Friday, February 16, 2018

The Waterworld Tattoo; North Pole, South Pole, Himalayas

Quite a lighthearted post today. Last night I watched the movie Waterworld. For those who've never seen it, it's set in a watery future where, thanks to the melting of the polar icecaps, the whole world is now submerged beneath the ocean. What's left of humanity struggling to survive on the ocean's surface, drifting aimlessly on various floating contraptions.

It was also at the time the most expensive movie ever made (it's release came in 1995). It's an odd movie in a way and was generally perceived as a huge flop at the time. Although it's incredibly cheesy, for some reason I've always quite liked it. In fact, I remember years ago, when I was studying music at Middlesbrough College, having a friend who semi-ironically always claimed it was his favourite movie. Whenever he said this I kind of knew what he meant. You can enjoy it on two levels - you can laugh at it, but also get caught up in its epic adventurousness.

When I watched it last night it was the first time I'd seen the film in quite a long while. So I was interested to see if there was anything I'd missed, or that had went over my head, when I'd originally viewed it. In the alternative conspiracist world there's often this notion that truth is hidden in Hollywood movies. With this being the "most expensive ever made" at the time, I thought it would be worth a re-look. Especially with regard to the flat earth/alternative cosmology revival that's taken place online in recent years. This being very much an Earth-themed movie.

Anyway, what caught my eye this time was the tattoo map that figures heavily in movie. This is a tattoo that's found on the back of a young girl, which is thought to be a map showing the way to dry land. In fact, the entire movie revolves around the goodies and baddies fighting for possession of this young girl in order to gain possession of the all-important map.

The map is globe-shaped and contains an arrow pointing to a mountain situated at the top. The tattoo also contains what look like strange Chinese characters. (It can be viewed in the top right hand corner of the first image in this article).

Intrigued, I had a search online and came across the following Cracked article that explains the tattoo (along with a few other tattoos featured in movies).

5 Cryptic Movie Tattoos (They Didn't Think We'd Translate)

The article provides a translation of the Chinese characters (plus the one Japanese character also oddly included). They translate as map coordinates. Giving a longitude and a latitude for a specific location on the globe - that location being Mount Everest in the Himalayas.

However, strangely the tattoo actually gets the latitude and the longitude the wrong way round. The actual location of Mount Everest is longitude 86 degrees, 56 minutes and latitude 27 degrees, 59 minutes. The tattoo gives longitude 27 degrees, 59 minutes and latitude 86 degrees, 56 minutes.

The tattooed map also fails to give directions for the coordinates. Latitude goes from 0 degrees at the equator to 90 degrees at the poles. So 86 degrees could be either 86 degrees north from the equator, or 86 degrees south. Likewise longitude can go east or west from the prime meridian, going up to 180 degrees either way. So the location given could have been any one of four places on the globe.

The Cracked article states that the errors in the map are simply lazy mistakes, which seems completely reasonable given how complicated Chinese characters are for westerners to understand. Plus longitude and latitude are easy concepts to confuse. Plus plus's just a movie.

However, it would be interesting if the mistakes were deliberate as it would mirror another geographical confusion I've mentioned on here before. Namely discussions about the "centre" of the Earth. On the famous flat earth map the centre is the North Pole. (Of course, there is no centre on a globe). However, in other cultures the Himalayas are often seen as the centre of the world. I've noted before the Theosophical obsession with the Himalayas in the 19th and early 20th century.

If we read the coordinates on the tattoo map as they appear, then all four possible locations fall at the poles. Two at the North Pole, and two at the South Pole (86 degrees being very close to the 90 degree north/south coordinate signifying each pole). So once again we have this overlap between the poles and the Himalayas.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Earth Agnostic: The Endless Forest

In this series of articles I've been considering the possibility that our proscribed model of the Earth may be incorrect. Is the cosmology we're taught actually right? Is the map of the earth even correct?  ..and if it isn't, why would this not be open knowledge? What's with all the secrecy?

One thing I've been considering is what would happen were it to be discovered that things were not as they first seemed. For example, let's say it's the late 19th century. The Heliocentric model is firmly enshrined as truth. The learned men of the day so confident they have it all worked out that they don't even think to question the fundamental concepts everything rests upon. Now what would happen if some discovery was made that brought this certainty into question? How would people deal with it? Would they even be able to cope with such a groundbreaking shift in perception? Would the leaders that were in charge tell the general public? Would the public be ready or even willing to accept the information being offered? And how would such a message affect society in general?

