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 Memory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Memory. Show all posts

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Martian Moment in 2018


Image Source: Strange Sounds.

It may sound odd, but the event that stands out in my mind as encapsulating the year of 2018 was astronomical. Mars was brightest in the night sky from 27-30 July 2018; it reached opposition with the sun, and then shortly afterwards came closest to Earth on 31 July 2018. Mars had not been so close to the Earth since 2003.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Housing Crash by Any Other Name


The Roscommon house eviction in Ireland is going viral on the Internet. *FOOTAGE* OVER 1000 PEOPLE PROTEST ROSCOMMON EVICTION (17 December 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Several reports and experts are predicting a huge meltdown of stocks, real estate, and bonds by 2019 or 2020. While we wait for global collapse and, as Kim Dotcom said, "buy crypto and gold," the question of how else to prepare for, and deal with, a huge crash becomes one of adjusting perspective.

More scary tweets from Kim Dotcom, who has been predicting an economic crash all year.

It starts with eroding property rights, headlined by a recent incident in Falsk, outside Strokestown, County Roscommon, Ireland on 16 December 2018. When Belgian KBC Bank hired Northern Irish security guards to evict a small family from a foreclosed farmhouse on Tuesday, 11 December, an armed gang of some twenty men assembled by the Sunday after the family had departed. Just after 5 o'clock in the morning, they attacked the bank's eight guards who had taken possession of the house with baseball bats. They burned out the security guards' four cars, injured their attack dog so badly it had to be put down, and left three guards in the hospital. It looks like the owners of the foreclosed house may shortly be reinstalled in their home.

This vigilantism was obviously the product of local and social media buzz building between last Tuesday and last Saturday. The townsfolk felt that the foreclosure was unnecessarily brutal and they also disliked the fact that the eviction was scheduled right before Christmas. It was inhumane. From The Irish Examiner:
"One man said: 'I felt sorry for the family because I knew them for years, I grew up beside them and I suppose like every family they did try their best. They should have been given time and there should be more people out at that gate.'

A woman said: 'It is shocking. You wouldn't throw an animal outside the door, they were treated like animals.' ...
Independent Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice claims up to 40 to 50 people are walking away from their homes because they are afraid of going through the court system. ... 'A lot of people are losing their home or a piece of land. We are dealing with too many cases, we’re trying to deal with the banks and the vulture funds,' he said."
The bank's hiring of Northern Irish mercenaries was the final straw. One Youtuber remarked: "this is a joke we need to have some balls like the French and yellow vest these orange bastards." Another commented:
"Eviction has a particular connotation, in Ireland, since famine times, and before. There is a visceral reaction to the concept, in the gut of every Irish person over a certain age. A horror of eviction is buried deep in our [psyche], and in our cultural memory. KBC bank clearly has no grasp of the cultural sensitivities in the matter, or cares less. I can't comment on the case details, because I don't know enough to do so. But there is always a right, and a wrong way, to approach every issue."

The aftermath of the Roscommon attack on the security guards who were hired by the KBC Bank to repossess a family's house. Anti Irish Bankster terror gang burnt out after stealing pensioner's home (16 December 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Roscommon Eviction Interview (16 December 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Black Friday and the Aesthetics of Fascism


Window-mounted cat beds, Amazon review: "It's been nine months and Tucker still loves this bed ten times more than anything else I've bought him." Image Source: Buzzfeed.

In North America, Thanksgiving weekend is the cornerstone of consumption-based capitalism. Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November, this year on November 22nd, followed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which have become pre-Christmas discounted shopping bonanzas. Stores are selling everything you could imagine, down to the window-mounted cat bed. This weekend is lucrative enough to tempt merchants in other countries to use the same gimmick to boost their fourth quarter sales.

Kohler Pedestal Sink. These sinks retail at Home Depot in the USA for USD $600-$800. Image Source: Miley Photos.

Essex Metal 24" Console Bathroom Sink with Overflow by Cheviot. Regular priced at Wayfair for CAD $830.25, on sale on Black Friday for CAD $584.99. Image Source: Cheviot.

