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, December 3, 2011

Love in the New Millennium 8: What Women Want

Aishwarya  Rai: Often considered the most beautiful woman in the world.

What do women want? Forgive the rhetorical generalizations, but lots of people would like to know, including many women.  This post is a companion piece to my post on men and love and the Internet, here. In that post, I concluded that one of the reasons men invented the Internet was because it was a great democratic equalizer when it comes to pursuing women. Also, the Internet allows men to resolve discrepancies between dissatisfaction in their current situations and their desired situations. They can do this fairly seamlessly - until they have to make their online virtual reality match up with their everyday reality. Despite these wrinkles, the masculine desires for freedom and equality when searching for a mate appear to be two of the driving forces behnd the Tech Boom.

But how do the Internet, and technology in general, reflect and reveal women's greatest desires?

Back in high school, my insane English teacher said: "Don't be fooled, Boys! Women say they want love! But what they really want is powerrrrr." He said he figured this out one day when he found himself peeling a grape for his granddaughter.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Image Source: Psychology Today.

A couple of years ago, I went to a conference where some new-fangled techniques in economic studies were discussed in one of the sessions. The novel methods involved presenting test subjects with economic choices, and then administering blood tests or brain scans to observe changes in hormonal levels and brain activity; it is an idea I touched on in an earlier post. At the time, I had a laugh; this bizarre hybrid of economics and psychobiology was chilling, yet funny, because of its dull literal-mindedness. 

When the economy tanks and everyone finds economists without answers, then economic analysts sometimes poach on other disciplines' territories to find new methods.  Occasionally, they move right into another field and make themselves at home. For example, they have been camping in the field of history, with an area of research they call Cliometrics.  They've also expressed some interest in economics as an applied philosophy. As one of my friends who works in philosophy said, if the economists were to stop by, he would go down to the front gate and say: "Nothing to see here, Boys, move on, move on."

And move on they have, with zero sense of irony - to neuroscience, psychology and biology. It's a sign of how desperate economic researchers are.  They need to find solutions to serious problems that their theories partly engendered. So far, they have come up empty-handed. Rather than containing the recession, their methods have been politicized; their ideas have been appropriated by practitioners in politics; and the economy is not improving. And so since 2008, with pressing urgency, the economists have been moving on, in a bid to develop whole new ways of economic thinking and remake the world economy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Image Source: Daily Mirror.

Advent is taken from the Latin word Adventus, and refers to the coming of the Messiah. It is a period of waiting; in Christian terms, it refers both to the Hebrews waiting for the coming of the Messiah and to the Christians waiting for Christ's Second Coming, which ties the season to various eschatological fears about the end of the world.  It is, in fact, a great religious countdown; and in this countdown, some introspection is expected from the faithful on how things will change once the Messiah appears.

We are almost at 2012, the year that has become popularly associated with the Second Coming, the end of the world, and other apocalyptic predictions, omens about time running out, and fears of even greater cataclysmic change. As a result of this spiritual tradition, Advent is also a further memorial for those who are gone and for times gone past. We remember, so that we may move forward with renewed spirits. That is why Advent is also associated with ghosts, as with Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Given that, perhaps this first day of Advent could be spent thinking about what has been left behind, on the Ghosts of Christmas Past.

The 20th century is almost 12 years past. It was a horrible, blood-soaked century, with maybe four decades that provided reprives: 1900s; the 1920s; the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s; and the 1980s. In retrospect, the 1980s were the last time a large portion of citizens of wealthy countries really believed in materialism.

Times are hard. Occupy Wall Street and ugly pepper spray footage make it easy to forget how wildly popular materialism once was, and how bankers' greed was once lauded in popular culture. Even people who had second thoughts about greed being good still found the comforts of prosperity to be highly seductive. This was a New World standard that became entangled with a revival of Old World values and traditions. Of course, the 80s had a huge global counter-culture that rejected that perspective.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Retro-Futurism 20: iPod Breadlines

Image © Stephanie Fox for I09.

