"Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach, it points." ~D.T. Suzuki

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Right Before Your Eyes

Right Before Your Eyes
A Wise Old Man
Word spread across the countryside
about the wise Holy Man
who lived in a small house atop the mountain. 

A man from the village decided

to make the long and difficult journey
to visit him. 
When he arrived at the house,
he saw an old servant inside
who greeted him at the door.

"I would like to see the wise Holy Man,"
he said to the servant.

The servant smiled and led him inside. 
As they walked through the house,
the man from the village
looked eagerly around the house,
anticipating his encounter
with the Holy Man. 
Before he knew it, 
he had been led to the back door
and escorted outside.

He stopped and turned to the servant,
"But I want to see the Holy Man!"
"You already have," said the old man.

"Everyone you may meet in life,

even if they appear plain and insignificant... see each of them as a wise Holy Man.

"If you do this, then 

whatever problem you brought here today will be solved." 
© 2014 MU-Peter Shimon

Friday, February 14, 2014

Romance with the Red Queen

and by romance I mean sex...

with the 
Red Queen
'Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.'
The Red Queen - Through the Looking-Glass - Lewis Carroll 
The Red Queen Hypothesis,
also referred to as
The Red Queen's Race or The Red Queen Effect,
is an evolutionary hypothesis which proposes that organisms must constantly adapt, evolve, and proliferate not merely to gain reproductive advantage, but also simply to survive while pitted against ever-evolving opposing organisms in an ever-changing environment.

The Red Queen, like The Struggle for Life, points to constant change as the only permanent condition.
appears to provide added variability
from some of the conditions
the parents were living in.
Epigenetic changes the DNA
of the individual in a subtle way.
While it doesn't change
the DNA sequence,
it has, by methylationchanged 
how these genes become expressed
It seems at least some of these changes can be passed on
through from the parents DNA
to the next generations of offspring.

What Does This Have To Do With Sex?

Creatures could just reproduce asexually. Bacteria have been "doing it" that way for a very long and by count, a successful time. Basically cloning themselves, with mutations and methylations providing the necessary adaptations. This appears to work extremely well for some beings, single celled entities as an abundant example, but some life forms may have succeeded with, what was for them, well, let's just say... a better way.

Very Close Friends... With Benefits
Sex provides variability.
It does this simply by
making the offspring unique. 
Varied offspring may be better adapted to current conditions. This can also confer a faster response to natural selection. 

Sex Is Better When...
In the case of  asexuals, (offspring produced by inheriting the DNA of their single parent), any parasites adapted to infect the parent should also be capable of infecting the offspring.

Sex allows parents to combine and recombine DNA thus producing offspring that are diverse and genetically different from either one of their parents. Parasites or diseases that have adapted to infect one generation may have difficulty infecting the next. So sex is a pretty good evolutionary adaptation.

Sexual Reproduction & Genetic Variability (PBS)
There are even business applications to this... ahem... proposition
can be of great profit to business.

shouldn't be a neglected science
when it comes to economics.

"Applied to a business context, the Red Queen can be seen as a contest in which each firm’s performance depends on the firm’s matching or exceeding the actions of rivals. In these contests, performance increases gained by one firm as a result of innovative actions tend to lead to a performance decrease in other firms. The only way rival firms in such competitive races can maintain their performance relative to others is by taking actions of their own. Each firm is forced by the others in an industry to participate in continuous and escalating actions and development that are such that all the firms end up racing as fast as they can just to standstill relative to competitors. This self-escalating, coevolving system of Red Queen competition has been empirically shown to affect founding rates(Barnett & Sorenson, 2002), failure rates (Barnett &Hansen, 1996), and competitiveness (Barnett &McKendrick, 2004). Indeed, Baumol (2004) suggested that the Red Queen effect is the most powerful mechanism driving economic development in capitalistic society."

Academy of Management Journal 2008,
Vol. 51, No. 1, 61–80.
You know, we're not getting anywhere like this!
Baby, you sure we're doing it the right way?
© 2014 MU-Peter Shimon

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Agnostic Science

Agnostic Science

‘I cannot believe in a God
who wants to be
praised all the time.’
Mark Twain
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.
Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.
Arthur Conan Doyle
Science is Agnostic

I am a scientist. What I use to discern things is the scientific method for arriving at facts and testable theories that make sense of these facts. As a guide, The Carl Sagan Baloney Toolkit is very handy in this regard.

I'm also a zen buddhist. It's not a religion.
There is no god to be worshiped. Nor is there a doctrine or scripture. Zen is a way of life.

As to the argument of if there is a god, that is between Theists and Atheists, I am part of neither camp. I neither believe nor disbelieve in the proposition.

I'm an Agnostic on this question.

