We are sentient beings and the miracle of our consciousness relies upon unique patterns of “dead” matter. The belief held by billions of humans that the spirit energizes this dead matter does not diminish how amazing the formation of our physical vessel (body) really is.
Science has taken the first small steps towards an understanding of our DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the biological computer, if you will, that controls how we are made. The critical discovery was that DNA is basically layers of patterns built up from 3 atomic scale particles: electrons, protons, and neutrons. These particles combine in various patterns to create 3 specific elements: carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. These 3 elements combine in various patterns to create 4 molecules (nucleotides): adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. Our DNA has 6.4 billion of these nucleotides attached to a carbon/oxygen framework and organized into 20,000 to 25,000 discrete patterns called genes. These genes, which comprise about 1.5% of the 6.4 billion nucleotides, are the code for the production of about 2 million proteins. These proteins guide cell differentiation into all tissue types, and the processes that, with the input of food, grows, maintains, and controls our body. The remaining 6.3 billion nucleotides are thought to be associated with various biochemical activity, gene expression, chromosome architecture, and epigenetic inheritance.
So, what does all this have to do with the vertebra in the picture above? Well, everything. Humans are now smart enough to write a program (code) that can guide a machine to replicate this shape. However, the program and machine are not guiding the synthesis of the calcium bone matrix from digested food, or integrating nerves, tendons, and ligaments. In addition, the program and machine are not providing a vertebra that grows in proportion the developing body. And as complex as all this is, bones are simple structures compared to soft tissue structures like organs.
Here is another thought. Our 25,000 genes are made out of 50 million nucleotide pairs. If a nucleotide pair is considered equivalent to 1 line of computer code, all of our genes together would contain about half the amount of code that control the computers in a modern, premium car. Although we apply all of our smarts to these programs, cars are primitive compared to our body, and definitely not sentient.
At a philosophical level, this begs the question: How could a randomized, unguided, trial and error assembly of 3 elements become such a beautifully elegant and efficient atomic level, life creating machine?
Despite all the knowledge we have accumulated, we are still profoundly ignorant about such things, about everything in fact. This is not a bad thing and nothing to be ashamed of. It merely tells us that there is infinitely more to learn. At this point in our technological evolution, we are like a child who touched a hot stove and learned a profound lesson.
At the very core of our being is a pattern of 4 nucleotides that drive us to question, to explore, and to understand. All we need is to do is to look within us without intellectual prejudice and predetermination, and then have the courage to embrace what we learn.
C2013 Michael Krozer
Technology prognosticators think that they can see the future. They like to tell us with gravitas that as computer interfaces get smarter and artificial intelligence gets better, humankind will become very comfortable verbally interacting with their machines. Responding with impatience and escalating hatred to the type of computerized voice prompts we now find on telephone response trees will be a thing of the past. Oh joy, if I only live to see the day.
What the tech gurus miss is that we joyfully interact with all manner of inanimate things, all the time. Some of these things don’t contain a single transistor, computer chip, or bit of code. Their being so completely stupid is the very thing that makes them so beautiful and endearing to us, or at least to me.
Take my pressure cooker for example. It is an elegant, shiny piece of formed stainless steel and plastic that does one thing perfectly, and I love it for that. Sure, like all of our relationships, the Cooker, I’ll call her, requires attention and maintenance. Her valves need to be cleaned, her seals need to be checked and lubricated, and care must be taken not to lose the little giggler weight because if you do, all is lost.
Several times a week, I take Cooker out of the bottom cabinet, say, “Hi there beautiful”, rinse her off, rub her down, and load her up with a bit of water, potatoes, beets, squash, or whatever, that I need cooked in a hurry. I slide her onto the stove, lock down her top, and turn the gas burner on high. In no time she starts to hiss and spit, her way of showing delight in doing what she was created to do. But sometimes Cooker gets cranky and refuses to snap into pressure mode. To get her back into the mood, I cajole her, ask her what’s wrong, shake her a little, tweak her relief valve a bit, and turn up the heat. This combination brings her around every time. When she’s happy, I’m happy.
So there you have it you tech gurus. We don’t need to wait for no stinkin’ smart computers. We are pleasantly interacting with all kinds of things that have absolutely no brains and end our encounters feeling oddly, fulfilled.
