Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tek-Gnostics Year in Review

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

~ Bill Vaughan

Take my advice. I'm not using it!

~ Mr Natural

No, life has not disappointed me. On the contrary, I find it truer, more desirable and mysterious every year ever since the day when the great liberator came to me: the idea that life could be an experiment of the seeker for knowledge and not a duty, not a calamity, not trickery.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

For last year's words belong to last year's language And next
year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a

~ T.S. Eliot

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Intelligent life is the architect of Universe

Most great scientific advances are first attacked by the ruling status quo as heretical in either the religious or scientific sense or both: Giordano Bruno, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Einstein are vivid examples.

A new theory of evolution proposed by complexity theorist James Gardner which he terms biocosm proposes that the universe is not a random collection of inorganic matter and life. That intelligence is not some cosmic accident, and that intelligence and life are preprogrammed into the physical laws of nature.

Gardner believes that we've already received a message from ET: a message coded into the laws and constants of our universe, including the inexplicable force we've named dark energy that's accelerating cosmic expansion. His theory makes sense of the observation that the constants seem rigged in favor of the emergence of life. The constants appear improbably favorable to carbon-based life, an unexplained oddity that many of the world's leading scientists have identified as the deepest mystery in all of science.

Garner claims that our universe was deliberately designed by a super-intelligent being or beings in a prior cosmic cycle. This is definitely beyond the pale for most sober scientists. However, his theory of biocsom is based on essays Gardner has published in prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journals like Complexity and the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.

In his latest book, The Intelligent Universe: AI, ET, and the Emerging Mind of the Cosmos, Gardner provides a third alternative end of the universe, rather than either fire or entropy -the birth of a new universe, an idea originally proposed by cosmologist Lee Smolin. Smolin believes that Darwinian principles rule the nature of any universe -that new baby universes produced via black holes will resemble their parent cosmos. Gardner converts this idea into the radical, but falsifiable, theory he calls the Selfish Biocosm, the cosmological equivalent of Richard Dawkins selfish gene.

Biocosm is not an easygoing, "blow-your-mind look" at the universe. Gardner is exhaustive in outlining his ideas, explaining their falsifiability and scientific rigor, and offering deep chaos theory to support them. Did our universe create intelligent life in order to ensure its own reproduction? Gardner thinks so, though he knows his position will irk many cosmologists exhausted from battling pseudo scientists and creationists.

Gardner's list of supporters in impressive: "A novel perspective on humankind's role in the universe," wrote Martin Rees, the astronomer royal of Britain and a Cambridge colleague of Stephen Hawking's. "There is little doubt that his ideas will change yours," wrote Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in California. "A magnificent one-stop account of the history of life," wrote complexity theorist John Casti, a co-founder of the Santa Fe Institute. Gardner has been welcomed at major planetariums and legitimate scientific conferences, explaining his ideas to a surprisingly interested public.

- from the Daily Galaxy

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov ~ © 1956

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way:

Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov were two of the faithful attendants of Multivac. As well as any human beings could, they knew what lay behind the cold, clicking, flashing face — miles and miles of face — of that giant computer. They had at least a vague notion of the general plan of relays and circuits that had long since grown past the point where any single human could possibly have a firm grasp of the whole.

Multivac was self-adjusting and self-correcting. It had to be, for nothing human could adjust and correct it quickly enough or even adequately enough — so Adell and Lupov attended the monstrous giant only lightly and superficially, yet as well as any men could. They fed it data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued. Certainly they, and all others like them, were fully entitled to share in the glory that was Multivac’s.

For decades, Multivac had helped design the ships and plot the trajectories that enabled man to reach the Moon, Mars, and Venus, but past that, Earth’s poor resources could not support the ships. Too much energy was needed for the long trips. Earth exploited its coal and uranium with increasing efficiency, but there was only so much of both.

But slowly Multivac learned enough to answer deeper questions more fundamentally, and on May 14, 2061, what had been theory, became fact.

The energy of the sun was stored, converted, and utilized directly on a planet-wide scale. All Earth turned off its burning coal, its fissioning uranium, and flipped the switch that connected all of it to a small station, one mile in diameter, circling the Earth at half the distance of the Moon. All Earth ran by invisible beams of sunpower.

Seven days had not sufficed to dim the glory of it and Adell and Lupov finally managed to escape from the public function, and to meet in quiet where no one would think of looking for them, in the deserted underground chambers, where portions of the mighty buried body of Multivac showed. Unattended, idling, sorting data with contented lazy clickings, Multivac, too, had earned its vacation and the boys appreciated that. They had no intention, originally, of disturbing it.

They had brought a bottle with them, and their only concern at the moment was to relax in the company of each other and the bottle.

“It’s amazing when you think of it,” said Adell. His broad face had lines of weariness in it, and he stirred his drink slowly with a glass rod, watching the cubes of ice slur clumsily about. “All the energy we can possibly ever use for free. Enough energy, if we wanted to draw on it, to melt all Earth into a big drop of impure liquid iron, and still never miss the energy so used. All the energy we could ever use, forever and forever and forever.”

Lupov cocked his head sideways. He had a trick of doing that when he wanted to be contrary, and he wanted to be contrary now, partly because he had had to carry the ice and glassware. “Not forever,” he said.

“Oh, hell, just about forever. Till the sun runs down, Bert.”

“That’s not forever.”

“All right, then. Billions and billions of years. Twenty billion, maybe. Are you satisfied?”

Lupov put his fingers through his thinning hair as though to reassure himself that some was still left and sipped gently at his own drink. “Twenty billion years isn’t forever.”

“Will, it will last our time, won’t it?”

“So would the coal and uranium.”

“All right, but now we can hook up each individual spaceship to the Solar Station, and it can go to Pluto and back a million times without ever worrying about fuel. You can’t do THAT on coal and uranium. Ask Multivac, if you don’t believe me.”

“I don’t have to ask Multivac. I know that.”

“Then stop running down what Multivac’s done for us,” said Adell, blazing up. “It did all right.”

“Who says it didn’t? What I say is that a sun won’t last forever. That’s all I’m saying. We’re safe for twenty billion years, but then what?” Lupov pointed a slightly shaky finger at the other. “And don’t say we’ll switch to another sun.”

There was silence for a while. Adell put his glass to his lips only occasionally, and Lupov’s eyes slowly closed. They rested.

Then Lupov’s eyes snapped open. “You’re thinking we’ll switch to another sun when ours is done, aren’t you?”

“I’m not thinking.”

“Sure you are. You’re weak on logic, that’s the trouble with you. You’re like the guy in the story who was caught in a sudden shower and who ran to a grove of trees and got under one. He wasn’t worried, you see, because he figured when one tree got wet through, he would just get under another one.”

“I get it,” said Adell. “Don’t shout. When the sun is done, the other stars will be gone, too.”

“Darn right they will,” muttered Lupov. “It all had a beginning in the original cosmic explosion, whatever that was, and it’ll all have an end when all the stars run down. Some run down faster than others. Hell, the giants won’t last a hundred million years. The sun will last twenty billion years and maybe the dwarfs will last a hundred billion for all the good they are. But just give us a trillion years and everything will be dark. Entropy has to increase to maximum, that’s all.”

“I know all about entropy,” said Adell, standing on his dignity.

“The hell you do.”

“I know as much as you do.”

“Then you know everything’s got to run down someday.”

“All right. Who says they won’t?”

“You did, you poor sap. You said we had all the energy we needed, forever. You said ‘forever.’”

“It was Adell’s turn to be contrary. “Maybe we can build things up again someday,” he said.


“Why not? Someday.”


“Ask Multivac.”

“You ask Multivac. I dare you. Five dollars says it can’t be done.”

