me, because it brings the mystery of it all into sharp, real, in-your-face focus.

What if everything we think we know is wrong? Everything we assume we know about history; everything we believe about ourselves? All the stories that we’ve been taught are reality… What if they’re wrong? What would it mean for each one of us, individually, in our lives? I love this because it calls in the power of our imaginations. It begins to break through the limitations and boundaries of what’s accepted. Maybe what we all knew to be true as children but were educated out of believing is what’s really real – Maybe magic is real, and science is telling the lies. Titillating.

This kind of blog is what happens when I wake up early and decide to spend the first half of a Sunday doing whatever I feel like doing, which also included: yogaing, meditating, dancing around to the remix of Ascension by Maxwell, making some collages in my Life Vision book using images of Greece, Bora Bora, and pretty paper, drinking some yerba mate, listening to the Life Visioning techniques of Michael Bernard Beckwith, as summarized by Brian Johnson, and periodically stepping outside onto my front porch to be dusted with damp snowflakes and take deep fresh lungfuls of frigid, snowy Italian countryside air.

I want to be Oliver Sacks.

January 26, 2013

“He reached into the pocket of his sports jacket and produced a Japanese fan – the first of several startling objects to emerge from there, so that I came to think of the coat as having magic pockets.”

It wasn’t that line from a Wired article that made me want to be Oliver Sacks. Well, like Oliver Sacks, really.

It’s that today I had the sudden impulse to begin simplifying and planing all of my food consumption. Like, scheduling exactly what I will eat and at what time. And as I was typing this schedule up, I remembered the quirky neurologist who eats the same thing. Every day. And has, for many years. 1/2 a gallon of soy milk, prune juice, sardines, tabbouleh, 7 apples, 7 oranges – “I am very greedy and impulsive, so I have to have a rule.” Strangely, though I listened to this story a few years ago, I actually had 7 apples, 7 pears on my newly organized weekly shopping list. (Just to clarify, I will not be eating sardines and prune juice).

Oliver says he never gets bored with his daily food – he claims he “enjoys it with equal relish every time.” Additionally, each day he goes to a nearby chocolate store and gets exactly one dollar’s worth of broken 72% chocolate. 

He has been doing this for years. Once he accidentally got 22 pounds of kidneys rather than 2 pounds; too shy to point it out, he took the 22 pounds of “palpitating kidneys” home, and ended up eating kidneys for 10 days straight, before vomiting uncontrollably and never eating kidneys again.

To listen to the fascinating Oliver Sacks clip on Radiolab – one of my favorite podcasts of all time – click here. (It’s a clip from episode about Choice, when a lot is too much).

Have you ever heard that Einstein would wear the same clothes so as not to use up precious mental energy on the mundane and unimportant decision of what to wear? Well, Oliver has similar motivations. 

Making choices is draining, and scientist have found that too many choices actually make us MORE unhappy than too few choices.

I notice that I’ve generally heard about men doing this kind of thing – perhaps it’s a form of mild Autism… the founder of Facebook wears the same clothing every day too. And Steve Jobs did, before he exited the planet.

So, here’s what I’m going to try eating for this week:

6am: Hot water + lemon

8am: 1 apple + 3 dates + 10 almonds + 1 spoon chwanprash

10:30am: Matè

1pm: Kitcharee (½ cup mung, ½ cup basmati) with squash & carrots

3:30: 1 apple or pear + 3 dates or figs

6:30pm: Leftover kitcharee + asparagus

I haven’t done a challenge (or a cleanse) in a long time. We’ll see how it goes!

 

To read the Wired interview from whence the opening sentence about the fan and magical coat was taken, click here

“Every time you appreciate something; every time you praise something; every time you feel good about something, you are telling the Universe: “MORE OF THIS, PLEASE!” You need never make another verbal statement of this intent and, if you are mostly in a state of appreciation, all good things will flow to you.”
– Esther Abraham-Hicks*

This crisp blue-sky autumn morning, as I walked down the Italian country road I live on, headed towards the Temple of Light for the Thursday morning purification ceremony, I listened to Radiolab’s newest podcast about how you can change your DNA by being grateful and feeling good.

The story was actually about what happens when rats lick their babies, but it all come around to the fact that feeling good => releases serotonin in your body => changes the epigenome of your DNA and REMOVES proteins that block the healthy expression of your genes and behaviors… Feeling good changes your DNA for the better, and Appreciation and Gratitude are the most effective ways to feel good.

