Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year End Roundup - Editor's top 7 posts of the Year

Here are our picks for the year's most entertaining posts. In the fine Letterman tradition, we are counting them down from least to most favorite... At number seven!!!


7) …What does it all mean?

6) …PTB? …WTF!


5) …High weirdness on the Giza Plateau.


4) …The four natural enemies of a (wo)man of knowledge.


3) …Singularity & the New Normal.


2) …The Empire Never Ended.


1) …A Vision of the Future.




Have a happy new year everyone... We'll see you next year with more synchronicities, mysteries and high weirdness... stay tuned.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Three Mysterious Magi


The Magi ( Greek: μάγοι, magoi), also referred to as the Three Wise Men or Three Kings, were in early Christian tradition, a group of Eastern Mystics who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity celebrations of Christmas and are an important part of Christian tradition.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the Magi were mystic masters who were the first to identify Jesus. It states that "they" came "from the east" to worship the Christ, "born King of the Jews." In Eastern traditions, the Magi number twelve. Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is a vague reference, possibly referring to Psalms 72:11, "May all kings fall down before him".

The traditional story goes as follows…

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the
prophet:

'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'

" Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path.

It is interesting to note that in this biblical account, the three magi were “wise” to Herod’s ulterior motives, and did not “Rat baby Jesus out.”

The earliest known usage of the word Magi is in the trilingual inscription written by Darius the Great, the third king of the First Persian Empire also known as the Achaemenid Empire. The term Magi has been used since at least the 6th century BC, to denote followers of Zoroaster.

Zoroaster (c.630 - c.550 BC), also called Zarathustra, was an ancient Persian prophet who founded the first world religion - Zoroastrianism. According to the 'Zend Avesta', the sacred book of Zoroastrianism, he was born in Azerbaijan, in northern Persia, probably in the seventh century BC, although some scholars put the time-frame for Zoroaster much earlier.

petroglyphs from Azerbaijan
The earliest evidence of human settlement in the territory of Azerbaijan dates to the late Stone Age and is related to the Guruchay culture of the Azykh Cave. The Upper Paleolithic and late Bronze Age cultures are attested in the caves of Tağılar, Damcılı, Zar, Yataq-yeri and in the necropolises of Leylatepe and Saraytepe.

A major personality in the history of the religions of the world, Zoroaster has been the object of much attention for two reasons. On the one hand, he became a legendary figure believed to be connected with occult knowledge and magical practices in the Near Eastern and Mediterranean world in the Hellenistic Age (c. 300 bc–c. ad 300).

On the other hand, his monotheistic concept of God has attracted the attention of modern historians of religion, who have speculated on the connections between his teaching and Judaism and Christianity. Though extreme claims of pan-Iranianism (i.e., that Zoroastrian or Iranian ideas influenced Greek, Roman, and Jewish thought) may be debatable, the pervasive influence of Zoroaster’s religious thought must nevertheless be recognized.

As with most, if not all philosophic (and spiritual) traditions, Zoroaster advocated a version of the Golden Rule…
"That which is good for all and any one,
For whomsoever- that is good for me. . .
What I hold good for self, I should for all.
Only Law Universal is true law."

-          Zarathustra

The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a global ethical code of conduct. It has a long history, and a great number of prominent religious figures and philosophers have restated various forms of the Rule in numerous ways.

The Golden Rule is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights, in which each individual has a right to just treatment and a responsibility to ensure justice for others. A key element of the Golden Rule is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people, not just members of his or her in-group or tribe, with consideration.

The Golden Rule has its roots in a wide range of world cultures and is a standard which different cultures use to resolve conflicts. It is in this sense a truly global (if not universal) system of ethical behavior and as such serves as a cornerstone of human unity.

“Doing good to others is not a duty, it is a joy, for it increases our own health and happiness.”

-          Zarathustra

“Taking the first footstep with a good thought the second with a good word and the third with a good deed I entered Paradise”

-          Zarathustra

So during this wondrous time of year, take a moment to look past the rampant commercialism of the holiday season and remember the important things in life. Remember the spirit of the season… remember tidings of great joy. Remember that during this season, it is better to give from the heart, than from the pocketbook. Perhaps the gold, one of three gifts brought to baby Jesus by the the three mysterious Magi, was the golden rule... perhaps this was the gift of the Magi.

Have a happy and healthy Solstice celebration and be mindful of the Golden Rule…

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Singularity Apocalypse

In our March 15th post, entitled: A Vision of the Future, we made the following observation: “The nexus of possibilities that lay before us, collectively known as “the future” is obscured… clouded by a fog of potentialities… created in part by the amazing events of the near-past.” It can be argued that the event known as “Singularity” …the moment when machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence… is that vast cloud of uncertainty that obscures our view of the future. Writing for Singularity Hub, Louie Helm expands upon the concept of Singularity as “cautionary tale.”



It seems these days that no sooner do you get out the words “AI risk” then someone snaps back “Skynet.” You mention “computer takeover” and they blurt “Hal 9000.” “Intelligence explosion” is greeted with “The Forbin Project!” and “normal accidents” with “MechaGodzilla!”