Adell was just drunk enough to try, just sober enough to be able to phrase the necessary symbols and operations into a question which, in words, might have corresponded to this: Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age?

Or maybe it could be put more simply like this: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

Multivac fell dead and silent. The slow flashing of lights ceased, the distant sounds of clicking relays ended.

Then, just as the frightened technicians felt they could hold their breath no longer, there was a sudden springing to life of the teletype attached to that portion of Multivac. Five words were printed: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

“No bet,” whispered Lupov. They left hurriedly.

By next morning, the two, plagued with throbbing head and cottony mouth, had forgotten about the incident.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jerrodd, Jerrodine, and Jerrodette I and II watched the starry picture in the visiplate change as the passage through hyperspace was completed in its non-time lapse. At once, the even powdering of stars gave way to the predominance of a single bright marble-disk, centered.

“That’s X-23,” said Jerrodd confidently. His thin hands clamped tightly behind his back and the knuckles whitened.

The little Jerrodettes, both girls, had experienced the hyperspace passage for the first time in their lives and were self-conscious over the momentary sensation of inside-outness. They buried their giggles and chased one another wildly about their mother, screaming, “We’ve reached X-23 — we’ve reached X-23 — we’ve —-”

“Quiet, children,” said Jerrodine sharply. “Are you sure, Jerrodd?”

“What is there to be but sure?” asked Jerrodd, glancing up at the bulge of featureless metal just under the ceiling. It ran the length of the room, disappearing through the wall at either end. It was as long as the ship.

Jerrodd scarcely knew a thing about the thick rod of metal except that it was called a Microvac, that one asked it questions if one wished; that if one did not it still had its task of guiding the ship to a preordered destination; of feeding on energies from the various Sub-galactic Power Stations; of computing the equations for the hyperspacial jumps.

Jerrodd and his family had only to wait and live in the comfortable residence quarters of the ship.

Someone had once told Jerrodd that the “ac” at the end of “Microvac” stood for “analog computer” in ancient English, but he was on the edge of forgetting even that.

Jerrodine’s eyes were moist as she watched the visiplate. “I can’t help it. I feel funny about leaving Earth.”

“Why for Pete’s sake?” demanded Jerrodd. “We had nothing there. We’ll have everything on X-23. You won’t be alone. You won’t be a pioneer. There are over a million people on the planet already. Good Lord, our great grandchildren will be looking for new worlds because X-23 will be overcrowded.”

Then, after a reflective pause, “I tell you, it’s a lucky thing the computers worked out interstellar travel the way the race is growing.”

“I know, I know,” said Jerrodine miserably.

Jerrodette I said promptly, “Our Microvac is the best Microvac in the world.”

“I think so, too,” said Jerrodd, tousling her hair.

It was a nice feeling to have a Microvac of your own and Jerrodd was glad he was part of his generation and no other. In his father’s youth, the only computers had been tremendous machines taking up a hundred square miles of land. There was only one to a planet. Planetary ACs they were called. They had been growing in size steadily for a thousand years and then, all at once, came refinement. In place of transistors had come molecular valves so that even the largest Planetary AC could be put into a space only half the volume of a spaceship.

Jerrodd felt uplifted, as he always did when he thought that his own personal Microvac was many times more complicated than the ancient and primitive Multivac that had first tamed the Sun, and almost as complicated as Earth’s Planetary AC (the largest) that had first solved the problem of hyperspatial travel and had made trips to the stars possible.

“So many stars, so many planets,” sighed Jerrodine, busy with her own thoughts. “I suppose families will be going out to new planets forever, the way we are now.”

“Not forever,” said Jerrodd, with a smile. “It will all stop someday, but not for billions of years. Many billions. Even the stars run down, you know. Entropy must increase.”

“What’s entropy, daddy?” shrilled Jerrodette II.

“Entropy, little sweet, is just a word which means the amount of running-down of the universe. Everything runs down, you know, like your little walkie-talkie robot, remember?”

“Can’t you just put in a new power-unit, like with my robot?”

The stars are the power-units, dear. Once they’re gone, there are no more power-units.”

Jerrodette I at once set up a howl. “Don’t let them, daddy. Don’t let the stars run down.”

“Now look what you’ve done,” whispered Jerrodine, exasperated.

“How was I to know it would frighten them?” Jerrodd whispered back.

“Ask the Microvac,” wailed Jerrodette I. “Ask him how to turn the stars on again.”

“Go ahead,” said Jerrodine. “It will quiet them down.” (Jerrodette II was beginning to cry, also.)

Jarrodd shrugged. “Now, now, honeys. I’ll ask Microvac. Don’t worry, he’ll tell us.”

He asked the Microvac, adding quickly, “Print the answer.”

Jerrodd cupped the strip of thin cellufilm and said cheerfully, “See now, the Microvac says it will take care of everything when the time comes so don’t worry.”

Jerrodine said, “and now children, it’s time for bed. We’ll be in our new home soon.”

Jerrodd read the words on the cellufilm again before destroying it: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

He shrugged and looked at the visiplate. X-23 was just ahead.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

VJ-23X of Lameth stared into the black depths of the three-dimensional, small-scale map of the Galaxy and said, “Are we ridiculous, I wonder, in being so concerned about the matter?”

MQ-17J of Nicron shook his head. “I think not. You know the Galaxy will be filled in five years at the present rate of expansion.”

Both seemed in their early twenties, both were tall and perfectly formed.

“Still,” said VJ-23X, “I hesitate to submit a pessimistic report to the Galactic Council.”

“I wouldn’t consider any other kind of report. Stir them up a bit. We’ve got to stir them up.”

VJ-23X sighed. “Space is infinite. A hundred billion Galaxies are there for the taking. More.”

“A hundred billion is not infinite and it’s getting less infinite all the time. Consider! Twenty thousand years ago, mankind first solved the problem of utilizing stellar energy, and a few centuries later, interstellar travel became possible. It took mankind a million years to fill one small world and then only fifteen thousand years to fill the rest of the Galaxy. Now the population doubles every ten years –”

VJ-23X interrupted. “We can thank immortality for that.”

“Very well. Immortality exists and we have to take it into account. I admit it has its seamy side, this immortality. The Galactic AC has solved many problems for us, but in solving the problems of preventing old age and death, it has undone all its other solutions.”

“Yet you wouldn’t want to abandon life, I suppose.”

“Not at all,” snapped MQ-17J, softening it at once to, “Not yet. I’m by no means old enough. How old are you?”

“Two hundred twenty-three. And you?”

“I’m still under two hundred. –But to get back to my point. Population doubles every ten years. Once this Galaxy is filled, we’ll have another filled in ten years. Another ten years and we’ll have filled two more. Another decade, four more. In a hundred years, we’ll have filled a thousand Galaxies. In a thousand years, a million Galaxies. In ten thousand years, the entire known Universe. Then what?”

VJ-23X said, “As a side issue, there’s a problem of transportation. I wonder how many sunpower units it will take to move Galaxies of individuals from one Galaxy to the next.”

“A very good point. Already, mankind consumes two sunpower units per year.”

“Most of it’s wasted. After all, our own Galaxy alone pours out a thousand sunpower units a year and we only use two of those.”

“Granted, but even with a hundred per cent efficiency, we can only stave off the end. Our energy requirements are going up in geometric progression even faster than our population. We’ll run out of energy even sooner than we run out of Galaxies. A good point. A very good point.”

“We’ll just have to build new stars out of interstellar gas.”

“Or out of dissipated heat?” asked MQ-17J, sarcastically.

“There may be some way to reverse entropy. We ought to ask the Galactic AC.”

VJ-23X was not really serious, but MQ-17J pulled out his AC-contact from his pocket and placed it on the table before him.

