TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Anniversaries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anniversaries. Show all posts

Monday, November 12, 2018

Anniversaries: End of the Great War


"A soldier of Company K, 110th Regt. Infantry (formerly 3rd and 10th Inf., Pennsylvania National Guard), just wounded, receiving first-aid treatment from a comrade. Varennes-en-Argonne, France, on September 26, 1918. (U.S. Army/U.S. National Archives)" Image Source: The Atlantic.

The hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I just passed on 11 November 2018. Normally, I watch the coverage of remembrance ceremonies, but this year, I was working on a writing project at a microbrewery, where everyone observed a minute of silence to remember the fallen soldiers, while the town's church bell tolled outside.

As memory fades of the 20th century world wars, I appreciate more and more the need to remember these conflicts, in order to avoid another century of bloodshed and particularly a third world war. The two world wars were both terrible and unprecedented in their own ways. If the Great War brought about the death of innocence, World War II led to the death of humanity, the death of the modern conscience.

My 2014 post on the anniversary of the start of the Great War is here. All my related posts on World War I are here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

9/11 Anniversary: A Late Witness


9/11 - The Smoking Gun Interview - Barry Jennings (23 August 2014). Video Source: Youtube.

September 11, 2001 is a date in history that I wish had never happened. The world felt more bleak, empty and harsh after this watershed and it has never recovered. This disaster transformed the global political atmosphere.

I don't subscribe to 9/11 truther conspiracy theories, which now form an enormous subculture on the Internet. For truthers, 9/11 is the final Red Pill you need to swallow to see the world for what it really is. There are thousands of rabbit holes there, but I prefer not to fetishize a tragedy with alt-research to confirm what I already know: this nightmare-made-real made everything worse - and it is an intrinsic part of everything else that made everything worse.

Although these videos are widely shared on truther channels, I am posting this interview today to remember 9/11.

These are the testimonies of Barry Jennings, Deputy Director of Emergency Services Department (New York City Housing Authority). He was interviewed on 11 September 2001 by local ABC news, and years later by government officials. He was then tracked down in June 2007 by Loose Change (2007) documentary filmmakers Jason Bermas and Dylan Avery; the video below provides extended material.

Two Barry Jennings Interviews (WABC-TV, 2001 / LTW, 2007) (23 August 2014). Video Source: Youtube.

Barry Jennings died on 19 August 2008, two days before the release of the draft of the Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 (20 November 2008), which does not mention his comments. There is a Website (here) dedicated to Jennings's testimonies and death.

Jennings vividly described the destruction of World Trade Center Building 7, which he entered at 9 a.m. that horrible morning. With the help of New York firefighters, he emerged from the building's rubble, a survivor climbing over dead bodies, some four hours later. The FDNY halted work in the building at 3:30 p.m. Jennings had been rescued four hours before WTC 7 collapsed at 5:20 p.m. on 9/11.

WTC 7 was rebuilt and reopened on 23 May 2006 (architect: David M. Childs). The Twin Towers were replaced by One World Trade Center (architects: David M. Childs and Daniel Libeskind), which was fully completed on 29 May 2015.

Image Source: Eddy Cards.

One World Trade Center aka the Freedom Tower (2015). Image Source: Getty Images/USA Today.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Luther and the 95 Theses: A 500th Anniversary of Protestantism


A burgher's epitaph, St. George's Church, Nördlingen, Germany. All photos are © Andrew Wilson and Sarah Hinlicky Wilson. Please write to them for permission if you want to reproduce these photographs.

The Luther interviews with author Andrew Wilson about his book, Here I Walk, were posted on Christmas 2017 and Easter 2018. This post provides one spot to find these interviews and related links, to observe what is commonly regarded as the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation.

The Risen Christ with the Four Evangelists, St. Peter's Mistail, Switzerland.

Andrew Wilson’s website is here. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can buy his book at the links below.

A basket of mushrooms from the Thuringian forest.


Click here to read all Interviews on this blog.

Luther's Time Outside Time: An Interview with Andrew Wilson Part II


The hill town of Bobbio near La Spezia. All photos are © Andrew Wilson and Sarah Hinlicky Wilson. Please write to them for permission if you want to reproduce these photographs.

Happy Easter! Today, I am very pleased to continue my interview with Andrew Wilson about his book, Here I Walk: A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Martin Luther. The first part of the interview is here.

