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 DC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DC. Show all posts

Sunday, November 10, 2019

New Post at The Dragonfly: The Joker as a Third Way Villain


Image Source: The Independent.

I have a new post up at The Dragonfly:

The Joker as a Third Way Villain

The post considers how psychologists replaced priests and why negative depictions of mental illness have supplanted demonology. This year's Joker film attempts to build on modern views of mental illness by reconciling rational and emotional aspects of villainy.


Friday, January 4, 2019

Your Friends, The Dark Overlord


If you want to see the Dark Overlord files, go here. Image Source: Time.

A group called the Dark Overlord claimed responsibility for the 2017 Netflix hacks. They have also lately hacked London Bridge plastic surgery clinic and released celebrities' medical files onto the Web. On 31 December 2018, they rang in the New Year with the announcement that they had breached a law firm and stolen 10 Gigabytes (18,000 documents) of legal papers, video, and audio files relating to 9/11 insurance claims with Hiscox Group. The trolls at 4chan were unimpressed:
"Q: who did 9/11 in your opinion based on the docs?

A: We don't really give a fuck. We want internet money.

We've already released a select few documents to serve as proof of our claims. We're about to change the fucking world. Edward Snowden's NSA leak will be pale in comparison."
And:
"We are all broke and also we don't feel like going to jail as we are all just 16yo virgin keyboard worriers. How come you couldn't find someone to give you a suitcase of money?"
And:
"Q: Hi, thedarkoverlord, Have you considered that information may well be used crash the monetary system you hope to be compensated in?

A: Fantastic question, mate. We're not concerned about that as we receive our payments only in internet money like Bitcoin. The monetary crash will be your problem. We always advise our clients to diversify and acquire different convertible currencies."
Some trolls were less skeptical. After viewing the document below, which was released on 4chan, one noted that 'Iron Mountain' documents had been shredded:
"HEY GUYS THIS IS SOMETHING!!!!

Flight 93 was shot down by National Guard because it was heading to Iron mountain, a military base.

Shredding documents related to that seems like a crime/treason!"


In fact, Iron Mountain is a Boston-based data management company; their history is here. But the company has also partnered with the US government and maintains an underground data storage facility called Iron Mountain in Pennsylvania, USA. They have a staff of 2,700 and they do hold Flight 93 evidence.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Awaken the Amnesiacs 11: Depart from the Camera Obscura


A natural instance of a camera obscura: an image of the New Royal Palace at Prague Castle projected onto an attic wall by a hole in the tile roofing (2 August 2011). Image Source: Gampe/Wiki.

For this weekend's solstice, the blog journeys into the darkness, the blind spot. Try this experiment. If you are left or liberal, try watching or reading conservative news and alt-media for a week. If you are conservative or libertarian, force yourself to listen to or read liberal-left media for a week.

The holidays are a good time to do this, when many people encounter friends and family they haven't seen in awhile, and have conversations which reveal uncomfortable political differences. Have compassion for your fellow human beings at holiday dinner tables, because we are all equally hammered by divisive and misleading propaganda.

If you follow the 'wrong' politicized narrative for a few days, you will notice that people are being fed the exact same story with which you may be familiar, but the players are changed.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Hallowe'en Countdown 2018: The Formula for Consciousness




To unlock the mysteries of today's technology, some say you would have to start your investigation on the ballet stages of the 1840s. To get a flavour of European dance from that revolutionary period, today's post features some scans from a little book I own, published in 1948 by Batsford, entitled The Romantic Ballet. A centennial edition, it reprinted 1840s' coloured prints of prima ballerinas who were celebrated from 1840 to 1850. Click the images to enlarge.


These reprinted images from the 1840s display an occult visual vocabulary. For example, the three graces are three Greek goddesses - culture, beauty and creativity - later translated into the Christian theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. They are represented in the tarot deck as the Three of Cups.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Awaken the Amnesiacs 9: A True Mirror of a Better World



The preface to this post is a new piece I have published at Vocal Media:


Part of my series, Awaken the Amnesiacs, involves coming to terms with life in a surveillance state, where privacy has been lost. My earlier post, Reflection Reversal, introduced the idea that computer screens and monitors act like mirrors which turn viewers into objects, rather than subjects.

The core of this idea is the fact that we think we are in control of technology. Tools are objects and we are subjects. Right? We think we are using computers to empower and express ourselves. But there is a warning sign in our addiction to technology.

Our technology is constantly subliminally objectifying us, enslaving us, and siphoning off our energy. This unconscious inversion of individual integrity is creating underlying cognitive dissonance, tension, anxiety, and stress. As a result, we are absolutely convinced that 'something is wrong' with the whole world. There is endless harping, conflict and confusion over 'who is to blame' for this grating distress. It never occurs to us that 'what is wrong' is the lens we are using to view reality, not reality itself, nor the people [insert annoying/threatening group here] who bother us.

Thus, part of resolving 'what is wrong' with the world is not to: ramp up our attacks on the annoying people who bother us; or to withdraw into depressive, individual introspection; or to get lost in wacky spiritual practices or cults; or to become engrossed in conspiracy theories as a comforting alt-reality; or to lose yourself in virtual reality environments like Facebook or video games; or to heal what is wrong by self-sacrificing to aid the world and help others; or to immerse yourself  completely in the real world, like work, job, bank account, and hard, cold facts no matter what ...

