THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 112

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 112

…Celeste is convinced that her husband is not the master of malapropisms; he just doesn’t give a hoot…

After an adjustment period, Cerella readapts to and her son is introduced to a world without livestock, barbeques and droughts.

In the short time it takes to make a TSF roundtrip, Eridanus’ security status has changed. The bigger news arrives from the Triangulum Galaxy via Chasonn; Collapsar Axis has passed by and it is headed to Epsilon Eridani’s system, in the middle of Orion’s Belt.

Letter writer to the Earthlings, Celeste McKinney and former Null, Skaldic have been holding down the fort, the latter becoming fixated not by his Giftedness or the looming gargantuan, but rather the riddle that continues to stump everyone and everything.

“Chasonn seems to think we are in danger, Sam. Take a look at the images of that Ÿ€Ð dreadnought…, inside and out it looks like trouble.”

“It’s also moving like a slug, Cel, for crying out loud! Don’t we have our hands full with little Joyner or even O?”

“I believe I am close to solving the riddle,” Skaldic interjects.

“See? Even Skaldy isn’t concerned about that planet on wheels.”

“What is it about the unattainable that is so attractive to you men?”

“Cerella has told Deke that NASA has given O a name – Lorgan – is what they call it. That means they know it may be connected to that riddle. Don’t you think Gussy and Roy are hard at work on solving it? Maybe it’s not the Selljunk’s business.

“I give up.” He cannot keep alien names straight.

“Don’t worry, we’ll keep an eye out for that Collapsed Axle.

Collapsar Axis and those friends of ours are not the Sell Junk!” Celeste is convinced that her husband is not the master of malapropisms; he just doesn’t give a hoot. “I thought you liked Chasonn?”

“He’s okay… a little jumpy, but okay.” Sam yields.

“Then you better respect his judgement. When he says jump, you better.” Celeste is solemn in projecting her resolve. “And you will leave Deke alone for a cycle? He needs time with his family.”

“I hear you Cel. I’ll keep an eye on that intrusive slug and Skaldy will work on the “Harmonica Query.  Harmonica-Harmonia, what’s the big diff? “And yes, if you can keep him tethered in Cerella’s tower, Deker can get to know that little firecracker of his… Joyner sure seems to have the McKinney smarts.”


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 112


page 111

Ancient Manuscript Handbook – WIF Into History

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Unique and Enigmatic

Ancient Manuscripts

Ancient manuscripts, written in some old and forgotten languages, can offer truly insightful glimpses into the distant past. Many such tomes were written hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, and their grammar can still pose a serious impediment to scholars today in understanding them completely. While some are still a complete mystery, others offered just enough to make them even more intriguing. In any case, books and scripts written long ago were rare, if not unique, even during their time, let alone today. Here are ten such enigmatic and one of a kind manuscripts that survived to the 21st century.

 10. The Gospel of Judas

In 325 AD, the First Council of Nicaea took place, convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine I. Though it wasn’t actually the first such council, here, most of the discrepancies of the Christian faith were put in place in an attempt to attain consensus over various interpretations of the faith. As a result, it was more or less common knowledge that Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, betrayed him to the Roman authorities in exchange for 30 pieces of silver. However, a leather-bound papyrus document surfaced during the 1970s near Beni Mazar, Egypt. Written in Coptic, the document was later dated to sometime around 280 AD. What the text revealed seemingly turned the entire series of events taking place in the New Testament on its head. This document, though not written by Judas himself, but rather by Gnostic Christians, was called The Gospel of Judas.

As it turns out, Judas wasn’t the traitor the Bible made him out to be, but rather Jesus’ most trusted apostle. The text reveals how Jesus told Judas to turn him in to the authorities in order for his soul to reach God. Judas’ reward here wasn’t silver, but his ascension to heaven and exaltation above the other disciples. However, not all scholars agree with this interpretation. Historian April D. DeComick believes the Coptic word “daimon” to mean demon, and not spirit, as it was previously assumed. If this is the case, which is most likely, then Judas was considered to be a specific demon called the Thirteenth, or the king of demons, and that Jesus wasn’t killed in the name of God, but rather for the demons themselves.

Due to the religious importance of the Gospel, its authenticity was put in question. While the papyrus itself was dated to the 3 rd century AD, the ink used posed more questions. There were some inconsistencies regarding the ink used in that time period of the 200s, but later research unveiled the fact that it is actually legitimate.

9. The Grolier Codex

Named after the location of its first public appearance (the Grolier Club in New York), the Grolier Codex is an 800-year-old manuscript belonging to the Maya of the pre-Colombian Yucatan Peninsula. Discovered by looters in a cave in Mexico during the 1960s, the codex was hidden alongside a Maya mosaic mask and some other treasures. A wealthy Mexican collector by the name of Josué Sáenz was then flown to an undisclosed location at the request of the looters, and the exchange was made in 1966. In 1971, Sáenz displayed it at the Grolier Club, after which he donated it to the Mexican government. Due to its rather shady means of discovery and acquisition, the manuscript was under heavy scrutiny and was initially believed to be a fake. Other factors about the document seemed to point in the same direction. However, Yale professor Michael Coe, together with other researchers from Brown University, subjected the 10-page-long manuscript to a series of various tests, ultimately proving it to be genuine.

