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 Virtual Reality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Virtual Reality. Show all posts

Friday, July 17, 2020

Pandemic Chats in the Darkness 7: Welcome, Comrade


It’s Just A Mask (12 July 2020). Video Source: Youtube. Mirrored here and here.

I have a new Patreon subscriber blog post up, in which I argue that the pandemic reveals how Millennial politics is not about left-versus-right ideologies, even though it is presented in those terms. The opening section here provides a preview to the Patreon post.

Welcome, Comrade

As in the video above, the pandemic is pushing politics past normal left-right divisions into the realm of chaos. There is a lot of confusion about this chaos. It pits red pills against blue pills, but there is little mainstream understanding of what those terms mean as Millennial politics evolves.


The media - like the New York Times in their ill-conceived response to Elon Musk's red-pilled moment in May 2020, have completely misunderstood red-pilling. The NYT viewed red-pilling in an ahistorical, 20th century light, as a type of racist online conservatism, which attacks mainstream liberalism. This is not what red-pilling is. Red-pilling can be anti-liberal, but it is not fundamentally so. Red-pilling is anti-systemic.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

New Post at The Dragonfly: Lessons from Dune in Pandemic Survival


Image Source: Worthpoint.

I have a new post up at The Dragonfly:

The Golden Path of the Divine Masculine

The post explores the idea that the coronavirus epidemic raises questions about humanity's survival and it examines the Dune books' formula for that survival, the 'golden path.' I discuss the golden path already afoot in virtual communities. I also comment on the challenges which this viral outbreak poses to the principles of the current order.

"The spice must flow." Image Source: Reddit.


See all my posts on Epidemics here and here.


See all posts in the What's Left Over? series on materialism and anti-materialism in technological advancement.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Dead and Alive in Time


THE HAUNTED ABANDONED MANSION (SOMETHING GOT THROWN AND SCREAMS IN THE BASEMENT) (31 December 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

For today, see two videos. One is an urbex exploration of a reputedly haunted French château. The incredible workmanship, tiles, wood carving, wallpaper, lamps, fireplaces, the lead paint, and the marble work are a reminder that material wealth is no protection against the waste of ages. Even in our brief lives, or across a few paltry generations, placing faith in materialism it is like holding up an umbrella against a hurricane of time.

Image Source: Bloomberg.

The irony is that in previous eras, people were generally more religious. However, the apex of their world view was plainly defined by solid, physical expressions of wealth to anchor themselves in time. A glance tells us that this is the tragic, beautiful esthetic of the dead, a set of choices no longer available to most of us and sadly no longer relevant. Material immobility entraps us in a dead past. Those who still cling to materialism in this old sense use it to construct their social personae; they are deceived if they think that this will help them survive.

Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 20 years (11 January 2020). 7263 days. Video Source: Youtube.

By contrast, the second video is the monumental output of Noah Kalina, entitled Everyday. I have covered Kalina's work previously here and here. Kalina has photographed himself daily for the past twenty years. Kalina achieves a dynamic permanence in virtual reality. The two videos show the tremendous jump in values and perspectives between the 20th and 21st centuries. 21st century cameras and computers propelled the 20th century's monumental, immovable, time-anchored objects into the virtual sphere, and rendered everything that was once tied down by wealth and authority into evolving, shifting phenomena.

Kalina started his project on 11 January 2000, before the launch of Youtube, yet the project was tailor-made for a Youtube space. Younger Youtubers were unsettled by the video. Some were born after 2000 and they thought that Kalina looks depressed and old.

I see in his valiant effort a distinction between the fragile person with dark circles under his eyes, who physically ages, and the eternal self. There are glimpses of personal habits which gave Kalina temporary comfort, stability and security - a beard, a favourite shirt, a girlfriend or wife, an apartment - but these inevitably fall away. What gives him real security and permanence is the Everyday project, in which, regardless of what was happening, he repeated the same activity every day to create a vision of a higher purpose.

Image Source: Spirituality and Health.

In the video, Kalina looks like a superhero flying through, and transcending, the decades. He remains the central figure, his work provides a subtle message about the positive implications (and applications) of technology for those who will follow after him. He is planting a seed of understanding and wisdom.

Image Source: pinterest.

