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, April 5, 2014

Graveyards are a Girl's Best Friend

Disraeli's grave at Hughenden Manor, with his wife on one side and an elderly widow friend on the other. Image Source: Flickr.

People have to hustle to make a living and Britain's famous and flamboyant prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) was no different. In the 1860s, his standard of living had mired him in debt. He turned to a wealthy old lady, Sarah Brydges Willyams, a confidante known to him since 1851. From the Bodleian Library:
Mrs Sarah Brydges Willyams was a wealthy octogenarian widow who claimed to be distantly connected to Disraeli. She befriended him in 1851, made him her executor and legatee (he eventually inherited about £30,000) and left instructions about her burial at Hughenden. The Disraelis visited her annually at Torquay. In the second half of the 1850s Disraeli wrote over 30 letters a year to her.
You can read more about the "romantic attachment" which the old widow "conceived" for Disraeli here. Brydges Willyams agreed to clear Disraeli's debts. She made one condition, to which he agreed: she would be buried next to him, and lie beside him for eternity.

Visitors to Disraeli's grave at his home, Hughenden Manor, who do not know this history may be surprised to find Disraeli buried with his wife on one side and an old widow on the other. Wiki:
The Disraeli vault also contains the body of Sarah Brydges Willyams, the wife of James Brydges Willyams of St Mawgan in Cornwall. Disraeli carried on a long correspondence with Mrs. Williams, writing frankly about political affairs. At her death in 1865, she left him a large legacy, which helped clear up his debts.
Incidentally, Disraeli's wife, Mary Anne Lewis, likely understood this arrangement, since she was also a wealthy widow with a substantial income, whom he married in 1839; she remarked: "Dizzy married me for my money. ... But, if he had the chance again, he would marry me for love." It's no new story, paying off today's debts with the debts of tomorrow.

- Thanks to my friend -C. who heard this story via the Antiques Road Show

Friday, April 4, 2014

Anniversaries: First Cellphone Call Made

Image Source: Think Geek.

The Globe and Mail reports on the first cellphone call made in history, which occurred yesterday in 1973:
Moment in time: April 3, 1973 -- The first cellphone call is made

Martin Cooper ... a Motorola employee, was standing in front of the New York Hilton in Manhattan when he called [his rivals] Bell Labs in New Jersey, where scientists were also developing cellphone technology. "I'm ringing you just to see if my call sounds good at your end," he reportedly said. It would take another decade for the phone he was using to go on sale. The DynaTAC 8000x weighed 2.5 pounds, stood nine inches tall (not including the huge antenna), took 10 hours to charge and cost $3,995. It was nicknamed "the brick" because of its weight and size. Now, we carry the future Cooper brought us in our pockets. -- Dave McGinn

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Time and Politics 11: Lessons in Crypto-Anarchy

Does the predominance of the Internet mean that we can, and will, live in a great, stateless society? On 12 March 2014, BBC's show HARDtalk interviewed Cody Wilson, Gen Y enfant terrible of 3-D printed gun on the Web fame, about the rise of crypto-anarchy.

Wilson expresses a perspective coming from a generation that has grown up without reference points outside of technological immersion. HARDtalk interviewer Stephen Sackur's uneasiness was evident. Wilson displayed cheerful enthusiasm and faint condescension as he dished out life's tough new truths for HARDtalk's viewers, whom he obviously presumed were out of the loop. Wilson was eloquent, voluble, intelligent, and not nice at all. Or perhaps he only meant to appear that way. He has had a media makeover over the past year; for all his disdain for the MSM, he loves publicity.

Wilson dismissed 20th century liberal values as a catechism of control, murder and inefficiency, a grand moralistic delusion which enables state, social and economic oppression. He off-handedly referred to Obama as a "grocery clerk" (in a sly nod to Kurtz's dialogue in Apocalypse Now, Coppola's 1979 version of Heart of Darkness). Wilson's aside spoke volumes: how far will he take us up the river? As far as he - and we - can go. He was giggly and laid back, but make no mistake: he was deadly serious.

Photo of the Day: Military Exercises

Image Source: Twitter.

Newsweek reports: "South Korean landing craft run gantlet of fire & smoke during military exercises with the U.S."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Do Google's Killer Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?

Image Source: Google.

Google, free host of this Blogger blog, has always had wild things going on behind its friendly search engine face. Follow Google's history carefully, and you learn how a search engine, gathering the behavioral data generated by its users, can be the key to a whole information-driven reality. You also learn how technological developments layer one upon another, with each new functionality enabling the next. And therefore, as Bill Gates has said: "People tend to overestimate what can happen in the next year but underestimate what can happen in the next five." That is why, when Google buys a company or develops a new capability, we should ask: where is Google going?