Radiocarbon dating placed the document somewhere around 1250 AD, during the late Maya period, about the same time when the city of Chichen Itza was being built. The date refers to the papyrus itself, and not when the document was actually written. No evidence of modern pigments was discovered, including those able to produce the famous “Maya blue.” The codex, as it turns out, is a 104-year-long calendar predicting the movements of Venus. Alongside Mayan symbols, there are a lot of Toltec-influenced styles, not that uncommon during those times. The Toltec were regarded as ancestors by the Aztec civilization and many of their elements appear in Maya art as well. Its pages are adorned with“workaday gods, deities who must be invoked for the simplest of life’s needs: sun, death, K’awiil—a lordly patron and personified lightning—even as they carry out the demands of the ‘star’ we call Venus,” said Stephen Houston, Brown University social scientist.

8. The Egyptian Handbook of Ritual Power

Sometime during the late 1970s or very early ’80s, an antiques dealer came across a 20-page-long ancient manuscript, which he then sold to the Macquarie University in Australia in 1981. Nobody knows were the document was found exactly, or when, but the scholars who later studied it say it was written sometime around 700 AD, by someone in pre-Islamic Upper Egypt. For decades scientists tried in vain to decipher it, but no one was successful until recently. Written in Coptic, the codex “starts with a lengthy series of invocations that culminate with drawings and words of power,” said Malcolm Choat and Iain Gardner, professors at Macquarie University and the University of Sydney.

Egypt was populated mostly by Christians at the time, and thus there are a number of invocations referring to Jesus. However, most of the spells and summons within the book seem to indicate the Sethians. One invocation calls “Seth, Seth, the living Christ.” The Sethians were a group of Christians which flourished in Egypt during the early centuries of Christendom, but by the 7thcentury they were declared as heretics and were slowly disappearing. They held Seth, Adam and Eve’s third son, in high regard. The manuscript also makes mention of a “Baktiotha,” an unknown but divine figure, ruler of the material realm, and of ambivalent allegiance.

Who actually used it is still a matter of debate among scholars, but it might not have necessarily been a monk or a priest. And even though the text was written with a male user in mind, it doesn’t exclude a female user either. Whatever the case, the codex gave “helpful advice” in the form of incantations or spells in curing various curses, possessions or ailments, as well as bringing success in love and business. There is even a spell on how to subjugate someone by saying a magical spell over two nails and then “drive them into his doorpost, one on the right side (and) one on the left.”

7. Liber Linteus

Following Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt at the turn of the 18th century, a sharp increase in the country took place in Europe in a phenomenon known as Egyptomania. As a result, the following decades saw an influx of Egyptian artifacts all over the continent. In 1848, a Croatian official under the Hungarian Royal Chancellery decided to resign his post and travel to Egypt. While there, he purchased a sarcophagus containing a female mummy. When he returned to Vienna, he displayed it in his home for 11 years, up until he died. His brother, a priest, inherited it and gave it away to the Archaeological Museum of Zagreb in 1867. And even though the mummy was on display since it arrived in Europe, with the wrappings displayed separately in a glass case, it was only here at the museum that the German Egyptologist, Heinrich Brugsch, realized that there was actually writing on it.

Believing them to be Egyptian hieroglyphs, Brugsch didn’t investigate any further. A decade later, while talking with a friend and explorer, Richard Burton, he realized that the script was of unknown origin and not Egyptian after all. Fourteen years later, in 1891, while back in Vienna, the writings on the wrappings were identified as being Etruscan. The Etruscans were the precursors of the Romans on the Italian Peninsula. The text was then known as the Liber Linteus (Latin for ‘Linen Book’).

Even to this day, Etruscan is not fully understood, as there are very few pieces of the ancient language in existence. But based on what already existed, Jacob Krall – an expert on Coptic language – was able to deduce that

the Liber Linteus was a sort of religious calendar. The question, then, was what Etruscan text was doing in Egypt? Krall was also able to deduce from a piece of papyrus scroll inside the sarcophagus that the mummy’s name was Nesi-hensu, the wife of a Theban ‘divine tailor’ named Paher-hensu, an Egyptian. The best explanation is that the text was transported from Italy to Egypt sometime in the 3rd century BC, and was the only linen available when the woman was embalmed. As a result, the Liber Linteus is an “accident” of history, but one of the most important texts when it comes to the Etruscan language.

6. The Sultan’s Book of Delights

One interesting and totally unique manuscript comes to us from India. The Ni’matnama Manuscript of the Sultans of Mandu, as it is also known, dates back to around 1500 AD. Unlike any other medieval Indo-Muslim manuscript of its time, which often tackle subjects like politics, war, social history or political organization, the Sultan’s Book of Delights centers itself on domestic arts and the personal likes of the eccentric Sultan Ghiyath Shahi of the Malwa Sultanate in Central India. It is one of the earliest books written in Urdu, with its first miniature illustrations being made under a Persian influence with the later ones becoming more Indian-ised.

Ghiyath Shahi ascended to the throne in 1469, but once his son, Nasir Shah, became of age in 1500 AD, he decided to step down and focus his attention on the pleasures of life. He then filled his palace with musicians, painters, cooks, and thousands of women. Many of these women were taught in the fine arts of wrestling and cooking, among others. Five hundred female Abyssinian slaves, clad in armor and skilled in combat, became his permanent bodyguards. During this time, the capital city of Mandu became known as Shadiyabad, or City of Joy.

The manuscript was also written during this period, and it consists of several hundred recipes for food, perfumes, salves and pastes, medicines, and all sorts of aphrodisiacs. What combinations work together, and what others should be avoided. These are accompanied by 50 illustrations depicting their preparation. The paintings also show Ghiyath Shahi himself, easily recognized by his moustache, either supervising or enjoying various activities such as hunting, fishing, or eating. These works were collected together into the manuscript by his son, Nasir Shah.

