Wednesday, November 16, 2016

EU Discussion: Limits on the Sizes of Democracies

There's one topic that has been noticeably lacking in all the discussions we've had on the question of EU membership, and that is the question of how large a functioning democracy should be - i.e. what is the optimum size of a democratic state?
One thing you'll notice when looking at both the EU parliament and the British parliament is their respective sizes.

There are currently 650 MPs in the British House of Commons.

There are currently 751 MEPs in the European Parliament.

Quite similar figures. Especially when one considers that there are approximately 510 million people in the EU, but only 64 million people in the UK. Were the EU to become the true primary democracy in Europe that would be quite a dilution in regards representation.

(Incidentally, the United States with a population of approximately 319 million has a Congress of 535 politicians - 435 Representatives and 100 Senators).

So why such similar figures for the number of MPs?

The answer is a simple and practical one. There's a limit to the number of people you can have speaking in a single room before it becomes simply unworkable.

This is something that goes to the very heart of the democratic process.

Let's imagine how the democratic process would function in a small village. Let's say there are 100 people. Each could go to the local village hall, express their opinion, listen to the opinions of the other 99 (should they each choose to give one), then vote on the particular issue at hand. This would be a truly fair and democratic way for a democracy to function, and everyone would be truly equal.

However, what happens when there are 1000 people, or 10,000 people. The higher the number the less practical it becomes for this pure form of democracy to function. There are simply not enough hours in the day for everyone to give an opinion and have it heard by the rest of the group, nor a room big enough for everyone to sit down and be able to hear said opinions. Even the simple practise of voting on the issue at hand would be a time and resource consuming exercise.

It's at this point that representational democracy is needed. Instead of each person turning up at a parliament to speak and vote for themselves they would choose to elect an individual to go and speak on their behalf. So, in a town of say 100,000 people each suburb or ward would elect an individual to be their representative. Let's say each ward has 1,000 people, and each ward elects a single representative, there would then be 100 representatives sat in the town hall making decisions on behalf of the 100,000.

This is still democratic of course. However, it's a massive dilution of the process. An individual goes from having the chance to represent themselves in person and voting on each and every issue, to simply getting the opportunity to vote for someone else to represent them once every year, or four years, or whatever the case may be.

There's also the problem that you may end up being represented by someone you didn't even vote for. In which case the person representing you may have completely different views or desires than yourself.

So coming back to the EU vs UK question it seems to be quite clear that the British people would be much better represented by a UK parliament than a European one. And again it's just a case of numbers. There are only so many pieces of information a single person can process at any one time. For example, imagine a single EU President making decisions for the entire continent. How could one man simultaneously know what was going on in Barcelona, Edinburgh, Krakow, Milan, Manchester and everywhere else well enough to make good executive decisions about those places.

Here in the UK we often complain about Westminster politicians not representing the north of England, or Wales, or Scotland adequately (in fact, this is one of the good arguments for Scottish Independence). Again though this is once again a problem of practicality. Westminster politicians have a bias towards the south-east of England simply because that's where they spend most of their time. Teresa May doesn't wake up in the morning and deliberately plot to marginalise the north of England. She simply isn't fully aware of what's happening up here on a daily basis - i.e. she has more information about her immediate surroundings than she does about distant places.

It completely stands to reason that someone living in the south will be more aware of problems facing the south than they are of problems facing the north. This is just basic logic.

For example, I live in the northern town of Middlesbrough. Consequently I have a good understanding and general knowledge about what's going on here. Were I a politician I could probably represent the town quite well. However, conversely, I have very little knowledge regarding what's going on in the city of Newcastle (even though it's only about 30 miles away). So, even with the best intentions in the world it would be very difficult for me to represent the people of Newcastle better than a person that actually lives in that city and witnesses its problems firsthand could do.

So, in summary, it's your local politicians job to adequately represent you. You should be able to speak to them in person at times, or send them letters or emails. However, even the most conscientious of politicians can only read a certain amount of correspondence in a given day. Or educate themselves regarding a certain number of issues or topics in any given amount of time.

How could 751 MEPs ever adequately represent 500 million people? More to the point how could a single EU President adequately provide good governance? Especially when you take into account all the varying language and cultural barriers across the continent. On top of this we have a growing population, not a shrinking one. Surely we need more representation, not less representation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hyperbolic Perspective: Bedroom in Arles

In my last post I was discussing the book Space-Perception and the Philosophy of Science by Patrick A. Heelan. This is a follow-on post focusing on one aspect of the book where he mentions the possibility that artists from the past may have tried to incorporate hyperbolic perspective into their artwork.

The most striking example in the book concerns the work of Vincent van Gogh, in particular his painting Bedroom in Arles.

This is the painting in question.


Heelan points out that the painting, instead of following the conventions of standard linear perspective that artists would normally use, actually tries to capture or convey the curved hyperbolic space within which we actually see the world. 

Whether Van Gogh was consciously trying to achieve this effect or simply following his own artistic or aesthetic instincts is an issue of contention. However, intentional or not, Heelan provides images that illustrate how this painting differs from how such a room would normally be painted using standard perspective techniques.

The first image (Figure 6.5) shows how the bedroom would be depicted using standard linear perspective. Note the straight regimented box-like structure of the room.


However, in this second image (Figure 6.6) we see Heelan has traced over the Van Gogh painting, showing how radically it differs from the first. Note for example how the bottom edge of the bed at the front of the painting appears to curve. Also note the angle of the walls, and how they appear to form a single curving wall, as oppose to what should be three distinct ones. Likewise note how the seats of the chairs appear to tilt towards the viewer. If you study the image you'll notice many other "distortions" like this.


It's a very fascinating thing to take note of, and something I would never have thought to look for in a painting had it not been for this book. I guess the real question then is; does the Van Gogh version look more realistic than the one following the standard conventions of perspective?

Does it more accurately depict what we actually see with our eyes when we stand in the real world and view objects? It's a difficult question to answer.

