A Return to Pliocene Conditions

Savanna Lands (Modified by ArcheanWeb) — Original Credit: By Vincent Mugaba — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Contemplating history is necessarily relative to your frame of reference. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and global average temperatures are the highest in recorded history — a time frame covering the last 5,000 years. But 5,000 years represents a mere 0.0001% of Earth’s history. All of human history is a drop in the bucket of our planet’s history. Fortunately, we only have to gaze back in time about three million years to find a period when Earth was warmer and atmospheric CO2 levels were about the same as today. That time was the middle Pliocene.

The Pliocene age spans a…

Negative Expanses Add the Viewer’s Imagination as a Dimension

Road to Buddha’s Farm by WM House (Author)

The human mind works beyond the level of consciousness, providing a mechanism of filling gaps in our perceptions, making the pieces into a whole. The expansive use of negative space in visual art opens the door for the mind to do what it does best and exercise its innate creativity. Japanese ink washes are known for their use of negative space.

The image below is an example of a work by the 16th-century Japanese master Hasegawa Tōhaku. Note the delicate use of black ink washes that fade into the background mist of pale negative space.

A Beginner’s Journey into Crypto Art

Study of Leda — Original Credit: By Leonardo da Vinci -Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Think of crypto art as the end of a long process of human evolution. Prehistoric humans first saw art in their minds, perhaps through dreams or maybe in conscious visions. Eventually, they started crafting what they saw in their minds as small bone, rock, and wood sculptures. Later they transferred mental images onto cave walls with their fingers rubbing rudimentary mixes of colored pigments together in the outlines of animals and such. In that instant, analog painting was invented. …

So, you received the vaccine. But are you really vaccinated?

The Coveted Prize — Credit: Arne Müseler / www.arne-mueseler.com, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98215920

COVID has proven to be a pain in the butt for many and deadly for others. An entire planet is looking for relief. Tensions in richer countries are easing as a series of vaccines become available to the public, and many people are looking forward to receiving the vaccine and having their lives return to normal. But the post-COVID world may throw challenges at us that we don’t expect. Some could find themselves staring down the barrel of a question, “But are you really vaccinated?”

Let’s imagine that you have weathered the storm, visited your local pharmacy or drive-through site…

The Emergence of Human Creativity

The Callanish Stones by William House

Art is an inherent foundation of the human experience. Communication through art stretches back in time to the emergence of consciousness in our primitive ancestors as they painted by firelight on the walls of dark caverns. Art communicates at conscious and unconscious levels, beyond the realm of language and logic. It helps the human psyche resolve the tension between existence and non-existence. Of course, art is not confined to only imagery. Music, writing, dance, architecture, and more are forms of art, telling stories about what it means to be a human being.

The Neolithic stone circles of the British Isles…

The Land of 20,000 Earthquakes

Mount Keilir, Iceland (Modified by ArcheanWeb) — Original Credit: Photo by Sigurdur Fjalar Jonsson on Unsplash

Iceland made the news last week with 20,000 earthquakes in 10 days. A whopping 3,100 of them occurred in one forty-eight-hour period. Granted, most of them were tremors instead of quakes, but 63 of the 3,100 were magnitude 3 or higher. Still, 20,000 is a lot, and given Iceland’s propensity for volcanic activity, perhaps the latest shaking gives pause for concern. Historically volcanic eruptions are often preceded by increased seismic activity, and the general concern around imminent surface volcanic activity in Iceland seems reasonable. After all, the country positions itself as the land of ice and fire.

Understanding Iceland requires…

Popular religion sets the stage for political psychosis

El entierro del señor de Orgaz, By El Greco (Partial with Modifications) — Unknown photographer, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

I grew up attending a Southern Baptist church, so I am somewhat familiar with the culture of evangelical belief. Only when I was older would I come to understand that my particular church was relatively liberal by most Southern Baptist standards. The pastor never drank poison or cuddled with venomous snakes. Nor did we speak in tongues or lay hands on people to heal them in place of proper medical treatment. We discussed science and evolution in civil discourse, and who you voted for was a private matter, not a test of your faith. …

A Historically Racist Stereotype

Graphic of crowd from Clipart-Library.com

Numerous incidents of blackface imagery and imitation have appeared in daily news articles over the past several years. High-level politicians, celebrities, and average citizens were caught up in the ensuing controversies. Each incident elicited a predictable range of responses ranging from indignation to confusion. For those not familiar with the racially-charged history of blackface displays, indignation at these incidents may seem to be an overreaction. Failure to understand the history of blackface lets people mistake this racial stereotyping for light humor or parody.

The origins of blackface stretch back to the 1830s when minstrel shows became a popular entertainment form…

Paving the way for the Jim Crow Laws

The Courthouse Lawn, Halifax, North Carolina (Modified by ArcheanWeb) — Original Credit: By John Vachon for U.S. Farm Security Administration — Library of Congress[1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Those listening carefully in the runup to the January 6, 2021, insurrection may have heard Senator Ted Cruz mention the Hayes-Tilden Compromise as a model for challenging the vote of the American people. He presented his views in an oleaginous and corrosive attack on our democratic process, saying:

“The most direct precedent on this question arose in 1877, following serious allegations of fraud and illegal conduct in the Hayes-Tilden presidential race. Specifically, the elections in three states-Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina-were alleged to have been conducted illegally.

“In 1877, Congress did not ignore those allegations, nor did the media simply…

Amplifying Short Term Pain

Seafloor Methane Seep (Modified by ArcheanWeb) — Original Credit: By Authors of the study: Andrew R. Thurber, Sarah Seabrook and Rory M. Welsh , CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Steadily and incrementally, heat is building in Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. Our atmosphere is like a warm duvet wrapped around a sparkling blue gem, hanging in the cold darkness of space. In this duvet, the feathers are greenhouse gas molecules, trapping and retaining heat and keeping the planet warm. We tend to focus on carbon dioxide (CO2) as the primary agent of global warming, but methane (CH4) is also a significant player on the climate change stage. Methane is colorless, odorless, and invisible to the naked eye, but it is a super greenhouse gas.

Understanding its significance requires some knowledge…

William House

Exploring relationships between people and our planet — Stories and articles promoting science, environmental awareness, and insights into the human condition.

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