5. Gospel of the Lots of Mary

This is a 1,500-year-old book, in possession of Harvard University since 1984, which received it from Beatrice Kelekian, Charles Dikran Kelekian’s widow. Charles was a trader of Coptic antiquities, deemed the “dean of antiquities” among New York art dealers. Where he got this book is still a mystery. An interesting fact about this book is its small size, at just 3 inches in height and 2.7 inches in width. Its size made it easy to transport and to be hidden if need be. Written in Coptic, the book was, up until recently, undecipherable. And now that it’s been translated, the text came as a surprise to many scholars.

In the opening it reads: “The Gospel of the lots of Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, she to whom Gabriel the Archangel brought the good news. He who will go forward with his whole heart will obtain what he seeks. Only do not be of two minds. ”Even though it calls itself “a gospel,” this manuscript is not one in the sense of what we normally know the word to mean. Usually a gospel is a narrative about the life and death of Jesus, but this book hardly makes any mention of him. This is because the word “gospel” literally translates to “good news.”

In fact, this little booklet is a collection of 37 oracles, written vaguely, and which were probably used as a form of divination. The user would ask himself a question about the future, and then open the book at random to look for an answer. For example, oracle 24 reads: “Stop being of two minds, o human, whether this thing will happen or not. Yes, it will happen! Be brave and do not be of two minds. Because it will remain with you a long time and you will receive joy and happiness. ”Given its purpose, its small size starts to make sense, especially when many church leaders at the time were against divination and put strict rules in place to ban the practice. Regardless, the booklet was heavily used with thumbprints still being clearly visible on its margins.

4. The Sibiu Manuscript

In 1961, a professor of Science and Technology at the University of Bucharest came across an old manuscript in the national archive in Sibiu, Romania. The 450-page-long document was dated to sometime before 1570 and it described various subjects of artillery and ballistics from the 16th century. Doru Todericiu, the previously mentioned professor, began studying it in more depth, focusing on its scientific and technological content. On closer inspection he realized that in the third part of the manuscript, a man by the name of Conrad Haas was describing in remarkable detail the basics and function of a “flying javelin,” a modern multistage rocket. He describes and depicts rockets with two and three stages, as well as how to build the rocket, stabilizing fins, and the use of liquid fuel.

Not much is known about this Conrad Haas. He was born in Dornbach (now part of Hernals, Vienna). He held the post of arsenal master in the Imperial Austrian Army and in 1551 he came to the Principality of Transylvania to become a weapons engineer in Sibiu (then Hermannstadt). Here he wrote the manuscript. Todericiu says that Haas also built and tested the rockets by using soli fuels. The document is now located in the Sibiu Museum in Romania, and is the first documented proof of rocketry in the world. This style of multistage rockets was later used by astronauts in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. In the last paragraph on the military use of rockets, Haas wrote: “But my advice is for more peace and no war, leaving the rifles calmly in storage, so the bullet is not fired, the gunpowder is not burned or wet, so the prince keeps his money, the arsenal master his life; that is the advice Conrad Haas gives.”

3. The Eight-Foot Long Leather Manuscript

For about 70 years, one of the most unique and, without a doubt, the largest manuscript disappeared from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. In 2015 they rediscovered it, cramped in an old, dusty drawer somewhere in the back of the museum. Like other entries in this list, the exact location of its discovery is unknown. It was bought from a local antiques dealer by the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo sometime after WWI and it was first unrolled just before WWII. It dates back to sometime around 2000 to 2300 BC, from the Late Kingdom to the early Middle Kingdom. It stands at 8.2 feet long, and is adorned with writing and beautifully colored drawings of exceptional quality.

Made out of leather, it is a real miracle the huge manuscript was able to withstand the rigors of time over more than 4,000 years. Leather was considered a very precious writing material, and only holy texts or great historic events were written on it. Papyrus was more common, and it better endured the test of time, especially in the scorching heat of the Egyptian desert. In any case, this particular manuscript is written on both sides and contains depictions of divine and supernatural beings, predating the famous Book of the Dead. Religious spells, formulated in the first person singular, make up the text. These were most likely recited by a priest, and even though it was portable, the scroll was most likely kept in a temple.

2. The Codex Washingtonianus

Located at the Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art, the Codex Washingtonianus consists of four gospels of the so-called Western order (Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark), and is the third oldest Bible in the world. It dates back to about the 4th or 5th century AD, during the time when Christianity began to turn from an underground cult to a standardized religion. The Codex was most likely copied from several other manuscripts found at the time. Its covers are made out of wood and the pages are of parchment (processed animal skin). Its pages are highly sensitive to light and humidity, and thus, the codex is rarely put on display.

What makes it so unique, besides being 1,500-years-old, is the fact that it holds an extra passage in the Gospel of Mark, not found in any other Biblical text anywhere. It reads: “And Christ replied to them, ‘The term of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near.’” What this single line seems to imply is that Satan, and not God, is the one in charge. When it was first translated and made public in 1912, it caused much controversy and distress around the world. Today, people’s perspectives have somewhat shifted, but back then this passage shook a lot of people. Since this passage, known as “the Freer Logion,” makes no appearance anywhere else in the world, it was probably an oral saying that made its way into the gospels, according to Michael Holmes, a biblical scholar at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

1. The Copper Scroll

Between 1946 and 1956, some 981 different texts and scrolls were discovered in eleven caves in the eastern Judaean Desert of what is now the modern-day West Bank. This collection is what’s known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Unlike the other scrolls found in these caves by local shepherds, the Copper Scroll was found by archaeologists in 1952 at the end of one of these caves. It was also the only one made from copper, while the others are in either parchment or papyrus. Made out of two rolled sheets of corded copper, it was impossible for scientists to unfold the scroll by any usual means. So, they instead decided to cut it in 23 thin strips, and then place them back together.