This post and related articles are published here to observe the 500th anniversary of 31 October 1517, when Martin Luther nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg. See other posts on this topic, here and here.

Andrew and his wife Sarah retraced Luther’s journey on foot from Erfurt to Rome. Luther's Roman trip occurred six or seven years before the famous events in Wittenberg. By following Luther's footsteps, the Wilsons attempted to trace his experiences prior to his involvement in the Reformation.

While the first part of the interview deals with the Wilsons’ journey on foot in Germany, this interview covers the second half of the book and Andrew’s travels with his wife in Italy.

Note: All quotations are from the paperback edition: Andrew L. Wilson, Here I Walk: A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Martin Luther. Afterword by Sarah Hinlicky Wilson. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press, 2016.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tweet of the Day: Recession Anniversary


Monday, December 25, 2017

A Protestant Pilgrimage? An Interview with Andrew Wilson, Part I



To celebrate Christmas, I am very pleased to post the first part of an interview about Martin Luther with Andrew Wilson. As I noted in a previous post, this past Hallowe’en marked the 500th anniversary of the day when Luther (1483-1546) nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

Andrew has written a book which seeks the origins of that historic event in 1517. He is the author of Here I Walk: A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Martin Luther. He completed his PhD at Princeton Theological Seminary and then embarked on a fascinating project to retrace Luther’s steps when the famous monk undertook his only trip to Rome, on foot, in 1510 or 1511.


Andrew’s wife, Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, accompanied Andrew on the 500th anniversary of Luther’s journey to Rome in 2010. They hiked across half of Germany, through parts of Austria and Switzerland, over the Alps, and finally across northern Italy to Rome, in a walking tour that covered one thousand miles. Their remarkable effort inspired the book, Here I Walk. Sarah wrote the book’s afterword.

The Wilsons’ travels became a practical meditation on Protestant and Catholic faiths in the Millennial world, even as they physically retraced history. Luther’s first hand experience of Rome’s corruption is usually linked with his later protest against his mother church. Did something else occur on Luther’s trip that tipped him toward the Reformation?

It was only 500 years ago, but as Andrew and Sarah discovered on their journey in 2010, the exact connections to Luther’s world are elusive. Luther’s German Europe was a place of scattered principalities, dukedoms, and free cities, not unified nation-states. In Rome, the pope was a temporal prince as well as the Church’s spiritual father, who declared wars to protect his territory; the pope also made strategic alliances with other princes. Despite these differences, the aftershocks of what Luther accomplished in response to that late medieval papal model still remain imprinted in subtle ways on communities, and on people’s minds, hearts, and souls. There are threads of connection between that time and this one, some tangible, some intangible.

The Camino de Santiago: a map of the travels of Saint James in Europe, now a famous path for pilgrims. Image Source: Manfred Zentgraf/Wiki.

Because the Wilsons wanted to follow Luther’s path to Rome, theirs was a Protestant pilgrimage. Pilgrimages were historically an anathema to most Protestants because they could not imagine them apart from efforts to acquire ‘merit’ in the eyes of God, although as I have remarked in my post on the Camino de Santiago, even atheists now go on pilgrimages. There are other religious ways to walk along the Way of Saint James than the Catholic visitation of holy sites and relics. And in fact, the Wilsons wanted their trek to be ecumenical in nature. Pilgrims’ trails are ancient paths, anchored in a prehistoric human existence. (p. 78) The Way of Saint James was an important interconnected footpath long before Saint James ever existed! This path spans a continent and responds to something eternal in human nature.

A German farming community left out produce for sale on the road, with the sign Selbstbedienung, meaning 'serve yourself' or 'self-service.'

This first part of this interview covers the Wilsons’ pilgrimage from Strasbourg to Erfurt, Germany, up to their passage through the Swiss Alps. The second part of the interview will cover their walk out of the Alps into Italy.

Note: All quotations are from the paperback edition: Andrew L. Wilson, Here I Walk: A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Martin Luther. Afterward by Sarah H. Wilson. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press, 2016. All photographs are from Andrew and Sarah Wilson's collection.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Luther's Words to Music: From Medieval to Modern


PRAETORIUS [c. 1571-1621] Puer nobis nascitur (22 December 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

For Christmas, we return to Martin Luther (1483-1546). Here is an example of how Luther influenced the incredible evolution of German music. In 1543, Luther departed from the Roman Catholic Latin and wrote German words to the hymn, Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar (From Heaven Came a Throng of Angels), with music adapted from Puer nobis nascitur (Unto Us is Born a Son), a 15th century tune.