“I’ve half a mind to,” he said. “It’s something the human race will have to face someday.”

He stared somberly at his small AC-contact. It was only two inches cubed and nothing in itself, but it was connected through hyperspace with the great Galactic AC that served all mankind. Hyperspace considered, it was an integral part of the Galactic AC.

MQ-17J paused to wonder if someday in his immortal life he would get to see the Galactic AC. It was on a little world of its own, a spider webbing of force-beams holding the matter within which surges of sub-mesons took the place of the old clumsy molecular valves. Yet despite it’s sub-etheric workings, the Galactic AC was known to be a full thousand feet across.

MQ-17J asked suddenly of his AC-contact, “Can entropy ever be reversed?”

VJ-23X looked startled and said at once, “Oh, say, I didn’t really mean to have you ask that.”

“Why not?”

“We both know entropy can’t be reversed. You can’t turn smoke and ash back into a tree.”

“Do you have trees on your world?” asked MQ-17J.

The sound of the Galactic AC startled them into silence. Its voice came thin and beautiful out of the small AC-contact on the desk. It said: THERE IS INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

VJ-23X said, “See!”

The two men thereupon returned to the question of the report they were to make to the Galactic Council.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Zee Prime’s mind spanned the new Galaxy with a faint interest in the countless twists of stars that powdered it. He had never seen this one before. Would he ever see them all? So many of them, each with its load of humanity – but a load that was almost a dead weight. More and more, the real essence of men was to be found out here, in space.

Minds, not bodies! The immortal bodies remained back on the planets, in suspension over the eons. Sometimes they roused for material activity but that was growing rarer. Few new individuals were coming into existence to join the incredibly mighty throng, but what matter? There was little room in the Universe for new individuals.

Zee Prime was roused out of his reverie upon coming across the wispy tendrils of another mind.

“I am Zee Prime,” said Zee Prime. “And you?”

“I am Dee Sub Wun. Your Galaxy?”

“We call it only the Galaxy. And you?”

“We call ours the same. All men call their Galaxy their Galaxy and nothing more. Why not?”

“True. Since all Galaxies are the same.”

“Not all Galaxies. On one particular Galaxy the race of man must have originated. That makes it different.”

Zee Prime said, “On which one?”

“I cannot say. The Universal AC would know.”

“Shall we ask him? I am suddenly curious.”

Zee Prime’s perceptions broadened until the Galaxies themselves shrunk and became a new, more diffuse powdering on a much larger background. So many hundreds of billions of them, all with their immortal beings, all carrying their load of intelligences with minds that drifted freely through space. And yet one of them was unique among them all in being the originals Galaxy. One of them had, in its vague and distant past, a period when it was the only Galaxy populated by man.

Zee Prime was consumed with curiosity to see this Galaxy and called, out: “Universal AC! On which Galaxy did mankind originate?”

The Universal AC heard, for on every world and throughout space, it had its receptors ready, and each receptor lead through hyperspace to some unknown point where the Universal AC kept itself aloof.

Zee Prime knew of only one man whose thoughts had penetrated within sensing distance of Universal AC, and he reported only a shining globe, two feet across, difficult to see.

“But how can that be all of Universal AC?” Zee Prime had asked.

“Most of it, ” had been the answer, “is in hyperspace. In what form it is there I cannot imagine.”

Nor could anyone, for the day had long since passed, Zee Prime knew, when any man had any part of the making of a universal AC. Each Universal AC designed and constructed its successor. Each, during its existence of a million years or more accumulated the necessary data to build a better and more intricate, more capable successor in which its own store of data and individuality would be submerged.

The Universal AC interrupted Zee Prime’s wandering thoughts, not with words, but with guidance. Zee Prime’s mentality was guided into the dim sea of Galaxies and one in particular enlarged into stars.

A thought came, infinitely distant, but infinitely clear. “THIS IS THE ORIGINAL GALAXY OF MAN.”

But it was the same after all, the same as any other, and Zee Prime stifled his disappointment.

Dee Sub Wun, whose mind had accompanied the other, said suddenly, “And is one of these stars the original star of Man?”


“Did the men upon it die?” asked Zee Prime, startled and without thinking.


“Yes, of course,” said Zee Prime, but a sense of loss overwhelmed him even so. His mind released its hold on the original Galaxy of Man, let it spring back and lose itself among the blurred pin points. He never wanted to see it again.

Dee Sub Wun said, “What is wrong?”

“The stars are dying. The original star is dead.”

“They must all die. Why not?”

“But when all energy is gone, our bodies will finally die, and you and I with them.”

“It will take billions of years.”

“I do not wish it to happen even after billions of years. Universal AC! How may stars be kept from dying?”

Dee sub Wun said in amusement, “You’re asking how entropy might be reversed in direction.”


Zee Prime’s thoughts fled back to his own Galaxy. He gave no further thought to Dee Sub Wun, whose body might be waiting on a galaxy a trillion light-years away, or on the star next to Zee Prime’s own. It didn’t matter.

Unhappily, Zee Prime began collecting interstellar hydrogen out of which to build a small star of his own. If the stars must someday die, at least some could yet be built.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Man considered with himself, for in a way, Man, mentally, was one. He consisted of a trillion, trillion, trillion ageless bodies, each in its place, each resting quiet and incorruptible, each cared for by perfect automatons, equally incorruptible, while the minds of all the bodies freely melted one into the other, indistinguishable.

Man said, “The Universe is dying.”

Man looked about at the dimming Galaxies. The giant stars, spendthrifts, were gone long ago, back in the dimmest of the dim far past. Almost all stars were white dwarfs, fading to the end.

New stars had been built of the dust between the stars, some by natural processes, some by Man himself, and those were going, too. White dwarfs might yet be crashed together and of the mighty forces so released, new stars built, but only one star for every thousand white dwarfs destroyed, and those would come to an end, too.

Man said, “Carefully husbanded, as directed by the Cosmic AC, the energy that is even yet left in all the Universe will last for billions of years.”

“But even so,” said Man, “eventually it will all come to an end. However it may be husbanded, however stretched out, the energy once expended is gone and cannot be restored. Entropy must increase to the maximum.”

Man said, “Can entropy not be reversed? Let us ask the Cosmic AC.”

The Cosmic AC surrounded them but not in space. Not a fragment of it was in space. It was in hyperspace and made of something that was neither matter nor energy. The question of its size and Nature no longer had meaning to any terms that Man could comprehend.

“Cosmic AC,” said Man, “How may entropy be reversed?”


Man said, “Collect additional data.”


“Will there come a time,” said Man, “when data will be sufficient or is the problem insoluble in all conceivable circumstances?”


Man said, “When will you have enough data to answer the question?”


“Will you keep working on it?” asked Man.

The Cosmic AC said, “I WILL.”

Man said, “We shall wait.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The stars and Galaxies died and snuffed out, and space grew black after ten trillion years of running down.

One by one Man fused with AC, each physical body losing its mental identity in a manner that was somehow not a loss but a gain.

Man’s last mind paused before fusion, looking over a space that included nothing but the dregs of one last dark star and nothing besides but incredibly thin matter, agitated randomly by the tag ends of heat wearing out, asymptotically, to the absolute zero.

Man said, “AC, is this the end? Can this chaos not be reversed into the Universe once more? Can that not be done?”


Man’s last mind fused and only AC existed — and that in hyperspace.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Matter and energy had ended and with it, space and time. Even AC existed only for the sake of the one last question that it had never answered from the time a half-drunken computer ten trillion years before had asked the question of a computer that was to AC far less than was a man to Man.

All other questions had been answered, and until this last question was answered also, AC might not release his consciousness.

All collected data had come to a final end. Nothing was left to be collected.

