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.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Look Skyward: The Lyrids

The Lyrids return. Image Source: Behind Astrography.

Tonight and especially tomorrow night (the night of 21-22 April) mark the peak of the Lyrids meteor shower. The meteors are visible from April 16 to 26, with their radiant in the constellation of Lyra, easy to view because the star Vega is located in it. Vega is the fifth brightest star in the whole night sky and the second brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere. As a relatively close star, Vega has long been studied and is widely considered by astronomers to be the most important star in the sky after the Sun.

Wiki comments that the "source of the meteor shower is the periodic Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher." The shower was first recorded almost 700 years before the birth of Christ by a Chinese astronomer, and was noted in one of the earliest works of Chinese history, the Zuo Zhuan, which states: "On day xīn-mǎo of month 4 in the summer (of year 7 of King Zhuang of Lu), at night, fixed stars are invisible, at midnight, stars dropped down like rain. (夏四月辛卯 夜 恆星不見 夜中 星隕如雨)"

The best-viewing time listed in this pictorial is for the UK in 2011. Image Source: behindastrography.

While this is not a storm noted for many meteors at its peak, this is the first annual shower in 15 months where the moon has not been blocking the view.  The Lyrids are also known to have sudden bursts of meteors. To see them, look at this chart for viewing directions worldwide. In the Northeastern United States, Ontario, and Quebec, look Northeast from 11:30 p.m. and then East up to 4:30 a.m. EST. In the UK, look at the skies earlier in the evening.

Viewing later in the evening: look East. Image Source: Astronomy via Blogster.

The constellation of Lyra is the shower's radiant, between Hercules and Cygnus the Swan. Image Source: Living Moon Astrology.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nuclear Leaks 15: Fukushima - Media Blackouts and Media Nightmares

Tape on Fukushima's leaky pipes. Image Source: AP via HuffPo.

Caption for the above photograph: "In this photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), a section of a hose, top, from which tons of highly radioactive water appears to have leaked into the ocean, is seen covered with vinyl tape at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Thursday, April 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)"

Hello darkness, my old friend. Fukushima (福島) means 'Island of Bliss,' or 'Island of Good Fortune,' but every new headline contradicts the name of the prefecture and its crippled Daiichi power plants. 'Shima' means island, and ironically the homonym 'fuku' (拭く) means '(to) wipe or mop (up).'  Because Fukushima's enemy is invisible, there is a lot of leeway for interpretation about what is happening. Journalists and bloggers complain of an international media blackout, possibly requested for diplomatic reasons by the Japanese government. At the same time, officials are reluctant to explain what is happening and cause panic among citizens. They likely fear that anything they say now could inadvertently confirm later liabilities. Adam Broinowski comments:
Stories of tragedy, heroism, resilience and recovery filled the daily news ... [after the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami] ... [o]ne local from the area responded in poetry: The stars were amazingly beautiful, but I saw fire burning red beneath the black sky in the east. It was silent, but we could hear explosions somewhere, and the smell of burning was in the air. The Fukushima meltdowns have long been in gestation and were finally born from a movement of ocean and earth. Not so much an historical caesura as its ‘3/11' naming suggests, Fukushima is a re-telling of an old story, only in capitals.
Since 1971, Fukushima Daiichi's weaknesses have grown out of hubris and complacency, which persisted despite decades of international warnings (see here, here and here). Considering the noise against the nuclear industry and nuclear weapons in the 1970s and 1980s, the silence from the media now is deafening. The world's greatest ever environmental disaster is unfolding. Where are political environmental talkers, like Al Gore, who was all over the press a few years ago about global warming and melting ice caps? Why isn't a documentary film-maker political activist like Michael Moore getting to the bottom of corporate secrets in the nuclear industry in America? Silence, like a cancer, grows. Our words like silent raindrops fall, and echo in wells of silence.

MSM silence around Fukushima is a real problem. Local media and wire services are reporting events at the plants, but MSM news programs do not give the information high profile coverage. This silence is creating an information vacuum, increasingly filled by Internet chatter, and the latter exhibits troubling signs.

Hence, Fukushima is becoming a prime example of how the Internet is shaping Millennial consciousness. The Internet is now a strategic - possibly a decisive - factor in any unfolding disaster, because it can alter the generally perceived context of a crisis in the blink of an eye. In a similar way, the power of the Internet was initially demonstrated after 9/11, when online communications allowed 9/11 to become the subject of malevolent second-guessing of governmental, political and social authorities; Cyberspace, which was supposed to become the ultimate source of renewed democratic freedoms, enabled toxic reinterpretations of an increasingly frayed reality.

The first decade of the 2000s confirm that the media lessons of 9/11 were not lost on politicians and power-brokers, nor equally on little people, who realized that social networking and online media tools allowed them to craft the cachet of micro-fame. In this atmosphere, fake or ignorant online sincerity about a disaster looks more authentic than that of unplugged-in people, like the workers at Fukushima, who struggle to contain the actual disaster, and who may die trying to protect us.

Why would cyber-citizens trust their friendly neighbourhood online conspiracy theorist more than the representatives they elected to office? The very act of questioning authority on the Internet now bequeaths automatic, unsubstantiated and false credibility to any cyber-personality who bothers to engage that trope. And while some commentators are sincere and trying to engage in the world around them for the common good, others have agendas; and still others are wolves in sheep's clothing.