General

20:20 VisionWed 26th February 2014

Bill Hicks died twenty years ago today. His words still ring true and should be heeded.  I'll be raising a glass no doubt and jotted this down to mark the occasion:

 

Twenty years ago he left the ride; 

Twenty years since young Bill died.

He shared his message and his vision,

At the very heart of his mission.

Truth the foundation, his house of laughter.

Fear not, for what may come after.

Have the courage to make the choice;

Stand up and raise your voice.

It is in this moment, we are all one.

The journey that we have all begun.

 

In this obituary, published in the Guardian in 1994, John Lahr reflects on the US comedian's brand of intellectual anarchy. 

A Paradox We May Face?Thu 19th December 2013

The reproduction of the human image has undergone a very dramatic evolution.  Originating through paintings of potential brides in the bid to make feudal alliances.  And so a likeness was captured and a king could make his decision, yet on occasion would find that the painting had been oh so very flattering.

 

So a consensus grew among artists to create a faithful and a likeness as accurately as possible, and this art form reached its pinnacle but wasn’t enough.  Photography emerged setting a new standard that really captured a new likeness, pictures really did look like grandpa!  I must point out that I’m paraphrasing the late and great Alan Watts here.

 

 

  Alan Watts on the Evolution and Future of Technology - 7:30 mins

 

But these photographs were black and white, and we have colour; so they started tinting them.  And so the process continued; fast forward through movies, talkies, cinema, TV, 3D, HD, video gaming, Internet, Wii, Kinect, virtual reality, occulus rift; consider the exponential growth of technology and its impact now with genetics, nano and robotics.  With this in mind, we’ll push through each challenge.  Rendering images at higher and higher quality, presented to you on an interactive stage in your living room.

 

For an engaging, emotional encounter, AI will be developed via the reverse engineering of the human brain.  Ray Kurzweil forecasts this mapping to be completed within twenty years.  Through laser, saser and other wave technologies, 3D objects will be rendered that you can actually touch and feel.  Developing technologies in neuroscience will allow you to plug in and control actions with mere thought.

 

As we strive towards an ever more real and engaging technology and find the tools to do it, it is logical to entertain the idea, that at some point we’ll do it.  That being so, Alan Watts raised the question “Could that be where we are already?  Are we a reproduction?   Which over the centuries of evolution, has worked out to be a replica of something else that was going on and we are, where we always were.”

 

Now consider that we are pushing this tech and we will develop the tech that lets us plug into a new reality, with absolutely perfect reproduction, so vivid that we become it.  Do we reach a point where we can cheat death by sustaining our brains plugged into a neural net; a dream within a dream.  Would we ever know a ‘game over’ in this life and find out if there is a ‘start’ button for another go?

 

By a strange series of coincidence, particularly that of surname, Alan leads to Reggie Watts, who in May 2012 delivered ‘Beats that defy boxes’ in his wonderful TED Talk.

 

“Tomorrow is another day.  Not just any day, but it is a day, it will get here, there’s no question and the important thing to remember, is that this simulation is a good one.  It’s believable, it’s tactile,  you can reach out things are solid, and you can move objects from one area to another, you can feel your body, you can say I’d like to go over to this location and you can move this mass of molecules through the air, over to another location at will.  That’s something you live inside of every day”.

 

Reggie Watts disorients you in the most entertaining way - 9:43 mins

 

 

So as you contemplate for a moment, then wonder is it a coincidence that you are reading this?

The Convergence of Science and Nature, As A Vodka Shot.Thu 14th November 2013

It’s easy to be cynical about the new collaboration between Jason Silva and Russian Standard Vodka.  It’s easy to be short-sighted.  Watching the video ‘Vodka As It Should Be’ for the first time is a shock to system: shivers down your spine syndrome, with a sinking feeling.  There is a sentiment that once you do TV ads, you are off the ‘Artistic Roll Call’ forever, but that does not ring true here - we’re not just munching on some potato chips.

Look at the content and it is quite plain to see this is Silva being true to his message; applying his imaginations and style to overcome the dreary, wearisome and exploitative ‘messages from sponsors’ that litter our screens.  He delivers his animated, insightful and thought provoking words in harmony with stunning images demonstrating the convergence of science and nature in action. 