Part of resolving 'what is wrong' with the world involves reconsidering the art of perception and self-perception in the turbulent times of the nascent surveillance state.

So how should we define ourselves? As we see ourselves, as others see us, or as technology sees us? The conventional self-help wisdom these days is to define ourselves from the inside out, not the outside in. We are counseled to know ourselves, and to go forth in the world in an authentic and grounded way.

The Limits of Consciousness

Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality | Anil Seth (18 July 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Good luck with that! Before you can get past the social contract, the job, the expectations, the cv - before you can tame your ego and become a soulful human being through internal consciousness and then try to awaken beyond consciousness - and before you can even get to the fact that computers are constantly undermining that process - there is another problem.

Consciousness -- the final frontier | Dada Gunamuktananda | TEDxNoosa 2014 (16 April 2014). Video Source: Youtube.

The True Mirror

We almost never see ourselves accurately, at least physically. Because we primarily have used mirrors to see ourselves, we do not see ourselves correctly, nor do we know how others see us.

Robbie Burns Day just passed, and the great Scottish poet wrote in his 1786 poem, To a Louse:
"in the original Scottish, 'O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!' Or, in modern English, 'Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.'"

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Irony of Anonymity


Image Source: Alamy.

Today is the 5th of November, and so the blog is devoted to the Million Mask March and snapshots of the Guy Fawkes mask from Alan Moore's V for Vendetta, which has become a worldwide symbol of hacktivism.

Last year, a variation of the mask was sold by Venetian maskmakers, joining the medieval with the Millennial. The Mascherade confirms that, in Venice, the mask freed people from the strictures on social identity:
"Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy. The masks are typically worn during the ... Carnival of Venice ... but have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer's identity and social status. The mask would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters."
One blog, Licence to Mask, examines this old Venetian idea, proving that anonymity is not new; that blog also connects the Bauta mask to today's anonymity on the Internet:
"The mask was standardized and its use was regulated by government to give Venetian citizens the freedom to do business, to pursue interests on their own and to take part in political activities without being identified while still being recognized and respected as legitimate and honorable members of the Venetian society.

I would like to find out if this concept could be a paradigm for internet identity management and anonymity concepts."
Of course, Bauta masks figured prominently in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, which is based on Arthur Schnitzler's Traumroman (Dream Story). Kubrick's film fueled conspiracists' speculations about the Illuminati. It is supremely ironic that the anti-establishment online movement is masked as well, and using the same principle of anonymity that the current western establishment employed when it was in its youth, at the onset of the modern era.

Image Source: Licence to Mask.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pedogate: Spin and Victimhood


On 18 February 2017, a mansion on Turkey Run Road in McLean, Virginia, USA burned down. Conspiracy theorists assumed that this fire related to their theory of Washington's corrupt establishment, and involved the destruction of child abuse evidence. News sources reported that the mansion was owned by the United Arab Emirates and the people who lived in the house escaped unharmed. Image Source: WUSA-9.

We live in a hybrid condition, between past and future, between the 20th century and the 21st. In this hybrid condition, we see a number of problems: systemic corruption; taboo ideas and extremist language ramp up the energy of discourse; increasing efforts to use technology to impose control in old ways. This leads straight to totalitarianism, the very thing everyone claims they want to avoid.

The only antidote, the only possibility of recovering balance, would be to lay down ideological arms, step back from left-right arguments, and express compassion for those of opposing views and situations. Almost no one seems ready to do that.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

You Can't Go Home Again: DC Judas Contract Review


Still from Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017) © DC/Warner. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use. Image Source: The Good Men Project.

Some of the most popular posts I ever wrote on this blog took me back to the summer before I left home for the first time to go away to school. I was 14. In that period before first independence, I read DC Comics' The Judas Contract. This is a story about a 16-year-old girl, Tara Markov, who tries to kill her boyfriend and friends to please a much older man with whom she is having sex. When she fails, she kills herself.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mind and Government, Terror and Ideology: Reframed


1907 photograph of an 1872 Leon Berger model guillotine, stored with its body basket. The photograph was reproduced by someone who currently makes historic replicas of guillotines. There had to be someone out there doing this. Oddly, there is more than one. Some people make mini-guillotines as a side hobby. The 1792 French Revolution guillotine mini-model plans are offered to aspiring carpenters on the Internet for USD $38, here. The finished mini-model (perfect for your back yard?) is here; the full-sized 1792 model, five times larger, built from the same plans for a Belgian museum, is here. Image Source: Bois de Justice.

This post was written before the terrorist attacks in Nice (14 July 2016) and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (26 July 2016). With regard to those attacks, no disrespect is intended in discussing today's anniversary of the end of the Terror during the French Revolution. To be clear, although this analysis runs up to the present, it does not source radical Islamic terrorism in the western political system. I would argue that jihadism has its own specific origins, although it ironically mirrors as nemesis a western concern with the relationship between fear and control in psychology and politics.