But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated and put together in all possible relationships.

A timeless interval was spent in doing that.

And it came to pass that AC learned how to reverse the direction of entropy.

But there was now no man to whom AC might give the answer of the last question. No matter. The answer — by demonstration — would take care of that, too.

For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. Carefully, AC organized the program.

The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done.


And there was light –

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Tao of Tron Legacy (Updated)

Before the creation of Universe, a presence existed.
Silent, void & unchanging... like a wheel, going eternally round.
Though it remains nameless, its vibration appears as...Great Universal Womb.

Giving it a name, we recklessly call it Matrix.

The Tao is alive and flowing in Tron Legacy, the sequel to the 1982 cult classic Tron. Although Tron Legacy’s mass appeal may lay in its flashy depiction of its computer-generated environment, the underlying fabric of the film is instilled with religious and philosophical memes. As in The Matrix, the philosophic mythology of choice seems to be Buddhism in general and Zen Buddhism in particular.

In the sequel, Actor Jeff Bridges reprises his role as the video game visionary Kevin Flynn, still trapped in his computer world. When his grown-up son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) discovers his dad’s arcade, and a portal (read: StarGate), he inadvertently ends up getting sucked into the same otherworldly grid ruled by Flynn’s corrupted program called Clu (a digital version of a much younger Bridges). As Flynn, his son and a fearless warrior program Quorra (Olivia Wilde) try to escape, they are confronted by the system’s flaws, including Clu and the flashy fixer Castor (Michael Sheen) — who may or may not be a friend. Also on hand is Bruce (Babylon 5) Boxleitner, reprising his Tron role of Flynn partner Alan Bradley.

Besides the (psychedelic) eye candy, Tron Legacy contains a few other surprises. For one, it comes across as “a cautionary tale” about modern technology. Jeff Bridges elaborates on the implication of Tron Legacy as a modern myth. In Bridge's view, the film is essentially a warning about how the drive for technological advancement and convenience can blind us to the cost of these innovations. Bridges' discussion of the film's approach to technology was borderline kōan-like…

“One of the things that brought me to this film was the idea of helping to create a modern-day myth to help us navigate these technological waters. I dig immediate gratification as much as anybody, but it happens so fast that if you make a decision like that, you can go far down the wrong track. “Think about those plastic single-use water bottles. Where did that come from? Who decided that? You can have a couple swigs of water and those bottles don't disintegrate entirely. Microscopic animals eat the plastic, and the fish eat those, and we're all connected.”

For another, the film features many philosophical references to Zen Buddhism, which Bridges champions… “You can be a slave to your preferences” the actor says of a Zen subtext…

“It's a finite situation here. I hope that people look at this film and glean some kind of wisdom from that. I brought on board a Zen master, a buddy of mine, Roshi Bernie Glassman. He came on-board to help add some spiritual depth to the thing. We didn't want it too cloying, and we didn't want it to feel like you were being preached to. We wanted some kind of substance in that way, and hopefully the movie will help people navigate the challenges of technology.”

Olivia Wilde's biggest inspiration for Quorra was Joan of Arc... 

“That occurred to me very early on… a good six months before we started shooting… and Joe Kosinski, our director, immediately agreed that that was the right historical figure to base her on, for a few reasons. She's this unlikely warrior, very strong but compassionate, and completely led by selflessness. Also, she thinks she's in touch with some sort of higher power and has one foot in another world. All of these things were elements of Quorra. It was so thrilling when I found this connection between the two people. I thought, "Oh my God, any time I'm at a loss, I can go back to Joan of Arc." It's really the jackpot when you hit that as an actor. Joe, to his credit, was completely supportive of that, and we sculpted the character in our rewrites and physical creation of Quorra to match some of these elements of Joan of Arc”.

Meanwhile, there was the Tron irony. To create Bridges’ younger Clu alter ego, a Digital Domain production team scanned the actor for 52 of his assorted expressions. “It was a digital facial,” Bridges recalls. “And it was bizarre because (the process) was a very Tron-like fantasy… and now it’s all real.”

It's nature implicates a network widening into space... still widening...
Until the great network meets the small.

The reoccurring reliance on Buddhism and science fiction in modern story telling is indicative of Earth’s emerging mythology. It is no accident that the cautionary tale, illuminating the delicate partnership between Earth’s domesticated primates and technology, resonates with many of us. This re-occurrence… this emerging mythology is permeated with synchronicity. The film’s release date is… of course… December 17th. Many among us will smile at the synchronicity implied… as championed by one of our mentors, Christopher Knowles over at the Secret Sun.

In this sense the Matrix is fulfilled.
Universe is fulfilled.
Mother Earth is fulfilled.
The Tekgnostic is fulfilled.

So... the Tekgnostic is of the earth.
Earth, of universe.
Universe, of the matrix.

The Matrix, of that which shall remain un-named.

Addendum 12-19-2010

Took in the 3D version last night with my 8 year-old… great action/adventure romp with striking and effective special effects. The story line is classic hero’s journey archetype with reluctant hero accepting the call to adventure… wise mentor providing assistance… etc. What impressed was the literal story-telling approach to the Buddhist concept of mastery of self, as depicted in classic Jungian interpretation.

Although the film has a handsome action hero in Flynn’s son, Sam… the essence of the tale is in Flynn’s struggle within himself. The struggle of Ego to integrate it’s many components. If “The Grid” is allegorical to the collective unconscious, then it naturally follows that Flynn must battle a younger version of himself… his own earlier arrogances. This straight-forward device is very effective in illuminating the transition of knowledge to wisdom.

What resonated with me was the multi media effects used to convey the presence of power (read: chi) and true authority within the story. In the “nightclub scene” Flynn performs one of the most beautiful images in Buddhist iconography… the "Earth Touching Buddha." In the Buddhist mythology, Lord Buddha was challenged one last time by Mara the Great Tempter (within the film… Castor/Zuse). Mara claimed the earth as his own domain, and said that now the Buddha had transcended this realm and should leave it. In reply, the Buddha called the Earth to witness by touching the ground at which the Earth quaked in recognition of his right to be here. Within the film, this demonstration is masterfully displayed using audio and visual imagery.

The movie-going experience was full of personal synchronistic triggers. Jules Verne’s “Mysterious Island” has been coming up alot within my personal syncrosphere. Annie Lennox caught my eye at the Presidential Chrismas gala… only to remind me that… “sweet dreams are made of these”… in the movie. The important lesson in this tale is undertanding that the real battle is fought... the real work is performed... within. The integration of the archetypes… the act of becoming one with self and universe. This too is the role, the teaching by example... of the synchromystic.

All in all, the movie was good synchromystic fodder.

Who am I to disagree?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shadowboxing the Singularity

The convergence of human and machine intelligence has reached a point, quite naturally and in an understandable if not predictable manner, where the question of a technological “singularity” presents itself. The phenomenal development of computer technology over the last 50 years, and the explosion of networked technology over the last 25 years are mind-boggling. The advancements in computer science lead us to suspect that our creations may be too smart for their own good.

The term singularity represents a complex and evolving concept that essentially anticipates a moment in the near future where artificial (machine) intelligence surpasses human capacity, thus bringing about the end of the human era. The universal concept has been refined into a trinity of beliefs or three schools of thought that are defined as…

1. The moment in time (event horizon) or technological omega point where artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence.

2. Exponential or accelerated change where artificial intelligence grows at an ever-increasing rate.

3. Intelligence Increase (I²) where human/computer interface creates a positive feedback cycle.

The three faces of singularity all address the anticipation of the event itself. Each facet of the singularity triad explores aspects of what comes next. It is the anticipation that evokes the strong emotional response in humans. Anticipation… the question of “what comes next” is central to human nature. The ability to reflect upon the future is the identifying characteristic of domesticated primates. Consequently, throughout history humans have been in the prediction or future forecasting business.