Of course, the Van Gogh painting wasn't intended as a photo-realistic image. The intention was no doubt more an artistic rendering, an interpretation of reality, so that needs to be taken into account too. However, even photographs can't capture the reality of what we actually see when we're experiencing full 3D reality, and this goes to the heart of the issue, and is why Heelan in his book claims that hyperbolic perspective offers a much better approximation of what we actually see with our eyes than Euclidean renderings can.

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For anyone who'd like further information on this topic I recommend the following web page. It's a blog post by an artist called Rob Adams, and it explains the issue of spherical perspective better than anything else I've come across online. It's very easy to understand and explains the problems that can arise when attempting to render what we see in the real world in a 2-dimensional image. He also explains the famous "fish-eye" lens effect in a way that's very concise and easy to understand. I really can't recommend the article more highly.

Hyperbolic Perspective: The Visual Dome You Experience

Anyone familiar with this blog will probably know that I became fascinated with the flat earth topic last year - a fascination which continues. It led me to question many of my previously held assumptions and I've since been trying to understand the world from the ground up - i.e. from a first person perspective. Using evidence from my own eyes and other senses as my primary source of information.

Anyway, inspired by the arguments made by leading flat earthers concerning perspective, I quickly began to realise that much of what we see in the sky follows curved lines of perspective. Just watching airplanes fly overhead, or the passage of the Sun or Moon across the sky shows that they follow curved paths relative to the observer. After searching online I found that the correct name for what I'd been noticing was hyperbolic vision (or hyperbolic perspective). I also came across the following book on Google Books, which I felt compelled to purchase. That was back in about March of this year, and since then I've slowly been worming my way through the book in between other things.

The book is called Space-Perception and the Philosophy of Science by Patrick A. Heelan.


(Some of you au fait with the flat earth renaissance may have already noticed the picture on the cover illustrating how perspective makes clouds appear to slope off to the horizon.)

First a note on the author. Patrick Aidan Heelan was an Irish-American physicist and philosopher of science. He died quite recently in 2015, and was professor of philosophy at Georgetown University. This particular book was published by the University of California Press, Berkeley. Oddly, at least to my mind anyway, he was also a Jesuit priest. Maybe this isn't surprising given his Irish background, but it still seemed a little strange to me. The book is a very academic work, and it wouldn't have led me to think it was the work of a modern day Jesuit had I not read it on his Wikipedia page. In fact, for anyone thinking about reading the book themselves be warned it is very heavy going. I had to reach for the dictionary on quite a few occasions xD There's also a fair bit of maths involved. It's well worth reading and I feel very fortunate to have found it, but it's not a light read by any stretch of the imagination.

The book is mainly focused upon how we interpret the information we receive through our senses and scientific instruments, and the implications this may have regarding our wider scientific philosophies. It also makes the case that hyperbolic vision describes the world we see and experience better than Euclidean geometry does in certain cases.

It would be very difficult for me to do the book justice in a few short paragraphs, and I fear if I try to explain it I may end up misrepresenting the ideas and themes contained within - either through my inability to articulate them, or through my own misunderstanding of them. Like I said, it's quite a heavy going book. So I thought I would make things a little easier by simply sharing some of the images from the book.

This first one seeks to illustrate the way hyperbolic space (i.e. visual perspective) creates a curved image of the actual world. If I'm interpreting it correctly the boxes on the left of the line represent the actual world, and those on the right represent what the observer would actually see.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

The image may seem a little confusing at first, but once you realise that the horizontal line in the centre (the one with the arrow on it) represents the ground and the person is standing at the centre looking towards "P'" it starts to make a little more sense. It might be easier if you imagine the "boxes" to be very large buildings or structures of some sort - like you're in a huge hall or corridor and the ceiling seems to be sloping to the horizon as it gets further from you.

The next two images should seems a little more straight forward. One shows how the clouds or sky seem to create a dome shape over your head due to these effects of perspective, and the other shows the same effect but looking down at the ground from a balloon, with the ground appearing to curve upwards.



If you can read the text under the second image you may notice it states "the flat earth as seen from a balloon". No doubt the flat earth reference is just pure coincidence, either way though I'm sure you can all make up your own conspiracy theories about Jesuit priests hiding flat earth in plain sight.

I'll leave things there for now. Interestingly, the book also talks about how hyperbolic space may have been utilised by artists such as Vincent van Gogh in the past. This will be the topic of my next blog post. Effectively a "Part 2" to this post.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Rent, Mortgage and the Real Origins of Slavery

I've realised there's a big misconception when it comes to slavery.

The general view, logical though it sounds, is that people are forced into slavery by the fact that slave-owners are unwilling to pay people for their labour.

The logical consequence of this thinking then being that "paid work" is something of a step up from slavery ;- paid work equals freedom, unpaid work equals slavery.

This is the view I'd always held and it appears logical enough at first view. However, after reading up on how people were actually forced into slavery in former times I've come to realise that this view is very much incorrect  ..and that our misconceptions on this are fueling much of the misery we see in human society today.

So ..how did slavery really start?

The example that really opened my eyes was the story of how the American continent was discovered and conquered by Europeans.

Now to simplify things it seems there were two categories that individual Europeans could fall into when heading for this New World.

The first type were people simply looking for new land to start a new life - people who simply wanted a little slice of land to live on, feed themselves and raise a family.

The second type were people with grander ambitions - these people wanted to become rich and powerful. To rise up the social ladder, either in the Americas or back home in Europe, through the acquisition of money, resources and power.

Now it's this second group that we owe the slavery in the Americas to ..and this is why;

When these explorers went over in search of wealth and fame they decided to set up plantations and mines in order to exploit the natural resources of the land. However, they needed people to work on these plantations and down these mine pits.

So, they turned to the native population ...BUT the native population didn't want to spend their lives working on a plantation or down a mine ..not even if they were being paid. And they couldn't be persuaded to do so.

This is because they already had everything they needed and wanted.

They had homes - they didn't need to pay rent or mortgage for the luxury of having a home. Water fell from the sky and could be taken from streams or rivers for free. All they really had to do was find food - either by hunting, foraging or growing it themselves. And this only took a few hours a day. (Even today Amazonian tribes only spend a few hours a day "working").

