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 Numerology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Numerology. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Bitcoin's Satoshi Reveal and Genetic Feudalism: I



Another 'Faketoshi' debuted this week and tried to claim the mantle of the anonymous Bitcoin inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto. Crypto watchers scoffed. The reveal was a hopelessly amateurish LARP. Faketoshi claimed he lost his 980,000 Bitcoins in a crashed laptop and that he deliberately uses bad English. He also does not make major decisions without checking their symbolic representations in a Chaldean numerology machine - and in the Bible.

I read Faketoshi's three-part bulletin so that you don't have to. I concluded was that this was not a Satoshi reveal at all. Beneath the blather, it seemed more sinister, a coded announcement about how Bitcoin will be used with Big Data to enslave us.

Mind you, I'm someone who concluded that Grammarly is spyware to track thoughtcrimes in writers' drafts folders.


Faketoshi stated he was a Pakistani Brit who is and was brilliant, although in truth he is and was more of a generalist who knew how to hire brilliant people. He is confidently coming forward now after a suicidal depression.

He had his hakuna matata years (warning: Disney reference) while he worked for the NHS. He spent years pretending that Bitcoin didn't exist and that he didn't invent it. But now, he's making a comeback to take Bitcoin in an exciting new direction. To do this, he has legally changed his name from Bilal Khalid to James Caan, because he is the Godfather of Bitcoin.

For someone who claims he was born in 1978, the reveal was filled with tone deaf cultural references suspiciously relevant to Baby Boomers (the reveal was dedicated to Steve Jobs?), rather than a younger generation. Faketoshi's Chaldean numerology, with its Babylonian disinformation, seemed to come straight from some Illuminati mystery sweat lodge.

Wait. Did he say he worked for the NHS?

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Satoshi in the Holy Sepulchre



I have a new blog post up at Vocal Media, concerning the three-day Christ-like reveal of Satoshi Nakomoto on a New York City PR firm's Website:


Today, tomorrow, and the day after, Bitcoin's inventor is supposedly revealing his identity here and here. Lo, But I Have Seen This Satoshi Nakamoto and He Cannot Write. His statement opens:
"I always believed in freedom and liberation of the common man and that’s the reason I began my Bitcoin journey but it’s ironic that I got trapped into something which I’d to set myself free from and it took me 8/9 years to understand and get the courage to fight myself and come-out without this erroneous notion that what would the world think about the truth, as truth is always stranger than fiction."
Satoshi! You have 980,000 Bitcoins! You can afford to hire an editor! The reveal is full of suspicious Illuminati-type numerology. As the reveal unfolds, I will remark on how this online mischief, along with the Epstein-scandal-as-psyop, may relate to the coming economic downturn.

- See my earlier post on Craig Wright's Satoshi reveal, 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, December 15, 2016

Awaken the Amnesiacs 7: The Economist Predicts the Year 2017


The Economist predictions for 2017, released November 2016. Image Source: The Economist.

When I saw that The Economist's tarot spread cover for its special issue predicting next year, my heart sank. After the American election, #proofoflife at WikiLeaks, and the impeachment of the South Korean president, I did not want to think about any more political weirdness. In case you have had enough too, here is my TL;DR on The Economist's message:

The cover may or may not predict a terror attack in Europe or a nuclear threat in Asia in the first quarter of the year, cementing Trump's presidency in the second quarter. Despite the fact that Trump will backtrack on promises, his ability to mesmerize the populist masses will grow. A huge upheaval is expected in the third quarter, with Merkel likely to lose the German election and Wilders and LePen gaining in earlier elections in the Netherlands and France. A divided body politic must find middle ground. After watching this unfold, the globalist liberal establishment will renew itself by December through the debut of exciting new technology, increased connectivity in developing countries, and a redoubled effort to control the public space, both online and off, with figures from government, banking, entertainment and academia entering online discourse in earnest. They will absorb formerly independent Internet enterprises, recapture lost ground, go on the attack, and flip the populist script.