These thoughts and ideas overlap with something else I've been considering lately. Namely the idea that "conspiracies" - both big and small - far from being impossible or unlikely, are actually inevitable. I'm essentially working on a theory that states that conspiracies, even huge ones, can develop organically. An inevitable output that naturally develops from all the lies, errors and crimes that accumulate over time. So, just as the lies of a single person can often spiral out of control, as small lies get covered up by bigger and bigger lies, and so on and so forth. So too can the lies and errors of an entire social structure accumulate into bigger and bigger fallacies and untruths. Even to the point of reaching absurdity.

So for example, with my model, as one empire rises - let's say the British Empire - an empire of lies or errors will inevitably rise alongside it.

A good example is the Catholic Church. No doubt the Catholic Church originally began as a small movement, centred around a core set of beliefs and ideas. However, as the church grew and got bigger and bigger it became more and more complex. Now when any movement starts growing it becomes increasingly lucrative. It becomes economic. It increasingly becomes a part of the social structure - part of the economy, part of the body politic. Once people become invested in something, either emotionally or economically, it takes on a life of its own. The institution or idea - in this case the church - gets tied up with the personal and economic success of individual people and groups. Its success or failure meaning success or failure for these people, their businesses, organisations and families.

So, let's take the issue of relics. The blood of Christ. A piece of the true cross. The bones of this saint or that saint. As the church grows the market for such items becomes bigger and bigger. People and churches can make money displaying and selling them. So such items are found and displayed. Some may be genuine items - others may be frauds and knockoffs. However, people want to believe, and people also want to make money. So the relics keep being "discovered" and the people keep flocking to see them, and the economy keeps rolling.

Now as this goes on inconsistencies arise. As more and more relics get discovered it reaches a point where some relics contradict other relics. So you may have one church claiming to have found the tomb of, let's say, John the Baptist. Yet another church, in some distant location, may already claim to have the head of John the Baptist on display. With the actual Catholic Church it reached the point where there were countless duplicates of the exact same relic. Proving simply by basic logic that some, if not most, were indeed not relics at all. It was such inconsistencies that helped pave the way for the Reformation.

Now you can imagine a scene in medieval Europe. With one person, starting to get sceptical of what he's expected to believe, stating; "You know what, I don't think these are the bones of John the Baptist". And another guy then replying; "C'mon, so you're saying all the priests in the Catholic Church are part of some vast conspiracy to deceive us?"

Now, of course, in a way the second person is right. There isn't a vast organised conspiracy creating all these fraudulent relics. However, at the same time there kind of is a vast conspiracy. It's just that priests don't need to be told to lie about this or that. Their behaviour is dictated by the economic and social situation they find themselves in. If they're making a living as a priest it's unlikely they're going to rock the boat by biting the hand that feeds them, even if deep down they can see the inconsistencies just as much as everyone else. And if one does have a pang of conscience too strong to keep quiet, then that person will be driven from their profession pretty quickly by other priests that fear the economic repercussions of that one honest priest's actions.

So it just all keeps rolling on for economic and political reasons - the truth takes a back seat to realpolitik. The priests and true-believers have a vested interest in maintaining the system. The King and other aristocrats need their taxes, and therefore the support of the Church - and everyone just plays ball for the sheer practicality of it. Any criticism that does come, generally comes from people outside of the system (or the repressed within it).

So; the institution/social structure develops organically. The errors, lies and criminality likewise develop organically too. And when these errors and problems are challenged the structure defends itself organically.

To me this is similar to what we have with NASA and space exploration today. On the one hand statements are made claiming that we can't get past the Van Allen radiation belt, yet at the same time we're led to believe that man has been to the Moon. An obvious contradiction. An inconsistency that it's easy for someone like me, who's outside the system, to point out. However, people within the system - scientists, teachers, academics, etc - have to simply ignore this and pretend the inconsistency doesn't exist, or if pushed, make some kind of special pleading for it.

Now these people aren't necessarily part of some dark conspiracy. They're just fearful for their jobs, their reputation, the loss of their social status. It's simply not in their practical interest to acknowledge such things. They have bills to pay and families to feed. So the errors and frauds remain and accumulate. Each successive generation paying lip service to more and more error. Or, in the case of true believers, simply taking as fact things for which they have no evidence, or understanding of.

Anyway, I've digressed quite a bit from the original purpose of this article. Which I'll try to get back to - and that is; what would happen if serious evidence came to light challenging the prevailing worldview?

