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, June 8, 2013

PRISM's Millennial Omens: The War Over the Internet Begins

Anonymous, the hacker group, has just released some PRISM-related NSA documents, and claims that the NSA is spying on citizens of more than 35 countries. Image Source: RT.

The Internet is swirling with reports that America's National Security Agency has 'wiretapped' the Internet and scrutinized people's private messages, searches, phone calls and personal data in the PRISM program. Rumours suggest that Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, Youtube, and Google, among others, are all involved, although these Web giants are sharply denying that.

It started with a leak from the Guardian:
Guardian blogger Glenn Greenwald dropped a bombshell on Thursday [6 June 2013], with a story that showed the National Security Agency was collecting data from Verizon thanks to a secret court order. But that was just the beginning: the Washington Post later revealed an even broader program of surveillance code-named PRISM, which involved data collection from the web’s largest players — including Google, Facebook and Apple — and then the Wall Street Journal said data is also being gathered from ISPs [Internet Service Providers] and credit-card companies.

Leaked cover slide of the US Federal Government's data collection program PRISM (April 2013). Image Source: Wiki via Washington Post.

Leaked slides of the US Federal Government's data collection program PRISM (April 2013), including description of how global Internet traffic passes through the USA. Image Source: Washington Post.

In these days of cyberwar and Big Data, I'm not sure why this is a huge surprise to some. It is the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the Web is being and could be mobilized as a tool of social control. And this is why the counter voice of hackers is so interesting in terms of the evolution of Millennial politics. What hackers will do in response to defend online users - the virtual 99 per cent - and whether they can be trusted to shoulder the burden of power and immense wealth associated with Big Data, without also becoming corrupted, is another story. At any rate, here is an initial list of links to articles and Web debate on the subject:

Zero Scrap Value

One Horse Shay. Image Source: Wiki.

We all have to die one day. Since the '60s in the west, death has no longer been considered a part of the social contract, so people don't talk about death and dying the way they used to. Instead, they talk about not dying, about cheating the Reaper - as though anti-ageing and potentially not dying at all somehow is the next stage after your retirement package. They do this rather than face mortality with dignity.

This blog sometimes explores anti-ageing from the perspective of the most high profile Baby Boomers who are interested in the topic. They are ever in search of the Fountain of Youth. For a different point of view, I asked my dad and his friend, both tough old septuagenarian Silent Generation fellows, about death. They liked Dennis Hopper's ad for retirement planning, pulled after his death from cancer in 2010, where Hopper sits at a crossroads and says, "Ya gotta have a plan."

The Ameriprise financial planning ad, aimed at Boomers, runs:
"So here you are, a little confused. Did you think the road to retirement was an expressway? Come on, this isn't some random road trip. Your dreams are out there somewhere. You can't start this journey without knowin' where you're goin'. You my friend, you need a plan." 
 You can see it here on Youtube. You can see other Ameriprise ads aimed at Boomers, here and below.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Monster: A Silent Film First

Still from The Monster (1925) © Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corporation. Image Source: History of Horror.

Tonight's offering is the silent film, The Monster (1925). It is one of the very first 'mad scientist' and 'old dark house' films. Aside from the precedents it set in style and camerawork, what is most interesting about this movie is that it was way ahead of its time. The scene opens when a couple get waylaid while driving at night in the countryside. They run to a nearby lunatic asylum for help and are held captive there by the mad scientist, played by Lon Chaney.

Genuinely frightening scenes are thrown off balance by horror shtick. Critics at the time found the humour in the movie to be incredibly puzzling. But the style is immediately recognizable to the Millennial movie fan, who is familiar with recent meta-horror and ironic horror from directors such as Wes Craven. You can see The Monster below the jump. It was directed by Roland West and is his oldest surviving film.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Nuclear Leaks 25: Radioactive Digest

Fallout Brown © (2013) by Theamat. Reproduced with kind permission.

What's new in the nuclear industry? Here is a round up. Bear in mind that the reports mentioned below come from pro-environmental, anti-nuke critics who are generally dismissed as 'alarmist' by nuclear industry counter-critics and government monitors. In the latter's favour, some commenters on anti-nuke Web pages indulge in New World Order conspiracy theories. With that debate in mind, this is the latest on what the 'alarmists' are saying.

Among the alarmists is Professor Takeda Kunihiko of Chubu University, who declares (based on incredibly flimsy evidence) that Japan will be uninhabitable by March 2015. From Fukushima Diary: 
Prof. Takeda Kunihiko from Chubu university roughly estimated anyone can no longer live in Japan after 3/31/2015. According to his explanation, the yearly dose will reach 5mSv/y (External dose and the slight internal dose) in 3 years and 4 months from January of 2012.
Let us hope he is wrong. This catastrophe would be both unimaginably tragic and a source of local, possibly international, conflict. One of the commenters on a related ENE report wonders: "What's the clock set at for the North American west coast? How long will it take for their allowance of the 80% of the radioactive contamination to rain out or wash up on the coast? [R]adioactive releases are continuing and will not end soon with Tepco at the helm." Someone answers: "[T]he so-called "safe" limit was recently hiked way up by the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]. So we are not set for public warnings. The West Coast cannot possibly be safe ongoing, but it will probably take ongoing work to dig out the readings. Someone who does A LOT of that is Michael Collins on enviroreporter.com."

From a 29 May 2013 report, see below a picture of an inverted traffic cone and duct tape used to divert leaking materials at Fukushima Reactor 4. An ENE commented on the report: "I don't know how many times I have to tell TEPCO that foil tape is much better." Another commenter answered: "Foil tape is far too expensive. This is an economy operation."

Fukushima Reactor #4 patch job. Image Source: ENE Energy News.