On Youtube, I sensed the alt-right, alt-media types didn't want to look at The Economist. They are weary. "They do this to us every year," sighed one Youtuber after making three videos on the subject. Even the conspiracy theorists are sick of conspiracy theories. They only reviewed this Planet Trump thing out of a dogged sense of obligation to keep up their end - New World Order, Illuminati, Trump, Pizzagate, yadda yadda. They were all sure about one thing. The cover contains a hidden message.

I envy the flat rationalist, who would scoff before imagining anything arcane here. This is merely an illustrator's whimsical reference, as though the editors had chosen a picture of a woman reading the future in a crystal ball. I hope it is true.

Perhaps the editors did this as a tongue-in-cheek layout to bait crazy conspiracy theorists. Actually, I think the editors at The Economist do not care how the cover is received by the alt-media, who are beneath their contempt. If so, then this is another tone-deaf, top-down misconception of the impact of the Internet on the public debate. On the Internet, mimetics, semiotics, virality and truth excavations rule the day, not inside jokes and polished arguments to a select audience. A tarot spread confirms the worst conspiracy theories about magic infecting high politics. To give evidence of this - straight from the horse's mouth - strengthens the alt-media, which cannot be good for The Economist.

In an earlier post, Magic, Numerology and the IMF, I observed that Christine Lagarde did not realize that she now had to speak to two audiences. Every speech she made would be channeled into the old MSM theatre, as well as the alt-media. She plainly did not understand the latter at all. Her clever asides would be taken the usual way by the old establishment, but on Youtube, they would feed the independent machine of conspiracy theorizing and populism.

To make matters worse, she seemed to confirm the conspiracy theorists' fears about a magic-obsessed establishment. Lagarde was making predictions for the year 2014, peppering her predictions for the coming year with numerological nudge-nudge-wink-wink-hint-hints, which promised (precisely, down to the day) the manipulation of oil prices to hurt Russia. To the alt-media, this made it look like her policy speech had a magical subtext and potency. The liberal democracies are supposed to be secular, humanist, and rationalist; they should not be run by the rules of parlour games, or by people who believe that parlour games are real. I argued that parlour games should stay in the parlour.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2016: Swiss Gates to the Underworld


Gotthard Base Tunnel opening celebration (1 June 2016). Image Source: Daily Mail.

This year, concerns about hoax rituals shifted to Switzerland, where the Gotthard Base Tunnel was completed after 17 years of work and a cost of £8.4 billion. It is the longest and deepest traffic tunnel in the world, the first of its kind through the Alps. The opening ceremony seemed to be business as usual, in the style of the Olympics and similar global events. But after professional dancers stripped off their construction coveralls and began dancing semi-naked around a bellowing goat god, conspiracy theorists, and even the mainstream press, wondered about the themes depicted. Artistic commentators dismissed conspiracy theorists as misreading this creative homage to Swiss Alpine culture - bloated angels, sacrificial lambs, scarab beetles and all.






Scenes and images associated with the Gotthard Tunnel. The tunnel opens to public use in December 2016. Images Source: Daily Mail.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

No Relief from the Heavens


From Sichuan, China: Share the Night With You. Image Source (12 August 2015) © Xiaoshan Huang via TWAN. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use.

Bombings in Lahore, Pakistan and Brussels were intended to disrupt Easter. Terror cells responsible for the Belgian bombings planned to kill Easter worshippers in churches in the UK and across Europe. There is an unconfirmed rumour on the Internet that ISIS crucified a Catholic priest, Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, on Good Friday in Yemen. In response to news like this, I always used to take personal comfort in astronomy and beautiful photos like the ones from The World at Night at the top and bottom of this post, because astronomy gives the biggest, most objective perspective on these questions. Unfortunately, astronomy is a secular study of the universe which drags us back into religious map of the human mind.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Awaken the Amnesiacs 3: The Hermetics


The hermetic principle of silence. Image Source: Lilipilyspirit.