It can be argued that prediction of the future is the basis for much of humanity’s ritualistic behavior. One important aspect of ritual is the attempt to intervene upon expected events… as predicted… by the participants of the ritual. The business of prediction is directly responsible for such widely diverse technologies as the I-Ching and tarot… for such divergent institutions of predictive belief as religion and science.

It is important at this juncture to identify the tek-gnostic bias toward religion: Religion is an interesting sub-genre of science fiction, dealing with ancient astronauts, godly higher intelligences, wheels within wheels and the like. Like science fiction, religion deals with the hopeful, or more often, fearful intervention of the future. Here is where an interesting aspect of the singularity concept… technological apocalyptism… comes into play.

Like religion, singularity inspires a sense of foreboding among the partially informed. People read an excerpt from Vernor Vinge discussing the end of the human era and think… oh my god… apocalypse now!!!

The concept of apocalypse has been with us as far back as human history goes… and will continue to be part of our collective psyche as evidenced by the singularity concept itself. The end will always be near. Once we find our way past the singularity event horizon, we will be anticipating the next post-singularity event, and so on ad infinitum.

Riding along side apocalypse is the companion horseman known as Armageddon. Many religious sects believe in a last battle between good and evil at, or as a result of apocalypse. The final conflict is known as Armageddon or the end-time. So too with singularity… the fear becomes an Armageddon between man and machine.

Unique in the ancient apocalyptic literature was the view of the Gnostics in which the end time described did not manifest itself in the normal culmination of a battle, judgment, or catastrophe, but rather as a steady increase of light, through which darkness is made to disappear or in which iniquity dissolves just as the smoke rising into the air eventually dissipates. In the Gnostic perspective, wisdom is an inevitable force that needs to be yielded to by those who choose to accept it and are capable of understanding it. There is no mention of angels, or YHWH's coming, or resurrection of the wise, or any of the typical Messianic language that we usually associate with Judeo-Christian eschatological texts. It simply argues for a change in focus from folly to wisdom.

It is in the spirit of the ancient Gnostic texts that tek-gnostics views the approaching singularity. Not as some catastrophe, but rather a natural progression and evolution of Earth’s intelligence, as demonstrated by Earth’s intelligence agents… the domesticated primates and their artifacts of intelligence… technology. We approach this as an intention, for the difference between knowledge and wisdom could also be the difference between technology run-amok and human/tech synergy. It is our obligation to harness our artifacts for Earth’s benefit… as we are but the reflective organ of our home-world.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NASA announces new life-form

NASA scientists have announced an entirely new form of life that shares no biological building blocks with anything currently known on Earth, the agency said today.

In a press conference held at NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters, scientists announced that they had discovered a new form of bacteria, known as GFAJ-1, in California's Mono Lake that has DNA completely foreign to anything ever before found on Earth. It substitutes arsenic at the DNA level for phosphorus.

That would distinguish it from every other form of life known to man, all of which, no matter how diverse, is comprised of the same six elements, phosphorus, sulfur, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. But the bacteria found in Mono Lake--which is known for its unusual chemistry, including very high levels of salinity, alkalinity, and arsenic--is made partly of arsenic, and has no phosphorus in its DNA.

"We've discovered an organism that can substitute one element for another," said Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiology research fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif. "We've cracked open the door to what's possible for life elsewhere in the universe. Wolfe-Simon said that by discovering a microbe that has a new form of DNA, it forces scientists to question what they've long held as true--that all life was based on the same six components.

"The newly discovered microbe, strain GFAJ-1, is a member of a common group of bacteria, the Gammaproteobacteria," NASA wrote in a release. "In the laboratory, the researchers successfully grew microbes from the lake on a diet that was very lean on phosphorus, but included generous helpings of arsenic. When researchers removed the phosphorus and replaced it with arsenic, the microbes continued to grow. Subsequent analyses indicated that the arsenic was being used to produce the building blocks of new GFAJ-1 cells."

NASA feels that this discovery is important because it will help scientists with many areas of future research, such as the "study of Earth's evolution, organic chemistry, biogeochemical cycles, disease mitigation, and Earth system research. These findings also will open up new frontiers in microbiology and other areas of research."

By Daniel Terdiman, a staff writer at CNET News covering games, Net culture, and everything in between.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

“Old School” Synchronicity & the 23 enigma

Allow me to begin by acknowledging that the proper recognition for the term synchronicity rests with the eminent psychologist, Dr. Carl G Jung, with his groundbreaking work on the subject. Let me also acknowledge the phenomena of synchronicity, being perceived and utilized by many different worldviews, reaches back to antiquity and beyond.

Let me further acknowledge the use of the axiom “old school” within the context of this report, does not reach far, as in today’s world, our mundane collective memory fades quickly. But I digress…

I have been re-reading/researching Robert Anton Wilson’s “Cosmic Trigger” (with some choice posts to follow) of late. Uncle Bob is classic “old school” within the popular application of synchronicity and it’s offspring synchromysticism. As with many of you, uncle Bob was instrumental in illuminating my consciousness to the contemporary application of synchronicity. Many of his metaphors, such as the illuminati, the eye in the triangle, contact with higher intelligence and most importantly, as we shall see, the 23 enigma (I could go on, but you get the gist of the Sirius nature of his prose) are still widely utilized in synchro-mystic circles.

As I made my way through uncle Bob’s “Chapel Perilous”, I was amazed at how well much of what he was communicating in 1976 stood the test of time. I also was aware that other elements did not fare as well. One aspect that struck me as… well… quaint… was the concept of life extension. When I first read this material, back in the day, it seemed to be more of a hope than a promise. Upon re-reading, the concept seemed to fall short of Bob’s most conservative expectations. I was smug in my judgment.

So I’m up at 6:30am… performing my usual scan of the media machine’s mind control programming (translation: watching the morning news), which consists of channel surfing between CNN, MSNBC and FOX. I’ll watch CNN to dip my toe into the pool of
today’s version of corporate media’s daily propaganda, then switch back and forth between MSNBC and FOX to determine width of what is being programmed… reported.

So there I am… cup of coffee and clicker in hand. The spidey senses begin tingling when a news segment reports a break-through in longevity research. Apparently, scientists have demonstrated a reversal in the aging process in laboratory mice. Additionally, they re-invigorated the test animal’s sex drive for good measure, using some DNA manipulation. Just last night I was confident that longevity research was short lived, so to speak.

So then they immediately cut to the weatherman… as in “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”… as in “weather underground”… as described in Uncle Bob’s book… as in the weather guy. So the weather guy goes off on a rap about the day after JFK was shot. I mean out of nowhere. He quickly regains his composer and moves on to airport delays. Now the caffeine kicks in and I’m paying attention.

So then, after a word from our sponsors, they go into a breaking news piece about a high-school kid who has gone into his Wisconsin school with a gun and taken his teacher and 23 students captive, holding them hostage. This third synchronicity, the use of uncle Bob’s number 23, was the capstone on the experience. In keeping with the law of threes… the third synch event… the number 23 itself a cosmic trigger in Bob’s reality tunnel… winked at the skeptic holding the coffee and the clicker. Three strikes and you’re out!

Coincidence you say? That’s what they want us to believe!

So enough said. I received a triple whammy of synchronicity to remind me to stay awake (Constant Vigilance!!!). I was once again reminded to be open and receptive to the experience of meaningful coincidence in my interaction with universe. I was once again humbled by the deeply complex and personal nature of how our interface with universe can speak to each of us, if we develop and utilize the capacity to recognize the communication.

So the moral of this tale?

