Posts

New blog entry about the events of the next few years, the life-and-death struggle that will preoccupy us all, and the real work of change that will be proceeding almost unnoticed in the background.

One thing that has frequently struck me about the cycle of vision is that certain events seem to be predetermined while others take place in a realm of indeterminacy where anything can happen.
trogholm.panshin.net

New blog entry, in which I apply my analysis of the cycle of visions to describe how the next four years will be shaped by holism, horizontalism, and creative imagination.

Facebook has recently been serving up clothing ads in my sidebar, and though I’m not a potential customer, I take an interest in such things because fashion is a handy way of tracking the transitions in the cycle of visions that I’ve been detailing at this blog.
trogholm.panshin.net
Posts

And I'm blogging again! "The Boundless Realms of Invention" -- about the radical nature of the present moment and the deep, deep roots of creative imagination.

I’ve been getting kind of bored with what I’ve been posting lately, which is why I haven’t added anything in several months. I’ve kept starting entries and then trashing them because they were too abstract and intellectual to hold even my own interest.
trogholm.panshin.net

A poet writes with extraordinary grace about the standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Reserve as a magical war between the original inhabitants who have been wedded to the land for thousands of years and the hapless occupiers who had no idea what they were getting into and were hobbled by their culture-bound notions of property and work and law.

Part one of Anthony McCann's essay on the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
lareviewofbooks.org

This is fairly technical stuff -- but what I take away from it is that I'm on the right track when I suggest that our ability to create mental maps of our environment is closely tied in with memory and imagination and is at the basis of the visions of existence I discuss at my blog.

When you try to find your way in a new place, your brain creates a spatial map that represents that environment. Neuroscientists now show that the brain’s ‘navigation system’ is not only active during actual or virtual movement, but also when imagining view directions. This suggests that the brain’s...
sciencedaily.com

In my latest blog post, I suggested that a new vision is in the process of being born that will view the entire material universe as in some sense alive. This article on how the reinforced concrete structures of the last century are already falling apart strikes precisely that note:

"In a recent paper, I suggest that the widespread acceptance of reinforced concrete may be the expression of a traditional, dominant and ultimately destructive view of matter as inert. But reinfo...rced concrete is not really inert.

"Concrete is commonly perceived as a stone-like, monolithic and homogeneous material. In fact, it is a complex mix of cooked limestone, clay-like materials and a wide variety of rock or sandy aggregates. Limestone itself is a sedimentary rock composed of shells and coral, whose formation is influenced by many biological, geological and climatological factors. ...

"Steel is often perceived to be inert and resilient too. ... However, when embedded in concrete, steel is hidden but secretly active. Moisture entering through thousands of tiny cracks creates an electrochemical reaction. One end of the rebar becomes an anode and the other a cathode, forming a 'battery' that powers the transformation of iron into rust.

"I suggest that we need to change our thinking, to recognise concrete and steel as vibrant and active materials. This is not a case of changing any facts, but rather of re-orientating how we understand and act on those facts."

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Reinforced concrete is everywhere. But unlike plain concrete, which can last for centuries, reinforced concrete can deteriorate in decades as the reinforcing bars succumb to rust.
theconversation.com

New blog entry about the deep thinkers of 600,000 years ago, the imminent changes in our own sense of who we are, and the continuing agenda that connects them.

I continue to have trouble moving my account of the cycle of visions along, and that usually means I’m overlooking something important. I suspect the underlying problem is that I keep trying to cast the visions as an automatic consequence of the facts of human nature and brain function — and that ju...
trogholm.panshin.net

This I find fascinating. I started reading it expecting woo, but the writer makes an amazingly cogent argument that in a quantum universe which permits some degree of prescience, Darwinian natural selection would favor those organisms that have some ability to detect a future in which they will have survived and followed the breadcrumbs that lead to that future.

Not only does this put a thought-provoking spin on "survival of the fittest," but the piece suggests that pre-life ...may have become life at precisely the point when it became capable of acting in this quantum-computing manner and optimizing its own survival by selecting paths that led to the enhanced stability of self-repairing and self-replicating organic systems.

That idea interests me in particular because I've just been writing something about J.B.S. Haldane's 1929 essay, "The Origin of Life." Haldane argued that the appearance of life in a primal soup energized by solar radiation would have been inevitable. That concept marked a clear advance over the "life is a cosmic accident and we're all doomed" attitudes of the period, and it remains conventional wisdom today, but scientists are still struggling to find plausible pathways to the essential chemical constituents of living systems.

However, Haldane's limitation was that he followed the assumptions of his day in seeing the synthesis of elementary organic building blocks into more complex structures as the result of accident. He merely added the idea that such accidents would have been been both inevitable and cumulative over the course of time. But if pre-life and proto-life had the ability to create black swan events -- to follow the statistically unlikely paths that led to life -- the need to argue from inevitability is set aside.

Instead, as the old World War I ditty had it, "We're here because we're here because we're here because we're here."

