Character

Do people pick their instrument or does the instrument pick their people? An instrument certainly changes people over time. Bass players become bass players, drummers become drummers, guitarists become guitarists and even if they didn’t start out that way the instrument will mold them into those archetypes over time. It is inevitable.

Evolution

I am about halfway through “The Overstory”. Yesterday morning, after walking 5 miles listening to the book, I came home and wrote these thoughts down.

Evolution can go horribly wrong sometimes. Imagine roving bands of hunters and gatherers. In Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” one of the men discovers that he can defeat another man by using a bone as a club. That little tribe now has an advantage over others. Survival of the fittest. The race is on.

Thousands of years later men argue that everything they encounter merely exists to be used by men for their survival, but also for their their enjoyment, their power and wealth. Religions are created around this idea and thrive. The men decide that everything that is NOT them is to be used. At first that means plants and animals, but eventually also applies to women and any man who looks different from them. Empires are created with these ideas. The first men who turn trees into lances and bows and arrows win. Then come men who fashion materials into bombs. Evolution creates winners. But perhaps evolution also creates dead ends.

Eventually, women gain the right to vote, people of color gain the right to vote. People even consider allowing other species to have a say. After all, corporations have rights and can speak through lawyers, so why shouldn’t monkeys and dolphins, trees and mountains have the same right to have an advocate.

At this point, however, humanity has grown into a giant ball that rolls downhill. How many of the 8 billion people can be fed without abusing the planet’s resources? How can this ball thundering down the hill be stopped or even slowed down?

I think the survival of humans as a species depends on changing the course of this ball that rolls along and has been rolling for so many thousands of years. Evolution created a species that ended up being too efficient and too selfish, too hungry for power and control — homo sapiens. Evolution doesn’t care. Let it all go to hell and start over, what’s another few billion years anyway. Perhaps the next batch will turn out to better mix cunning with caring, sentient beings with more sensitivity and with less of an appetite for destruction.

The ball has garnered too much speed to be stopped right away, but it’s possible that one can create a groove in the ground that gently changes the path of the ball and diverts it enough to slow it down. Given enough time I hope that humanity can catch up and realize that this whole planet is an experiment in consciousness.

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I had to laugh

Yesterday I bought lots of flights for our run at the end of September. Four guys times three and four flights equals a lot of money.

Today that same airline announced a half price sale for exactly that time period. I could have saved quite a bundle by procrastinating just one day.

I had to laugh. Some things, well a lot of things actually, we just can’t control. Better to laugh at it.

Trees

I am listening to the audiobook of The Overstory, the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Richard Powers. Robby recommended it during our trip to Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago. This morning I realized that the character named Patricia Westerford, a drendologist, might be a nod to Peter Wohlleben, who wrote “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate”. Same initials. Coincidence? Perhaps not, because the book appears to be very well researched.

The working of the brain + drug dealers in Albuquerque

David Eagleman: ‘The working of the brain resembles drug dealers in Albuquerque’ | Neuroscience | The Guardian

In what way does the working of the brain resemble drug dealers in Albuquerque?

It’s that the brain can accomplish remarkable things without any top-down control. If a child has half their brain removed in surgery, the functions of the brain will rewire themselves on to the remaining real estate. And so I use this example of drug dealers to point out that if suddenly in Albuquerque, where I happened to grow up, there was a terrific earthquake, and half the territory was lost, the drug dealers would rearrange themselves to control the remaining territory. It’s because each one has competition with his neighbours and they fight over whatever territory exists, as opposed to a top-down council meeting where the territory is distributed. And that’s really the way to understand the brain. It’s made up of billions of neurons, each of which is competing for its own territory.

The following paragraph is a new and different way of looking at why we dream:

One of the big surprises of neuroscience was to understand how rapidly these takeovers can happen. If you blindfold somebody for an hour, you can start to see changes where touch and hearing will start taking over the visual parts of the brain. So what I realised is, because the planet rotates into darkness, the visual system alone is at a disadvantage, which is to say, you can still smell and hear and touch and taste in the dark, but you can’t see any more. I realised this puts the visual system in danger of getting taken over every night. And dreams are the brain’s way of defending that territory. About every 90 minutes a great deal of random activity is smashed into the visual system. And because that’s our visual system, we experience it as a dream, we experience it visually. Evolutionarily, this is our way of defending ourselves against visual system takeover when the planet moves into darkness.

I am not sure I am buying that entirely because dreams seem to be so much more than just maintaining control of computing real estate. But, while dreams may have started out as exercising and maintaining the visual territory of the brain perhaps over time those dreams were coopted by other parts of the brain, in order to digest experiences and ideas during downtime/sleep.

Apache Plume, Basket + Sunset

A walk around town this week will reveal Apache Plume, super soft and very pretty. After the white petals fall away, many plumelike lavender styles remain, each 3 to 5 centimeters long. The plant will be covered with these pink clusters of curling, soft, and feathery styles after flowering. Go ahead put your face in it.

A basket and its shadow at the TAI Modern gallery on the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Guadalupe. One of my favorite galleries in town.

Yesterday’s sunset viewed from the cross at Fort Marcy.

You can click on each thumnail to expand the photo. Then you can click on that image to make it even larger. The gallery is a little clumsy and you will have to use the browser’s back arrow to return to this page.

What happens when we walk

WHAT REALLY HAPPENS WHEN WE WALK? – The Age-Well Project

I like walking. No, I love walking. I have good ideas while walking. I work while I am walking – listening to mixes for a new album, for example. Today I walked 7.5 miles and it’s only 5PM. I have done about 20 miles in a day a number of times. The article I linked to has a whole lot of reasons why we should walk more. Here is a short excerpt but do click on the link and read the whole piece.

When we walk, our biggest muscles – those in our legs, glutes and back – produce a lipase that breaks down triglycerides. Why does this matter? Because high levels of circulating triglycerides harden our arteries and thicken our artery walls, a condition known as arteriosclerosis, which raises our risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. It’s one of the conditions that killed my father.

A body that doesn’t break down triglycerides is also less likely to process glucose – leading to type 2 diabetes. You see, movement also improves the body’s response to insulin. When we lie on the sofa excess glucose lingers in our blood. But when we walk, our muscles take that floating glucose and make use of it – so no blood sugar spike. Which is why I try and take a short walk after a large meal, even though lying on the sofa might feel a more obvious choice!

and

When we don’t move enough, our bones weaken, increasing our chances of osteoporosis. But now it appears that weak bones might mean more than a future of hip fractures and hospital stays. A study arrived on my desk last week linking hearing loss to low bone density. When researchers analysed data from 144,000 women over 34 years, they found that the risk of hearing loss was up to 40 percent higher in women with low bone density or with osteoporosis.

Flying

This morning this stretch of road looked like space, three dimensional and with thousands of little spaceships flying around at great speed. Cottonwood season.

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