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.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Credit Card Companies Want Your DNA

Image Source: Time.

According to Time (via the Wall Street Journal), VISA and Mastercard are looking into acquiring access to everything from your Facebook profile to your DNA:
A Wall Street Journal article earlier this week reported that Visa and MasterCard are exploring new ways to take data about your buying habits in the brick-and-mortar world and let online marketers use that information to target you with ads when you browse the web. But buried a little ways down in the article are some details that are considerably more alarming. Visa, the article says, wants access to everything from your insurance claim history to your Facebook friends list to your DNA. Yes, you read that right:

According to a Visa patent application published in April, the company sees potential to use a wide array of personal details to create profiles that could be used for ad targeting well beyond shopping details. It describes the possibility of also using “information from social network websites, information from credit bureaus, information from search engines, information about insurance claims, information from DNA databanks,” and other sources.
Interested in preserving privacy where privacy is non-existent? Have a look at the site of the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Or check out the Electronic Privacy Information Center. It's such a huge topic that I'll do a separate post on privacy advocates and how to (try to) get off the radar. For another report on this story, go here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Anniversaries: 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible

Image Source: Wiki.

Caption for the above image: Frontispiece to the King James' Bible, 1611, shows the Twelve Apostles at the top. Moses and Aaron flank the central text. In the four corners sit Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, authors of the four gospels, with their symbolic animals. At the top, over the holy spirit in a form of a dove, is the Tetragrammaton "יהוה" ("YHWH").

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the English Bible, which you can read online here. Translated from Hebrew, Greek and Latin at the behest of King James I of England and VI of Scotland, the KJV Authorised version was a landmark of the English Reformation.  The King commissioned it in response to the 1603 Millenary Petition, signed by 1,000 Puritan ministers.  A 1655 history stated that the text of the petition ran as follows:
Most gracious and dread sovereign, Seeing it has pleased the Divine majesty, to the great comfort of all good Christians, to advance your highness, according to your just title, to the peaceable government of this Church and Commonwealth of England, we, the ministers of the gospel in this land, neither as factious men affecting a popular parity in the Church, nor as schismatics aiming at the dissolution of the State ecclesiastical, but as the faithful servants of Christ and loyal subjects to your majesty, desiring and longing for the redress of divers abuses of the Church, could do no less in our obedience to God, service to your majesty, love to His Church, than acquaint your princely majesty with our particular griefs; for as your princely pen writeth, 'the king, as a good physician, must first know what peccant humours his patient naturally is most subject unto, before he can begin his cure;' and although divers of us that sue for reformation have formerly, in respect of the times, subscribed to the book--some upon protestation, some upon exposition given them, some with condition rather than the Church should have been deprived of their labour and ministry--yet now we, to the number of more than a thousand of your majesty's subjects and ministers, all groaning as under a common burden of human rites and ceremonies, do with one joint consent humble ourselves at your majesty's feet, to be eased and relieved in this behalf. Our humble suit, then, unto your majesty is that these offences following, some may be removed, some amended, some qualified:

I. In the Church service: that the cross in baptism, interrogatories ministered to infants, confirmation, as superfluous, may be taken away; baptism not to be ministered by women, and so explained; the cap and surplice not urged; that examination may go before the communion; that it be ministered with a sermon; that divers terms of priests, and absolution, and some other used, with the ring in marriage, and other such like in the book, may be corrected; the longsomeness of service abridged, Church songs and music moderated to better edification; that the Lord's Day be not profaned; the rest upon holy days not so strictly urged; that there may be a uniformity of doctrine prescribed; no Roman Catholic opinion to be any more taught or defended; no ministers charged to teach their people to bow at the name of Jesus; that the canonical Scriptures only be read in the Church.

II. Concerning Church ministers: that none hereafter be admitted into the ministry but able and sufficient men, and those to preach diligently and especially upon the Lord's day; that such as be already entered and cannot preach, may either be removed, and some charitable course taken with them for their relief, or else be forced, according to the value of their livings, to maintain preachers; that non-residency be not permitted; that King Edward's statute for the lawfulness of ministers' marriages be revived; that ministers be not urged to subscribe, but according to the law, to the Articles of Religion, and the king's supremacy only.

III. For Church livings and maintenance: that bishops leave their commendams, some holding parsonages, some prebends, some vicarages, with their bishoprics; that double-beneficed men be not suffered to hold some two, some three benefices with cure, and some two, three, or four dignities besides; that impropriations annexed to bishoprics and colleges be demised only to the preachers incumbents, for the old rent; that the impropriations of laymen's fees be charged, with a sixth or seventh part of their worth, to the maintenance of the preaching minister.