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Are flying saucers the antibodies for causality? An unusually short, but interesting read, from Eric Wargo

Stand brave, life-liver, bleeding out your days in the river of time. Stand brave: Time moves both ways … —Joanna Newsom, “Time, as a Symptom”
thenightshirt.com

Our gut bacteria may help guide our evolution. Can we even call it "natural selection" any more?

"In a recent paper in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Shapira, who studies the gut microbes of the nematode C. elegans, reviews evidence that demonstrates how microbiotas affect and contribute to host evolution, either by evolving along with the host, or by stepping in at critical moments to help the host adapt to a new environmental challenge.

"These examples, he sa...ys, bolster the relatively recent concept of the hologenome, a term referring to the genomes of the host and its microbes together, encompassing perhaps thousands of different types of bacteria on the skin, in the gut and even in reproductive organs. In his recent paper, Shapira elaborates on a 2008 proposal by Tel Aviv University researchers that evolution can act on the hologenome, rather than on the genomes of the host and its microbiota separately. This implies that as the host evolves to suit a changing environment, its microbiota play a critical role in directing and participating in that evolution.

"'When I came across the paper by Ilana Zilber-Rosenberg and Eugene Rosenberg describing the hologenome concept, it blew my mind,' Shapira said. 'The idea that animals could undergo selection not based solely on their own genome, but with the help of many more, opens the door for previously unimagined evolutionary paths.'"

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Our gut microbes are key to our health, but they may also shape our evolution, according to a new hypothesis. Expanding on the concept of the hologenome -- the host genome together with the genomes of its microbiota -- he argues that the host's microbiota participate in the host's evolution and at t…
sciencedaily.com

New blog entry about the 50,000 year long acid trip that formed our species and the alliance of geeks and proto-shamans that surfed the wave.

As I suggested there, the transformation vision appears to have gone through a very rudimentary form of the cycle. It was born at a time of crisis when mastery of fire and other basic technologies became essential to human survival. It helped resolve that crisis but then subsided back into supportin…
trogholm.panshin.net

New blog entry. In which I correct a false trail I got off on last year and prepare to dive into the vexing question of what happen when the human species went off the rails for 50,000 years.

I’ve been stuck for the past several months and haven’t done any new entries, but I’ve finally realized that I took a left turn at Albuquerque last summer and it’s been throwing me off ever since.
trogholm.panshin.net

More evidence that plants display a collective intelligence.

"The circular, barren patches of land, forming a highly regular pattern over the dry grassland of N...amibia, were thought to be the only ones of their kind anywhere in the world. But a new study in the journal PNAS shows that they are not. Working with Israeli and Australian colleagues, researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig have now discovered the baffling structures in the uninhabited Australian outback too. Investigations carried out there have also provided new evidence that these fairy circles result from the way plants organise themselves in response to water shortage. . . .

"Fairy circle expert Dr. Stephan Getzin from UFZ has for years supported the third theory. Aerial views of the landscapes have contributed to this conviction. In earlier studies, he analysed the precise location of the barren patches. 'The interesting thing about fairy circles is that they are spread with great regularity and homogeneity, even over vast areas, but they occur only within a narrow rainfall belt' he explains. He believes that this pattern, which resembles the six-sided structure of honeycombs, most probably results from competition for water. He and his co-authors Hezi Yizhaq and Ehud Meron from Ben-Gurion University of Negev in Israel have also confirmed this appraisal with computer simulations. 'For a long time, ecologists weren't convinced that plants in dry areas could organise themselves because the theoretical principles for these processes lie in physics,' says Stephan Getzin and points to the laborious preparatory work undertaken by his two Israeli colleagues. 'But it has since become increasingly clear how important this process is.'"

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The circular, barren patches of land, forming a highly regular pattern over the dry grassland of Namibia, were thought to be the only ones of their kind anywhere in the world. But a new study shows that they are not. Researchers have now discovered the baffling structures in the uninhabited Australi…
sciencedaily.com

This is interesting -- and ties in with the stuff Graham Hancock keeps saying about everything being older and Asia being a nexus. The technical discussion is hard to follow in places -- but what it seems to come down to is that we've had the origin of modern humans all backwards.

We've assumed that we derive from a direct line of development that took place entirely in Africa -- from the Australopithecines to Homo ergaster/erectus to Homo sapiens -- and that although there w...ere several migrations of premodern humans out of Africa, our own ancestors never left the continent until early modern humans ventured out into the Middle East.

But recent finds suggest that we moderns are just one branch of a diversification that took place in Eurasia and led to the Neanderthals and Denisovans and at least one mystery relative as well as to us. The implication is that we actually evolved somewhere in the Middle East or India or even Southeast Asia and only got from there to Africa somewhere around 200,000 years ago.

I like this idea a lot. I've been arguing at my blog that the high degree of cultural and artistic sophistication that was present 50,000 years ago must have grown out of a reasonably elaborate culture that already existed 200,000 years ago -- and that in turn had its own simpler roots more than 400,000 years ago. This new scenario finally provides enough time and space for that early development to have occurred.

