Saturday, May 31, 2014

Owsley Stanley

Owsley “Bear” Stanley was a 1960s counterculture icon who flooded the hippy movement with LSD and was an early benefactor of the Grateful Dead. Owsley was also the renegade grandson of a former governor of Kentucky. Owsley was known for being headstrong and supremely intelligent.

From the time he was a child, what made Owsley unique was his extraordinary family background and the power of his mind. His grandfather, also named Augustus Owsley Stanley, was a trust-busting Democratic congressman from Kentucky who spent twelve years in the House of Representatives. Elected governor in 1915, he became a United States senator and served on the commission that oversaw construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Owsley adored his grandfather, but his relationship with his parents was difficult. "Neither one of them really wanted to be parents," he says. "They had no skills at it. If you feel you can't love someone and you are universally told that you must love, you become very guilty."

Probably as a result, Owsley said that he was "unmanageable in the public-school system," so his father enrolled him in Charlotte Hall, a military prep school in Maryland. The headmaster later said he remembered Owsley as "almost like a brainchild, a wunderkinder, tremendously interested in science." Even then, Owsley was possessed by what he calls "this rogue, get-high nature of mine" and was expelled in ninth grade for smuggling alcohol into school during homecoming weekend, getting virtually every student on campus "blasted out of their minds."

When he was fifteen, Owsley spent fifteen months as a voluntary patient in St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., where the poet Ezra Pound was also confined. "I was just a neurotic kid," he says. "My mother died a few months into the experience, but it was there I sorted out my guilt problems about not being able to love my parents, and I came out of it pretty clear." After leaving the public high school, where his physics teacher gave him a D for pointing out that she had contradicted the textbook, he attended the University of Virginia for a year. "I never took notes when I was in college," he says. "During the first week of the course, I'd buy my textbooks and read them all through. Then I'd sell them all back to the bookstore at full price as if I'd changed classes, because I never needed to look at them again."

Over the course of the next fourteen years, Owsley — known to his friends as "Bear" because of his prematurely hairy chest as a teenager — enlisted in the Air Force, became a ham- radio operator, obtained a first-class radiotelephone operator's license, worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and served as a summer-relief broadcast engineer at TV and radio stations in Los Angeles. He married and divorced twice, fathered two children and got himself arrested on a variety of charges. He also studied ballet, Russian and French.

In 1963, Owsley moved to Berkeley in an environment where people were using LSD to break down conventional social barriers. Until then, the drug had been available in America only to those conducting serious medical research. In 1959, the poet Allen Ginsberg took LSD for the first time, at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto. A year later, the novelist Ken Kesey was given acid at the Veterans Hospital in Menlo Park as part of a federally funded program in which volunteers were paid twenty dollars a session to ingest hallucinogens. Taking acid soon became the watermark. Until you had tripped, you were not part of the new culture. But before Owsley came along, no one could be sure that what they were taking was really even LSD.

At Berkeley, Owsley began smoking pot and selling "Heavenly Blue" morning-glory seeds (250 for a dollar), which served to get people "not high but weird" when taken in great quantity. In April 1964, Owsley took LSD. "I remember the first time I took acid and walked outside," he says, "and the cars were kissing the parking meters." During the same week, he also heard the Beatles for the first time. "It was amazing... It all seemed to fit together. We had Meet the Beatles! Within a few days of it coming out. One of my friends who was a folkie brought it in and said, 'Man, you gotta listen to this!' And I was off and running. I loved it."

Later that year, a friend gave Owsley 400 micrograms of pure LSD manufactured by Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland, where Dr. Albert Hofmann had first synthesized the drug in 1938. At the time, Owsley was living with a Berkeley undergraduate chemistry major named Melissa Cargill. They decided to try to make acid that was "at least as good or better than any pharmaceutical firm." It took Owsley just three weeks in the UC Berkeley library to learn everything he needed to know about the process.

Around this time Owsley also began studying The Kybalion, a book of purported ancient wisdom that elucidates the seven basic principles of alchemy, which he describes as "mental transformation."  "It was never about transforming substances. Those were all allegories. The lead and the gold is the lead of the primitive nature into the gold of the enlightened man. Alchemy didn't talk about lead into gold until it had to deal with the church in the early Middle Ages."

For Owsley, The Kybalion "was perfect because it put into total context all the things I had experienced on acid. The universe is a creation entirely within a being that is outside time and space, and dreaming what we are. Everything is connected, because it's all being created by this one consciousness. And we are tiny reflections of the mind that is creating the universe. That's what alchemy says."

Throughout the summer of 1965, in a big house down in La Honda, about forty miles south of San Francisco, Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters hosted wild parties with guests that included Hunter S. Thompson, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg and various Hell's Angels. When Owsley showed up one day during the fall, he walked over to Kesey and handed him a couple of hits of acid. Because Kesey had his own source (a Prankster known as "John the Chemist") and was suspicious of newcomers, he was not all that interested. After sampling it, he changed his mind.

"For most people," Owsley says, "the proper dose is about 150 to 200 micrograms. When you get to 400, you just totally lose it. I don't care who you are. Kesey liked 400. He wanted to lose it." Thanks to Owsley, the Pranksters now had enough LSD on hand to begin throwing parties at which everyone could get a dose. Kesey and the Pranksters called these gatherings the Acid Tests, a series of mind-blowing events at which people tripping on LSD were exposed to flashing strobe lights, tape loops and sometimes — if the band was not too stoned — even a set by the Grateful Dead.