Meanwhile, in California, they have been using masking tape, plastic bags and broomsticks to divert non-radioactive water leaks at Unit #3 of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The report below is from December of 2012. From an ABC report, picked up by ENE:
An inside source gave Team 10 a picture snapped inside the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) showing plastic bags, masking tape and broom sticks used to stem a massive leaky pipe. ... Records obtained by Team 10 show SONGS staff were concerned about “hundreds of corrosion notifications” and “degraded equipment” throughout the plant. Staff sent a letter to management saying SONGS “clearly has a serious corrosion problem” in pipes throughout the plant. Inside Sources [state:]
  • “If that’s nuclear technology at work and that’s how we’re going to control leaks I think the public should know”
  • Sources also pointed to what appears to be corrosion on the pipe as a sign of the power plant’s age
  • They claim rust is rampant throughout SONGS — including what sources call a fire suppression pipe, which protects both units
  • “We are dealing with unknown territory here which has never been explored before”
  • Two inside sources called restarting SONGS “risky”
  • “This is nuclear, this should be tip top”
  • “Everything in that plant should be tip top, not bottom of the barrel”
You can see a report about San Onofre's serious problems from the LA Times here.

San Onofre patch job and degraded equipment report: ABC Local News 10 via ENE Energy News.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Photo of the Day: Birthday of the Queen of Bhutan

Image Source: Facebook.

Today is the birthday of the Queen of Bhutan, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Photo of the Day: Homeless Koala

From National Geographic: "This is a real photo of a koala who just discovered his home had been cut down."

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fallen Stars: Magic, Mysticism and Mayhem

Image Source: Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute/NASA Ames) via Live Science.

Caption for the above photograph: "On Oct. 6, 2008, Richard Kowalski, at the Catalina Sky Survey, spotted a new asteroid, dubbed 2008 TC3, on a collision course with Earth. For the first time, astronomers around the world tracked the asteroid's approach for the day before it hit Earth. The asteroid exploded upon entering Earth's atmosphere, and as predicted, it fell in the Nubian Desert of Northern Sudan, where 35 pounds (15.9 kilograms) of meteorites were eventually found. Much of its mass is believed to have been vaporized or to have disintegrated when it hit Earth's atmosphere. It was renamed Almahata Sitta, Arabic for "station six," a railroad stop on the line to Khartoum near where the meteorites were found, according to the auction catalog description."

Well before the Space Age, meteorites brought a little piece of heaven - or hell - down to our world. On May 30, we narrowly avoided an extinction event. A 1.7 mile wide binary asteroid, 1998 QE2, which is so large that it has its own moon (see here and here), just passed earth by a whisker: "White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a press briefing about the asteroid: 'scientists have concluded the asteroid 'poses no threat to planet Earth'. He then laughed and said: 'Never really thought I'd be standing up here saying that, but I guess I am.'" 1998 QE2 is considered to be about the same size as the space rock that landed on earth and likely wiped out the dinosaurs.

Meteorites were not officially linked with their celestial origins until 1803. But people have invested these objects with mystical and divine qualities for millennia, evidently because they knew them to have fallen from the skies. Even today, space rocks have that tangible yet unearthly quality that fascinates. In late 2012, the Heritage Auction house attracted attention when they put up 125 space rocks and meteorites for sale, "offering ... rocks from Mars and the moon, silver meteorite slices studded with peridot gems, a slice of the meteorite that killed a cow in Venezuela, the rear tail-light bulb and title to a car punctured by a meteorite, meteorite jewelry." Immediately below, see some of the items which were auctioned (all Heritage Auctions images and cited text are from this page).

Caption for the above Heritage Auctions photograph: "Meteorites are pieces of asteroids, the moon and Mars that travel to Earth after being ejected from these heavenly bodies. Exotic origins aside, meteorites can be beautiful, mimicking abstract sculpture for example, and many bring interesting stories when they collide with Earth. On Oct. 14, 2012, more than 125 meteorite specimens and related material go up for auction. Here's a look at few of them. Above, the naturally formed holes on this iron Gibeon meteorite found in Namibia give it an animal-like appearance."

Caption for the above Heritage Auctions photograph: "This meteorite, found in China's Gobi Desert, is a pallasite, a class of stony-iron meteorites that contain the mineral olivine. Gem quality olivine, as appears in this meteorite, is called peridot, the August birthstone."

Caption for the above Heritage Auctions photograph: "In 1492, this stone fell from the sky outside the walled city of Ensisheim, located in the Alsatian region France. The stone's descent was seen as a sign from God; the extraterrestrial origin of meteorites would not be accepted for another 300 years. The Ensisheim meteorite was brought into the city and chained up in church to keep it Earth-bound."

Caption for the above Heritage Auctions photograph: "The majority of meteorites break off from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter; rarer specimens come from the moon or Mars. This one, found in the Sahara Desert, is a lunar meteorite."

Caption for the above Heritage Auctions photograph: "In 1803, the L'Aigle meteorite landed in Normandy, France, convincing French scientists that rocks did indeed fall from the sky, and so ushering in widespread acceptance of the extraterrestrial origin of meteorites. This L'Aigle specimen bears an antique parchment label."

Caption for the above Heritage Auctions photograph: "This partial slice comes from the Valera meteorite, which killed a cow when it landed in Venezuela in 1972. The cow was subsequently slaughtered and eaten, and the meteorite was used as a doorstop. This is the only meteorite known to have been responsible for a fatality."

Below the jump, see some of the world's most famous and mystical meteorites, objects which unite human celestial fascination of the ancient world with that of the future. The most interesting is perhaps a mysterious meteorite carved into a Buddhist figure in the Middle Ages, which the Nazis stole from Tibet during World War II.