"The scientist is not a person
 who gives the right answers, 
he is one who asks the right questions."
Claude Lévi-Strauss
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.
It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
Mark Twain
is preferable to error;
and he is less remote from the truth
who believes nothing
than he who believes what is wrong." 
Thomas Jefferson
Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own.
You may both be wrong. 
A Damn Good Argument
You may still both be wrong. 

Here's why I'm an agnostic. And it is because of the rigor of science that I have come to this conclusion. I won't make many arguments, only one question. Sagan's Toolkit provides one that should be asked.

- "Ask whether the hypothesis can, at least in principle, be falsified (shown to be false by some unambiguous test). In other words, it is testable? Can others duplicate the experiment and get the same result?"

So now, the hypothesis on the existence of god.
A great deal of logic and philosophy and blind faith have gone into these debates from both sides. Both are based on belief. Yes, belief.
Belief in the meaning of  "confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof".

Theists have yet to demonstrate any empirical evidence. But then neither have the Atheists any conclusive proof of the contrary. And while religion is definitely not value-free, many forget that atheists too, are not value-free.

Strictly speaking, there is no data one way or the other. Based on science, that demands facts, the conclusion I come to is agnostism. I border between being a strong or a weak one. I'm open to any empirical proof but haven't seen any yet. Skeptical, I don't think there is one.

"To kill an error is as good a service as,
and sometimes even better than,
the establishing of a new truth or fact."
Charles Darwin
"The question [Do you believe in God?]
has a peculiar structure.
If I say no,
do I mean I'm convinced God doesn't exist,
or do I mean I'm not convinced he does exist? 
Those are two very different questions."
Dr. Arroway in Carl Sagan's Contact

throughout many
ages and cultures,
alchemy was a union of protoscience and spirituality.
Alchemy sought the purification and transmutation of both matter and spirit. Noble intent maybe, but it's not objective science.

"Skeptical scrutiny is the means,
in both science and religion, 
by which deep thoughts
can be winnowed
from deep nonsense."
Carl Sagan
We should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. 
With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit.
Carl Sagan
"The mystery of the beginning of all things
is insoluble by us;
and I for one must be content
to remain an agnostic."
Charles Darwin
© 2014 MU-Peter Shimon

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Koto - Rin'


by Rin'
Sakura Sakura
Sakura Sakura

The Koto
 is considered the national instrument of Japan.
It's history dates back to the 16th century.
it has 13 strings that are strung
over 13 movable bridges
along the 71 inch length of the instrument.
Players may adjust
 the string's pitch before playing.
The use of three finger picks 
serve to pluck the strings. 
 Rin' comes from the English word 'ring'
Chie Arai and Mana Yoshinaga play
koto, sangen, and jushichi-gen,
while Tomoca Nagasu plays biwa and shakuhachi.
All three perform vocals.
Modern Japanese music
using traditional Japanese instruments

The Spirit of Happiness

Lingering (What) wishes (it seeks)
come and go (to encounter)
Just like (beyond) the clouds (hope)
and the wind (becomes perfectly clear)

Deep within the mountains
the creeping stillness wavers
And slowly comes into view
towards the hazy bridge
Beads of dew glisten on the beautiful little bird
That protects the twinkling light called "life"

The restless (Quietly) heartbeats (growing)
burst forth (the legend continues)
The sacred (The tremors) earth (of purity)
lives on (abound and spread)

The call of (Its quiet) the legendary (hum)
Spirit of Happiness (reflects)
[The call of heaven whispers]
Shines (the light) and provides (that keeps)
the answers (connecting to dreams)
[And echoes a glimpse of the drops of mystery]

After their debut in 2003,
Rin' went on to release many singles and albums.

They have performed all over the world.
Songs were used for several anime and movies. 

In 2009, Rin' ceased all activities and disbanded.

Romaji samayoi (nani wo) nozomite (motome)
yukikau (deai yukitaru)
kumoi no (kanata) kaze no (kibou)
gotoku (haruka sumiwatariyuku)

miyama ni shinobiyoru shijima wo yurugashite
oboroge ni kakarishi kasumu hashi he izanau

tama no tsuyu kirameku kiyora naru kotori ga
mamoriyuki matataku inochi to iu tomoshibi

kawaita (shizuni) kodouyo (moete)
wakideyo (tsutae nagaruru)
seinaru (kiyoki) chi ga iki (furue)
zuku (afure shimiwatariyuku)

saezuri (sasara) kikoeru (hibiku)
sakitama (utsushidashitaru)
(yonderu amanohara sasayaite wa)
kagayaki (hikari) toki (kayou) hanateto
(koborete shitataru shinpi kodamasu)
(yume to tsunagari yuku)

© 2014 MU-Peter Shimon