In other words, you can’t seriously discuss problems that might arise with managing advanced AI because Hollywood got there first and over-exercised every conceivable plot line. There’s plenty of tech fear out there thanks to Hollywood, but there’s also the tendency to imagine we’re immune to AI risk because it’s been in a movie, so, ipso facto it’s fantasy.

While it’s tempting to seek solace in this line of reasoning, the experts who are actually working on artificial intelligence have something else to say. Many point to a suite of looming problems clustered around the complexity of real-world software and the inherent uncontrollability of intelligence.
For example, Danny Hillis, of Thinking Machines, Inc., thinks we’ve entered a kind of evolutionary machine feedback loop, where we use complex computers to design computers of even greater complexity — and the speed of that process is outpacing our ability to understand it.

Hillis writes, “We’re at that point analogous to when single-celled organisms were turning into multi-celled organisms. We are amoebas, and we can’t figure out what the hell this thing is that we’re creating.”
Even Ray Kurzweil, who was recently hired by Google to take search into cognitive realms, thinks machines will “evolve beyond humans’ ability to control or even understand them.”

Complex? Opaque? Check! Then there’s the weaponization angle. While modestly funded academics at MIRI and FHI work on AI safety, big dollars are flowing in the opposite direction, towards human-killing AI. Autonomous kill drones and battlefield robots are on the drawing boards and in the lab, if not yet on the battlefield. Humans will be left out of the loop, by design.

Are they friendly? Safe? The Pentagon and stockholders won’t be a bit pleased if these killing machines turn out to be either.

So, in an environment where high-speed algorithms are battling it out in Wall Street flash crashes, and 56 nations are developing battlefield robots, is a book about bad outcomes from advanced AI premature, or right on time?

The recently released, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, by documentary filmmaker James Barrat, offers frank and sometimes raw arguments why the time is now, or actually, yesterday, to move the AI-problem conversation into the mainstream.

The problem isn’t AI, Barrat argues, it’s us.

Technological innovation always runs far ahead of stewardship. Look at nuclear fission. Splitting the atom started out as a way to get free energy, so why did the world first learn about fission at Hiroshima? Similarly, Barrat argues, advanced AI is already being weaponized, and it is AI data mining tools that have given the NSA such awesome powers of surveillance and creepiness.

In the next decades, when cognitive architectures far more advanced than IBM’s Watson achieve human level intelligence, watch out —“Skynet!” No, seriously. Barrat makes a strong case for developmental problems on the road to AGI, and cataclysmic problems once it arrives.

Imagine a half dozen companies and nations fielding computers that rival or surpass human intelligence, all at about the same time. Imagine what happens when those computers themselves become expert at programming smart computers. Imagine sharing the planet with AIs thousands or millions of times more intelligent than we are. And all the while the deepest pockets are weaponizing the best of this technology.

You can skip coffee this week — Our Final Invention will keep you wide-awake.

Barrat’s book is strongest when it’s connecting the dots that point towards a dystopian runaway-AI future and weakest when it seeks solutions. And maybe that’s the point.

The author doesn’t give Kurzweil the space and deference he normally gets as the singularity’s elder statesman, and the pitchman for an ever-lasting tomorrow. Instead Barrat faults Kurzweil and others like him for trumpeting AI’s promise while minimizing its peril, when they know that something fallible and dangerous lurks behind the curtain. Kinda like the Wizard of Oz.







Saturday, December 7, 2013

European Space Agency’s Gaia Project


Project Gaia is a space observatory being launched on December 20th, 2013, by the European Space Agency.

Gaia will be launched from the ESA’s spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana, on a Soyuz ST-B rocket and will be boosted by a Fregat-MT upper stage to the Sun–Earth Lagrange point L2 located approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. The L2 point will provide the spacecraft with a very stable thermal environment.

Gaia is an ambitious mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in the process revealing the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy. Gaia will provide unprecedented positional and radial velocity measurements with the accuracies needed to produce a stereoscopic and kinematic census of about one billion stars in our Galaxy and throughout the Local Group.

Gaia’s purpose is to catalogue the positions, substances and movements of a vast number of celestial bodies in our Milky Way over a period of five years, creating a 3-D map that will be available to astronomers world-wide. This amounts to about 1 per cent of the Galactic stellar population.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Singularity via Intelligence Amplification


As readers of this blog are aware... the technological equivalent of the immanentization of the eschaton has been labeled... Singularity. The concept's creator, Vernor Vinge, said this: The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this (20th) century. We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence. There are several means by which science may achieve this breakthrough…

Vinge outlines four scenarios by which Singularity may come about. We opt for scenario two, Intelligence Amplification, which postulates:

Large computer networks and their associated users may "wake up" as a superhumanly intelligent entity.

From our "Consciousness Hacking" page: Viewing the worldwide Internet as a combination human/machine tool may manifest the Singularity before anything else. The power and influence of even the present-day Internet is vastly underestimated. The very anarchy of today’s worldwide net development is evidence of its potential. As connectivity and bandwidth and archive size and computer speed all increase, we are experiencing the transformation of our very biosphere into a vast data processor, with a million times greater speed and with millions of human intelligent agents (ourselves) in direct participation.

