Saturday, September 30, 2000

Just a few hours after I posted yesterday, I found a much nicer color chart and then I found an excellent utility that lets you zero in on satellite photos anywhere in the world - and the overview photo looks a lot like the Peter's Projection I was talking about. I found both of these at Paracelsus Rambles and also learned about Mappa Mundi, a well done zine with maps as a theme.

All this raises a few points of interest. First, we tend to see more of what we're looking for. I have a sudden interest in color charts, and find a couple of nice ones popping up in places where I haven't noticed them before. This is not just being sensitized. I contend that we actually create our perceptions based on what we're looking for. Not that the color charts, or links to them, weren't there previously - I'm not suggesting magic, or even synchronicity - but that the world I perceive, that is, the world I live in, began to include color charts as a possibility, and I began to notice them. This explains some of the functionality that makes visualization and positive thinking techniques work so well - if what we want exists around us, we can use these techniques to start noticing it.

Here's another point of interest - you could have been led to these sites by just reading Paracelsus Rambles. Obviously, I will need to find my own interesting sites, and I will, but it emphasizes for me the potential power of blogs - find a blogger who interests you, and s/he will help you see.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate." -- Noam Chomsky (found at Progressive Review)

Sometimes I feel like mounting a bumper sticker that says, "I don't take drugs, and I'm against the drug war". I would be in good company. Check out, for instance, these longish statements by William F. Buckley, Jr. or Noam Chomsky. Still calm? Read all of Sam Smith's Drug Wars page.

I just spent a wonderful morning learning how to tweak the standard blogger template. This Color Chart was very helpful - I kept flipping back and forth between it and my template code, figuring out what colors I could cut and paste. Also learned a few things by viewing some other folk's sources. I love the feeling of being a beginner.

Friday, September 29, 2000

I'm a Registered Land Surveyor, and I know the importance of a good map. Since the Earth is round and maps are flat, all maps are badly distorted - but some are more distorted than others. The Peters Projection concentrates on getting area correct. Each square inch on this map represents an equal number of square miles. Take a look. You'll be amazed to see how big Africa and South America really are - and how small the United States is...
Here's a site that has been expanding my perceptions in all sorts of interesting ways. Days of reading, including a non-hysterical take on Arkansas Sudden Death Syndrome

According to a passage in Robert Pirsig's "Lila" some Alaskan Indian languages have words for eight kinds of ice, and regularly see these eight kinds of ice in their daily affairs. Hindustani, by contrast, has just one word for snow and ice, and speakers of Hindustani don't usually register a difference between these forms of solid water. Language affects perception.
I have some personal experience with this phenomenon - and I'm sure you do too. Mine dates from about 1980, when I was 16 and living in Glendale, CA. I lived in a fairly typical L.A. suburb, except that it was long and narrow, squeezed between two sets of hills. If you had asked me, I would have said that there was little birdlife in my neighborhood, just Robins and Sparrows. But then I got into birding in a big way. Because it was L.A., and because I had just got my driver's license, I drove all over to various birding spots, to the odd bits of untouched space left in the big city. But then a funny thing happened - I started to see all kinds of birds right in my neighborhood. California Thrashers, Nuttall's and Ladderback Woodpeckers, Oregon Juncos, Vireos, Kinglets, Titmice... dozens and dozens of bird varieties, where before I had only seen a few. What had changed?
Obviously the birds had always been there - but I never saw them. I couldn't see them. I didn't have the words for them, didn't know they existed. When I acquired the language, I acquired the ability to see more birds than I had before. I have had similar experiences with the board game called Go, with mushrooms (thank you David Arora), with juggling and with lots of other 'languages'.
I believe that this is an important phenomena, and hope to continue exploring it in a public way on this weblog. Ultimately, I hope that this site will help myself and others to see better.
However, I'm just starting, and know very little of the 'language' of this new medium. Bear with me.