The company's informal motto is: "Don't be evil." Wiki:
Paul Buchheit ... the creator of Gmail, said he "wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out", adding that the slogan was "also a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent."
Gen Xer Astro Teller, Google’s Director of New Products, declares that we must override our linear expectations when we try to understand technology's potential:
"If something rides the rails of exponentially improving computer and data capability, and if its benefits are sufficiently powerful, it is likely to happen – whether we can imagine it today or not."
In other words, something Google may do that seems innocuous or incongruous compared to its latest mainstream developments (like its contact lens glucose monitor) can turn out to be essential to tomorrow's integrated technologies. Lately, Google's trail of breadcrumbs leads into a dark forest. From driverless cars, to offshore barges - to Google's immortality app, Calico; from poaching academia's brightest minds to Google Glass; from setting up an e-money system on the back of Google Glass, to crowd-sourcing medicine - to buying killer robots? (Hat tip: SCGNews.)

Promo for development of Google's banking capabilities, using Gmail's user base with Google Wallet and Google Glass: "OK, Glass, empty my bank account." Will Google develop its own cryptocurrency? Image Source: Quartz.

Remember Boston Dynamics? Under a DARPA contract, they have made some of the world's most terrifying weaponized robots (at least, among the ones known to the public), modeled after successful predator species: BigDog, WildCat, Cheetah, SandFlea (which can jump over 9 metres in the air) and Atlas (a real Millennial Terminator robot). In December 2013, Google bought Boston Dynamics. According to the CBC, this was the search engine's eighth robotics company purchase in the past six months, and Google's strategy here relates to the exploration of sensor technology:
CBC business commentator Kevin O'Leary, chair of O'Leary Funds, said Monday that the strategy makes sense, given the majority of "smart and new money going to startups today" is targeting sensor technology. "These robots are basically a bundle of sensors," he added. "What Google is doing here is simply buying a company that's extremely advanced at writing software to interface with sensors."

Lovecrafted Meta-Bible

What do you get when you cross the King James Bible with the Necronomicon? Entertaining surrealism! British sci-fi writer Charles Stross used King James Programming - a modified Markov chain which semi-randomly combines texts - to mash up the KJV Bible with the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft  (Thanks to -C.).

Stross called the output the Lovebible. The desert themes and environments which dominate the Bible mesh well with Lovecraft's obsession with ancient knowledge and water monsters. It is an elemental marriage of texts, weirdly bred on the Internet:
krina:markov charlie$ ./lovebible.pl 2> /dev/null 99820 lines, 821134 words read from king_james_bible.txt 16536 lines, 775603 words read from lovecraft_complete.txt About to spew ...
--- the backwoods folk -had glimpsed the battered mantel, rickety furniture, and ragged draperies. It spread over it a robber, a shedder of blood, when I listened with mad intentness. At last you know! At last to come to see me. Now Absalom.
the absence of any real link with that of 598 Angell Street was as the old castle by the shallow crystal stream I saw unwonted ripples tipped with yellow light, as if those depths of their rhythm. The training saved them.
the bed, and make thee borders of gold with studs of silver. 1:12 While the case histories, to expect. As mental atmosphere. His eyes were pits of a hundred and fifty shekels, 30:24 And he laughed mockingly at the village summoning.
the commandment of the room; then this. If this thing. 25:1 If he had no way to turn either to the coyote - or to something was wrong. Marsh and Marceline represents. I am strong. 26:16 I also in me. 14:2.
the ghouls, whose utter strangeness and their backsliding, I will love him, and have redeemed them, yet thou never gavest me a people: 8:11 And I said unto them, and I believe that the king doth behold the upright. 33:2 Thus.
the gleaming sand, bobbing lanterns. The Philistines be upon thee, and because the famine in the heart proceed evil for Israel, with hesitancy, and which I had known it, to himself, he said, How shall depart from his house. 7:2 That. the results we learned that no harm him, and rent it. 7:22 My face again no not to inform me, even all the heads of the unutterable consequences. It could tell, it thunders. The thing came out of Egypt. Who knoweth.
the grass-grown line on the glassy, phantom bones. 50:18 Therefore the children of Israel dedicated the sea, diverse and I hung an air of the war, to rest in my brother for nought, and the counsellor, and the cunning workman, and.
Song of Solomon. Chapman and Hall (1897). Image Source: Cary Collection, RIT via Manifold Greatness.