C 2013 Michael Krozer
Here are some lessons from my furry friend worth emulating. She has the uncanny gift of knowing what to do and when to do it in order to get the humans in her life to give her what she needs. No small feat for a half-wild outdoor cat. She learned well from her father who was the supreme master of the following strategies.
FIRST, look confident. Look like you deserve what you are going to ask for. If you appear unsure, the “giver” will doubt your worthiness and deny you.
TWO, always be punctual. Make sure that you are around if and when the goodies are being offered. How many times has we missed an opportunity because our face was not there to be seen?
THIRD, develop a good “poor me” expression that you can use strategically to get something extra. If done right, this tactic will not show weakness. Your goal is to set up a “sympathy” response in the giver.
FORTH, be clever. Remember what works and what doesn’t, and what tactic you used and when.
FIFTH, always have more than one benefactor. Just don’t make this obvious , especially to your carefully cultivated, primary benefactor. For example, it is okay to have a second job, just keep this private.
C 2013 Michael Krozer
It is worth remembering that Nature is neither good nor bad, harsh nor kind, deterministic nor capricious. Nature just is. For example, instead of becoming a beautiful butterfly, this caterpillar has become a host to the larva feeding off its body fluids. Is it right to deny the parasites life in favor of the butterfly? Gaia, the spirit of the earth according to some, does not see life or death, dwell on something beautiful, or rail against the horrible.
Destruction and renewal are exactly the same forces. But humans have come to shun the former and rely on the latter, building a civilization dependent upon the notion of stability and continuity in Nature. This is a fundamental error that we are paying the price for.
Considering recent calamitous events, it would seem as though human civilization is under attack: Earthquakes, forest fires, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, and excessive heat. Human civilization can no longer be adaptive to these forces. We are planted where we are, sucking resources to support our growth despite the shifting natural environment around us. This creates a shifting social environment of civil unrest, poverty and war. Over time, the host of the present in this world will be destroyed to feed the renewal of something else. Archaeological, paleontological, and geological records prove this.
While it may be argued that human understanding and technology have never been more advanced, what we have learned so far is how formidable the challenge to stay the current course is and will continue to be.
C 2012 Michael Krozer
Pure blue sky,
Perfection to some.
But I’ll take the clouds,
Their mystery and world unseen.
Between heaven and earth,
There stands a landscape of majesty.
Higher than any earthly mountain,
Scalable only by those with wings.
Massive and bold and powerful is this landscape.
Created by air, and vanishing into air.
C 2012 Michael Krozer
The beach is a physical place of course, but it is also a great metaphor, as in ‘forever changing’. And the things you typically find on the beach are from someplace else. Remnants of things, and if once alive, are no longer. This adds to the mystery of the place… ‘How did it get here?’… ‘Where has it been?’
Take the shell pictured above for instance, the common hard clam, M. mercenaria L, found along the east coast of the United States. Nothing much to look at until you look a bit closer. This shell displays the history of a long and successful life of 10 to 12 years, a life that prevailed against formidable odds. Look at the blue tip of the shell for the outline of the tiny shell of its first years. Subsequent ridges mark its development into an adult.
We humans also carry the markings of life. Photographers love to photograph old, weathered faces because they have ‘character’. However, we also spend a lot of time and money hiding what could be our finest achievement, living a full life filled with experience, learning, and hopefully wisdom. A youthful look with the implication of vibrant health is indeed attractive. But we should never forget to look a bit closer and develop a deep respect those who have moved past this ideal.
C 2012 Michael Krozer
They are everywhere, especially in the Spring which in itself signals the start of another cycle of life.
Flowers are associated with new birth and rebirth. Think of the flowers offered as gifts to the recently deceased. Is this tradition, and the comfort people take by practicing it, an acknowledgement of rebirth into the spiritual realm?
Flowers are also given on special occasions…a first date, an anniversary, Mother’s Day, in forgiveness for some marital dispute, or to send a message. This last one is interesting. Back in the Victorian era when such things were practiced and known, lovers would exchange bouquets of flowers which looked nice and pretty on the bed table. However, each flower had a meaning and the message in the bouquet might be read as, ‘I love you always and need to see you now. We must not give up. But beware.’ For example, Red Rose (passionate love), Apple Blossom (promise), Hydrangea (perseverance), Rhododendron (beware). Woe to the unsuspecting or uneducated victim of the pending infidelity. It was also possible to mix in some decoy flowers to put the significant other off the scent, so to speak.