These developments appear to be evolutionary in nature. The internet is arguably one of humanity's most ingenious and ambitious creations to date. Being 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 our biosphere, or as she has been more eloquently titled, 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... singularity approaches.

Intelligence Amplification Update

A recent article in WIRED magazine provides an insightful update on the strategy of Intelligence Amplification...

(by Brandon Keim) It’s a question that’s perplexed philosophers for centuries and scientists for decades: Where does consciousness come from? We know it exists, at least in ourselves. But how it arises from chemistry and electricity in our brains is an unsolved mystery.

Neuroscientist Christof Koch, chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, thinks he might know the answer. According to Koch, consciousness arises within any sufficiently complex, information-processing system. All animals, from humans on down to earthworms, are conscious; even the internet could be. That’s just the way the universe works.

“The electric charge of an electron doesn’t arise out of more elemental properties. It simply has a charge,” says Koch. “Likewise, I argue that we live in a universe of space, time, mass, energy, and consciousness arising out of complex systems.”

What Koch proposes is a scientifically refined version of an ancient philosophical doctrine called: panpsychism ...and, coming from someone else, it might sound more like spirituality than science... 





Friday, November 22, 2013

50th Anniversary



All that glitters is not gold...
Half the story has never been told...
Now you see the light...
Stand up for your rights!

- from "Get up, Stand up" by Bob Marley

JFK... In Memoriam


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Disclosure... where are the WikiLeaks?


-by Woody Evans.

UFO believers are convinced that a “disclosure event” is just around the corner. But what does it say that in an age where information just can’t stay hidden, there no leaked documents about UFOs?

In the age of WikiLeaks, why are there no leaks about UFOs? Is it because UFOs don’t exist? ...or because they’re far stranger than we think?

There are no leaked documents from any Edward Snowdens or Chelsea Mannings. We have nothing published through WikiLeaks about “disclosure.” The Guardian… suspiciously mum on the subject.

Isn’t it reasonable to think that if there were any indisputable documents related to government or corporate knowledge of extraterrestrial entities, they would have been leaked already? What about all those Department of Defense contractors who must have seen something at some point? For all the whoop over the coming “disclosure” of contact with aliens in the 20th and early 21st centuries… there’s still no news. Seven years after the founding of WikiLeaks, and there’s no torsion field schematics, no leaked photos of gray alien bodies, no new MJ-12 materials.



Maybe there’s no disclosure, no leaks, no nothing, because the nature of contact with whatever-they-are isn’t of a physical or documentary nature... 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

American Exceptionalism, Machiavelli & Eugenics - Op-Ed Communiqués vol. 3


Examining the Underlying Causes of Bullying & Suicide.
In recent years, there has been some sort of campaign to help “stop” bullying, which has been mainly pushed by public schools such as Dakota High School. The campaign to help stop bullying, along with the Suicide Prevention, which is also based in Dakota High School, has been getting some coverage here for example.

Now I quite frankly am against bullying and find that suicide is not the answer to the problems to escape these real life problems that permeate against the will of the consciousness of minds in society. However, I feel that I must criticize these various campaigns because it does not address the many over-layers of the causes of such hurtful things such as bullying, and the causes that leads to many people, specifically in America but also around the world, on the brink of killing themselves. Writing this piece, I hope that this will be helpful as to the very larger game that is being played on the masses to keep them locked into the system.

The real cause of bullying is mainly because of the common stereotypes that we are being foisted upon without knowing it in our culture. Now the culture of the post-modern era is dominated by the ever-so increasing advancements in technology, with the rise of TV, Internet; along with that, the old-guard of magazines and news-papers and what have you. With the advancements of technology and the rhetorical emphasis on “democracy” and “humanity” being jabbed into our minds very often by our government, you’d think that there would be no bullying. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In recent decades, starting in the mid-1990s going onto 2004 and beyond, the media has been controlled by no more (and probably even less today) that five corporations, as evidence can be found at the Media Reform Information Center. As a result, the corporations, along with governmental organizations like the Pentagon, CIA, FBI, etc., promote the ideology of American Exceptionalism, and, emphasizing on corporations’ role, promoting the Capitalist ideology of things. When I talk about Capitalism, I am also covering the manifestations of this system in which we are under, which is Social Darwinism and some of Libertarianism, and even the more extreme manifestations of those ideologies such as Eugenics.

Capitalism, and all of its manifestations, thrives on competition, and in doing so awards the winners. Capitalism, specifically Laissez-Faire Capitalism, opens the door to Machiavellian-type tactics which people like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller in the 19th century used to climb to the top. As a result, the poor and destitute are left behind and even put in prison, as a result of an unfair and corrupt system that which is produced by the elites, and for the elites. The “American Dream”, being promoted by ideologues with a purpose of keeping people within the Feudalist system, manifests the stereotypes of immoral people climbing to the top, with those who don’t are doomed to sink to the bottom of society. TV Shows routinely spread that message, and is spread very well because of the advancements of technology and how it constantly surrounds us 24/7; the only differences between various shows, however, having a differentiating approach.