It is an unusual and admirable artistic statement, to capture through photographs and the Youtube mirror the unchanging true self, moving in time, which is continually clinging to, and divesting itself of, its transitory ego-masks and all its props and crutches.

Image Source: AZ Quotes.

Image Source: Verywell Mind.


See all my posts on Urban Exploration.
See all my posts on Time Lapses.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Politics, Ideology and the Technosphere 2: Anarchists and Luciferians


Image Source: The Transmetropolitan Review via The Conversation.

This year, I am presenting a series on ideology and the technosphere. The series rejects mainstream political discourse and returns to first principles, historical background, and online trends to deconstruct the current evolution of politics.

Thus far and in today's post, I have identified the following components of tech-oriented politics:
  • New political terms, like the Red Pill and Black Pill
  • The weaponization of political virtues, morals, ideals, and values, leading to inversions of those values in practice
  • Internet dynamics and unpredictability
  • New moral, spiritual, or ethical frameworks of common reference
Positive Values, Negative Outcomes: Our Inverted World

Political virtues, moral labels, and positive platforms contrast with real outcomes, whether in everyday reality or online practice. There is a vast gap between what people say they are doing politically and what actually happens. On the Internet, this gap is exposed and described, especially among the alt media and conspiracy theorists, as corruption.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

World War III Projections 4: New Year, New Decade, New Disinformation



New years countdown in LONDON 2020 (31 December 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

Happy New Year, Happy New Decade. In a previous post, I dubbed the 2010s, a 'decade of disillusionment,' because those years drew new political lines. Those lines no longer delineate the outmoded left from the outdated right, but instead divide those who are awake from those who are still asleep.

When I say awake and asleep, I do not mean this as conspiracy theorists would, who constantly nurse anti-Semitic paranoia about who 'really rules the world.' Nor do I refer to the 'woke' protest culture. Such perspectives are distorted extensions of archaic left and right political paradigms.

Rather, I was referring to the development of an enhanced sensibility, induced partly by overexposure to information and disinformation, and partly by technologically-induced shifts in the way we live, which force reappraisal of one's whole experience of reality.

In short, reappraise experience and we will reappraise reality. That development, in conjunction with technological advancement, forms the core of the new politics. The moral challenge is to harness technology without becoming enslaved by it. Mechanical invention, innovation, and engineering are secondary to conscience, creativity, and ideas.

The real battle lies in the cultivation of sound public judgement over information. As the old authorities over information lose ground and the new tech giants seek to censor the narrative of progress, we struggle to discern what information is valuable and ultimately beneficial, even if we can no longer distinguish truth from fiction. Can we retain our moral compasses in the process?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Awaken the Amnesiacs 12A: You're Locked in Here with Me


KEVIN SPACEY AND HIS BIZARRE CHRISTMAS EVE VIDEO | Double Toasted (25 December 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

To follow on my previous post on Kevin Spacey's Christmas video, see the above discussion from Double Toasted, which explains Spacey's video clearly. As host Korey Coleman points out, Spacey is owning his alleged sexual predator status and is using the scandal as a dark moment of supervillain self-empowerment. Notice the public reaction is one of confusion and puzzlement. We in the public are offended, but that has no effect on Kevin Spacey. Instead, he blossoms. We are taken off guard, our status as moral arbiters shaken and it provokes discussion as to what is going on, when in fact the punishment, if Spacey were to be found guilty, should be swift and severe. Instead, the mob withdraws to laugh, to chat about it, to wonder what is happening. We can't help but admire the audacity of it, the sheer insanity of the situation.

This is a supervillain victory. Supervillains have milestone moments too, and unfortunately, everyone identifies with this because the Internet peddles motivation, ego-boosting formulas, and self-improvement, beyond what is right and wrong. This reveals how social media can be turned upside down, to invert values, to appeal with negativity, to charm with revulsion. Spacey comes into his own as a supervillain, extending his bat wings and letting his scales breathe for the first time. As I stated in my previous post, Spacey's new theatre is the public space in virtual reality.



Spacey in his youth. Images Sources: TVOM, Bored Panda, Stack Exchange.

The message is, as Double Toasted host Martin Thomas states, akin to that of the Watchmen's Rorschach: I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me. Social media platforms are one big prison, and we're locked in with the celebrity lunatic who can, with one tweak of the atmosphere, unhinge us all. Double Toasted's Korey Goodwin stated: "I've never had somebody aggressively act at me."