This post on politics is the second of three on how perceived understanding or framing of reality diverges from hard facts, and creates problems in the historical narrative. I have a theory that when human beings build governments and devise theories of government, they project outwardly their awareness of the inner structure of the human psyche. That is, when we build and control society in the outer world, we embed how we think, perceive and feel into those constructions. And if there are parts of ourselves we would rather not face, we embed the suppression, too.

On a basic level, it makes sense. We fear our capacity for savagery and bloodshed, and know that the hell-pit at the dark end of the behavioural spectrum is something we ought to avoid. That is why the idea of climbing toward something higher through renewed social order is so appealing. The initial drive begins with a justified fear of the demons inside us and a moral journey to find the "better angels of our nature."

The French Revolution presents a powerful example of that journey and its challenges. Today marks the 222nd anniversary of the end of the Terror (6 September 1793 - 28 July 1794), a period of mass execution of enemies of the Revolution. It is ironic that 'terror' - described today as the greatest nemesis of global civilization - played a critical part of the establishment of modern western politics. Although there were revolutionary precursors in England and America, the founding moment began with the French Revolution. Everything we take for granted, from left-wing and right-wing politics, to the basic rights of human beings, was most clearly expressed there.

Today's post reconsiders the circumstances in which the west's current political ideologies developed, to see how the story of rational modern politics diverged from its reality. The French Revolution came dressed in the rhetoric of liberty, equality and fraternity, respectively sources of liberalism, socialism and nationalism. Revolutionaries changed how we measure time, months, hours, days. 18th century perceptions of time were different from post-revolutionary modern ones. The revolutionaries standardized weights and measures - previously a privilege of the nobility - with the creation of the metric system. They developed the modern media in their propaganda. They overturned a corrupt and bankrupt absolutist monarchical system, a privileged nobility and aristocracy, and a dominant clergy.

They did it through a commitment to rationalism. 1789's Tennis Court Oath was a pledge to develop a constitution, made in the spirit of earlier writings from the empiricist political philosopher and father of modern liberalism, John Locke (1632-1704). Locke's plan for government derived from his view of psychology. With his certainty that the mind was a tabula rasa, Locke insisted on experiential and logical systems of governance. He espoused the natural rights of man, of life, liberty, and property. He protected those innate values was through the social contract, imposed from outside upon the consenting individual in an embrace of nuture over nature. But starting with man's natural rights, he maintained that no one is innately superior to anyone else. He removed God and superstition from human politics, government and law, by stating that all men were divinely appointed to their state in nature. There was no divine right of kings: all people are equal.

From that natural and secular socialist equality, Locke derived fraternity and liberty as human beings left the pure state of nature and entered the body politic. As far as fraternity was concerned, toleration depended on having sufficiently enlightened, educated and morally informed citizens, who understood that some surrender of liberty was necessary to maintain a commonwealth. That social contract, if properly ordered, would clearly broadcast the principles and preconditions of mutual tolerance inside a nation. Within those non-totalitarian bounds, liberal citizens were free.

Locke influenced the French philosophes, notably Voltaire (1694-1778) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Further principles of liberty and separate powers came from other Enlightenment thinkers such as Montesquieu (1689-1755) to form the familiar 18th century values of the American constitution and the French Revolution. These thinkers drew the line between a divine source for the unified Church and State in absolutist monarchical systems and enlightened, secular, humanist, rationalist, democratic republics, with a separated Church and State. According to Montesquieu, there were underlying collective psychological trends in political development toward victory or defeat. Different types of government used varying core principles to drive those trends. The transition from monarchy to republic marked a shift in principles from honour to public virtue. But what must be avoided above all was a loss of liberty through fear. Wiki:
"[T]here were three main forms of government, each supported by a social 'principle': monarchies (free governments headed by a hereditary figure, e.g. king, queen, emperor), which rely on the principle of honor; republics (free governments headed by popularly elected leaders), which rely on the principle of virtue; and despotisms (enslaved governments headed by dictators), which rely on fear."
Thus, removing God from everyday government had created an interesting philosophical gap in the conception of modern politics. The unknown and unknowable had to be understood in new rational ways, or they would give rise to fear and dictatorship. In Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), Locke cautioned against raising children by intimidating them with fear. He warned against servants filling children's heads with fear of the dark, or goblins and monsters. Infantile superstition and threats bred subjection in grown men:
"Such bug-bear thoughts once got into the tender minds of children, and being set on with a strong impression from the dread that accompanies such apprehensions, sink deep, and fasten themselves so as not easily, if ever, to be got out again; and whilst they are there, frequently haunt them with strange visions, making children dastards when alone, and afraid of their shadows and darkness all their lives after. I have had those complain to me, when men, who had been thus used when young; that though their reason corrected the wrong ideas they had taken in, and they were satisfied that there was no cause to fear invisible beings more in the dark than in the light, yet that these notions were apt still upon any occasion to start up first in their prepossessed fancies, and not to be removed without some pains. ...