The text, although in Hebrew like the others, uses a different dialect. And while all of the others are religious in nature, like copies of Hebrew Scripture, uncanonized Hebrew texts and sectarian manuscripts, the Copper Scroll is a “treasure map.” In it there are actual directions to various hidden treasures of gold, silver, coins, and vessels. For example, column two, verses 1-3 say: “In the salt pit that is under the steps: forty-one talents of silver. In the cave of the old washer’s chamber, on the third terrace: sixty-five ingots of gold.” Summing them all up, researchers estimated the value of all of them at $1,000,000 in 1960. In today’s money that would be slightly over $8 million.

To date, however, nobody has been able to recover any of these treasures; or at least they say they haven’t. Nobody knows who wrote it, or to whom the treasure belonged. Some say the treasure never actually existed and that the Copper Scroll is a work of fiction. Others believe it refers to the Temple of Jerusalem, just before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, and the scroll was made to safeguard its riches. Others go even further, believing the treasure to belong to a Jewish sect known as the Essenes. However, all of these are mere speculations, and whether the treasure exists or not is yet to be determined. But if it did exist, there’s always the possibility that it was already found in ancient times and nobody reported it.


Ancient Manuscript Handbook

WIF Into History

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 201

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 201

…Celeste M. uses an analogy to explain, to put a bow on a story about the good old days on Earth…

Bobby Haiqalsyah Melbourne, Australia

Celeste M. uses an analogy to explain, to put a bow on a story about the good old days in Texas, “Uncle Braden was supposed to check in from time to time, but he got busy with our Space Colony {RIP} and did not see if things were going well with the neighbor house.”

“Kinda like us living on this ship from the Newfoundlians Deimostra, they think it is empty,” adds Sam, who sees where his wife is headed.

“Well after the summer was over and the owners of the ranch came home, there was nothing left of value in the house and what was left was trashed.”

“Braden got in trouble, did he not?” Sammy’s mommy-taught English is contraction free.

“That’s UNCLE Braden and my point is about us honey… now you can imagine what these beings are going to think when they find us stowed away on a ship they fully expect to be empty. We won’t speak their language and I pray they are as peaceful as they appear, because they will have a hard time understanding or believing our story.”King Ranch logo

“Did Braden, I mean Uncle Braden, find out who was in that house,” she had seen pictures of King Ranch (and what a house looks like) on the portable computers they were carrying when they unexpectedly lifted off the surface of Mars.

“They did Sammy and they beat him with a broom, made him clean up the mess and threw the old man in jail for 10 years…I think he got out last week. And Braden was barred from ever setting foot on the neighbor’s ranch.” {Sampson M. embellishment}

“Do not listen to him sweetie. Texas justice is different, but not barbaric, though the squatter was deported back to Mexico and Uncle Braden helped pay for the damage.”

“What will the Newfoundlians do to us?”

“On second thought, if I tried a sequence code over on this panel, I could turn this thing around. Mommy’s point about not being able to explain ourselves is a good reason to hightail it out of here.” Sampson McKinney was getting cold feet, as Epsilon Eridani gets increasing larger on the navigation plot. “WWJBD?”

“What Would Jesus of Bethlehem Do?” Celeste thinks she solves the acronym.

“No, ‘What Would James Bond Do‘? There isn’t a recognizable weapon on this spaceship, so I hope the planet has the same philosophy. Besides that, three thousand years ago, they could have conquered Earth without so much as raising a finger,” he looks at his left index digit. “What did these guys have on the end of their arms Cel, I don’t remember?”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 201


page 185

Laborious Puns #22

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Laborious Puns

“No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

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Labor Day is a good time to stop and reflect on the august events the the preceding month.

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Bringing a baby into the world is labor of love.

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. He labored so hard that he worked his fingers to the bone-us.

. In some places there is a lot of Manuel labor for every Juan.

In the NFL there is some  Manuel labor.

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They used to experiment on dogs called laboratory retrievers.

. A woman union leader who was pregnant had labor pains and then a striking baby.

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. At a company where they dig for gold a labor dispute is a miner problem where no one wants to get the shaft.


Laborious Puns

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We’re Only Human – WIF Anthropology

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Moments That

Shaped Modern

Human Life

The evolution of our species has been… eventful, to say the least. While some form of semi-bipedal hominids and apes have existed for millions of years, our march toward modern civilization began relatively recently. In a short period of time, our species has gone through many monumental changes that gradually gave shape to everything we see around us today.

While some of these crucial historical moments are intuitive and well known, others aren’t that obvious. Almost all of them, though, are only apparent in hindsight…

9. The Possibility of Life On Other Planets

That we are alone in the Great Expanse is a frightening thought. After all, if Earthlings are the most advanced beings in the Universe… well that just cannot be, can it? Still, it is a distinct possibility and if that is the case, we won’t be meeting any aliens anytime soon.

BUT, and is a BIG but, most of us have the sneaking suspicion that our government know more than they are letting on. What aren’t they telling us about Area 51? And then there are those Air Force pilots that report seeing (UFO) Flying Objects that speed away faster than you can say, “Did you see that?”.

No one really knows (that we know of) for sure that there is intelligent life on other planets or that we have been visited by them. That very possibility gives us hope that someone smarter than us is out there somewhere… Got to be someone smarter!

8. When We Stood Up On Two Feet

If we get down to the basics, there aren’t many differences between our closest, four-legged ancestors: the intelligent apes. Apart from minor differences and some chance mutations, we may never have never been able to stray too far from that lineage. Then, some forward-thinking ape – or a group of them – around two to four million years ago decided that standing up was a way better way to live, and we’ve not looked back since.