Image Source: pinterest.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Our Father, Who Art in Silicon: Censorship of Social Media and the War over the Virtual World


A livecam (here) constantly broadcasts footage of the Centennial Light, a light bulb which has been burning since 1901. The bulb, located in a fire station in Livermore, California, USA, is taken as a proof of planned obsolescence in industry. Image Source: mnn.

Do you know who you are? One can define oneself in terms of the past, present, or future. Tech companies are currently censoring social media to produce a toxic, Orwellian 'now,' in which past content is being erased on the grounds that it is not authoritative. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the main character, Winston Smith, is a 'historian' in that nightmare world. Or rather, he is what historians will become: a censor. Winston Smith erases history and creates new versions of it, from one hundred years ago, right down to yesterday.

In anticipation of the American 2020 election, among other agendas, tech corporations are becoming Orwellian censors. In the past month on Youtube, Google has begun weirdly removing date stamps from videos. Today, Youtube will begin erasing past content of which they disapprove.

Friday, November 15, 2019

New Post at The Dragonfly: The Long Gameplay


Image Source: imdb.

I have a new post up at The Dragonfly:


This post on video gamers' skills peripherally considers a topic I have been discussing on this blog, namely, that the way we interact with technology is intimate, disturbing, and involves a global meditation on our species' long term survival.

The human-tech interface concerns how we use tools to augment our five senses. I suspect that two camps will emerge from this process. One group, the anti-materialists, will use technology to enhance our organic capabilities. The other group, the materialists, will evolve into cyborgs and will cultivate artificial versions of those organic capabilities.

Image Source: imdb.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

What's Left Over? A Plague on Both Your Houses


"Star cross'd lovers take their life." 'Life' is singular. One life is lost when Romeo and Juliet die, because the two characters form one character in death. Romeo + Juliet (1996) prologue. (1996) © 20th Century Fox Video Source: Youtube.

The New Millennium is synonymous with the future, and if you identify with that future, you may have noticed a trend which enflames polarities, but then oddly reconciles opposites, even between right- and left-wing politics. A Millennial third way seeks the Sun (masculine), Moon (feminine), and Stars (the higher union). Or: Past, Present, and Future.

There are different routes to the third way, and not every path is positive. The future's third way may follow the current course of world politics. After a prologue in conflict, it may destroy polarities through war and conflagration. Or it may erase polarities through technological, social and biological engineering.

Whether we follow the path of war or technocracy, the course will be materialistic. There is an alternative, however, which is anti-materialist. This blog post continues my series, What's Left Over?, which reappraises Millennial politics and political culture in terms of materialism and anti-materialism. I argue that the alternative media are not alt-right so much as alt-material. Their radicalism is not grounded in outdated left-right political paradigms, as much as it is in the political connotations of living in, and with, virtual reality.

Prologue in Conflict

U.S. set to hit China with new wave of tariffs on September 1st (31 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

Paradoxically, the institution of higher, unifying principles is preceded today by a deliberate exacerbation and intensification of differences. It could be one way of bringing about the desired union in the long term. Think of a couple fighting, followed by make-up sex. This may be the long game behind mainstream propaganda which has worsened political differences and regional tensions and has left us feeling that there is no chance to negotiate in order to solve problems.

Boris Johnson suggests prorogation will help negotiate Brexit deal with EU (30 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

'Boris Johnson, shame on you': thousands protest against prorogation (31 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

Brexit. Lebanon. Kashmir. Hong Kong. Egypt. You may abhor or adore the populists and their elitist opponents, or the democratic and anti-democratic factions, or honour the aggressors or victims. But it could be that all are servants of this greater aim, this third way, whether they know it or not. They worsen conflicts which will eventually obliterate the very barriers they are erecting. And perhaps this was the aim all along, to push things so far that finally we begin to break down divisions between different perspectives and ways of living.

Hong Kong riot police seen beating protesters in clash at metro station (31 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

A transcendent third way to overcome past and present problems is a very old idea. It is evident in symbols like the Yin and Yang, the Hammer and Sickle, and the Star of David or Shatkona. All could be taken as representations of the act of sex, the union of masculine and feminine energies. Equally important in east and west, as critical for the ancients as for the moderns, the higher union or third way is a code for nothing less than the survival of our species. As such, it is a positive idea.