Dark days behind us: today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere (04:49 UTC). The December solstice refers to birth or rebirth of the weakened sun in northern countries, often described in allegorical terms, as one New Age writer puts it: "The sun is dawning after the increasing darkness of winter. The Winter Solstice is nature’s physical equivalent of a spiritual awakening and enlightenment." From Theosophy Northwest:
At the winter solstice the universal currents of life help human consciousness to enter divine spheres. At the same time spiritual energy can descend from higher worlds into the human arena: the gods "descend into hell" to garner experience in their underworld -- our own world -- thereby bringing inspiration and enlightenment to humanity. At this time each of us also may undergo a new birth. Nature has opened the door, and it is up to us to recognize this and take a step further.
For denizens of the New Age Internet, this solstice is the culmination of 2015's online spiritual awakening, perhaps a Fifth Great Awakening in the United States, occasioned by a proclaimed end to the war between the sexes. When combined with hermeticism, discussed in today's post, the gnostic truce between the sexes attacks all polarized categorizations of identity. Online gurus argue that only hardened egoists prosper in an environment where inflexible categorizations of identity are the norm. Spiritual commentators prefer to cultivate a continuum of identities and they expect that spectrum to expand social compassion.

The winter solstice at Stonehenge. Image Source: Stonehenge Trips.

In the aftermath of the supposed collapse of egocentric western dualism, hermeticists pick up the pieces, to recover cultural memory and allow their amnesiac followers to 'remember' earlier ways of identifying with the physical, rational, emotional and spiritual aspects of existence. The hermetic part of this phenomenon makes the now-gender-neutral collective unconscious 'conscious' in practical senses, as with the establishment of new political movements. Of course, the shift in values is not widespread or universal. Nor are gnostic-hermetic solutions necessarily good ones, whatever their devotees may expect.

One must step back from the arcane language and beliefs to observe the actual trend behind them. Online debates on these subjects in mid-late 2015 indicate a tipping point, wherein interaction in virtual reality has begun to change behaviour and awareness on deeper levels. The Internet is breaking down and synthesizing demarcated experiences, whether between mind and body, between the genders, between the individual and the collective, or between the local and global. Perhaps hermeticism and gnosticism are the most durable ideas available in western culture to describe flexible identification, as individuals find themselves simultaneously immersed in virtual reality and 'real' reality.

China's One Belt, One Road Initiative (2015). Image Source: Roman Wilhelm/MERICS/The Diplomat.

One may ask how spiritual issues pertain to hard reality. Why does the New Age Internet matter, when China is building naval bases in the South China Sea, the Red Sea, and on the west coast of Africa? These online trends matter because societies rise and fall according to their adaptability when confronted with jumps in technology, social changes, and ensuing geopolitical conflicts. World War III, when (or if) it arrives, and everything that leads up to it, will depend on global connectivity. How our brains respond to connectivity and the ideas we discover or rediscover through that response may be essential to cultural resourcefulness and survival.

To ask these questions about western values now is akin to asking how the introduction of the printing press in Germany (1439-1440) led to the Protestant Reformation (1517-1617) and the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). The spiritual and moral outlook of a society is indexed to its level of technology and prosperity. When the latter two factors change, so does the former. Anomie and aporia, experienced then as now, will lead to experiments to develop values better suited to new ways of living. But that process emerges through trial and error. Societies sometimes depend on war to determine a new dominant narrative.

My treatment of these topics comes with a caveat. While I may comment on unusual online material here, I do not personally identify with evidence I uncover. Hermetic traditions and politics can be weird, occult, radical, fringe or extremist. My comments in this series of blog posts do not constitute my endorsement of these beliefs. They are presented here as part of an examination of the cultural historical impact of the Internet on western values, under increasingly universalized, yet decentralized and chaotic conditions. I also do not personally agree with conspiracy theories mentioned here, but rather regard them as signs of contemporary mentalities.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: Enter the Underworld


Image Source: Saya in the Underworld.

Daily existence requires a tacit denial of death. When people do contemplate mortality, the denied Underworld offers up secrets. This is why all cultures have legends and rituals around facing that fear, crossing that line between life and death, and returning with knowledge that proves essential to a longer, better life. The 'Descent into the Underworld' is so universal that it is known as a mytheme, an irreducible, unchanging element of all stories.