On December 11th, 1965, the Dead played at the Muir Beach Acid Test in a lodge by the sea in Marin County. The sound of Jerry Garcia's guitar grabbed hold of Owsley, and he freaked out on acid for the first time. In The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe described how Owsley completely lost control of himself, dissolving into "gaseous nothingness" until he became nothing more than a single cell. "If he lost control of that one cell, there would be nothing left," Wolfe wrote. "The world would be, like, over." "I lost control of that cell as well," Owsley says. "They were all gone. That was the initiation. The price I had to pay to get through the gate. Ego death. I thought I was going to die, and I said, 'Fuck it.' And that was good."

Running out a side door during his freakout, Owsley leaped into his car, gunned the engine and promptly ran into a ditch. When he finally returned to his physical body and found it mostly intact, Owsley was horrified by the way Kesey and the Pranksters were messing with people's minds. "Kesey was playing with something he did not understand," Owsley says. "I said to him, 'You guys are fucking around with something that people have known about forever. It's sometimes called witchcraft, and it's extremely dangerous. You're dealing with part of the unconscious mind that they used to define as angels and devils. You have to be very careful, because there are all these warnings. All the occult literature about ceremonial magic warns about being very careful when you start exploring these areas in the mind.' And they laughed at me."

Owsley eventually became the sound engineer for the Grateful Dead and was instrumental in defining and refining their sound. By all accounts, Owsley was difficult and argumentative, but at the same time, he was usually correct. In any case, Owsley toured with the band and was highly influential in not only defining the scene but apparently, the music as well. LSD was always part of that scene. Owsley lived with the band and manufactured LSD in the same house. They all took frequent doses. Owsley was also instrumental in recording the Grateful Dead live in concert from which highly successful record albums were made.

He also came up with the concept for what eventually became the band's logo. Because the Dead then began playing "a lot of festival-style shows where the equipment would all wind up at the back of the stage in a muddle," Owsley says, he decided to mark their gear so the roadies could easily locate it.

While driving to work one day in his MG, Owsley saw an orange and blue logo with a white bar across it on a building. He thought it would look cool if the logo was red and blue with a white lightning bolt through it, so he had someone spray-paint a basic version of it on the Dead's equipment. He then talked to his friend Bob Thomas about putting the lightning bolt through the words "Grateful Dead" in lettering, which from a distance would look like a skull. Together, they devised the "Steal Your Face" logo (a.k.a. "the stealie"). Thomas, who died in 1993, sold it to the band as a letterhead for $250, meaning that neither he nor Owsley ever saw a dime from all those Deadhead stickers on the rear bumpers of Volkswagen buses.

Although people speculated for years about how Owsley managed to conceal his stash, no one ever figured it out. He says his method was simple. He kept the LSD in an inexpensive footlocker that traveled constantly on Greyhound buses between Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco. "I could leave it for up to thirty days in the bus station and I would go to it wherever it was, take out whatever I needed, take it back in, and send it to myself in the next city. It was always in a safe place, and nobody had a clue, because I never told anyone I did that."

Years later, in 1984, Owsley appeared at Phil Lesh's house with a map of the world showing the mean temperatures at the height of the last ice age. Long before global warming became an international hot-button issue, he delivered a ninety-minute lecture on a thermal cataclysm that he said would begin with a six-week rainstorm and leave the entire Northern Hemisphere uninhabitable. Passing around Australian visa applications, Owsley then urged all those present to join him in the Southern Hemisphere.

Much like his theory that human beings are meant to eat only meat, Owsley's concept of climate change is at odds with most current scientific thought on global warming. In highly abridged form, what Owsley believes is that the phenomenon is real but that it comes from "the steadily increasing movement of large amounts of heat from the tropics across the temperate zones to the poles. 'Global warming: the panic,' is based exclusively on temperate-zone land measurements and ignores the fact that the planet is seventy percent ocean. The Arctic and Antarctic are soaking up the moving heat and the ice caps are melting, but the cause of the heat's movement is a buildup of energy as the prelude to a massive, planetary-scale cyclonic storm, which will build the new ice age glaciers."

Because this is a natural cycle, Owsley believed that carbon and methane emissions from human activity have little effect on the process and do not cause the greenhouse effect. "Our planet's heat balance and temperature are buffered and controlled by water and water vapor, which also washes CO2 out of the air and not minuscule fractions of a couple of gases, one of which is very soluble and the other unstable. Not a single atmospheric scientist subscribes to the concept of greenhouse gases or global warming — they all know the truth."

Owsley insisted there is nothing people can do to prevent the coming of an ice age storm that he describes as "a kind of a gigantic hurricane, a cyclone thousands of miles in diameter, turning with winds of ultrasonic speeds that is one-half the planet in size." This is the Biblical 'flood of Noah,' and the entire portion of the planet underneath the storm will be blown flat and buried under water. "Based on past evidence, the sea will rise 300 meters, and life in some places will be entirely destroyed. I don't see how anyone in the Northern Hemisphere could survive the storm. But there are areas on the planet that are safe..."

It is for this reason that Owsley and his wife, Sheilah, whom he first met at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley in 1985 while she was working in the ticket office for the Dead, moved to Australia on 120 acres of land he claimed by squatting on it like a pioneer. They lived in a complex of sheds, caravans, large canvas tents, modified shipping containers and corrugated-iron structures designed and built by Owsley. The place was described as "something out of Lord Jim, but the main living area is rather Victorian, handsomely carpeted, lots of books around, nice furniture and no walls." Owsley generates all his own power through a solar and wind system he built himself and collects rainwater he stores in two large tanks. There are three septic systems on the property, a hot tub, three kitchens and a large gym where he works out regularly. Once a year by invitation only, he throws a party attended by friends, family and musicians from all over Australia who play all night long. Needless to say, the party was "electric."