So they had everything they needed, they were their own boss and they only had to work a fraction of the time that we do now (and certainly only a small fraction of the time they would've had to spend working down a mine or on a plantation - pay or no pay).

The idea of working all day, every day simply wasn't attractive to them - and given the choice who on earth would choose otherwise.

So, the plantation and mine owners had to literally hunt down the natives and force them at knife point or gun point to work (this is where we get the modern business term "head-hunting" from). They also had to ship slaves over from Africa.

So, they had to enslave people, not because they didn't want to pay people, but because the people simply did not want to work for them full stop.

..and this illustrates just how crazy our modern way of living is, and likewise illustrates how it's the Rent & Mortgage factor that is forcing us to work such extreme hours. As it's this need to pay rent or mortgage that is one of the driving forces behind why we have to go "out to work" in the first place.

For most people rent or mortgage is the biggest bill they have to pay. It often accounts for at least half of someones outgoings.

So, think about this, most people are going out to work primarily to pay for the privilege of having somewhere to live. Somewhere to exist. Somewhere to breathe. Somewhere to sleep. Somewhere to eat. Somewhere to BE.

Isn't that kinda crazy? Most native peoples took it for granted that they were entitled to somewhere to exist. They weren't paying for the right to simply breathe in and out somewhere. Yet we are, and we think we're free.

If we all had somewhere to live - rent or mortgage free - we would all have to work only half the time we do. We'd all be happier, healthier. Society would be better in every way.

So how is it that we've come to find ourselves in a system where we have to pay money to another human being simply for the right to exist somewhere?

I'd say we're all entitled to at least a little bit of land by birth.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lugh, Lugs Lodge and the Tuatha Dé Danann

A little bit of word investigation today.

This all started with some speculation with a friend about a building in my home town of Middlesbrough. The building concerned was the old synagogue near Albert Park. The building is not in use as a synagogue anymore and has now been converted into apartments. The building is named Lugs Lodge and has a big 33 above the door (it being house no.33 on the road).


Having read lots of books about conspiracy theories and Freemasons controlling the world the name Lugs Lodge, along with the big 33, used to fascinate me no end. And I often wondered what the building was for and why it was so named. When I discovered it was simply a bunch of flats or apartments it seemed a little more mundane than I had imagined.

The fact that it used to be a synagogue also interested me as well. It seems odd that there was once a flourishing Jewish community in Middlesbrough that has since dwindled away. There's also a small Jewish cemetery in town, which again has always seemed a little poignant and enigmatic to me.

Anyhow, after recently speaking with a friend about the building I decided to look up the name Lug to see if there was a meaning to it (of course, it could simply be the name, or nickname, of the person who owns the apartment block, but that would be way too boring).

I found that the name Lug, or Lugh, is the name of an Irish deity, depicted in texts as a hero or high-king. The etymology of the name was particularly intriguing. According to Wikipedia it either means light or oath - both quite fitting masonic motifs.
"Lugh's name has been interpreted as deriving from the Proto-Indo-European root *leuk-, "flashing light", and he is often surrounded by solar imagery, so from Victorian times he has often been considered a sun god, similar to the Greco-Roman Apollo though historically he is only ever equated with Mercury."
"Juliette Wood interprets Lugh's name as deriving from the Celtic root *lugios, "oath", and the Irish word lugh connotes ideas of "blasphemy, cussing, lies, bond, joint, binding oath", which strengthens the identification with Mercury, who was, among other attributes, a god of contracts."
Reading up on Lugh also led me to read up on the Tuatha Dé Danann - the supernatural tribe from Irish mythology that Lugh was said to descend from.

The Tuatha Dé Danann often pop up in relation to conspiracies on-line. What struck me though was the Tu sound at the beginning of the name. I've mentioned this sound on here before, and how it seems to pop up in history again and again. Jew, Dieu, Jutes, Teu(-tonic), Tudors, Tiw (pronounced Tu) - the god from which we get the name Tuesday. I've even linked it to the words Druid and David.

I read all these names to essentially mean god or godly people. So it was something of a reaffirmation to read the etymology of the name Tuatha Dé Danann on Wikipedia.
"The Old Irish word tuath (plural tuatha) means "people, tribe, nation"; dé is the genitive case of día and, depending on context, can mean "god, gods, goddess" or more broadly "supernatural being, object of worship""
The dé/dia part of the name also chimes quite well. Similar to the French Dieu, the Spanish Dios also means god. (The name Tudor is said to be a Welsh variation on the Greek Theo or Theodore, again meaning god.) In fact, all these names seem to just repeat over and over. Just looking again at the name Theodore - dore could be linked to door or Druid - the name Dürer, as in the famed Albrecht Dürer meant door.

Interestingly, Wikipedia then goes on to state the following;
"In the earliest writings, the mythical race are referred to as the Tuath Dé (plural Tuatha Dé). However, Irish monks also began using the term Tuath Dé to refer to the Israelites, with the meaning "People of God". Apparently to avoid confusion with the Israelites, writers began to refer to the mythical race as the Tuath Dé Danann"
The fact that Irish monks equated the name Tuath Dé with the Israelites is fascinating and once again plays into the idea that our current interpretation of history is quite confused. Anyone who has read my previous posts will be aware that I have a vague reinterpretation of history that states that the history of the Jewish peoples is quite different to what we think (like most of human history). I'm of the opinion that most Jewish people have roots that lie in Europe and that these roots go as deep as all the other peoples of Europe (Judas in medieval times was generally depicted with white skin and red hair).

