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, December 30, 2017

An Operatic Death of the Old Year

Bryn Terfel and Deborah Voigt in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2011 production of Die Walküre, on the machine, the 45-ton set of movable planks. Image Source: Andrea Mohin/The New York Times.

To celebrate the death of the old year 2017, and remind us that life is but a play and all the world's a stage, here are some gothic shots of recent opera sets. There is no shortage of supposed Illuminati imagery.

Met Opera 2016/2017 production of Mozart's Idomeneo. Image Source: kreattivita.

"History buffs will enjoy I Puritani, which is set in the English Civil War era of the Puritans versus the Royalists. While this production doesn’t quite stick to script when it comes to historical accuracies, taking a few liberties for the sake of the story, it does stick with a universal idea that was relevant to the time period. Diana Damrau and Javier Camarena star as Elvira and her beloved Arturo. Run dates: February 10—February 28 [2017]." Image Source: City Guide NY.

The Met: Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann (2009 and 2017-2018). Image Source: Opera News.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Coups

Since October, the Internet has been gripped by fevered speculation boiling up from 4chan and 8chan. A mysterious leaker going by the handle 'QAnon' has been releasing cryptic messages about American political drama behind the scenes. The tweet above, and another from the US Navy, resemble Q's posts on 8chan made before Christmas, hinting that Q is connected to the military or intelligence. Even Trump himself appears to have made tweets which connect to Q's posts. This implies that the military supports Trump's administration and current consolidation of power. If you are curious, all of Q's messages have been archived here.

Screenshot Source: The Daily Rabbit Hole.

Among other things, the speculation around Q refers to: American domestic politics; photos taken from Air Force One; Julian Assange and a break-in at the WikiLeaks' lawyers' offices Baltasar Garzon in Madrid on 18 December 2017; UFO rumours (for mainstream coverage, go here, here and here); and the Koreas.

An alt-media summary: Who is Q Anon An overview (24 December 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

The discussion about QAnon is a huge interactive experience, largely ignored Trump's critics, who would not search for, or watch, this information. But they should pay attention: this covert underground extravaganza is a lesson on how Trump dominates the Internet and derives his support from it, no matter how much the tech giants censor his supporters. Q prompts netizens to embark on a crowd-sourced information treasure hunt to decode his or her posts. Some of them have tabulated their answers to Q's hints and questions here. You can see the impact of the campaign on Twitter here and Reddit here. For example, the tweet below asks whether the CIA is arming North Korea in response to Q's Matrix prompt, Follow the White Rabbit.

One Youtube commenter felt that Q's posts are not leaks so much as the next generation of mass manipulation. That is, leaks carry an aura of legitimacy and righteousness, a scourge on the corrupt den of politics. But really, that righteousness is a smokescreen for what is effectively a military coup. Or so the chatter maintains:
"Consider that Q is a psy op. Yes, it does seem to be coming from high up. But we should be questioning the narrative that says lay down and let the police state (martial law?) drain the swamp. How long will it take before we realize the horror of what this rollout really is? (Speculating. A possibility. Think Standing Rock) OR, when Trump's term is up and the swamp hasn't been drained anywhere near the extent that this narrative claims is currently happening, will we start to question the validity of Q (as well as the whole Trump savior narrative)? Notice how Hillary supporters wait with baited breath at Trumps demise the same as Trump's supporters wait for Hillary/Obama/etc. demise. How long will we wait and keep buying the bs that justice is currently underway so we should be patient. There are multiple narratives. Some are partly true. So, irresistible. What's the endgame Q? Or Tyler, or whoever the fuck you are."
Whatever Q is or is not, his or her underground posts show a superb grasp of Internet dynamics and underground mass media communication - and of managing an intended outcome from that communication. That intended outcome is not yet determined.

Some people think QAnon is NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake because Drake often wears a 'Q' pin on his suit jacket lapel in interviews. Image Source: Open Canada.

(Hat tip: Jordan Sather, whom I have previously mentioned here; his Christmas video on this subject reached #42 in trending videos on Youtube today.)

ADDENDUM: For a 27 December 2017 discussion with the 8chan board owners on the significance of QAnon and the meaning of Leutze's painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, circulated in this context first by Q, then by the US Department of Defense, go here. Warning: some people may find the discussion to be questionable and offensive.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Protestant Pilgrimage? An Interview with Andrew Wilson, Part I

To celebrate Christmas, I am very pleased to post the first part of an interview about Martin Luther with Andrew Wilson. As I noted in a previous post, this past Hallowe’en marked the 500th anniversary of the day when Luther (1483-1546) nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

Andrew has written a book which seeks the origins of that historic event in 1517. He is the author of Here I Walk: A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Martin Luther. He completed his PhD at Princeton Theological Seminary and then embarked on a fascinating project to retrace Luther’s steps when the famous monk undertook his only trip to Rome, on foot, in 1510 or 1511.

