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Sunday surprise: Synchronize watches!

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — from science and religion, two prime resources for scenario planners ]
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Here are two versions of how close we may be to The End of Story. In the upper panel, a glimpse of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Dashboard, representing their version of the scientific view:

DQ Doomsday Rapture

In the lower panel, the current state of the Rapture Index, representing the view of a Christian website dedicated to reading the signs and keeping us updated on our proximity to a day that, per scripturam, “knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

**

Sources:

  • Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Doomsday Dashboard
  • The Rapture Index, updated June 20, 2016

  • Matthew 24.36 (KJV), But of that day and hour knoweth no man
  • Subzin movie quotes, Synchronize watches
  • **

    Who you gonna believe?

    As Tim Furnish might say, BREXIT is not the Apocalypse, not even close — it hasn’t even merited an uptick in the Rapture Index.

    Towards the urgent development of the artificial kidney

    Saturday, June 25th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — setting aside my personal interest, there’s a humanitarian / religious angle here ]
    ,

    The atrocities described in the lower panel add urgency to the medical development described in the upper panel:

    kidney transplants

    Sources:

  • Kurzweil AI, Wearable artificial kidney prototype successfully tested
  • Daily Mail, China is forcing up to 90,000 prisoners to have organs removed
  • **

    I took note of the Kurzweil announcement in the upper panel above, because I’m due for some form of kidney dialysis myself — and the new report on Chinese harvesting of religious prisoners’ marketable organs, Bloody Harvest / The Slaughter, because I’m interested in Falun Gong and other religious movements in China that are under intense pressure from the Chinese authorities.

    Here are a couple of excerpts from the 680-page report:

    The narrative of pursuit, arrest, torture, and, in several cases, execution, illustrates that Falun Gong was putting up an increasingly effective resistance – even as the state’s structure of persecution was spinning out of control, and shedding any remaining inhibitions surrounding the mass exploitation of Falun Gong for their organs. The “self-immolation” of Falun Gong practitioners on Tiananmen Square is also examined in detail, with the conclusion that it was not only a set-up but a masterstroke of state propaganda.

    What emerges is a picture of an organ harvesting regime that began giving discreet physical examinations of select Falun Gong practitioners in late 2000/early 2001, expanding into mass examinations (including Tibetan prisoners of conscience and the House Christian group “Eastern Lightning”) by 2003, and an organ harvesting regime wasn’t even being kept fully secret within the Laogai System by 2005

    It’s worth noting that the Uyghur Muslims are caught up in the same situations, too.

    **

    Putting the two halves of this puzzle together — one of the aspects of the harvesting of organs from Chinese religious dissidents is that it attracts what the publishers of the report term organ tourism:

    Governments should enact measures to criminalize the purchase of trafficked organs at home or abroad. They could also require reporting of ‘organ tourism’, ban entry of those involved in trafficking organs, and prohibit their pharmaceutical companies from doing transplant field tests and clinical trials in China.

    The idea of extending one’s life by receiving the transplanted organ of a prisoner separated out for religious reasons and then killed to supply the tourist organ market is both deeply human, in the sense of serving the individual’s survival, and deeply abhorrent and inhuman, as (effectively) a paid enticement to mass murder.

    **

    At one point, the report says:

    Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, began in May 1992 with the teachings of Li Hongzhi. The two Davids [co-authors of the report] have described Falun Gong as a set of exercises with a spiritual and ethical foundation. Ethan Gutmann in The Slaughter states: “Falun Gong, simply put, is a Buddhist revival movement.”

    Saying Falun Gong is “simply put .. a Buddhist revival movement” is a bit simplistic itself, though. Here’s an excerpt of a Time magazine article from 1999 — it appeared in the world edition, but not I think in the US — in which Li Hongzhi explains a major aspect of his concern about where the human race is heading:

    The aliens come from other planets. The names that I use for these planets are different . Some are from dimensions that human beings have not yet discovered. The key is how they have corrupted mankind. Everyone knows that from the beginning until now, there has never been a development of culture like today. Although it has been several thousand years, it has never been like now.

    The aliens have introduced modern machinery like computers and airplanes. They started by teaching mankind about modern science, so people believe more and more science, and spiritually, they are controlled. Everyone thinks that scientists invent on their own when in fact their inspiration is manipulated by the aliens. In terms of culture and spirit, they already control man. Mankind cannot live without science.

