Happy birthday, blogosphere!

Posted on December 17th, 2007 by george.
Categories: fun, future, history, technology.

I can’t believe you’re ten years old. My how you’ve changed things!

In other news, the future of the electric car is starting to look very promising!

What, you want more good news? Okay!

How about I up the ante with some great writing?

Something for your adrenal glands.

Something to get your mouth watering for the winter. (Watch the videos)

What about real, breathtaking HD video of orbiting our Moon? (Thanks Kevin!)

Speaking of breathtaking.

For the curious, an expert explication of the forces behind the headlines.

There. That should tide you over while I’m at SED.

3 comments.

The promise of the Sun

Posted on November 25th, 2007 by george.
Categories: enlightenment, environment, epiphany, future, society, synthesis, technology.

It’s only appropeaux that the marriage of the largest and smallest would yield such promising fruit, the seeds of which, when scattered far and wide, have the potential to grow into a foundation-shaking shift in the way we interact with the planet. What am I talking about?

Nanosolar. Say it out loud. Let it roll off your tongue. Be among the first, for soon it will be on every tongue.

Leave it to a company in Silicon Valley to free solar energy from the expense and complexity of silicon. I’ve been preaching the gospel of the Sun for years, patiently awaiting the day that technology caught up with the economy. That day is here, my friends, at one third the price of coal. If we no longer have to fight over cheap, clean, abundant energy, imagine the real possibility for peace among humans.

This is cause for celebration.

6 comments.

Seam carving

Posted on October 1st, 2007 by george.
Categories: photography, technology.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

-Arthur C. Clarke (current resident of the land of Serendip)

Once in a while something new comes along that takes you completely by surprise. You thought photoshop was good for manipulating photos? What would you do if you could seamlessly change the relative distance between elements of a photo without distorting them?

Am I not making sense? Then just watch the video. And prepare to be amazed. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.

Resize your own photos for free on the web at Rsizr. And by “resize” I don’t mean shrink or crop. Just check it out. It’s incredible.

6 comments.

Spastic chiastic

Posted on June 26th, 2007 by george.
Categories: environment, future, history, society, synthesis, technology.

I cleaned my bathtub this weekend. I cleaned out my 200-email-deep inbox at work today. Figured it’s time to clean out the link repository as well. The video above is slightly related to some of the topics we’re going to touch on. There isn’t enough resolution for you to see the phrase “Hydrogen 7″ on the rear badge, but it’s there. You can see a bit of the fancy paint job on the side, though.  I shot this on the way home from work today. Funny the things you see at NASA.

Let’s start with some good news. How about proof that when evil strikes, good can fill the void? Virginia Tech is receiving such an outpouring of support (in the form of memorial gifts) that they’ve had to enlist nearly a hundred volunteers and they don’t have room to store it all. From the article, “You could look anywhere in the building and realize we’re not alone,” he said. “The world cares.”

The world is a funny thing, though. And it can be confusing. It helps to listen to someone with insight, someone who is fair and balanced. One of those people is columnist Fareed Zakaria. Listen to what he has to say about the root cause of terrorism.

Britain, the United States and most other countries have not found it easy to address the root causes of jihad. But clearly, they relate to the alienation, humiliation and disempowerment caused by the pace of change in the modern world—economic change, migration from Third World to First World, movement from the countryside to the city. The only durable solution to these ongoing disruptions is for these people to see themselves—and, most important, the societies they come from and still identify with—as masters of the modern world and not as victims. How to open up and modernize the Muslim world is a long, hard and complex challenge. But surely one key is to be seen by these societies and peoples as partners and friends, not as bullies and enemies. That is one battle we are not yet winning.

Atoosa and I have discussed this issue before: it is the hearts of humans that provide the foundation for world events. Baha’u’llah has said,

Know thou that We have annulled the rule of the sword, as an aid to Our Cause, and substituted for it the power born of the utterance of men. Thus have We irrevocably decreed, by virtue of Our grace. Say: O people! Sow not the seeds of discord among men, and refrain from contending with your neighbor, for your Lord hath committed the world and the cities thereof to the care of the kings of the earth, and made them the emblems of His own power, by virtue of the sovereignty He hath chosen to bestow upon them. He hath refused to reserve for Himself any share whatever of this world’s dominion. To this He Who is Himself the Eternal Truth will testify. The things He hath reserved for Himself are the cities of men’s hearts, that He may cleanse them from all earthly defilements, and enable them to draw nigh unto the hallowed Spot which the hands of the infidel can never profane. Open, O people, the city of the human heart with the key of your utterance. Thus have We, according to a pre-ordained measure, prescribed unto you your duty.

That world over which we have been given dominion? It’s in dire straits. The oceans are not only being systematically raped of all life, but up to 40% of their area is covered in a toxic stew of degrading plastic. And it’s not just the oceans. It’s in the air, in our food, in our clothes, our cars, our homes, our bodies. This is the legacy of oil.

