Contemplations – 3

I'm incurably curious about many aspects of this journey of ours. Here are a few noteworthy items I've stumbled across that I'm making a note of so I can revisit them from time to time.

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The threat of coral disappearing can seem so abstract …

Image of multi-colored Acanthastrea lordhowensis coral by Daniel Stoupin
Acanthastrea lordhowensis by Daniel Stoupin

… until you see something like Daniel Stoupin's stunning gallery of coral macro photography on his Microworlds Photography⩘  site and realize that this beauty could soon disappear from our world (unaltered colors).

Microworlds Photography⩘ 

Brad Sloan, photographer, Oregon

Photo of a path winding through a forest by Brad Sloan

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." – John Muir

Photo of a path winding through the lush undergrowth of a forest by Brad Sloan⩘ 
@wbsloan on⩘ 

Winged Migration

Close up of bird from the film

The other day I was walking with a friend around a nearby bird sanctuary and mentioned the film Winged Migration, which I had first seen perhaps a dozen years ago. I decided to watch it again and find that it remains one of the most beautiful films I've ever experienced. Watch it in high def, if possible.

Sony Classics: Winged Migration home (stupidly requires Adobe Flash)⩘ 

"If another nation was doing this to our kids, we'd be at war"

A Place at the Table cover

That quotation from Jeff Bridges, actor and founder of The End Hunger Network⩘ , says it all.

Website: A Place at the Table (Official Movie Site)⩘ 

Visiting the South Pole with Werner Herzog

Encounters at the End of the World poster

What an amazing journey it is to visit the South Pole with Werner Herzog, to listen to the songs of the seals under the ice and to swim amongst the strange creatures who live in that otherworldly zone, to see the odd collection of memorabilia that has been created in an ice cave deep beneath the precise South Pole perhaps for future alien explorers who visit our planet long after we are gone, to stand at the edge of an enormous cauldron containing an active lava lake and listen as one of the scientists who study it calmly describes how to best dodge the bombs it sometimes throws up into the air, and to meet many of the fascinating and curious travelers who call the South Pole—for a few months or many, many years—their home. I will reflect upon what I experienced while watching this film for a long time.

Herzog dedicated the film to Roger Ebert.
It's interesting to read the letter Ebert wrote to Herzog in return:
A letter to Werner Herzog: In praise of rapturous truth by Roger Ebert⩘ 
Film review: Encounters at the End of the World review by Roger Ebert⩘ 

Hiking with a camera

View of camera mounted via Capture Clip on backpack shoulder pack

When I'm hiking I like to keep my camera at hand, but not always in hand. I used to hang it from my shoulder strap using a key ring and clip, but it bounced around a lot, which could be a bit irritating. I finally found the solution in the awesome Capture Camera Clip by Peak Design. My camera sits snugly clipped onto my shoulder strap, but I can quickly release it to focus on a shot. It has made hiking with a camera much more enjoyable.

Peak Design⩘ 

Making a great camera even better

Photo by Toshen, taken alongside the Nighthawk Trail in Hall Ranch, Boulder County, Colorado

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera was almost perfect for me. The only drawback came from one of its advantages for a hiker: its compact size. The thing is, I have big hands, so my pinky finger felt a bit orphaned when I gripped the camera. I solved that recently by adding a walnut base made by JB Camera Designs, a woodworking genius who also loves photography. He has created custom fitting walnut bases and grips for a few different cameras. They are light, strong, fit like a glove, and feel wonderful in the hand. Holding the E-M1 is now much more comfortable for me.

A camera packed full … but not with rain, dust, or ice

Image of Olympus OM-D E-M1 body and lens cut in half

I love photographing the nature here in the foothills and mountains. Because the weather does change rapidly—I've seen clear skies morph into torrential thunderstorms within minutes, warm days quickly evolve into snowstorms, and calm days pivot into gusting windstorms—my camera of choice is moisture-, dust-, and cold-resistant: an Olympus OM-D E-M1. Almost as impressive as what it keeps out is what it packs in. What a feat of engineering!

From my favorite photography blog, DPREVIEW: Things we found that had been cut in half⩘ 
Olympus OM-D site: OLYMPUS OM-D⩘ 

Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer

Levitated Mass poster

When I first heard about this sculpture I was skeptical. The thought that went through my mind was why not just go to the mountains, as I so often do, and look at boulders in their natural surroundings? Doug Pray's film opened my mind and made me understand, yet again, that I shouldn't presume to understand something before I experience it.

Levitated Mass is an awe-inspiring sculpture, and the story of how it came to be is incredible. The way people's lives were touched as this massive boulder was moved to its installation is testament to power of art to touch people's lives. As mine has been touched.

Wikipedia: Levitated Mass, the film⩘ 

Sauna on an island in Canada

Image of the interior of a wooden sauna

Beautiful woodworking in a sauna designed by Partisans.

Originally from a website that is no longer active:

Top 100 Hubble images

Hubble photo fo the Sombrero Galaxy

Took a little tour of the neighborhood this morning. This is the Sombrero Galaxy.⩘ 
Top 100 Hubble images:⩘ 

Psychedelic plants: The inner beauty of common species

Magnified view of a garlic stem

Stunning! Being someone who loves nothing more than hiking in the great expanse of the mountains, I don't often find myself wishing I could take a trip to a busy city in order to tour a gallery, but I do wish I had a reason to be in London so I could see this exhibition! This is a garlic stem:


Laniakea: Our home supercluster

Every time I learn something new about our universe, my mind just gets further blown. This is astonishing. This is the space we inhabit.