 

 

It is a triumph in many ways.  It demonstrates how you can illicit wonder in the simplest of things.  Which is important is you are trying to break out of hedonic adaptation and seek ways to fill your days with inspiration.  This collaboration provides that catalyst.  The video’s creative composition in itself, surely scores high in artistic merit?  We have a campaign that attempts to engage the brain rather than the brawn.  It is a vehicle that unlocks the possibility of making new connections and a device to help trigger thought with an open mind.

 

This short video delivers more moments of awe than many feature length films manage.  It is a platform that extends Silva’s reach, enabling him to pluck us out from our comfort zone and springboard us towards the fantastic, the radical and an altruistic existence.  

 

If seeing this leads to but a single person being uplifted, then surely Silva has ‘mission accomplished’ and you know what, the odd vodka or two can be pretty awesome too.

Russell, The Revolution, Bill Hicks and me.Sun 27th October 2013

When it comes to Russell Brand, I must confess I’m in danger of being likened to a stalker of late. I’ve become very fond of him. I’ve even dipped into my toe into the ‘Twittersphere’ with a few @rustyrockets. I thought I’d try at a few witty remarks, maybe I’d get a reply too? Maybe that’s not quite how it works. Of course he’s also busy editing magazines and touring, so I’ll let him off.


We should all take the time to think about our naivety, and in his article in the NewStateman he reflects on his earlier years: ‘I was smacked up and gacked up and togged up in the nitwit livery of late-Nineties television, a crackhead Harlequin with Hoxton hair’; that’s why I didn’t particularly like him, or rather, the image portrayed in the media, was of a person I wouldn’t really get on with. I must apologise for that assumption, as I didn’t pay much attention to him then and don’t know what he was really like. It depends on whether the Russell I have seen on Paxman and some other TV shows in the last few months, is the same old Russell or someone new?


For me, it’s taken some time to come around to a new way of thinking. No doubt I’ve been a nitwit for many years as well. No doubt I’ve done things I’m not proud of, or could have handled things better. A few months ago, I was away on a break at a hotel I used to holiday at as a child. A lady came out onto the terrace with a young chap who could have been her son. He was a big fella with a nice smile, I’m not sure if he was poorly in some way, but evidently she needed help getting him sat down in a spot with an umbrella for some shade; it was a lovely sunny day overlooking a bay. The waiters saw them to a table in the sun, failed to put the umbrella up and then left them to sort out the bill for a large table behind us. They were ignored for several minutes. I feel now that I should have at least offered to help them, and certainly spoken to the staff myself to draw attention to who should have been their priority. But at least now I have thought about it and been bothered, and will try better next time. For me, the light in the cave has only just been lit.


It’s like a series of clues have led me to this point. Coincidences perhaps? Look at the Latin and scientific usage of the word; ‘when two rays of light strike a surface at the same point in time’. So do these moments when you connect to a message of some kind help you take steps towards a new level of consciousness? Hidden amongst the multitude of crap that spews from the idiot box, there are true gems. The Queens of the Stone Age latest album is now my all time favourite album, (and I don’t say that lightly believe me). For me the music is of course incredible, but the lyrical content resonated with me and what I was doing at the time. It filled me with enthusiasm and comfort in hearing someone bring life to a way of thinking you share. It’s great when you feel that connection, and catch yourself engaging in conversation with the song, comedy act or whatever medium. No surprise a lot of performers and entertainers get so much pleasure from doing it live; they get to see the feedback and connect with so many people. Think of all those connecting rays again zapping into someone on stage as they have the audience in the palm of their hand. That must be intense.


Revolution? I don’t think so. I’m more with Bill Hicks on this one and vote for evolution. It’s just a choice. We can deal with the problems. You want to put the ‘Great’ back into ‘Great Britain’? Instead of selling guns to people, (which I believe the UK exports in the region of 12.3 billion quids worth a year?), the people involved with their manufacture, who I’m sure are some of the brightest and best, put their energy and enthusiasm into something that will actually help people? I know people will be worried about the economy, I know selling stuff and making money is important to a lot of people. Just maybe, the products they could produce and the services they could offer would sell a lot more?Let’s make it better stuff though, that uses resources wisely right? We have a good idea of what the planet’s resources are don’t we? I’m sure some clever chaps can provide is with the facts. Facts are good.


