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On humanity….

January 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Bernard Moitessier set out to on the first race sailing single handed, non stop around the globe.  It is most likely that he would have won the race if he had not, upon reaching the Atlantic, forfeited the race and turned South to head back around again.

Mooring in Tahiti and watching the development of the island, he writes:

          Lots of people believe that the bulldozer and the concrete mixer don’t think.  They’re wrong: they do think.  They think that if they don’t have any work to do, they won’t earn any money, and then their slaves won’t be able to buy the fuel and oil they need to go  on living and go on thinking serious thoughs.
          They think human beings are pretty retarded, still making their babies in joy and love and pain.  Their procreation technique is much more efficient: they work flat out without ever getting tired, and taht means profits, and their slaves hurry to make more bulldozers and concrete mixers which are born fully grown, ready to work without wasting a minute.  And what they think really had is they had better hurry up and get the robot age going before man catches on.                                                                                            (The Long Way, 1971)

Who runs whom?  Do we run our technology? Or does our technology run us?

Metric echoes this idea in “Handshakes”:
Buy this car to drive to work
Drive to work to pay for this car

The importance of books and the complete experience

January 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Being a purist in many ways, I have resisted the convenience of e-readers and tablets as the medium I prefer to consume books.  Certainly toting around Ken Follett’s latest tome Winter of the World around has its downsides–falling asleep being crushed beneath a massive hard cover is not a pleasurable experience.  However, reading an a book and the whole tactile experience that goes along with it is something not matched in screen form.

While reading a recent post on Mindful Stew, I was reminded of a The Globe and Mail article I read which recounted Margaret Atwood having defended the internet and social media as “a great driver of literacy” as it caused people to read and thereby stimulate their brain in a variety of ways.  The point of the article, however, was that the brain of screen readers develops in a vastly different way; the neurological networks of an “expert reader” are vastly different and more developed than those of an over stimulated screen reader.  The article went on to say that the kind of reading done in a hyper linked, hyper stimulating environment fosters a brain that is unable to focus in a deep and meaningful way, something that they termed “Twitter brain”, causing the mind to work in an infantilized mode.

Likewise, a recent article in The Toronto Star points out that old fashioned text books are more effective at conveying information than e-books.  It points out that the physical cues that trigger links to memories and information simply aren’t the same in the e-reader, and thus the pathway to those memories is less likely to be located.  Also the ability to fan through pages of a textbook to find the information you’re looking for is no longer possible.  Now one must laboriously scroll to find their spot.

There are lots of students who would gladly not lug their back breaking Science and Math textbooks home at the end of the day, but it seems that replacing books with virtual copies has its drawbacks too.

Certainly a book has never run out of batteries in the middle of a canoe trip, and for that I will gladly haul them over many portages on my back.

Our greatest fear….

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a wonderful thought by Marianne Wiliamson:
Please pardon the slight editing (omission) of some of the words/lines. The unadulterated version is viewable through the above link, as is the information about its original source of publication.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are younot to be? […] Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory […] that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


A Dangerous Book For Boys

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment

This recent publication is an incredible resource for boys and boys at heart.  Crammed with knowledge that is useful or just coolregarding major battles in history, big questions about our world and universe, neat projects to build and hurt yourself with, and general all around useful things for outdoorsy lads.

An even more incredible text that I found (literally in old boxes of my parents’) is a publication called Chums, an encyclopedia-like annual publication from the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Uncovering several of these relics, I have perused several copies.  It becomes quickly evident how skilled and adept this prior generation was at both reading and building.

One of the projects from A Dangerous Book for Boys is to build a go cart of sorts out of buggy wheels and boards.  Unpowered, it is not much more than four wheels and a couple of planks, one hinged to steer.  This is unfortunately an almost impossible task as buggy wheels from perambulators are either extinct or incredibly valuable.  The projects laid out for the boys of the early twentieth century are more involved.  From the 1928-29 edition,projects include a rabbit hutch, hanging bookshelf/cupboards, picture frames, book cases, a tracing mechanism to enlarge or reduce drawings, a ‘water motor’ (akin to a paddle wheel that might drive a mill), a dog kennel, a work bench that folds back against the wall (all the joints are notched to join securely together), and a model steam turbine engine with the statement “an actual working model that any boy can make”.

Keep an eye out for these books. Both are great reads and packed with cool stuff.
For more information about Chums check out this site.

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