And to let you see how lasting and frightful images are, that take place in the mind early, I shall here tell you a pretty remarkable but true story. There was in a town in the west a man of a disturbed brain, whom the boys used to teaze when he came in their way: this fellow one day seeing in the street one of those lads, that used to vex him, stepped into a cutler’s shop he was near, and there seizing on a naked sword, made after the boy; who seeing him coming so armed, betook himself to his feet, and ran for his life, and by good luck had strength and heels enough to reach his father’s house before the mad-man could get up to him. The door was only latch’d; and when he had the latch in his hand, he turn’d about his head, to see how near his pursuer was, who was at the entrance of the porch, with his sword up ready to strike; and he had just time to get in, and clap to the door to avoid the blow, which, though his body escaped, his mind did not. This frightening idea made so deep an impression there, that it lasted many years, if not all his life after. For, telling this story when he was a man, he said, that after that time till then, he never went in at that door (that he could remember) at any time without looking back, whatever business he had in his head, or how little soever before he came thither he thought of this mad-man."
Locke's rational suppression, denial and dismissal of fear remained a weak alternative to the absolutist monarch's God. Given his denial of a priori knowledge and insistence on a posteriori knowledge, Locke faced the dilemmas of the rationalist, locked inside his own mind, guided only by his sense impressions of the world. Locke did consider what lay beyond empirical experience. In chapter 27 of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689), he argued that worldly identity depended on an eternal, immaterial soul, incarnated in a physical body in the real world. In one example, that notion led him to suggest that a human being's worldly personal identity was distinct from the soul's consciousness. Worldly personality did not extend beyond the individual's rational thoughts, memories and life experiences. An eternal soul would have had past human lives, but a temporal individual personality housing that soul would have no memory of those past lives. In other words, Locke admitted that there were things beyond a posteriori awareness, but we have no rational access to them. Our only access to consciousness when building our personal identities would be through real life experiences and the memory of real life experiences. And that was the rock on which modern political order must be built.

However, when it came time to build the rational project during the French Revolution, to bring down the absolutist monarchy and remove God from government, the unknown manifested in the undertaking, in the form of the irrational element of fear. The rationalization of western politics depended on the Terror, on force as an instrument of fear to impress conformity to those ideals. Modern politics sealed a commitment to high intentions, rejected superstition and hereditary inequality; but it did so through mass intimidation and mass killing. From a psychological point of view, this means that when we strive toward highest purpose, we are still enmeshed in lowest impulses. The history of the French Revolution reflects a conscious-unconscious duality, as western political ideals emerged from bloodshed. The complete formula of the French Revolution would have been: liberty, equality, fraternity - and terror.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rickrolling ISIS


Image Source: Academia Obscura.

In 2007, a bait-and-switch meme started on the Internet that tricked users into watching Rick Astley's 1987 hit Never Gonna Give You Up (hear it here). The meme is called 'Rickrolling' and while it has brought Astley back into the spotlight, by August 2015 he had earned only $12 from the prank because he has performer's rights to the song; profits from Rickrolling went to the very fortunate song-writing trio, Stock Aitken Waterman. Astley remains sanguine: "Listen, I just think it’s bizarre and funny. My main consideration is that my daughter doesn’t get embarrassed about it." Above, from Academia Obscura, a student's physics paper on Niels Bohr. Bohr, the 1922 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, modeled the atom in the 1920s, helped refugees flee the Nazis in the 1930s, worked at the Manhattan Project in the 1940s, and helped establish CERN in the 1950s.

Anonymous cyber-revenge campaign after the 13 November 2015 Paris attacks. Video Source: RT via Youtube.

The Young Turks opinion on Anonymous campaign against ISIS (16 November 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

The Rickrolling meme is resilient. A day after the Paris attacks on 14 November 2015, Anonymous began to spam and troll Twitter users with pro-ISIS terrorist hashtags by diverting their traffic to Rick Astley's video. This Rickrolling performs as a type of data-mining, in which Anonymous hackers keep track of those diverted to the video and mark them for cyber-attacks. The hackers use social media information to steal ISIS Bitcoin cryptocurrency holdings and they attack them on the Dark Net. They renewed this effort after the Brussels attacks on 22 March 2016. This is the hackers' reverse humour against ISIS operatives and sympathizers: never gonna give you up.

However, as I have commented before on this blog, it would be naïve to imagine Anonymous as purely heroic actors, after one has had a taste of their New World Order and World War III conspiracy theories, here, here, here and here. The campaigns against ISIS are related to Anonymous cyber-attacks on the Belgian government under hashtag #DownSecBelgium. On their announcement that they will rally at Place de la Concorde in Paris, France on 10 June 2016, one Youtuber was skeptical: "rien à voire avec Anonymous, c'est un fake."

Anonymous hacker campaign announced in French against ISIS one day after the Paris attacks (14 November 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Anonymous hacker campaign announced in French against ISIS on the same day as the Brussels attacks (22 March 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Do We Need to Press the Progress Button?


A Bersin study of the modern learner and employee (26 November 2014). Image Source: Todd Tauber/Dani Johnson via Bersin/Deloitte.

The above infographic comes from Bersin, a human resources analysis site for Deloitte. It explains how technology has transformed the cognition and behaviour of today's employees. It confirms that technology has fragmented time and attention spans, and overwhelmed and distracted people. Technology is also eroding traditional roles and the structure of workplace authority.