Look out kid, they keep it all hid...
Don’t follow leaders… watch parkin' meters.

Note: thank you to the two uncle Bobs referenced in the above.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Singularity, Synchronicity & Illuminated Manuscripts

In European and near-eastern medieval times, the apex of technology, as it was applied to information storage was the illuminated manuscript. An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations. This technology was manufactured initially by the monastic scribes of late antiquity and continued through the middle ages into the early renaissance.

The content was largely of a religious nature and was created by christian scribes, who preserved the “western tradition” as well as islamic scribes in the east. The significance of these works lies in the maintenance of an unbroken thread of literacy. Had it not been for these scribes, the entire literature of Greece and Rome would have perished in Europe. The very existence of illuminated manuscripts as an information storage system of ancient documents may have been largely responsible for their preservation in an era when barbarian hordes had overrun continental Europe and ruling classes were no longer literate.

Fast forward to 1957. In response to Sputnik, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was born. ARPA was the U.S. government's research agency for all space and strategic missile research. After the inception of NASA in 1958, ARPA moved away from aeronautics and focused mainly on computer science and information processing. One of ARPA's goals was to connect mainframe computers at different universities around the country so that they would be able to communicate using a common language and a common protocol. Thus the ARPAnet… the world's first multiple-site computer network… was created in 1969.

This prototype network was to exponentially grow and evolve into our contemporary world wide web. With the recent development of cloud computing, the internet has become a globally accessed information storage and retrieval system.

Much like the illuminated manuscript of the dark ages, the raw data or text of the internet is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as animated illustrations, flash, video and of course the work-horse of the internet… hypertext. All of the afore mentioned is displayed on a luminous screen, which draws our attention like moths before a flame. Luminous light of a computer screen (or its bastard relative, TV) is more intrusive to the domesticated primate’s nervous system than the reflected light of printed media (books and newspapers). This luminosity serves and intensifies the same aesthetic purpose of the illuminations of medieval texts.

The outward structure, that is to say the three-dimensional material existence that was the network of monasteries of the dark ages, although vastly different, served the same basic function as our current info-net. Namely… technological manufacture, infrastructure and delivery. Medieval scribes and modern IT techs. Hand written and illustrated volumes and computer databases. The intent of these (indeed any) information storage systems is the preservation and transmission of pertinent information and knowledge.

Now… back to the work-horse of the internet… hypertext. Hypertext, the text displayed on a computer or other electronic device with references (hyperlinks) to other text that the reader can immediately access, is the underlying concept defining the structure of the World Wide Web. Having been utilized by most of earth’s citizenry for the last twenty three years, it is now a well understood and intuitive means to instantly share references, additional information and associated topics and/or sources found (located) elsewhere within the network. This simple yet powerful function allows users to explore remote locations on the net that are identified as pertinent to the current data-stream being examined.

The artful use of hyperlinks is a very sophisticated and synchronistic enhancement to any information stream. Linkage to a specific word carries subtle connotations that not only accentuate the topic, but also transports the user to another local. In this manner, hyperlinks have become the equivalent of the medieval “flying carpet” of Islamic myth. The user, upon selecting the magic link is instantly transported to the intended new location, where the adventure continues… or a new adventure begins.

Thus a user may begin a query on a specific topic and by virtue of a series of hyperlink transports, find him or her self delivered to a strange and wonderful place, worlds away from the original topic. This transport is indeed magical, as it can take on deeper, more esoteric meaning and assume characteristics of synchronicity. The concept of synchronicity or meaningful coincidence transforms our network into a global instrument of insight and intuition... an intelligence increase engine.

The internet is arguably one of humanity's most ingenious and ambitious creations to date. It is nothing less than a vast working model of global consciousness. Each human with the means to connect to the web becomes, in a sense, a single, autonomous neuron in the mind of Gaia. Given the incredible potential each individual earthling brings to this system, the creative possibilities for our global consciousness are seemingly infinite. As this global nerve-net becomes more complex and sophisticated, imagine the possibilities.

It is, of course, quite possible that as humanity utilizes this technology more deeply and more meaningfully… as a “critical mass” of intelligence increase lights up our planet with understanding… it is quite possible that we are co-creating a planetary intelligence… a planetary sentience. This might be the purpose for the four extra-terrestrial circuits identified in Timothy Leary’s eight-brain model. This might also be a benign manifestation of singularity, by means of intelligence amplification (IA), as prophesized by Vernor Vinge. This might be the natural evolution of Gaia-Mind in concert with Gaia’s domesticated primates and their AI (artificial intelligence, aka: the world wide web).

Every time our ability to access information and to communicate it to other humans is improved, we have achieved an increase over natural intelligence. As humans are tool builders by nature, our technology or artifacts become a mechanism of evolution. This Earth/Human alliance can be the logical, the practical, necessarily perfect “next step” in Earth Evolution. Vernor Vinge’s post-human era becomes the age of global sentience… the era of Gaia.

At this momentous point, Earth assumes the roll of a great Illuminated manuscript… with all of humanity writing the content. Our planetary future, this “greatest story ever told” is ours to write. Gaia transforms into an illuminated planet. The Earth/Human alliance assumes an expanded role as a global sentient being. At this point… the meaning of life becomes a far different philosophical question. Life on Earth and beyond will become very interesting indeed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Roots of Tekgnostics Series – Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu, tekgnostic master

Tekgnosticism is a methodology of autonomy by means of knowledge. It is a thought-mode or way of perception based on “Gnosis” or the knowledge of transcendence arrived at by way of inner, intuitive means. Tekgnosticism relies on personal intellectual and spiritual experience. The balance between the intellectual and spiritual, the head and the heart… is a binary system expressed by the ancients in the concept of yin-yang.

Operatively, tek-gnostics is utilized as an aggregate of systems and artifacts designed to make available the requisite tools (tek) needed to facilitate the direct experience (gnosis) of the unbroken thread of earth’s knowledge and wisdom. It pertains to a specific illuminative experience that expresses itself best, or more precisely, is communicated best  through the medium of myth. The truths embodied in these archetypical myths are of a more personal nature than the dogmas of theology or the statements of philosophy.

The genesis of these aggregated artifacts is both ancient and modern. The ancient roots come from a myriad of sources, one of which is the Asian librarian… located in our local time-line in the sixth century BCE… known as Lao Tzu.

It is with the philosopher Lao Tzu (or 'Old Sage' -- born Li Erh) that the philosophy of Taoism popularly began. Some scholars believe that Lao Tzu was a slightly older contemporary of Confucius (Kung-Fu Tzu, born Chiu Chung-Ni). Other scholars feel that Lao Tzu’s masterpiece the Tao Te Ching, is really a compilation of paradoxical poems written by several Taoists using the pen-name, Lao Tzu. There is also a close association between Lao Tzu and the legendary Yellow Emperor, Huang-ti.

Another tekgnostic master, Dr. Timothy Leary has contemporized the unbroken thread of Lao Tzu’s understanding quite succinctly….

Consider Lao-Tzu. In the 6th Century B.C., he realizes Einsteinian relativity, senses that all is flow and evolutionary change; anticipates (in the I Ching) what computer designers will understand 2,500 years later… that energy comes in the binary code of yin-yang (off-on); forecasts (in the I Ching trigrams) what micro-geneticists will discover 2,500 years later—the triplicate function of amino-acid binding. Now reflect on the poignant destiny of Lao-Tzu. He knows that he will not be around in biological form when Watson and Crick decipher the DNA code. The time-lag problem is solved by trans-time neuro-genetic signalry. Symbolism. The (tekgnostic) Intelligence Agent called Lao-Tzu teaches the / Ching codes to domesticated primates, injects some fortune-telling hocus-pocus and thus sends down the 2,500-year CNS-RNA-DNA teletype channel this basic code.