I think many of the problems we see in the world today stem from our confusion regarding history.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Flat Earth Updates: Fortean Times, Nexus Magazine and More On Murrow

In November I wrote an article mentioning that the alternative magazine Fortean Times had briefly referenced Flat Earth within its pages.

http://birkhallsmiscellany.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/flat-earth-fortean-times.html

In that article I also speculated about when and if they would be doing any larger articles about it in the future. Anyway, in the most recent edition of the magazine (March 2016) they did a double page spread on the topic. The focus of the article was the American rapper B.o.B.'s recent conversion to flat-earthism and his much publicised 'beef' with the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The article then goes on to give an overview of the history of flat earth belief, mentioning Parallax, Shenton et al. It was a decent article, but unsurprisingly was somewhat dismissive of its topic. It'll be interesting to see if this is just a one off appearance for flat earth or whether it gets further page time.
(Fortean Times double page spread)

In the last month or so the flat earth issue has also came up in the pages of another magazine I regularly read. This time the magazine NEXUS (issue: Feb/Mar 2016). For anyone unfamiliar NEXUS is an alternative magazine that covers topics such as UFOs, ancient mysteries, alternative health, that sort of thing. The mention of flat earth came in the Letters to the Editor section. One reader wrote in asking why the topic wasn't being covered by the magazine.
"..because of a conspicuous and curious lack of coverage on one particular (and one huge) conspiracy, I am beginning to see your magazine as having a set agenda, as disappointing as it may be. Where is your open-mindedness? Why is there no coverage at all about the flat Earth awakening that has been happening this past year? YouTube is awash with overwhelming evidence that any logical, open-minded truth-seeker cannot ignore. Is your magazine simply too invested in promoting the idea of aliens from other planets and the spinning globe to dare touch this topic? My decision to reluctantly cancel my subscription awaits your response."
The editor gave a lengthy reply which included the following;
"I am well aware of the recent resurgence in the flat Earth theory. The YouTube clips I've see of it seem to stem from interpretations of horizon distance and curvature anomalies which, in my opinion, are not evidence of a flat Earth. In my view there are many false beliefs about light and gravity which hinder a proper understanding of the whole subject. For example, the "speed" of light varies with latitude, and gravity is not a property of mass. I believe in the existence of a charged aether and thus that gravity is not a pull from "within" but a push from "without". ...The Earth is not flat, which is why there has been no coverage in NEXUS."
Again, it'll be interesting to see if the magazine continues with this attitude, or if it softens its opinion and starts to give the topic more leeway.
(NEXUS magazine)

On a side note, I've just been flicking through the pages of NEXUS whilst writing this and have noticed that there's an article in it about animal testing, which I'll probably read in the coming week or so. It reminded me of another aspect of the flat earth movement that's been making me think of late. Namely, the flat earther Eric Dubay. If you go by YouTube views and subscriptions Dubay is probably the leading flat earther out there. I generally like his videos, and he speaks very well whenever I've heard him in interviews, however he has a fondness for Hitler and an attitude to the Jewish people that makes it hard for me to follow his work without feeling a little bit uncomfortable.

Anyway, here's what's been on my mind lately. Dubay is also an active vegan - animal rights feature quite heavily in his videos along with the flat earth stuff. Now, as I've mentioned on this site before, I'm a vegetarian, and the whole not-killing-animals thing is quite a big deal for me. It's something I'm quite passionate about. Anyway, watching Dubay's videos has not only reinforced my passion for the vegetarian issue, but it's also even helped to push me towards veganism a little more. I've stopped eating eggs, and have even started to question the eating of diary products (although it's probably fairly unlikely I'll give them up any time soon).

So I find myself in a position where I have a lot of admiration for someone in regards their attitude to animals - even to the point where that person has actually influenced my life personally. But, at the same time, their views on other issues, in this case the Nazis issue, are quite unpalatable to me. It's an odd mix.

So, I don't subscribe to him on YouTube because he expresses some opinions I disagree with. Yet at the same time I subscribe to plenty of people on YouTube that eat meat, and who by extension are inflicting suffering on animals on a daily basis - something I'm strongly against. I don't really know where I'm going here, but I feel I should at least state on record my feelings of hypocrisy.

..And Finally Murrow

Finally, the last topic I was going to touch upon, before I got sidetracked - the topic of Edward R. Murrow. A couple of posts back I wrote about Murrow and his possible propaganda work on such issues as the Earth Hoax and atomic weapons in the 1950s. I also mentioned how he was the broadcaster who helped instigate the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

http://birkhallsmiscellany.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/earth-hoax-nuke-hoax-with-edward-r.html

Anyway, I recently came across an article on-line that noted the relationship between McCarthy and the Kennedys. We'd normally expect the Kennedys and McCarthy to be at polar opposites on the political spectrum, with the Kennedys as darlings of the liberal left and McCarthy viewed as a right wing anti-communist anachronism. However, there seems to be clear evidence that the two had a lot in common - and that they maybe even shared a common cause. A cause that no doubt led to the downfall of both.

The relationship started with a friendship that developed between McCarthy and Joseph Kennedy, father of JFK and Bobby. However, both JFK and Bobby would also grow to become good friends him.

The article in question is quite short and I highly recommend reading it. I'll quote some of the important bits below.
http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/progjfk2.htm

The following excerp concerns Robert Kennedy, McCarthy and the aforementioned Murrow.
...the younger Kennedy brother would maintain a deep loyalty to a man he loved enough to make the godfather of his first child. In 1955, Bobby displayed his residual feelings of loyalty for McCarthy even after the Senator's fall into disgrace at a dinner meeting described by the court historian of Camelot himself, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
"Still his Irish conception of loyalty turned him against some he felt had treated McCarthy unfairly. In January 1955, Edward R. Murrow [who had issued a famous anti-McCarthy telecast the previous year] spoke at the banquet honoring those, Kennedy among them, who had been selected by the Junior Chamber of Commerce as the Ten Outstanding Young Men of 1954. Kennedy grimly walked out."
Another incident, this time concerning JFK, shows the same respect for the man. This incident happened at a Harvard dinner;
[..]when a speaker had likened McCarthy to the convicted Soviet spy Alger Hiss, JFK rose to his feet and declared "How dare you couple the name of a great American patriot with that of a traitor!" and walked out.
How odd this is when viewed against the normal mainstream backdrop of American history.