Josh Bersin founded the Deloitte-affiliated research group, and gives his 2016 prediction on human talent here. You can download the 2016 report here. Bersin concludes that this year, the worlds of management, human resources, employee evaluation and productivity are in upheaval due to technology; his solution is to make those humans conform more exactly to the technology, rather than investigate the cognitive disconnection evident in that process:
Everywhere I go, from India to China to London, New York and Silicon Valley, I hear people tell me they are totally reinventing the process of performance management. As I describe in the report, the big change here is not doing away with ratings or changing the way we assess people, but rather a completely new way to think about management itself, and the role managers play. This is a profound change in thinking, forcing us to rethink our culture, rewards, the role of managers, and how we direct and align people in the organization. Companies today are turning into “networks of teams” so many of the traditional management practices we developed over the last 20 years are open to debate. ...

We recently had the opportunity to host GE as they described their new approach to performance management. GE, which is rebranding itself as the "leading digital industrial enterprise," has decided that simplicity, focus, and development is core to their new performance management process. The company has radically simplified its process, is experimenting with mobile apps, and is rewriting the book on how to drive a high-performance meritocracy. ...

What started as a small idea (the concept of the “always on engagement survey”) has now become mainstream, as companies in all industries realize that they must compete and operate based on culture. If you don’t know what your culture is and you’re not watching it on a daily basis, you can’t possibly curate and improve it. So the world of pulse surveys, always-on feedback tools, anonymous suggestion systems, and corporate “Like Buttons” is upon us. One of our clients now has a red/yellow/green button people press at the end of their shift, telling management how well their day went every day. We in HR have to take this one on and build systems and frameworks to harness all this feedback so executives can make informed decisions on a regular basis. ...

We are doing a lot of research on this topic right now, and my conclusion is that the current models we use are broken. Books like Leadership BS ... and The End of Leadership ... tell a story: we simply are not building leadership fast enough, early enough, or with enough of an open mind. As I describe in the report, it’s time to accelerate people into leadership earlier in their careers, put a greater focus on mentoring (leveraging the boomers who aren’t retiring yet), and create new models and reward systems for talent mobility. ...

I haven't seen this much disruption in corporate learning since I started as an analyst back in the early 2000s. Employees are now in charge, video learning is everywhere, and hundreds of new learning tools and platforms are entering the market. The L[earning] & D[evelopment] profession and function has fallen behind, and after three years of double-digit growth, it’s time for L&D to focus on digital transformation, learning experience design, and open peer to peer learning like never before. The report gives more detail, but let me simply say that in today’s economy, where income inequality remains a top political issue, “The Learning curve is the Earning Curve” – so your employees and job candidates expect you to turn corporate learning into a magnificent part of your overall employee experience. Lots to do here.
The red-yellow-green button system mentioned above reveals how this 'innovative overhaul' ironically leads to human resources and managerial professionals technologically monitoring and assessing employees within shorter and shorter timeframes. Where it used to be once per year, then once per quarter, now it is once per day - or less - once per hour, once per half hour. The red-yellow-green progress button is an app developed by Microsoft, see here; it is also available from other companies, and progress button systems are now ubiquitous. And so the conceptualization and mechanization of human productivity continues, as a reflection of a computer program. In 2012, PM Times criticized the red-yellow-green button system and suggested there should be a two button system, with the buttons labeled yellow and orange; the yellow-orange system was meant to come closer to a reality of a permanent, low-grade crisis of always falling behind. Looking at the 2014 chart above, that is actually closer to the Millennial reality, but only if productivity is to be measured by the very tools which are undermining and transforming it:
My options are now:

Yellow: The project does not have any known issues but there is still high risk that something could go wrong (as demonstrated by the cone of uncertainty). As with any project in flight, we are managing it cautiously and we are doing our best to deliver successfully.

Orange: An issue has surfaced and the project goals are in jeopardy. We are triaging the issue(s) and at this time we believe we can still be successful Red: An issue has surfaced and we do not believe 100% project success can be obtained due to the discovery. More than likely we will either miss the desired date, or exceed budget, or not be able to deliver the desired scope by the target date.
In short, human productivity is hampered by, and evolving in unknown ways, due to mechanization and technological over-exposure. So the solution is more mechanization and more technological over-exposure? One could assess workers like human beings, operating in a human environment with human capabilities, not as extensions of a software program's progress assessment capabilities; employees should not be considered as though they were so many pre-built agents in a Multiple Agent Simulation System in Virtual Environment (MASSIVE) CGI crowd scene. It is the unreflective exploitation and application of technology, piled on technological assessment and evaluation, within already flooded technological environments, which together are the problems here, not the irreducible fact that human beings naturally find creative ways to evade these overwhelming circumstances.

MASSIVE simulated human actor for cinematic scenes are listed here. They range between USD$3000 and USD$5000 each; but they are also available on 30-day rental contracts. MASSIVE's motto is 'simulating life.' Above, AI-driven character animation in The Dark Knight (2008). Image Source: MASSIVE.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Fifth Dimensional Memory and the Fortress of Solitude


Image Source: engadget.

