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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

How Little we Know.

Obviously, we are in the post-discovery age. There are few of us casting about for continents to "explore" and claim for king and lord. As if. Now, statistically, most of us are just trying to hang on to jobs and relationships -- as sub-contractors, in serial relationships. The King is dead, the employer is bankrupt, and the lenders are using bail-out money to hire public relations experts to make us feel grateful to them for not giving us loans. It's not like there is a New World out there. The shysters are not even trying to lure us onto ships, or trick and "Shanghai" us to "see the world".

So, today is really NOTHING like the Age of Discovery. When ships unfurled their beautiful sails and ports bustled with new people and things -- and sailors knew how to sing nautical songs and tie knots in hemp ropes, after being trapped into service for three years or so. There were headwaters and new languages to discover, species to name. Great Explorers mounted "expeditions", often suffering severe privations, and visiting their distress upon the "natives" they encountered in the ordeal.

Today, we board aircraft like buses, with SRO. The travel industry is hell-bent to make every location in the world a "tourist destination", with the same hotel, selling the same trinkets, offering the same "comforts" and pillow service, wherever you go. Much of the suffering, risk and danger -- and original discovery -- appears to be gone. Appears.

There really IS a world yet to be discovered....and there are still those severe risks and demands which are made by the struggle to learn and understand.

SOIL. According to the new "Underground Adventure" at the Chicago Field Museum, "one teaspoonful of soil from your own backyard" will yield more than a billion organisms, of which 40% are species unknown and un-named. We barely understand anything about bugs. We are just starting to grasp the importance of fungi in the lives of plants, the chemistry of slime-mold, and the morphology of water bears. And don't get me started about Ants!

WATER. One of the most useful, and it turns out, increasingly scarce comforts of our planet, is fresh water. We continue to find most curious facts about it. Recent studies drawn from lichen, which is one of the few life forms that can thrive with almost no water, indicates that water has a molecular affect on the growth clock of lichen. Living Things evolve faster in the tropics than in the desert...because of water. Crazy. The partnership of fungi and algae enables both to thrive where each would fail alone.

CULTURE. We are still waiting for a theory or explanation for why people have such bad taste. And why people are so wicked. Why you can get people to risk their life on a highway inside a weaponized automobile to drive to work or go shopping, but you cannot get them to stand up for their own basic human rights against dictators, for fear of what? Getting killed/martyred by a dictator? Dying for a great reason, for Freedom, instead of No Reason on the highway driving a car!

DANCERS. Explore this: Why do Dancers and Musicians do so much better at bringing Peace to the world than missles and tanks? And why are the Pentagon and Kremlin and Al Quada dedicating billions to weapons instead of piano and guitar lessons? A thin invalid with a soft voice has united the world -- just by moon-walking!. At almost no cost. Do we need to pay for weapons which will only blow ourselves up? Al Quada killed more Arabs, more Believers, in the 2001 World Trade Center attack than any attack by the West suffered by any Arab nation prior to that date. The Bolshoi has the biggest budget (relatively) of any dance troupe in the world, yet it is miniscule compared to the cost of running a single nuclear submarine carrying nuclear weapons. And compare the effects for the respect and dignity of Russia in the world today.

THE NET. Who will be the first to find a new continent of discovery by unfurling the web over a sea of information. We are just at the beginning of the Singularity. Who will colonize the floating city built in the Pacific Gyre? Who will conquer the new forms of playground equipment provided for children who will never make arrows to hunt in a real forest? Who will populate the islands that are uninhabitable for lack of potable water by introducing desalinization units? Who will translate the algorithmic language learned by the baby robots?

We need to really re-think how completely unknown, unexplored, so much of this world remains today. Wide open opportunity.