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.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Welcome the September Equinox

Today is the September Equinox (22 September 2016 14:21 UTC); the equinox arrives on 23 September in places at least 10 hours ahead of Greenwich. The day marks the start of autumn in northern countries and spring in southern ones.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Secrets, Scandals and Higher Truths: The Bahamas Papers

The quote of the day comes from a commenter at Data Lounge, where people are speculating wildly on the Brangelina divorce and the Hollywood pedophiles who abused 80s' Canadian actor, Corey Haim:
"I think if people really knew what went on in Hollywood, Politics, and Wall Street, they'd go crazy."
Rarely has the establishment, regardless of politics, appeared to be so compromised. WikiLeaks has released information which damages Clinton's presidential campaign - if you believe WikiLeaks.

Conspiracy theorists and whistle blowers make it look as though you cannot succeed in any quarter of society - anywhere in the world - without being ruthless, heartless, exploitative, and willing to do anything while hypocritically declaring yourself to be a defender of law, order, virtue, and the common good. The ugliest American election campaign in history concentrates on sex slave islands, million dollar pay-offs, and six-week body counts.

These 'higher truths' are dangerous, because they have huge online momentum and can change the outcome of elections, or destroy the lives of falsely accused individuals. At the same time, some revelations do confirm genuine exploitation, falsehoods, kleptocracies and plunder. We need higher truths, but on the Internet, any higher truth can be manufactured.

Today's online convulsions produced the Bahamas Papers (Twitter: #bahamasleaks), which you can read here; they concern 175,000 offshore companies registered in the Bahamas. From the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists:
"A cache of leaked documents provides names of politicians and others linked to more than 175,000 Bahamian companies registered between 1990 and 2016. ...

The new information reveals previously unknown or little-reported connections to companies owned or run by current or former politicians from the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. ...

The data released today involve the basic building blocks of offshore companies: a company’s name, its date of creation, the physical and mailing address in the Bahamas and, in some cases, the company’s directors. At a basic level, this information is crucial to day-to-day commerce. In other cases, police, detectives and fraud investigators use registries as starting points on the trail of wrongdoing.

'Corporate registries are incredibly important,' said Debra LaPrevotte, a former U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent whose work included tracing billions of dollars in bribes and corruption proceeds hidden in tax havens for politicians from Ukraine, Nigeria and Bangladesh. 'Offshore companies are often used as intermediaries to facilitate money laundering and, frequently, the companies are only used to open bank accounts, thus the corporate registry documents, which might identify the beneficial owners, are part of the evidence.' ...

Unlike the Panama Papers, 11.5 million often-detailed emails, contracts, audio recordings and other documents from one law firm, the information listed in the new Bahamian documents is plainer — if still fundamental — in content. The new data does not make it clear, for example, whether directors named in connection with a Bahamian firm truly control the company or act as nominees, employees-for-hire who serve as the face of the company but have no involvement in its operations.

When paired with the Panama Papers, the Bahamas data provide fresh insights into the offshore dealings of politicians, criminals and executives as well as the bankers and lawyers who help move money."

Time Lapses: Antibiotic Resistance

"A time-lapsed video reveals how bacteria develop resistance to increasingly higher doses of antibiotics in a matter of days." Video Source: Youtube. (Hat tip: Hugo Reinert.)

This morning, the Guardian reported that the UN named antibiotic resistance, "the biggest threat to modern medicine." On 8 September 2016, Harvard Medical School issued a time lapse video in which bacteria evolve and become antibiotic resistant:
"In a creative stroke inspired by Hollywood wizardry, scientists from Harvard Medical School and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have designed a simple way to observe how bacteria move as they become impervious to drugs.

The experiments, described in the Sept. 9 issue of Science, are thought to provide the first large-scale glimpse of the maneuvers of bacteria as they encounter increasingly higher doses of antibiotics and adapt to survive—and thrive—in them."
The research team found that the strongest mutant bacteria hang back and let others die for them:
"'What we saw suggests that evolution is not always led by the most resistant mutants,' Baym said. 'Sometimes it favors the first to get there. The strongest mutants are, in fact, often moving behind more vulnerable strains. Who gets there first may be predicated on proximity rather than mutation strength.'"
Drug-resistant bacteria promise to take us back to the pre-antibiotic period in medicine, which for many people is hard to imagine. The post-antibiotic era has grabbed the attention of doom-sayers, who may have a point: first we had Peak Oil, then the Peak Middle Class, now Peak Antibiotics.

2014 talk from Robert Wallace on evolving pathogens and agroeconomics at the Institute for Global Studies, University of Minnesota. Video Source: University of Minnesota via Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

  • Joseph Gottfried, Harvard Law School (17 April 2005): History Repeating? Avoiding a Return to the Pre-Antibiotic Age
  • CDC (January 2011): Ceftriaxone-Resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Japan
  • Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (July 2011): Is Neisseria gonorrhoeae Initiating a Future Era of Untreatable Gonorrhea?: Detailed Characterization of the First Strain with High-Level Resistance to Ceftriaxone
  • WHO (2014): Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Report on Surveillance
  • Bloomberg (30 April 2014): Everyday Infections May Kill as Antibiotics Lose Potency
  • Bloomberg (2 May 2014): Remember Life Before Antibiotics? No? Wait, It'll Come to You
  • WHO (25 July 2014): Pre-Antibiotic era looming large - The world is almost out of time
  • Journal of Infectious Diseases and Preventative Medicine (July 2015): Infection in a Pre-Antibiotic Era
  • The Tribune (14 September 2015): Pre-antibiotic era may return, warns WHO
  • ESOF (26 July 2016): Regression to the pre-antibiotic era: time to panic?

"CDC staff show two plates growing bacteria in the presence of discs containing various antibiotics. The isolate on the left plate is susceptible to the antibiotics on the discs and is therefore unable to grow around the discs. The one on the right has a CRE that is resistant to all of the antibiotics tested and is able to grow near the disks." Click to enlarge. Image Source: CDC.

In the pre-antibiotic era, people who could afford it took to sanatoriums with chronic infections which never really healed. Image Source: Herd Effect.