Saturday, March 16, 2013

Geologic Significance?

Back in 2004 I ran across a piece of fitted canvas. So I considered a mural, based on a quote from my high school’s graduation speech. My adviser who was also my bio and geology teacher, had asked us what our mark would be in geologic time. When I began sketching on the canvas I was a freshman in college, in my first semester. So I made up a list of great people, did a few layers of strata on the top of the canvas, then a multitude of recognizable faces, and more strata on the bottom. In the middle, at the base, was the quote, asking what will be your role in geologic time.

After sketching in all the faces and strata the canvas disappeared. And just in time, too. That second semester was much more difficult, with me struggling to maintain my GPA. I’ll occasionally wonder what happened to it. Recently I decided to re-sketch the idea, having long since lost or thrown out the original sketches. The main cartoon looks like this:

  Just, so bored this weekend.

Here’s an example of it up-close:

Longtime readers will recognize the comic format.

One major difference between now and 2004 is that I’ve a much better understanding of world history. Also I decided quite consciously to split in 50/50 women and men, since that reflects humanity. Also there are more non-whites. Teaching world history I’ve a more well-rounded view of humanity.

In case anyone’s curious, here are the 60 men and 60 women I picked. They are not who I think are best, or most honorable, or even most impacting. It’s just supposed to be a representative sample. There is a bias, however, towards the generally inspirational and uplifting, with a few tragedies thrown in. (But no Hitlers, Maos, or Pol Pots.) I highly recommend looking them up, and learning about their various fascinating lives and accomplishments. I’ve given ‘nationalities’ based on current geography (i.e. ‘Turkish’ rather than ‘Ottoman’). And who knows? Maybe I’ll still paint that mural someday.