Andrew’s wife, Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, accompanied Andrew on the 500th anniversary of Luther’s journey to Rome in 2010. They hiked across half of Germany, through parts of Austria and Switzerland, over the Alps, and finally across northern Italy to Rome, in a walking tour that covered one thousand miles. Their remarkable effort inspired the book, Here I Walk. Sarah wrote the book’s afterword.

The Wilsons’ travels became a practical meditation on Protestant and Catholic faiths in the Millennial world, even as they physically retraced history. Luther’s first hand experience of Rome’s corruption is usually linked with his later protest against his mother church. Did something else occur on Luther’s trip that tipped him toward the Reformation?

It was only 500 years ago, but as Andrew and Sarah discovered on their journey in 2010, the exact connections to Luther’s world are elusive. Luther’s German Europe was a place of scattered principalities, dukedoms, and free cities, not unified nation-states. In Rome, the pope was a temporal prince as well as the Church’s spiritual father, who declared wars to protect his territory; the pope also made strategic alliances with other princes. Despite these differences, the aftershocks of what Luther accomplished in response to that late medieval papal model still remain imprinted in subtle ways on communities, and on people’s minds, hearts, and souls. There are threads of connection between that time and this one, some tangible, some intangible.

The Camino de Santiago: a map of the travels of Saint James in Europe, now a famous path for pilgrims. Image Source: Manfred Zentgraf/Wiki.

Because the Wilsons wanted to follow Luther’s path to Rome, theirs was a Protestant pilgrimage. Pilgrimages were historically an anathema to most Protestants because they could not imagine them apart from efforts to acquire ‘merit’ in the eyes of God, although as I have remarked in my post on the Camino de Santiago, even atheists now go on pilgrimages. There are other religious ways to walk along the Way of Saint James than the Catholic visitation of holy sites and relics. And in fact, the Wilsons wanted their trek to be ecumenical in nature. Pilgrims’ trails are ancient paths, anchored in a prehistoric human existence. (p. 78) The Way of Saint James was an important interconnected footpath long before Saint James ever existed! This path spans a continent and responds to something eternal in human nature.

A German farming community left out produce for sale on the road, with the sign Selbstbedienung, meaning 'serve yourself' or 'self-service.'

This first part of this interview covers the Wilsons’ pilgrimage from Strasbourg to Erfurt, Germany, up to their passage through the Swiss Alps. The second part of the interview will cover their walk out of the Alps into Italy.

Note: All quotations are from the paperback edition: Andrew L. Wilson, Here I Walk: A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Martin Luther. Afterward by Sarah H. Wilson. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press, 2016. All photographs are from Andrew and Sarah Wilson's collection.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Luther's Words to Music: From Medieval to Modern

PRAETORIUS [c. 1571-1621] Puer nobis nascitur (22 December 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

For Christmas, we return to Martin Luther (1483-1546). Here is an example of how Luther influenced the incredible evolution of German music. In 1543, Luther departed from the Roman Catholic Latin and wrote German words to the hymn, Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar (From Heaven Came a Throng of Angels), with music adapted from Puer nobis nascitur (Unto Us is Born a Son), a 15th century tune.

In 1609, Michael Praetorius composed music for the hymn, Puer nobis nascitur, which also relied on the medieval tune. In 1688-1689, the composer Johann Schelle (1648-1701), who was Johann Sebastian Bach's predecessor as Kantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, also used Luther's hymn to write a Baroque Christmas cantata, Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar.

Luther's hymn was later one of Bach's sources for the 1714 chorale prelude for organ, Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar, BWV 607, a precursor for the 1734 Christmas Oratorio also by Bach (1685-1750). You can see how the chorale and words were used and reused by different composers in related hymns and pieces over three hundred years, here. Luther's hymn was translated into English as To Shepherds as They Watched By Night, with the commonly used translation dating from the mid-19th century.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Welcome the December Solstice 2017

Stones of Stenness, Orkney, Scotland, UK. Image Source: pinterest.

Welcome the December Solstice. It arrives at 16:28 UTC, heralding the arrival of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

Today, the blog belatedly observes this year's 80th anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic, The Hobbit, which was first published on 21 September 1937. Above, for the solstice, hear Tolkien read a section from The Hobbit (hat tip: Brain Pickings via Sound Cloud).