Superclusters—regions of space that are densely packed with galaxies—are the biggest structures in the Universe. But scientists have struggled to define exactly where one supercluster ends and another begins. Now, a team based in Hawaii has come up with a new technique that maps the Universe according to the flow of galaxies across space. Redrawing the boundaries of the cosmic map, they redefine our home supercluster and name it Laniakea, which means 'immeasurable heaven' in Hawaiian.

YouTube: Laniakea: Our home supercluster⩘ 

Even when you're scared to death

Secrecy film cover
Cover from the film, Secrecy, 2008, directed by Peter Galison and Robb Moss

"When things are secret, we don't have to be responsible. We can live our lives without taking on the responsibility of our country.
"Democracy begins with this very simple idea: it's all of us, we're all responsible, we get the country we deserve, because we chose it.
"A great nation's character is what makes it great, and our character was formed on the idea of a society devoted to the rule of law, and that is powerful.
"When you're afraid, it's hard to have character. Fear coursing through your veins makes it tough.
"When you get down to it, courage is the ability to follow your principles even when you're scared to death."
– Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift

Particle Fever

Particle Fever documentary artwork

Fascinating documentary about the decades long journey to discover the Higgs Boson with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

"Jumping from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm is the big secret to success."
– Savas Dimopoulos

"In exploration, and science is exploration, there needs to be the set of people who have no rules, and they are going into the frontier…."
– David Kaplan

Website: Particle Fever⩘ 

Farewell Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

At a time when I had almost nothing, I had a set of her books. Reading them, I gained a fuller understanding of life.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Website: Maya Angelou⩘ 

The internet with a human face

Opening slide from the talk showing a man looking into virtual reality goggles

A talk given by Maciej Cegłowski on May 20, 2014, at Beyond Tellerrand in Düsseldorf, Germany.

It's good regulation, not lack of regulation, that kept the web healthy. Here's one idea for where to begin:

  1. Limit what kind of behavioral data websites can store.
  2. Limit how long they can keep it.
  3. Limit what they can share with third parties.
  4. Enforce the right to download. If a website collects information about me, I should be allowed to see it.
  5. Enforce the right to delete. I should be able to delete my account and leave no trace in your system….
  6. Give privacy policies teeth.
  7. Let users opt-in if a site wants to make exceptions to these rules.
  8. Make the protections apply to everyone, not just people in the same jurisdiction as the regulated site.

Website: The Internet With A Human Face⩘ 

Deep sea diving … in a wheelchair

Photo of Sue Austin diving in a wheelchair

Another interesting TED talk, this one by Sue Austin. In some ways it's very different from iO Tillett Wright's talk (see next), but it similarly invites us to put away the boxes and labels and just see each other.

TED Talk: Deep sea diving … in a wheelchair⩘ 

Fifty shades of gay

iO Tillett Wright giving her talk

Interesting talk by iO Tillett Wright, who invites us to put away the boxes and labels and just see each other as the nuanced and unique individuals that we are.

TED Talk: Fifty shades of gay⩘ 

A color swatch book from 1692

Photo of two facing pages of Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l'eau (Color Treatments for Water Painting

Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l'eau (Color Treatments for Water Painting), a handwritten and hand painted 887-page book by A. Boogert, is in the collection of Bibliothéque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France.

I'm impressed with how vivid many of the colors still look!

Link to full scan: Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l'eau⩘ , Bibliothèque Numérique⩘ 

Christopher Jobson, 271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800-Page Book⩘ , Colossal, May 5, 2014
New article: A 900-Page Pre-Pantone Guide to Color from 1692: A Complete High-Resolution Digital Scan⩘ , Open Culture, Apr 6, 2021

Stanford study finds walking improves creativity

Photo of person walking by L.A. Cicero
Photo L.A. Cicero

"Stanford researchers found that walking boosts creative inspiration. They examined creativity levels of people while they walked versus while they sat. A person's creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking."

Stanford study finds walking improves creativity⩘ 

The way we think about charity is dead wrong

Photo of Dan Pallotta giving his talk

A TED talk by Dan Pallotta that pretty much turns the way we typically think about fundraising for nonprofits on its head. The talk changed my perspective.

TED Talk: The way we think about charity is dead wrong⩘ 

Who is dependent on welfare?

Title image from the video Who is Dependent on Welfare

I've been thinking a lot about what I regard as one of the biggest challenges facing the U.S. today: the extreme state of inequality we're experiencing. As part of learning more about this, I came across this amazing talk by Professor Anaya Roy, Distinguished Chair in Global Poverty and Practice at the University of California, Berkeley.

A few snippets from the talk:

"I live in public housing … my home is public housing because the tax deduction I enjoy on my mortgage is a more substantial handout than any money spent by the US government on what has become to be stereotyped and vilified as public housing. In 1999 … the US government spent $24 billion dollars on public housing and rental subsidies for the poor, but in that same year it spent $72 billion dollars in home ownership subsidies for the middle classes and the wealthy, subsidies that are never considered to be welfare, and there is no stigma attached to this dependency; in fact, it is seen as an entitlement."

"This is the plague of what, in 1958, economist and diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith calls the The Affluent Society. In an analysis that was to move America's conscience and helped launch the war on poverty in the 1960s, Galbraith declared that the management of the modern economy by the affluent for the affluent will fail. Even worse, affluence had the effect, Galbraith writes, of comfortable disregard for those excluded from its benefits and its culture. One such effect, Galbraith noted, was resistance to government help to the poor. Still true in our time."

"Guaranteed Minimum Income is a citizen's income, earned as an entitlement, not received as welfare. It implies that the rights of citizenship far exceed the political rituals of voting, and include the right to human dignity and life without poverty."

YouTube: Who is Dependent on Welfare with Ananya Roy⩘ 

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