Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Quote of the Day

From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: "Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear, and with a manly heart."

Hyperion, Bk. IV, Ch. 8 (1839) (Thanks to -C.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Will Humanity Outstrip Tech?

A Day in the Internet
Created by: MBAOnline.com

Will our obsession with technology progress so quickly that we render ourselves obsolete? According to one of my earlier posts, the answer to this question is no. The Internet, at least, cannot grow faster than the ability of our brains to digest what is out there. But is that really true? Out of all the easy-to-eat stats depicted above (this chart is making the rounds online), the one that is perhaps most chilling is the fact that worldwide iPhone sales outpace the global birthrate (also reported: here, here and here).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

International Space Law and the Fine Art of Thinking Ahead

The Space Review has an intriguing article this week about space law.  Three things crossed author Michael Listner's radar. First, the Moon Treaty has not been ratified by big space-faring powers, such as the USA, Russia or China. However, in the last few months it has been ratified by countries with minor or non-existent space programs. By ratifying the Moon Treaty, these states lend this agreement weight.  They also thereby proclaim their future space race intentions, and potentially make space powers beholden to non-space powers. The article focuses on Austria and Turkey:
Coupled with the growing influence of countries such as Austria, Turkey’s accession to the Moon Treaty will give the accord strength not so much in terms of individual political strength, but through political strength in numbers. As those numbers grow, the “Big Three” could find that their influence as non-parties of the Moon Treaty will be challenged by a chorus of many smaller nations who are parties.
Second, these moves by smaller space, or would-be-space, nations call into question the Moon Treaty's potential as a piece of international law.

This question is equally raised by some individuals out there with money to burn, who have been launching lawsuits to assert their claims to pieces of extra-terrestrial real estate. In some cases, they sue for compensation now when they feel that a breach of their legal claim to space property rights has been (or perhaps will be) violated by some space-faring power:
The latest example occurred in the Canadian Province of Quebec where the litigant, Sylvio Langvein, petitioned the District Court of Quebec concerning property claims he asserted for extraterrestrial property including several planets, the space in between them and the Moon. Specifically, Mr. Langvien petitioned the Court for separate judgments for each of his property claims with the intention of preventing China from establishing stations in outer space above him. 

The February 22, 2012, judgment goes on to imply that the “quarrelsome litigant”, which is a term used by the Honorable Alain Michaud, JSC to describe Mr. Langvein, used the Canadian judicial system at many levels to pursue 21 claims for relief since 2001. The judgment further notes that Mr. Langvein listed no respondent, i.e. who he was suing, who could respond to claims for relief. Moreover, the judgment essentially claims that Mr. Langvein is paranoid and that his actions were an abuse of the Canadian legal system.
I hand it to Mr. Langevein for originality as far as blowing cash goes. According to The Space Review, this kind of case could cause problems for the Moon Treaty because Canada is a non-member. But the decisions of its domestic courts - or any other non-member's domestic courts - have a bearing on the Treaty. Decisions in these cases will determine whether the Moon Treaty is binding international law or not, for all nations, whether or not they have ratified it.

Meanwhile, in another example that could affect the Moon Treaty, one American company, Space Pioneers LLC, is already selling bits of the moon to interested members of the public. Their motto is: Make a Ripple in TimeBecome a Space Pioneer.  They are now locking horns in court with the Better Business Bureau:
Jeffrey Sablotne, who is the principal owner of Space Pioneers LLC, feels the best way to move man’s foray into outer space forward is through the sale of “Derivative Conveyance Deeds” for lunar real estate. While it sounds suspicious on the surface, Mr. Sablotne says he and his partners have done 20 years of research and have recorded numerous claims. However, the president of the Arkansas Chapter of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which had previously invited and approved Sablotne’s company to join the BBB, reportedly commented on their website that Mr. Sablotne’s business and offer of deeds to lunar property is a scam. Mr. Sablotne’s responded to the BBB’s actions and requested that the BBB remove the statement and file a retraction. The request was refused and Mr. Sablotne filed a defamation suit against the BBB.
These kinds of examples are, for now, merely entertaining, although international space law is a burgeoning field. But there will be a point when space exploration will advance significantly and the number of space-faring nations and companies will multiply - and so will space lawyers, space courts and space lawsuits.

-All long quotations in this post are from the above-cited Space Review article.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thank You

This blog has just crossed half a million hits today. Thank you very much to all readers who spend some Internet time here.

Millennial Mysteries: Doom Underground

Large Earthquake in Mexico, 20 March 2012. Image Source: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images via Guardian.

Earthquakes are all the more threatening because our high tech tools cannot predict them (see this post on predicting the 'Big One' in California, and this site with a range of upcoming earthquake predictions). Nor can our tools confirm the intuitively evident links between disruptions in geomagnetism and plate tectonics. Mining operations can trigger earthquakes, but there is limited accountability of these industries regarding their activities. We have a wealth of information, but no answers. In the Knowledge-Based Society, mysteries are a source of supreme fear and explanation.

Yesterday, a very large 7.6 earthquake struck southwest Mexico, with the epicentre 200 kilometres from Acapulco. Another large 6.2 earthquake struck Indonesia yesterday. These events fall in line with the Old Wives' Tale that solar storms precede earthquakes. The over-availability of information on geoseismic events on the Web and the recent appearance of earthquakes where few had previously occurred is rattling the Internet. Already, there is a conspiracy theory afoot that the Mexican earthquake was somehow artificially induced or simulated by 'a' government or shadowy organization for unknown purposes. Was it an underground nuclear test? Mining? Fracking? The information circulates, becomes associated with other data, and reshapes reality. The X-Files-type irony of course, is that if there ever was anything to a conspiracy theory like this, no one would believe the conspiracy theorist, except other conspiracy theorists.

Still, there is something strange going on.  Verified earthquakes are occurring in non-earthquake zones. The latest weird reports have been filtering out of Clintonville, Wisconsin. Since Sunday 18 March, this small town has been startled by the sound of giant, shaking booms, coming from deep underground (reports: here, here, here and here). There is no known cause, but plenty of online speculation - message board users think this is a private company creating underground prepper bunkers (how far down into the earth does property ownership of land extend, anyway?). The booms are not consistent with earthquake activity. Town authorities have contacted geologists at the University of Wisconsin and a private engineering firm for help.