IV. For Church discipline: that the discipline and excommunication may be administered according to Christ's own institution, or, at the least, that enormities may be redressed, as namely, that excommunication come not forth under the name of lay persons, chancellors, officials, &c.; that men be not excommunicated for trifles and twelve-penny matters; that none be excommunicated without consent of his pastor; that the officers be not suffered to extort unreasonable fees; that none having jurisdiction or registers' places, put out the same to farm; that divers Roman Catholic canons (as for restraint of marriage at certain times) be reversed; that the longsomeness of suits in ecclesiastical courts (which hang sometimes two, three, four, five, six, or seven years) may be restrained; that the oath Ex Officio, whereby men are forced to accuse themselves, be more sparingly used; that licences for marriages without banns asked, be more cautiously granted:

These, with such other abuses yet remaining and practised in the Church of England, we are able to show not to be agreeable to the Scriptures, if it shall please your highness further to hear us, or more at large by writing to be informed, or by conference among the learned to be resolved; and yet we doubt not but that, without any further process, your majesty (of whose Christian judgment we have received so good a taste already) is able of yourself to judge of the equity of this cause. God, we trust, has appointed your highness our physician to heal these diseases; and we say with Mordecai to Esther, 'Who knoweth whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time?' Thus your majesty shall do that which we are persuaded shall be acceptable to God, honourable to your majesty in all succeeding ages, profitable to His Church, which shall be thereby increased, comfortable to your ministers, which shall be no more suspended, silenced, disgraced, imprisoned for men's traditions, and prejudicial to none but to those that seek their own quiet, credit and profit in the world.

Thus, with all dutiful submission, referring ourselves to your majesty's pleasure for your gracious answer, as God shall direct you, we most humbly recommend your highness to the Divine majesty, whom we beseech, for Christ His sake, to dispose your royal heart to do herein what shall be to His glory, the good of His Church, and your endless comfort.
Your majesty's most humble subjects, the ministers of the Gospel that desire not a disorderly innovation, but a due and godly reformation.
This English translation of the Bible thus reflected a desire to diminish certain Catholic rituals, beliefs and practices in the English Church. The KJV became the standard Bible in the English-speaking world by the 18th century, supplanting the Latin Vulgate Bible. You can see scans of the original 1611 edition, page by page, here. The King James Bible Trust has been putting up chapters of the KJV up on Youtube, here, read by various people who are active in British public life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Illusion of Time and the Multiverse

Image © Tiffany. Image Source: PBS.

PBS has a new 4-part series entitled The Fabric of the Cosmos on this month every Wednesday night. You can watch it in North America at 9:00 PM ET/PT on PBS (check local listings). Tonight's episode is called, "The Illusion of Time."

I09 reported on the series (the premiere was last week) and how popular Columbia prof and physicist Brian Greene is explaining something dear to the hearts of comic book editors everywhere: the existence of the multiverse and multiple copies of ourselves, inhabiting multi-realities. Is time the barrier between these dimensions?
Over the next month, NOVA is going to confirm what most sci-fi enthusiasts already suspect-that everything we've been taught about space and time just might be total B.S. The past is not just a series of faded events, the future isn't yet defined, and despite what science prudes say, we probably aren't alone.

The Fabric of The Cosmos, the four-part follow up to acclaimed physicist Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe, takes an intensely in-depth look at all we think we know-and then turns it upside down. So in the weeks leading to the November 2 series premiere on PBS, we'll be giving you a brief primer on what to expect from each brilliant episode. So far we've explored space, time, and a little concept known as quantum mechanics. Today, we take one step farther into the unknown, in order to understand the theory of the multiverse.

Just when you were positive that you were indeed a unique snowflake, "Universe or Multiverse?"—the final installment of The Fabric of The Cosmos—melts all those notions away. Brian Greene ventures to explain the hard-to-swallow, yet scientifically plausible theory of alternate realities. Imagine a world, eerily similar to our own, populated with familiar faces—namely, yours. Some physicists believe that it's entirely possible that somewhere out there, in the infinite abyss, we each have a doppelganger. Explore each of these Bizarro worlds with Brian Greene, and learn about the concrete science that continues to awe even the hardest of skeptics.
Check it out if you can! See below the jump for the preview.

Addendum: To watch this episode, go here on Youtube. (Dec. 3, 2011)

Man Released After 28 Years in Prison Experiences Tech Shock

Image Source: I09.