The Hammer and Sickle symbol goes beyond the Hegelian dialectic. It confirms the occult roots of socialism. The hammer represents masculinity, while the sickle refers to femininity in harvest and death. Both symbols imply creative and destructive aspects of gender symbolism in northern mythological traditions. Image Source: Russia Beyond.

Monday, September 16, 2019

What's Left Over? Merge with the Demon


Beware the implantation of a synthetic conscience, crafted by others. Image Source: pinterest.

I have a theory that our religions mirror our levels of technology. This post continues my What's Left Over? series, which describes two contending spiritual stances - the materialist and the anti-materialist - which are appearing in response to the Technological Revolution.

Science and technology refer to ways of doing, while the arts and theology describe ways of being. Neither can exist without the other. Ideally, they are used in balance. But the burgeoning technocracy thrives on doing; it pretends to support the arts and organic freedoms, while actually discouraging them. As a result, technologists have to build simulated versions of being to make up for the shortfall. Their simulacra of moral sensibilities are poor substitutes for the true human love of nature and mystery.

Left unfettered, technocrats will construct your personality and life from the outside in. And while their creed is superficially moral and progressive, it is grossly materialist, anti-human and anti-humane.

If you thought corporations and institutions were already corrupt, and rewarded the worst aspects of your nature and exploited your best instincts against you, imagine what it will be like inside the corporatist technocracy, where their externalized conscience will come from a chip, embedded in your brain and communicating with your cerebral cortex by way of a neural interlace.

This fake, mechanized, embedded chip conscience is the foundation stone of what the people at The Boiler Room podcast call the "technocratic dictatorship." Elon Musk is its leading proponent.

Musk was once Silicon Valley's space cowboy and he had a romantic heart. In a 2010 interview, his ex-first-wife Justine struggled with the loss of Musk's original visionary, who became her own "private Alexander the Great." In 2016, he wasn't completely gone. He named one of his droneships, 'Of Course I Still Love You.'

In 2014, Musk warned against the advent of artificial intelligence as "summoning the demon." Now a shadow of his former self, in July of this year he stammered out his new agenda, a brain-chip interface called Neuralink. Neuralink will allow us to merge with the demon and to "stay one step ahead" of it. This is supposedly the only way to survive the coming Singularity.

Putting a Chip in Your Brain Will Not Make You a Superhero (or a god) (7 August 2019). Video Source: Youtube.


See all posts in the What's Left Over? series on materialism and anti-materialism in technological advancement.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The God Emperor and Venezuela


In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Britain is known as Airstrip One. Image Source: picssr.

In mid-January 2019, a Wiki user with the handle ZiaLater created a world map of nations according to their support in the country's current presidential crisis of Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaidó.

I was immediately struck by the fact that the Venezuela president recognition map 2019 is almost identical to the map of the world in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).

Venezuela president recognition map 2019 (January 2019). Image Source: Wiki.

Orwell's fictional superstates in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Image Source: Reddit.

Although the similarity between the two maps could confirm yet again that Orwell accurately predicted the future, it might mean instead that big geopolitical alignments don't change as much as we think they do. There are many continuities between Orwell's time and ours. The inchoate superstates Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia were and are always there, waiting to be born. This made me wonder what catalysts really prompt the imperial birth of superstates. In Orwell's novel, the catalyst is a nuclear war.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Hallowe'en Countdown 2018: They Live ... Don't They?


Still from They Live (1988). Note the book behind the hero: On ESP by Edgar Cayce, which you can read for free online here. All stills and film © Universal Pictures. Reproduced under Fair Use. Image Source: IMDB.

On this blog, I have written about poverty and homelessness, the destruction of the middle classes, and how conspiracy theories provide dramatic and supernatural explanations for growing social inequality.

In 1988, horror film director John Carpenter made a film which tackled all these ideas. It was entitled They Live. Carpenter intended his film to be an attack on the Reagan era and 1980s' conspicuous consumption. The film suggests something prevalent in Millennial conspiracists' circles, namely, that the establishment élites are pawns of alien overlords who conceal their true appearance and feed off the energy of the impoverished common people. This is a metaphor for social alienation, racism, and socio-economic distress. But the film raises an additional question as to why They Live presented a story which many netizens now believe to be literally true.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Time and Politics 26: The Age of Divergence


Image Source: 8 tracks radio.