In 1609, Michael Praetorius composed music for the hymn, Puer nobis nascitur, which also relied on the medieval tune. In 1688-1689, the composer Johann Schelle (1648-1701), who was Johann Sebastian Bach's predecessor as Kantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, also used Luther's hymn to write a Baroque Christmas cantata, Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar.

Luther's hymn was later one of Bach's sources for the 1714 chorale prelude for organ, Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar, BWV 607, a precursor for the 1734 Christmas Oratorio also by Bach (1685-1750). You can see how the chorale and words were used and reused by different composers in related hymns and pieces over three hundred years, here. Luther's hymn was translated into English as To Shepherds as They Watched By Night, with the commonly used translation dating from the mid-19th century.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Welcome the December Solstice 2017


Stones of Stenness, Orkney, Scotland, UK. Image Source: pinterest.

Welcome the December Solstice. It arrives at 16:28 UTC, heralding the arrival of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.


Today, the blog belatedly observes this year's 80th anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic, The Hobbit, which was first published on 21 September 1937. Above, for the solstice, hear Tolkien read a section from The Hobbit (hat tip: Brain Pickings via Sound Cloud).

Mystery of the Universe: "This ancient building is called Fornace Penna. It was an ancient fabric of bricks destroyed because of bombing in the second world war. Behind this beautiful historic wreck you can see the milky way in all its magnificence." (Sicily, Italy; 23 May 2015) Image © Salvatore Cerruto via TWAN.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tweet of the Day 3: Romanov Redux



I have intended to discuss Russia's potential revival of the Romanov dynasty for awhile, not least because the 100th anniversary of the royal family's murders, on 16-17 July 2018, is coming up.

In 2014 and 2015Vladimir Petrov, the Leningrad member in Russia's legislative assembly and a member of Putin's party, proposed that the Romanov pretenders could be restored and installed in their old summer house, the Livadia Palace in newly-occupied Crimea, to bolster the planned tourist industry there. You can see the Russian government pushing this idea in the travel video below. Check out the number of dislikes the video got on its original Youtube page!

The video at the bottom shows an alternate version of the same ad, cut with clips about the experiences of actual visitors. One way you can see English subtitles is by clicking cc and 'translate page.'

Russian tourist ad for Channel One - Visit the Crimea (2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Alternative advertising "In short in the Crimea" 2015 (29 July 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Luther's Hallowe'en


"A statue of 16th-century theologian Martin Luther stands on Marktplatz square on Oct. 20, 2016 in Wittenberg, Germany." Image Source: Time / Sean Gallup—Getty Images.

This Hallowe'en is very special, because it marks the 500th anniversary of the day when Martin Luther (1483-1546) nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany. You can read the Theses in English, here.

Although Luther followed in the footsteps of other late medieval religious reformers such as John Wycliffe (c. 1320s-1384) and Jan Hus (1369-1415), Luther's act is considered the central moment in the start of the Protestant Reformation.

Woodcut of indulgence selling in a church from title page of On Aplas von Rom kan man wol selig werden [One Can Be Saved Without the Indulgence of Rome]. From a 1521 pamphlet. Image Source: Wiki.

The catalyst of Luther's protest was the sale of indulgences by a Dominican friar named Johann Tetzel (1465-1519). The reason Luther acted on Hallowe'en was not because of the significance of October 31st, but because he was anticipating the day that follows: November 1st, All Saints' Day. On 1 November 1517, Tetzel planned to start selling indulgences near Wittenberg, and he was famous for his abuse of the practice. The following rhyme is attributed to Tetzel:

"As soon as a coin in the coffer rings
the soul from purgatory springs."

Indulgences were chits, authorized by the pope to draw upon the virtuous power of the saints to reduce God's punishments for sins. Indulgences were believed to absolve sins of those still alive, and of souls trapped Purgatory, a No Man's Land between heaven and hell where souls worked and waited to be purified.

Through papal relations with local princes, the sale of indulgences proved a way of gathering money quickly and efficiently from poor people in Europe. Indulgence monies funded wars and big infrastructure projects. The sale of indulgences provided the money to build the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, which tourists still visit today. The same sales also supported roads, bridges, and other important construction work.