The decision to stand up on two feet instead of four may seem to be insignificant and intuitive to most, though if you think about it, it’s an unprecedented trait in the tree of life. Humans are the only creatures that have ever evolved to walk on two feet, even if its immediate evolutionary advantages aren’t clear to science. Regardless, bipedalism freed our hands to be able to make more complicated tools, setting the stage for everything to come, making it one of the most important steps in the evolution of early humans.

7. The Domestication Of The Horse

We have a long history of domesticating animals for our needs. From sheep to cows to our best friends, the dogs, the animal kingdom is full of examples of animals that we have tamed and modified, and that have played important roles in the rise of our civilization.

One domesticated species, however, has been so important for humanity that we’ve written entire books and historical journals on the topic: the horse. First domesticated some time around 3000 BC in the Central Asian steppes, the horse initially served as a good source of meat and fur, much like other livestock animals at the time. Soon, however, people realized that it could be used for movement across large distances like no other animal we’ve ever been able to tame. They may not have realized it at the time, but that realization would become one of humanity’s most pivotal. The histories of all the earliest and biggest Eurasian civilizations perfectly coincide with the history of horse domestication in their respective regions. The horse finally allowed us to step out of our limited range and inhabit far off regions.

Not just that, but it also played an important role in the militaries of almost all major armies until the invention of gunpowder. Horse cavalry was often the most powerful unit in major ancient and medieval armies, often deciding the course of a battle entirely on its own.

6. The Rise Of Homo Sapiens

Even if most of us may not realize this, humans weren’t always the only hominid species on the planet. We’re only one of the many different branches of humans to evolve out of intelligent apes, some of whom we may not yet even know about. Moreover, it wasn’t always obvious that we’d be the last ones standing, either. In fact, the exact circumstances that led us to emerge as the ultimate victors of the early hominid race aren’t that clear. Neanderthals, for example, were much stronger than our homo sapiens ancestors, and may even have been capable of designing tools as advanced as us.

Despite the mystery surrounding our early days, it’s clear that the evolutionary domination of homo sapiens over other hominid species was one of our most crucial early steps. It eliminated the only challenge to our hegemony on the planet – other humans – and directly paved the way for all of the biggest moments in our history since.

5. The Age Of Revolutions

While most of this list deals with evolutionary and technological developments, the story of humanity is incomplete without its political and cultural milestones. Where bigger brains and opposable thumbs gave us the physical tools to win the Darwinian race, our decisions with organizing our society, economy and politics have been equally influential in shaping up our civilization.

In that respect, the events in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries are perhaps some of the most important in our social history. For the most part, the majority of humanity has lived in rigidly structured, hierarchical societies controlled by a handful of people with power.

That changed in the 17th century beginning with the French Revolution, and eventually spread to the rest of Europe and the world. The Industrial Revolution – an important moment in its own right – led to people demanding better rights and living conditions, culminating in the massive revolts seen across European workplaces in the late 17th and 18th centuries, including the colonies.

This period laid the foundation for the largely liberal, democratic and developed part of the world today, where the majority of the population is free from the threat of hunger or conflict. The revolutions such as the French Revolution, American Revolution, and the 1848 wave of Revolutions in western Europe triggered the the rearrangement of the society, economy, and political structure away from Feudalism and in the favor of the individual, giving way to all of our modern ideas of human rights, liberty, freedom of faith and so on.

4. Islamic Golden Age

While Europe was the birthplace of some of the biggest social and political changes of the early modern era, the scientific revolution had already happened centuries before in a completely different region of the world.

The Golden Age of Islam – from seventh to the 13th century – was when we took the biggest leap forward in our scientific understanding of the world. Some of the earliest versions of most modern fields of science – such as medicine, flight, chemistry, astronomy, etc. – first developed in that region, thanks to scholars from around the world who were encouraged by the caliph and other local rulers. The period was so influential that, throughout that era, Arabic was the global language of science. That fact is evident in the vestiges of Arabic still found in much of our modern scientific lexicon; for example, algebra, alchemy, algorithm, and so on.

Unfortunately, all of that came to an abrupt end with the Mongol siege of Baghdad. Its library – the biggest in the world at the time – was burned to the ground. Regardless, the knowledge we gained from that period set the stage for some of our biggest scientific achievements since, such as the European age of exploration, industrial age, and steam engine.

3. The Great Leap Forward

For most people, it would probably come as a surprise that for the most part of our history, absolutely nothing was happening. Of course, there was that existential struggle with the other humans we mentioned above, though other than deciding the existential, yes/no fate of humanity, it didn’t do anything nuanced for the human race. For millions of years, homo sapiens and other human species had almost no major scientific breakthroughs. That was, however, until something happened around 60,000 years ago, when everything changed.

Archaeologists still find clear evidence of a massive leap in tool making technology, societal structure, language, art, and many other fields around that time, and have called it the Great Leap Forward. It’s possible that it may have been thanks to a language based mutation in our brains at the time, though for all we know for sure, it could have been something random, too. What we do know, however, is that the Great Leap Forward is a clear line separating us from the relatively primitive early men, and the species set to conquer the moon in the distant future.

2. Writing

While many people would consider the development of language to be a pretty important development in our history – and it absolutely is – it’s difficult to decide on a singular definition of ‘language’. Many ancient cultures communicated with systems of language that would be barely recognizable to us, but fulfilled all the criteria of what a language is supposed to be. People have been using some form of language to talk to each other for as long as we can remember.

Writing, however, can be considered to be a clear marker, as we can precisely tell when and where it first originated. It independently arose – at different points in history – in the Near East, China and Mesoamerica. All writing systems of today trace their roots to those first languages, as well as most cultures.