In the quest to store information permanently, the University of Southampton has developed a memory chip so durable that it will last until after our sun burns out:
Using nanostructured glass, scientists from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have developed the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional (5D) digital data by femtosecond laser writing. ...

Coined as the ‘Superman memory crystal’, as the glass memory has been compared to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films, the data is recorded via self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz. The information encoding is realised in five dimensions: the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.

Professor Peter Kazansky, from the ORC, says: “It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations. This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilisation: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten.”

The researchers will present their research at the photonics industry's renowned SPIE Photonics West—The International Society for Optical Engineering Conference in San Francisco, USA this week. The invited paper, ‘5D Data Storage by Ultrafast Laser Writing in Glass’ will be presented on Wednesday 17 February [2016]. The team are now looking for industry partners to further develop and commercialise this ground-breaking new technology. Contact Professor Peter Kazansky to find out more. Learn more about the SPIE Photonics West conference and exhibition. Read about the special legacy gift presentation made to UNESCO in celebration of the IYL2015 [International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies 2015].
In a related report from 17 February 2016, Engadget revealed Southampton's curious mixed impulse toward the ultra-new and ever-permanent:
Researchers at the University of Southampton's Optical Research Center announced on Tuesday that they've perfected a technique that can record data in 5 dimensions and keep it safe for billions of years. The method etches data into a thermally stable disc using femtosecond laser bursts. The storage medium itself holds up to 360 TB per disc, can withstand temperatures up to 1000 degrees C and are estimated to last up to 13.8 billion years at room temperature without degrading.

Each file is comprised of three layers of nanoscale dots. The dots' side and orientations, as well as their position within the three standard dimensions, constitute its five dimensions. These dots change the polarization of light travelling through the disc which is read using a microscope and polarizer.

... In the three years since their first demonstration, they've ... recorded the entirety of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Newton's Opticks, Magna Carta and Kings James Bible.

"It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations," Professor Peter Kazansky from the ORC said in a statement. "This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilisation: all we've learnt will not be forgotten."
To make their research accessible to the public, scientists exploit popular culture and so must not complain when the masses comprehend science with pseudoscientific labels and mystical weirdness. Tagging this memory chip with fifth dimensional capabilities shows the University of Southampton's media-savvy, and they have asked us to respond with one big "quantum wow." Anything in '5D' is incredibly popular right now; it is a pseudoscientific catch phrase, like 2016's anti-ageing creams, which claim to work by altering your DNA. Invoking the fifth dimension in a press release alludes to a gnostic vault up to a supra-spiritual existence. 5D is a loosely-grasped point of perspective, above regular three-dimensional reality and the fourth dimension of spacetime. I have previously alluded to 5D concepts herehere, here and here.

Superman in his polar citadel, the Fortress of Solitude, stocked with memory crystals. Image Source: Superman Homepage.

Southampton's optics researchers do not show much interest in the deeper meaning of durable memory, of what it means to preserve knowledge until after our sun burns out. If they knew anything about the Superman story, they would understand that crystallized memory implies a push beyond the normal human capacity to remember, toward the alienated superhuman, into the moral and physical challenges of permanent isolation.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Providence


Providence #6 (released 25 November 2015), art by Jacen Burrows. The cover depicts Alumni Hall at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, USA. Image Source: Avatar Press. (Hat tip: Facts in the Case.)

The sixth issue of Alan Moore's Providence, which revives the visceral horror of H. P. Lovecraft, hits shops today. I am still recovering after reading the first five issues. It is a harrowing series, in which a post-World War I journalist is lured into a meta-historical New England underworld that is terrifying, disturbing, taboo and disgusting.

Moore often addresses questions long before they enter common consideration. Ironically, this is because of his deeply historical perspective of human nature. In 2006, the Guy Fawkes mask worn by Moore's anarchist terrorist character in his 1980s' comic series V for Vendetta became the face of global hacktivism and later, of the Occupy movement. Moore hails from Northampton and his outlook is partly shaped by that city's fateful support of Parliament against King Charles I during the English Civil War. The Gunpowder Plot in which Fawkes figured in November 1605 prefaced the Civil War (1642-1651). Late last year, Moore finished his magnum opus about Northampton. It is entitled Jerusalemhis final manuscript was sent off to his publisher with a final word count of over one million words. The editors will want him to cut it, but as he put it, "that's not going to happen." He stated the novel is, "longer than the Bible ... and with a better afterlife scenario." Moore confirmed that Jerusalem is a giant meditation on how the arcane world combines a resistance to fate and government; he deals with mathematics, the English Civil War, predestination and Cromwell; and "I realized [it] would [also] be about the development of economic policy, since Isaac Newton was put in charge of the mint." This year, in Providence, Moore has turned from politics to themes relevant in today's struggle against terrorist violence: what we fear and how we deal with it.

Saint Anselm College, Alumni Hall. Image Source: flickr.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Counting Down to Hallowe'en: Jonestown - Altruism, Violence, Fear


Testimony on Jonestown? (Look at her right hand.) BCW-944-BS Photo of Jim Jones Cult People's Temple Jonestown Guyana. Image Source © Tribune Photos Archive / Baltimore Sun Photo Archive / Wire Photo.