Speaking of rape, (I know, that’s a horrible segue) the perspective of 40 years has done a lot for the baby boomers. Turns out the Summer of Love wasn’t as rosy as we like to remember it. Less “free love” than “free sex.” For the men, anyway.

And now, in true chiastic form, let us end with the beginning: a positive note, and a car video.

4 comments.

&#$@%

Posted on June 20th, 2007 by george.
Categories: life, music, technology.

Firefox has only crashed on me four times since I’ve had Elvis. I know, because there’s a neat little talkback function that tracks it. Before it crashed thirty seconds ago, I had just penned a five-page blog entry, including links, about my experiences this past weekend at Bonnaroo.

I am not rewriting it.

11 comments.

You can fly!

Posted on April 23rd, 2007 by george.
Categories: future, technology.

Look out, Peter Pan. Move over, Rocketeer. Flying ain’t just for Neverland anymore.
Bonus: JetMan is Swiss.

5 comments.

It’s amazing what nine hours of sleep will do

Posted on March 30th, 2007 by george.
Categories: future, life, synthesis, technology, travel.

Last night I forwent the movies and hit the sack early. For the first time in three months, I got more than six hours of sleep on a weeknight. It was divine. I’ve been marvelling all day about how much clearer my perspective is. Everything just…flows. I’m happier. Brighter. And not just because it’s Friday.

The proper amount of sleep has yielded luscious fruit. [Note to self:  do this more often!]  I made a comment on flickr today that might as well be a blog entry, so I’ll excerpt it here. It was inspired by–what else?–cars.

It’s not just cars…it’s creativity, architecture, engineering, design itself. Like many of my heroes, I am obsessed with form and function. A Formula One car, to me, is one of the most beautiful man-made creations on Earth. In a single, cohesive entity, I witness the fulfillment of the current state of the art, of the leading edge of human understanding in the physical sciences. It’s tangible, we-thought-of-this-and-made-it-real art. When I look at the car I appreciate everything about it; I can see, literally see, the air flowing over it at 200mph, the deflections, the vortices, the resultant forces compressing the suspension, gluing the tires to the road. I can feel the bulging sinews in the driver’s forearm. I can watch her pupils dilate and fix on the road miles ahead. I can sense the snap crackle pop of every synapse as it works in concert in the grand symphonic feedback loop of consciousness. These cars to me are so much more than I can even put into words. There is nothing that compares to becoming one with something outside the body you are given; to melding your mind with a machine, to extending your influence into a larger space. When I watch a skilled driver, I’m seeing more than the finesse with which they apex a turn; I’m bearing witness to the genius of their mind laid out carefully and artistically in the world of visible reality.

Inspiring, ain’t it? I’ve been on this trip all day. But like anything you’re given time to mull over, I have a bit to add: in addition to the driver’s skill, I also appreciate that she is rolling on the dreams, imagination, and hard work of hundreds if not thousands of other humans. This is even and especially if the driver knows nothing of the intricacies of the car’s technology. One of our greatest assets (and biggest potentialities for disaster) is our ability to manipulate that which we do not fully grasp. We can function on incomplete knowledge. This is a perfect example of something that is simultaneously good and bad. Some would say this defines us. Indeed, as finite beings, is there any other way to function besides on finite information? And yet we do it so beautifully. And have the power to misapply it so destructively.

Ok, I’m finished with that topic. Only so long you can spend in the depths of conjecture about right and wrong, the nature of consciousness, and the problem of free will before your head gets all loopy and you have to come up for air.

But I’m not quite finished with this entry. The combination of the night’s rest and watching Meet the Robinsons in 3D tonight has put me in a futuristic mood. I don’t think it will be very long before the iPod phenomenon morphs into something bigger. Imagine the ability to broadcast your tunes wirelessly to nearby iPods. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine tiny microphones on your throat that can pick up a whisper and transmit your inaudible voice. Then surely it won’t be long before we’re able to sample the brain’s input to the vocal cords and transmit what essentially amounts to your thoughts, to human or machine. How’s that one grab ya?

Ok, now I’m really done. Gonna go ride my HPT into the sunset. At 81mph. Or maybe to work next year.

6 comments.

Cascades

Posted on March 12th, 2007 by george.
Categories: future, history, life, poetry, space, synthesis, technology.

not until dusk
in that golden hour
do the epiphanies come

one after another
cascading

do you realize
yes you
does it ever cross your mind
how lucky you are?

to live in this age
when every day is a discovery

can’t you feel it in your bones?
don’t you see it spinning in your wheel?
colossal energy bursting forth

the pace is accelerating
as our perspective grows

from the smallest loop
to the largest hole
and in between, even on your plane

the infinite stretches its limbs

and each choice
gives birth to a thousand universes

one after another
cascading

3 comments.