This mytheme runs back thousands of years; there are actual geographic locations which are historically considered gates to the Underworld. Modern technology provides new portals. An autumn equinox wiccan ritual visits Persephone "in the time of global warming" and allows participants to exchange knowledge with "the darkness" of the Underworld through New Age meditation. One rumoured Japanese Millennial rite involves locking oneself in a darkened house and unlighted bathroom, calling spirits from the Underworld via the toilet or bathtub with one's mobile phone, and controlling them with salt.

Another Japanese creepy pasta (an online urban legend) claims people can enter the Underworld using an elevator. The elevator ritual instructs the individual to ride an elevator alone in a 10-storey building to floors 4 -> 2 -> 6 -> 2 -> 10. One is then supposed to take the elevator to the 5th floor, where a young woman will enter. This is the sign that things have gotten weird, since it is forbidden to speak to, or look at, the woman, who is supposedly not of this world. The principal then presses the button for the 1st floor, but if the ritual has worked, the elevator will instead go to the 10th floor. At that point, you are on your own. The elevator ritual has also appeared in South Korea, where there are instructions on how to return to reality. Below the jump, see videos of attempts at the elevator ritual, and a VICE report on how near death coffin experiences became a Millennial fad among careerists in South Korea.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: The Devil is in the Details


The British Guiana 1c Magenta (1856) has a sailing ship image and the colony’s Latin motto, "Damus Petimus Que Vicissim" or "We Give and Expect in Return." Image Source: stampboards.

The most rare and valuable stamp in the world is the British Guiana One Cent Magenta, which is worth almost USD $9.5 million, according to its last auction in June 2014. As far as we know, there is only one 1c Magenta. It is so rare and valuable that it is the only major stamp not in the private philatelic collection of Britain's royal family, who have been collecting stamps for as long as stamps have existed. The stamp was discovered in 1873 by a 12-year-old Scottish schoolboy, Louis Vernon Vaughan, who found the stamp among his uncle's papers in Demerara. He saw that the stamp was not listed in his catalogue and sold it for six shillings to a local collector. According to online inflation and currency conversion calculators, six shillings in 1873 would be equivalent to approximately USD $259 in September 2015 values.

The stamp is so rare because it was produced in an emergency issue at the Georgetown newspaper, the Royal Gazette, when a British ship did not deliver enough stamps needed for the colony. Since its discovery, the stamp has had many adventures, exploded in value, and gained worldwide attention due to its uniqueness. In 1878, the greatest stamp collector in history, Count Philippe la Renotière von Ferrary added it to his collection. In 1922, the British royal family tried to buy it and failed. In 1970, a consortium of Pennsylvanian businessmen bought it. In 1980, the heir to the Du Pont fortune bought it; and the stamp spent the late 1990s up to 2010 in the owner's bank vault, while the owner spent time in prison for murdering an Olympic gold medal wrestler. The current owner has briefly lent the stamp to the Smithsonian. If you want to see it and you live anywhere near Washington DC, visit the Gross Stamp Gallery at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, where the 1c Magenta is on display between June 2015 and November 2017. The Museum warns: please call in advance to confirm the stamp's availability at +1 (202) 633-5555, since it will be periodically removed from display for preservation.

The story of this stamp is a lesson about paying attention to details and the origin of real value. It took the eyes and perspective of a twelve-year-old boy to see the value of the stamp, that is, a boy not yet brutally shaped by the world, whose imagination was still fully available to him and completely his own. Before the stamp's 2014 auction to current owner Stuart Weitzman, the Du Pont trust placed the stamp in the care of Sotheby's auction house. The Sotheby's agent who was temporarily entrusted with the stamp recognized that it takes that youthful perspective - to have one's eyes open to the wonders of the world - to recognize this stamp and things like it of immense value:
David Redden, director of special projects at Sotheby’s, said the “British Guiana” was a stamp of almost mythical repute among philatelists. He said: “For me, as a school stamp collector, it was a magical object, the very definition of rarity and value: unobtainable rarity and extraordinary value."
Imagine digging through an attic stuffed with old junk. You shuffle through a sheaf of dusty papers, and a tiny square of wine-coloured paper flutters onto the floor. You step on the scrap of paper, pull it off your shoe, toss it out, and throw away the second example in the world of the British Guiana 1c Magenta, which would have been your biggest lotto ticket ever, if you had only known, if you had only been paying attention to the details.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Magic, Numerology and the IMF


Planning/Knowledge mural at Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Painting by Ben Long. Image Source: Vigilant Citizen.

