A few years ago, I drew some of the creatures mentioned in my novel, The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship. These are intelligent races that young Nate (then called Nathaniel) encounters in his travels.
The Zleesnits and the Nops are always seen together. The Zleesnits build cities out of their bodies and have telescoping limbs. The Nops fly and create sonar pulses with their tongues.
The Blentites have insectoid bodies, cat-like faces, and the wool and horns of a sheep. They live primarily in snowy environments and build domed, windowless cities.
Meekons are apes with many toes. They live on many planets.
Before Anything Else
Above all other political issues, freedom of speech must be protected, because without speech we cannot organize, educate ourselves, or advise each other on how to vote. In a democracy, it is the voters that are in charge and we need to be able to make informed decisions. To lose speech is to lose it all.
Above all other political issues, the right to bear arms must be protected, because with no physical means of defense, all our other rights are protected only by the goodwill of the officials currently in charge – goodwill which has already been proven to be in very short supply. To lose our weapons is to lose it all.
Above all other political issues, American sovereignty must be protected, because Americans will know better how to regulate Americans than some foreign power we cannot control that does not share our culture, economic interests, or form of government. This also means we need to control our borders and immigration, become energy-independent, and take care that too much foreign trade does not expose us to economic disruption originating outside our jurisdiction where we cannot control. To lose our self-determination is to lose it all.
Above all other political issues, the environment must be protected, because if the ecology suffers, we lose our food supply, we lose our oxygen supply, erosion increases, and the climate changes. When no human can survive, no human institution can survive either. To lose the biosphere is to lose it all.
Above all other political issues, health care must be made affordable, because without our health, our finances suffer, our education suffers, our family suffers, and…everything collapses…hmmm…
“Above all other political issues” can apply to almost anything.
Journey To The Microcosmos
YouTube channel Journey To The Microcosmos is a calming, beautiful, and highly informative trip into the world of rotifers, tardigrades, nematodes, and paramecia. I’ve learned a lot. Sometimes they will even release several minutes of footage with music instead of the regular show. It almost makes me want to spend a thousand dollars on a good microscope.
Ten Global Trends
Ten Global Trends by Marian Tupy and Ronald Bailey is a collection of graphs with short commentaries on each. The world is getting better, not worse, is the basic premise. We are more efficient at using natural resources than ever, we are richer than ever, and the birth rate is dropping fast enough that we will likely never reach ten billion. Democracy is on the rise, wars are smaller and fewer, and the internet is educating billions. Tree cover is increasing globally and only in South America is it decreasing. While property damage from natural disasters are increasing (largely because of where people are choosing to build), deaths from natural disasters are down. While the total number of people living in slums has increased (due to increased urbanization), the percentage of city dwellers in slums has dropped. Literacy and communications technology are on the rise. The average workplace is sixty times safer than it was in 1910. Every doom-and-gloom prediction of last century has failed to pass.
The book was basically good, but slightly disappointing. Not all the graphs were explained well. Deaths from cancer are down, but is this because it is being diagnosed sooner, meaning people are living longer with it known to be there? This was never explained. Are less people dying in general? Are they living longer? What is killing people if not cancer? I had heard that heart attacks and strokes used to kill a lot of people in their 50s and 60s, but because of medical intervention such as defibrillation, more people are living long enough to get cancer, making it the new number one killer, meaning the rate was up. Is this true? The data lacks context.
Some graphs covered too short a time period to extract a meaningful trend. For example, the number of smokers went from 25% to 20% during the period 1980-2020. Death by homicide went from 6.5 per 100,000 to 5.1 per 100,000 during the period 1990-2015 – although there was a big jump in the middle to 7.5. Child labor is down twenty percent since 2000.
Some trends claimed as good were questionable, such as increased urbanization and decreased trade protectionism. While much good is associated with both, so is much bad and the jury is still out on whether good or bad dominates. Also, while I believe increased internet use is generally a force for good, it also increases risks of dependency and privacy violations. These things are very complicated.
Some trends are framed in such a way to sound better than they are. For example, while military expenditures are up, as a fraction of GDP they are actually down. A better way of saying this is that most countries are finally rich enough to spend money on something other than the military. That doesn’t mean we aren’t still on the brink of world war.
I was also surprised to see that economic inequality was decreasing globally. I had always heard it was increasing. I never saw this as a very big problem so long as the poor were steadily getting richer too (which they are), but I had thought it was agreed by everyone to be increasing. It’s even part of the extended Kuznets curve. The graph was poorly explained, so I can only guess that there is a stronger income clustering of most people (2000-2010) even while the tiny number of super rich have become proportionally richer. Is this true?
Overall, the book does provide some food for thought and helps counter the claims of the alarmists, especially when it comes to things such as resource depletion. On balance, the world is doing quite well.
It never ceases to amaze me the width, depth, and number of prejudices that fit inside tiny, little minds.
They Came From Under The Bed
Doodling relaxes me. It's how I reflect the creativity and liveliness of the world back at itself. I've been doing it my whole life. I start by drawing one line and seeing where it takes me. Most end up being alien creatures. Sometimes I will remake a doodle on good paper with some effort and foresight. This is how I make my art in my art store. Between 2013 and 2017 I drew many creatures and landscapes, but not all of them were scanned in. Some are better than others. I finally dug them out from under the bed so I could scan them and show them to you. I'm not likely to use most of them, so let them inspire you.
Friendly Dragon Head
Egg Helicopter Cyborg
Deep Sea Vents
Lizard Hiding In Jungle
Alien Pond Water
Door of Possibility
The Crystal Cave
I also made some small color drawings that I framed before putting into storage. Here are photos of them:
Panera Bread Pizza
Move! written by practicing pastor Tim Hatch is his appeal to Christians to never stop growing spiritually. The overall tone is encouraging rather than admonishing. He models what it means to stay positive, to be always wanting more of God in our life, and to take risks when necessary.
What I like about the book is that unlike many authors of spiritual subjects, he does not shy away from the complexities and exceptions:
After telling us to be positive throughout chapter three, he admits near the end that this is very difficult and we are bound to fail (after 36.5 hours, by his estimation). Then he explains that God is so patient and so powerful, that even when we turn negative, there are still mercies poured upon us. That knowledge alone can keep some people positive just a little longer.
At the end of chapter five, he tells a story from the life of Corrie Ten Boom, to illustrate how even when we don’t feel up to some challenge, God can still come through for us at the last minute. Whatever weaknesses or sins we might be struggling with will not stop God from acting at the appropriate time. Nothing can stop that. The bottom line is that there is nothing holding us back and no reason not to move forward into our calling.
One part I was not entirely sure how to apply to my life was the idea to look for opportunities rather than follow dreams. Sometimes the opportunities are many, yet just out of reach, and the dreams are themselves an opportunity of the same kind. My life is messy and complicated. Some things you just have to figure out yourself.
Hatch also has a YouTube Channel and Podcast.
More Questions Without Answers
A while ago, I posted Questions Without Answers. Here are some more:
Are deaf people ever in their sound mind?
Is a sound mind one that hears voices?
Are they called “hot” potatoes because they’re stolon?
Can poor people perform rich-uals?
Why aren’t cowboys away from home called deranged?
Is one who creates fashion a fascist?
Is it better to be mauled by a bear or bare at the mall?
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.