I've been trying to imagine a similar, conceptual situation to envision what could happen. I'm labelling this The Endless Forest.

Imagine there's a group of people that live at the centre of a huge, vast continent, situated in a huge and equally vast ocean. Now this continent is completely covered in forest, and is so huge that this group of people have never even reached the coast. No one has seen the seaside or the ocean. It's simply a concept they have no knowledge of. All they know is dense, seemingly unending forest.

Now what worldview would these people have? How would they envision their universe? It wouldn't be hard to imagine, even if we just do so hypothetically, that these people would come to envision their universe as just endless forest. Just as we have a vision of infinite space in mind when we conjure the word universe, they may similarly have a vision of infinite forest when they contemplate the entirety of their reality.

So what would happen if some of these people actually reached the coast and saw the boundless ocean for the very first time? How much of a shock would it be? How much would it shake their worldview? And what response would they get from the people back home when they tried to describe their tale?

Again, I wonder would the majority of people even be told. Let's say these intrepid explorers that have reached the edge of their world island return to their civilisation. I imagine the leaders of their respective community would be the first to speak with them. I imagine these leaders would also find it hard to comprehend what it was they were being told. Would they even believe it without firsthand experience? Imagine how serious it would all seem? What if it contradicted well held religious beliefs? Or contradicted the views of the intelligentsia and the leading class?

Of course, it's possible that every member of society would be allowed to know about this new world-changing discovery straight away, as soon as the explorers returned. However, I think it's also just as likely, if not more likely, that most wouldn't be deemed privy to such knowledge. I base this reasoning simply on my observations of most social hierarchies.

For example, if we look at the most basic - the family. Adults generally withhold a lot of knowledge from their children. Normally with the child's best intentions at heart. If a parent is struggling to pay the mortgage they may keep this information from the child - partly because the child simply isn't in the position to help tackle this problem, but also, more importantly, to save the child from the unnecessary worry that would come with knowing such information. In fact, in the past, a man would often even keep such information from his wife. Again the hierarchy; man > woman > children.

Another example is the workplace. Even in mundane professions such as shop or factory work knowledge hierarchies are easily observed. If there's an event or incident that has took place managers and other higher-ups will often huddle together in the office discussing the important information. Meanwhile the rest of the workforce is left out of the loop on the shop floor, wondering what's going on. Even the dullest of information is often guarded with passion by people invested in the hierarchy they're embedded in. Just think how many times you may have asked a simple question at work only to be told "that doesn't concern you"  - even though the information is often utterly mundane.

So I would guess that something as grand as the realisation that there was something vast and unimaginable beyond the forest would be equally restricted to the upper echelons of the social hierarchy. I would imagine that the people deemed important enough to discuss such things would speak privately about this new information, and make plans for further exploration and research to get a better grasp of what exactly was going on. They would leave the education of the people lower down til a later date. They might not even consider it necessary in the immediate future.

This would be the accidental beginnings of a deception. How long would such a deception continue? And to what lengths would people then go to maintain this deception once it's in full flow and people are fully invested in this new status quo?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Earth Agnostic: The Black & White Marble

In this article I'm going to talk about the geographer, politician and writer Sir Halford Mackinder (1861 - 1947).

It's largely due to Mackinder that the subject of Geography became a standard academic discipline. Before Mackinder geography generally wasn't taught as a separate subject. It was his zeal and passion for the subject that led to it being afforded its current status.

Reading up on this promotion of geography by Mackinder I found myself becoming a little bit sceptical, and I couldn't help but wonder if geography was specifically lifted to its higher status as part of some effort to promote a certain view of the world to people going through the education system. Of course, this is purely speculation on my part, and it could well be quite unfounded. However, it does occur to me that of all the subjects on the curriculum geography is possibly the least useful and the most speculative (my apologies to any geography teachers that may be reading). Most of the serious stuff seems to already be covered by the other sciences - and what's left is largely big on theory with little actual proof.

For example, geography is generally where we learn about;
  • Climate Change
  • Global Warming
  • Over-Population
  • Farming and Sustainability
  • Conservation
  • Plate tectonics
  • The Structure of the Earth (Inner/Outer Core, Mantle, etc)
  • Ice Ages and Glaciation

Now there are other less contentious topics that are part of the subject, and this is a bit of a selective list on my part. However, it does show that it's the perfect lesson for shaping a persons view of the world they live in. The first five topics on the list are quite controversial, politically charged topics. And the last three, though more in the realms of actual science, are also quite speculative. Do we really know what's deep beneath the Earth's surface? How far down have we actually been? And, of course, Ice Ages and Glaciation overlap quite heavily with 'climate change' science.