This practice was an arcane precursor to our modern system, which still conveys private funds into semi-public foundations or governmental public coffers, all in the name of humanitarianism and the public good. Behind those slogans, there remains an enduring tension between the individual citizen and the growth of violent and powerful statecraft and its satellite entities.

Thus, the issues driving Luther and his protest were more complicated than indulgences. Luther's act was part of the evolution of the modern conscience (or lack of it). Unravel the discussions on faith, and the subsequent schism inside the Roman Catholic Church helped to herald the values driving our Millennial  political and economic systems.

First page of the 1517 Basel printing of the Theses as a pamphlet. Image Source: Wiki.

This was the earliest glimmer of a democratic age. Several medieval critics had condemned venality in the Church prior to October 1517, but Luther's Theses sparked a shift in popular awareness.

Luther meant his complaints to launch a debate with Tetzel. He did not intend for his Theses to become a public manifesto, a rallying cry for the common people, and he wrote the Theses in Latin. However, they were translated into German and printed through a radical new technology - the printing press. The press had been invented in 1440 and spread thereafter through the German lands. This was how Luther's Theses were shared across Central Europe and sparked revolts by the peasants against their royal and ecclesiastical masters.

Luther, with his intent of taking worship back to the holy texts, also made the Christian faith more democratic. He translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into German, by-passing Rome's official Latin Vulgate. He wrote important hymns, such as Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God), based on Psalm 46. And - in defiance of the Roman Catholic insistence on celibate priests - he got married.

This blog will discuss these issues, with an eye to showing how Luther's ideas still shape our world. I will be interviewing Andrew Wilson, who wrote Here I Walk: A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Martin Luther. The book chronicles a fascinating effort by Andrew and his wife Sarah to retrace Luther's footsteps in 2010.

Andrew hypothesized that the real breach with Rome began when Luther actually visited that city in 1511. Sent on business on behalf of his order, Luther walked to Italy, starting in October 1510 from the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt.

It is obviously essential to know what Luther saw in Rome and what he thought of it, because it led to him being the Catholic Church's biggest critic in history, a mere six years later. The conventional interpretation has assumed that Luther found a cynical, corrupt and bellicose papacy, Rome as Babylon.

However, Andrew found that the documents about Luther's pilgrimage gave little solid evidence. He decided to retrace Luther's steps - in today's landscape - to find a story in the environment along Luther's pilgrim's path.

Andrew and Sarah Wilson with a statue of St. James at the Lutheran church in Oettingen-in-Bayern. Image Source: Andrew Wilson.

Together, Andrew and his wife walked over one thousand miles and documented their travels on their Website, here. Andrew explained what he discovered about Martin Luther in his book, published in 2016. That discovery, and how it relates to us now, will be the subject of upcoming posts in December.


For the whole Luther interview and all related posts, go here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Anniversaries: Monumental Masonry


Image Source: The Hedge Mason.

The 24th of June 2017 is the 300th anniversary of the founding of Freemasonry, more precisely, the first collective of organized Masonic lodges. On the Feast of St. John the Baptist in 1717four London lodges met at the Goose and Gridiron ale-house, and formed the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster; later it became the Premier Grand Lodge of England. The four lodges were named for the pubs where they normally met: the Goose and Gridiron; the Crown; the Apple-Tree tavern; and the Rummer and Grapes tavern.

Image Source: Time Out London.

To celebrate, London's Grand Lodge is opening for the public for a few hours. If you are in town, not a member, and would like to look inside, now is your chance:
Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen St, WC2B 5AZ will be open from 10am to 5pm on June 24. Entry to the building and ‘Rough to smooth: Art inspired by Freemasonry’ (Jun 24-Jul 1) is free.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Twin Peaks Returns


Twin Peaks was full of occult imagery, signifying a battle between the forces of Jupiter (positive) and Saturn (malefic). My comment on the symbols in this scene is here. Image Source: The Dissolve.

David Lynch's and Mark Frost's acclaimed series Twin Peaks, which changed television in two seasons in 1990 and 1991, returns on 21 May 2017. The original series, and the 1992 prequel film, was a mystery about a murdered American homecoming queen, Laura Palmer. It unraveled in the second season into soap opera surrealism after Lynch stepped away from the project. But the first season was a landmark moment in popular entertainment and is widely considered one of the best television series ever made. It inspired many other ground-breaking series. My comments below the jump contain spoilers, so if you haven't yet seen the original series and want to, read no further until you have done so.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

In Millennial Eyes 4: Nuclear Times and Chernobyl Urbex


Japan warns citizens they might have only 10 minutes to prepare for a North Korean missile (25 April 2017). Image Source: AFP/Getty via Washington Post.

