Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mind Over Matter (coming this Christmas!)

A great article at heralds the release of new toys that run on "mind control over matter." Here's the link: Brain Wave of the Future.

Surely this is The Next Big Thing. It addresses the age-old conundrum of mental/physical duality, and by Xmas it'll be on the shelves of Toys 'R' Us (for ages 8 and up). Here's the gist: you attach an electrode to your forehead, it reads your level of concentration, and translates it to levitation of a ping-pong ball.

Think of the possibilities. The new technology is a likely cure for ADHD and senility, and will allow paralyzed people to control appliances with their minds. But why stop there?

Consider all the spiritual/religious groups that hold up super-concentrated states (meditation, contemplation, prayer, etc) as The Goal. Their Spiritual Leaders make unsubstantiated claims about achieving one-pointedness, and demand blind faith in their abilities. Now we have a technological solution, a way to actually quantify who's got the best concentration.

Think of Yoga cults, where Swamis claim superior God-realization. Why not subject them to the test, and make them surrender their seats to anyone who can levitate ping-pong balls higher? Or when a Dalai Lama dies... why make the Lamas go through that tiresome process of seeking his reincarnation? They can just hold a contest to measure mind-over-matter skills, and declare the winner as Supreme Meditator.

When Benedict XVI dies, I'd like to see the College of Cardinals all hooked up to electrodes, and the ping-pong balls will reveal how intense their prayers really are. Wouldn't that be a more efficient way to select the next Pope? Put it on pay-per-view, and maybe the Vatican can pay off some legal bills.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Yesterday I attended the Happening at People's Park. (What to call it... a concert? a festival? It was officially billed as An Afternoon of Music, Memories, and Magic.) It marked the 40th anniversary of the riots that gave birth to the Park, attracted the attention of the nation, and made my little town of Berkeley the center of the exploding 60s counter-culture/protest movement.

What can I tell you. It was a beautiful day in Berkeley, and it was just a short walk from my house. Besides, People's Park has a special place in my heart, as the first place I bought LSD in the mid-80s. The music was free, as was the food provided by Food Not Bombs. My buddy and I wished we'd set up a competing booth and called it Bombs Not Food. Or at least Drugs Not Hugs.

It's incredible to people-watch the crowd that appears under such conditions. Where do all these middle-aged hippies come from? Where do they hide themselves between jam fests? How do they make a living... it's impossible to imagine some of those folks in any conventional job.

The scene can't be described in words, so I've devised a little game. Below are a few photos and videos. Each was either taken by me yesterday with my trusty BlackBerry... or is entirely fictional. Can you tell the real from the imaginary? Life is strange, particularly in Berkeley; distinguishing fact from fiction isn't as easy as you may think!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sniff Swig Puff

From the 70s: Rock Hudson and Bea Arthur sing an ode to recreational drug use.