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, May 25, 2013

Look Skyward: Shadow Eclipse of the Moon

Le Chemin Des Clones © Layachi Hamidouche. Image Source: The Chess Art Thread.

There will be a barely visible penumbral eclipse of the moon tonight, the second of three lunar eclipses this year.  The moon will just touch the Earth's shadow.  Astrologers take note of this event's symbolic significance. Dark Star Astrology sees this eclipse as a moment when our demons, false faiths, and illusions are exorcised:
The Lunar Eclipse May 25 2013 is at 4º Sagittarius which sits between Acrab and Dschubba both on the forehead of the Scorpion. These stars have a somewhat fiendish reputation. Neptune forms a T-square to the eclipse, god or grand delusion depending on at what vibration you tune into. The geometry of the chart looks like the slicing off of heads by the revolutionary blade of Uranus square Pluto. These “heads” will be false gurus and people at the very top of the churches. Neptune is about devotion, it rules the age of Pisces which is coming to an end. This eclipse could start the process of dissolving those belief systems that have been retarding humanit[y']s spiritual evolution. ... The eclipse asks what is real pure universal love and what is just overpowering sexual infatuation, which many of us mistake for love. Neptune’s promise of a soulmate does not guarantee Happy Ever After. In fact the more one yearns for redemption through love, the more one will find oneself disappointed. The same goes for any religion that promises a savior.
Be that as it may, here is a little Sylvia Plath to contribute to astrologers' promised atmosphere. This is a poem in which the poet finds only desolation in hauntingly beautiful images and symbols, perhaps an apt parallel to Dark Star's prediction of lunar eclipse disillusionment (Hat tip: The Chess Art Thread):

The Moon and the Yew Tree

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary.
The trees of the mind are black.  The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God,
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility.
Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door.  It is a face in its own right,
White as knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quite
With the O-gape of complete despair.  I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky--
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection.
At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up.  It has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother.  She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness--
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way.  Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars.
Inside the church, the saints will be all blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this.  She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness--blackness and

Friday, May 24, 2013

3D Print Your Future

Image Source: Wired.

3D printing is about to become very big indeed. Yesterday's post covered a report on 3D printed food. Above, a CT scan of an anesthetized rat was sent to a 3D printer to produce a three-dimensional skeleton, with obvious wide applications in medicine and education.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

3D Printing Future Food

"Some 3-D printer food made from meal worms." Image Source: TNO Research via Yahoo.

Will this be the diet of the new Millennial underclass?  The FT reports that the Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC) bid for - and won - a contract to use inkjet technology to print food:
In its application for Nasa funding, SMRC said it would use "progressive 3D printing and inkjet technologies” and build a “complete nutritional system for long duration missions beyond low-earth orbit." The printer will combine ingredients such as starch, protein and fat with flavourings, colourings and micronutrients to create edible items in a range of shapes. All the ingredients will be stored in cartridges designed to maximise their shelf-life on long space missions.
Yahoo reports on NASA's research into solving food shortages on the planet and off of it:
NASA has given a six-month grant to a company developing what could be the world’s first 3-D food printer. And the project’s developer, reports Quartz, an online digital news site, believes the invention could be used to end world hunger.

Quartz explains that the printer is the brainchild of mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor. Being developed by Contractor’s company, Systems and Materials Research Corp., it will use proteins, carbohydrates and sugars to create edible food products.

Contractor says one of his primary motivations is a belief that food will become exponentially more expensive in the near future. The average consumer, he told Quartz, will need a more economically viable option.

Some alternative food source options that may be used with the printer include algae, duckweed, grass, lupine seeds, beet leaves and even insects, according to TNO Research, which is working with Contractor on the project.

“I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently,” said Contractor. “So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.”

One of Contractor’s first prototypes will be a 3-D pizza printer, and he hopes to begin building it over the next couple of weeks. Contractor, reports Quartz, explained that it will print "a layer of dough, which is baked at the same time it’s printed, by a heated plate at the bottom of the printer. Then it lays down a tomato base, 'which is also stored in a powdered form, and then mixed with water and oil.'" Lastly comes the "protein layer." ...

“Long distance space travel requires 15-plus years of shelf life,” Contractor said to Quartz. “The way we are working on it is, all the carbs, proteins and macro and micro nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out, and in that form it will last maybe 30 years.”
"The 3D food printer schematic." Image Source: SMRC via Yahoo

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A World of Dreams

Balolokong by Chris Wayan (1984). Image Source: World Dream Bank.

If you've ever wondered what other people dream about, check out the World Dream Bank (here). It is a fascinating online diary where people catalogue their dreams and sometimes illustrate them. Documented dreams relating to historic figures are included (like this one). Dreams are organized according to a great variety of topics, including lucid dreams and nightmares about war, aliens,  spirituality, flying, death, sex, heaven, hell and last but not least, San Francisco. See the subject index here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Vision of the Apocalypse

Image Source: CNN

See the BBC report and other reports on the terrible May 20 Oklahoma tornado below the jump.