The blog returns on 1 May 2017 after a break, with a series of posts which will explain fake news, cyber-memes, techno-cultural disinformation, virtual politics, and the perception of truth. Today's post is a prologue. The nuclear issue triggers all of these uncertainties. When it comes to nuclear matters, you never really know what is happening, and the stakes are high. On Sunday, 23 April 2017, a truck carrying Iridium-192 was stolen in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco state, Mexico. This radioactive material can be used to make a dirty bomb, and it has not yet been recovered.


Meanwhile, the world nervously eyes the Korean peninsula. It is curious that there have been a recent changes in and around leadership in both Koreas. These might indicate (or lead to) an incredibly delicate and dangerous effort to reconcile the two countries. In South Korea, Park Geun-hye was impeached in December 2016, charged in April 2017 with corruption, and publicly condemned for witchcraft. Liberal human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in is projected to win a May 2017 South Korean election, and he may soften the tone on North Korea.

Image Source: Reuters/The Economist.

British tabloids and the American media are openly speculating on whether Trump's administration should assassinate Kim Jong-un to stop a nuclear war. But Jong-un has been careful to eliminate successors, with few remaining close family members. The fact that he may have had his half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, assassinated on 13 February 2017 raised eyebrows. The use of the rare VX poison in the killing was even more disturbing. Developed by the British in the mid-1950s, it is the world's most toxic nerve agent and classed as a weapon of mass destruction. To use it in a public place on a direct descendant of North Korea's Baekdu Bloodline was a sign of extreme ruthlessness. Even more than all the other atrocities and executions, the murder of Jong-nam really scared people; it merited research and reconsideration of what is happening in Pyongyang.


I have previously blogged about the Kim family and possible successors here. A favourite possibility among western leaders is Kim Jong-un's nephew and Jong-nam's son, Kim Han-sol, who is now 21 years old. Han-sol turned down an offer to study at Oxford University in February 2017, due to fears that he would be assassinated there.

Doan Thi Huong, who helped assassinate Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, told authorities she thought she was participating in a Reality TV prank. (February 2017) Image Source: Taiwan News.

North Korea is planning another nuclear test and rapidly developing its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missiles. It is hard to tell whether the tensions on the peninsula are a deadly game of bluff, or if Trump's unpredictable administration is planning preemptive action to contain North Korea's capabilities, or if this is a game of 4-D chess, marked by psychological warfare and sabre-rattling.

"A jet with blocked details landed at Wellington Airport[, New Zealand] on Monday evening [24 April 2017]." Image Source: Flight Radar 24 via stuff.co.nz.

There are reports on rehearsals for ex-pat civilian evacuations from South Korea. Officials from the Five Eyes intelligence network (USA, UK, NZ, Australia and Canada) met in Queenstown, New Zealand over the weekend of the 21-23 April. On 26 April, Kim Jong-un watched a giant live-fire drill (see it here) to mark the 85th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean People's Army. The US Senate has been summoned for a White House briefing regarding North Korea, also on 26 April 2017.







At the same time, there are drills in New York City to prepare for a simulated direct nuclear bomb strike over Manhattan on 24-26 April 2017, which may have already involved power outages in San Francisco; New York; Frankfort, Kentucky; and Los Angeles. Operation Gotham Shield uses a 10 kiloton yield, or a bomb a bit larger than a 'suitcase nuke,' as its hypothetical weapon. The FEMA overview manual for Gotham Shield is here. A November 2016 simulated nuclear attack (the Northern Lights Nuclear Power Plants Exercise) checked the readiness of the electrical grid at the Monticello plant and Camp Ripley, Minnesota on the US-Canadian border.

Gotham Shield internal document. Image Source: FEMA via Intellihub.

I have previously argued on this blog that the US had already nuked itself through numerous bomb tests over the past 70 years and lives in denial of this fact. In February 2017, there was an explosion at a French nuclear plant, Flamanville, but there was "no nuclear risk." Even more incredible denial is evident in Japan, where three China Syndromes have likely occurred at Fukushima. Yet on the sixth anniversary of the Tōhoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, the government has invited families to reinhabit the exclusion zone. Fish are declared safe to eatDeeper denial: the summer 2020 Olympic games are partly set there!