Last week, Michael Morgenstern intellectualized disinformation at The Chronicle of Higher Education: Dear Humanities Profs: We Are the Problem. Dismayed about American politics? Look in the mirror.

Morgenstern stated that postmodern theorists attacked the canon in the second half of the 20th century. According to these theorists, the western canon in arts and literature (and science) was a story of oppression, often intended, sometimes unconscious. This dominant account was written by Dead White Males. The period from the 1970s to 2010s was spent dismantling that canon, attacking power and privilege in the name of liberal civil rights and equality.

This approach extolled cultural relativism: there was no objective truth, no higher class of knowledge, no text, no vision of cultural superiority which could be offered as a mode of control (subtext: unless it was the new, divergent, relativist, postmodernist canon).

The Age of Divergence

Morgenstern has realized that this attack on cultural and intellectual convergence brought about our present circumstances. Postmodern literary critics had stated that every text was equal. Every text had its own 'civil rights.' Boomer intellectuals and their Gen X students recovered silenced voices, women writers, slave poets, indigenous histories, minority views. This was understandable and justified, because so many people had been mistreated and oppressed for decades, centuries, millennia. Without their voices, our histories were incomplete and our whole understanding of reality would be based on injustice and immorality.

However, this recovery of lost texts was also done in the name of undermining established experts and authorities. This was really a generational power struggle inside the academic profession, but it was dressed up in and justified with theory. Old tenured professors were unseated, early-retired, or pushed out. The aim was to supplant the older generation of intellectuals (viewed as 'the 1950s') with a radical new generation (defined as '1968'). But time has finally caught up with the 1968ers, who are now retired or retiring.

It's not as simple as this, but broadly speaking, this is Morgenstern's summary of how radical liberals attacked conservative authorities of the 1950s and built new intellectual value systems from the 1970s onward.

Morgenstern concluded that the liberals were successful. As a result, we now live in a world where no text is taken as true or accepted solely on the basis of the authority of its author or publisher. Unfortunately for this stratum of intellectuals, they now claim expertise, and by their own logic find themselves attacked, just as they once dismantled the institutional and cultural structures which came before them. Only one Chronicle reader, rebek13, pinned down Moregenstern's idea:
"I'm confused by other commenters who seem to have missed the main points I took from this, which were not so much about 'the canon' at all, which the author admits had exclusionary tendencies (though it need not).

What I see here is a critique of our abdication of the very idea of expertise, excellence, and beauty--literary studies serving as a prime example, but only that. We have in a postmodern haze suggested that tweets are just as good as texts, and that anyone's opinion on literature, philosophy, or history is really probably just as good as the expert who has spent years studying these fields. In doing so, we have made ourselves absolutely pointless and suggested the uselessness of our very fields.

Isn't it very odd that professors of literature have such poor defenses of the study of long, dense literary texts? Isn't it odd that many of my colleagues have turned to facebook comments and recipe books as objects of study (not scrutiny, ever, but study) as though these articles were just as precious as a novel? Why should students understand the value of a long text if we are saying 'everything is literature; nothing is any more worthwhile than anything else'?

It's funny. Colleagues with creative writing backgrounds seem to have a much more profound and certain appreciation of literature than those who spend their lives studying it. They would never suggest that a tweet could achieve the same things as a book. They are not that far gone.

The solution as I see it is not a return to canon as much as a return to the idea that some modes of thought and expression ARE better than others, and that experts are in a pretty good position to tell people how and why. Then we need to be those experts."
In short, due to the Internet, we are awash in oceans of information; and the very people who were supposed to decide what information was authoritative staked their own authority over the past fifty odd years on the deconstruction of privilege around information. This overhaul was supposed to offer new freedom for disempowered liberals in the old, conservative system. It was not supposed to spell freedom for disempowered conservatives in the new, liberal system.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Symbols of Immortality 4: The Fake Human Burger



No sooner did labs begin developing the ability to 3D print a fake hamburger, than Oxford-based evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, stampeded straight for the less obvious question: why not 3D print a burger made of artificial human meat?