Another article on the same site lists the links of friendship between JFK and that other arch political villain Richard Nixon.
http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/progjfk1.htm

Have we got Nixon all wrong as well? To be honest my ignorance of American politics means I wouldn't know either way really. My views of Nixon are mainly informed by episodes of the Simpsons and John Lennon records xD ..maybe I need to educate myself, then re-educate myself on the issue :)

A good rule of thumb to start with would maybe be; if he really was a bad guy, the powers that be wouldn't have let him fall from grace

After all, they seem to look after the real bad guys don't they - maybe Nixon had some redeeming moral features that stopped him from being truly useful to them :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Flat Earth/Ball Earth in the Alexander Romance

I've just finished reading The Greek Alexander Romance, translated by Richard Stoneman. For those unfamiliar the Alexander Romance is a collection of stories and legends about the famous conqueror Alexander the Great. The collection has had many variants and has appeared in many different languages throughout the ages (this version tries to draw on all of them).
The "real" Alexander was said to have lived in the 4th century BC, and was supposedly tutored by the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle. I've put real in quotes because personally I'm sceptical that there ever was a real Alexander. According to official historians Alexander was a real king, that really did conquer large parts of the ancient world, and that really was tutored by the philosopher Aristotle. The official historians also state that the Alexander Romance is largely mythical nonsense and made-up fairytale stories. In fact, this is why it's called a romance - history books that don't fit official history because they're too outlandish get relabelled as romances. Even though the people who originally wrote and read these stories in bygone times never made such a distinction.

So we have a situation where academics basically pick and choose which pieces of the written record to believe and which not to believe. In this case they're quite happy to believe that Alexander was tutored by the great Aristotle, but not that interested in believing that he had conversations with talking trees (one of the many strange events that occur in the Alexander Romance).

Anyhow, The Greek Alexander Romance was an excellent read and I highly recommend it :) I could spend a full blog post going through all the various interesting tales and ideas within it [in fact, my book is covered in pencil scribbles where I've made little notes about it]. I should also mention how easy it was to read - it was actually an enjoyable experience, unlike say, Homer's Iliad which I found a real test of endurance. I can totally see why these tales about Alexander were so popular in medieval times, and why they appeared in so many variations and languages.

Finally though I'll get to the Flat Earth/Ball Earth bits.

The book contains one bit where it implicitly states that the Earth is round, then many other bits where it's implied that it's flat and has edges. I guess this is to be expected given that it's a composite of various tales and traditions.

The mention of the Earth being round comes in a passage where the Persian king Darius mocks Alexander by sending him a ball (thus implying that Alexander is a child and should still be playing with toys). Alexander replies with the following statement;
I accepted the ball, as a sign that I shall be ruler of the world - for the world is spherical like a ball.
This implies that whoever wrote this section of the story (assuming the story being relayed isn't actually true of course) believed that the Earth was round. This would suggest that there were people that believed the Earth was round at least as early as the medieval period. It's just then a case of how old or authentic you believe these texts to actually be [I've mentioned my general scepticism about the dating of texts in other posts on here before].

The parts of the text that imply that the Earth is flat are much less clear, but they nevertheless conflict with the above passage. There are constant references to Alexander trying to reach the edge of the world - of course, this could be taken in a more symbolic sense though. There's also a passage where Alexander is carried high into the sky by a large bird and sees the entire world;
"Look down on earth, Alexander!" I looked down, somewhat afraid, and behold, I saw a great snake curled up, and in the middle of the snake a tiny circle like a threshing-floor [a threshing floor is a floor, normally circular, that was used to separate out grain by the trampling of feet in days of yore]. Then my companion said to me, "Point your spear at the threshing-floor, for that is the world. The snake is the sea that surrounds the world."
This visual image would imply that the world is a disc of land on a vast ocean, but again I guess it could be open to interpretation. (On a side note doesn't it often feel like we're the grain. Maybe a threshing floor is quite an apt description.)

Another thing that caught my eye that maybe could relate to flat earth thinking came when Alexander met the Brahmins or naked philosophers of India. He asked them several questions, one of which was "Which is stronger, death or life?" They replied "Life, because the sun as it rises has strong, bright rays, but when it sets, appears to be weaker."

I thought this was quite an odd statement, but it did bring to mind how instantly the morning light seems to come upon us, and how gradually the daylight seems to fade in the evening. Evening is in between morning and night, but what's in between night and morning? I'm sure this is just a question of perception, after all we're normally tucked up in bed in the early hours of the morning, so we rarely experience the true break of dawn, but I thought it was an interesting thing to make note of.

A final thing I thought was worth mentioning concerned the continents of the world, and came in a bit about Alexander taking on the Amazons - the famed female warriors of Greek myth. Mention of the name Amazon of course makes most people think of the Amazon river in South America, however we're told by historians that these ancient Amazons dwelt somewhere completely different. This would obviously make complete sense given that the New World was only discovered by Europeans about 500 years ago - long after the ancient Amazons were said to exist. In fact, if I recall correctly I think one story goes that the Amazon river was so named by European explorers because they encountered vicious female warriors along the river - which reminded them of the Greek tales.

However, setting conventional history aside for a moment, it's interesting to note how the country of the Amazons is described in the Alexander Romance.
We live in the hinterland across the river Amazon. Our country is completely encircled by a river, and it takes a year to travel around it. There is only one entrance.
If you take encircled by a river to mean encircled by an ocean then this would be a pretty decent description of the South American continent. A year to travel around it would certainly suggest a landmass of continent size. The one entrance possibly being the Isthmus of Panama in middle America. In fact, somewhat coincidentally, the Isthmus of Panama is also known as the Isthmus of Darien - and the name Darien is said to derive from the Persian name Darius. As mentioned above Darius is the Persian king that Alexander spends much of his time at war with in the book.

The possible Amazon/South America link is strengthened in a later passage in the book where Alexander tells the Amazons;
We have made ourself lord of the three continents and we have not failed to set up trophies of all our victories. It would be seen as shameful in us if we did not campaign against you too.
With the three already conquered continents being Africa, Europe and Asia this would suggest that the land of the Amazons lies somewhere else. Again though this is pretty heady speculation and I guess the text can be read numerous ways. Especially given that we're reading a translation of a work that has had so many variations down the years.