In fact, I remember as a child learning about these topics and believing it all wholeheartedly. They were taught as fact, not theory or opinion. I remember learning about things such as acid rain and rising sea levels and being genuinely fearful of the consequences for the world, myself and my family. The fear of doomsday-style catastrophism was imbibed in me quite strongly as I recall. Along with the guilt of being such a profligate drain on the planet and its resources.

Now that I'm older, and have realised that things such as "Climate Change" aren't as cut and dried as they were first presented, it's hard not to see this aspect of my education as little more than propaganda. Now I'm sure my teachers didn't see it this way, and I'm guessing they genuinely believed in what they were teaching - or at least feigned the belief needed to tick the boxes of the proscribed curriculum. Either way though I'm fairly certain it taught me at the time to believe and not to think.

Moving back to Mackinder though, one thing I found which was quite interesting is the following. It's a photograph of a globe which appeared in his book Britain and the British seas (1902). I found the picture very striking at first as it appeared very similar to modern depictions of the globe. It could almost be a black & white NASA picture.

Although it's presumably just a photograph of a model globe, it's been photographed in such a way as to give the impression of something much closer to the reality. It's quite an impressive image. I think I'll dub it the Black & White Marble.

Another interesting fact about Mackinder is that he more or less invented the discipline of geopolitics. He was the originator of a theory called The Geographical Pivot of History. In this theory he states that whoever controls the area of land labelled the Pivot Area (see diagram below), which pretty much seems to approximate to Russia from what I call tell, by extension controls the world. Or the World Island as Mackinder would often label it. He believed that in order to control this Pivot area (now more commonly called the Heartland area) it was first necessary to control the arching corridor surrounding it, sometimes labelled the Inner Crescent.

He famously coined the following phrase;
"Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
who rules the World-Island commands the world."

It was this theory, pioneered by Mackinder, that later led to ideas such as the Global Chessboard, and this fixation with Eurasia we often get from modern geopolitical strategists.

In fact, I first came across Mackinder in a book I recently read titled A History of the World in Twelve Maps by Jerry Brotton. It contains the following comment made following a talk given by Mackinder;
..Mr Spencer Wilkinson, lamented the absence of Cabinet ministers among the audience. They could learn, he suggested, from Mackinder's explanation that 'whereas only half a century ago statesmen played on a few squares of the chess-board of which the remainder was vacant, in the present day the world is an enclosed chess-board, and every movement of the statesman must take account of all the squares in it'.
Anyone familiar with this blog may recall that I've mentioned Russia and the Arctic Seas before. Speculating that there may be modern mysteries lurking there. So it's interesting that the same area of the world was of similar focus in these earlier works.

Finally, I should also mention that Mackinder was something of a believer in the idea that eventually we'd see a single one world government. Though this sort of thinking was de rigueur for progressives at that time, it seems worth making a note of. In fact, it's hard not to see in Mackinder one of the architects of the modern world.

Earth Agnostic: Flat Earth in Korea ?

First up, I think I'm going to drop the Earth Hoax title I was using previously for these terrestrial/cosmological themed articles and substitute it for the label Earth Agnostic. The term earth hoax implies some kind of deliberate deception in regards the nature of our reality. The term earth agnostic is much more open-ended and comes without any prejudged implication. It's also a more accurate description of my general position.

Anyhow, getting to the theme of this article, I'm going to touch upon the fact that I've noticed that Flat Earth seems to have spread to the Korean world. In a previous article I shared some information from Korean researchers who were suggesting that older maps show things that contradict our official history. Some of this research (at least what I could understand of it) seemed to tally quite nicely with my own. However, from what I could tell it seemed that they weren't aware of the NASA space fakery topic, or the online flat earth revival.

In fact, I was tempted to leave a comment under one of the videos bringing these topics up, however I feared that, even with the help of Google Translate, things would get lost in translation. So I refrained. Interestingly though, when I viewed one of the most recent videos on the topic a few days ago, I noticed that there were actually some "flat earth" comments from Koreans under the video.

The video in question was this one; which discusses the idea that older maps depicted Antarctica quite differently to what is now the case.

One of the comments (you can see I've given it a thumbs up);

Having used Google Translate to read the comments I then decided to search "Flat Earth" ( 평지 ) in Hangul (the Korean alphabet) on YouTube to see what would come up. To my surprise there were quite a lot of videos. So I'm guessing the topic has taken off equally over there.