Writing gave a boost to human progress like nothing else, allowing us – for the first time in our history – to reliably record, manipulate, store and disseminate information. For example, generals could now write down the details of their battles, allowing future commanders to use that information in their own battles. Rulers could reliably send out their edicts without the risk of manipulation, and so on. Writing provided us with a way to use information like never before, and formed the basis for all of history’s most influential civilizations.

1. The Agricultural Revolution

While many historians and archaeologists take the view that the decision to settle down into farming societies – as opposed to hunter gatherer bands – was an obvious next step in human evolution. The early farmers would have had to undergo many massive changes in their everyday lives – like in diet, housing, societal structure, etc. – to stick to their new lifestyle. It wasn’t a clearly beneficial deal, and more and more experts are starting to question why we did it at all.

Its evolutionary benefits notwithstanding, the agricultural revolution was still a pivotal moment in human history. Because of farming, we could finally live longer, grow our population, and – most importantly – free a large part of the population from food production.

Experts in other fields – like artists, bureaucrats, philosophers, military generals – made a way to even bigger, more successful civilizations, directly influencing how societies are structured even today.


We’re Only Human

WIF Anthropology

Sick Puns #40 – WIF Wit and Humor

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Diseased (Sick) Puns

 

The flipside of contagious gum disease is an infectious smile.

 

Which illness are witches most prone to? Crone’s disease.

 

When Wally discovered he had Lyme disease he was really ticked off.

 

The mathematician did not practice safe six and ended up with a binarial disease.

 

She could only compose music in 3/4 time. She had waltz timer’s disease.

 

The retired track official has started forgetting things. He has old timer’s disease.

 

He liked to study infectious diseases. It was in his blood.

 

Don’t kiss birds or you may get an untweetable canarial disease.

 

Chronic illegal parkers suffer from parking zones disease.

 

Those who write about disease become ill-literate.



Sick Puns #40 –

WIF Wit and Humor

 

Twenty Twenty – WIF New Year

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TWENTY-TWENTY

TWENTY-TWENTY



 

Like me

New Year Puns (#29)

and Quotes

** New years resolution for the bankrupt gardener was to forget the past and rely on the fuchsia. (obscure pun!)

** The satellite went into orbit on January 1st causing a new years revolution.

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** Drinking too much is an ale-ment

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quotes

 

***“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
***“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
Alfred Lord Tennyson
***“May Light always surround you;
Hope kindle and rebound you.
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.
May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For,
May your arms Never Tire.”
D. Simone
***“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”
Brad Paisley


New Year Puns (#29)

pun-catalog-001

and Quotes

Great Sci-Fi, Wrong Future – WIF Bookshelf

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These Science Fiction

Novels Got the Science

Very, Very Wrong

Science fiction author Ray Bradbury said, “Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it’s the history of ideas[.]” He may have been biased, but he wasn’t incorrect. There are two genres of science fiction. Hard science fiction is usually scientifically rigorous, while soft science fiction uses elements of sociology, anthropology, and psychology. World building in science fiction is often creative, but  it doesn’t always reveal humankind’s future. Here are 10 inaccuracies found in science fiction.

10. Time for the Stars by Robert A. Heinlein

Concept: Relativity

Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity says time is relative, and one’s perception of time varies based on how quickly one is moving. Since general relativity and special relativity are theories, their applications are less concrete than the uses for technology in some science fiction on this list. We use special relativity to explain why astronauts living in space are moving more quickly — and aging more slowly — than people on Earth. Special relativity is important to the plot of Robert A. Heinlein’s 1956 novel Time for the Stars. Heinlein also uses the Twin Paradox as a plot device.

The Twin Paradox is a thought experiment that is only made possible because of the theory of special relativity. Imagine two identical twins. One remains on Earth, while the other travels to a star six light years away using a rocket that travels at six times the speed of light. Before the traveling twin leaves Earth, both twins reset their watches to zero. When the traveling twin reaches the star, her watch says eight years have passed. When the twin on Earth reads her watch, she will find 16 years have passed by the time the traveling twin reaches the star. From the perspective of the twin on Earth, the traveling twin’s rocket takes 10 years to reach the star. The light that will show the traveling twin at the star will take an additional six years to return to Earth, making the trip to the star take 16 years. To the traveler, whose rocket moves at six times the speed of light, the star she is traveling to, which seems six light years away to her twin sister on Earth, is only 4.8 light years away. It takes another 4.8 years for light to travel from Earth to her rocket, so she perceives the trip as taking roughly eight years.

Robert A. Heinlein is respected as a gifted science fiction writer. He was named the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974. He also pursued graduate degrees in physics and mathematics at UCLA. Because of his scientific knowledge, his explanations of special relativity and the Twin Paradox are mostly correct. He applies the theories correctly, with one minor inaccuracy. In his novel, the traveling twin and the twin on Earth are communicating in real time via intercom. Once the traveling twin is moving at the speed of light, he hears the twin on Earth as though he is speaking more slowly. By contrast, the twin on Earth hears the traveling twin as though he is speaking more quickly. In fact, each twin would only be conscious of his own perception of time.

9. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Concept: Colonizing Mars

In Ray Bradbury’s 1950 collection of vignettes, humans have successfully colonized Mars. Bradbury explores which impulses, noble and ignoble, humans obey regardless of which planet they’re inhabiting. As of 2019, NASA is still planning to send astronauts to Mars. The topographical features that led Bradbury and other science fiction writers to imagine it might be possible to colonize Mars by the mid-20th century, though, have been revealed to be misleading.

