Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Look Skyward: The Leonid Meteor Shower

The Leonids in 2001. Image Source: Space.com.

To see the Leonids tonight or tomorrow, look eastwards between 2 and 5 a.m. EST in the direction of the constellation of Leo:
The Leonid meteor shower will peak overnight Saturday and early Sunday (Nov. 16 and 17) and is typically one of the most dependable meteor displays of the year. Astronomers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will provide a live views of the night sky over Huntsville, Ala., beginning at nightfall.
You can watch the Leonid meteor shower webcast here, courtesy of NASA MSFC. This year, the bright moon may interfere with the meteor display, scientists say. [Gallery: Most Amazing Leonid Shower Photos]
"Unfortunately the full moon in the sky will likely wash out all but the very brightest Leonids," NASA officials explained in a skywatching guide. "Meteor rates, normally 10-20 per hour, are predicted to be less than 10 per hour. The shower should be visible from any populated area on the planet with clear dark skies, though Northern Hemisphere observers are favored due to the radiant's location in the constellation Leo."
NASA's history of the Leonid meteor shower is here. If you're in an urban area, or the southern hemisphere, or just don't want sit in the cold, see feeds from NASA (Saturday night and early Sunday morning) and Slooh (Sunday night) below the jump.  Space.com notes times for the Webcasts:
NASA will provide live views of the Leonid meteor shower peak on Saturday night and early Sunday morning (Nov. 16 and 17) in a webcast from the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. On Sunday, the community telescope group Slooh will offer live views of the Lonids and Comet ISON.
The Leonids in 2002. Image Source: Space.com.

Image Source: Universe Today.

The constellation Leo. Image Source: Starry Night Education.

Scientists Killed Oldest Known Animal In Order to Find Its Age

Image Source: Breitbart

From Breitbart, via The Mirror, there is a report that scientists killed the oldest known animal - a clam - in order to determine its age:
In 2006, climate change experts from Bangor University in north Wales found a very special clam while dredging the seabeds of Iceland. At that time scientists counted the rings on the inside shell to determine that the clam was the ripe old age of 405. Unfortunately, by opening the clam which scientists refer to as "Ming," they killed it instantly.
Cut to 2013, researchers have determined that the original calculations of Ming's age were wrong, and that the now deceased clam was actually 102 years older than originally thought. Ming was 507 years old at the time of its demise.
According to the Mirror, Ocean scientist Paul Butler from Bangor University said: “We got it wrong the first time and maybe we were a bit hasty publishing our findings back then. But we are absolutely certain that we've got the right age now.The nice thing about these shells is that they have distinct annual growth lines, so we can accurately date the shell material. That’s just the same as what archaeologists do when they use tree rings in dead wood to work out the dates of old buildings.”
The 507-year-old clam shattered the previous unofficial title holder for world's oldest creature held by a 374-year-old Icelandic clam in a German museum.
See other reports, here and here. Related: see my earlier post on Rachel Sussman's work on The Oldest Living Things in the World.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Boomer Legacies: Waking Up from Decades of Dreamsleep

Nostalgic revivals come in cycles, and it looks like the mid-1970s to mid-1980s are returning, at least for some. Noted Baby Boomers who are currently in their sixties are talking about memoirs, sequels and anniversaries.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Photo of the Day: The Dark Side of Saturn

Image Source: NASA via Yahoo.

Today, NASA released a photograph of Saturn, comprising many images of the planet which were taken this summer. The image spans about 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across. You can see Saturn's moons and several planets, including Earth, labeled (here or here) at NASA's site. This photo is true to colour, taken of the planet's dark side, with Saturn eclipsing out a view of the Sun. From Yahoo:
This is a mosaic of 141 wide-angle images taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft back on July 19th [2013]. If you recall, that was the date that Cassini was snapping a new 'Pale Blue Dot' image, to rival the one taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft back in 1990. Well, this is essentially the same image, but it's been adjusted to be as close to a true-colour image as possible. Therefore, Saturn and its rings look just as they would if you were standing on the deck of a spaceship, looking out a window as you flew around the dark side of the ringed planet.

The Paleo Diet

"The idea that eating like our Stone Age ancestors is good for you is growing in popularity, and it has become the latest health fad from Hollywood to Berlin. Shown, a museum diorama of hunter gatherers." Image Source: Der Spiegel.