It is not just the entertainment that’s part of the socio-economic causes of bullying, but it’s also the education system that takes part in this. The education system has been criticized by many as being corporate controlled institutions, in which the student is unconsciously subjugated to the big corporate names and the messages they carry. However, even before the creeping corporate influence on the public education system, the compulsory educational system was already being based on destroying the individual will of people with American Exceptionalism and Patriotism. The compulsory education system is entirely based on the Prussian-school system created in modern-day Germany in the 17th century as a way of binding everyone under a common goal of nationalism. In order to accomplish this goal, the Prussian government had to put into mix the basics of education (reading and writing) with the nationalistic propaganda to properly indoctrinate people into supporting the rulers. This system was imported to America by people like Horace Mann, and also supported by John D. Rockefeller. If you want to learn more about this, I suggest reading the The Prussian-Industrial History of Public Schooling published by the New American Academy.

Then with the Suicide Prevention Month, you have celebrities pitching in to “help” promote the cause of “preventing suicide” (you can view the articles here). This is evidence that the powers that be do not want actual change in society because celebrities are the figureheads and idols in today’s modern pseudo-religious myths which is promoted by the corporate-dominated culture in the world. The celebs’ job is to perpetuate the stereotypes, and even more so promote the “American Dream” ideology that thrives on competition, which enables the elites to walk on the impoverished.

I would also like to add about the cultural portrayal of those who are “left behind” in the society of glamour and superficiality (going out to those deemed nerds, wimps, retards, losers, psychopaths, etc). Society still does today portray these people as those pretty much “left behind” in the “Capitalist Dream”, because of their “nature” to live as one. The social outcasts and deviants include, of course (and especially now days in the impending tyranny befalling upon us) the dissidents; viewed as “extremists” and the “lunatic fringe”, as promulgated by the mainstream media whenever there’s times of dissent. They are those who are starting to question the wall of deception built by the government to keep people in the system, and to prevent them from ever really bringing about and/or keeping alive the actual principals of Democracy.

Along with the programs promoted in mainly public schools, the government always has a “solution” to the ongoing issues such as bullying and suicide: such as more laws, such as the targeting of electronic bullying by the government. This, of course, involves more draconian surveillance as justification to these problems, which do nothing but destroy our rights as human beings to privacy. Now on the internet, there has been an increasing amount of internet trolls on social-media websites (YouTube, Facebook, etc.), and while there is real bullying that happens as caused by real people, there’s also been government-hired trolls causing trouble as well (view the articles here).

Long story short, the issues such as bullying and suicide and the seemingly complicated layers of causes that contribute to them are not being tackled by the ruling establishment, and as we can see there’s a reason why. The reason why that is so is because they want to keep the masses in the system, in confusion and not understanding how the system works and how the game is being played. The only reason why they are propping these “awareness” campaigns is so they can reinstate their illegitimate importance to society, and also because these are too small of issues for people to focus on. These are merely distractionary issues, that simply distract us from the bigger problems, such as the impending World War Three agenda, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will once and for all finalize the New World Agenda that many conspiracy theorists are very worked up about these days. Bullying and suicide still is an issue, but needs to be researched more deeply in order to fully grasp the roots of the problems.

The solution, as I propose, is of course to examine for yourselves of what I’m proposing in this essay. But most importantly, we must bring awareness to people, and once there’s awareness we can go from there by many things. What we can do is use the technology to bring about a new cultural movement that emphasize on real creativity and critical thinking. We can also boycott the products of the postmodern culture which can include social-media websites like YouTube and Facebook, and/or demand that they go back to the intended format and purpose of these website – that is, to not spy on people and also protect the rights of people to use online anonymity. Now the economic and governmental level will be covered in the near future, but I will say to demand simply that corporations be separated from power, and to outlaw monopoly; along with that, demand that intelligence agencies like the Pentagon, CIA, and FBI be abolished.

- Anonymous


Editor's Note: We received the above OP-ED via e-mail. As always, we post this expression of free speech anonymously. The views and content of all OP-ED submissions belong solely to the author. If you would like to contribute an OP-Ed article to this site, please select the link provided in the left-hand column. And as always, should you or any of your OP-ED force be caught or killed, the tek-gnostics blog-site will disavow any knowledge of your actions. 

Good luck, Jim. This post will self-destruct in five seconds…

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Guy Fawkes Day 2013 - Million Mask March



WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Washington D.C. is just one of more than 450 locations worldwide where a Million Mask March is taking place. It is held every year on November 5 in locations such as... Los Angeles, New York, Boston, London, Sydney, Melbourne, Netherlands, Greece, Brazil, and India.

The march's goal is "to unite whistleblowers, hacktivists, marchers and occupiers to defend humanity with truth against political corruption," according to representatives with the Million Mask March.

Shortly before 10 a.m. Million Mask marchers turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue, NW from 15th Street. At approxmately 12 p.m., police reported seeing The Million Mask Marchers heading east on Pennsylvania Avenue approaching 14th Street, NW.

Amsterdam


Brisbane

D.C.