1.      Adam Smith. Scottish economist, d. 1790
2.      Ada Lovelace. English mathematician, d. 1852
3.      Toussaint Louverture. Haitian revolutionary, d. 1803
4.      Queen Nzinga. Angolan monarch, d. 1663
5.      Thomas Jefferson. American president, d. 1826
6.      Sei Shonagon. Japanese author, d. 1017
7.      Jorge Luis Borges. Argentinian author, d. 1986
8.      Rachel Carson. American biologist, d. 1964
9.      Kwame Nkrumah. Ghanaian politician, d. 1972
10.  Elizabeth Blackwell. English/American physician, d. 1910
11.  Rumi. Iranian poet, d. 1273
12.  Ban Zhao. Chinese author, d. 116
13.  Suleiman I. Turkish monarch, d. 1566
14.  Lise Meitner. Austrian/Swedish physicist, d. 1968
15.  Porfirio Diaz. Mexican revolutionary, d. 1915
16.  Julia Morgan. American architect, d. 1957
17.  Moses Maimonides. Spanish philosopher, d. 1204
18.  Meerabai. Indian mystic poet, d. 1547
19.  Ernest Shackleton. English/Irish explorer, d. 1922
20.  Roma Mitchell. Australian jurist, d. 2000
21.  Mongkut. Thai monarch, d. 1868
22.  Maria Montessori. Italian educator, d. 1952
23.  Hone Heke. New Zealand Maori revolutionary, d. 1850
24.  Fatima Al-Fihri. Tunisian/Moroccan educator, d. 880
25.  Ahmes. Egyptian scribe, d. c. 1650 BCE
26.  Emma Goldman. Lithuanian activist, d. 1940
27.  Theodore Herzl. Hungarian journalist, d. 1904
28.  Hildegard. German polymath, d. 1179
29.  Sultan Agung. Indonesian monarch, d. 1646
30.  Tarquina Molza. Italian polymath, d. 1617
31.  Chuang Tzu. Chinese philosopher, d. 286
32.  Enheduanna. Iraqi author, d. 2250BCE
33.  Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora. Mexican polymath, d. 1700
34.  Gabriela Mistral. Chilean poet, d. 1957
35.  Tecumseh. American Shawnee revolutionary, d. 1813
36.  Marie Antoinette. French monarch, d. 1793
37.  Sun Yat-sen. Chinese revolutionary, d. 1925
38.  Mary Kingsley. English explorer, d. 1900
39.  Ludwig van Beethoven. German composer, d. 1827
40.  Juana Ines de la Cruz. Mexican poet, d. 1695
41.  Raphael. Italian painter, d. 1520
42.  Christine de Pizan. Italian/French author, d. 1434
43.  Ibn Battuta. Morrocan explorer, d. 1377
44.  Jane Addams. American reformer, d. 1935
45.  Luo Guanzhong. Chinese author, d. 1400
46.  Emmeline Pankhurst, British activist, d. 1928
47.  Siddhartha Gautama. Indian prophet, d. 483 BCE
48.  Maria Agnesi. Italian mathematician, d. 1799
49.  Menelik II. Ethiopian monarch, d. 1913
50.  Anna Komnene. Turkish/Greek polymath, d. 1153
51.  Claudius Ptolemy. Greek/Egyptian astronomer, d. 168
52.  Diane Fossey. American anthropologist, d. 1985
53.  Sigmund Freud. Austrian psychologist, d. 1939
54.  Tomoe Gozen. Japanese warrior, d. 1247
55.  Cicero. Italian statesman, d. 43 BCE
56.  Sacajawea. American Shoshone explorer, d. 1812
57.  Jesus of Nazareth. Palestinian prophet, d. 33
58.  Helena Rubinstein. Polish/American tycoon, d. 1965
59.  Omar Khayyam. Iranian polymath, d. 1131
60.  Cleopatra. Egyptian monarch, d. 30 BCE
61.  Thomas More. English statesman, d. 1535
62.  Liliuokalani. Hawaiian monarch, d. 1917
63.  Alan Turing. English mathematician, d. 1954
64.  Hypatia. Greek/Egyptian polymath, d. 415
65.  Groucho Marx. American entertainer, d. 1977
66.  Hedy Lamarr. Austrian/American entertainer, d. 2000
67.  Karl Marx. German philosopher, d. 1883
68.  Catherine II. Russian monarch, d. 1796
69.  Brahmagupta. Indian mathematician, d. 668
70.  Clara Driscoll. American designer, d. 1944
71.  John Maynard Keynes. English economist, d. 1946
72.  Indira Gandhi. Indian politician, d. 1984
73.  Imhotep. Egyptian polymath, d. c. 2600 BCE
74.  Ida Tarbell. American journalist, d. 1944
75.  Confucius. Chinese scholar, d. 479 BCE
76.  Hester Stanhope. English archaeologist, d. 1839
77.  Andrei Sakharov. Russian activist, d. 1989
78.  Mary Cassatt. American painter, d. 1926
79.  Kautilya. Indian statesman, d. 283 BCE
80.  Wangari Maathai. Kenyan environmentalist, d. 2011
81.  Harvey Milk. American activist, d. 1978
82.  Mary Wollstonecraft. English author, d. 1797
83.  Basawan. Indian painter, d. c. 1600
84.  Ci Xi. Chinese Empress, d. 1908
85.  Hans Christian Oersted. Danish scientist, d. 1851
86.  Ella Fitzgerald. American entertainer, d. 1996
87.  Babur. Uzbek/Indian monarch, d. 1530
88.  Rosa Parks. American activist, d. 2005
89.  Che Guevara. Argentinian revolutionary, d. 1967
90.  George Eliot. English author, d. 1880
91.  Bartolome de las Casas. Spanish historian, d. 1566
92.  Annie Oakley. American entertainer, d. 1926
93.  Zumbi. Brazilian monarch, d. 1695
94.  Georgia O’Keefe. American painter, d. 1986
95.  Al-Zahrawi. Spanish physician, d. 1013
96.  Martha Graham. American dancer, d. 1991
97.  Moliere. French dramatist, d. 1673
98.  Eva Peron. Argentinian politician, d. 1952
99.  Jim Thorpe. American athelete, d. 1953
100.                      Elizabeth I. English monarch, d. 1603
101.                      Takenouchi Hisamori. Japanese athlete, d. c. 1550?
102.                      Sappho. Greek poet, d. c. 570 BCE
103.                      Zhang Heng. Chinese polymath, d. 139
104.                      Margaret Sanger, American activist, d. 1966
105.                      Socrates. Greek philosopher, d. 399 BCE
106.                      Hannah Arendt. German/American academic, d. 1975
107.                      Muhammad (represented by calligraphy). Saudi Arabian prophet, d. 632
108.                      Joan of Arc. French soldier, d. 1431
109.                      Michael Severtus. Spanish polymath, d. 1553
110.                      Marie Currie. Polish scientist, d. 1934
111.                      Ralph Waldo Emerson. American philosopher, d. 1882
112.                      Virginia Woolf. English author, d. 1941
113.                      Alfred Russel Wallace. English biologist, d. 1913
114.                      Anna Politkovskaya. Russian journalist, d. 2006
115.                      Wole Soyinka. Nigerian author, b. 1934 –
116.                      Helen Gurley Brown. American author, d. 2012
117.                      Pierre Goudiaby Atepa. Senegalese architect, b. 1947 –
118.                      Tu Youyou. Chinese physician, b. 1930 –
119.                      Pele. Brazilian soccer player, b. 1940 –
120.                      Valentina Tereshkova. Russian astronaut, b. 1937 – 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Two Years Ago Max Called Universal Management