Caption for the above photograph: "This WIREPHOTO is straight from the newspaper's historical photo archive. Wirephotos are different than traditional photographic prints!  This print is the result of what used to be breakthrough technology (now completely obsolete) that allowed a photographic image to be scanned, transmitted over 'the wire' (telegraph, phone, satellite networks) and then printed at the receiving location.  They are often on thinner, slick paper (very similar to old thermal roll fax paper) and often fade or become sepia toned quicker than traditional silver halide prints.  Long removed from commercial use, these artifacts represent an important era in the history of news media."

Before 9/11, the largest loss of civilian American lives due to a deliberate act was the Jonestown Massacre of 18 November 1978. This pacifist American cult committed mass suicide under psychological duress exerted by their psychopathic priest, Reverend Jim Jones. The cult, the Peoples Temple, had been developing under Jones's leadership for some twenty years prior to their migration to Guyana, where they died after drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. The act passed into public consciousness and generated an American expression describing how someone fully and foolishly accepts ideas which are fatally wrong: "He drank the Kool-Aid."

Before their mass suicide, the cult's guard squad hunted down and murdered an American Congressman and NBC news team who visited them on behalf of cultists' family members. An account of the grisly events is here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Quote of the Day: Alan Moore on Editors


Image Source: Wired.

The quote of the day comes from Alan Moore, via Rob Brezsny's advice to Aquarians for the week of 25 September 2014:
Alan Moore is the British author who wrote the graphic novels Watchmen and V for Vendetta. He is now nearing completion of Jerusalem, a novel he has been working on for six years. It will be more than a million words long, almost double the size of Tolstoy's War and Peace, and 200,000 words bigger than the Bible. "Any editor worth their salt would tell me to cut two-thirds of this book," Moore told the New Statesman, "but that’s not going to happen." Referring to the author of Moby Dick, Moore adds, "I doubt that Herman Melville had an editor. If he had, that editor would have told him to get rid of all that boring stuff about whaling: 'Cut to the chase, Herman.'" Let's make Moore and Melville your role models in the coming week, Aquarius. You have permission to sprawl, ramble, and expand. Do NOT cut to the chase.
The Guardian reported that Moore finished Jerusalem a week and a half ago. The book explores a tiny area of Northampton, where Moore grew up, through stories of his family's past. The bearded sage will undoubtedly reach universal transcendence with this work: it spans many different radical writing styles, genres and ideas. Jerusalem is now with the copy-editors.

Moore has repeatedly argued that gods, as the products of our imaginations, are real entities, produced by the magic of artistic creativity. He became a ceremonial magician on his fortieth birthday as "a logical end step to my career as a writer." That didn't happen. Wiki:
"I believe that magic is art, and that art, whether that be music, writing, sculpture, or any other form, is literally magic. Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words or images, to achieve changes in consciousness ... Indeed to cast a spell is simply to spell, to manipulate words, to change people's consciousness, and this is why I believe that an artist or writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world to a shaman."
See my earlier post on Moore's June 2013 interview with The Believer, on the subject of gods, art and magic, here.

The Art of the Retcon 3: Time and Heroism in the Multiverse


Morrison's 18 Days retells the great Mahabharata in an animated CGI drama on Youtube (you can watch it here). 18 days is the length of the battle in the Mahabharata. Image Source: Broken Frontier.

The wavering fictional reality of DC Comics resembles theories from today's quantum physicists.  A comic book fantasy of multiple Earths and multi-dimensional universes aligns with contemporary scientific ideas of a fractured multiverse and mysterious dark matter.  It makes one wonder: if our physicists are right and the multiverse is real, what sort of creatures are we because of it, and how do we feel its effects?

Multiversity #1 (October 2014). "Every comic you ever read is real." – Grant Morrison. Behind the Panels review: "Morrison directly challenges the reader. 'Whose voice is speaking in your head anyway? Yours?' The same narration urges us to stop reading. That’s when things get beautifully weird."

Are we pawns of a larger order we will never perceive? Scottish writer Grant Morrison would say: yes. He is delivering his long-promised crossover, Multiversity, right now via DC Comics, and a glance at the multiversal map below shows that he is combining years of esoteric interests - mind expansion through drug dreams, a fascination with ancient Indian epics and religions, and a belief (expressed in 2012's Supergods) that modern superheroes are manifestations of ancient gods. More importantly, in Multiversity, the heroes exist along a metafictional continuity with our reality and time. They are part of humankind's long quest to define the line between creation and destruction, from which everything else follows in this world, and other worlds too.

DC's map of the Multiversity (August-September 2014; click to enlarge). Image Source: DC Entertainment.