He knows that the Confucians will distort the signal with Boy Scout moralisms (dutifully preserved in the inane Baynes-Wilhelm commentaries), knows that countless charlatans will peddle vulgar / Ching fortunes for a nickel a pop in Oriental bazaars. But he knows, also, that when external technology catches up, 21st Century Intelligence Agents will receive the dot-dash trigram message and realize that binary codes and triplicate trigrams are genetic guide posts explaining the direction and molecular structure of evolution, from the terrestrial, EE, earth, to the extra-terrestrial, E, heaven.

This, surely, is the royal road to wisdom, the highway of evolution—the two-way traffic between the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the DNA archives, via RNA messenger molecules.

Lao Tzu believed that human life, like everything else in universe, is constantly influenced by synchronistic forces. He believed “simplicity” to be the key to truth and freedom. Lao Tzu encouraged his followers to observe, and seek to understand the laws of nature; to develop intuition and build up personal power; and to use that power to lead life with love, and without (violent) force.

Earth’s mythology says that in the end Lao Tzu, saddened by the evil of men, set off into the desert on a water buffalo leaving civilization behind. When he arrived at the final gate at the great wall protecting the kingdom, the (archetypical) gatekeeper persuaded him to record the principles of his philosophy for posterity. The result was the eighty-one sayings of the “Tao-Te Ching.” This ancient Chinese text is the world’s most translated classic next to the Bible. This masterpiece is a treasure-trove of dense (in the sense that poetry is dense or concise) information.

Thus did Lao Tzu disappear into the mist of legend… leaving behind one of earth’s great philosophical master-codex of tekgnosticism.

Note: The curious should pursue the study of the Tao-Te Ching in its many translations…

Friday, November 12, 2010

Illuminati Launches Mystery Rocket (Updated)

California missile launch mystery followed by New York rocket mystery, people puzzled. Pentagon stumped by California mystery missile

A mysterious contrail was captured on camera by a news helicopter, which was taping footages of sunset. The video clip of the unexplained trail spread on the Web like fire, lifting up speculations that some unidentified organization was behind the missile launce. The media reporters, who recorded the contrail, had quickly approached some aerospace experts to seek suggestions on it. It seems that some experts told them it was originated from a missile-like object without much research on the trail’s nature.

Tuesday morning, the Pentagon and the North American Aerospace Defense Command were investigating video shot by a news helicopter operated by CNN affiliate KCBS/KCAL showing an ascending orange-colored contrail high into the atmosphere, officials said. A contrail is the visible vapor trail behind airplanes or rockets traveling at high altitudes.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, and California Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Jane Harman -- whose coastal districts are closest to the offshore contrails -- were at a loss to explain the images.

A U.S. Northern Command official who didn't want to be identified said the Pentagon is unable to explain images of what witnesses took to be a high-altitude rocket launched off the coast of southern California at sunset on Monday.

Meanwhile, a report said another newsman recorded a similar phenomenon over Manhattan on Thursday evening. The clip showed that a baffling bizarre object streaking across the skyline. It was clearly visible in the video itself that it was not come from a missile or rockets.

Our own investigative reporter, Jack Heart has been on this story and filed the following comments…

A possible answer to this mystery could be that those rascally Illuminati are at it again, flexing their alien muscle. It has long been thought that they have been developing extra-terrestrial technology and are pursuing their own nefarious space program.

On the other hand, it may be the anti-illuminati group known as the “legion of dynamic discord” combating whatever sinister scheme the illuminati have up their sleeves. Given the fact that the mystery rocket appeared to have been fired from open water, it may have been launched from Hagbard Celine’s infamous golden submarine, the Leif Ericson.
What ever the real answer is… be it some black-ops operation, the illuminati, the LDD, or simply a contrail from a passing airliner… one thing is certain. The truth is stranger than fiction. Keep your eye on the sky…

Rumors began circulating on the Internet during the weekend of November 13th alleging that the mysterious contrail was from a missile launched from a Chinese Jin class nuclear submarine that had snuck into our coastal waters and that the news media along with the Pentagon were covering up the story.  These forwarded emails contained text from an article by Washington D.C. based investigative journalist Wayne Madsen along with photos that appeared on a page from the web site of nationally syndicated radio host Alex Jones based out of Austin, TX.   The article said the "Chinese decided to demonstrate to the United States its capabilities on the eve of the G-20 Summit in Seoul and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Tokyo, where President Obama is scheduled to attend during his ten-day trip to Asia." has not found any evidence to support their claims.

Curiouser and curiouser...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mid-Term Elections on the Planet of the Apes Pt 2… Aftermath

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play… just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray… We don't get fooled again

Don't get fooled again!

Meet the new Boss… same as the old Boss…

– from “Won’t get fooled again” by The Who

Having a few days to reflect upon the fallout from the 2010 mid-term elections, a few stark socio-political realities came into focus. Most apparent was the adverse effect that new rules concerning political contributions has had on our electoral process. Our very own Supreme Court has removed any hope for fairness and honesty in future political campaigns. In January of this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations, labor unions or other organizations in elections. The court’s majority in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” swept aside a century-old doctrine in election law, ruling that the campaign finance restriction violated the First Amendment’s free speech principles… essentially granting corporate entities sentient citizenry status.

In that ruling, the dissenting justices predicted that this would open the floodgates to corporate money and would corrupt the democratic process. Enter Karl Rove and his PAC (political action committee), “American Crossroads” and the newly formed American Crossroads GPS. Unlike Roves’ earlier PAC, American Crossroads GPS promises to protect donor anonymity. This organization has raised millions of dollars and poured them into not only national and state campaigns but local elections as well. Thanks to the Supreme Court, we have no way of knowing where the money is coming from, or from whom.

This makes the American political system “the best that money can buy”.

Another revelation concerns the Tea Party and it’s funding. Although the origins of the Tea Party were of humble and sincere intent, they have been high-jacked by a few wealthy individuals (and corporations) now protected by the Supreme Court ruling. I don’t want to name any names… but their initials are… David and Charles Koch. The Koch brothers are big oil. In an article written by Jane Mayer of “The New Yorker,” David Koch’s PAC “Americans or Prosperity Foundation” has allegedly been bankrolling the Tea Party from it’s inception. With the money comes influence on the direction of the Tea Party. So much for grass roots movements.

The final reflection on the mid-terms is the starling absence of any mention of the two bloody wars our nation is waging in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not one word. What sickens my heart is this… what kind of a society are we? Are we a people that stand for liberty and justice for all? Or are we a imperialistic nation of invading crusaders… occupying the cradle of civilization in the interests of the oil barons? The sad reality is apparently the latter. This is not good for our souls… this is a horrific karmic debt that will soon come due… if it hasn’t already.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mid-Term Elections on the Planet of the Apes

“The only intelligent way to discuss politics is on all fours”
– Timothy Leary

Welcome to the politics of the Apes
As the corporate fueled and media driven mid-term elections come to a well orchestrated (and highly produced) climax, critical thinking citizens are left… scratching their heads. This is because critical thinking does not appear to be considered relevant to the political media machine. Critical thinking is the process whereby an individual identifies problems, gathers and interprets available data; evaluates outcomes; raises questions and communicates effectively with others in order to achieve successful results. It is a process of reflective judgment.

Quite the contrary, the pop-political mechanisms of Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, etc. have gone in the opposite direction toward ignorance and folly. Our political process, such as it is, has reached a fevered pitch as November 2nd arrives. To site one example… recently an activist with MoveOn (.org) had her head stomped on by a Tea Party-esque supporter of Rand Paul. It is clear we are witnessing new levels of violence and intimidation in our political campaigns.