Requiem

Posted on March 4th, 2007 by george.
Categories: death, future, history, life, synthesis, technology.

If you’re reading this in 2007, chances are pretty good that, like me, you’re going to die in the 21st century. This supposition, of course, is predicated on the idea that the next few decades won’t see some sort of major medical advancement that stretches the human lifespan beyond a century. Given the accelerating pace of technology, perhaps this is not the greatest assumption. Ok, say it is possible for you to live to see 2100. Assuming the robots don’t get you, would you really want to?

I vacillate on the question. Some would argue that immortality robs life of its meaning. But even if we could keep the human body running indefinitely, there’s no ruling out accidental death. Unless of course you lock yourself in a secure room, paid for in perpetuity, with an automated life support system and allow your body to slowly wither away while your brain cavorts in virtual reality until the Sun swallows the Earth. Science fiction aside, I look back at the 20th century and think, who wouldn’t want to live through such awe-inspiring times? The answer, of course, is who would?

Dickens had it right. Nothing changes, everything changes. Any slice of history, however dark or enlightened, would be worth living in. In fact, given the immensity of human experience, you can pick any moment, past or future, and be absolutely sure that in that drop of the river of time that good and bad coexist. Someone was happy and someone was sad. Someone was dying and someone was being born. Someone was in the heaven of ecstasy, someone was in the depths of despair. Indeed, these spectra exist within the confines of one human life.

I was inspired to write tonight by one of my favorite pieces of music; the one that got me through endless nights of study in college; the one that centers me, plunges me into the most profound depths of thought; the one that I would love to have sung at my funeral (impractical as that would probably be); and the one that itself is so deeply associated with death: Mozart’s Requiem. Mozart himself died after composing it. Kubrick used it in his last film, one obsessed with death. A requiem is, by very definition, a hymn for the dead. Hey, if it’s good enough for Chopin, it’s good enough for me.

I can see the benefit of living past this century, and I can see the drawback of living through it. I cherish every breath that I take, but I also plan to embrace death, and the great unknown that follows it. Kill me in the next second or prop up my mortal frame until doomsday; either way I shall be content. Then again, who wants to inhabit this plane forever? Even as humanity matures, even with all there is to see, wouldn’t you at some point grow weary of being human? I know some will read this and think, “I already am.”

Though improbable, this century may yield a master capable of creating beauty and distilling the essence of life and death as magnificently as Mozart. Wouldn’t that be worth sticking around to see? Nonetheless, I sometimes wonder if I’m not diluting the Requiem’s meaning by abusing technology’s gift of being able to listen to it whenever I please. Surely it was more potent, surely it had more meaning to the person who heard it only once in a lifetime, issuing forth from behind the black of a velvet curtain rather than that of a paper cone. Still, there is something to be said for this age. One could safely argue that recording and reproducing music has brought its enriching effects to a much greater audience, and expanded the scope of its influence. I’ve heard more types of music, and a larger number of deeply moving pieces, than Mozart ever did. At least with his ears. Then again, he was Mozart.

All this, like anything I write, is to say that I’m happy to be alive. I’m glad that humans die. I appreciate suffering, tests and growth. I delight in beauty, joy and love.  I’m content to live in this age, just like I would have been in any other. But I’m excited to see what the future holds. As those now dead were, and as they not yet born will be after I die. Come on, 21st century, you started with a bang. Let’s see what you got.

2 comments.

Revolution

Posted on January 9th, 2007 by george.
Categories: technology.

Mark this down, and mark it well: 2007 ushers the telephone into the 21st century. This is it folks, what you’ve been dreaming about since your first cellphone was followed by your first time surfing teh intarweb, your first digital camera and your first iPod.

That’s right. I’m talking about the iPhone. Brought to you by those bastions of technologic and aesthetic innovation, Apple. A buttonless, touchscreen, 8GB video iPod, cellphone, camera and mobile internet device running a full-fledged operating system, all rolled into one. So sleek, so beautiful, and so much more! We’re talking system-level handshaking with Google and Yahoo, and all the specs, features and gee-whiz effects you could never imagine. If you’ve ever wanted to hold the future in your hand, this is your year.

Props go to Daniel for breaking the news to me. Now before you write this off as the next big flop, consider this: Steve Jobs and his crew have over two hundred patents filed on this puppy. You heard me right. Two zero zero. They’ve been working on this in secret for over two years. They’ve done their homework. Now they’re lecturing the teacher.

I’m so excited I can barely contain myself. The only drawback is the exclusivity: only Cingular has been deemed worthy of supporting this paradigm shift in the shape of a monolith. Verizon, Tyrese, sorry pals. Looks like I may just have to make the switch.

Read all about its unveiling here. It’ll build you up into a fever pitch.

Three cheers for Apple!

9 comments.