What does the year 2000 mean? What did it mean? Nothing. There is no innate significance about it, other than the cultural weight associated with the calendar and religious history. In reality, the passing from one year (1999) to another (2000) meant nothing. However, symbolically speaking, the arrival of the year 2000 was imagined as a huge moment of change.

The mass media, on the Internet, in news, politics, entertainment, and tech circles, convey fake symbolic assessments about the momentous shift to a new age. Moreover, entertainment figures and historic actors blur the line between fiction and fact around this mantra all the time. Other people do it too. Just as the years 1984 and 2012 and the day 9/11 became cultural artifacts, false significance is imposed upon the year 2000. What people do in real life, how and what they create, what they perceive and express, all become narratives constructed around the new Millennium. Thus, although the year 2000 was no more a turning point than the year 1996 or the year 2004, the stubbornly-held conviction that 2000 had to be an enormous moment of change is increasingly mischievous and pernicious.

The trend is evident all over popular politics and culture. The insistence that 2000 must have 'changed everything' means that people are now doing things in large and small ways to 'change everything.' In the artificial quest to change everything, an old visual and numerological lexicon has given the quest false meanings. Throughout the mass media, above all in the entertainment industry, marketers are borrowing symbols from an occult cultural heritage. They are using these symbols like loaded guns, pointing them at the year 2000, forcing that year and subsequent decades to become what they think this time period must become.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Forty Days and Forty Nights: Christian Lent and Easter


The Temptation of Christ (1854) by Ary Scheffer. Image Source: Wiki. Based on Matthew 4:9: "Satan says that to Jesus: 'All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.'"

The number 40 is central to the Christian religion. It is the pivotal signifier of the temptation and resurrection of Christ. It is the number, one might say, on which his proclaimed historic existence and divinity depend. If one were to hang the entire faith on numbers, they would be 3, 1 and 40; and according to the Rule of Three, 40 is mathematically and mystically related to 3 and 1. As Christianity evolved away from Judaism, an incredibly elaborate religious story mingled with Roman imperial history. Taken literally by its believers, this legend of human and divine sacrifice came to obscure the Christian faith's underlying numerology.

Jews remain more forthright than Christians in their numerological mysticism. Building on ancient Mesopotamian mythologies of water gods, they used ingenious mathematical theories to see 40 as the harrowing number of sin, atonement and forgiveness, and made it a symbolic catalyst of revolution:
According to Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis, author of The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism, the number of 40 represents "a time of radical transition or transformation." Any time the number 40 appears in a biblical passage, it's meant to indicate a liminal time when something extraordinary occurs. Multiples of 40 also are used to denote extraordinary circumstances ... .
Aside from delayed messianism, the heart of the Jewish tradition turns on the problem of sin and how to resolve sin. The number 40 represents that resolution of sin as a basis for a jump to a new level of development. It is a way out of the terrible dilemmas posed to humans who try to find a higher path when confronted by the bestial aspects of their nature: immorality, depravity, viciousness and brutality.

The magic of numbers, the deep, transformative and pure value of mathematics to find absolute truths in a flawed world, lies at the core of this story. Math provides quantitative and definitive keys to otherwise unknowable abstractions. And for any human being on this planet, not just Jews and Christians, that is really something. The breathtaking power of mathematics offers a path away from compromise, from failure and shades of grey, from violated ideals and muddied knowledge. For those who wish to renew hope amidst the grime of adulthood, for those who yearn for purity, numbers provide real answers. Although it is not usually acknowledged in spring religious observances (descended from pagan fertility rites and projected onto the Christian calendar), it is on these mathematical and numerological assumptions that Christian Lent and Easter are founded.