I've actually started trying to learn Hangul as well. Primarily so I can get a better grasp of the information these map revisionism videos are sharing (and also to sing along to Twice songs :) ).

I tried to mock up a Korean Photo? Or Painting image too. No doubt I've completely failed to convey the sentiment. Looks quite cool though.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Squirrel King; Or the False Dichotomy of Rent Or Mortgage

[The Rent/Mortgage problem is a topic I've touched upon before on this blog. In this article I attempt to explain it in a way that most people will hopefully understand.

Also, for anyone that's came here via the YouTube video you may want to start further down the page; from the "This Is The Human State" heading.]

Imagine a squirrel. He just finds a tree and that's it. He has a home. If he doesn't like it he just finds another tree. Simple.

After that all he has to do is find some acorns. To eat, and maybe to put some aside for the winter. Some days he may collect quite a few. Other days not so many. Either way he can relax safe in the knowledge that even if he starts falling behind he can just pick up the pace a bit.

However, imagine he wasn't allowed to just live in the tree. Let's imagine there is a squirrel king or landlord who owns not just his tree, but all the other trees as well. And that in order for our squirrel to live in his tree he has to pay this Squirrel King let's say 5 acorns a day.

Now imagine our squirrels situation. Everyday, before he can even think about collecting acorns for himself he has to find 5 for the king. Every single day. Imagine the extra workload and the extra stress. Knowing that everyday he has to find 5 acorns just to be in the tree, before he can even do anything else.

What happens if he falls behind? If he has a bad day and finds just 4 acorns. Or finds only 5, but is so hungry he needs to eat a few himself. Then knowing that the next day he needs to find 6 or 7 at least just to get by. Imagine the constant state of anxiety this squirrel would be in.


And this is why most humans are in a constant state of anxiety.

Stressed. Depressed and unable to enjoy their existence.

We wake up everyday knowing that if we don't find enough acorns to pay the rent this week, then next week we'll be homeless. We need to pay this toll every week just to have some place to exist. We're in a constant state of anxiety because of this. Paying to live, sleep and breathe. Never in a position to relax.

Now we automatically accept that it's normal to pay rent or mortgage every week or month, but is it normal, and does it have to be this way? No other animals live like this. In fact, even primitive human tribal groups and nomads don't live like this. I would say it's highly unnatural - and that it's the number one cause of human misery.

In an ideal world everyone should have their own space to exist. Somewhere to sleep, be, relax. Somewhere that belongs to them, that they don't have to constantly pay another human being for the privilege of using.

Now people may say, we can't simply give everyone a house, and I agree it would obviously be a little impractical to do this at this exact moment in time. However, once everyone recognises the problem we can at least start moving towards the concept.

We could for example make housing much much cheaper. It may sound a little crazy to people so unaccustomed to this way of thinking, but I would say that we should be pushing to make a standard house cost as much as a small car.

A young person should be able to save up for say a year and be able to buy a house outright. Then spend the rest of their life without the constant anxiety and stress of needing to pay rent or mortgage week in week out.

There would also be huge benefits for the government and taxpayer in doing this as well. One of the biggest costs when paying state benefits is the cost of Housing Benefit. If someone is unemployed they will get about £75 a week in Jobseekers Allowance, yet maybe £120 a week Housing Benefit. If we had a situation where everybody already owned their own home that £120 bill for the taxpayer would disappear.

On top of this, if everyone owned their own home and wasn't constantly spending the larger portion of their income on rent or mortgage it would be much easier for them to save for a rainy day. Just like the squirrel saving his acorns for the winter. So maybe many unemployed people wouldn't even need the £75 a week, as they'd be in a position to put money aside for such periods of unemployment.

Again, this idea of super cheap housing may seem very alien to people. However, in this idea lies the solution that both the right and the left have been looking for ..but have been unable to see due to this false dichotomy of rent or mortgage.

People on the right of the argument tend to believe in home-ownership, but are too wedded to the belief that high house prices are beneficial to make it accessible to everyone. Whereas people on the left see the problem of high house prices, yet think the answer lies in state ownership, or even communism. The real answer lies in universal home-ownership.

Previous article on the topic; Rent, Mortgage and the Real Origins of Slavery

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Gender Spectrum Explained

I've been following the various controversies regarding gender issues with increasing interest over the last year or so. In the process my opinions have become a little more fixed, and I feel it may be time to express them here on this blog. Some of the opinions will no doubt offend some readers, however this is not my aim, so I hope anyone reading will appreciate my sincerity if not the content.