Owsley underwent surgery to correct a ninety percent blockage in an artery in his heart that dated back to his teenage years. Although he never smoked tobacco as an adult, Owsley learned in 2004 that he suffered from stage-four throat cancer. Had it not been for Sheilah, he says, "I don't think I would have survived. We are truly soulmates after twenty-two years together, and our love is as strong today as it was in the beginning. How many people can say that?" Owsley also credits his all-meat diet for keeping him alive. "This is one of the most aggressive cancers you can get," he adds. "Normally, within six months or a year, it has metastasized throughout your body. I had it for at least three years, but it never left the left side of my neck. The reason is that I'm a total carnivore. I don't eat carbs. Cancers grow on glucose. They're extremely glucose-avid. Especially this one. In other words, this cancer was living in a desert."

Stanley died in a car accident in Australia on March 12, 2011 at the age of 76.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Are You Sirius?

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. With a visual apparent magnitude of −1.46, it is almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next brightest star. The name "Sirius" is derived from the Ancient Greek: Σείριος Seirios ("glowing" or "scorcher"). The star has the Bayer designation Alpha Canis Majoris (α CMa). What the naked eye perceives as a single star is actually a binary star system, consisting of a white main-sequence star of spectral type A1V, termed Sirius A, and a faint white dwarf companion of spectral type DA2, called Sirius B. The distance separating Sirius A from its companion varies between 8.1 and 31.5 AU.

Sirius appears as bright as it does because its luminosity and its proximity to Earth. At a distance of 2.6 parsecs (8.6 light years), as determined by the Hipparcos astrometry satellite, the Sirius system is one of Earth's nearest neighbors; for Northern-hemisphere observers between 30 degrees and 73 degrees of latitude (including almost all of Europe and North America), it is the closest star (after the Sun) that can be seen with the naked eye. Sirius is gradually moving closer to the Solar System, so it will slightly increase in brightness over the next 60,000 years. After that time its distance will begin to recede, but it will continue to be the brightest star in the Earth's sky for the next 210,000 years.

Sirius A is about twice as massive as the Sun and has an absolute visual magnitude of 1.42. It is 25 times more luminous than the Sun but has a significantly lower luminosity than other bright stars such as Canopus or Rigel. The system is between 200 and 300 million years old. It was originally composed of two bright bluish stars. The more massive of these, Sirius B, consumed its resources and became a red giant before shedding its outer layers and collapsing into its current state as a white dwarf around 120 million years ago.

Sirius is also known colloquially as the "Dog Star", reflecting its prominence in its constellation, Canis Major (Greater Dog). The heliacal rising of Sirius marked the flooding of the Nile in Ancient Egypt and the "dog days" of summer for the ancient Greeks, while to the Polynesians it marked winter and was an important star for navigation around the Pacific Ocean.

Sirius, known in ancient Egypt as Sopdet (Greek: Σῶθις = Sothis), is recorded in the earliest astronomical records. During the era of the Middle Kingdom, Egyptians based their calendar on the heliacal rising of Sirius, namely the day it becomes visible just before sunrise after moving far enough away from the glare of the Sun. This occurred just before the annual flooding of the Nile and the summer solstice,] after a 70-day absence from the skies. The hieroglyph for Sothis features a star and a triangle. Sothis was identified with the great goddess Isis, who formed a part of a triad with her husband Osiris and their son Horus, while the 70-day period symbolized the passing of Isis and Osiris through the duat (Egyptian underworld).

Because of its prominence in the night sky, Sirius was well-known to most ancient cultures from Greece to Polynesia and has been studied extensively.

Sirius is also known as: Dog Star, Aschere, Canicula, Al Shira, Sothis,[12] Alhabor,[13] Mrgavyadha, Lubdhaka, Tenrōsei, α Canis Majoris (α CMa), 9 Canis Majoris (9 CMa), HD 48915, HR 2491, BD −16°1591, GCTP 1577.00 A/B, GJ 244 A/B, LHS 219, ADS 5423, LTT 2638, HIP 32349.

Sirius B is also designated as: EGGR 49, WD 0642-166.

The Maker

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Take a moment to listen to President Kennedy as he warns us against secret societies:

Exit Log

Exit Log”, A Sci-Fi Short Film About Two Time Traveling Astronauts.

Memorial Day Weekend In The United States Of America

Another year, another Memorial Day Weekend. The anti-military people will take the holiday in any case and break out the grill and consume beer and watch television and maybe take the kids to some over-crowded, over-hyped venue and top it all off with an argument with the spouse over gay marriage or whether or not the latest mass shooting out in California is a hoax or not.

We're supposed to remember and celebrate the lives of those military men and women who have fought and died to preserve our citizens' rights, to insure we have the freedom to hold an opinion. But that'll be brushed under the rug or float away with the barbecue smoke. One only needs to look at the current VA scandal to see the broken government promises and the disdain the Obama Administration holds for American patriots.

I too have recently had problems with the VA -- multiple problems, including improper diagnosis, improper treatment, timely treatment, as well as surprise bills coming in the mail that say things like "because we did not receive the billing for services within 90 days, we cannot authorize payment..."

Honestly, you should witness some of the nonsense they pull on us vets. All while half of the country are getting food stamps, indigent healthcare, paid tuition (for illegal immigrants), free this and that... it's a disgrace. But we get a holiday, and maybe a free drink at the bar if you let 'em know you served.