Image Source: Busted Halo.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Forty Days and Forty Nights in Jewish Tradition


In the Hebrew Book of Jonah, the prophet Jonah spent 3 days and 3 nights inside a whale. Image Source: CredoMag.

Numbers carry sacred, mystical and occult meanings in Jewish tradition, because they are symbolic religious tokens of the relationship between god and man. Also known as Gematria, the Jews derived this numerological bridge between the divine and the human from the Assyro-Babylonians. Letters of the Hebrew alphabet were ascribed numerical values, such that the mathematical sums embedded in written words conveyed transcendent symbolic messages. To continue HOTTC's series on Forty Days and Forty Nights, this post explores the powerful meanings associated with the number 40 in Jewish culture.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Forty Days and Forty Nights: The Rule of Three


Christ in the Wilderness (1872) by Ivan Kramskoy (1837-1887). Image Source: Wiki.

For Christians, this is the season of Lent, a period of contemplation on sin, repentance and atonement, which lasts for 40 days. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the number 40 appears repeatedly, often as a measurement of time. How and why do forty days and forty nights unite these three faiths? Wiki also records the number's occult astrological dimension:
The planet Venus forms a pentagram in the night sky every eight years with it returning to its original point every 40 years with a 40 day regression (some scholars believe that this ancient information was the basis for the number 40 becoming sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims).
Many occult websites claim that Venus traces a pentagram path through the heavens as viewed from Earth.
Scientific astronomical sites do not appear to discuss this phenomenon. Video Source: Youtube.

In religious texts, the number 40 simply came to mean 'a lot.' But the number is a third multiple of the 'Rule of Three,' which makes it fundamental to the structure of creative expression, philosophystatisticscomputing, investing, diving, military strategy, and aeronautics. When you see any number repeated in many sacred texts across thousands of years, it is worth asking if some innate knowledge is passed on in the mythological cryptics. Even a secular outlook can decode the idea of religious fasting periods. The basic notion is that sensory deprivation quiets clamour and distractions. Hunger makes you think about the eternal! Stop feeding the senses, and let them redirect toward the big picture. Finally, one focuses to hear and see the truth in things. And there sits the number 40, in plain sight, at the end of Lent. What does it mean?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Happy Lunar New Year! Welcome the Year of the Goat


Image Source © Barbara Giordano via Fine Art America.

Today marks the start of the Asian New Year. Some of us are eating some amazing food which symbolizes luck, long life, happiness and prosperity, like Jiaozi dumplings, made to resemble ancient Chinese coins, and incredible cookies, like Kuih Loyang cookies (honeycomb, beehive or rose cookies) and Kueh Bangkit, melt-in-your mouth tapioca coconut cookies (recipes here and here). Spring rolls are made look like gold bars. Octagonal trays of togetherness celebrate the lucky number 8. Whole fish make wishes for abundance. Fa gao cakes, or 'fortune' cakes, steam in different colours, ideally rising in their bamboo steam baskets into a big smile (recipes here and here). Sweets bring sweetness to life in the coming year: check out traditional Chinese candies at Aji Ichiban (here), one of Hong Kong's largest candy and snack stores and an international franchise. People exchange ornately designed red and gold envelopes (Ang Pow envelopes) full of money. Fortune asked Chinese astrologers what was in store for us in 2015; they said 2015 would be all about the economy. It is not a year for risks, but still a year when the arts, writing, publication and all forms of creativity are highly favoured. Avoid conflict. Make home and the best comforts of domesticity your priorities. And in the year of the Goat or Sheep, "master the soft sell," "be a shepherd."

Tea Eggs symbolize wealth (recipe). Image Source: Everyday Maven.

Sweets are popular at Asian New Year's celebrations. On the left, dragon cookies; top left Kuih Kapit, or love letter, cookies; top right, Kuih Rose cookies; bottom, pineapple tarts. Image Source: Illuminant Partners.