By 1960, astronomer Carl Sagan had discovered that Mars is consistently freezing due to its lack of atmosphere, and the canals on Mars were not, as had previously been hypothesized, former waterways.

8. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Concept: Reanimating Dinosaurs

Unlike the saddled dinosaurs calmly coexisting with humans in the Creation Museum’s exhibits, the destructive dinosaurs in Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel are a cautionary tale for humans. A course of action made possible by scientific advancement isn’t necessarily a wise one. However, despite the intricately detailed scientific plot of the novel, resurrecting dinosaurs isn’t possible.

The science of paleontology dates from the 19th century, and dinosaur footprints and fossils have consistently been recognized as historically important. To resurrect dinosaurs, though, paleontologists would need viable dinosaur DNA in order to reassemble dinosaurs’ genetic codes. Dinosaurs dominated the Earth roughly 66 million years ago. Even if their DNA was found, it would be too decayed to be useful in reassembling a genetic code. That’s good news for anyone getting tired of holding onto their butt.

7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Concept: Reanimating Humans

Defibrillators can be used to revive someone who has gone into sudden cardiac arrest. However, it’s impossible to revive someone who has already been hanged, like the scientist Victor Frankenstein does in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel. During the 19th century, there was scientific research that seemed to support the possibility that corpses could be revived through the use of electricity. In 1781, a surgeon, Luigi Galvani, dissected a frog while standing near a static electricity machine. When an assistant touched a nerve in the frog’s leg with a scalpel, the frog’s leg spasmed. Galvani built a bronze and iron arc, and he attached the frog’s leg and the static electricity machine to it. The frog’s leg twitched whenever it touched the metal. Galvani formed a hypothesis: he believed the frog possessed what Galvani called animal electricity. The bimetallic arc conducted the animal electricity to the frog’s nerve, making its leg twitch. The plot of Shelley’s novel is an exploration of what might be possible if humans, too, possessed animal electricity.

After reading Galvani’s work, physicist Alessandro Volta replicated Galvani’s experiment. He observed the same result, but he reached a very different conclusion. His hypothesis, which we now know to be accurate, was that the metal was acting as a conductor for the electric current from the static electricity machine. When the current touched the frog’s leg, the frog’s leg twitched.

6. Never Let You Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Concept: Human Cloning

Jodi Picoult’s 2003 book My Sister’s Keeper explores the question of whether it’s morally defensible to expect one sibling to become an organ donor for another. In Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 novel, organ donation is a social requirement. Human clones are created solely to become organ donors. There are many science fiction novels featuring human clones. While the question of how humans determine quality of life will always be a valid one, human cloning isn’t currently possible. Further, there is no way to guarantee that a clone will be as healthy as the animal from whose cells the clone was created.

In 1996, Dolly, a sheep, became the first successfully cloned mammal. The average lifespan of a sheep is 12 years, but Dolly was euthanized in 2002. At six-and-a-half years old, she had already developed a progressive lung disease. She also had shorter telomeres than other sheep of a comparable age. Telomeres are pieces of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes. Since telomeres shorten as cells divide, they are considered an indication of an animal’s age. Based on Dolly’s lung disease and the length of her telomeres, scientists speculate that she was actually born six years old, the same age as that of the sheep from which she was cloned.

5. Babylon Babies by Maurice Dantec

Concept: Designer Babies

In Maurice Dantec’s 1999 novel, a woman is carrying genetically modified twins whose birth might forever change the human race. Unlike most of the scientific advancements on this list, this one isn’t currently impossible. In 2018, Chinese researcher Jiankui He created the first babies with artificially increased resistance to HIV. Afterward, the embryos were implanted in the mother’s uterus, and the babies were born healthy.

Technically, these weren’t designer babies, because their parents weren’t selecting particular genes. However, the same gene editing techniques could be used to create designer babies. Gene editing in embryos is permitted in Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, China, and Sweden. Gene editing is scientifically possible, but there’s not international consensus regarding whether it’s ethical. Consistent gene editing could allow certain countries to practice genocide or produce physically and intellectually enhanced soldiers that would give them an advantage during international conflicts.

4. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

Concept: Utopia

Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1979 novel The Dispossessed isn’t the only science fiction novel depicting a utopian future for humankind. Though no author who has imagined the future as a utopia is right (so far), Le Guin’s utopia is unique for two reasons. First, her world has an anarchic planet, Anarres, that’s rich in resources. It’s a colony of an arid planet, Urras. Even in a utopia, inhabitants of Anarres are deprived of their own natural resources. Second, the novel’s protagonist, Shevek, fares better than his real world model. Shevek was modeled on a family friend of Le Guin’s, J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Shevek makes the citizens of Anarres question both the limits of their personal autonomy and the consequences of exercising it. By contrast, Oppenheimer’s expertise made the first atomic explosion possible in 1945. Unfortunately, he was stripped of his job title, chairman of the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission, when he opposed the United States’ development of a hydrogen bomb. Asking the American government to critique its own use of personal autonomy cost Oppenheimer his professional reputation.

3. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Concept: Time Travel

H.G. Wells’ 1895 novella isn’t the only story involving time travel. However, Wells popularized the idea that humans could invent a machine that makes time travel possible. Technically, time travel exists. As previously mentioned, Einstein’s theory of special relativity says time is relative, and one’s perception of time varies based on how quickly one is moving. Astronauts living in space are moving more quickly than people on Earth. Therefore, an astronaut living in space for a year will age slightly less than people who are living on Earth during that year.