As we know, violence is usually fueled by ignorance and fear. It is in the political media machine’s best interest to promote knee-jerk reactions in the populace, for these institutions consider the public to be consumers, not citizens. They want a population that is just smart enough to perform all of the menial tasks needed to keep our service economy limping along, but not smart enough to see through the fear-mongering that keeps the military-industrial complex in business. If we’re ignorant enough and frightened enough, we’ll continue to vote for saber rattling politicians who are in the defense industry’s pocket.

Is it not critical thinking… the process of reflective judgment… that separates humans from the rest of earths great apes?

Politics of the soul
There are other, more esoteric attributes that we humans cherish as essential in our uniqueness among earth’s (domesticated) primates. It is the ability to reflect upon the divine spark within each of us… our spirit or soul… and to understand this spark to be our personal connection to universe. Our socio-economic-political reality is but a surface reflection of this deeper, more developmentally consequential aspect of our psyche, both individually and as a species. Within this context, our political turmoil could be seen as a symptom of a deeper ailment.

The symptomatic and troubling trend toward violence and confusion may be a manifestation of an "ignorance" or "poverty of the soul." The term "Ignorance" is here used in the sense of ignoring our spiritual nature… and "poverty" as a lack of spiritual substance in our daily lives. This sorry state of affairs is a result, in part, of the concerted effort of the political media machine, as well as other entities, to keep us in a continual fight/flight psychological state. In other words… our ignorance of the soul is part of the master plan of the socio-political powers that be. Recent changes enacted by our own judiciary have made it possible for corporations to buy and sell our political process.

It needs to be clear at this juncture that primary responsibility of our spiritual impoverishment rests with each of us. The relationship between self and universe is an intimate one that requires no outside interference, except in an advisory capacity and by invitation. We understand that our spiritual growth necessitates the desire to evolve and the expenditure of effort on our part. The original intent of the founders of this nation was to insure that each of us had the liberty to pursue spiritual evolution, as we see fit. Collectively, this was identified as a “more perfect union”.

Civic Responsibility
Back to the political media machine, as well as the other entities referred to earlier. They will pursue their agenda in this election cycle. Assuming the premise that political reality is but a symptom of a collective troubled soul, this does not suggest that we ignore the surface issues. We must attend to the symptom in order to deal with the cause. Additionally, it is our responsibility to safeguard our personal liberty.

Therefore, the US mid-term election is shaping up to be a referendum on civil liberty, not some trumped up economic imperative. The mechanism, the overt power to insure civil liberty is, of course… the vote. Cast your ballet for soul liberty. Don’t let cynicism and apathy deter you from this most important affirmation of personal freedom. The reality is that one vote can change the world… even if it is a change within your soul and hence your version of the world. That is where change… evolution… spirit… is most effective.

Friday, October 22, 2010

All Hallow's Eve

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows…

As the year 2010 wanes, the days grow shorter and the shadows grow longer. As the growing season comes to a close, harvesters gather the year’s bounty. As deciduous trees transform into red and gold, only to lose their foliage at the onset of autumn… as the darkness of winter advances… an ancient celebration approaches. On the night when the veil between the world of the living and the dead grows thin, a grateful populace prepares offerings for the dearly departed.

All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween is upon us...

Ancient Origins of Halloween

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts… who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new-year, the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was pierced and visitation from the “other side” was possible.

"During this interval the normal order of the universe is suspended, the barriers between the natural and the supernatural are temporarily removed, this side lies open and all divine beings and the spirits of the dead move freely among men and interfere sometimes maliciously, in their affairs"- (Celtic Mythology, p. 127)

On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

Modern Celebrations around the world

The Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as "Yue Lan" (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) and is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts.

In China, the Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night. Worshippers in Buddhist temples fashion "boats of the law" from paper, some of which are very large, which are then burned in the evening hours. The purpose of this custom is twofold: as a remembrance of the dead and in order to free the spirits of the "pretas" in order that they might ascend to heaven. "Pretas" are the spirits of those who died as a result of an accident or drowning and whose bodies were consequently never buried. The presence of "pretas" among the living is thought by the Chinese to be dangerous. Under the guidance of Buddhist temples, societies are formed to carry out ceremonies for the "pretas," which includes the lighting of lanterns. Monks are invited to recite sacred verses and offerings of fruit are presented.

The Americas
Among Spanish-speaking nations, particularly Mexico, Latin America, and Spain, Halloween is known as "El Dia de los Muertos." the days of the dead, a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31 and culminates on November 2. This is an ancient festivity that has been transformed throughout the years. It was originally intended in prehistoric Mexico to celebrate children and the dead. Mexican families remember their dead and the continuity of life. It is a joyous and happy holiday...a time to remember friends and family who have died.

Officially commemorated on November 2 (All Souls' Day), the three-day celebration actually begins on the evening of October 31. Designed to honor the dead who are believed to return to their homes on Halloween, many families construct an altar in their home and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, fresh water and samples of the deceased's favorite foods and drinks. Frequently, a basin and towel are left out in order that the spirit can wash prior to indulging in the feast. Candles and incense are burned to help the departed find his or her way home. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce.

Relatives also tidy the gravesites of deceased family members, including snipping weeds, making repairs and painting. The grave is then adorned with flowers, wreaths or paper streamers. They bring picnics and sit around the grave sites sharing stories of the departed and feasting on foods such as spicy meat dishes, batter bread and lots of sweets; some shaped like skulls. The abundance of food, drink and good company creates a festive atmosphere along with recognizing the cycle of life by the interaction of the living with the dead. Some of these gatherings may even include tequila and a mariachi band although American Halloween customs are gradually taking over this celebration.

In Mexico during the Autumn, countless numbers of Monarch butterflies return to the shelter of Mexico's oyamel fir trees. It was the belief of the Aztecs that these butterflies bore the spirits of dead ancestors.

In the villages, parades are held. People dress as skeletons and dance in the streets. Often, a live person is placed inside a coffin which is then paraded through the streets while vendors toss fruit, flowers and candies into the casket. Home feast are held and loaves of bread, "Bread of the Dead" are given. Inside the loaves are sugar skeletons or other items of death motif. This gift is more prized if the skull or skeleton is embossed with ones own name. The families also attend candle lit ceremonies in church and offer prayers. The whole celebration is about life from beginning to end.

In Ireland, which is considered to be where Halloween originated, the day is still celebrated much like it is in the United States. In rural areas, bonfires are lit as they were centuries ago, and all over the country, children get dressed up in costumes and spend the evening "trick-or-treating" in their neighborhoods. After trick-or-treating, most people attend parties with neighbors and friends. At the parties, many games are played, including "snap-apple," a game in which an apple on a string is tied to a doorframe or tree and players attempt to bite the hanging apple. In addition to bobbing for apples, parents often arrange treasure hunts, with candy or pastries as the "treasure." Children are also known to play tricks on their neighbors, such as "knock-a-dolly," a prank in which children knock on the doors of their neighbors, but run away before the door is opened.
English children made "punkies" out of large beets (which they call beetroots), upon which they carved a design of their choice. Then, they would carry their "punkies" through the streets while singing the "Punkie Night Song" as they knocked on doors and asked for money. Halloween became Guy Fawkes Night and moved a few days later, but recently it has been celebrated on October 31, in addition to Guy Fawkes Night. In some rural areas, turnip lanterns were placed on gateposts to protect homes from the spirits who roamed on Halloween night.

A word of caution
So as you, dear revelers in the macabre, prepare yourselves for an evening of merriment… be forewarned. Who knows what you will encounter on this most supernatural, this most pagan of nights? Who knows what you invite when you celebrate the shadow?

May your treats be many and may your tricks not be more than you bargained for…