Milan

Philippines

South Africa

Sweden


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tales of the Raven



Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore... While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. " 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door; Only this, and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately raven, of the saintly days of yore. Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door. Perched upon a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door, Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore, "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven thou," I said, "art sure no craven, Ghastly, grim, and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore. Tell me what the lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore."
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming.And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted---nevermore!

- Excerpt from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven"

Friday, October 25, 2013

Skull 5 from Dmanisi... rethinking human evolution.



After eight years spent studying a 1.8-million-year-old skull uncovered in the Republic of Georgia, scientists have made a discovery that may rewrite the evolutionary history of our human genus Homo.

It would be a simpler story with fewer ancestral species. Early, diverse fossils — those currently recognized as coming from distinct species like Homo habilis, Homo erectus and others — may actually represent variation among members of a single, evolving lineage.

In other words, just as people look different from one another today, so did early hominids look different from one another, and the dissimilarity of the bones they left behind may have fooled scientists into thinking they came from different species.

This was the conclusion reached by an international team of scientists led by David Lordkipanidze, a paleoanthropologist at the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi, as reported Thursday in the journal Science.

The key to this revelation was a cranium excavated in 2005 and known simply as Skull 5, which scientists described as “the world’s first completely preserved adult hominid skull” of such antiquity. Unlike other Homo fossils, it had a number of primitive features: a long, apelike face, large teeth and a tiny braincase, about one-third the size of that of a modern human being. This confirmed that, contrary to some conjecture, early hominids did not need big brains to make their way out of Africa.

The discovery of Skull 5 alongside the remains of four other hominids at Dmanisi, a site in Georgia rich in material of the earliest hominid travels into Eurasia, gave the scientists an opportunity to compare and contrast the physical traits of ancestors that apparently lived at the same location and around the same time.

Dr. Lordkipanidze and his colleagues said the differences between these fossils were no more pronounced than those between any given five modern humans or five chimpanzees. The hominids who left the fossils, they noted, were quite different from one another but still members of one species.

“Had the braincase and the face of Skull 5 been found as separate fossils at different sites in Africa, they might have been attributed to different species,” a co-author of the journal report, Christoph Zollikofer of the University of Zurich, said in a statement. Such was often the practice of researchers, using variations in traits to define new species.

Although the Dmanisi finds look quite different from one another, Dr. Zollikofer said, the hominids who left them were living at the same time and place, and “so could, in principle, represent a single population of a single species.” He and his Zurich colleague, Marcia Ponce de León, conducted the comparative analysis of the Dmanisi specimens.

“Since we see a similar pattern and range of variation in the African fossil record,” Dr. Zollikofer continued, “it is sensible to assume that there was a single Homo species at that time in Africa.” Moreover, he added, “since the Dmanisi hominids are so similar to the African ones, we further assume that they both represent the same species.”

But what species? Some team members simply call their finds “early Homo.” Others emphasized the strong similarities to Homo erectus, which lived between two million and less than one million years ago. Tim D. White, a paleoanthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, called it “the most primitive H. erectus yet known,” noting that “it is more similar than any other yet found to early Homo from eastern Africa,” a group of hominids estimated to have lived 2.3 million years ago.

All five of the skulls and skeletal bones were found in underground dens, suggesting grisly scenes from the perilous lives these early Homos led. They resided among carnivores, including saber-toothed cats and an extinct giant cheetah. All five of the individuals had probably been attacked and killed by the carnivores, their carcasses dragged into the dens for the after-hunt feast, with nothing left but dinner scraps for curious fossil hunters.

Dr. White and other scientists not involved in the research hailed the importance of the skull discovery and its implications for understanding early Homo evolution. In an article analyzing the report, Science quoted Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural History in New York as saying that the skull “is undoubtedly one of the most important ever discovered.”

A few scientists quibbled that the skull looks more like Homo habilis or questioned the idea that fossils in Africa all belong to Homo erectus, but there was broad recognition that the new findings were a watershed in the study of evolution. “As the most complete early Homo skull ever found,” Dr. White wrote in an e-mail, “it will become iconic for Dmanisi, for earliest Homo erectus and more broadly for how we became human.”

Dr. White, who has excavated hominid fossils in Ethiopia for years, said he was impressed with “the total evidentiary package from the site that is the really good news story here.” Further, he said, he hoped the discovery would “now focus the debate on evolutionary biology beyond the boring ‘lumpers vs. splitters' ” — a reference to the tendencies of fossil hunters to either lump new finds into existing species or split them off into new species.

In their report, the Dmanisi researchers said the Skull 5 individual “provides the first evidence that early Homo comprised adult individuals with small brains but body mass, stature and limb proportions reaching the lower range limit of modern variation.”


Skeletal bones associated with the five Dmanisi skulls show that these hominids were short in stature, but that their limbs enabled them to walk long distances as fully upright bipeds. The shape of the small braincase distinguished them from the more primitive Australopithecus genus, which preceded Homo and lived for many centuries with Homo in Africa.

By John Noble Wilford
Published: October 17, 2013 by the New York Times


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Million Mask March


Anonymous plans Million Mask March on Washington.

Demonstrators hope that one million masked activists will descend on Washington, DC next month to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day with a mass rally to remind the world “That fairness, justice and freedom are more than just words.”