    The ultimate purpose is to replace humans. If cloning human beings succeeds, the aliens can officially replace humans. Why does a corpse lie dead, even though it is the same as a living body? The difference is the soul, which is the life of the body. If people reproduce a human person, the gods in heaven will not give its body a human soul. The aliens will take that opportunity to replace the human soul and by doing so they will enter earth and become earthlings.

    When such people grow up, they will help replace humans with aliens. They will produce more and more clones. There will no longer be humans reproduced by humans. They will act like humans, but they will introduce legislation to stop human reproduction.

    I’m pretty sure the Falun Gong people worry the Chinese central authorities because they’re a substantial quasi-millennial sect that’s only too reminiscent of the Taiping sect of the mid-nineteenth century, whose rebellion the government of the day eventually put down at a total cost of somewhere between 20 and 30 million lives. throw in ~150 years’ worth of advances in weaponry, communications media and population size, and the head honchos wouldn’t like to see how wildly destructive a 2000 or 2020 repeat might get!

    Midas meets Medusa — a symmetry observed

    Thursday, June 16th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a little light-hearted lévi-straussian mythologic ]
    .

    Here’s an irresistible example of what I call DoubleQuotes-style thinking:

    Midas and Medusa

    The details are very well thought out, too — the flowers in Midas‘ hand are still gold, since he’s touched them, but they’re not turned to stone by Medusa‘s gaze since they’re of the vegetable kingdom — whereas the bird in her cage, being of the animal kingdom, looks distinctly gray as though it has been turned to stone.

    I’m not sure that the boxed comment “a very brief affair” is right, though — as my son Emlyn‘s commented, It’s a love at first sight that lasts for ever!

    **

    The other mythological DoubleQuote or conceptual symmetry I very much admire is the one whereby Narcissus, the epitome of visual reflection, is paired with Echo, avatar of reflection’s aural equivalent.

    On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: eight

    Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — omega worms in science and scripture ]
    .

    As regular readers know, I am interested in Omega — the End, in “alpha and omega” terms — so I was naturally intrigued by this tweet, with Adam Elkus kindly put in my twitter feed and those of others who follow him:

    I’m not a “worm scientist” but wanted to know what an omega turn is, so I browsed around a bit and found this diagram:

    journal.pbio.1001529.g007
    Donnelly et al, Monoaminergic Orchestration of Motor Programs in a Complex C. elegans Behavior

    **

    Now please don’t imagine I know what that means to a worm scientist — I was expecting something more like the worm in the lowest section of thIs Beatus Apocalypse:

    B_Facundus_230v

    or maybe this:

    Beatus worm turns

    from a different Beatus manuscript, where it appears the worm has turned quite a few times.

    **

    In the unlikely event that I should attempt a translation of St John‘s revelatory vision on the Isle of Patmos into science fiction, be assured that I shall include a reference to that image among my illustrations, with a footnote perhaps, pointing to Mark 9.48:

    Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

    Today, however, my appreciation for all things apocalyptic must give way to another interest of mine, that of the pervasive use of [node and edge] graphs in our contemporary world. Here again is the central column of that image:

    journal.pbio.1001529.g007-middle

    It interests me here as yet another illustration of the degree to which graphs serve as a fundamental substrate of our understanding of the world — and hence my continuing interest in their use in game board design — both of which I’ve been exploring in other posts in this series:

  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: preliminaries
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: two dazzlers
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: three
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: four
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: five
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: six
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: seven
  • **

    After the glamour of Beatus manuscripts and PLOS worm diagrams, it may seem almost a let down to turn to irregular polyhedra — but the move from two-dimensional graphs to their three-dimensional cousins is a short one, and since we live in what at least appears to be a (spatially) three-dimensional world, one which should also be considered in terms of game board and concept-modelling design.

    The following illustration —

    irregular_polyhedron3

    — and accompanying video, from Filip Visnjic, Irregular Polyhedron Study #1 – Vertex, edge and volume, may accordingly be of interest:

    Irregular Polyhedron Study #1 from Bjørn Gunnar Staal on Vimeo.

    Single birds

    Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — crow, racing pigeon — swan? ]
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    Tablet DQ 600 single birds 75

    See the swan, yeah? Okay!

    **

    When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.. Shakespeare, right? Not so with insights.

    Sources:

  • Robert De Niro et al., Red Lights
  • Robert Krulwich, After Tens of Thousands of Pigeons Vanish, One Comes Back
  • After Tens of Thousands of Pigeons Vanish is an extraordinary tale of what (presumably) happens when a Concorde overflies a mass of racing pigeons — compare the video accompanying How Our Consumer Culture Is Killing Whales.

    Boom!


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