A selection of last year's New Year's delights in Singapore, from top: Nian Gao tarts at the Fullerton Hotel; Golden Piglet Shortcakes at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel; Koi-shaped Nian Gao steamed cakes filled with durian or mango-citrus pulp at the Peony Jade restaurant; and Fortune of Gold apricot and passionfruit poundcake at the Goodwood Park Hotel. Image Source: The Dining Table.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Millennial Mysteries: Ghost Calls to Malaysian Flight Passengers


Image Source: veooz.

An odd report was published on 10 March 2014 in the Washington Post about the 777 Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared early on 8 March over the South China Sea. Relatives have been calling passengers' cell phones and getting ring tones, but no answers; they can leave messages - which have not been answered. A Chinese messenger service says the phones are still connected.

Image Source: Google via Mirror.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Celebrity Inquisition


Still from Kubrick film, Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Image Source: Slums Bowden.

Nothing warms the heart these days like a totally batshit crazy conspiracy theorist, connecting the dots between mass pop culture and the evil, secret cabals which supposedly rule the world.

Conspiracy theorists are the new Millennium's online Van Helsings, self-appointed guardians of the Web's forums, social networks, image-sharing sites and Youtube. The Internet gives them endless varieties of weirdness from which to choose. Lately, they have focused on material pumped out by the American entertainment industry, which is awash in pre-Islamic pagan occult symbols. In fact, one might say that America is the world's biggest exporter of early Near Eastern and Arabian neo-mythologies. But none of these folkloric symbols has any value without the purely American invention of the celebrity inquisition.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

All Hallows' Eve Countdown: The Curse of the Purple Sapphire


The Delhi Purple Sapphire, in an arcane setting designed by one of its owners to contain its maleficent power with binding spells. Image Source: Live Science.

Today's Countdown to Hallowe'en post is about a curse of imperial plunder. Above, a gemstone with a reputation for leaving disaster in its wake. The gem is in fact an amethyst, stolen by a British soldier from a Temple of Indra - Hindu god of rain and thunderstorms - around the time of the 1857 Indian Mutiny. The current owner, the Natural History Museum in London, claims that it was stolen in 1855. From Kanpur, India, the stone made its way to Britain in the hands of Bengal cavalryman, Colonel W. Ferris. According to Live Science and The Indian Express, the gem spread misery to all who possessed it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 28: Circadian Rhythms and the Witching Hour

The Witching Hour © by Miriam Escofet.

Legend has it that the witching hour is midnight. But in modern horror films and online lore, the so-called hour of the devil is variously pegged at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. or 3:15 a.m. The Onion lampooned this superstition, proclaiming these hours to be unholy, but it is a common myth. Genesis 3:15 refers to the enmity between the serpent and woman; the phallic symbolism of the devil as serpent, combined with the temporal translation of the biblical reference, implies that this is the point when the estrangement between man and woman is greatest. 3 a.m. is supposedly the time when black masses are held, to invert the purported time of Christ's death at 3 p.m. Of course, a trinity is implied, in unholy and holy cases. A 2009 Eminem song, 3 a.m., related all these ideas to Millennial conspiracy theories about Freemasons and the Illuminati (see the video here).

In the lingo of modern investing, the witching hour flips the clock and refers to the hour between 3 p.m. EST when the bond market closes, and 4 p.m. EST when the stock market closes.

Is there anything to this superstition that is based in substantial physical fact, and not religious fears or the occult? Yes, in fact, there is.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nuclear Leaks 16: Chernobyl Anniversary - Wormwood Will Fall from the Sky

Control room in Chernobyl's Reactor #4. Image © (2005) Gerd Ludwig via Boston Globe.

Today is the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Alla Yaroshinskaya, former Deputy to the USSR Supreme Soviet summed up the outcome: "The most dangerous element that came out of the Chernobyl reactor wasn't Cesium or Plutonium, but lies. The lie of '86, that's what I call it, a lie that was propagated like the radioactivity throughout the whole country and the entire world." Above, the control room of Chernobyl's Reactor #4 mirrrors worries about Fukushima's Reactor #4 (a number considered to be bad luck in Asia).