 Images Source: Holly Bailey/ Yahoo! News

"Lightning strikes over interstate 35 near Moore, Oklahoma May 21, 2013. Thunderstorms and lightning slowed the rescue effort on Tuesday, but 101 people had been pulled from the debris alive, Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokeswoman Betsy Randolph said." Image Source: REUTERS/Gene Blevins via Yahoo.

Monday, May 20, 2013

So Near, And Yet So Far

"The Lady of Shallott [1905] by William Holman Hunt, painted from 1888 to 1902." Tennyson's 1842 poem was a speculation on entrapment inside one's own subjectivity. Image Source: Wiki.

Who would you be, had you taken a different path? The road not taken. The road less traveled. The one that got away. The grass is always greener. The missed opportunity. Cheat fate. Dodge a bullet.

The world's moral and philosophical systems sit at the crossroads of destiny and contingency. Moral values grow from the question: do we have any control over the passage of time? Perhaps the idea of fate stems from a subliminal awareness that time is self-enclosed, finite, already a done deal, or otherwise complete or looped back upon itself. In other words, perhaps 'god' or 'destiny' relates to our sense that the past and the future are the same, cyclical or related, as if time were a Möbius strip. A recent speculation on how ancient times, myths and sensibilities relate to those of the future - a favourite trope of the new Millennium - can be found here.

A belief in fate, destiny and higher powers can provide some comfort. If your life is predestined and is simply part of the universe's great unknowable, inevitable equation, then the weight of your responsibility to yourself is lifted. In Old English, this idea was called the Wyrd, a force that could not be changed or challenged. This is the story of the person who vows never to make the mistakes his parents made, and then, despite everything he does differently, find he follows in their footsteps. That is the Wyrd.

In the early modern period, John Calvin developed the notion that followers of his Christian interpretation were members of God's 'Elect' - predestined from creation to be saved at the end of time. To prevent this idea from cultivating arrogance, Calvinists developed a corollary that the Elect could not rest on their laurels. You could never be sure you were one of the Elect. And if you were really one of the Elect, your predestined status would shine forth through your daily words and deeds.

Conversely, if the universe is random, and you are at the mercy of blind luck, you are off the hook for your own actions. In chaos, you live in the moment and take life as it comes. Actions carry no inherent meaning, other than to deliver pain or pleasure. If that is the case, you are no longer responsible in any grand way for what happens to you. However, the quality or depth of your perception at least affords you a degree of awareness or wisdom about what is going on. That said, perception is infinite, meaning there is no objective truth or larger consensus to which we can refer to find the difference between right or wrong. This is the standpoint taken by countless Millennial individualist, solipsistic, videotastic libertines, whose sole source of moral restraint is their own subjectivity - boundless, intersecting egos.

This is the endgame of the "I'm OK, You're OK" 1969 motto. This was the win-win psychological message of mutual self-interest that dovetailed neatly with the Boomers' sexual revolution: anything goes between consenting adults. There was no worry that "I'm OK, You're OK" could end with: "We are all not OK." In other words, the limitless indulgence of personal freedoms led to mirrored personal enslavements, masquerading as liberations, which had a detrimental effect on the common good. This moral confusion emerges when the sensibility which time grants to a stream of events (an approach toward an objective perspective) is denied in favour of the eternal now of personal choice.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ego-Enclosed Micro-Societies

Image Source: Time via Flavorwire.

By now, anyone who follows generational issues will have heard about Joel Stein's Time cover article (here) on how the Millennials will save the world. Joel Stein is a Gen Xer, and he should know better than to indulge in the same generational stereotyping that Time magazine used to condemn his own age group. Did his bosses put him up to it? For an overview of how Time cover articles have perpetuated  generational myths, see JenX67's response to Stein here. This is the worst kind of social propaganda and it deserves full condemnation.

If Stein had made broad generalizations about races instead of age groups in his Time article, there would be outcry across the MSM. Even when the message is positive, age stereotyping is no different than racism. Stein's article depends on two Boomer-generated narratives which depend on one another: 'Gen X is the anti-Boomer generation that failed'; 'Gen Y is the generation that will bear the Boomer mantle and save us.' This shows that Boomers, in their quest to build an immortal legacy, made age stereotyping and discrimination socially and professionally acceptable. The fact that Boomers now suffer from age discrimination themselves does not change the origin of the labels and their negative effects.

We need a new language to discuss generational matters and a new way to understand society that bridges age differences. Mr. Stein's unfortunate example aside, Generation X has become known (or rather: not known) for communicating about social experience in non-collective way. As a result, Boomers and Millennials often seem to think that Generation X has not accomplished, and is not accomplishing, anything. Where are Gen Xers, anyway? Why can't you google 'generation X' and come across ten national and international lobby groups and central hubs belching forth Propaganda on the Generation X Self? Where are the trumpeted announcements? Where are the big high profile articles in national magazines? Where are the Gurus and Big Leaders who associate themselves publicly with Gen X? Have you seen a Gen-X-labeled TV show lately? Where are the signposts which point to what Jeff Gordinier called the generational "kitsch" known as 'GENERATION X'? Gen X does not often speak the same language that Boomers and Millennials do. Like the so-called 'Silent Generation,' Gen Xers do not associate their successes with their generational identity. But that does not mean their successes do not exist.