The fashionable interest in prehistoric humans includes replicating their presumed Paleolithic Diet:
The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years which ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture and grain-based diets.  ... Centered on commonly available modern foods, the contemporary "Paleolithic diet" consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.
The Paleo Diet does not actually date to 2.5 million years ago, but rather originated in 1975, when gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin published The Stone Age Diet: Based on In-depth Studies of Human Ecology and the Diet of Man. This diet has become increasingly popular through the 2000s, especially in light of anti-bread movements. Curiously, the last time there was a widespread popular rejection of bread (Amylophobia - fear of starch) was during another boom and subsequent economic downturn during the 1920s and Great Depression.

Image Source: GEICO ad via OpenTable.

Monday, November 11, 2013

War and Living Memory

"Remembrance Day at the John McCrae House (birthplace, museum, & memorial) in Guelph, Ontario Canada. A detail shot of the 'altar' of the memorial, with the complete poem 'In Flander's Fields' and the line 'LEST WE FORGET' inscribed on it. 2 Canadian remembrance day poppy pins and part of a wreath are visible." (11 November 2009). Image Source: Wiki.

Today is Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day, which observes the end of hostilities of World War I. It also commemorates the end of World War II and the fallen in other wars such as Korea and Vietnam and post-Cold War conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The two world wars are passing from living memory. Wiki has a list of the last surviving World War I veterans in the world. Almost all of them have died since 2000, save for three remaining veterans in Bulgaria, China and Greece. They include: Bright Williams of New Zealand, died 2003, aged 105 years; August Bischof of the former Austrian Empire, 2006, aged 105 years; Erich Kästner of the former German Empire, 2008, aged 107 years; Pierre Picault of France, 2008, aged 109 years; Delfino Borroni of Italy, 2008, aged 110; Yakup Satar of the former Ottoman Empire, 2008, aged 110 years; Mikhail Krichevsky of the former Russian Empire, 2008, aged 111 years; John Campbell Ross of Australia, 2009, aged 109 years; John Babcock in Canada, 2010, aged 109 years; Frank Buckles in the United States, 2011, aged 110 years; Florence Green in the UK, 2012, aged 110 years.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Time is Money

Ursas sister, detail © (2005) by Chad Person. Image Source: Chad Person via Caters News via Yahoo.

Millennial American artist Chad Person has a 2005 series of works circulating on the Web which are entitled Worshiping Mammon. These are collages made entirely out of little pieces of US dollar bills. Person is fascinated by apocalyptic end-of-the-world culture and economic meltdowns. He has another series called taxCut. He also has created two videos, below the jump, in which he artistically defines time in terms of spending and earning power.

On the video, The Artist’s Present Rate of Spending in Real Time, Person made the following statement:
I love spending money. I love discovering new products, new solutions, new gizmos, and I always want the best. Whether it’s a car, a vacuum cleaner, or a toothbrush, I zero in on something I want and I covet. I covet that pending purchase for months, sometimes years, spending countless hours deal surfing and investigating every aspect of just how great that thing is. And when I finally can’t stand it any longer, I sell off anything that isn’t tied down and find the means to purchase it.

Worshiping Mammon originated with a spending spree. In late 2004, my car was totaled for the second time in a year. Feeling reluctant to re-invest the insurance check into another car; I made a list of all the stuff I had been coveting but couldn’t buy out of necessity, and bought it all.

I began the work by photographing my purchases, modeling the style to directly reference academic still-life paintings of the Baroque and Northern Renaissance periods. I felt this a good conceptual tie, given that those still-lives were created during a time when a broader populace achieved the means to commission artwork, and in doing often-commissioned images of their possessions.

My goal with the compositions was to pair what might be considered objects of a privileged or “good life” today (technological gizmos) with objects referenced in those paintings (fruit/wine/cheese/wares/etc.). When one considers the juxtaposition of these things, my hope is that they recognize the ephemerality of the value of the high priced new object, and the longevity and symbolic weight of the less valuable items (per contemporary standards).

The decision to make the images out of money came from numerous sources. I have come to understand that I will likely spend the majority of my time and the majority of my life’s income making uncommissioned art objects. I love the idea that people outside of the art making community would consider this wasteful. The technique involved here serves exactly that same purpose. While the concept of spending a few hundred or a few thousand dollars to produce an image no one has asked me to produce, might seem meaningful; the more important aspect of this work, to me, is demonstrated in the intricate process.