I hope on this Thanksgiving day, wherever you are in the world, you spend some time in appreciation and gratitude, and that you’re feeling good. Sending love!

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.”
– Meister Eckhart*

The Temple of Light at Ananda Assisi, Fall 2012

*quotes from the fabulous www.TheDailyLove.com

A year ago I had lunch with one of the first geneticists to come out against GMOs in the ’90s, a little spitfire of a woman named Dr. Mae-Won Ho. After releasing a  report criticizing GMOs, her funding was revoked, her lab was shut down, and she was removed from her position.

Unfortunately this sort of thing happens much more frequently than you’d think would be possible in what is supposed to be an ‘objective’ discipline.

I was reminded of this today while watching climate scientist’s James Hansen’s TED talk today:

“[White House] Energy Policies continued to focus on finding more fossil fuels… I decided to give a public talk criticizing the lack of an appropriate energy policy. This led to calls from the White House to NASA headquarters and I was told that I could not give any talks or speak to the media without prior explicit approval by NASA headquarters.”

‘Science’ is not necessarily objective. It is political, and above all, it is commercial, paid for by people motivated by profit. Though I suppose it’s silly to separate the political from the commercial anymore.

Those scientists who speak out against the general consensus and status quo are often censored or alienated; in that way today is not much different from Galileo’s age, were it not for the existence of a free internet (for now) through which people can much more quickly share and access the truth. Ok well that and the fact that it’s no longer legal to set someone aflame for heresy. 🙂

Why am I writing about this? I generally espouse the belief that we create our own realities through our focus, and that it is pointless to waste energy on negativity.

So maybe it’s pride, I-told-you-so, yet another story that illustrates the views I’ve presented on this blog, on Facebook, and in conversations over the last few years.

Maybe it’s awareness – if you are aware of what’s behind the illusions and lies of this material world, you can choose something different. The contrast between what is and what you want can give you the power/energy/motivation to get active in creating what you want.

Where I take issue is with focusing on all of the negativity in the world, posting articles and rants and missives, but not DOING anything about it in one’s own life.

I am trying to live in a way that is aligned with my values, and the strongest of which is living in alignment with the natural world, both for selfish and altruistic reasons. I decided a few weeks ago that I would prefer to live somewhere without cars. At first I was researching intentionally or historically car-free cities; and then the opportunity to live on a ranch in Patagonia popped up, so I took it.

If health and beauty and nature and the environment are important to you, as they are to me, what actions can you take, wherever you’re at, to live in ways that align with your beliefs? Can you ride your bike somewhere instead of driving? Can you make an adventure out of navigating the public transportation system in your city? Can you begin to minimize your consumption of products in general, ALL of which indirectly consume oil via plastic and shipping, and contribute to the destruction of our planet?

I suppose that my reason for focusing on the discouraging yet inspiring stories of people like Dr. Mae-Won Ho and James Hansen is to see what exists now, clarify what I want for myself and my world, and begin to take action that will move me in that direction.

So: What do you want your world to be like? And what choices can you start making that will take you there?

Equal Rights for Nature

January 4, 2012

Good news!

In Bolivia, Mother Nature is being granted rights equal to humans.

Read the article here; it brings tears to my eyes.

 

Some of the rights conferred onto Nature:

The right to life and to exist.

The right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration.

The right to pure water and clean air.

The right to balance.

The right not to be polluted.

The right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

The right to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities.

 

This is the kind of world I want to live in. How about you?

Too long humans have seen themselves as separate from and superior to nature. We are neither.

If you’re interested in reading more about the world as a living organism and humanity’s place within it, check out the fascinating and insightful book Earthdance by Elisabet Sahtouris. She provides the most complete and poetic summary of our universe, world, and evolution that I’ve ever read.

A reviewer says:

“EarthDance prophetically represents the new and rapidly expanding Post-Darwinian evolutionary biology. Sahtouris explains how, in cycle after cycle, the living entities or “holons” in the realm of Gaia have merged, through negotiation and symbiosis rather than ruthless competition, in a constantly self-creating and re-creating “holarchy” of living systems.”

 

It’s one of my all-time favorites, along with The Great Disruption by Paul Gilding (available on Kindle).