Boomers and Gen Y cannot and will not 'change the world' until they abandon the mass-marketed illusions of ego-enclosed micro-societies and consider the behaviour of the Silent Generation and of Generation X. There are ways of functioning in society other than through self-definition and advancement at the expense of other age groups. The problems we face require consensus, cooperation, mutual respect and humility - and the smashing of generational stereotypes. We must abandon the promotion of the 'ego' as the ultimate source of virtue, power, strength, prosperity and success.

Consider what Millennials would be 'expecting' now, what they would be saying about themselves, and how they would be behaving, if they had been fed a different story from birth, a story that did not involve a grand manifest destiny for their collective Self. What if that story had simply said that they are all different, even though they share some cultural experiences with others their age? What if it had said that they have something to contribute, just as other people of other age groups do. Nor will their contributions constitute the sum total of success or accomplishment of civilization. It will be just another brick in the wall, another drop in the bucket. And yes, they have to defer to those with greater knowledge and experience, usually (but not always) a function of age. Similarly, those who follow them will have to defer to them, because in time, Millennials will know more than their successors.

For decades, youth-oriented marketing has peddled the idea that an explosive, 'fresh outlook' is the silver bullet in every circumstance, that brand new approaches are the best way to solve age-old problems. Usually, technology is mentioned as the game-changer. High tech has transformed age old problems into completely different issues, and Millennial brains are needed to grasp uniquely novel circumstances. It simply is not true.

Millennials who cling to the myths they were sold as children and teens in the 1990s will discover that they have been duped into supporting a very old school power structure. In that structure, the will not only not be leaders, they will be at the bottom of the pile. This Boomer-led establishment will tell Millennials any flattering lie about Gen Y's identity in order to retain power. If members of Gen Y continue to believe mistakenly in the marketing labels they are fed - and even if they believe anti-marketing which is supposed to be more credible but delivers the same myth in different packaging - they will find that their real world circumstances continually and increasingly do not match the world they were told they would find. That discrepancy should be their biggest warning sign to wake up. The last thing in the world they should do is get on that train, and start labeling others and themselves.

Farming for Future Space Colonists

"Future astronauts may grow some of their meals inside greenhouses, such as this Martian growth chamber, where fruits and vegetables could be grown hydroponically, without soil." Image Source: Yahoo.

Yahoo News reports that NASA is exploring ways in which food could be grown on spaceships and on Mars, thus ensuring the survival of astronauts and space colonists:
The first humans to live on Mars might not identify as astronauts, but farmers. To establish a sustainable settlement on Earth's solar system neighbor, space travelers will have to learn how to grow food on Mars — a job that could turn out to be one of the most vital, challenging and labor-intensive tasks at hand, experts say.

"One of the things that every gardener on the planet will know is producing food is hard — it is a non-trivial thing," Penelope Boston, director of the Cave and Karst Studies program at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, said yesterday (May 7) at the Humans 2 Mars Summit here at George Washington University. "Up until several hundred years ago it occupied most of us for most of the time."

Early Mars colonists may have to revert to this mode of life to ensure their own survival, she suggested.

NASA is actively engaged in researching how to farm on Mars and in space, as the agency is targeting its first manned Mars landing in the mid-2030s. And some NASA officials are wondering if that mission ought to be of long duration, rather than a short visit, given the difficulty of getting there and the possible benefits of an extended stay. "Sustained human presence — should that be our goal? I think that's a good discussion," Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said here Monday (May 6).

Yet growing food on Mars presents several significant challenges. While research on the International Space Station suggests plants can grow in microgravity, scientists don't know how the reduced gravity on Mars might affect different Earth crops. Mars' surface receives about half the sunlight Earth does, and any pressurized greenhouse enclosure will further block the light reaching plants, so supplemental light will be needed. Supplying that light requires a significant amount of power.

"In terms of the systems engineering required, it's not an insignificant challenge," said D. Marshall Porterfield, Life and Physical Sciences division director at NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. NASA has been studying using LED lighting to give plants only the wavelengths of light they need to boost efficiency, he said.

Researchers are also studying whether plants can survive under lower pressures than on Earth, because the more pressure inside a greenhouse, the more massive that greenhouse must be to contain it.

"You don't have to inflate that greenhouse to Earth-normal pressure in order for plants to grow," said Robert Ferl, director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research at the University of Florida. "Maintaining a full atmosphere of pressure is difficult on a planetary surface. You can take plants down to a tenth of an atmosphere and they'll still function."

However, then, the greenhouse must be sealed off from the crew's living quarters.

"Gardening in a pressure suit is going to be a real trick," said Taber MacCallum, chief executive officer of Paragon Space Development Corp.

Radiation danger

Martian farmers must also contend with the issue of radiation. Mars lacks Earth's thick protective atmosphere, so particles from space reach its surface that would be damaging to both people and plants. Thus, some kind of shielding or mitigation will be necessary.