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This is interesting -- and ties in with the stuff Graham Hancock keeps saying about everything being older and Asia being a nexus. The technical discussion is ...hard to follow in places -- but what it seems to come down to is that we've had the origin of modern humans all backwards.

We've assumed that we derive from a direct line of development that took place entirely in Africa -- from the Australopithecines to Homo ergaster/erectus to Homo sapiens -- and that although there were several migrations of premodern humans out of Africa, our own ancestors never left the continent until early modern humans ventured out into the Middle East.

But recent finds suggest that we moderns are just one branch of a diversification that took place in Eurasia and led to the Neanderthals and Denisovans and at least one mystery relative as well as to us. The implication is that we actually evolved somewhere in the Middle East or India or even Southeast Asia and only got from there to Africa somewhere around 200,000 years ago.

I like this idea a lot. I've been arguing at my blog that the high degree of cultural and artistic sophistication that was present 50,000 years ago must have grown out of a reasonably elaborate culture that already existed 200,000 years ago -- and that in turn had its own simpler roots more than 400,000 years ago. This new scenario finally provides enough time and space for that early development to have occurred.

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I've thought for a while now out of africa is bunk, but I will turn this even further on its head.An intermediate population that is half african and half eurasian from which they both split is never something that made any sense. We have to either speak of mixing or speak of evolution, not speak of…
dienekes.blogspot.com

Well, this *is* interesting. Analysis of a Neanderthal fossil from the same cave that yielded Denisovan remains has found interbreeding with modern humans by 100,000 years ago. The article still insists that there was a "main migration" out of Africa less than 65,000 years ago, but that's starting to seem increasingly unlikely. It's now well established that modern humans were living in Arabia by 125,000 years ago -- and the DNA evidence suggests that some of them returned fr...om there to Africa at around the same time as others set out to the Far East and Southeast Asia.

A further question this raises is whether there were two separate migrations to the east -- one that followed the beachcomber route along the coasts of India and another that took a route north of the Himalayas, may have interbred there with the Denisovans, and then moved further south as ice age conditions intensified around 70,000 years ago and eventually got to New Guinea and Australia. Again, the DNA evidence suggests as much, but the evidence is extremely fragmentary.

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Researchers report strong evidence of an interbreeding event between Neanderthals and modern humans occurring around 100,000 years ago, much earlier than any previously documented. The evidence suggests early modern humans left Africa and mixed with now-extinct members of the human family, before th…
sciencedaily.com

Fish intelligence. Fish social structures. Fish cultural transmission. And the ethical implications of fish as sentient beings.

"Every major commercial agricultural system has some ethical laws, except for fish. Nobody's ever asked the questions: 'What does a fish want? What does a fish need?'"

They don't have a three-second memory. And one researcher thinks we've been dramatically underestimating their intelligence all along.
vox.com

Our drinking water is swarming with bacteria -- and that's a good thing. But this is perhaps the most fascinating part:

"'A previously completely unknown ecosys...tem has revealed itself to us. Formerly, you could hardly see any bacteria at all and now, thanks to techniques such as massive DNA sequencing and flow cytometry, we suddenly see eighty thousand bacteria per millilitre in drinking water,' says researcher Catherine Paul enthusiastically.

"'From having been in the dark with a flashlight, we are now in a brightly lit room, but it is only one room. How many different rooms are in the house is also an interesting question!' she continues."

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Our drinking water is to a large extent purified by millions of "good bacteria" found in water pipes and purification plants, Swedish researchers have found. So far, the knowledge about them has been practically non-existent, but this new research is about to change that.
sciencedaily.com

Our drinking water is swarming with bacteria -- and that's a good thing. But this is perhaps the most fascinating part:

"'A previously completely unknown ecosystem has revealed itself to us. Formerly, you could hardly see any bacteria at all and now, thanks to techniques such as massive DNA sequencing and flow cytometry, we suddenly see eighty thousand bacteria per millilitre in drinking water,' says researcher Catherine Paul enthusiastically.

"'From having been in the dark with a flashlight, we are now in a brightly lit room, but it is only one room. How many different rooms are in the house is also an interesting question!' she continues."

Our drinking water is to a large extent purified by millions of "good bacteria" found in water pipes and purification plants, Swedish researchers have found. So far, the knowledge about them has been practically non-existent, but this new research is about to change that.
sciencedaily.com

Why the average plant is probably smarter than your Uncle Moe.

"But what if the ecosystems of the world take their various forms because plant "decisions" make them that way? A new theory presented by Princeton University researchers in the journal Nature Plants suggests that in some cases that may be exactly what happens. . . .

"'Generally we think of plants as responding passively to their environment, but we found that they can in fact be quite strategic,' Hedin said. 'Our theory suggests that the distribution of nitrogen fixers across biomes, and the great success of fixers in tropical forests, is a result of the evolution of "smart" plant strategies in tropical forests in particular.'"

In a new global theory of land-biome evolution, researchers suggest that plants are not passive features of their environments, but may instead actively behave in ways that determine the productivity and composition of their ecosystems.
sciencedaily.com