The idea of gender-fluidity in particular seems something shrouded in confusion at the moment. I would agree that there is some fluidity regarding gender, but that the fluidity isn't quite as fluid as many of the more vocal proponents of the idea often claim.

It might be easier if we imagine a spectrum of gender. At one end extreme masculinity, at the other extreme femininity. With a slightly blurred dividing line in the middle.

(A hypothetical Gender Spectrum where 100 on the left would
represent extreme masculinity and 100 on the right extreme femininity)

Now each of us are born somewhere on this hypothetical (though admittedly crude) spectrum. For instance, I myself am male. However, I'm not the most manly male you'll ever meet. I'm not especially muscly. I don't have a very deep voice. I don't have particularly masculine features. If I had to put myself somewhere on the above chart I'd probably reluctantly put myself somewhere roundabout the 40 mark on the male side. I say reluctantly, because as well as being male I'm also straight, and if I'm being truly honest I would have to say that I'd like members of the opposite sex to see me as being very masculine and consequently more attractive.

Now this gets to the point at hand quite neatly. I could make myself more masculine. I could go to the gym everyday to build my muscles. I could change my diet and lifestyle with the aim of increasing the flow of my male hormones. I could even seek medical treatment and utilise medication. Likewise I could do these things to make myself more feminine. However, there is a limit to how far I can change my nature. No matter how much I try to make myself more manly I'll never be as manly as someone who was born at the far end of the masculine spectrum. And the women that I hope to impress by my endeavours may still view me as being less manly than the more brutish, lumbering jocks I'm up against.

Now, sadly, this is just the way it is, and there isn't too much I can do about it. I may think that the women judging me are being unfair, however I can't force them to see me as more manly. Nor would I want them to pretend they see me as being more masculine just to make me feel better. Though a little sympathy and consideration would be nice :)

If I was born around the 40 mark on the male side of this graph then to some extent I'll always be around that mark, whatever I do - though there is some fluidity, and I may be able to move myself a little one way or the other. Plus, because I'm comfortably on the male side, I'll always be male. And my underlying physiology will always be male, no matter how extremely I try to change this.

So, people can become more feminine or masculine, but the only people who can truly move from the male side to the female side (or vice versa) are the people born around the middle of this chart.

Of course, it should also be noted that there are people who are born with actual physical hermaphroditism. Where their gender is physically undefined or difficult to define. There are also other genetic conditions such as Klinefelter syndrome that can result in hormonal problems. (These issues go beyond the scope of this article and my knowledge on such topics is very limited. So my apologies to anyone reading this if I've misunderstood or misrepresented these issues in any way.)

My own feeling is that people born with actual physical, biological conditions that result in gender issues are often under-represented in the debates surrounding this topic. I feel it's important that everyone on all sides of the argument appreciate that in some cases these decisions are forced upon people, and the parents of people born with such conditions, through no choice of their own.

As for the more contentious issue of people that are born with no such physical condition, but who feel that they have been assigned, or have been born into the wrong gender, this is a slightly different matter. My honest position is one of scepticism. How can someone define what it feels like to be a certain gender? Or how a female brain thinks in a way that is fundamentally different to how a man would think? How can someone make this judgement without it being anything other than subjective? I may feel I think like a man, but without experiencing life through the eyes of another man, or indeed the eyes of a woman, how can I make a relative judgement?

However, saying this, I am very much open to the possibility that some people may have this exact experience, and may feel like the opposite sex from a very early age. I know one transgender person in my real everyday life who claims to have always felt "like a girl" from as young as three years old. I remain sceptical though.

What I would say is that I think it's fundamentally wrong for parents to allow children to be given gender reassignment medication or medical treatment if it's simply based on such feelings. To base such important and serious decisions on something so subjective, without any objective physical evidence to back that up is very dangerous and irresponsible in my opinion.

Of course, that's not to say that I have an issue with adults doing such things for the same reasons. In a free society adults should always have the freedom to change their own body as they wish, and I would always defend a persons right to do so - though I may disagree with their choices at times myself. However, to put an otherwise physically healthy child through such treatment is something I'm very much opposed to, and I can't stress that enough in this article.