Good soldiers (and sailors) do their duty -- they do what they're told in circumstances and in conditions most civilians couldn't come close to understanding. There is no fairness, there is often no discernible right and wrong and, despite what the media might tell you, men and women don't share foxholes. Surviving the horrors of war should be enough to justify providing these men with jobs and healthcare for the remainder of their lives. But it doesn't. It actually shuffles the survivors into a socialized system that provides generally poor care and little sympathy. Sometimes I think we'd be better off disbanding the VA completely and receiving vouchers for our healthcare.

After Vietnam, soldiers came back to hysterical crowds and a society who saw every vet as John Rambo, a potential psycho time-bomb with substance abuse problems. Naturally, this was a great shock to us. It was difficult to get jobs and, in many cases, proper medical care.

To this day, the U.S. government says that it throws an enormous amount of money at the VA. I don't doubt that; however, if there was a legitimate accounting, people would see the incredible waste of that money. The truth is, politicians don't care about soldiers except when those soldiers are doing their bidding.

So, when you're out today spending your hard-earned cash on some frivolity and you see a flag of red, white, and blue, be reminded that the red represents the blood that has been spilled to insure a list of freedoms that no longer seems to matter to our leaders. If it did, they would stand up to the injustices and the tyranny that is presently rampant in our country.

Those who served and paid the ultimate price were not fools. They were, rather, martyrs, and sons, and fathers, and uncles, and cousins, and friends, and people with great potential whose lives were cut short doing something some cowardly politician had ordered them to do. They deserve our respect. They earned it while most remained behind and pursued their fortunes.

This is Memorial Day Weekend in the United States of America, 2014.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"You are not your age, nor the size of clothes you wear, you are not your weight, or the color of your hair. You are not your name, or the dimples on your cheeks, you are all the books you read, and all the words you speak. You are your croaky morning voice, and the smiles you try to hide, you're the sweetness in your laughter, and every tear you've cried. You're the songs you sing so loudly, when you know you're all alone, you're the places that you've been to, and the one that you call your home. You're the things that you believe in, and the people that you love, you're the photos in your bedroom, and the future you dream of. You're made of so much beauty, but it seems that you forgot…When you decided that you were defined, by all the things you're not." -- Erin Hansen

"The thing is, most of us aren't even what we think we are.
And therein lies the problem." -- Thomas Stone

Inmates Run The Asylum

Now, I suspect most people who know me privately claim I'm a kook. At the least, an eccentric. It kind of hurts my feelings to think so, but from their point of view, maybe I am. I don't jump in with either political party and, although I don't look like it, I am of a conservative mindset. That doesn't mean I ignore questions of injustice committed by the authorities. Quite the opposite, in fact.

My father was a Mason, but I'm not. I belong to no social clubs, veteran's organizations, or "social media" sites -- at least, none I'll admit to. My attempts to do so have met with disaster every time. I'm just not a follower and I generally enjoy my own company.

Additionally, I'm neither an alcoholic, nor a drug addict. I read a lot and, when I've got gas money, I go to church. I don't knock myself out with household chores so my home is probably a bit on the messy side.

So, am I "normal" or am I a kook? Heck, I don't know. I am quite certain, however, that the United States is a madhouse run by maniacs who overlook individuality and freedom in order to bestow favored status on particular groups. In their eyes, the rest of us are kooks.

Our government's current agenda is built from the perspective that an individual is not worthy for liberty and freedom (and thus incapable of making his own decisions). Instead, an individual is identified as a component attached to a larger group. And that group, in turn, is attached to yet another larger group. So, you see, these days a citizen is defined as part of a community, not as an individual.

Archaic notions of family are skipped over entirely, such as the union between a monogamous man and woman. Distinctions, such as the old definition of marriage, must be obliterated so that everyone will get along regardless of race, color, or creed.

Along those lines, G. K. Chesterton once remarked that one shouldn't take down a fence unless you know why it was put up. Progressives rant and rave that fences represent xenophobia, racism, unwarranted fears. Furthermore, the popular notion put forth by a controlled media states that distinctions between groups are of an unwarranted, biased nature.

A world without distinctions is a dream historically shared by Communists and those who readily agree to allow themselves to be herded in their thoughts and actions. Tell me what to do, they say. Give me sustenance, they say. Give me cable television. All those regimes that have sought to obliterate distinctions have resulted in the suppression of what we used to recognize as basic human rights.

It's going on today, at this very moment. Only this week, certain congressional leaders have commented on the need to regulate speech. This revelation comes on the heels of a sustained attack (media blitz) on weapons ownership as well as the right to display and carry the same weapons. Law Enforcement and the various branches of government, both state and federal, daily overstep their authority with impunity and commit crimes against citizens. Electronic spying is rampant. For all practical purposes, privacy no longer exists. Government fraud and deception is carried out on a daily basis. So-called free citizens are taxed over every aspect of their lives. The use of the term "free" is used very liberally these days. The truth is, it is an archaic term and no longer relevant when speaking of a citizen's rights. At one time, those rights were defined by a constitution that spelled out the citizen's arrangement with the state, the social contract between those who serve and those who actually rule, that is, the citizenry. We have, however, backslid into a time of tyranny, oligarchy, and thug rule. Those who serve are considered leaders and bosses, even elitists. They are paid well, given special protection over and above common citizens, and protected from prosecution.

They belong to political parties that, despite what they say, only serve themselves. They have forsaken their original mandate to serve the citizens. They hold themselves up as righteous examples of men and women while they secretly employ all the power at their disposal to insure their jobs are secure.

When you run into them at Walmart, they may smile and shake your hand, but they won't remember your name. Be sure and vote, they tell us. Be sure and perpetuate this corrupt system of ours. Oh, and whatever you do, don't cross us.