Mystery of the Universe: "This ancient building is called Fornace Penna. It was an ancient fabric of bricks destroyed because of bombing in the second world war. Behind this beautiful historic wreck you can see the milky way in all its magnificence." (Sicily, Italy; 23 May 2015) Image © Salvatore Cerruto via TWAN.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Of Hauntings and Homelessness

A few years ago, when I was living in England, I walked through a back parking lot behind a grocery store on my way home. There were two vagrants there, sharing a bottle of wine, and I heard them talking:
"I never expected this."
"Expected what?"
"To be brought low."

Image Source: RT.

They are in growing company: in November, 2017, The Guardian reported that one person is homeless out of every 200 people in the UK. In London, one person in every 59 people is homeless! The epidemic is masked by unreported situations, people who are sofa-surfing, people living in their cars. The rot is spreading to London's leafy suburbs. Numbers are similar for the UK's other big cities. In Scotland, one household goes homeless every 19 minutes; over 6,000 children will be homeless on Christmas Day this year; and 184,000 families are one paycheque away from losing their home. This is mainly due to high rents, soaring property taxes, and housing benefit cuts.

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.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Los Angeles is Burning

"A fire in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles on Wednesday [6 December 2017]." Image Source: Reed Saxon/Associated Press/NYT.

The mainstream media are reporting that several fires are devastating Southern California and are now ravaging Los Angeles, including Bel Air. This is the biggest wildfire event to threaten LA since 1961. The Getty Museum has closed to safeguard its art collections from the Skirball Fire, which is burning just west of UCLA, the Los Angeles Country Club, and Beverly Hills. The Getty announced, here, that they will reopen on 8 December. Similarly affected, UCLA will reopen on 8 December. The San Fernando Valley, including North Hollywood, is threatened by the Skirball Fire on one side, and the Creek Fire on the other. KTLA reports that for the first time, firefighters have used drones to assess where the Skirball Fire is traveling and how hot it is.

Fire has reached oceanfront homes as it moves toward the coast at San Diego and at Santa Barbara. The largest fire is the Thomas Fire, which has burned 115,000 acres, which (for comparison) is just over one quarter the size of Greater London, UK. 200,000 people have been evacuated. But the whole area under fire alert is vast, extending as far east as Tuscon, Arizona.

You can follow local fire maps, with names of highways and towns, here, here and here. You can follow CalFire on Twitter here and the LAFD here. There are lots of Instagram accounts following the fires. Here is the view from someone's bedroom.

Video by Ben Laffin on 6 December 2017. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images. Video Source: NYT.

"The remains of the Vista del Mar hospital after the Thomas wildfire swept through Ventura." Image Source: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images/ Guardian.

Man jumps out of car to rescue wild rabbit from raging Californian wildfires (7 December 2017). Video Source: Guardian via Youtube.

I have KTLA local news on my TV by satellite and they are covering the valiant efforts of firefighters in different areas of the city. You can watch their channel live stream and reports on the Internet, here. In the video directly below, you can see the city's famous skyline on the night of 6-7 December, with different fires clearly visible on three points on the horizon.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES Thousands of people have fled their homes as wildfires continue to burn (7 December 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Deadly California wildfire forces thousands to flee (5 December 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

THOMAS FIRE In Ventura County Santa Paula Ojai California - WILDFIRE Creek Brush Fire 12/5/2017!!! (5 December 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

New Fire Erupts In Bel Air As Destructive SoCal Wildfires Rage (6 December 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

LIVE ON THE SCENE: The Thomas Fire continues to burn in Ventura County, California. 12.7.17 (7 December 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Celebrities Post Video of Fires, Flee Their Homes as Los Angeles Is Engulfed in Flames (7 December 2017). Video Source: Youtube.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Look Skyward: December Supermoon of 2017

Image Source: The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Today is the Cold Moon full moon and occurs at 3:47 p.m. London UK time; 10:47 a.m. in New York; 9:17 p.m. in Mumbai; and 2:47 a.m. on 4 December 2017 in Sydney. You can see more time zones here. This moon is also a Supermoon, the only one in 2017, and the first of three in a row, with more to come on 1 and 31 January 2018. The 31 January 2018 full moon will also be a lunar eclipse. A Supermoon occurs at or near perigee, making it appear much larger than usual.

You can watch live footage of the moon on the Slooh telescope below, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern (NYC time) on 3 December 2017. Or you can watch it here.