It's still highly interesting though. Maybe all these works we attribute to the ancient and medieval world are much more recent than we think. I'm slowly becoming convinced that the official history we have of the world is very confused indeed.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Flat Earth & Me, 2009.

[The following article is from 2009. It's an article recommending books that I published on an old blog. I re-read it today after digging it out off my old computer. It was strange reading it as the first book I recommend is Flat Earth by Christine Garwood. It was also odd seeing how much my writing style and opinions have changed since then. - I had to correct a few spelling mistakes in it too :) ]

10 Books for Inquiring Minds

For anyone looking for a good read the following list offers some of my favourites.

1) Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea - Christine Garwood

This is one of my all time favourite books and from the moment I started reading it I found it fascinating.  It’s about the history that surrounds the notion that the Earth is flat and it tells the interesting tales of the various people who have believed this to be the case.  It first of all lays to rest the myth that those who lived in the age before Columbus were of the opinion that the earth was flat, showing that most people probably had no opinion either way and that those that did were more likely to believe that the Earth was in fact spherical.  It then goes on to illustrate how the belief in a flat Earth has actually had its strongest advocacy in the last two centuries, more often than not as a reaction to the rise of modern science.  The books greatest achievement is the way it forces the reader to question accepted wisdom and challenge orthodoxy.  I must admit that even I myself was left with a few seeds of doubt as to the true nature of earthly things.  The Earth is of course round (I think!) but we seem to accept this more through faith than through understanding.  For instance how many people out there can actually explain the science and the reason behind our knowledge regarding the shape of the Earth - very few I would imagine.  In some ways we’re as ignorant as those supposed simpler folk from bygone times that we casually mock with condescending voice.  To our eyes the world looks flat, yet most of us betray this everyday observation simply because we have been told from childhood that things are otherwise.  If you want a book that will challenge your assumptions this is it.  A must read for anyone even vaguely interested in history or science.
2) Seven Deadly Colours - Andrew Parker

This engaging book is about how nature creates and uses colour, and how the human and animal eye perceives it.  Each chapter in the book deals with a separate colour, from ultra-violet through to red, and provides along the way a real insight into the visual side of evolution and the scientific discoveries that have led to such knowledge.  Reading this book really renewed my faith in evolution, as it highlighted to me the genuine ingenuity and intelligent beauty in the ever-changing natural world.  I implore anyone that has doubts about the veracity of evolution to read this book as soon as possible.
3) Anastasia - Vladimir Megre

This is a very strange book indeed. I first heard about it in an alternative magazine called Nexus and it came with rave reviews, many people claiming that it had actually changed their lives. Naturally I was curious and when I final got hold of a copy I found it quite fascinating, however at the same time I must admit I was fairly sceptical about its claims. Written by Vladimir Megre, it concerns a trip he once made to the Siberian taiga where he met a strange and unusual woman named Anastasia. This women, who lived alone in the wilderness, then proceeded to tell him the secrets of life, nature and religion. It’s supposedly a true story, although this claim takes a stretch of the imagination. To be honest I still really don’t know what to make of this book, which I know doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement. However, whichever way you choose to take the books claims they are never the less fascinating.  I was actually working in a factory when I first read this book. I read it during my breaks and it really did feel like I was entering another world - the contrast between the nature-loving ideas in this book and the cold clattering atmosphere of the factory floor couldn’t have been starker. Although I’m not really a new age person I must admit that this book really did make an impression on me. I still think about some of its ideas from time to time and even though the hard-headed sceptic in me refuses to take it seriously, the book still grips me enough to make me want to read it again, which is rare for me as I normally only ever read books once. A truly unique tale.
4) Rule by Secrecy - Jim Marrs

This is one of the most interesting books I've ever read.  It’s basically a retelling of the last 250 years of European and American history, only through the eyes of a conspiracy theorist.  It takes us through the alternative explanations for the French, Russian and American revolutions, the two World Wars, the assassination of JFK, the Napoleonic wars and virtually every other major historical event since the 1700’s.  Whether you choose to believe in the various theories or not it never the less leads you to look at the official version of history in a new light.
5) Pagan Resurrection - Richard Rudgley

This is another book that wanders through its topic with careless ease. It’s about pagan myths and gods, in particular the pagan deity Odin.  The book explores the way these myths and ideas have returned from the wilderness and re-entered mainstream thought. Showing how they have been reawakened now that Christianity has started to lose its grip on the western psyche. The book is at times fascinating and it effectively illustrates how pagan concepts have affected much of Europe and North America. Highlighting the role this pagan revival played in the rise of Nazism, the affect it had on the philosophies of Carl Jung and its presence in some of the major art and literature that has been produced over the last couple of centuries. This is a really insightful book and it helps cast light on an aspect of modern culture that often goes unnoticed.
6) Vive la Revolution - Mark Steel

Vive la Revolution by British comedian Mark Steel is possibly the most entertaining and informative book ever written about the French revolution.  With a wry sense of humour and a genuine passion for idealistic politics Steel introduces us to the various characters and groundbreaking ideas that inspired the events of one of the most tumultuous periods of European history.  I can’t express how much I enjoyed reading this book.
7) Curious Scotland, Tales from a Hidden History - George Rosie

This is another book that I found fascinating. I actually bought it almost by accident. Whilst looking for another book this one seemed to somehow catch my attention. I think it was the cover that really caught my eye. It had a rather grotesque and striking picture of a kilted man with the head of a bull on the front. This unusual image having caught my attention then somehow managed to persuade me to buy the book. When I took it home I didn’t really know what to expect. However after I started reading I just couldn’t put it down. The book is full of little tales and stories and is one of those books that constantly takes the reader down strange paths and avenues. The author has a remarkable ability when it comes to digging out little gems from history and no matter where this book wanders it never ceases to be interesting. In fact the title ‘Curious Scotland’ is rather apt, as it is definitely a book for the curious. If anyone is thinking about visiting Scotland this would be a great book to whet your appetite. Alternatively, if you actually live in Scotland this book will probably tell you a lot you don’t already know about the country. A real jewel box of a book.
8) Leonardo: The First Scientist - Michael White