But, you know, I'm a kook with a keyboard, so what do I know? Just because I can string a few sentences together doesn't mean I know anything I'm talking about. Once in a great while, I'll get an anonymous message from a detractor that'll ask me for references to back up what I'm saying. My references come from living and from seeing what's going on. A bully is still a bully whether he is a she or whether he is in a schoolyard or dressed in a police uniform.

It doesn't take a genius to see the things I'm talking about. As always, thanks for reading and keep your powder dry! If someday soon I am prevented from spouting my perverse opinions (it's an upside down world), you can always stop by the ranch and have a chat. Bring Starbucks or a Dr. Pepper.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Three Theories of Time Travel

All right, here are the three most common scenarios in time travel stories. Which one is your favorite?

Fixed Timeline

In a fixed timeline, even when parties travel back in time the future they left cannot be changed. All events remain as fixed points in time. The actions of the traveler in the past have already become part of history. This is known as the Novikov self-consistency Principle.

For example, say you travel back in time in order to kill a nefarious character, like Ted Bundy when he is just an infant (Awww, how could you do that? Really? Really!). So, you replace the baby with an orphaned baby so that the family will not notice. You return to the future and the replaced baby grows up to be, guess who? Ted Bundy! That's who.

Dynamic Timeline

In a dynamic timeline, altered events in the past have a definite impact on the present.

In this case, if you travel back in time and murder your grandfather, you also prevent your own birth as well as your return trip back in time. Your grandfather is never killed and you are born again, only to go back in time to kill your grandfather again and again. This loop continues into infinity and forms a dreaded time travel paradox.


The concept of a multiverse supports alternate timelines in an infinite number of parallel universes. Here's how it works: traveling into the past causes a new divergent timeline from the original. Because of this, the time traveler can do anything with impunity and only the new timeline will be affected.

So, if you travel back in time and kill your grandparents (I don't know why, maybe they were awful people.), nothing happens. There is no paradox. You have simply created a new timeline in which you will not exist, but the original timeline is unaffected. The kicker is, you cannot return to your original timeline.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


The modern use of the word "Armageddon" denotes the last great battle on earth that will take the planet with it. Nobody wins because everybody dies.The end of the world as we know it. At least, that's how it is most often used these days. In truth, that meaning is only partially correct.

Armageddon (from Ancient Greek: Harmagedōn, Late Latin: Armagedōn) will be, according to the Book of Revelation, the site of a great battle, interpreted as either a literal or symbolic location.

The word "Armageddon" appears only once in the Greek New Testament, in Revelation 16:16. The word may come from Hebrew har məgiddô (הר מגידו), har meaning "[at the] Mountain" and Megiddo - Strong מְגִדּוֹן /meg-id-do'/ "place of crowds". "Mount" Tel Megiddo is not actually a mountain, but a tell (a hill created by many generations of people living and rebuilding on the same spot) on which ancient forts were built to guard the Via Maris, an ancient trade route linking Egypt with the northern empires of Syria, Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Megiddo was the location of various ancient battles, including one in the 15th century BC and one in 609 BC. Modern Megiddo is a town approximately 25 miles (40 km) west-southwest of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee in the Kishon River area.

Click to enlarge.

According to one premillennial Christian interpretation, the Messiah will return to earth and defeat the Antichrist (the "beast") and Satan in the Battle of Armageddon. Afterwards, Satan will be thrown into a bottomless pit for 1,000 years. During that time, it is prophesized that peace will be realized on earth.

An ancient Meggido
Megiddo is mentioned twelve times in the Old Testament, ten times in reference to the ancient city of Megiddo, and twice with reference to "the plain of Megiddo", most probably simply meaning "the plain next to the city". None of these Old Testament passages describes the city of Megiddo as being associated with any particular prophetic beliefs. The one New Testament reference to the city of Armageddon found in Revelation 16:16 in fact also makes no specific mention of any armies being predicted to one day gather in this city, but instead seems to predict only that "they (will gather) the kings together to .... Armageddon. " The text does however seem to imply, based on the text from the earlier passage of Revelation 16:14, that the purpose of this gathering of kings in the "place called Armageddon" is "for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty". Because of the seemingly highly symbolic and even cryptic language of this one New Testament passage, some Christian scholars conclude that Mount Armageddon must be an idealized location.

Rushdoony says, "There are no mountains of Megiddo, only the Plains of Megiddo. This is a deliberate destruction of the vision of any literal reference to the place." Other scholars, including C. C. Torrey, Kline and Jordan argue that the word is derived from the Hebrew moed (מועד), meaning "assembly". Thus, "Armageddon" would mean "Mountain of Assembly," which Jordan says is "a reference to the assembly at Mount Sinai, and to its replacement, Mount Zion."

So, there is plenty of room for interpretation. Yet, it can still be generally agreed that the term Armageddon refers to a great conflict that will transform the peoples of the earth and bring some kind of closure to the corruptive state of nature.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I'm Henry VIII I Am

Anne Boleyn

Ah, the machinations of the rich and famous. This account reveals how our masters sometimes position themselves to change history, get the girl, and then dump the girl. In all honesty, it's not as simple as all that, although at first blush, it may appear so.

Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn (1501 – 19 May 1536), Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 and the second wife of King Henry VIII. She was also the Marquees of Pembroke. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation. Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard, and was educated in the Netherlands and France, largely as a maid of honor to Claude of France. She returned to England in early 1522, to marry her Irish cousin James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond; however, the marriage plans were broken and she secured a post at court as maid of honor to Henry VIII's wife, Catherine of Aragon.