The Supermoon Challenge (3 December 2017): "At 9 p.m. EDT Sunday (Dec. 3) the astronomy broadcasting service Slooh will air a free webcast about largest full moon of 2017, the December supermoon Cold Moon." Video Source: Youtube. (Hat tip: Space.com.)

I don't read horoscopes to understand history, of course, but astrologers do. It can be entertaining on days like this. For those who follow lunar calendars and astrology, the moon passes through a different zodiac sign every 2-3 days, unlike the sun, which takes a month to do so.

This full moon will be in the sign of Gemini, and astrologers have announced that if you want to shift your life and achieve your highest calling and establish your legacy, you'd better start doing it before the December solstice: "Jump now!" Review and make peace with your past, because the wormhole of opportunity is closing.

We are about to end a period of debates on social roles, personal and national boundaries, borders, immigration, limits, citizenship, and how we perceive those ideas. On 19-20 December 2017, those changes will lead to a two-and-a-half year period of hard work and brutal honesty as we face fears, confront karma from the past 29 years, revamp belief structures, expose secrets, and begin rebuilding reality. Think of it as one prolonged dental visit, but your smile will look great in 2020, if we don't have a world war first.

The last time there were similar aspects in the sky (Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn) was 18 December 1517, almost five hundred years to the day on this solstice. This date in 1517 of course marked the onset of Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation. There is an upcoming interview on this blog about that event; previously scheduled for November, it will be posted soon.

Astrologer David Palmer states that the fire is going out before a long winter. The picture he draws resembles Game of Thrones: after ages of warning that 'winter is coming,' in fact, now, 'winter is here.' Those who are resilient, work hard, have planned for the period of testing in the snow and the darkness will achieve great things. The test is spiritual and emotional before it is financial and physical. So 'working hard' implies spiritual work first and how that determines your work in the world. This is not about your work and money coming first and you sort out your emotions and state of your soul later.

A previous similar astrological crossroads in the sign of Capricorn occurred on 19 December 1284, a time which marked the end of the Crusades in what is now the Middle East, and led to the suppression of the Knights Templar in the early 1300s.

On today's full moon, the way to prepare for the upcoming period and how to do your best work in the coming years may not be evident. When seeking the big picture of your situation, it may look like you are trapped in a rat maze and facing brick walls. If you are scientifically minded, logical, and always want reasonable answers, you're advised to chill out and let the answers come to you. Astrologer Timothy Halloran: "Be like a flower that opens up to the sun to receive that information, without trying to grab it."

In the first week of December, be careful when driving because people will be tense. Avoid arguments, coffee, and Facebook.

For today, the following meditation is suggested at Om Journal:
"The Moon is in its maximum power. The best meditation for this day is silence. Either early in the morning or in the evening time, sit in a comfortable pose and listen to the silence of your mind. Try to stop your thoughts, so they won't disturb you anymore. Your thoughts are like clouds, flying by the clear sky of your mind. Try to keep this balanced feeling as long as possible and don't strain your body. Rejuvenation procedures are favorable today; ideal places for them are natural bodies of water, where you can swim along the moonlight."
If swimming in a large body of water under the moonlight (!) is unavailable, or just too cold, I checked Youtube, which has over 13,300 results (and counting) on videos for meditations just for this full moon of December 2017, here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Prepare for the Saudi Singularity

I have published a new post (here) at Vocal Media, which argues that the upheavals in Saudi Arabia are symptomatic of a massive shift from economies based on oil, to economies based on the next stage of technology.

I argue that events in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton suggest that the Singularity is coming, but not the way we expected. The Singularity will be commandeered by the Saudis, meaning that the dominant cultural tone of the Singularity will not be California Silicon Valley culture, or Asian culture, or German Tech-Kultur, or even Silicon Britain - or other global cultures you might expect.

Rather, the Singularity will be dominated by Wahhabist Islam.

The situation is far more complex than I have outlined in that Vocal piece; for more details, see James Corbett's summaries below. I don't always agree with Corbett's interpretations and opinions, but he has put together a decent overview of the situation, albeit from an alt-media perspective. He includes reasons why the Crown Prince may not succeed in commandeering the Singularity, much less Saudi Arabia.

Regardless, Corbett recognizes the basic new truth of our lives: Data is the New Oil. Erected before us like an unavoidable totem, this truth is not just economic or technological. Despite the scientific bent of technology, I maintain that the primary impact of this truth will be cultural and especially religious. We are at the exact moment that will determine which culture dominates and shapes the post-carbon era of the Singularity, related technocratic governments, and their official religions.