Waldorf Ceramic 24" Wall Mount Bathroom Sink with Overflow by WS Bath Collections. Regular priced at Wayfair for CAD $1109.99, on sale on Black Friday for CAD $849.99. Image Source: homeclick.

This week, I saw some Black Friday examples which reminded me of an earlier commentary, Fascism at a Hairpin Turn. In a series of posts on this blog, I am considering how 1940s' fascism became a part of modern global culture in ways which are poorly understood. Above, are sinks by Kohler, Cheviot and WS Bath Collections. Kohler Co. was founded in Wisconsin in 1873 by Austrian Americans; it employs a sharp German aesthetic in its high end lavatory designs.

I was struck by the aesthetic similarity between today's sinks and 1940s' institutional sinks. Below, are sinks in an autopsy room and in another room from the French concentration camp near Strasbourg, Natzweiler-Struthof, where human experiments were conducted.


Sinks at Natzweiler-Struthof. Images Source: La Vie est Bonne.

Of course, sinks made outside fascist Europe in the 1940s would also resemble today's designs and their modernist style could be pre-World War II, derived from interwar Bauhaus. When I mentioned this similarity between past and present, my friend, C., said,
"The fascist aesthetic ... merged what ... [the fascists] wanted of [the] modern aesthetic (some aspects of architecture and NO aspect of the fine arts) and aspects of the neoclassic as well as empire styles, both of which were adopted as official styles by Napoleon's ... régime. ... Makes one think that everything that happened[,] including sinks, New York skyscrapers, and concentration camps were all a part of leaving the feudal system."
The Nazis definitely took that white porcelain neoclassical look and made it theirs. Going forward from 1945, there is no way a designer could be ignorant of that aesthetic reference when creating a consumer product in that style. This is why it was startling to see Nazi-esque sinks on sale on this Black Friday at Home Depot. I can't say that the example of the sinks proves anything in terms of demonstrable historical aesthetic lineage because I have not researched that. But it made me ask why and how that aesthetic has been absorbed into mainstream North American culture and values.

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.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Hallowe'en Countdown 2018: London's Dragons, Druids, and Pumping Stations


Image Source: Bob Speel.

The countdown this week is devoted to arcane secrets which lie in plain sight. We start in the streets of London, where for seven years, the brilliant and acerbic vlogger swilliamism (aka Samuel William) has explored the dark nooks and crannies of the UK's capital. During his lunch breaks from work, he peeks behind the white façades with his digital camera, and reveals unnerving little details.


Occult Symbols in London (23 April 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

The Symbolism Of The Dragon (20 May 2014). Video Source: Youtube.

Sam describes London's history with low key sarcasm. His videos have titles like: Where's Daddy's Pig?; Proud Taxpayer Day; Theft Appreciation Day; the eye-opening The Strange Mystical Horse and the companion video, The Strange Mystical Dead Horse; The Fresh Face of Fascism; Hello Data Subject; Very Nearly Grenfell; and A Day At The Arms Fair.

This vlogger's paranoia is not entirely joyless, like the time, inspired by fears of Santa Claus, he gave up Christmas to break his social conditioning. His main channel concentrates on the symbolism of London architecture, and he expresses his opinions more explicitly on his back-up channel.

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.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Fascism at a Hairpin Turn


The undercut was an Edwardian haircut which remained popular through the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. It became the iconic male haircut of Nazi fascism. It did not become widely popular again until the 2010s. Today, it is sported in different variations by hipster urbanites on the left and the right, with only some individuals aware of the hairstyle's political message. Image Source: The Bold Italic.

Social control. Censorship. Totalitarianism. They won't arrive in the 20th century varieties we expect. Nouveau Nazis have appeared in dozens of movies, including Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984); V for Vendetta (2005); The Man in the High Castle (2015-present); The Handmaid's Tale (2017-present), and Fahrenheit 451 (2018).

Greater Germanic Reich | Man in the High Castle (5 March 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

An alt-historical adaptation of Philip K. Dick's Man in the High Castle (1962), produced by Ridley Scott, considers what America would be like if the Axis Powers won World War II. The new adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985) depicts fascists as rigid, hypocritical, psycho-Christians, who impose a violent, patriarchal and puritanical monoculture, viciously suppress women's rights, and divide American society into uniformed, hierarchical, militaristic-gender castes.