Early in 1523, there was a secret marriage agreement between Anne and Henry Percy, son of the 5th Earl of Northumberland. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey broke the betrothal in January of 1524 and Anne was sent home to Hever Castle. Subsequently, Percy married Lady Mary Talbot, a woman to whom he had been engaged since adolescence.

Henry VIII
Since Anne Boleyn was a free agent again and apparently, quite the looker, Henry VIII began his pursuit of her in February or March of 1526. She resisted his attempts to seduce her, refusing to become his mistress just as her sister Mary had. Henry was not a man to accept a negative answer and he set out to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine so he would be free to marry Anne. Pope Clement VII would not annul the marriage, and thus began the break with the Catholic Church in England. In 1532, to sweeten the deal for Anne and to give her the veneer of royalty, Henry bestowed upon her the title of Marquees of Pembroke.

Henry and Anne married on January 25, 1533. On May 23, 1533, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, declared Henry and Catherine's marriage null and void. Then, five days later, he declared Henry and Anne's marriage to be good and valid. Shortly afterwards, the Pope decreed sentences of excommunication against both Henry and Cranmer. These actions naturally resulted in a break between the Church of England and Papal Rome. The Church of England fell under the King's control and Anne was crowned Queen of England on June 1, 1533. On September 7, she gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I, whose gender disappointed Henry -- he had wanted a male heir to the throne. However, he was not entirely discouraged, for he said that a son would surely follow and professed to love Elizabeth.

Thomas Cranmer
Anne Boleyn's sharp intelligence, political acumen and outspoken ways, although desirable in a mistress, were unacceptable to the King. She was once reported to have spoken to her uncle in words that "shouldn't be used to a dog". After a stillbirth or miscarriage as early as Christmas 1534, Henry discussed with Cranmer and Cromwell the possibility of divorcing her without having to return to Catherine.

Anne Boleyn presided over a magnificent court. She spent lavish amounts of money on gowns, jewels, headdresses, ostrich-feather fans, riding equipment, furniture and upholstery, maintaining the ostentatious display required by her status. Numerous palaces were renovated to suit her and Henry's extravagant tastes. Her motto was "The most happy", and she had chosen a white falcon as her personal device.

Anne was blamed for the tyranny of her husband's government and was referred to by some of her subjects as "The king's whore" or a "naughty paike [prostitute]". Public opinion turned further against her following her failure to produce a son. It sank even lower after the executions of her enemies Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher.

Catherine of Aragon
When news of Catherine of Aragon's death reached the King and Anne, they were overjoyed. The next day, both Henry and Anne wore yellow from head to toe, the symbol of joy and celebration in England. Catherine's death was celebrated with festivities. Even in America in this day and age, the death of an ex-wife can raise one's outlook. In Spain, however, the home country of Catherine of Aragon, yellow was the color of mourning, in addition to black. For this reason, the wearing of yellow by Henry and Anne may have been a symbol of mourning. Who knows?

Anne was aware of the dangers if she failed to give birth to a son. With Catherine dead, Henry would be free to marry without any taint of illegality.

Unfortunately, three miscarriages followed and by March 1536, Henry was courting Jane Seymour, the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth. Through her maternal grandfather, Jane was a descendant of King Edward III of England through Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence. Jane and King Henry VIII were fifth cousins and ironically, a half-second cousin to Anne Boleyn

Henry gave Jane a locket with a miniature portrait of himself inside and Jane, in the presence of Anne, began opening and shutting it. Anne responded by ripping off the locket with such force her fingers bled. Catherine's daughter, Mary rebuffed Anne's overtures to make nice, perhaps because of rumors circulating that Catherine had been poisoned by Anne and/or Henry. These began after the discovery during her embalming that Catherine's heart was black.

Later that month, the King was unhorsed in a tournament and knocked unconscious for two hours, a worrying incident that Anne believed led to her miscarriage five days later. Another possibility for the miscarriage was an incident in which upon entering a room, Anne saw Jane Seymour sitting on the lap of Henry. After flying into a rage, Henry soothed her by saying "peace be sweetheart, and all will be well." On the day that Catherine of Aragon was buried at Peterborough Abbey, Anne miscarried.

In January 1536, as Anne recovered, Henry declared he had been seduced into the marriage by means of "sortilege" — a French term indicating either "deception" or "spells" and Jane Seymour was moved into royal quarters. This was followed by Anne's brother George being refused a prestigious court honor, the Order of the Garter (no kidding), given instead to Sir Nicholas Carew.

Jane Seymour
Most historians agree that Thomas Cromwell concocted the plot to remove Anne. Anne had argued with Cromwell over the redistribution of Church revenues and over foreign policy. She advocated that revenues be distributed to charitable and educational institutions; and she favored a French alliance. Cromwell insisted on filling the King's depleted coffers and preferred an imperial alliance. Cromwell did not manufacture the accusations of adultery, though he and other officials used them to bolster Henry's case against Anne. Historian Retha Warnicke questions whether Cromwell could have manipulated the king in such a matter. Henry himself issued the crucial instructions: his officials, including Cromwell, carried them out.