The Saudi Purge is a Global Crisis (17 November 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Why Big Oil Conquered The World (6 October 2017). Video Source: Youtube

How Big Oil Conquered the World (27 December 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Data is the New Oil (24 November 2017). Video Source: Youtube

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.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Blog Book Holiday Giveaway

Image Source: Humans are Free.


Today, I am sending out a HUGE thank you to my readers for sticking with this blog since 2010! It's been seven long years. I know how much noise and information there is on the Internet, and I am so grateful to everyone who has stopped here and helped build Histories of Things to Come to 3 million total hits this October.

Writing this blog has been hugely rewarding for me, and I appreciate all the readers who have lurked, commented, donated, and written to me privately. Thank you! To celebrate, I am offering a holiday book giveaway to my readers.

I was going to run this giveaway in December, but after checking the mail service, I'm running it now so that winners receive the books in time for the holidays.

How it Works

Over the next two weeks, from 8 November 2017 (starting 12:00 a.m. UTC) to 29 November 2017 (ending 23:59 p.m. UTC), if you want any of the books listed below, please send me a note in my 'Contact Me' message box in the right hand margin.

In the message, provide your email address and which books you want. If you want more than one book, list which ones in order of your preference (yes, you can list all of them). I won't acknowledge receipt of messages because of time limits but rest assured, the contract form is reliable. Don't leave your request in the comments box below.

For each book, I will put all related emails in a hat and choose one email. If your email gets picked more than once, I'll pick your top choice of book and redraw so someone else gets the other books.

Once I've drawn the winners, I'll email the winners personally and ask for their names and addresses and will mail the book directly to them. In the case of Scott Bembenek's work, I'll pass on the winner's information and his publicist will mail the book directly.

I'll also announce when the winners are chosen on the blog, so you will know if you didn't win.

Privacy: I won't share your e-mail or private information with anyone else. Please indicate when you contact me whether you want your e-mail to be included on my mailing list or not.

The Books

Sorry that these are only books in English - maybe next time I can find non-English publishers who wish to share copies.
  • THE COSMIC MACHINE: Scott Bembenek, The Cosmic Machine: The Science that Runs Our Universe and the Story Behind It (San Diego: Zoari, 2017).
This is the Amazon #1 Best Seller in Chemical Physics and Quantum Chemistry. I will be featuring an interview with Dr. Bembenek about his book in December on this blog.
ENERGY, ENTROPY, ATOMS, AND QUANTUM MECHANICS form the very foundation of our universe. But how do they govern the world we live in? What was the difficult path to their discovery? Who were the key players that struggled to shape our current understanding?

The Cosmic Machine takes you from the earliest scientific inquiries in human history on an exciting journey in search of the answers to these questions. In telling this fascinating story of science, the author Scott Bembenek masterfully guides you through the wonderment of how scientific discoveries (and the key players of those discoveries) shaped the world as we know it today.

With its unique blend of science, history, and biographies, The Cosmic Machine provides an easily accessible account without sacrificing the actual science itself. Not only will this book engage, enlighten, and entertain you, it will inspire your passion and curiosity for the world around us.
[From Zoari Press:] Paperback: 358 pages
Publisher: Zoari Press; First edition (August 15, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0997934107
ISBN-13: 978-0997934106

  • OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN: Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider, eds., Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, A New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet (NY: OR Books, 2016).
Real democracy and the Internet are not mutually exclusive. Here, for the first time in one volume, are some of the most cogent thinkers and doers on the subject of the cooptation of the Internet, and how we can resist and reverse the process. The activists who have put together Ours to Hack and to Own argue for a new kind of online economy: platform cooperativism, which combines the rich heritage of cooperatives with the promise of 21st-century technologies, free from monopoly, exploitation, and surveillance.

The on-demand economy is reversing the rights and protections workers fought for centuries to win. Ordinary Internet users, meanwhile, retain little control over their personal data. While promising to be the great equalizers, online platforms have often exacerbated social inequalities. Can the Internet be owned and governed differently? What if Uber drivers set up their own platform, or if a city’s residents controlled their own version of Airbnb? This book shows that another kind of Internet is possible—and that, in a new generation of online platforms, it is already taking shape.