From 2009 to 2013, Morrison worked with Dynamite Entertainment and Liquid Comics to produce 18 Days, a retelling of the Mahabharata, in which a classic Indian battle sees the age of gods give way to the age of men. Two of the founders of Liquid Comics are author Deepak Chopra and his son, Gotham Chopra. Deepak Chopra famously discussed these ideas with Morrison at several comics conventions; the Chopras also published a book about it, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes (2011). CBR reported on one such discussion in 2006 in San Diego:
Superheroes, in Chopra's view, are not external beings. "These are archetypal beings that stoke the fire of life and passion in our own souls. These are potentials that exist within us, and by creating these superheroes through our own collective imagination, we are in a way serving our deepest longings, our deepest aspirations, and our deepest desires to escape the world of the mundane and the ordinary and do things that are magical."
Morrison draws from Indian traditions to marry that consciousness to the cosmos of existence. Thoughts become physical substances in other dimensions. The great epic of the multiverse involves the genesis of values in that consciousness through dharma and karma, action and negative action, creation and destruction, good and evil. In our reality, mythical heroes are legendary archetypes. But Morrison insists that these paragons embody physical forms in other times and places.








18 Days concept art by Mukesh Singh. Images Sources: Decode Hindu Mythology, Comic Vine, Concept Art, Dynamite Comics, Planet Damage, Mukesh Singh.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lost Cities: Kowloon Walled City, the Faux and the Real



From Yahoo and WSJ Live, a retrospective on Hong Kong's infamous Kowloon Walled City, which was demolished 20 years ago:
The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong was once the densest place on earth, a virtually lawless labyrinth of crime, grime, commerce and hope. A Wall Street Journal documentary tracks its colorful legacy 20 years after its demolition.
For nearly a century, Kowloon Walled City was a gang-ruled place of low rents, no licences or taxes, drug trades, brothels and illegal dentists. Somehow, it gained further mystique because it sat across the street from an international airport, and landing jets notoriously scraped just over the slum's rooftops. The fascinating culture of this city-inside-a-city has been represented across eastern and western pop culture in video games, mangas and movies. Known as the City of Darkness in Cantonese, it particularly resonates with depictions of gritty urban landscapes in the 1980s and 1990s, and served as an inspiration for Ridley Scott's futuristic Los Angeles in Blade Runner. It recently inspired designers of Gotham sets for the British-American movie, Batman Begins (2005). City of Darkness Revisited notes only two films were actually shot inside the real Kowloon Walled City (see a clip of footage from the real city shown in Bloodsport below the jump):
only two films were actually shot within the confines of the Walled City, the Jean-Claude van Damme vehicle, Bloodsport [1988], and the far superior Johnny Mak film, Long Arm of the Law [1984]. In fact, the Walled City and one of its alleys only make a short appearance in Bloodsport, when the Jean-Claude character and his Chinese minder are making their way to an illegal fighting venue supposedly located there.
An interior facade reveals the city's staggering honeycombed character, built up without any architects. Image Source: La boite verte

 

 

Images Source: Greg Girard see more of his photos of the real Kowloon Walled City here. Other photos of the city are here and here.

Former inhabitants testify to Kowloon's tight-knit society:
"We all had very good relationships in very bad conditions. Even now, many people stay in touch with each other even though some old friends are overseas," Shum said. "People who lived there were always loyal to each other. In the Walled City, the sunshine always followed the rain."
Such is the nostalgia for this grim yet fascinating slum, that Japanese business interests have built a reproduction of Kowloon Walled City as an arcade and theme park south of Tokyo (see the theme park's main site here). The development blog, here, insists on historic faithfulness ("all materials produced from the scratch"; "real garbage from Hong Kong were sent by parcel"). HuffPo:
Kowloon Walled City, an infamous now-demolished Hong Kong slum, is enjoying new life as a three-storey Japanese arcade and theme park just south of Tokyo.
David Gilbert, a digital product manager, posted photos of the Kawasaki Warehouse on his blog, documenting stunning details of the resurrected Walled City – in all its dark and rusty glory – save for hints of modernity in its restrooms.

"The juxtaposition of a high-tech Japanese toilet in an authentically grimy bathroom had to be seen to be believed," described Gilbert.

Set designer Taishiro Hoshino, the mastermind behind the arcade theme park's time-bending alchemy, paid close attention to details from the actual slum city.

Hosino and his team examined photographs and video of the Walled City, retraced Chinese calligraphy on signage, tracked down Hong Kong mailboxes, balcony bird cages, and reproduced its neon signs.

Striving for full authenticity, he even persuaded a friend in Hong Kong to mail him her family's trash.
"I was later told that they were totally confused about my request," explained Hoshino in a detailed "Behind The Scenes" post on his website.
This development echoes other odd Millennial efforts to transform famous ruined (and not-ruined) locations of the 20th century into 21st century entertainment centres - a tourist-industry trend notably evident at Chernobyl and formerly-shuttered asylums and prisons in the United States. More images of the original city are below the jump.

The outside facade of the Japanese Kowloon Walled City theme park, which has been artificially aged and grimed up.  Image Source: HuffPo.

More images from Japan's faux Kowloon Walled City theme park, complete with faux brothels, fake open air meat markets, real Hong Kong mailboxes which were shipped to Japan as props - and grimed-up toilets, whose conveniences are actually clean and hyper-modern.  Images from HuffPo.


 





One of the meticulously-created Japanese faux-Kowloon mock-ups. Image Source: Hoshinogumi

"A slight departure from the theme park's authenticity, those wishing to leave must walk through a red-lit hexagon passageway, stepping over stones set over an illuminated pool toward a circular ying-yang door." Image Source: HuffPo.