Inside the Quest to Make Lab Grown Meat | WIRED (16 February 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Give him the benefit of the doubt for a moment. It may have been a Swiftian joke. Maybe it was clickbait. Dawkins was Oxford's professor for the 'Public Understanding of Science' until 2008, so he must know about outreach.

A 3D printer creating fake meat. Image Source: ByFlow via BBC.

Over the past few years, the major news outlets have promised that lab grown meat is coming to your table and that this is a good thing: Washington Post, BBC, Bloomberg, The Economist, Reuters. Motherboard and the BBC have covered the topic since the new year. BBC reported that Dutch firm ByFlow has started selling its 3D meat printers to restaurants. ByFlow's motto is: "Think. Design. Eat." Memphis Meats (backed by Bill Gates) and Mosa Meat are two artificial meat start-ups which will start selling fake meat for public consumption by 2021. Another cellular agriculture company is New Harvest.

In the third week of February 2018, news outlets reported that the US Cattlemen's Association filed a petition to the US Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA) against the Silicon Valley start-ups which are creating lab-grown meat. You can read their petition here. They focused primarily on the definition of real meat as created from animals which have been raised and slaughtered, so that fake meat cannot be labeled as genuine meat, thereby misleading consumers.

The Meat of the Future: How Lab-Grown Meat Is Made (2 October 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Lab meat, also known as clean meat, is touted as cruelty free, especially to vegetarians. Vegan Insight reported on 16 March 2018 that 41 per cent of Britons will eat "lab-grown clean meat and fish" in the next decade.

Image Source: Belchonock/Depositphotos via New Atlas.

It is one small step to Dawkins' fake human meat. Fake cannibalism will probably get a lot of support. Under the video below the jump, one girl commented: "As a vegan, I'd be happy to eat cultured human meat. I'm actually very curious and not grossed out at all."

Joe Rogan's interviewee in this video, Sam Harris, said (here) that there was "zero ethical problem ... if this was never attached to an animal, we're dealing with concepts here," that is, the vegan girl would be eating an object cultivated in a vat of human cells.

This issue highlights a moral blind spot in technological progress; it proves that technology is skewing the human ability to judge right from wrong.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Awaken the Amnesiacs 8: You are Now Inside the Computer


Image Source: The Hedge Mason.

The Urban Dictionary defines Youtube comments as:
"The only place where a polite discussion about kittens can lead to a flame war about government conspiracies."
Conspiracists vary in style. On Youtube, there is a spectrum. David Seaman's vitriol approaches incendiary levels, his this-is-not-a-threat promises are so chilling that they help me understand the history of mass psychology better, especially that of the 1930s.

This post is not exactly about Seaman, nor the accusations he levels in a brooding monotone at the bankers, politicians, deep-staters, evil cabal, establishment figures, and finally - the tech leaders who censor him (like Youtube CEO, Susan Wojcicki, whom he calls "Catshit Face"). This post is about Seaman's and others' rhetorical style in relation to conspiratorial subject matter, and what it means for all of us.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Interstellar Hystery


"This artist’s impression shows the first interstellar asteroid: `Oumuamua. This unique object was discovered on 19 October 2017 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawai`i. Subsequent observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world show that it was travelling through space for millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. `Oumuamua seems to be a dark red highly-elongated metallic or rocky object, about 400 metres long, and is unlike anything normally found in the Solar System." Image Source: ESO/M. Kornmesser; image published 20 November 2017.

Since the end of October, astronomers have been buzzing about the first ever observed interstellar visitor to our solar system. Jointly confirmed by ten observatories as it was momentarily captured by the gravity of our sun, this asteroid has arrived from elsewhere in our galaxy. The International Astronomical Union has now given this rock a name, 1I/2017 U1 ('Oumuamua - pronunciation here). The name is a Hawaiian word meaning “a messenger from afar arriving first.” The asteroid was spotted on 19 October 2017 by Robert Weryk with the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) telescope at the University of Hawaii.

Video Source: Guardian.

What struck me, looking at its path, is how strict and staid the average person's view still is of the cosmos. That is, on the unconscious level, our view of reality is shaped by the order and predictability of our tiny solar system - sun plus planets on a plane, the night sky punctuated by familiar constellations. The visit of 'Oumuamua is a reminder of the scope of space and its unpredictability. Of course, thousands of these interstellar objects regularly enter our system, and our limited knowledge of them is symptomatic of our level of science and technology, rather than their absence.