Included in this volume are contributions from Michel Bauwens, Yochai Benkler, Francesca Bria, Susie Cagle, Miriam Cherry, Ra Criscitiello, John Duda, Marina Gorbis, Karen Gregory, Seda Gürses, Steven Hill, Dmytri Kleiner, Vasilis Kostakis, Brendan Martin, Micky Metts, Kristy Milland, Mayo Fuster Morell, Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Rachel O’Dwyer, Janelle Orsi, Michael Peck, Carmen Rojas, Douglas Rushkoff, Saskia Sassen, Juliet Schor, Palak Shah, Tom Slee, Danny Spitzberg, Arun Sundararajan, Astra Taylor, Cameron Tonkinwise, McKenzie Wark, and Caroline Woolard.

Publication January 12, 2017 • 252 pages
Paperback ISBN 978-1-682190-62-3 • E-book 978-1-682190-63-0

  • BEAUTIFUL RISING: Juman Abujbara, Andrew Boyd, Dave Mitchell, and Marcel Taminato, eds., Beautiful Rising: Creative Resistance from the Global South (NY: OR Books, 2017).
In the struggle for freedom and justice, organizers and activists have often turned to art, creativity, and humor. In this follow-up to the bestselling Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution, Beautiful Rising showcases some of the most innovative tactics used in struggles against autocracy and austerity across the Global South.

Based on face-to-face jam sessions held in Yangon, Amman, Harare, Dhaka, Kampala and Oaxaca, Beautiful Rising includes stories of the Ugandan organizers who smuggled two yellow-painted pigs into parliament to protest corruption; the Burmese students’ 360-mile long march against undemocratic and overly centralized education reforms; the Lebanese “honk at parliament” campaign against politicians who had clung to power long after their term had expired; and much more.

Now, in one remarkable book, you can find the collective wisdom of more than a hundred grassroots organizers from five continents. It’s everything you need for a DIY uprising of your own.

272 pages • Illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs
Paperback ISBN 978-1-682191-12-5 • E-book 978-1-682191-13-2

In June 2011, Julian Assange received an unusual visitor: the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, arrived from America at Ellingham Hall, the country residence in Norfolk, England where Assange was living under house arrest.

For several hours the besieged leader of the world’s most famous insurgent publishing organization and the billionaire head of the world’s largest information empire locked horns. The two men debated the political problems faced by society, and the technological solutions engendered by the global network—from the Arab Spring to Bitcoin. They outlined radically opposing perspectives: for Assange, the liberating power of the Internet is based on its freedom and statelessness. For Schmidt, emancipation is at one with US foreign policy objectives and is driven by connecting non-Western countries to American companies and markets. These differences embodied a tug-of-war over the Internet’s future that has only gathered force subsequently.

When Google Met WikiLeaks presents the story of Assange and Schmidt’s encounter. Both fascinating and alarming, it contains an edited transcript of their conversation and extensive, new material, written by Assange specifically for this book, providing the best available summary of his vision for the future of the Internet.

Publication September 18, 2014 • 223 pages
Paperback ISBN 978-1-939293-57-2 • E-book ISBN 978-1-939293-58-9

  • JERUSALEM: Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London: Knockabout, 2016).
Alan Moore says of his work:

In the half a square mile of decay and demolition that was England’s Saxon capital, eternity is loitering between the firetrap tower blocks. Embedded in the grubby amber of the district’s narrative among its saints, kings, prostitutes and derelicts a different kind of human time is happening, a soiled simultaneity that does not differentiate between the petrol-coloured puddles and the fractured dreams of those who navigate them. Fiends last mentioned in the Book of Tobit wait in urine-scented stairwells, the delinquent spectres of unlucky children undermine a century with tunnels, and in upstairs parlours labourers with golden blood reduce fate to a snooker tournament.

Disappeared lanes yield their own voices, built from lost words and forgotten dialect, to speak their broken legends and recount their startling genealogies, family histories of shame and madness and the marvellous. There is a conversation in the thunderstruck dome of St. Paul’s cathedral, childbirth on the cobblestones of Lambeth Walk, an estranged couple sitting all night on the cold steps of a Gothic church-front, and an infant choking on a cough drop for eleven chapters. An art exhibition is in preparation, and above the world a naked old man and a beautiful dead baby race along the Attics of the Breath towards the heat death of the universe.

An opulent mythology for those without a pot to piss in, through the labyrinthine streets and pages of Jerusalem tread ghosts that sing of wealth and poverty; of Africa, and hymns, and our threadbare millennium. They discuss English as a visionary language from John Bunyan to James Joyce, hold forth on the illusion of mortality post-Einstein, and insist upon the meanest slum as Blake’s eternal holy city. Fierce in its imagining and stupefying in its scope, this is the tale of everything, told from a vanished gutter.