The Large Hadron Collider moves protons at almost the speed of light, essentially propelling them into the future. The kind of time travel that Wells writes about — the kind that’s controlled  by humans and measured based on a Western European perception of time — isn’t possible. In 2015, Ali Razeghi, the managing director of Iran’s Center for Strategic Inventions, claimed he had invented a machine that could accurately predict five to eight years into a person’s future. His claim was debunked when he declined to release the design for his time machine.

2. The Xenu Files by L. Ron HubbarL.Rond

Concept: The Origin Of Humanity

Unlike most of the entries on this list, The Xenu Files isn’t a novel. L. Ron Hubbard was a writer of popular science fiction short stories, but he’s most famous for founding the Church of Scientology. Scientologists pay a minimum of a quarter of a million dollars to audit Scientology courses. Once they reach the level of Operating Thetan 3, they are permitted to read the religion’s origin myth. According to the 2015 HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, the origin myth, which was handwritten between 1966 and 1967, is stored at the church’s Advanced Organization Building.

According to Hubbard, Xenu, the dictator of the Galactic Federation, needed to solve his planet’s overpopulation problem. He sent his own subjects to Earth, then called Teegeeack. There, they were strapped to atomic bombs and hurled into volcanoes. The spirits of Xenu’s subjects, called Thetans, cling to contemporary humans. The only way to rid oneself of Thetans is through the Scientologists’ practice of auditing. In auditing, someone talks about events from his or her previous lives while an auditor reads an e-meter (a lie detector). The person’s truthfulness, as determined by the auditor, shows how susceptible the person is to Thetans.

If these religious practices seem like they belong in a science fiction novel, perhaps that’s because science fiction readers were the original intended audience for Hubbard’s ideas. After failing to convince doctors, psychologists, and explorers to integrate his ideas into their professional practices, Hubbard appealed to the science fiction readers who were fans of his work. He and his editor, John W. Campbell, Jr., developed the system of dianetics, a term used to describe the methodology of Scientology. Hubbard’s first article about dianetics appeared in a 1950 issue of the magazine Astounding. Campbell, who owned the magazine, primarily published science fiction short stories, including Hubbard’s. Later, Hubbard used one of his science fiction short stories, “Masters of Sleep,” as a prolonged advertisement for dianetics. In his 2012 post for The Village Voice, Tony Ortega says Scientologists might be more susceptible to Hubbard’s origin story in The Xenu Files because many of them have vividly experienced past lives during auditing. For Hubbard’s early readers, the process was much simpler. They encountered information about dianetics in the same magazine that had published Hubbard’s science fiction.

1. The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle

Concept: The Future

Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, isn’t noteworthy because her book contains prescient predictions. The North Pole isn’t a portal to another planet. We haven’t discovered a planet that we can verify is lit by the brightest stars ever created. No human has been transported to another planet, then declared war against her own home planet (unless alien victors have compromised our collective memory of the event).

No, Cavendish isn’t noteworthy because of how she envisioned the future. She’s noteworthy because of when she did it. Written in 1666, The Blazing World is widely regarded as the first science fiction novel. A respected poet, playwright, biographer, and essayist in her own time, Cavendish also created a genre. As Bronwyn Lovell says in her 2016 article for The Conversation, “Science Fiction’s Woman Problem,” science fiction is still a male-dominated genre. Still, Cavendish ensured a future for female writers by creating a space for them.


Great Sci-Fi, Wrong Future

WIF Bookshelf


Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #189

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #189

…there are reports of a peeping probing periscope, piercing pulsing pre-European purity, possibly prompting premature perspiration…

Alliteration

Plans are made for a June crossing of the Atlantic. After the sinking of the Lusitania, the war seemed to gasp for air, wondering if they had awakened the sleeping giant. This was their opportunity for a safe crossing aboard the ship S.S. Oscar II, one of the few ships crazy enough to crisscross these iron infested waters; destination: Brest, France.

They dare not test the German blockade of the British Isles, even though the Oscar is a neutral ship, supposedly exempt from submerged attack. From Brest, they will take a speedier launch to Bologna, an excellent base of operation for covering France and Britain, the English Channel at it’s narrowest.

As they prepare to board the Oscar, along with five members of their staff and a disturbing amount of large military looking crates and such, there is that unique sense of excitement which accompanies the heat of pursuit of a story and the truth. True is their love for the story and each other and even though they meet late in life, are evenly yoked and like-minded. To spend as much time together as they have, working arm in arm isa true gift from God. Common values and goals are a formula for a marriage made in Alliteration Alert-001heaven.

But there is quite a distance between heaven and the deep blue sea. On more than one occasion, there are reports of a peeping probing periscope, piercing pulsing pre-European purity, possibly prompting premature perspiration. The ship’s crew has delivered their vessel safely, nearly non-stop, since the official beginnings of hostilities, perhaps lulling U-Boat captains into a false sense of familiarity; an old floating friend as seen through a five inch lens.

Or maybe the ship, of Swedish registry, has gone undetected by a stroke of pure dumb luck. It does fly the Swedish flag, a banner of the highest neutrality and stays out of the Channel at all costs. Hopefully the Germans do not find out Brest’s importance in unloading supplies for the Allied effort.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #189


page 177

Laborious Puns #22

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Laborious Puns

“No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

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Labor Day is a good time to stop and reflect on the august events the the preceding month.

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Bringing a baby into the world is labor of love.

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. He labored so hard that he worked his fingers to the bone-us.

. In some places there is a lot of Manuel labor for every Juan.

In the NFL there is some  Manuel labor.

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They used to experiment on dogs called laboratory retrievers.

. A woman union leader who was pregnant had labor pains and then a striking baby.

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. At a company where they dig for gold a labor dispute is a miner problem where no one wants to get the shaft.


Laborious Puns

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Hee-hee