The Handmaid’s Tale Trailer (Official) (26 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Elisabeth Moss Describes A 'Fictional' Totalitarian, Right-Wing Regime (21 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Because of these cultural representations, we expect totalitarianism to dress itself in brownshirts and jack boots. The subtext in liberal adaptations is that Donald Trump's America is an alt-right neo-Nazi régime.

Neo-Nazis have certainly reemerged during Trump's administration more boldly than they have in the previous sixty years. Yet fascism is also exploding into the mainstream from other political quarters. It must be combated at all costs, but to do that, you have to understand what fascism is and how it works. That requires recognizing the menace you can't see coming, as much as the threat you're sure you know.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Tweet of the Day: Hong Kong Then and Now



If you can't see the above gif of Hong Kong in 1964 and 2016, go here. One of my favourite movies of all time is Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love (花样年华 [Golden Years]; 2000), a beautiful and haunting romantic tribute to Hong Kong in 1962, which you can see here, while the link lasts.

How China is Destroying Hong Kong's Freedom - Real China Interviews (28 August 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Redefinitions of Currency 3: Kim Dotcom's Scary Tweets



Kim Dotcom (aka Kim Schmitz), the Finnish-German-Kiwi Internet pirate, has decided that the USA is going to go the way of Venezuela. Dotcom is piloting a new crypto-powered ecosystem, K.im, and his own branded KimCoin, to reward content creators. This month, the Megaupload and Mega founder, Assange ally, Deep State foe, and founder of the Internet Party has also been writing scary tweets about the future of the US and global economy.

Dotcom has an axe to grind, because his companies' copyright violations led in July 2018 to a New Zealand court ruling that he could face extradition to the United States for racketeering, money laundering, fraud, and criminal copyright charges. While this gives him a motive to trash talk the US, and he is fundraising for a new project to cover his legal bills, Dotcom really believes that America's economy is about to go bust.

He has thought so for awhile. Originally, the hacker was based on the top floor of the five-star Grand Hyatt Hotel in Hong Kong. But Dotcom moved to New Zealand because he felt it was the best place to start and raise a family during and after World War III. As he put it:
"You wouldn't want to be stuck in a penthouse at the top of a hotel tower when it's end days. ... That's why I was looking for a place. And I thought that if I had somewhere in the South Island, shielded by mountain ranges on both sides, I would install a really sophisticated solar power plant. I was thinking if I had something like that, you could survive. New Zealand strategically is the safest spot in the world. It has everything that is required to sit it out and start again."
Dotcom is not alone. The very rich are talking about the end of the world and building bunkers in preparation. They see the future just like the backwoods and doomsday cult preppers, except billionaires build nicer bunkers.





Monday, June 25, 2018

Time and Politics 27: The Outsider's Future Return


ZIMBABWE RALLY EXPLOSION, WHAT REALLY HAPPENED? (24 June 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Earlier today, in the run-up to national elections, the Zimbabwean president survived an assassination attempt. I have a new post up at my other blog, The Dragonfly, about how I wrote letters to defend his political opponents when I was a teenager.
The post also concerns state, corporate, or social oppression of citizens perceived to be dangerous, criminal, or agents of unwanted change. Through isolation, silencing, discrimination and erasure, these individuals are forced for a time to watch the world from an externalized perspective. For the ones that survive, I maintain that this changes their outlook and larger motivations forever.

This is relevant when considering the plight of Julian Assange; shadowbans and censorship on social media; tech giants' obviously discriminatory and politicized campaigns against 'fake news'; and the silencing of journalists and commentators who are deemed unfriendly to any main line. One could also point to political refugees and immigrants, cut off from their parent societies, and entering the limbo of detention camps and subsidized homes as they attempt to start new lives in foreign countries.