“The endgame of epic modernism. There is nothing quite like this book in scale and bustling frenzy. Gamble everything. Read Jerusalem and you’ll never emerge in the same place.” – Iain Sinclair

1200 pages 3 paperbacks in slipcase | ISBN isbn 9780861662548

Additional Thanks:

I want to thank Katie Schnack at Smith Publicity and Emma at OR Books. OR Books publishes the top names in digital dissidence and cutting-edge analyses of the social, political, and philosophical impacts of technological innovation.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tweet of the Day 3: Romanov Redux

I have intended to discuss Russia's potential revival of the Romanov dynasty for awhile, not least because the 100th anniversary of the royal family's murders, on 16-17 July 2018, is coming up.

In 2014 and 2015Vladimir Petrov, the Leningrad member in Russia's legislative assembly and a member of Putin's party, proposed that the Romanov pretenders could be restored and installed in their old summer house, the Livadia Palace in newly-occupied Crimea, to bolster the planned tourist industry there. You can see the Russian government pushing this idea in the travel video below. Check out the number of dislikes the video got on its original Youtube page!

The video at the bottom shows an alternate version of the same ad, cut with clips about the experiences of actual visitors. One way you can see English subtitles is by clicking cc and 'translate page.'

Russian tourist ad for Channel One - Visit the Crimea (2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Alternative advertising "In short in the Crimea" 2015 (29 July 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Tweet of the Day 2: A Dreamy Full Moon

Tweet of the Day 1: Tweet Forerunners

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, November 4, 2017

Curios: An Early Integrated Circuit

Technology that Changed the World: First Integrated Circuit (19 October 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Curios is my blog series on odd things that turn up at auction houses. This is LOT #72176 at Heritage Auctions, An Early Microchip Prototype, Precursor to the Integrated Circuit, Developed in Dallas, Texas in 1958. All images reproduced here are from the auction listing. The chip is on the block today:
"Technological advancements do not just happen, and they can even be the product of some accidents - or, at least, a 'trial and error' methodology. In most cases of evolutionary development, there are, and must be, stages of advancement. We all take for granted the 'micro technology' that runs our everyday devices - and indirectly dominates our lives - which would not exist today if it were not for the technology behind the Integrated Circuit (IC) microchip. From cell phones to computers, the semiconductor age has made an impact on everything we do and how we do it. In the late 1950s, this cutting-edge technology, at least at the time, was pioneered by industry giant Texas Instruments with the charge being led by the legendary Jack Kilby so associated with the advent of the semiconductor - 'the chip that Jack built' has been echoed, likely daily, at least somewhere, since this revolution occurred some nearly 60 years ago...

In the summer of 1958, Jack Kilby began to work on an alternative to the 'largess' problems of circuitry and started writing down thoughts and sketching out ideas until he was ready to show how an IC could be built on semiconductor material and function. The initial iteration of the component was a sliver of Germanium with several projecting wires attached to a glass brick. The first successful demonstration of a phase shift oscillator had occurred, and the foundation of what became future generations of micro technology had been born. The advancement made at that time would ultimately result in the silicon 'chip' so associated today with virtually every aspect of technology. Jack Kilby would eventually win a Nobel Prize for his unparalleled breakthrough, which literally changed the entire world as we know it.

Of course, Jack Kilby did not perform his 'magic' in isolation or without the help of others. During that same period of time, Tom Yeargan worked as a technician at Texas Instruments and assisted Jack Kilby with a number of projects that culminated in the working microchip prototype. Tom Yeargan personally retained some materials from the original era of this micro technology development, which has become part of the history of his deservedly proud family. Sadly, Tom Yeargan is no longer here to share stories of just how the creation of the microchip came to fruition, but, fortunately, his family has preserved his legacy and now wish to share his historical treasures with everyone.

This incredible Lot features both a Germanium wafer complete with leads and wires on the original glass brick as well as a second unit - a prototype of a silicon circuit featuring metallic leads attached to a plastic 'petri dish'rounding out this dynamic duo of technological history. In addition to the precursor engineering devices, this offering has related documentation including a formal statement by Tom Yeargan chronicling his role in developing the microchip with Jack Kilby. The Germanium unit is presented in a plastic case that has a label signed by Jack Kilby further authenticating the piece. Jack Kilby even mentioned Tom Yeargan by name in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Both Jack Kilby and Tom Yeargan are gone, but neither will ever be forgotten.

Measurements: 0.99 x 0.31 x 0.03 inches (2.52 x 0.8 x 0.1 cm)"

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Luther's Hallowe'en

"A statue of 16th-century theologian Martin Luther stands on Marktplatz square on Oct. 20, 2016 in Wittenberg, Germany." Image Source: Time / Sean Gallup—Getty Images.