Leonardo da Vinci was a fascinating man and this book explores the depths of his genius.  As the title suggests the book argues the case for the celebration of Leonardo’s scientific achievements as well as his artistic ones.  In a friendly tone its author informs us about Leonardo’s experiments with light, his investigations into the human body and his holistic views regarding the universe as a whole.  We also gain insights into Leonardo’s childhood, his views on vegetarianism and his various other talents - including his abilities as an inventor and a musician.
9) Alien Base - Timothy Good

‘Alien Base’ is a book that looks at the possibility that alien races are colonising the planet Earth.  The great thing about the book is that it stays away from the more conventional alien/UFO stories and concentrates on the more outrageous ones, making it interesting reading whether you’re a believer or not.  Consequently the book contains a great wealth of information for UFO enthusiasts as well as a wellspring of ideas for any aspiring science-fiction writer.  All in all it’s a bountiful repository for the more fantastical side of the UFO phenomena.
10) In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs - Christopher de Bellaigue

With so much coverage being devoted to Iran at the moment, I'm sure there’s a lot of people out there that would like to learn more about the country.  For those people this book would be the perfect start as it delves into the very heart of Persian culture, uncovering the politics, the religion and the people that make Iran the country that it is today.  It’s a book that every politically minded person should read as it helps to explain the distrust Iranians have of the west and also the suffering that Iranians have endured as a consequence of the power politics that have been played out in the Middle-East.  It’s a book that will leave readers feeling that they have much more in common with the people of Iran than they ever realised.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

EARTH HOAX, NUKE HOAX ..with Edward R Murrow

People often see the world of modern conspiracy starting in the 60s with the assassination of JFK, however, what if the really big stuff began in the 50s, or even slightly earlier?

This post started for me when I came across the prologue to the 1956 movie Around the World in 80 Days. It was presented by the American broadcast journalist Edward R Murrow. Now Murrow, I later found out, was the most prominent media voice in pretty much every major political news story from World War II onwards. I'll list his most noteworthy stuff;
  • He came to prominence reporting for the CBS station during World War II. In many ways he was the voice of the war for American listeners. In fact, you'll no doubt be very familiar with his voice from old news reel clippings - he's actually the guy who coined the phrase "this is London" with his trademark emphasis on the word this.
  • In 1945 he and his colleague, Bill Shadel, were the first reporters at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany.
  • He produced a series of reports that helped lead to the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy. His broadcasts essentially turned public opinion away from McCarthyism in 50s America.
  • He also reported on that other big fear of the 1950s, the development of the Hydrogen Bomb.
Quite an impressive CV.

Now Murrow was generally considered to be a liberal-leaning, forward thinker and had a reputation for honesty and integrity as a journalist. However, not everyone shared that opinion, as some of the videos I'll share further down this page will show.

Anyway, back to the prologue to Around the World. In it Murrow introduces the movie by narrating the development of man's dreams of conquering space. He shows the audience the French 1902 silent movie A Trip to the Moon by Georges Méliès, which depicts a fictional voyage to the moon. Then he shows modern, 50s era, footage of a rocket flying into space and filming our globely abode, mentioning that we now possess the power to destroy it all as well. He then finishes his piece by spinning a model globe with his hand and stating that not too long ago "learned men thought that was flat".

Obviously with my recent interest in Flat Earth I found that little bit particularly interesting :)

The link I share below shows a shortened version of this prologue complete with the flat earth line - I tried to share the entire prologue on YouTube last night but ended up with a copyright strike :/

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/471491/Around-The-World-In-80-Days-Movie-Clip-Speed-Is-Good.html

Now I did say I was going to drop the Flat Earth hashtag in a previous blog, but it's just far too interesting to give up. I think I'll start using the term Earth Hoax instead though xD as if you now search on YouTube for Flat Earth most of the stuff you get is the shill psy-opera with its "daytime TV"-style fake smiles and general nonsense.

Now if there is something wrong with our model of the world - and that's a big IF (bigger than I can capitalise) - then I think it must have came to a climax of sorts during the 1950s, when Antarctica, the last area of earth to finally submit itself to man's vigorous investigations, was finally mapped out.

People new to the idea of questioning such things may laugh at the suggestion that Earth may not be what we think it is, however, when one looks at the wranglings over Antarctica during this period it's hard not to be at least a little suspicious of what's going on down (over?) there.
  • In early 1939 Nazi Germany explored New Swabia, a part of Antarctica.
  • Antarctica, strangely enough, was the focus of manoeuvrings during World War II.
  • Operation Highjump of course took place in 1946/47
  • The International Geophysical Year took place in 1957/58
  • And finally the Antarctic Treaty System came in 1959
In fact, the links between the Geophysical Year in Antarctica and space exploration are curiously cognate. For example, Sputnik was launched for this event, and the Van Allen radiation belts were also discovered as a consequence of it.

Returning to Edward R Murrow though we can maybe see how the propaganda to keep all this away from public eyes was played out on TV. With fake earth, fake Cold War and possibly even, as some on YouTube claim, fake nukes. A nice way of keeping us all sacred and in the dark you could say.

[As a side note I should also say that some on YouTube and elsewhere may also claim the concentration camps as more fakery to add to the list, however although I'm open to the idea that all history, even the Holocaust, may not be as it seems, I have to state that I'm deeply opposed to any form of racial hatred. I feel that really needs stating as the number of people on-line expressing racial prejudice is really quite frightening ...and also unhelpful to people looking for a truthful historical narrative. Even if the Holocaust was another hoax or "false flag" of sorts it wouldn't be any reason to point the finger at an entire group of people. Just as 9/11 being a false flag doesn't make all Americans complicit in its design.]

So anyway, here are the videos I promised to share; (Oh, and as they say on Twitter - a retweet isn't necessarily an endorsement);

This one comments on Murrow's treatment of Senator Joseph McCarthy;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkWx-CwvcFs

This next one is McCarthy responding to Murrow;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhDJCwWn5Zw

And this final one is Murrow on the Hydrogen Bomb (it's the first 6/7 minutes you need to watch);
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2h4O5NRQzc

I found all three really fascinating.