I09 recently reported on the tech shock experienced by Randall Lee Church when he was released after having been imprisoned since 1983:
Randall Lee Church didn't believe his fellow inmates when they warned him about culture shock after he got out of prison — he thought they were just jealous. But then Church, who'd been locked up since 1983, emerged into a world that made no sense. 
When Church got out of prison, he tells the Houston Chronicle, "I didn't know how to use computers or cell phones or the Internet. ... It was so overwhelming. I was constantly embarrassed by simple things I didn't know."

As the Chronicle says, "Prices were higher and scanned with bar codes. Video games were more realistic. People were always on their cell phones. Cars had childproof locks." ... In the end, faced with a world that made no sense to him, Church burned down an abandoned house, in order to get sent back to prison.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Did Someone Say Apocalypse? The Amish are Fighting

Sam Mullet outside his home in Bergholz, Ohio. Image Source: Associated Press via Daily Mail.

File this one under Millennial Omens: a strange new bishop has appeared among the peace-loving Amish people and is sowing the seeds of discord within closed Mennonite groups. The Amish live in religiously-inspired time capsules without electricity and number about a quarter of a million. They are concentrated in Pennsylvania, Indiana and parts of Canada but of late have been moving westwards. Since settlement times, they have incredibly managed to preserve a religion that is straight out of the 16th century and a way of life that is more or less straight out of the 18th century.  Yet a new bishop in Ohio by the name of Sam Mullet has arisen and he is allegedly leading a splinter group whose members have been attacking detractors since this autumn began:
The Associated Press reports that a splinter group of Amish families has, for the past three weeks, been attacking members of Ohio's main Amish community, one of the country's largest. Their calling card: cutting the beards off of men and the hair off of men and women, sometimes down to the scalp.

The attacks are meant to be degrading because Amish women do not typically cut their hair and married men usually grow beards as part of their religion, which traditionally shuns many modern amenities. The feud is believed to be the result of unspecified "spiritual differences," according to the Tribune-Chronicle.

The local sheriff, Frank Abdalla, explained to the paper just how serious the attacks are: "One Amish man told me he’d rather be dead than have his beard cut off.

Local police say that several of the victims have suffered minor injuries, although no charges have been filed, largely because of their reluctance to file police complaints. Community members have, however, reached out to the local sheriff in a bid to end the violence, and investigators intend to file charges of assault and burglary, according to the AP.

According to the Tribune, the group allegedly behind the violence is led by bishop Sam Mullet, who requires his follower to bring back clippings of hair as "proof" that the attacks are carried out. Attackers are both male and female, and in at least one instance have been sent to the homes of close relatives within the main Amish community.
Several men were arrested in relation to the attacks in early October (for mugshot photos see here; for a video news report, go here - which includes footage of Mullet sitting in the driver's seat of a backhoe: doesn't look very much like strict 18th century living to me).  The number of people arrested varies in conflicting articles. According to the Digital Journal and the Las Vegas Sun, the accused were freed on $50,000 bail which Mullet allegedly paid. There are reports that Mullet is vindictive and authoritarian.  He claims that his group is acting in self-defense against neighbouring groups that he says are acting like cults; he also insists he is merely enforcing the letter of Amish law within his own community: "'You have your laws on the road and the town — if somebody doesn't obey them, you punish them. But I'm not allowed to punish the church people?' Mullet said. 'I just let them run over me? If every family would just do as they pleased, what kind of church would we have?'"

But breakaway members of Mullet's group sensationally claim that he is leading a cult-type group, and they fear matters escalating up to an apocalyptic mass suicide.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Millennial Innovations: Inhalable Coffee

Here's the latest weird Millennial innovation allowing us to condense our time during the day - or something. Neatorama reports: "Put down that venti soy Americano! Don't reach for that cup of Java when you next need a caffeine hit. Inhale it instead. Behold the AeroShot, an inhalable caffeine "shot" invented by David Edwards (who previously invented inhalable chocolate) Would you um, snort one?"

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Retro-Futurism 18: Ukrainian Steampunk Computer Tower

Images Source: ÜberReview.

Here's another installment in my Retro-Futurism series, a cool Ukrainian gothic Steampunking of a computer tower, hand-carved in wood and hand-painted, by the man in the picture below, who is apparently Valerie Beetle from Pervomayske (Pervomaysk in Mykolaiv Oblast? or Pervomaiske in the Crimea?) city in southern Ukraine. I have not confirmed Mr. Beetle's name, but it sounds at best like a bad translation. The computer tower modification is amazing. Imagine playing the Cherynobyl video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. with it. It looks like a tiny satanic woodstove!