This Hallowe'en is very special, because it marks the 500th anniversary of the day when Martin Luther (1483-1546) nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany. You can read the Theses in English, here.

Although Luther followed in the footsteps of other late medieval religious reformers such as John Wycliffe (c. 1320s-1384) and Jan Hus (1369-1415), Luther's act is considered the central moment in the start of the Protestant Reformation.

Woodcut of indulgence selling in a church from title page of On Aplas von Rom kan man wol selig werden [One Can Be Saved Without the Indulgence of Rome]. From a 1521 pamphlet. Image Source: Wiki.

The catalyst of Luther's protest was the sale of indulgences by a Dominican friar named Johann Tetzel (1465-1519). The reason Luther acted on Hallowe'en was not because of the significance of October 31st, but because he was anticipating the day that follows: November 1st, All Saints' Day. On 1 November 1517, Tetzel planned to start selling indulgences near Wittenberg, and he was famous for his abuse of the practice. The following rhyme is attributed to Tetzel:

"As soon as a coin in the coffer rings
the soul from purgatory springs."

Indulgences were chits, authorized by the pope to draw upon the virtuous power of the saints to reduce God's punishments for sins. Indulgences were believed to absolve sins of those still alive, and of souls trapped Purgatory, a No Man's Land between heaven and hell where souls worked and waited to be purified.

Through papal relations with local princes, the sale of indulgences proved a way of gathering money quickly and efficiently from poor people in Europe. Indulgence monies funded wars and big infrastructure projects. The sale of indulgences provided the money to build the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, which tourists still visit today. The same sales also supported roads, bridges, and other important construction work.

This practice was an arcane precursor to our modern system, which still conveys private funds into semi-public foundations or governmental public coffers, all in the name of humanitarianism and the public good. Behind those slogans, there remains an enduring tension between the individual citizen and the growth of violent and powerful statecraft and its satellite entities.

Thus, the issues driving Luther and his protest were more complicated than indulgences. Luther's act was part of the evolution of the modern conscience (or lack of it). Unravel the discussions on faith, and the subsequent schism inside the Roman Catholic Church helped to herald the values driving our Millennial  political and economic systems.

First page of the 1517 Basel printing of the Theses as a pamphlet. Image Source: Wiki.

This was the earliest glimmer of a democratic age. Several medieval critics had condemned venality in the Church prior to October 1517, but Luther's Theses sparked a shift in popular awareness.

Luther meant his complaints to launch a debate with Tetzel. He did not intend for his Theses to become a public manifesto, a rallying cry for the common people, and he wrote the Theses in Latin. However, they were translated into German and printed through a radical new technology - the printing press. The press had been invented in 1440 and spread thereafter through the German lands. This was how Luther's Theses were shared across Central Europe and sparked revolts by the peasants against their royal and ecclesiastical masters.

Luther, with his intent of taking worship back to the holy texts, also made the Christian faith more democratic. He translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into German, by-passing Rome's official Latin Vulgate. He wrote important hymns, such as Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God), based on Psalm 46. And - in defiance of the Roman Catholic insistence on celibate priests - he got married.

This blog will discuss these issues, with an eye to showing how Luther's ideas still shape our world. I will be interviewing Andrew Wilson, who wrote Here I Walk: A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Martin Luther. The book chronicles a fascinating effort by Andrew and his wife Sarah to retrace Luther's footsteps in 2010.

Andrew hypothesized that the real breach with Rome began when Luther actually visited that city in 1511. Sent on business on behalf of his order, Luther walked to Italy, starting in October 1510 from the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt.

It is obviously essential to know what Luther saw in Rome and what he thought of it, because it led to him being the Catholic Church's biggest critic in history, a mere six years later. The conventional interpretation has assumed that Luther found a cynical, corrupt and bellicose papacy, Rome as Babylon.

However, Andrew found that the documents about Luther's pilgrimage gave little solid evidence. He decided to retrace Luther's steps - in today's landscape - to find a story in the environment along Luther's pilgrim's path.

Andrew and Sarah Wilson with a statue of St. James at the Lutheran church in Oettingen-in-Bayern. Image Source: Andrew Wilson.

Together, Andrew and his wife walked over one thousand miles and documented their travels on their Website, here. Andrew explained what he discovered about Martin Luther in his book, published in 2016. That discovery, and how it relates to us now, will be the subject of upcoming posts in December.