Towards the end of April (1536), a Flemish musician in Anne's service named Mark Smeaton was arrested. He initially denied being the Queen's lover but later confessed, perhaps under torture or the promise of freedom. Another courtier, Sir Henry Norris, was arrested on May Day, but being an aristocrat, he could not be tortured. Prior to his arrest, Norris was treated kindly by the King, who offered him his own horse to use on the May Day festivities. It seems likely that during the festivities, the King was notified of Smeaton's confession and it was shortly thereafter the alleged conspirators were arrested upon his orders. Norris denied his guilt and swore that Queen Anne was innocent. One of the most damaging pieces of evidence against Norris was an overheard conversation with Anne at the end of April, where she accused him of coming to her chambers not to pay court to her lady-in-waiting Madge Shelton but to herself. Sir Francis Weston was arrested two days later on the same charge. So was Sir William Brereton, a Groom of the King's Privy Chamber. Sir Thomas Wyatt, a poet and friend of the Boleyns who was allegedly infatuated with her before her marriage to the king, was also imprisoned for the same charge but later released, likely due to his or his family's friendship with Cromwell. Sir Richard Page was also accused of having a sexual relationship with the Queen, but he was acquitted of all charges after further investigation could not implicate him with Anne. The final accused was Queen Anne's own brother, George Boleyn, arrested on charges of incest and treason. He was accused of two incidents of incest: November 1535 at Whitehall and the following month at Eltham.

Tower of London
On May 2, Anne Boleyn was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury of peers – including Henry Percy, her former betrothed, and her own uncle, Thomas Howard. She was found guilty on May 15. Four days later, she was beheaded. Modern historians view the charges against her, adultery, incest, and witchcraft, as unconvincing. Following the coronation of her daughter, Elizabeth, as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation.

Four of the accused men were tried in Westminster on May 12, 1536. Weston, Brereton, and Norris publicly maintained their innocence and only the tortured Smeaton supported the Crown by pleading guilty. Three days later, Anne and George Boleyn were tried separately in the Tower of London. She was accused of adultery, incest, and high treason. By the Treason Act of Edward III, adultery on the part of a queen was a form of treason (presumably because of the implications for the succession to the throne) for which the penalty was hanging, drawing and quartering for a man and burning alive for a woman, but the accusations, and especially that of incestuous adultery, were also designed to impugn her moral character. The other form of treason alleged against her was that of plotting the king's death, with her "lovers", so that she might later marry Henry Norris. Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland sat on the jury that found Anne guilty. When the verdict was announced, he collapsed and had to be carried from the courtroom. He died eight months later, leaving no heirs and therefore was succeeded by his nephew.

On 14 May, Cranmer declared Anne's marriage to Henry dissolved.

Although the evidence against them was unconvincing, the accused were found guilty and condemned to death. George Boleyn and the other accused men were executed on May 17, 1536. William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower, reported that Anne seemed very happy and was ready to die. Henry commuted Anne's sentence from burning to beheading, and rather than have a queen beheaded with the common axe, he brought Jean Rombaud, an expert swordsman from Saint-Omer in France, to perform the execution.

Shortly before dawn, she called Kingston to hear mass with her, and swore in his presence, on the eternal salvation of her soul, upon the Holy Sacraments, that she had never been unfaithful to the king. She ritually repeated this oath both immediately before and after receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist.

On the morning of Friday May 19, Anne Boleyn was judicially executed, not upon Tower Green despite the fact it is the site of the execution memorial, but rather, according to historian Eric Ives, on a scaffold erected on the north side of the White Tower, in front of what is now the Waterloo Barracks. She wore a red petticoat under a loose, dark grey gown of damask trimmed in fur and a mantle of ermine. Accompanied by two female attendants, Anne made her final walk from the Queen's House to the scaffold and showed a "devilish spirit," looking "as gay as if she was not going to die". Anne climbed the scaffold and made the following short speech to the crowd:

"Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul."

She knelt upright, in the French style of executions. Her final prayer consisted of her repeating continually, "To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul." Her ladies removed her headdress and necklaces, and then tied a blindfold over her eyes. According to Eric W. Ives, the executioner Rombaud was so taken by Anne that he was shaken. Rombaud found it so difficult to proceed that to distract her and for her to position her head correctly, he is said to have shouted, "Where is my sword?" just before killing her.

The execution consisted of a single stroke. It was witnessed by Thomas Cromwell; Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk; the King's illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy; the Lord Mayor of London, as well as aldermen, sheriffs, and representatives of the various craft guilds. Most of the King's Council were also present. Cranmer, who was at Lambeth Palace, was reported to have broken down in tears after telling Alexander Ales: "She who has been the Queen of England on earth will today become a Queen in heaven." When the charges were first brought against Anne, Cranmer had expressed his astonishment to Henry and his belief that "she should not be culpable." Still, Cranmer felt vulnerable because of his closeness to the queen, and so on the night before the execution, he declared Henry's marriage to Anne to have been void, like Catherine's before her. He made no serious attempt to save Anne's life, although some sources say that he had prepared her for death by hearing her last private confession of sins, in which she had stated her innocence before God. However, on the day of her death a Scottish friend found Cranmer weeping uncontrollably in his London gardens, saying that he was sure that Anne had now gone to Heaven.

Anne Boleyn was buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula. Her skeleton was identified during renovations of the chapel in 1876, in the reign of Queen Victoria, and Anne's resting place is now marked in the marble floor.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Great Red Spot

Jupiter is our solar system's largest planet with about 320 times the mass of planet Earth. It's a gas giant which means there's nothing solid about Jupiter, there's no place to walk around. But you wouldn't be able to fly through it either; because of its size, the enormous inner pressures would crush your spaceship. Jupiter is also known for a giant swirling storm system, the Great Red Spot, featured in the image above (shot from the Hubble space telescope). The Great Red Spot is so large, it could easily swallow Earth, yet lately it has been shrinking. The most recent observations measure the spot to be about 10,250 miles (16,500 kilometers) across. That's the smallest ever measured and particularly dramatic when compared to 14,500 miles measured by the Voyager 1 and 2 flybys in 1979, and historic telescopic observations from the 1800s indicating a width of about 25,500 miles on its long axis. Current indications are that the rate of shrinking is increasing. Will it eventually go away?