I also feel uncomfortable with the idea of telling children that their gender is fluid in school lessons. Especially if it gives the impression that it's perfectly easy to transition from one sex to another. I think gay and lesbian children will be particularly confused by such talk. It's not too hard to imagine that a young girl, noticing that she's attracted to other girls and not boys, could easily come to the erroneous conclusion that she's a boy trapped in a girls body. The idea that it's easy and completely routine to make such a transition would no doubt make the temptation to think such thoughts even more likely.

People often point out that sexual preference and gender are two different things, and they're quite right to do so. However, there is a little bit of correlation between the two. Obviously sex and gender are quite heavily linked - the very purpose of sex in nature being to procreate. So the two issues can't ever be completely separated.

It's also interesting to note, though I may be wandering a little off topic here, that there are benefits and disadvantages to being born on all parts of the gender and sexual spectrum. It could also be argued that it's beneficial to society to have people from all parts of it.

In my general experience there seems to be a bit of a balanced relationship between sex and creativity. For example, at both ends of the spectrum we have the same stereotypical image - at one end the dizzy, ditzy, but attractive woman, and at the other end the ape-like dominant male. The stereotypical bimbo and the stereotypical jock. Now both these stereotypes are generalisations and perhaps a little bit unfair as well. However, there is some truth to these generalisations, and in a general sense at least I think most people would agree they recognise these stereotypes. The people at the extreme ends of the gender spectrum also tend to be the people who are more successful with the opposite sex, and more likely to settle down and have children. A very important job in society of course.

Alternately we can also see that people towards the middle of this spectrum tend to be more creative and academic. Most pop stars and musicians, both male and female, have a tendency towards the androgynous. This is quite clear to see from Bowie to Lady Gaga and so on. Also, if you imagine say, a science laboratory, you'll probably notice that most the men working there are a little more on the geeky side than the musclebound. And likewise the women there will tend to be more serious than girly. Again these are stereotypical generalisations, and there are of course countless exceptions to the rule. There is though a certain truth to these observations.

Returning to myself. Though it's a little disappointing that I'll never be considered the most rough and manly of males to many of the women I meet. At the same time I probably wouldn't be sat here writing this article if I was more of a stereotypical unthinking hulk. There are benefits to both positions, and neither are necessarily right or wrong - just different. Wider society probably benefits from having this variation too.

The natural influence sexual desire has on society means that it can be hard for people outside the statistical norms of both sex and gender. We all have this innate desire to be found attractive. Or even just to simply fit in. So if we don't fit the norm it can be difficult, and the further from the norm the harder it often gets. Consequently the small fraction of people that are born on the blurred line of the gender divide often have it hardest of all. So it's important that such people are given the utmost consideration by wider society. However, it's also important that honest consideration is given. The reality is that there may be no easy answers for people born in such difficult positions. Pretending everyone is equally normal doesn't really work in real life. It just creates a false facade over an already existing reality.

I also worry that our desire to normalise people that are statistically-speaking not normal is kind of missing the point a little bit. Maybe this otherness should be acknowledged as other and celebrated as such. Androgynous rock stars are not normal people, and if everyone was normal there would be no such rock stars. Or poets, or painters, or original thinkers.

There are benefits to being different as well as negative consequences. Maybe both these aspects need to be considered when we think about the type of society we'd like to live in. I often think of how in India people born with physical differences are worshipped as gods. I'm not sure how true this is, or how practically useful this would be in reality, but in some ways it does seem like a more healthy attitude to have. Maybe it's because of our inherited western mindset that we have this situation where if a child is born, let's say hermaphrodite, we see the need to medicate the "problem" away so no one ever sees it, and so that the child can go through life appearing perfectly normal to everyone else.

Maybe if we had a different cultural heritage having a friend that was hermaphrodite would be no different to having a friend that was gay or lesbian. Maybe it would just be another natural variation of the human type.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

EARTH HOAX; Antarctic Real Estate

In a previous article I mentioned how the Spanish had underestimated the breadth of the Pacific Ocean in the 16th century. A narrower Pacific, of course, would also mean a smaller globe - i.e. the distance around the circumference of the Earth would be shorter.

Interestingly, Columbus originally underestimated the circumference of the Earth as well. He believed the distance was significantly shorter, so much so that he was confident that on sailing west he would, in reasonable time, reach the east coast of Asia. Had the Americas not been in his way his journey would have been almost impossibly long due to this drastic miscalculation.