Worse, workers were told they no longer needed protective suits at 95 per cent of the site. The rumour ran that this was because the huge quantity of hazmat suits became too expensive; the workers were considered likely to die anyway from exposure; therefore, the suits could be dispensed with to cut costs. There are unconfirmed stories and muted reports (often ending in dead links) of a TEPCO cover-up of thousands of dead Fukushima workers, whose employment is run by the Japanese mob, the Yakuza.

Image Source: Reuters via The Mirror.

This is an insane 'war without a war,' a nightmare in which Japanese aquifers are irretrievably poisoned. In February 2017, there was unconfirmed talk that underground explosions occurred, likely due to the molten coria hitting the water table. These explosions were heard and felt miles away from the plant. Also in February, a robot measured a staggering 530 sieverts per hour inside Reactor #2 - far higher than any reading ever recorded at Chernobyl. That reading could be ten times higher close to the elusive core. Due to the unwillingness to face the devastation of atomic realities, it is worth remembering the aftermath in an uninhabited nuclear wasteland.


The date 26 April 2017 shifts attention to another nuclear theatre. Today's post commemorates the 31st anniversary of the second-worst nuclear disaster in history at the Chernobyl plant and Pripyat, Ukraine. The blog follows American Millennial urbex Youtuber Josh, who said Pripyat was "legit" during his visit in March 2016. Actually, that is true. To understand the magnitudes of radiation which Josh's MKS-05 Terra-P dosimeter displayed (in microsieverts (uSv) per hour), go here and here. One sievert (1,000,000 microsieverts) if absorbed all at once is enough to make you ill; 6 to 10 sieverts will cause death.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Anniversaries: 11 September 2001


Image Source: TheoPol.

On 15 July 2016, newly declassified information appeared to confirm the Saudi government's larger role in 9/11 than previously publicly known. You can see footage of World Trade Center Building 7 burning, released in October 2011 here on Live Leak via the Freedom of Information Act, which disputed conspiracy theorists' claims about controlled demolitions.

I visited Ground Zero in spring 2002; the scorch marks in the surrounding area were still visible. In particular, one neighbouring skyscraper looked as though a gigantic piece of charcoal had drawn a line up one whole side. Just that scorch mark, six months after the event, looked like a physical manifestation of a scream in an unbelievable fire. I will never forget it.

Image Source: Creeping Sharia.

On 24 August 2015, Marcy Borders, a Bank of America worker who was captured in an iconic 'dust lady' photograph on 9/11, died after battling years of depression, post-traumatic stress, illness and finally stomach cancer. She was 28 years old on 9/11 and died at age 42, likely due to the toxic contaminants she inhaled that day.

Video Source: Youtube.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

NASA's Plan to Colonize Mars


Developing adequate supporting technology is a pre-existing requirement in NASA's plan to colonize Mars. Image Source: NASA via Daily Mail.

Interplanetary communications systems are being developed in plans to colonize Mars. I first covered Google's InterPlanetary Internet Protocols in 2011, here. Delay-tolerant network protocols must cope with huge distances between our planet and a future Martian settlement. On 9 October 2015, NASA released its plan for a manned journey to Mars, including a stated need for IPFS development:
"Currently, Mars robotic rovers have data rates around two million bits per second, using a relay, such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The ISS data rate is 300 million bits per second, two orders of magnitude faster. Future human Mars missions may need up to a billion bits per second at 1,000 times greater range than ISS, requiring laser communications to reduce weight and power. In addition, disruption and error-tolerant interplanetary networking and improved navigation capabilities are required to ensure accurate trajectories and precision landing."
This networking requirement for space exploration will potentially establish a permanent Internet, which I have discussed - coming from other sectors - here. On 18 March 2016, The Daily Mail reported that NASA plans to develop nuclear-powered rockets to travel to Mars, following a similar statement from the Russians in January 2016. With a nuclear rocket, spacecraft could reach the Red Planet in six weeks. The only problem is finding the money.