I'll end this post with an image from the above referenced silent movie A Trip to the Moon. It shows the earth as viewed from the moon. As ever we're shown it with Africa pointing towards us - just like we always see it :) ..the power of art is really quite amazing.


...oh and on a final, final note, the star of Around the World in 80 Days, David Niven, went on to release an autobiography that sold over 5 million copies. Its title? ..The Moon's a Balloon xD

Friday, January 8, 2016

Beditation - Or Winter Meditation

Do you ever get that thing where you think you've invented something new, but then when you search on-line it turns out you haven't? Well, I've just had that experience. I thought I'd coined the term beditation xD - meditating in bed essentially. However, unsurprisingly, after looking it up on the Internet it turns out the term is already in use. On-line it seems to be used to describe meditation practices that help you sleep, or alternatively meditation done whilst lying down. My intention for the term was going to be slightly different though.

I use it to describe my own form of "lazy" meditation involving music. Basically I go to bed for an hour or so, put some music on, and then just relax and let my mind wander as I drift in and out of half-sleep. I'm sure other people do this too. Normally I'll put on some experimental music, like the Binaural Beats I mentioned in my last post, or something a little more atmospheric. I really like Kid A by Radiohead for doing this actually. It depends on my mood though. I usually do this beditation in the evening time, when it's too early to go to bed properly, but late enough that I'm too tired to be bothered doing anything else.

I do sometimes do traditional meditation and other more meditative things like Yoga, and can really see the benefit of them, however I don't have the discipline to make them a regular thing. Plus it's not really suited to the British climate, especially at this time of the year. It's one thing relaxing in silence with your eyes closed on a beautiful summers day, but when you're in a wintry Middlesbrough with cold feet and very little daylight coming in through the window it isn't as attractive. Why can't you meditate snuggled up in a duvet? Does everything have to be such hard work? I'm sure there's a lazier way to relieve stress and find enlightenment.

Listening to music whilst relaxing and falling in and out of sleep is something I find particularly enjoyable. Just as your mind relaxes and wanders more freely when you're walking or travelling than it does when you're sitting or standing still it's similar with music. The changing audioscape created by the music is like the changing landscape of a journey. It helps your mind wander and go to new places.

I think I've mentioned this on-line somewhere before, that I've always been interested in the concept of hibernation. We know that some other animals dream just like we do. I wonder do bears dream? Do they dream when they hibernate? It's weird that we spend 8 hours a day sleeping and dreaming. Imagine an entire winter of it. It would be like a spiritual journey into another world.

It's a shame the term beditation is already in use really. Maybe I should just steal it anyway, as I can see my version of it taking off. I can imagine celebrity lifestyle gurus and women's magazines recommending it as the latest health fad in 12 months time or so xD complete with advice about what music to use and which stylish onesies to wear. Maybe I should start selling bear onesies to go with the Northern Lights hibernation theme?

I guess beditation will also be good practice for when I eventually go to Antarctica and have to endure the wintry nights there as well ;)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016: Year Zero

I'm deciding to make a nice fresh clean start in 2016. First up, I'm dropping the Flat Earth hashtag. What was a genuine free-thinking investigation into the nature of the world we're living in is now morphing into something a bit more murky. I don't know where it's going so I think I'll just sidestep it all and continue doing my own thing. I'm starting to feel like the snake is eating its own tail to be honest.

Amusingly, I even recently heard the conspiracy researcher Thomas Sheridan claim that flat earthers are using binaural beats to brainwash people. Now I make songs with binaural beats, or at least I used to, and I even used them in a few of my early Flat Earth videos! To my knowledge I think I'm the only person to actually do this, in fact if you search 'Binaural Beats Flat Earth' on YouTube one of my videos pops up top of the list. So I guess I'm part of the psy-op - now I really do feel like I'm in it far too deep. I even described the music as mood and mind control on the Facebook page I created for it. Talk about being hoisted by your own petard xD

https://www.facebook.com/freckledmonkey/

For those unfamiliar a binaural beat is an auditory illusion that is created by putting two different pure tones into a listeners ears. For example, say a tone of 400hz is put in one ear and a tone of 405hz put in the other, the listener will perceive to hear a third tone of 5hz - the difference between the two. Some people believe that this third tone, effectively created by the brain, can then help move the brainwaves of the listener towards that frequency. Helping to induce a different mood.

Opinions vary about whether there is any real evidence for this actually working, however when I've listened to this type of music I've found it very useful in helping me relax. Then again, of course, this could simply be some type of placebo effect. Either way it's interesting though.

In fact, in many ways all music is about manipulating another persons mood or inducing a feeling in someone. Think of the catchy advertising jingle, or the pop song you can't get out of your head. Or how a happy song can make you feel happy, or a sad one make you feel sad :(

Or think about how you may start tapping your foot or bobbing your head automatically even though you're not consciously aware that there's even music playing in the background. Also think about how hypnotic shamanic rhythmic tribal drumming can be - whoever has the drum is in control.

In modern culture it's no different, only much more complex. I love most genres of music, but I especially admire the irresistible force of catchy pop music, especially the type that often gets labelled "Illuminati Pop Music" in the conspiracy world. That's normally the good stuff! - Rihanna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga. It has a candy-sweet addictiveness to it. Possibly even more so than what used to get labelled the "Devil's music" - Rock & Roll.

It's often said that the pen is mightier than the sword, it might be worth adding though that the guitar is mightier than the pen. I think I might continue on this theme of the power of music in 2016 actually. It might be a fitting replacement for Flat Earth, especially given that it overlaps quite neatly with mathematics and the so-called Music of the Spheres.

I'll leave this article with one of my Flat Earth videos from 2015. This one is possibly the only one that had any real merit. The rest were all a little bit crappy. It has birds, bees, UFOs, a David Icke sample ..and a binaural beat thrown in for good measure :p


Good luck in 2016 everyone :)