That’s the current Dunedin City Council way of doing things.
The DCC 2013 Transport Strategy document sets this Council’s goal that, by 2024, 40% of us will be commuting either by bike, bus or on foot as our main mode of transport (P.30 Strategic Approach-Overview). The $60 million conversion of the Central Business District’s main thoroughfare into a single lane for motor vehicles and a dedicated cycle way to allow a larger pedestrian zone is the next stage to prepare the city infrastructure for this target.
On foot realistically means those residing in the inner city, mainly students plus a few inner city apartment dwellers. Cyclists would primarily be those living on the flat suburbs and connected by the cycleway network from South Dunedin to North and around the harbour. The bus network has the greatest catchment area of all the hill and outer suburbs of the city.
In its planning for future bus transport, the NZTA (which funds the subsidy for buses) commissioned a national survey, published in 2013, on the use of buses and found that, in Dunedin, only 2% used the buses regularly (20 or more days p.a.). 4% uses them occasionally (10-19 days pa.). (click to enlarge).
While the DCC document did not provide a target split between the three non-vehicle modes of transport, buses, having the largest catchment area, would have to account for at least half the target. This would mean increasing regular bus transport from 2% to 20% of residents or, in people terms, from 2500 people to 25,000 people. If those 25,000 people had to be transported from their suburb to the city during the 7:00 – 8:30am peak departure times, with an average 20 minute trip from terminus to CBD, that would require over 200 buses on the road. And again on the afternoon return journey. The good news is that they would be running convenient 10 minute services to achieve that; the bad news is that at any one time there would be 70 buses trying to get into the CBD bus hub which has only ten set-down bays.
Walking is probably the next highest category in the target given the size of the inner city student population. A DCC 2013 survey of residents showed 14% walked to the city as their main mode of transport. That would align with the NZTA national figures and is credible given the student population. However it is unlikely to grow significantly by 2024 without either major growth in student numbers or in apartment development.
So in people numbers the 40% target represents 50,000 residents. 25,0000 would be catching one of the 200 buses to town, 18,000 will be walking, leaving 7,000 to be cycling along the cycleways and presumably looking for 7,000 bike parks within walking distance of their destination.
So as well as 200 buses and 7,000 bikes, the streets would still have to cope with the other 60% of residents in cars as well as delivery vehicles, emergency service vehicles of ambulance, fire and police, people moving around the city in work vehicles and out of town vehicles.
Are the Councillors actually digesting those numbers?
The above DCC artist’s image shows traffic (well actually only one car which is stretching artistic licence) driving one way- north to south down the CBD. So if someone driving from the south needs to get into the Meridian/ Golden Centre or Wall Street carparks what will they do? They will be forced to drive down the one way system to Hanover or Frederick Street and come onto the main street from there to join the north south traffic flow. Traffic will not be halved by changing to a one way street, it will mean the same traffic that currently occupies two lanes will then be driving in the one lane.
If Council’s plan for tightly constricting traffic flow in George street goes ahead at the same time that the hospital build constricts traffic flow on the one way system for 10+ years, then there will inevitably be the sort of traffic gridlock in our small city that would normally be associated with a Jakarta or Mumbai.
The redesign plan for the CBD area is based on having the appropriate infrastructure design in place for when the 2024 vision of 7,000 cyclists and 200 buses arriving into the CBD Bike Park/ Bus Hub, is realised. The Councillors are so convinced that this vision will be realised that they have now endorsed a budgeted $60 Million project to convert our main street to a town plaza. Have the DCC thought this through at all over the past six years of planning and implementation?
At the very least, the six year old Transport Strategy goals should get an independent, professional performance review, following the significant investment over the past six years in cycle ways and the bus hub, before we commit to another $60 million converting the CBD. We need to know whether the “build it and they will change” policy over these past six years has actually made any significant difference to the actual modes of transport.
We know they want to do their bit to save the planet but, by the time the hospital gets built, half of the car users will probably be driving hybrid or electric cars anyway and the dramatic reduction in carbon exhausts will have been made by advanced technology not by forced reverting to the 1950’s. Civilisation is enhanced by meeting challenges and moving forward not by giving up and going backwards.
For more reading on the subject:
The 2017 “Stars in their Eyes” talent show at the Community hall. Who will forget it? The pre-show favourites were Bill, Paula and Steve, “and tonight Mathew we are going to be the Hues Corporation with: ‘Rock the boat, don’t rock the boat baby.'” A very solid, if uninspiring performance.
Then next onstage came ‘the moment’. Grant and Jacinda stage-whispered the immortal words from Titanic to each other of “where to Miss?” “to the stars” before launching into their tear-inducing rendition of theme song “My heart will go on”. So patiently rehearsed, secretly over months and so movingly presented on the night that an unexpectedly large number of swinging voters, swung, making it a very close contest.
Finally came the drama of Winston’s solo effort of Englebert Humperdinck’s “After the loving” and many of the old dears who had always liked nice Mr English were now swaying their i-phone torches and swinging their knickers and that performance gave Winnie enough votes to allow Rose and Jack to take the “Stars in their eyes” title.
It was an ominous choice of song that Jacinda and Grant chose as it turns out. We forgot that movie ended with an iceberg and a lot of people were made quickly boatless and floating in the freezing Atlantic.
