Navigating the Present: Unconventional Wisdom for Modern Times

  • Emergence: A Paradigm Shift in Scientific Thinking

    Emergence: A Paradigm Shift in Scientific Thinking

    The concept of emergence suggests that as systems become more complex, entirely new properties arise that cannot be explained by the behavior of individual components alone. These emergent qualities are irreducible to the underlying elements and their interactions.

  • Capitalism and its Contradictions

    Capitalism and its Contradictions

    Contradictions are inherent to the capitalist system and cannot be resolved within its framework. They can only be temporarily displaced or postponed, but they will ultimately lead to crises and the need for a fundamental transformation of the economic system.

  • Robert Spaemann on Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Robert Spaemann on Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Robert Spaemann (1927–2018) is a German Catholic Philosopher who engaged in his political philosophy with an early critic of the Enlightenment, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. What are the arguments in this discussion?

  • What is Life? We know more, but the miracle deepens.

    What is Life? We know more, but the miracle deepens.

    How do living things maintain such impressive order and uniformity for generations in a universe that is, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, constantly moving towards a state of disorder and chaos? All living things have five features in common: the cell, the gene, evolution by natural selection, life as chemistry, and life as…

  • The Burning Man is drowning

    The Burning Man is drowning

    The event is known around the world: Burning Man. After a two year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Burning Man has returned to the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada for its annual week-long event. Running from August 28th to September 4th, 2023, this year’s Burning Man has seen the largest crowds ever, with…

  • Meaning or Presence?

    Meaning or Presence?

    Based on the historical observation, however, that certain cultures, like our own “modern” culture, for example, have a greater tendency than other cultures to bracket the dimension of presence and its implications, I have come to propose a typology between “meaning cultures” and “presence cultures.”

  • Dia de los Muertos 2022

    Dia de los Muertos 2022

    Oakland in 2022 is a town with many problems, and a very high murder rate (There were 107 murdered people between January 1 and October 30, 2022). Nevertheless, it is also a resilient city, and its diverse communities celebrate their cultures in spite of difficult circumstances. One of those yearly events is the Mexican “Dia…

  • Pyramus and Thisbe

    Pyramus and Thisbe

    Much of our humanity consists of stories that speak of tragedy, misfortune, conflict, deep emotions, or humor. Here is a story that originates from Babylon. The accompanying picture is a wood relief from Dresden, 1656, created by Johann Georg Fischer. Pyramus and Thisbe are lovers who ran into really bad luck. The story forms part of Ovid‘s Metamorphoses.…

  • Future Trends: Surprising Developments before 2030.

    Future Trends: Surprising Developments before 2030.

      Adapted from: Guillen, M. F. (2020). 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything. St. Martin’s Press.   Next Industrial Revolution: Birthplace of the next industrial revolution: Sub-Saharan Africa The reason: 500 million acres of fertile yet undeveloped agricultural land. The total size of Mexico is 500 million acres.…

  • Fibonacci Primes

    Fibonacci Primes

    How do prime numbers intersect with the Fibonacci series? As we know, prime numbers are distributed randomly, which means there is no algorithm that will predict prime numbers: finding them requires enormous computing power. There are many primes in the low range of natural numbers: Between 1 to 100 there are 25 prime numbers: 2,…

  • Fashion Ghosts

    Fashion Ghosts

    What is real? A good question to ask at the beginning of 2022. How do we move from reality to fiction? Or rather backward: We live with fictions, but what is real? The intention of this post is to show the beautiful facades of San Francisco through the 2021 Christmas period, almost devoid of humans.…

  • Holidays in the Bay Area -2020

    Holidays in the Bay Area -2020

    The holiday season starts with Thanksgiving (end of November) and lasts throughout December. It includes Hannukah,  the Winter solstice, Kwanzaa, Christmas, as well as a few other memorable events, like our tribute to consumerism, Black Friday. The year of 2020 was extreme: A pandemic, massive political protests, the worst wildfire season in California’s history, and more fire…

  • Sunset over the Bay Area

    Sunset over the Bay Area

    “To leave out beautiful sunsets is the secret of good taste.” (Dejan Stojanovic.) Well, occasionally we fail. A spontaneous walk in the evening, without much expectation, and suddenly, there it was, this sunset over the Bay Area, viewed from Tilden Park. In California we are fortunate enough to have the Ocean in the West, which means that…

  • Landscapes in the Pacific Northwest

    Landscapes in the Pacific Northwest

    It’s about a thousand miles to drive on Highway 1 from San Francisco to Port Angeles, the northern-most town that connects the US and Canada. The drive along the ocean is beautiful, through vast coastal landscapes and ancient forests. One can find some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world along this remote coastline, small fishing towns, Indian reservations, and several…

  • Sperm Whales: Species with the largest brains

    Sperm Whales: Species with the largest brains

    There is an article about Sperm Whales in the New York Times that talks about their modes of communication. They seem to have an elaborate language we don’t understand yet. The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales and the largest predator on  earth. Mature males average 16 metres (52 ft) in length, with…

  • Venice Beach

    Venice Beach

    Venice Beach is California at its best: the diversity, irreverence, and playfulness of Venice Beach attracts millions of visitors every year. With all its diversity, it seems to remain what it always was: Street shops for tattoos, marijuana, and T-shirts, entertainers performing their shows with sizable audiences, graffiti, ballgames, roller-blades, and tourists. There is a…

  • World Population, 2013 – 2050.

    World Population, 2013 – 2050.

    It’s interesting to look at some long-term world trends at the end of 2013. The graphs appear more normalized, for instance with the population growth rate above. Countries like Nigeria (see population chart below) are unfortunate exceptions. How will the world really look like in 2050? Trends are extrapolations from current and past data, enhanced…