The following passage is from a book titled The History of Cartography by Beau Riffenburgh;
The navigator [Columbus] believed the estimates produced in the ninth century by the Persian astronomer Alfraganus (Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Kasir al-Farghani), which indicated that a degree of latitude at the equator was equal to approximately 91km (56.7 miles). However, Columbus did not realize that Alfraganus was working in Arabian miles (about 1,830 m) rather than Italian miles (about 1,240 m). This caused Columbus to underestimate the circumference of the Earth[.]
In the same passage the author also notes how the famed astronomer Ptolemy had underestimated the circumference of the Earth in the 2nd century AD;
He underestimated the size of the Earth and indicated that Europe and Asia combined to cover half of the planet's circumference, whereas in actuality these two continents extend to only 130° (rather than 180°).
So we have a situation where Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the Earth to a reasonable degree of accuracy two hundred years before Christ. Then four hundred years later Ptolemy is less accurate. Then the Persians re-calculate it accurately once again in the 9th century. Only for Columbus six hundred years later to regress back. Then on top of this, in the following century, the Spanish (who actually sailed both oceans) still remained in error about the circumference.

Now on this blog I've speculated that the current measurement of the Pacific Ocean could be wrong. Obviously this is quite a bold, and possibly very foolish thing to think, but if the world map is wrong in any way - and questioning the validity of the map is the very purpose of this blog series - then it would be much easier to misrepresent the oceans than it would to misrepresent the landmasses. The land gets lots of people traffic - billions of humans are milling about on foot and in cars every day, but the oceans much less so - and then it's mainly the traffic of people being ferried by boat or plane, who have only a vague idea of the vast journeys they're making.

So if this was the case what would be the consequences for the rest of the globe? For a start if the Pacific was slightly narrower the circumference of the Earth would be smaller. Also there would not only be less ocean, but also a little less space at either pole.

I've already looked at the North Pacific and the Arctic in previous articles on this blog, however I've yet to look at the Antarctic. So if we follow a straight line south through the middle of the Pacific Ocean where do we reach?

A place called Marie Byrd Land, named after the wife of the famous polar explorer Admiral Byrd. Oddly it's the only part of Antarctica not subject to a territorial claim by any individual sovereign country.

Marie Byrd Land (in pink)
[By Jfblanc - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link]

[The claimants to the other segments of Antarctica are the U.K., New Zealand, Norway, France, Australia, Chile and Australia.]

If we look at the following map from Wikipedia of research stations in Antarctica we can also see that Marie Byrd Land seems strangely devoid of activity.

Antarctic Stations Map
(Click to enlarge)

Interesting. Although, it should also be noted that there have been Antarctic research stations in this part of Antarctica in the past - such as Byrd Station, established during Operation Deep Freeze II, and a Russian station called Russkaya.

Where is the Curvature? Where?

On a final note it's worth mentioning, especially as we're talking about Antarctica here, that a smaller circumference of the Earth would also mean more observable curve - i.e. it would be easier to see the curvature of the Earth's surface, as the globe itself would be slightly smaller in relation to any observer. This is a familiar topic for anyone interested it the current Flat Earth revival online.

Interestingly, if we look at the UN logo - one of the favoured, in-your-face, flat earth depictions - you can see that the more recent version (first introduced in 1946) shows a Pacific Ocean somewhat broader than what's shown in the original logo (which was produced in 1945). Now I'm sure this was purely a question of aesthetic taste on the part of the UN. After all, it's meant to be a symbol of the world and not necessarily an accurate usable map. Still, though, it's quite interesting.

The current version of the flag

You'll notice in the above depiction that Australia and South America are separated by approximately 3/8 of the map - or about three pizza slices if that's easier to visualize :)

However, on the original 1945 version below the distance is more like 2 and half slices.

UN flag, April 1945

Again, I'd say the more recent version probably looks more pleasing to the eye, plus the continents seem less chunky and distorted. So I'm guessing the change in ocean distance is more a consequence of design than actual measurement.

Oddly though the International Maritime Organization still use a logo that's similar to the original.

The flag of the International Maritime Organization 

You would think these guys would get the seas right :)

An interesting explanation of why the design of the flag was changed is given on Wikipedia;
The globe used in the original design was an azimuthal projection focused on the North Pole with the United States, the host nation of the conference, at the centre. The projection that was used cut off portions of the Southern Hemisphere at the latitude of Argentina, which was acceptable at the time, as Argentina was not planned to be an original member of the United Nations. The projection was later altered so that no country will be at prominence within the flag. The new logo was now designed so that the globe is bisected in the centre by the Prime Meridian and the International Date Line.