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Coronavirus meets religion #3

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

[ by Charles Cameron — third in a series — mostly about locusts ]
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Eye-grabbing but not helpful:

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The image comes from Prophecy News Watch, where it heads up today’s article, Is Coronavirus Connected To Bible Prophecy?. The answer:

I believe what we are witnessing with COVID-19 is part of the birth pains Jesus talked about in the Olivet Discourse. In fact, I think it is a major birth pain; as is the locust plague that is ravaging Africa and the Mideast; as is the large number of social uprisings in countries around he world; as is the increase in earthquake activity; as were the record-breaking Australian wild fires; as is…you get the picture. Birth pains increase in frequency and intensity, and they only increase until the moment of delivery

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Plague of locusts? From the Times of Israel, courtesy Richard Landes:

Notice the subtitle: the locusts will ” skip Holy Land”. In the story of the Biblical plagues, the locusts were the eighth out of ten plagues of increasing severity meted out by the Lord against Pharaoh and his Egypt. There was worse to come, but the locust plague itself would be worse than any other locus plague before or since. As Moses prophesies to Pharaoh:

Exodus 10. 3:Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.

4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:

5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:

6 And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day.

It was the tenth and worst plague– the death of the firstborn — that afflicted the Egyptians and which “passed over” the Israelites — compare the eerie echo here of the plage that will “skip Holy Land”.

Three stunners

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — can’t think why you’d need three stunners, or two six-shooters for that matter — stun once and done, sez I ]
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My first stunner is from an LRB piece about Margaret Atwood, it’s opening paragraph invoking PD James instead, and what a powerful description of what I think I’ll call a Falling Curtain Event — an event such as climate change which offers so great a threat that arguably we should drop all other activities to attend to it.

For a quick dystopia, then — this:

In P.D. James’s strangest novel, The Children of Men (1992), humans stop being able to get pregnant, and no one can figure out why. Scientific research comes to nothing. Years pass without a newborn child. All the nurseries close, then all the schools. With no hope of posterity, landowners let their estates rot; scholars take up golf. Only the richest or best-connected are able to get a place in one of the increasingly rare care homes, run by increasingly senescent carers. Without children or grandchildren, people dote on their pets, and envy them for still being able to reproduce. When a small deer wanders into an Oxford chapel, the chaplain rushes at it, hurling prayerbooks: ‘Christ, why can’t they wait? Bloody animals. They’ll have it all soon enough. Why can’t they wait?’

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Second, a no less stunning foretaste of our current actual situation politically, from the dialog of episode 7 of the TV series, The People v. O.J. Simpson:

I mean, we have hard evidence, and they razzle-dazzle a bunch of conspiracy nonsense into big moments. Now, we need to make our own big moments that land with the jury. That is how we beat the nonsense. Now, can we focus on that?

Do I hear a prophecy here, life about to imitate art? Beware the Jabberwock, my son..

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Let me close with another stunning Falling Curtain Event, this one from a Dylan live performance:

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there — how’s that for a curtain falling?

On the one hand, it’s night falling, any night. But that’s the lyrics, the musical delivery is fatigued, so, so very weary: as the lyrics say, Time is running away.

More lines that, in their diverse ways, tell you of that fatigue, that flesh, bone, mind, soul weariness:

There’s not even room enough to be anywhere
I ain’t looking for nothing in anyone’s eyes
Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear
I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain<

So many ways, running down..

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

Superb performance of a great song– and to m=y mind, apocalyptic without ever saying so explicitly — just that sense of thr curtain, falling .

On Mapping the Varieties of Risk

Monday, August 6th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a theoretical question or suggestion, with serious or curious personal implications ]
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This will get personal, but I’m aiming for a question or suggestion regarding the mapping of risks, in terms both of human life expectancy and of any and all other forms of risk assessment.

moments to flatline — but enough of that

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Well, well, I guess some predictive nethods may be better than others. Prophecy has the divine seal of approval, so there’s really no contest except When Prophecy Fails, as Festinger had the audacity to suggest.

Fallback methods, in that event, include prediction, medical prognosis or actuarial life expectancy, mortality or maybe just morbidity, fortune-telling of various sorts — cookie, cookies, tellers, aura readings, tarot..

And for myself, personally, there are various levels of risk that if mapped together would provide a graph with several nodes — to name the obvious, geopolitical risk, life expectancy, expectancy without dialysis, and bleed out.

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Let’s takee a stab.

By geopolitical risk I mean roughly what the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists implies — not the time in minutes to Doomsday, but the risk that we’ll be fried in the next year or eight, three, fifteen.. forty-eight.