Flowers are also the glorious celebration of fertility. A plant puts a lot of energy into creating its blooms, and a lot of other species depend on the outcome. For example, bees collect the nectar and animals, including humans, eat the fruit and seeds. Speaking of humans, many put a lot of energy into creating a bloom of sorts…cosmetics, acquiring the latest Spring fashion or the “in” car, and being seen in the right places. This puts our behavior in close alignment with that of plants which maybe should not be so unexpected after all.
C 2012 Michael Krozer
A market, as defined for the purposes of this article, is a placed where “things” are made available for trade. I use the word “things” so as to be all inclusive, encompassing both material and intellectual manifestations. Markets can also be physical or virtual (cyberspace) places. Transactions could involve the exchange of olives in a crate for hard cash, the electronic exchange of monetary instruments or the simple agreement between people to meet for a coffee.
Every society creates markets and there is a market for anything you can think of. Some markets are governed by rules, some are not. Markets that have rules are generally preferable to those that do not. This is because rules reduce risk and promote an expectation of behavior from your trading partner. Trust is good, but rules and the authority of law provide stability. Not behaving properly can get you kicked out of the market.
Curiously, the value of a material or intellectual good is always reflected in terms of something else. A pound of beans is worth three pounds of salt or $1.29. We barter for everything and don’t even realize it. When you give someone cash for something, you are bartering your effort for that thing. Cash is just a convenient measure of value earned somewhere else, and amazingly, nearly universally accepted for trade. Lumps of gold, pieces of ivory or goats are also in use but they are high maintenance and don’t fit well into your wallet, pocket or purse.
The financial and commodities markets are amazing human creations and occupy the minds of many people who create or use sophisticated tools and methods to predict the direction of value. But even world renowned investment banks bob up and down with the squiggly lines on the charts, one most recently reporting a $2 billion trading loss. It’s like trying to figure out which way the gold fish will swim next when the fish doesn’t even know the instant before it turns.
Markets take on a life of their own so much so that you have ask, ‘Is the market driven by outside events, or does it drive outside events?’ Watch the behavior of any stock market and the answer will become clear.
C 2012 Michael Krozer
Nature is truly amazing, and with careful observation, reveals many truths about our own lives. We humans are creatures with both visible and hidden attributes. What the world sees is how we physically look…our stature, clothing, jewelry, speech, attitude, and so forth. I liken this to the part of a tree that is above the ground. It changes with the seasons, grows, flowers, and provides sanctuary for other living creatures, much like we do.
Hidden from what we see is a web of even greater complexity. Even though a tree is stationary, it is constantly expanding its territory, exploring, if you will. The activity below ground is far greater than what is happening above. The floor of a forest that you walk on is actually a living network of connectivity. And the tree that you see is basically a solar sail that gathers the sunlight needed to power growth.
We exist exactly the same way. Our veins, arteries and nerves closely resemble a tree’s root system. We also have a hidden, living network of personal relationships. But instead of roots, we have devices like computers and telephones that help us connect, share ideas, and provide support to one another.
There is amazing similarity among all life on Earth. If you dig a little, you’ll find it.
c 2012 Michael Krozer
Maybe you have had a bad day. Maybe you faced emotionally charged issues or made a mistake that was embarrassing to you. Maybe you didn’t behave properly in a social situation, or you have a deadline looming. Three hours after you close your eyes to sleep, you are wide awake staring off into the darkness, your mind racing, anxiety building. Why?
In my opinion, it is because you believe there is nothing you can do about it at that moment. Since there is no action that you can take, the feeling of helplessness and delay amplifies your anxiety. So what to do? Do something useful that is fitting for the situation you are in. Always have a note pad and pen handy by your bed that you can find and write on. If something is troubling you, make a list of things you need to do tomorrow that will help solve your problem. Relax and sketch out some ideas that may come to you that never occurred to you during the day. Make notes about the thing that is troubling you summarized in just few words. Don’t be judgmental at this moment; just let your thoughts flow.
It is precisely because your mind is not distracted at night that it looks inside itself and starts spewing out all sorts of things. This can become a very creative time if you can train yourself to channel your mind’s nighttime energy. With practice, this can be done, and you may actually start to look forward to the private, uninterrupted time with your inner being that daytime distractions are now preventing.
c 2012 Michael Krozer