Life versus the Void

Galaxy SpiderWebCroppedLife merely clings to the cooling and condensing ball of gases and fluids we call planet Earth. To be sure, this life has assumed a variety, a dazzling variety, of shapes and functions. Yet, even in their totality, they have simply a toehold on the congealed outer limits of this orb of energy.

Grasses, molds, fungi, start by gluing and impregnating themselves to that skin. Eventually, shrubs and trees penetrate a few feet into matter whose depth is measured in thousands of miles. And then atop it, in the shelter and nourishment provided by the plants, critters emerge — buzzing, swarming, swimming. Trying at first by sheer numbers to survive, critter life then moves to attributes such as size and speed to attain permanence on a scale  to match the planet.

Fragile and ephemeral, fleeting and vaporous, life hopes to survive on the strength of its own energy and inventiveness. If it mutates sufficiently often and cleverly, it can escape extinction. In wheat and lichen and redwood, it has begun to succeed, but in the animals, its work did not measure up. For every cockroach, there is a tyrannosaurus.

Life then produces people, an awkward mix of mammalian traits, but one gifted with high adaptability and a novel neural capacity, to lead the rest of the life-forms to this desired stability. Because while the vegetable forms have done their work of adhering to the planet’s surface, and of altering that surface to enable further life, they have developed only moderate symbiosis with it.

What have people done with their chance? Have they proven equal to their task? It would appear that lately, within the years since the Enlightenment, we have done precious little — or worse.  ©J Joel




Thoughts on Deity — and life

There is a tendency to confuse life with Deity. Life and its force runs throughout those creations which cling to the Crust. But life in and of itself is not divine. It iS quite special; it IS a glory; it IS far more wonderful than the stars and the Void and the forces of gravity and electricity. Time, space, and compound interest are no more divine than is capitalism. For, if everything is divine, then there is nothing special about divinity.

Life engages in a titanic struggle to assert and maintain itself in this hostile setting. The struggle has thus far been successful and life has grown to cover more of the cooling crust of the orb. The forms of life have grown ever more complex and have, lately even been able to move to a neighboring orb, although not yet to establish and maintain a presence there. The highest forms of life, however, remain confident that they can, at some future time, succeed in the planting and colonizing effort there. It is only a matter of time.

This feat is remarkable, for the outcome has not been a certainty. Life and its force have, however, been relentless, and one form or another of life have always operated under the rule that, when necessary, any given form must be surrendered, or must surrender, in order that the forward thrust of life not be thwarted by the “selfishness” of any single form or species.

This force and its goal are somehow always recognized and obeyed. Homo sapiens has not necessarily formally acknowledged this truth, but has ultimately obeyed it even in times of temptation. (Such times have been called insanity, etc. Suicide is a crime for this very reason.) In the rather short time frame of the past few hundred years, life has found ways to increase the fecundity and productivity of some of its constituent parts and to overcome situations of apparent excessive growth of certain species – “overpopulation”, so called.

This is a force which is more remarkable than such forces as gravity, photo-electricity, compound interest, quarks or interstellar winds. It is truly a glory, exceeding the stars or the void. Yet I do not hold it to rise to the level of divinity. There is a temptation to confuse life with Deity, at least in part because the hostile elements (the “chaos” in Genesis) cannot ever appreciate divinity.

Shooting Sports with Micro Four-Thirds Gear

The conventional wisdom is that no one should attempt to shoot sports events with a Micro 4:3 camera, and the detractors will read a litany to you: the sensor is too small, the lenses are too slow, the viewfinder cannot refresh quickly enough, etc. And last but not least, the MFT gear is JUST NOT MACHO ENUF. This last is far more important than you may think. An entire generation of ushers, admission personnel, guards, and the like have become conditioned to think that huge and heavy gear equals professional, equals respect and special treatment. If they don’t take you seriously, how can you take yourself seriously? Continue reading

Good Cameras have NEVER been cheap


Apple, Inc., is currently running a series of extremely beautiful commercials whose theme is quite simple: “Every day, more pictures are taken on an iPhone than any other camera”.  This is marketing at its very highest level. An overpriced telephone is facing severe competition from a number of directions, so pitch it instead as a camera. And use honest “facts” so that no one can accuse you of lying about anything.  Fair enough.

There is a hook, however. The iPhone is a portable communication device which happens to include a fixed focus, fixed aperture, lens and a light sensor, which can write to the same memory in the unit on which you also store your contacts, your saved messages, your music and miscellaneous data. It is not really a camera, not even a camera in the sense of Geoorge Eastman’s legendary Box Brownie of 1890. The iPhone is being used, and touted, for the same usage as the old Kodak. It is capable of satisfying the need for a simple record of an event or a place at a moment in time. That is no small matter; humans, even Neandertals, have been satisfying that need for thousands of years in some form or another. The Kodak Brownie was the first mass market device to do so, and people have been saving and collecting this type of image for more than a hundred years, to a degree not ever imagined by our forebears. Continue reading