"A/2017 U1 is probably of interstellar origin. This NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech diagram shows its path of travel from above the plane of our solar system, around the sun and past earth at 44 kilometres per second. It was closest to the sun on Sept. 9." Image Source: NASA JPL/Caltech via Weather Network.

"This diagram shows asteroid 'Oumuamua's path through the solar system. An analysis of its path shows that it is coming from the direction of where the star Vega is now, although Vega would not have been at that location millions of years ago. Now that it is leaving, it is headed for the constellation Pegasus. A new report, written using observations made using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, is now providing even more information about this asteroid." Image Source: ESO/K. Meech et al. via Weather Network.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: Humanity's Tombstone


Image Source: Vigilant Citizen.

I try to address really strange conspiracy theories, which nonetheless have some larger importance, during the month of October. Special weirdness is reserved for a Stonehenge-like monument in Georgia, USA, which bears cryptic messages in English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.

Brad Meltzer's Decoded: Apocalypse in Georgia Season 1, Episode 10 (3 February 2011) © History Channel. Video Source: Youtube.

The Georgia Guidestones outside Atlanta were erected in 1980 on the orders of man working under an assumed name, R. C. Christian. There are revelations of his secret identity here and here. The Guidestones have inspired fear and vandalism, because alongside their espousal of rationalism, they also declare that the earth's human population should be cut back to 500 million people.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: Dark Ambient and Dark Web Tales



There are new horror genres appearing online, in which the fear factor depends on blurring the line between the virtual and real. It makes the raven girl on the subway, above, oddly reassuring: at least she is honest about how gothic things are these days.

Potion Shop Sounds | Apothecary Ambience | 45 Minutes (24 June 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Over the past few years, ambient horror soundtracks have appeared on Youtube, which are unsettling because they add a cinematic video game quality to daily work at the desk. Some people listen to them to get to sleep, like the 6-hour Quiet Rusty Sewer Ambient Noise River.

Aaron Dykes at Truthstream Media explains the power of music - related to the frequency at which the eardrums vibrate - and particularly the discordant Locrian mode. From Bridget Mermikides: "From at least the early 18th century this tritone was described as Diabolus in Musica (the Devil in music)." The Secret Power Music Holds Over You (30 August 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Locrian Mode example. Sample Source: Wiki.

Locrian Mode example: Björk's Army of Me (1995). Sample Source: Wiki.

The new horror music is non-music, made up of cinematic sound effects tracks. There is a spectrum of how scary these recordings are; they range (at the top) from vague background noise to (lower down) demonic atmospherics.

Haunted Halloween Mansion Fireplace with Thunder, Rain and Howling Wind (24 October 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

HAUNTED FOREST Scary Sounds of Ghosts in the Darkness 2 HOURS (12 March 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Gathering Darkness - Scary Noises in a Haunted House - 2 Hours (2 May 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Amazing SCARY 3D Holophonic Sound (21 August 2013). Video Source: Youtube.

Another example of horror found in the blurring between the virtual and the real is evident in a new genre of online horror story-telling, an offshoot of creepypastas, which explores the Dark Web. The Dark Web is reputed to be a place where anything goes, outside police jurisdictions, in a No Man's Land of international anonymity. Many Darknet communities are devoted to whistle-blowing, hacking, politics, drugs, crime, and hidden news.

By contrast, the Clearnet is the main, indexed Internet with which everyone is familiar. Clearnet lists of Dark Websites from 2015 to 2017 are here, here, here, here, and here - but don't click on links in those lists or surf further without a Tor browser and a VPN. A May 2017 Motherboard report gave a link to a list of every possible site on the Dark Web, that is, 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 sites, or just over one septillion Dark Websites beyond the reach of Google. That number directly contradicts Wired's 2015 estimate that there were over a billion sites on the Clear Web and 7,000 to 30,000 Dark Websites. You can see the total number of indexed Clear Websites counted in real time at Internet Live Stats.