In this post, I consider that past alienation - whether endured by individuals on the political left or the right - may shape so-called unpeople or outsiders into future leaders. In other words, those whom we oppress, isolate, and silence today may, through that experience, define our reality tomorrow.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Elections and the Erased Citizen


41-year-old Iván Duque, Colombia's new president from the center-right Democratic Center party. Photo dates from 11 March 2018. Image Source: Voa News.

The Colombians have just chosen a conservative candidate in national elections. Newsweek:
"With 84 percent of the vote in, Iván Duque of the center-right Democratic Center party won Colombia’s second presidential run-off Sunday in a post-war electoral process after more than 50 years of internal conflict, defeating left-leaning candidate Gustavo Petro of the Colombia Humana coalition. This is also the first time the South American country chose a female vice president."
Today, at my other blog, The Dragonfly, I reflect on the fate of activists and journalists who disappeared in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s. More than 51,000 people in Colombia are registered as disappeared or missing, in a story of erased citizens that continues to this day.

Colombia's Duque Says Limits on Trade Would Hurt Emerging Economies (23 March 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Colombia election: Ivan Duque may jeopardise FARC deal | Al Jazeera English (16 June 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Unspoil Your Spyware


Samsung self-hypnosis screenshot (Hat tip: Vigilant Citizen).

Last year, WikiLeaks' Vault 7 release included information on how the CIA hacked Samsung's smart televisions. The hacking tool, Weeping Angel,  turned the F8000 TV into a hot microphone, which recorded audio in the room even when owners thought their TV was off.

Samsung self-hypnosis screenshot (Hat tip: Vigilant Citizen).

Later in 2017, the South Korean corporation endured negative publicity as its heir, Lee Jae-Yong, went to prison. In 2016, Forbes considered Lee to be the 40th most powerful person in the world, indicating that this conviction was impressive. The 49-year-old only served one year of his five-year sentence. He was treated as a bystander in his country's huge political corruption scandal.

But Samsung takes a 'What, Me Worry?' attitude to all this. A corrupt Vice-Chairman; TVs as spyware; what's the problem? Why not respond to the negative publicity with a new brainwash feature?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

When Death Confronts You


The mummified corpse of one of Sir John Franklin's men from the ill-fated 1845 Arctic expedition. Image Source: pinterest.

There is a new post up on my other blog, The Dragonfly (here), which describes my work on the 1845 Franklin expedition. Ridley Scott has produced a new television series on the same subject, which plays on the explorers' horror as they confronted death in an endless, barren wilderness. The show premieres on 26 March 2018.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tweet of the Day: Recession Anniversary


Celebrities on Steamships


"The gem of the Cunard line, the Queen Mary, is seen berthed in New York in 1938, two years after its maiden voyage."

The BBC has reported that photographer Ian Wright discovered professional photographers' images of celebrities traveling on the Cunard Line ships in the early 20th century. The archival trove, held at the George Grantham Bain Collection Library of Congress and Cunard Archives. Wright combed through over a quarter of a million photographs to put together a book. His research reveals the celebrities of the 1910s through the 1930s as they traveled the globe in opulent and glamorous surroundings of these finely-appointed ships. Cunard photographers developed the photos in on-board darkrooms.

The photos are © the Bain Collection and are reproduced here under Fair Use, with quoted captions cited from the BBC report. 39,744 glass negatives from the whole collection are available online. Library of Congress news photos from the 1910s are posted online here. There are more Cunard pictures here.

The famous author before his death in 1910: "Count Tolstoy stands on board the RMS Lusitania. The ocean liner was later famously torpedoed by a German U-Boat at the beginning of World War One."

Actors Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, on their honeymoon on the Aquitania in 1920.

Jean Acker, actress and wife of actor Rudolph Valentino in the early 1920s on the Aquitania.

"As she arrives in America from France on 18 April 1925, actor Gloria Swanson smiles at photographers. However, she had been gravely ill in Paris during the preceding months, following an abortion that had gone badly."

Marlene Dietrich, German star noted for the famous film, The Blue Angel (1930), photographed by Bill Probst.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love in the New Millennium 12: The Song of Songs


ANCIENT EGYPTIAN LOVE SONG (19 November 2012). Video Source: Youtube.