That’s the mission statement of the “Million Mask March,” an event scheduled for November 5 in the nation’s capital that’s being arranged by affiliates of the hacktivism movement Anonymous, an international group of activists who’ve adopted the image of the infamous Englishman who unsuccessfully plotted to blow up Parliament in the early 1600s.

The group has been circulating flyers on the Web and in Washington, where they request that a million activists disguised as Fawkes march down the National Mall on November 5 for an array of causes that have been adopted in the past by self-proclaimed actors in the movement.

According to the event’s official Facebook page, topics to be discussed during the day include government reform, the pharmaceutical industry and the use of genetically modified foods, among others. An unofficial page that has been disavowed by the creators of the Facebook event asks for members of Anonymous, participants in the Occupy movement and supporters of WikiLeaks and whistleblowing to make the trip to DC next month.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Psychedelic Diplomacy within the Plant Kingdom



What do psychedelics, environmentalism and the collective unconscious have in common? The ground-breaking book by Paul Devereux: The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia ...explores the role that (naturally occurring) psychedelics played in humanity's 10,000 year history of communion with our natural environment. The vast majority of that time-span saw humanity living in harmony with the natural world.

Through the ceremonial use of indigenous entheogens, humanity has historically communicated with nature, specifically the plant kingdom, through ingestion, revelation and interpretation, facilitated by shamanic custom. These diplomats to the plant kingdom, or shamans, delivered to their broader communities a message of planetary harmony, which, until quite recently, resulted in stable co-existence between humanity and the rest of the natural world.

What follows is an excerpt from Devereux's book...   