In 1986 and 1987, 240,000 liquidators and support workers passed through Chernobyl to contain the crisis. They were called biorobots. Ultimately, 600,000 people were recognized for their clean-up work; and according to the IAEA, there were 100,000 more who went unrecognized. Greenpeace claims that there was a total of 800,000 liquidators. National Geographic has some photographs of these workers here. The IAEA sees no direct correlation between their radiation exposure and their later cancer rates. Perhaps 40,000 are dead now, and some 100,000, now in their forties, are disabled and suffer from unending health problems, with about 4,000 dying every yearTheir children exhibited a seven-fold increase in genetic mutations. Their predicament has not been systematically studied or fully acknowledged. The debate on the number of deaths caused by the accident is inconclusive to say the least: Chernobyl's total number of deaths lies somewhere between 43 people and 1 million people.

The liquidators' efforts cannot be underestimated; they prevented a second explosion and China Syndrome at Chernobyl, which could have rendered Europe uninhabitable. The sheer size of the workforce, the speed at which they had to work, the resources they needed, and the costs involved to contain the fallout at Chernobyl all make Fukushima's smaller, valiant total workforce at the one year point of around 18,000 extremely worrying. Chernobyl is widely considered to be one of the key factors which brought down the Soviet Union.

The main medal (here) given by Soviet authorities to liquidators features a drop of blood irradiated with alpha and beta particles and gamma rays. First responders additionally received a medal with Lenin on it. There are various other medals for special workers, such as firefighters, and anniversary medals (see also here). One commemorative medal features a pregnant woman on one side and a Chernobyl clock on the other. According to Wiki, liquidator medals have been available for sale since the 1990s in Belarussian, Ukrainian and Russian markets. As their recipients died, some medals were sold by surviving family members. They are also sold on the Internet by antique dealers.

Mythology, water spirits and radiation: Chornobyl (Artemisia vulgaris) roots were traditionally used to banish Slavonic water nymphs, or rusalkyThis is: Renée Fleming singing Song of the Moon in Dvořák's Rusalka in a NY Met production. In folk medicine, overdosing on Chornobyl roots led to memory loss.

The Chernobyl disaster (described in this excellent documentary) has not just engendered lies. It has also become interwoven with popular culture and Biblical, Renaissance and Millennial eschatologies. It is, in fact, an object lesson in how engineering and scientific failures can easily and rapidly enter the realm of myth, symbols, superstitions and religious dreams. With Chernobyl, it happened almost immediately, starting with a July 1986 article in the New York Times, which associated the name of the exploded nuclear reactor with the Wormwood Star in the Bible's Book of Revelation. In this post, I trace a winding, very strange road to follow how the religious and linguistic etymology of the word 'Wormwood' contributed to the mythologizing of this nuclear event.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Illuminati Lotto, the 23 Enigma and the Goddess of Discord

Winning ticket? Image Source: Melissa Stetten.

Tonight, the nationwide American lottery Mega Millions had a historic jackpot of $640 million. The amount prompted online discussion on the virtues of sharing: a viral tweet stated blindly that it was enough for the winner to share roughly $2 million with every other individual in the country (rather than $2): "Lotto jackpot=$640 Million. Population of the US=300 Million. Lets just give everyone 2.13 Million!" Math skills aside, some people (possibly) photoshopped their tickets with winning numbers and circulated them on Twitter. One report just out claims that the jackpot was won in Maryland and there are a few winners in other states. May fortune as well as good fortune go to the winners.

They might need a little extra luck. The winning numbers are: 2, 4, 23, 38, 46 and a bonus number of 23. When people have been talking about this all week, and lining up to buy tickets, it is easy to see in recession-plagued America how this lottery would capture the imagination, and how the winning numbers would take on special significance. On the Internet, a conspiracy theory began circulating within an hour of the numbers being announced at 11 pm Eastern time in the United States. The repetition of the number 23 in the winning numbers is taken by some to be a sign that the Illuminati are secretly running the lotto. You can see some wild theories about Illuminati and the number 23, here and here. I don't like conspiracy theories, but this one is undoubtedly a sign of the times.