The Earth from 240 Miles Up

November 16, 2011

Check out this incredible time-lapse video composed of photographs taken from the space station, 240 miles above earth:

City lights, lightning storms, aurora borealis, stars spinning, cloud formations… it looks utterly fake, like an animation, but it’s real! Our planet is alive, a self-regulating system, just like our bodies. We are each a cell in the living organism of the planet, just like a cell is a tiny living fraction of our living body. The human microbiome – the human body – has somewhere between 10-100 trillion cells. Scientists don’t know for sure how many. But the number of cells in your body outnumbers the stars in our galaxy.

Pretty amazing.

A friend of mine sent me an email today that got me ranting. The email was in regards to California being on the verge of approving the use of a carcinogenic gas, methyl iodide, for use on strawberry fields and other food crops. Methyl idodide causes the following symptoms with acute exposure: nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, and other problems; massive exposure can lead to pulmonary edema; and
MAY cause fetal loss to women who live near farms where it’s used. They’re not exactly sure yet.

This makes me so angry. How about agriculture/farmers/corporations just STOP POISONING OUR FOOD?!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On further thought, I realized that this ties in with my pro-insect eating movement. If our culture wasn’t so squeamish about eating insects, insects in our fruits and veggies would provide the protein that meat-eaters are always complaining is deficient in vegetarian’s diets! WITHOUT the cancer-causing fat from meat!

Think about it! No pesticides = bugs in fruits & veggies (where they naturally occur) = a complete food of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein! If you can separate yourself from our cultural biases/beliefs/assumptions about eating insects being “gross,” you can see that from an evolutionary standpoint the consumption of insects with vegetable matter makes TOTAL SENSE.

Anyways, back to chemicals.

I went to this website & saw the following article about a report CNN did about chemicals:

“On June 2nd and 3rd, CNN aired “Toxic America,” a special investigative report detailing the prevalence and invisibility of hazardous chemicals we are all exposed to in our homes, air, water and food. “For 80 percent of the common chemicals in everyday use in this country we know almost nothing about whether or not they can damage the brains of children, the immune system, the reproductive system, and the other developing organs,” noted Dr. Phil Landrigan, a pediatrician and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The first hour of the CNN report presented the struggle by residents of Mossville, Louisiana to regain their right to live in a healthy environment despite being surrounded by 14 chemical plants. Mossville has an astounding cancer cluster, clearly linked to the contamination of the air, water and ground beneath residents’ homes. The investigation was aided by Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, a DC-based public interest law firm and Pesticide Action Network ally working with groups particularly in the Gulf states.

The second hour of the CNN report focuses on food contamination. By eating any one of the 12 most contaminated fruits or vegetables featured on the program, consumers risk ingesting between 47 and 67 different pesticides; and this result is after the produce has been washed with a high power pressure water system by USDA analysts. According to PAN’s pesticide residue database, What’sOnMyFood.org, a single serving apple may contain carcinogens, suspected hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, and developmental and reproductive toxins. CNN points out that consumers can avoid up to 80 percent of dietary pesticide exposures simply by buying organic versions of what the Environmental Working Group calls the “Dirty Dozen” produce items. Not covered in the story were dangers posed to farmers, farmworkers and their families who remain exposed to pesticides applied during the full production cycle of even those foods that retain the least residues. Also not covered was the fact that pesticides used on fields often make their way into drinking water. Thus purchasing produce with fewer pesticides on the final product will not necessarily reduce our exposure from drinking water. Sweet corn, for example, typically retains minimal pesticide residue. Yet atrazine, a known hormone disruptor and ubiquitous herbicide used predominately on corn, is found in 94% of tested U.S. drinking water.”

Now, I understand that these claims may be skewed. You MIGHT have to drink a gallon of these poisons for it to cause cancer; I don’t know. But these chemicals are in our water, our food, and our air, and they usually end up being stored in our fat. After 10 years of eating/drinking/breathing poison, I’m gonna guess that the buildup in our bodies is enough to have SOME kind of carcinogenic/neurotoxic/reproductive/developmental effect.

And if you think about it, our planet is like our bodies, on a larger scale. We keep inventing, producing and pumping out these non-naturally-occurring poisonous chemicals, and eventually the toxic buildup will just be too much for the system to continue functioning – whether that’s the body system or the entire planet.