"Societies of the past have used the psychedelic experience to strengthen, renew and heal the spiritual underpinning of their social structures. The ever-deepening social unease that Western civilisation seems to be caught in is the real source of our 'drug problem': natural hallucinogens are not the problems in themselves, it is the context in which they are used that matters. If there were orderly and healthy structures and mechanisms for their use and the cultural absorption of the powerful experiences – and knowledge – we could separate these from the culture of crime that surrounds them now. In short, the problems are not in the psychoactive substances themselves, but in a society, which on the one hand wants to prohibit, mind-expansion altogether and on the other chooses to use mind-expanding substances in a literally mindless, hedonistic fashion.
Perhaps only a shock of some kind could break our society free from the patterns of thought and prejudices that lock it into this crisis. The desire for such a shock may be hidden within the widespread modern myth of extra-terrestrial intervention. In fact, we do not have to look to science fiction for a real otherworld contact: it already exists in the form of plant hallucinogens. If we see them in the context of a 'problem', it is only because they hold up a mirror in which we see our spiritual, social and mental condition reflected. And they hold that mirror up to us as one species to another just as surely as if they were from another planet. Indeed, that champion of the psychedelic state, the late Terence McKenna, argued that the ancestral spores of today’s hallucinogenic mushrooms may have originated on some other planet. (This is not as fringe an idea as it sounds, for even some 'hard scientists' – the late Francis Crick, co-discover of DNA, among them – have suggested that the germs of life may have had extra-terrestrial origins, brought to Earth by means of meteorites or comet dust.) The psilocybin family of hallucinogens, says McKenna, produces a "Logos-like phenomenon of an interior voice that seems to be almost a superhuman agency…an entity so far beyond the normal structure of the ego that if it is not an extraterrestrial it might as well be."
Other 'psychonauts' have emerged from the altered mind states enabled by plant substances with similar impressions. For instance, New York journalist Daniel Pinchbeck wrote about his various initiations with plant hallucinogens in his Breaking Open the Head (2002). In one ayahuasca session with Amazonian Secoya Indians he found himself wandering in a visionary space where he encountered beings that "never stopped changing" their forms. "The shaman and the elders seemed to be inhabiting this space with me… They sang, their words unintelligible, to these creatures, interacting with them… I had no more doubts that the Secoya engaged in extradimensional exploration." Or, again, two of the three molecular biologists brought to the Amazon to experience ayahuasca trances by anthropologist and writer, Jeremy Narby, felt that they had communicated with an "independent intelligence." Narby himself feels that in their ayahuasca altered states shamans plumb the molecular level of nature and that, to put Narby’s idea crudely, ayahuasca – with its trade-mark visionary snakes – has the ability to communicate information concerning the double-helix coil of DNA (The Cosmic Serpent, 1998). Indeed, to allow contact with the "mind of nature."
We have already noted that the idea that ontologically independent beings ('spirits') or intelligences are contactable through plant-induced trances is standard in most if not all shamanic tribal societies, but to posit such a thing in modern Western societies is viewed as tantamount to insanity, a nonsense notion to be dismissed out of hand. In other words, we can’t discuss it without forfeiting all credibility. This problem concerning the inability to explore certain ideas has been addressed by Oxford-based researcher, Andy Letcher. He uses Foucauldian discourse analysis to critique the models, the 'discourses' employed by the West in dealing with the content of altered mind states. These include pathological, prohibition, psychological, recreational, psychedelic, entheogenic discourses. Each has its own imposed boundaries; they are cognitive constructs. Letcher notes that some of these discourses or approaches to hallucinogenic substances ignore the subjective experience of the altered mind states involved, or else place it within an inner, psychological framework rather than it being a case of simply seeing more, of being in a wider frame of consciousness. He critiques even the entheogenic discourse as relying on a “God within” model, divine revelation that does not by any means occur in all altered states. However diverse they might be, all these discourses can be used within the norms of Western culture. Only one discourse crosses that "fundamental societal boundary," what Letcher refers to as the animistic discourse – the belief that the taking of, say, hallucinogenic mushrooms occasions actual "encounters with discarnate spirit entities." Because of the deep-rooted modern Western assumption that consciousness cannot occur in any other guise than human (the ultimate hubris of our species, perhaps) discussion of a conscious plant kingdom, or of that providing a portal through which contact with other, ontologically independent beings or intelligences can occur, is simply not possible within the mainstream culture. "It nevertheless remains a phenomenon in need of further scholarly research," Letcher rightly insists.
It is a remarkable fact that plant hallucinogens are hallucinogenic precisely because they contain the same, or effectively the same, chemicals as are found in the human brain, and so act on us as if we were indeed engaged in an interspecies communication. "The chemical structure of the hallucinogenic principles of the mushrooms was determined…and it was found that these compounds were closely related chemically to substances occurring naturally in the brain which play a major role in the regulation of psychic functions," Schultes and Hofmann have observed, for instance. This challenges the view held by many people that taking a plant hallucinogen is somehow 'unnatural'. Certainly, mind-altering plants take the brain-mind to states that are not “normal” by the standards of our culture, but the 'normal' state of Western consciousness cannot claim to be the one-and-only 'true' state of consciousness. (Indeed, judging by the mess we manage to make of our societies and of the natural world around us it may even be an aberrant or pathological state of mind that we are culturally locked into.)
"If one were to reduce to its essentials the complex chemical process that occurs when an external psychoactive drug such as psilocybin reaches the brain, it would then be said that the drug, being structurally closely related to the naturally occurring indoles in the brain, appears to interact with the latter in such a way as to lock a nonordinary or inward-directed state of consciousness temporarily into place… There are obviously wide implications, biological-evolutionary as well as philosophical, in the discovery that precisely in the chemistry of consciousness we are kin to the plant kingdom," writes Peter Furst.
These are probably the same kind of chemical changes that occur during the course of long and intensive spiritual exercises, but it takes a rare person to achieve sufficient expertise in such techniques to arrive at experiences that match those accessible through hallucinogen usage, which are certainly very 'real' in a subjective sense. It is a culturally-engineered cliché to dismiss such states as being somehow delusional. They are subjectively no more delusional than the experience of daily life. The human body is an open system, taking in material from the environment and expelling matter into it all the time, and we really shouldn’t think of taking in natural chemicals for visionary and mind-expanding functioning as any different, any less natural, than taking in gases from the air for their chemical benefits to the body, or chemicals and compounds in animal and vegetable matter to provide food, or fermented fruits and vegetable matter to provide delicious, refreshing or inebriating beverages, or vitamins to augment healthy functioning, or medicines when we are ill, or caffeinated teas and coffees when we want to be energised. "Ethnobotanists now realize that psychotropic plant species extend further than had been suspected, as though nature truly wanted the human species to get in touch with its floral neighbors," Richard Gehr muses. "As plant species die off at a furious rate, the issue is no longer what they are trying to tell us, but whether we will get the message in time."
That message may be to do with the need for us to change our minds, or, at least, to broaden our cognitive horizons. The plant kingdom could be urging us to allow the ability to 'switch channels' in consciousness terms to let them become a recognised and acceptable part of our emerging global culture. Hallucinogen-using ancient and traditional societies had and have exceptional sophistication when it comes to understanding and navigating alternate states of consciousness, whereas we are still quite primitive and inexperienced in this regard. The manual for using expanded consciousness is a textbook we have not read – or, more accurately, recalled. Not that simply widening our collective experience of consciousness will act like a magic wand and remove all problems and obstacles, but it would help us to make wiser, more whole-some decisions in coping with them. If Western civilisation is truly to advance, we surely must learn to operate within the multi-dimensional capacities of our minds, rather than using the police to conduct an indiscriminate war on the means of doing so. A workable balance has to be struck between protecting the well-being and the orderly functioning of society as a whole, and allowing the human brain-mind to explore its full potential. We are smart enough and complex enough and able enough to make it possible to do both. There are no excuses."

- from: The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia by Paul Devereux


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Treason in the GOP! op-ed vol. 2 (updated)

None Dare Call it Treason!


Although it is clear that politicians have surpassed lawyers, as being the most despised… the most loathed… (so-called) professionals on the planet today, it is even more clear that the Republican Party has sunk to a new, unconscionable low. Not only have the GOP been obstructionist, to the point of absurdity, ever since Obama was originally elected back in ’08… their most recent high-jink of knowingly shutting down the Federal Government through legislative trickery, is itself a treasonous act.

It is also abundantly clear that sending a continuing resolution (CR) to the US Senate to fund the Federal Government (even for a mere six weeks or so, until the Debt Limit Debacle kicks in) ...with a de-funding of the ACA rider attached... would not actually de-fund the ACA… or even delay it. 