 Max:  The universe is fucked up lately.
 Ross:  Call the toll free repair number.
 Max:  File a bug report
 Ross:  Ask for the manager.
 Max:  Dial or say "0" for an operator.
 Ross:  I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. Did you say 'hero'?
 If so press 1.
 Ross:  Hello, Universal Manager speaking. What would you like to talk about?
 Please note this call may be recorded for quality purposes.
 Max:  Yeah I think there's something wrong with my universe.
 Ross:  I see. Now, can you tell me so I can handle the right sort of claim - is your universe a solipsistic one,    or is existence granted for other entities?
Max:  Well I can't say for sure.  Hang on... there is a loud thump and 'thud' sound, followed by a long silence.  now he sounds groggy Uhh... I was unconscious for a while there.  Did you still exist?
Ross:  Yes, I'm still on the line. So we'll go ahead and mark your case as 'General'. Now, I must let you know, if your universe is being experienced by others it may mean that alterations on your behalf will affect the lives and well-being of others. What, specifically, is wrong with your universe?
 Max:  Well it just... I'm not sure.  I mean... good things keep happening to bad people, and vice-versa, and, there are republicans all over the place.  And I have this persistent rash... I don't know, it just, I guess it's just not really what I was expecting?
Ross: I want to make sure I heard you correctly, sir. Did you say 'republicans all over the place'?
 Max:  Yeah that's right.  Everywhere, even.  Central park, the tee-vee.  Congress.  I saw one in a Starbucks yesterday.  Can you believe that?
 Ross: Sir, I'm going to have to transfer you to another department. Will you hold?
 Max:  Okay, sure.
 Ross:  Muzak rendition of 'Take Five'
 Max:  sighs, clears throat
 Ross:  Sorry to keep you waiting. My name is Satan. I hear you'd like to report a breach in Hell's security.
 Max:  I beg your pardon?
 Ross:  Your call was transferred to us from Universal Management on the grounds that you reported  Republicans. If there are Republicans in your Universe then we need to clear this up right away.
 Max:  Oh!  Well.  Yes, there are quite a lot of them.
 Ross:  There was a breach a little while ago, according to our sensors. Do you know, off-hand, if there is such a thing as 'entropy' in your universe?
 Max:  Oh, entropy?  Why of course, it's even more abundant than republicans!  We talk about it at meals and conferences.  Very controversial, entropy.
 Ross:  That confirms it then. 'Entropy' is a way of ensuring that if Republicans do get loose they'll be taken care of in the Universe in question. I suspect a decent knowledge of the concept occurred just about simultaneously with when Republicans first appeared. Yes...Good news, sir. I've got a lock on your case and my theory is confirmed. 'Entropy' was defined in 1865, not coincidentally when your Republicans showed up. As that's the case the problem should clear itself up shortly.
 Max:  How shortly?  I mean, you Universe Management folks, I never know if "shortly" means a few minutes or a few aeons!
Ross:  We can, in special circumstances, intervene in a direct fashion, a sort of 'rush order', if you think that's preferable to life with Republicans. In that case you'll have to choose between a few different options
Max:  I'd like to hear them.
Ross:  Well there are broad changes, or target-specific changes. In the broad we can do something like a solar explosion, rogue black hole, or, the ultimate kill switch, popping the vacuum of space. Targeted approaches may be more familiar, such as asteroids, and supervolcanoes.
 Max:  Those all sound rather...messy.  No offense.
Ross: the targeted approach scheme, although this is higher-end, we can use species-specific methods, such as genetic manipulations, superbugs, and habitat damage.
Max:  Are republicans a different species?  I suppose it would make sense.
Ross:  Technically they aren't a 'species' at all, since they aren't a part of your Universe's evolutionary heritage, and are, point of fact, escapees from Hell. Yet since this outbreak occurred many generations ago there is the consideration that they've interbred with the human species. I wish to clarify that the targeted approaches will affect both Republicans and humans.
Max:  So let me get this straight... they're literally from Hell, and you guys let them out of there, and now they're all up in our gene pool?  Is this universe still under warranty?
Ross:  We did not 'let them out' - there was a breach in security. This is why all of our universes come equipped with a standard entropy package. Warranty is void if entropy is initiated.
Max:  Void??  Well... who initiated it?
Ross:  Entropy is initiated with the automatic detection of Republicans. The universe no longer functions as intended and as such the entropy is triggered immediately.
Max:  Do we get a refund?
 Ross:  Everyone gets a refund, sir. The question is merely where you'll collect it: here, or up above.
Max:  all-suffering sigh Well... I suppose we ought to just let entropy run its course.  What was your name again, sir?  Do I have a case number in case the republicans get worse?
Ross:  My name is Satan. Your case is a number beyond human comprehension, due to an inconceivably high number of calls. We have you on file. You can call this number direct. We are always here to serve you.
Max:  sounding perturbed but accepting All right then.  You bet I'll call if it gets worse!
 Ross:  Is there anything else I can help you with today sir?
 Max:  No, that'll be all I guess.
 Ross:  Thank you. Have a nice life. hangs up