Interactive livestream horror. Deep Web Horror Story - Why I Left The Deep Web by TASDiablo (21 May 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Friday, September 22, 2017

If Sin was Visible: An Interview with Dan Vyleta



Today, I am very pleased to interview novelist Dan Vyleta about his 2016 novel, Smoke; the Canadian paperback edition was released in July 2017.

Dan grew up in Germany after his family left Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s. He holds a doctorate in history from King’s College, Cambridge and has written three previous novels, Pavel & I (2008), The Quiet Twin (2011), and The Crooked Maid (2013). The Quiet Twin was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. The Crooked Maid was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the 2014 J. I. Segal Award. Dan currently teaches creative writing at the University of Birmingham.



Dan’s novel Smoke is a magical historical story of Victorian England. The novel will remind readers of Charles Dickens, especially Oliver Twist, Hard Times, and Dombey and Son. As with Dickens’s novels, Smoke is a social novel which reaches a conclusion about what is wrong in society and what is right.

There is a contrast between the country and the city during the Industrial Revolution, reminiscent of Blake’s “dark Satanic mills,” except in this novel, the Victorian smoke in question comes not from factories but from people! Smoke begins at an élite school, with nods to later works: The Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, and The Secret History.

There, the similarities with other authors end. Smoke begins with a quote from Dombey and Son (1848) – what if sin was visible?
“Those who study the physical sciences, and bring them to bear upon the health of Man, tell us that if the noxious particles that rise from the vitiated air were palpable to the sight, we should see them lowering in a dense black cloud above such haunts, and rolling slowly on to corrupt the better portion of a town. But if the moral pestilence that rises with them … could be made discernible too, how terrible the revelation!”
In Smoke, a fictionalized Victorian concern for morality conceals today’s obsession with transparency, truth, and corruption. As with other 21st century works, the historical setting really addresses Millennial problems. And the way Vyleta does this defies all expectations.

Note: All page references below are from the UK 2016 hardcover edition, published by Doubleday.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Time and Politics 24: Kiwis on the Cutting Edge


L & P Stubbies Ad (NZ) (30 August 2006). Video Source: Youtube.

A hat tip goes to Ed at The Outer Light on Youtube for sharing a funny Kiwi ad for the famous New Zealand soft drink L&P (Lemon and Paeroa) featuring the equally famous Stubbies, "short shorts ... for informal wear" favoured by Aussie and Kiwi men since 1972. The ad reminded me of my earlier post on Canadian humour, here.

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, Kim Dotcom & Suzie Dawson - 2nd #AntiSpyBill event (20 August 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

If the Kiwis were on the cutting edge of men's fashion in the 1970s, they're on the cutting edge of political fashion now. This was Ed's segue, not mine! The point he was making, I think, is that the world used to be more trusting, naive, and less oppressive. People hung out, had parties, drank soda, and wore tight pants. Ed's Outer Light videos often express nostalgia for the lost, pre-Internet past, when everyday people did not worry about global crime and mass surveillance, and they felt they could trust their governments.

One of the Internet Party's supporters and spokespeople is Barrett Brown. For more on him, go here. Image Source: Facebook.

If citizens did not worry about mass surveillance then, they certainly do now. The New Zealand Internet Party held another worldwide roundtable meeting on 20 August 2017 to continue to develop a bill against government spying on citizens:
"Acclaimed CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou and other special guests will join tech entrepreneur and Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom on the panel of the next #AntiSpyBill live event this Sunday night.

This comes hot on the heels of several major American publications reporting on technical evidence recently presented by the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals For Sanity (VIPS), of which Kiriakou is a member, to the White House regarding the DNC leaks of 2016, The event will be held online between 8pm and 11pm on Sunday the 20th of August, 2017, NZST (UTC+12) and follows on from the Internet Party’s flagship #AntiSpyBill event which featured appearances by Dotcom, award-winning journalist Barrett Brown, hacktivist Lauri Love and comedian Lee Camp. ...

The Internet Party is inviting the public to join the roundtable event, which as well as discussing contemporary issues of the day, will continue its effort to draft crowdsourced legislation to counter government spying."
The Internet Party is headed by ex-Occupy-Auckland citizen journalist, Suzie Dawson, a New Zealand political refugee living in Moscow, Russia (she has applied for temporary asylum); she made a documentary about her experiences in the Occupy movement and the events which led her to seek asylum, here.