The Affordable Care Act is law… get over it.

It is widely believed (by political pundits, who are themselves, suspect) that a small minority of Right-Wing Fanatics within the GOP are essentially holding the entire GOP hostage and somehow compelling them to act irresponsibly. Perhaps the word “irresponsibly” is too mild… “insane?” That would imply that they were not in control of their faculties… “obstinately?” That would imply that their actions were questionable-but-permissible. Me thinks the word we’re looking for is… treasonous.

So the question becomes… Is a small cabal of ultra-right-wing fanatics forcing the GOP controlled US House of Representatives to obstruct the Government’s due diligence... to the point of treason?

If this ideological battle continues and merges with the Debt limit Debacle… the answer is yes.

If a small band of Right-Wingers (we don’t want to name-names, but their initials are… TEA PARTY) forces the Government to default on its debts… debt that we have already accrued… money that has already been spent… monies that are legitimately owed…that act, intentional or not… whether through action or non-action… is an act of treason. 

For that matter, blame rests less on the shoulders of a small band of tea-partiers… politicians who are hoodwinked or worse... bought and sold by plutocrats… by the likes of the Koch brothers… than it rests on the shoulders of the GOP leadership.

If John Boehner doesn’t have the guts to stand up to the extreme right-wing of his own party… then he’s as guilty… if not more guilty… than the tea-partiers are.

And forget about blaming Obama for not calling Congressional leadership to his office and forcing them to resolve their differences. The simple truth is, passing a budget is the responsibility of Congress. Quit bellyaching for Big-Daddy Obama to come rescue you and do your job, Congress!

These guys are derelict in their duty to the Republic. They need to be hounded out of office! They need to be made accountable for their treasonous acts! They need to pay for their crimes against the American Public! Make the bastards pay! Death to all Fanatics!!!

And if you really want to know the truth… 

-Anonymous


We hope you have enjoyed volume 2 of our opinion-editorial (letters to the editor) feature... Keep those cards and letters coming, folks! As always, should you or any of your OP-ED force be caught or killed, the tek-gnostics blog-site will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Jim. This post will self-destruct in five seconds…

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday Occupy Wall Street!


"We're still out here fighting for economic justice. The bankers still have all the power," "They've bought our government and we need a people's movement to do that, and the movement is still here."

- protester Linnea Paton



Happy Second Birthday (9-17) to that rascally band of social engineers, “Occupy.” It was two years ago that the Occupy Wall Street movement semi-spontaneously and irreverently took to the streets of New York, ultimately occupying Zuccotti Park. Occupy began as a peaceful occupation of Wall Street to protest corporate influence on democracy… to address a growing disparity in wealth… and to shed light on the absence of legal repercussions behind the (then) recent global financial crisis. Occupy’s mission and primary goal, then and now, is to make the economic and political relations in all societies less vertically hierarchical and more flatly distributed… share the wealth.

The most valuable contribution that the Occupy movement made to our modern-mediated-world has been to focus attention on the obscene and growing disparities between the ultra-rich and “the rest of us.” Occupy introduced the world to the mimetically brilliant: “we are the 99%” …illustrating the rapidly increasing inequity between the 1% (the ultra-rich) and the 99% (everybody else). They achieved this in a very creative and media friendly way, using those greatest and time-honored tools of the social engineer: Humor & Wit.

The news media is now quick to report that Occupy has “fizzled out” and is no longer relevant. But don’t count Occupy out… for in the words of Victor Hugo: Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.


Activists Mark 2nd Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street

Activists gathered in New York on Tuesday to mark the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement against economic inequality. Demonstrators marched near the New York Stock Exchange and the United Nations, highlighting a call for taxing Wall Street transactions (Robin Hood Tax) and directing the funds to public causes. Nellie Bailey of the United National Anti-War Coalition said the anniversary of Occupy is a time to look forward in the struggle for social change.


"And the most important lesson learned is we must continue to fight. We must intensify the fight. We must have more people in the streets. That’s the lesson and then we can (indulge) nostalgia all we want, as to who was there… you remember that day or whatever. But that’s not going to get it. If we want to bring about those fundamental changes as much of a revolutionary fashion as possible. If we move ahead with organizing… educating and hitting the streets… that’s the lessons… those are the lessons." 

- Nellie Bailey


- sourced in part from Democracy Now & RT News

Last Year's Observance


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Brave New Age Day


"The first decade of the 21st century has been quite a ride. The transition from the old paradigm to the new millennium… began abruptly on September the Eleventh, 2001. On that day, with the orchestrated demolition of the World Trade Center, and other violent acts, the citizenry of Spaceship Earth awoke to the new age. Broadcast live around the world by the modern media machine, the new age came crashing into our living-rooms via television… that “luminous screen of mediocrity” that modern humanity fixates upon daily.

This was not the new age that many of us visualized in yoga class. This was not the new age we envisioned during the “Harmonic Convergence.” This was a darker wake-up call that viciously “came up-side” our collective head as if to say… 'Welcome to the future, chump'.”

-excerpt from "The Tek-Gnostics Heresies" by Jack Heart