The year just past proved perilous and chaotic, a year in which many of the risks foreshadowed in our last Clock statement came into full relief. In 2017, we saw reckless language in the nuclear realm heat up already dangerous situations and re-learned that minimizing evidence-based assessments regarding climate and other global challenges does not lead to better public policies.

Eight years or forty-eight?

Let’s hope Doomsday’s a long time coming, or indefinitely postponed.

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Life expectancy:

actuarial life table simplified, simplified

Zeroing in, there’s my life expectancy / prognosis. A couple of years ago, a physician friend gave me (informally) fifty-fifty odds of living the year out, and revised his guesstimate upwards as the year inproved my condition. Okay, five years would get me to eighty, which considering my state of health (morbidity) may be a bit optimistic (mortality). I’ve heard of people on dialysis for sixteen years, and then there are those who get transplants..

But if for some reason, my access to dialysis was cut off, I’m told I’d have eight to maybe twelve days — and Russians toppling the grid, or the President and Congress pulling appropriate insurance might switch me from optimist to Soli Deo Gloria

— in double quick time.

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And then there’s arterial bleed out, against which precautions are believe me taken. A minute? four? The equivalent, perhaps, of stepping on a jumping jack in Afghanistan? Kiss your Self goodbye.

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So a number, a length of time, can be assessed for any one of these, and when people who study in the assessment of risk can give that number, backing it up with whatever persuasions they find appropriate. A number. 50-50. Three years. By my calculation, the Book of Revelation. By their calculation, the Doomsday Clock of the Atomic Scientists. What, as the younglings say, ev. But a single number, or more expansively, range.

But here’s my question: does anyone have a graphical method for mapping all the variants of risk, say the ones I listed for my personal case?

It feels a bit like a ratcheted system – failing death by nuclear annihilation or Yosemite blowing, there’s my prognosis, hopefully a matter of years. That can jum suddenly to days in the grid goes don (think Puerto Rico) — and leap toi a handful of minutes if, Black Swan forbid, a procedure fails and I’m unexpectedly bleeding out.

So does anyonbe make ratcheted graps of how one risk slips to another?
soli
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>And my suggestion, if nobody has such a mapping scheme that I could give a look-see to, is that we should think about how to make such a mapping systen=m available.

Thank you for reading, considering, responding to question or suggestion.

Prophecy revisited — any good?

Monday, June 18th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — prophecy, prediction, and the news cycle ]
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Prophecies can be news — in this case, the almost-prediction is in a piece by religion-savvy reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey in WaPo:

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Nope.

Okay, we guess wrong — and sometimes when we guess wrong, we do CYA maneuvers to avoid admitting it. Hal Lindsey has been updating his 1970 bestseller The Late, Great Planet Earth, with its nudge in the direction of a 1980s rapture for some time — with royalties increasing every time the likely (but no man knoweth) date of Armageddon is delayed, ca-ching!

Lindsey also predicted that the European Economic Community, which preceded the European Union, was destined (according to Biblical prophecy) to become a “United States of Europe”, which in turn he says is destined to become a “Revived Roman Empire” ruled by the Antichrist. Lindsey wrote that he had concluded, since there was no apparent mention of America in the books of Daniel or Revelation, that America would not be a major geopolitical power by the time the tribulations of the end times arrived..

so this is just a brief reminder that prophecies, predictions &c can easily make news when they are made, but fail to make the news when things don’t work out as expected (see our unintended consequences pages for related materials).

Well, is Kim Jong-Un still among the living? Has Trump exercised restraint with all those hellfire missiles at his disposal — and a notoriously fractious temperament?

Thank God, I suppose.

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I’ll collect further examples of failed prophecies and predictiosn here.

When one fantasy-come-true is proof of all the rest

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — sheer gossamer speculation about the trump effect ]
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There’s a sort of weird logic to it. Trump, the fantasist extraordinaire has indeed had one of his fantasies come true, and it’s a big one — “most powerful man on earth” — akin to being heavyweight champion of the world, but moreso. POTUS says it by implication: MPMOE makes it explicit.

Give the man credit for that, and then watch as he tosses out other fantasies — like a gambler scattering coins in a fountain after a successful night at a Vegas hotel casino — and declares them all true by extension —

biggest crowd?

  • if he’s the MPMOE, must be.
  • et cetera, et cetera

  • if he’s the MPMOE, must be.
  • ad infinitum

  • if he’s the MPMOE, must be.
  • never before seen

  • if he’s the MPMOE, must be.
  • last trump?

  • **

    This really has to do with magical thinking, or poetry as it veers towards prophecy perhaps, as in “and of his kingdom there shall be no end”.

    Or so I suppose.

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    Footnote:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin is the most powerful person in the world right now, according to the latest ranking from Forbes. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

    Putin has other fantasies, too..


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