I09 recently photoshopped a Great Depression photograph for an article on how to prepare in the worsening world economic crisis.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Night Moves Nostalgia

Image Source: Convivium.

Back in the mid-to-late 1980s, when saxophones were the height of cool, a broadcaster in the Canadian city of Toronto called GLOBAL TV ended every day with a program called Night Moves; they also did related shows called Night Music and Night Walk. The shows ran after regular programming instead of a test pattern and were mesmerizing favourites of local insomniacs, shift workers and students. One blog calls the programs, "psychogeographic." They featured a camerman's trip around the city at night against a jazz soundtrack with vocalist Sharon Lee Williams. On the music, one Youtuber says: "What is this? This was a TV show? Is this the actual soundtrack? It makes me want to make love to a woman on a shag carpet."

These were the days when the TV channels stopped broadcasting after the late movie. It was before the time when night owls were left watching infomercials, since infomercials barely existed then. In later seasons, the show Night Drive showed the view from a car as a GLOBAL TV staffer drove through the city at night. But it was all the same idea, on an incredibly low budget.  These shows were intended to increase 'Canadian content,' which was and is legally mandated on Canadian television. That quota demanded a certain number of hours per day of national programming because Canadian TV has always been swamped by American and British broadcasting.

Typically, Canadians made Canadian content for the dead hours of the night when no one was watching the television. But ironically, because these shows were made with the expectation that they would have almost no audience, they inadvertently captured something true about their place and time and became a much-loved hit.  See some of the videos of 1980s' Toronto below the jump.  Youtube comments and a recent article reveal how much these very simple shows are missed by their audience.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dead Sea Scrolling

Dead Sea Scroll 11Q14, from 20-50 CE. Image Source: Donald Nausbaum via Time.

A set of talks on the Dead Sea Scrolls on tonight at the Jewish Museum London reminded me that I intended to do a post about the fact that the scrolls are slowly becoming available online, with translations, here. The scrolls site came online on 25 September 2011 with the help of Google. The scrolls date from 150 BCE to 70 CE and are the oldest known documents with sections from the Old Testament. They also contain apocryphal texts - Enoch, Jubilees, Tobit, Sirach - that were not included in the Hebrew Bible. They are written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek and were discovered in caves on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in the 1940s and 1950s. They were found by a Bedouin tribesman who sold three of the scrolls to a small antiques dealer for 7 Pounds Sterling.  After a series of adventures that only Indiana Jones could duplicate, the scrolls arrived in 1954 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York to be auctioned.

Among other things, the scrolls talk about the End of Times and the final battle between good and evil. They seem to offer two versions of that event - a male version, and a female version. And now, through the wonders of modern technology, you can see the scrolls and read those stories for yourself.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Prehistory's Mysteries: Billion Year Old Mountain Range Stays Young Beneath Antarctic Ice

Some original pulp illustrations from At the Mountains of Madness. See more here.

Anyone who has read At the Mountains of Madness (read it here; hear it in audiobook form here) can appreciate the Lovecraftian mystery of the Gamburtsevs, the mountain range that looks like the Alps, 8,500 feet high (2,600 metre tall peaks), but sleeps beneath miles of Antarctic ice. The Gamburtsevs were first discovered in 1958, and last week the journal Nature reported on the tectonic events that formed them. They have been dubbed "the last unexplored mountains on the planet." But due to new radar techniques and geophysical data, some headway is being made toward understanding the subglacial range. They are now believed to be one billion years old, but remain uneroded because of the ice sheet that preserves them. According to one of the co-authors of the article:
“Resolving the contradiction of the Gamburtsev high elevation and youthful Alpine topography but location on the East Antarctic craton by piecing together the billion year history of the region was exciting and challenging,” said Carol Finn, of the U.S. Geological Survey, a co-author on the paper. “We are accustomed to thinking that mountain building relates to a single tectonic event, rather than sequences of events. The lesson we learned about multiple events forming the Gamburtsevs may inform studies of the history of other mountain belts. The youthful look of any mountain range may mask a hidden past.”
Image Source: BBC.