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Fortunate Fellow

By July 4 of this year I will have seen:

10 National Parks

King’s Canyon
U.S. Virgin Islands
Redwoods *
Mesa Verde *
Yosemite *

*Also a UNESCO site

11 Wonders of the World:

The Panama Canal
Olympia (Site of the Statue of Zeus)*
Bodrum (Site of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus)
The Golden Gate Bridge
The Empire State Building
Ephesus (Site of the Temple of Artemis)
The Coliseum*
Leaning Tower of Pisa*
Aya Sofya*
Aurora Borealis

* Also a UNESCO site

36 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The Statue of Liberty
Tower of London
Kyoto Temples
Nara Temples
Vatican City
Angkor Wat
Historic Florence
Historic Naples
Pompeii and Herculaneum
Independence Hall
The Giant’s Causeway
Historic Edinburgh
Historic Liverpool
Blenheim Palace
Historic Bath
Historic San Juan
Panama Viejo

I've also been to Costa Rica and Singapore, besides the countries which provided the above locales.

This June I'm stepping out of the States for the first time since living abroad in 2011. Going to see San Juan, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Panama City, Panama. We'll be returning on the third of July. As such the italicized items above are the sites to be seen.

Still, that leaves quite a lot. 49 National Parks to go. 17 Wonders of the World. A host of UNESCO sites from Petra to Uluru to the Galapagos (not that I intend to see all of them, but at least all of the U.S. ones - 15 to go).

Five Stories:

Having eventually gotten a bus out of Izmir, where I was trapped at the station from 10 to 3 in the morning, I initially crashed upon arrival at my hostel in Bodrum. The next day I first went to go see the underwater archaeological museum, housed in a castle from the Crusades. After this I wandered the winding streets of the Mediterranean sea-side town. I got lunch - a chicken breast from an exasperated server - and read at a local cafe. Then I slowly followed my map to the column clear-cut that once was the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Not knowing what else to do, I sat upon a column, and had a Turkish mother photograph me.

* * *

A day trip, usually, from Kyoto I decided to spend two nights in Nara, exploring the sites. Nara has a climate not unlike the Sierra Nevadas in California, full of evergreens, picturesque slopes, and higher altitude air. I wasn't entirely sure why the Kasuga Taisha shrine was famous, but all the sites were in easy walking distance of each other. There I met a Japanese man who had some serious photography equipment. After walking around the temple, like a tourist, sort of idly gazing at the painted walls and turning aspen trees, I asked the photographer to take a photo with my camera - an old manual Canon, to which he happily complied, and complimented me on not switching to digital. Nowadays I always have to look for either serious photographers or older people to take my photo when I have my camera bag, seen in the photo.

* * *

Two years after I learned to rock climb I went to high school in Colorado. There I was re-acquainted with a fellow, who was at that time teaching U.S. History, but whom I had known as a rock-climbing instructor at Pinnacles National Monument (now Park). It was a school camping trip that took me there. I was proud to have borrowed my mom's tent, with poles, and been able to set it up. I especially remember an occasion, as the Spring light faded to dusk and twilight, sitting around a campfire, doing a comedy show. We called our bit the Psychologist Sketch, and I was a patient so tedious the psychologist jumped out the window. The first thing I improvised on the couch was "It all began when I was five. The mass murders, anyway..." These were the first real comedy lines I ever created. I have no idea who took this shot, but a good guess is my English teacher.

* * *

It was March break, and I had a month off from Leeds. My classes were going well. I was studying David Hume, the Peloponnesian War, Cultural Geography and Religious Philosophy. My sister was working in Ireland, living in Dublin, and came to visit. We made our way north, taking a bus through the early Spring blizzard to Scotland. Our family had history there, and growing up  in the Bay Area we'd frequently visited our grandparents in Inverness, California - and wanted to see its namesake. In our first stop of Edinburgh my sister snapped this without my knowledge, of me looking out at the Firth of Forth.

* * *

I was in bed, in college, when I heard a knocking at my door. A few scattered footfalls could be heard in the hall, and I rose to see. People, not many, were walking downstairs, quietly, and outside. I watched them go, and after dressing joined them. Outside our dorm, on the soccer field, people were laying on blankets and looking up at the clear, starry Vermont sky - blurred with pastel oceanic hues of the aurora. We lay, gazing at the shifting ribbons of light through the predawn sky, not speaking.