For Valentine's Day, hear Canadian musician Peter Pringle perform an Ancient Egyptian love song. Pringle specializes in building and playing recreations of historical instruments. He sings in old languages and tries to reimagine the music of our ancestors as closely as possible. He explains how he constructed this Ancient Egyptian harp, here. My earlier post on Pringle is here.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Of Hauntings and Homelessness



A few years ago, when I was living in England, I walked through a back parking lot behind a grocery store on my way home. There were two vagrants there, sharing a bottle of wine, and I heard them talking:
"I never expected this."
"Expected what?"
"To be brought low."

Image Source: RT.

They are in growing company: in November, 2017, The Guardian reported that one person is homeless out of every 200 people in the UK. In London, one person in every 59 people is homeless! The epidemic is masked by unreported situations, people who are sofa-surfing, people living in their cars. The rot is spreading to London's leafy suburbs. Numbers are similar for the UK's other big cities. In Scotland, one household goes homeless every 19 minutes; over 6,000 children will be homeless on Christmas Day this year; and 184,000 families are one paycheque away from losing their home. This is mainly due to high rents, soaring property taxes, and housing benefit cuts.

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.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Curios: An Early Integrated Circuit


Technology that Changed the World: First Integrated Circuit (19 October 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Curios is my blog series on odd things that turn up at auction houses. This is LOT #72176 at Heritage Auctions, An Early Microchip Prototype, Precursor to the Integrated Circuit, Developed in Dallas, Texas in 1958. All images reproduced here are from the auction listing. The chip is on the block today:
"Technological advancements do not just happen, and they can even be the product of some accidents - or, at least, a 'trial and error' methodology. In most cases of evolutionary development, there are, and must be, stages of advancement. We all take for granted the 'micro technology' that runs our everyday devices - and indirectly dominates our lives - which would not exist today if it were not for the technology behind the Integrated Circuit (IC) microchip. From cell phones to computers, the semiconductor age has made an impact on everything we do and how we do it. In the late 1950s, this cutting-edge technology, at least at the time, was pioneered by industry giant Texas Instruments with the charge being led by the legendary Jack Kilby so associated with the advent of the semiconductor - 'the chip that Jack built' has been echoed, likely daily, at least somewhere, since this revolution occurred some nearly 60 years ago...

In the summer of 1958, Jack Kilby began to work on an alternative to the 'largess' problems of circuitry and started writing down thoughts and sketching out ideas until he was ready to show how an IC could be built on semiconductor material and function. The initial iteration of the component was a sliver of Germanium with several projecting wires attached to a glass brick. The first successful demonstration of a phase shift oscillator had occurred, and the foundation of what became future generations of micro technology had been born. The advancement made at that time would ultimately result in the silicon 'chip' so associated today with virtually every aspect of technology. Jack Kilby would eventually win a Nobel Prize for his unparalleled breakthrough, which literally changed the entire world as we know it.

Of course, Jack Kilby did not perform his 'magic' in isolation or without the help of others. During that same period of time, Tom Yeargan worked as a technician at Texas Instruments and assisted Jack Kilby with a number of projects that culminated in the working microchip prototype. Tom Yeargan personally retained some materials from the original era of this micro technology development, which has become part of the history of his deservedly proud family. Sadly, Tom Yeargan is no longer here to share stories of just how the creation of the microchip came to fruition, but, fortunately, his family has preserved his legacy and now wish to share his historical treasures with everyone.

This incredible Lot features both a Germanium wafer complete with leads and wires on the original glass brick as well as a second unit - a prototype of a silicon circuit featuring metallic leads attached to a plastic 'petri dish'rounding out this dynamic duo of technological history. In addition to the precursor engineering devices, this offering has related documentation including a formal statement by Tom Yeargan chronicling his role in developing the microchip with Jack Kilby. The Germanium unit is presented in a plastic case that has a label signed by Jack Kilby further authenticating the piece. Jack Kilby even mentioned Tom Yeargan by name in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Both Jack Kilby and Tom Yeargan are gone, but neither will ever be forgotten.

Measurements: 0.99 x 0.31 x 0.03 inches (2.52 x 0.8 x 0.1 cm)"

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.