That would be a good example to set wouldn’t it? That’s the right kind of message to send to the rest of the world isn’t it? Let’s look at the pressing issues and deal with them. Get the facts, make a decision. If we don’t have enough information, then we investigate and work toward solutions together. Does anyone have all the answers, no, of course not but they have some of them and together we’ll work it out. Everyone should be free to contribute to society and live with enthusiasm, passion and love.


Get rid of the nukes seriously. For those of you who want them there as a ‘deterrent’, we’ve still got them okay? They’re in some subs in secret locations all over the world... Sure, keep the military for now but let’s put them to good use. They are strong and fit, they could help build infrastructure, they could engage with the community more. Turn our best minds and bodies to help take the steps in the right direction, and make the right choices.


We all know about the terrible problems with the Energy prices; we’re reminded of the limited options we have for sustainable power supplies. Of course that’s the message we hear I don’t know how many times a day. There are solutions to such problems though, and no doubt we get a lot better at finding more. For example, a project in Pentland Firth, Scotland will power 40% of the homes in the Highlands. That sounds like good news to me. Why don’t we build a few more? I heard something could be constructed that harnesses power, and serves as a barrier to prevent coastal erosion as well; designs exist for wind farms that could also help land erosion in places like Norfolk I believe.


The Paxman Brand interview leaves us with the question what do we do about a revolution? We don’t need to change the political system at this stage, just the people who run the country. I see the chance for us to make a choice. The Internet is enabling us to reach each other more easily; we can gather the votes. A little bit of effort, something to discuss over a pint. Spread some good ideas; think about some solutions. Could we see this happen before the next election? Why not...it could happen sooner.

 

Quite recently I became aware of a website called upworthy.com. They’ve been going 18 months and set about making important messages spread virally as much as the ones with the cute kittens do. I must have watched more than a hundred videos over a couple of days, and favourited over 35. It was an emotional experience and I recommend it. This brings me back to Russell saying “Engage that feeling”. Do that, because it empowers you. Just like him, you and I have the right to say enough is enough: ‘I’ve taken the right, I don’t need the right from you, I don’t need the right from anybody; I’m taking it’.


I’m taking it too.


I’ve changed my course and written a book to try and help others join the dots. There’s a message in it and it’s meant to be a positive one, but there’s dick jokes too; in my case however, I’m using Sci-Fi. Sure, it might be crap, after all it’s my first real go. But you know what? I’ve been happy doing it and, enthusiastic about it too. Let’s have another Latin lesson shall we? Enthusiasm comes from the Latin words En Theos, which means - the God Within. Bill Hicks said of this, “In other words, do what excites you, for that excitement is God telling you ‘we’re on the right path, and we are together and isn’t it  fun!’ And it has been fun for these last few years, and it’s getting more fun everyday”. I’m feeling the same. My hope is that we can bring change, so that everyone gets the chance, after all, we are all one. If you haven’t listened to Bill much, I really recommend you do. Give him a chance like you would a new song recommend by a friend, with several listenings. For me it only took two minutes...


Coincidentally, the title of my book is also in Latin: “Veritas Liberabit Vos”, which means ‘Truth Shall Set You Free’. Part One is Free, Part Two just 1. You see everything I’ve written above is just a marketing ploy, I’m going for the ‘anti-marketing’ dollar and the ‘plea for sanity’ dollar aren’t I Bill? Thanks for planting those seeds. They are coming to fruition.

New Book Out NowSat 26th October 2013

On Saturday 26th I published to Smashwords and Amazon, part one is available on both now. On Smashwords you can pick it up for free!

Part Two is also out, for from just 1 dollar or pay what you want on Smashwords. 2.99 dollars on Amazon. It includes part one as well, for convenience should you wish to gift it to someone you know is a reader.

 

AwesomenessSun 20th October 2013

This is a wonderful video by Jason Silva.

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