Planet Mars, As Seen by the 100 Inch Telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory: "Before we sent any spacecraft to Mars, these were the best images we had of the Red Planet." Image Source: The Carnegie Institution for Science via Tech Insider.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mind and Government, Terror and Ideology: Reframed


1907 photograph of an 1872 Leon Berger model guillotine, stored with its body basket. The photograph was reproduced by someone who currently makes historic replicas of guillotines. There had to be someone out there doing this. Oddly, there is more than one. Some people make mini-guillotines as a side hobby. The 1792 French Revolution guillotine mini-model plans are offered to aspiring carpenters on the Internet for USD $38, here. The finished mini-model (perfect for your back yard?) is here; the full-sized 1792 model, five times larger, built from the same plans for a Belgian museum, is here. Image Source: Bois de Justice.

This post was written before the terrorist attacks in Nice (14 July 2016) and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (26 July 2016). With regard to those attacks, no disrespect is intended in discussing today's anniversary of the end of the Terror during the French Revolution. To be clear, although this analysis runs up to the present, it does not source radical Islamic terrorism in the western political system. I would argue that jihadism has its own specific origins, although it ironically mirrors as nemesis a western concern with the relationship between fear and control in psychology and politics.

This post on politics is the second of three on how perceived understanding or framing of reality diverges from hard facts, and creates problems in the historical narrative. I have a theory that when human beings build governments and devise theories of government, they project outwardly their awareness of the inner structure of the human psyche. That is, when we build and control society in the outer world, we embed how we think, perceive and feel into those constructions. And if there are parts of ourselves we would rather not face, we embed the suppression, too.

On a basic level, it makes sense. We fear our capacity for savagery and bloodshed, and know that the hell-pit at the dark end of the behavioural spectrum is something we ought to avoid. That is why the idea of climbing toward something higher through renewed social order is so appealing. The initial drive begins with a justified fear of the demons inside us and a moral journey to find the "better angels of our nature."

The French Revolution presents a powerful example of that journey and its challenges. Today marks the 222nd anniversary of the end of the Terror (6 September 1793 - 28 July 1794), a period of mass execution of enemies of the Revolution. It is ironic that 'terror' - described today as the greatest nemesis of global civilization - played a critical part of the establishment of modern western politics. Although there were revolutionary precursors in England and America, the founding moment began with the French Revolution. Everything we take for granted, from left-wing and right-wing politics, to the basic rights of human beings, was most clearly expressed there.

Today's post reconsiders the circumstances in which the west's current political ideologies developed, to see how the story of rational modern politics diverged from its reality. The French Revolution came dressed in the rhetoric of liberty, equality and fraternity, respectively sources of liberalism, socialism and nationalism. Revolutionaries changed how we measure time, months, hours, days. 18th century perceptions of time were different from post-revolutionary modern ones. The revolutionaries standardized weights and measures - previously a privilege of the nobility - with the creation of the metric system. They developed the modern media in their propaganda. They overturned a corrupt and bankrupt absolutist monarchical system, a privileged nobility and aristocracy, and a dominant clergy.

They did it through a commitment to rationalism. 1789's Tennis Court Oath was a pledge to develop a constitution, made in the spirit of earlier writings from the empiricist political philosopher and father of modern liberalism, John Locke (1632-1704). Locke's plan for government derived from his view of psychology. With his certainty that the mind was a tabula rasa, Locke insisted on experiential and logical systems of governance. He espoused the natural rights of man, of life, liberty, and property. He protected those innate values was through the social contract, imposed from outside upon the consenting individual in an embrace of nuture over nature. But starting with man's natural rights, he maintained that no one is innately superior to anyone else. He removed God and superstition from human politics, government and law, by stating that all men were divinely appointed to their state in nature. There was no divine right of kings: all people are equal.

From that natural and secular socialist equality, Locke derived fraternity and liberty as human beings left the pure state of nature and entered the body politic. As far as fraternity was concerned, toleration depended on having sufficiently enlightened, educated and morally informed citizens, who understood that some surrender of liberty was necessary to maintain a commonwealth. That social contract, if properly ordered, would clearly broadcast the principles and preconditions of mutual tolerance inside a nation. Within those non-totalitarian bounds, liberal citizens were free.