Ok, so what is it?

The Great Red Spot is an enormous (three Earths would fit within its boundaries) anti-cyclonic (high pressure) storm similar to a hurricane. It has persisted for at least the 400 years -- since humans have observed it through telescopes. It is anti-cyclonic in Jupiter's Southern hemisphere, which means that the rotation is counterclockwise, with a period of about 6 days. (A hurricane in Earth's Southern hemisphere rotates clockwise because it is a low pressure system.) The clouds associated with the Spot appear to be about 8 km above neighboring cloud tops

So, why is it a different color than the surrounding clouds? Good question. Some scientists have suggested that certain compounds of phosphorous are responsible for the reddish-brown hue, but the truth is, nobody knows for sure. It would seem likely that the storm draws materials from deeper within Jupiter, materials that would give the reddish-brown color.

Some have said that Jupiter, because of its relative small size, is a star that never ignited. I have some musician friends that feel the same way about their careers.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

An intellectual solves a problem. A genius avoids it.

-- Albert Einstein

Saturday, May 17, 2014

21st Century Schizoid Man


In geometry, a hypercube is an n-dimensional analogue of a square (n = 2) and a cube (n = 3). It is a closed, compact, convex figure whose 1-skeleton consists of groups of opposite parallel line segments aligned in each of the space's dimensions, at right angles to each other and of the same length.

An n-dimensional hypercube is also called an n-cube. The term "measure polytope" is also used, notably in the work of H.S.M. Coxeter, but it has now been superseded.

The hypercube is the special case of a hyperrectangle (also called an orthotope).

A unit hypercube is a hypercube whose side has length one unit. Often, the hypercube whose corners (or vertices) are the 2n points in Rn with coordinates equal to 0 or 1 is called "the" unit hypercube.

A point is a hypercube of dimension zero. If one moves this point one unit length, it will sweep out a line segment, which is a unit hypercube of dimension one. If one moves this line segment its length in a perpendicular direction from itself; it sweeps out a two-dimensional square. If one moves the square one unit length in the direction perpendicular to the plane it lies on, it will generate a three-dimensional cube. This can be generalized to any number of dimensions. For example, if one moves the cube one unit length into the fourth dimension, it generates a 4-dimensional unit hypercube (a unit tesseract). This process of sweeping out volumes can be formalized mathematically as a Minkowski sum: the d-dimensional hypercube is the Minkowski sum of d mutually perpendicular unit-length line segments, and is therefore an example of a zonotope.

The tesseract is the hypercube in R^4, also called the 8-cell or octachoron. It has the Schläfli symbol {4,3,3}, and vertices (+/-1,+/-1,+/-1,+/-1). The figure above shows a projection of the tesseract in three-space (Gardner 1977). The tesseract is composed of 8 cubes with 3 to an edge, and therefore has 16 vertices, 32 edges, 24 squares, and 8 cubes. It is one of the six regular polychora.

In Madeleine L'Engle's novel A Wrinkle in Time, the characters in the story travel through time and space using tesseracts. The book actually uses the idea of a tesseract to represent a fifth dimension rather than a four-dimensional object (and also uses the word "tesser" to refer to movement from one three dimensional space/world to another).

In the science fiction novel Factoring Humanity by Robert J. Sawyer, a tesseract is used by humans on Earth to enter the fourth dimension and contact another civilization on a planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri A. The hypercube initially exists as a series of connected 3-dimensional cubes, which represent a hypercube that has been unfolded. Refolding the cube in a certain specific manner causes the reformation of the hypercube in 4 dimensions.

In John Mighton's play, "Half Life," one of the characters (an aging mathematician) builds a tesseract (or rather, the projection of a tesseract) out of popsicle sticks. In the Season 1 episode "Rampage" of the television crime drama NUMB3RS, main character mathematician Charlie Eppes discovers a popsicle-stick tesseract (projection) he built as a boy.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

President Andrew Johnson Acquitted

President Andrew Johnson
The U.S. Senate acquitted President Andrew Johnson of committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” on May 16, of 1868 when it failed by one vote on each of three counts to gain a two-thirds majority necessary to remove Johnson from office. It was the first time a US President had been impeached.

Johnson was a Democrat who ran with Abraham Lincoln on the National Union ticket and after Lincoln was assassinated, he became President. He gained the enmity of his political enemies by favoring a policy of benevolent reconciliation with the Southern States after the Civil War. He issued proclamations that directed the Southern States to hold conventions and elections to reform their governments, and he attempted to veto a number of bills that established military districts to oversee the new State governments.

14th Amendment was actually designed to further punish Southerners.
When many of those Southern States began returning their old leaders to positions in power, Congress objected and passed legislation to prevent the old leaders from being seated. Johnson vetoed those bills, most of which were overridden by Congress. He also opposed the 14th Amendment to the Constitution (another punishment issued upon the Southern States by the Northern aggressors).

In 1867, over Johnson’s veto, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act. It was a bill designed to maintain Republican power in government.

Edwin Stanton, Persecutor of Southerners
Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who had committed war crimes through his support of total war on the Southern citizenry, also favored the policy of harsh retribution, as did the Republicans who held the majority in both Houses of Congress.

When Johnson fired Stanton in violation of the Constitutionally questionable Tenure of Office Act, the House used this “violation” to begin impeachment proceedings. It filed 11 counts against Johnson, three of which were taken up by the Senate.

Johnson’s impeachment was purely political, unlike Bill Clinton’s, which was based on perjury charges.