Locke influenced the French philosophes, notably Voltaire (1694-1778) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Further principles of liberty and separate powers came from other Enlightenment thinkers such as Montesquieu (1689-1755) to form the familiar 18th century values of the American constitution and the French Revolution. These thinkers drew the line between a divine source for the unified Church and State in absolutist monarchical systems and enlightened, secular, humanist, rationalist, democratic republics, with a separated Church and State. According to Montesquieu, there were underlying collective psychological trends in political development toward victory or defeat. Different types of government used varying core principles to drive those trends. The transition from monarchy to republic marked a shift in principles from honour to public virtue. But what must be avoided above all was a loss of liberty through fear. Wiki:
"[T]here were three main forms of government, each supported by a social 'principle': monarchies (free governments headed by a hereditary figure, e.g. king, queen, emperor), which rely on the principle of honor; republics (free governments headed by popularly elected leaders), which rely on the principle of virtue; and despotisms (enslaved governments headed by dictators), which rely on fear."
Thus, removing God from everyday government had created an interesting philosophical gap in the conception of modern politics. The unknown and unknowable had to be understood in new rational ways, or they would give rise to fear and dictatorship. In Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), Locke cautioned against raising children by intimidating them with fear. He warned against servants filling children's heads with fear of the dark, or goblins and monsters. Infantile superstition and threats bred subjection in grown men:
"Such bug-bear thoughts once got into the tender minds of children, and being set on with a strong impression from the dread that accompanies such apprehensions, sink deep, and fasten themselves so as not easily, if ever, to be got out again; and whilst they are there, frequently haunt them with strange visions, making children dastards when alone, and afraid of their shadows and darkness all their lives after. I have had those complain to me, when men, who had been thus used when young; that though their reason corrected the wrong ideas they had taken in, and they were satisfied that there was no cause to fear invisible beings more in the dark than in the light, yet that these notions were apt still upon any occasion to start up first in their prepossessed fancies, and not to be removed without some pains. ...

And to let you see how lasting and frightful images are, that take place in the mind early, I shall here tell you a pretty remarkable but true story. There was in a town in the west a man of a disturbed brain, whom the boys used to teaze when he came in their way: this fellow one day seeing in the street one of those lads, that used to vex him, stepped into a cutler’s shop he was near, and there seizing on a naked sword, made after the boy; who seeing him coming so armed, betook himself to his feet, and ran for his life, and by good luck had strength and heels enough to reach his father’s house before the mad-man could get up to him. The door was only latch’d; and when he had the latch in his hand, he turn’d about his head, to see how near his pursuer was, who was at the entrance of the porch, with his sword up ready to strike; and he had just time to get in, and clap to the door to avoid the blow, which, though his body escaped, his mind did not. This frightening idea made so deep an impression there, that it lasted many years, if not all his life after. For, telling this story when he was a man, he said, that after that time till then, he never went in at that door (that he could remember) at any time without looking back, whatever business he had in his head, or how little soever before he came thither he thought of this mad-man."
Locke's rational suppression, denial and dismissal of fear remained a weak alternative to the absolutist monarch's God. Given his denial of a priori knowledge and insistence on a posteriori knowledge, Locke faced the dilemmas of the rationalist, locked inside his own mind, guided only by his sense impressions of the world. Locke did consider what lay beyond empirical experience. In chapter 27 of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689), he argued that worldly identity depended on an eternal, immaterial soul, incarnated in a physical body in the real world. In one example, that notion led him to suggest that a human being's worldly personal identity was distinct from the soul's consciousness. Worldly personality did not extend beyond the individual's rational thoughts, memories and life experiences. An eternal soul would have had past human lives, but a temporal individual personality housing that soul would have no memory of those past lives. In other words, Locke admitted that there were things beyond a posteriori awareness, but we have no rational access to them. Our only access to consciousness when building our personal identities would be through real life experiences and the memory of real life experiences. And that was the rock on which modern political order must be built.

However, when it came time to build the rational project during the French Revolution, to bring down the absolutist monarchy and remove God from government, the unknown manifested in the undertaking, in the form of the irrational element of fear. The rationalization of western politics depended on the Terror, on force as an instrument of fear to impress conformity to those ideals. Modern politics sealed a commitment to high intentions, rejected superstition and hereditary inequality; but it did so through mass intimidation and mass killing. From a psychological point of view, this means that when we strive toward highest purpose, we are still enmeshed in lowest impulses. The history of the French Revolution reflects a conscious-unconscious duality, as western political ideals emerged from bloodshed. The complete formula of the French Revolution would have been: liberty, equality, fraternity - and terror.