The Clark/ Cullen team had always steered clear of that iceberg; the Key/ English team didn’t even allow it on their radar; even Andrew Little saw it in time to make an emergency turn and avoid collision. But now the Ardern/ Robertson team, with the grinning masks firmly in place, are steering straight back towards it. Capital gains/ inheritance tax. The hidden iceberg that would sink the ‘New Zealand that we know’ as surely as the unsinkable Titanic.
What is the difference between us and one of the many poverty-stricken 3rd world countries in Africa, South America, Asia or even increasingly in Europe? Answer: It is a dominant middle class. The middle class is the ballast that keeps a country stable.
China has only emerged recently from the 3rd world status, when they only had a labour class and a political elite as their social structure, to the second biggest economy in the world with a political strategy to create the biggest middle class in the world.
But the growth of China’s middle class has been at the cost of middle classes in the west, including New Zealand. Lured by the temptations of retail warehouses full of cheap, disposable consumer goods, we have sold our middle class soul to indulge ourselves.
Only a generation ago Dunedin used to make things, lots of things. We had Sew Hoys clothing factories; Ellis’ mattress and bedding factory; Zephyr heater factory; McLeods soap factory, Hudsons biscuit factory, Mosgiel wool and yarn mills, Methven taps and plumbing equipment factory, McSkimmings brick factory and even Hillside trains workshop. And we had large head office infrastructures to support these factories. We were far less dependent on the outside world back then; and we had plenty of goods to trade for those that we needed to buy in. Now we don’t. Plain and simple. And that story is not unique to us, it is repeated in every town and city around the country.
That time is gone. We now gorge ourselves on Chinese-made consumer goods and more and more of us are using credit cards to do it. More and more have no earned income, that is income that has created an asset on the other side of the balance sheet. The socio-economic gap is widening; the middle class is shrinking. The middle class is progressively joining the social welfare queue and the pressure on social welfare taxes is forcing more and more off the bottom rung and onto the street. That is evidence we can’t deny.
Jacinda and Grant’s solution is to collect more taxes to pay more social welfare and provide more social services and so a Tax Committee is established to achieve that. That report recommends a Capital Gains and Inheritance tax of 33% be introduced. But history teaches us well that tax webs catch the butterflies and bumblebees but are no more than a minor nuisance to the magpies and hawks. Living outside the legal system or moving wealth into offshore tax havens are the options that the criminals and the wealthy take. The tax webs catch the law-abiding middle classes. And so the economic gap widens ever more. Venezuela here we come.
Venezuela was once the wealthiest country in South America based on its oil industry.
Chavez was a caring, smiling man who spent much of the income from the boom years on social services; he did not invest in maintenance and development of his oil industry infrastructure and in diversifying their economy. So a few decades on, a run-down oil industry infrastructure in combination with a downturn in global oil prices meant his country’s income stream collapsed. When Maduro took over the presidency in 2013 the Venezuelan people were in a deep economic crisis with more and more depending on social welfare. And he responded the only way he could with a collapsing economy; he borrowed to meet increasing social spending, with China being the largest creditor having loaned over $US60 billion over the past decade, according to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Today 90% of Venezuelans are living in poverty; the economy had 80,000% percent hyper inflation in 2018 and there is no way out. Food is at a premium, electricity supply is unreliable, homelessness a norm and people cannot get even the most basic medical help. Nearly three million have left the country as refugees. And it can only get worse. Any bailout will take over ownership of their oil reserves and they will be a slave nation.
It can happen quickly even to wealthy countries and happens under the most well-meaning, but commercially naive, political leaders in charge. Those with smiles on their faces and stardust in their eyes.
New Zealand still has a middle class, but with the massive undermining of our manufacturing industries, the new middle class will inherit that status from the investments made by the baby boomers during years of full employment. When we had workers, supervisors and managers in a huge range of manufacturing and service businesses. If Jacinda and Grant bring in a Capital Gains and Inheritance tax, that middle class will be decimated in this generation. Family income generating assets will be sold off to meet social welfare demands and down the rabbit hole we go. Within two generations the middle class, the ballast of the nation, will be all but gone. There will be a huge welfare state class and the 1% super rich. Unchartered waters for New Zealand but look around the globe at other countries’ experiences and you see massive poverty, massive civil unrest. No doubt Jacinda and Grant will have hoped to be based in New York by then on some UN gig. Auntie Helen mentored them both into their roles in politics, Auntie Helen knows people at the UN.
There may well be a theoretical rationale for CG&I tax, but any such debate is dependent on timing and circumstances. When a couple or single parent is struggling week to week just to pay the rent, food, electricity and transport costs for the family, there is not point telling them they need to put aside 30% of their income for their retirement in 30 years. Likewise when we have a generation that is already in debt, due to declining infrastructure and inflationary property costs, and is dependent on inheriting capital assets to just maintain the lifestyle of the previous generation, then it is counter productive to talk about 33% of the current market value of those assets being handed over to the state for disbursement to the low/ zero income earners. That just creates a progressively bigger pool of low / zero income earners and a progressively smaller pool of capital investments from which to generate future social welfare and services. The rich get richer, buying up those middle class assets, and the middle class becomes poor. At that point Jacinda has to go to the international loan sharks and, as Venezuela has discovered, that is the end of life as you knew it.
The old socio-economic systems are heading us straight for an iceberg. Rampant consumerism is driving technological advances far beyond our ability to manage the consequences. It is destroying our middle class, destroying our ecology.
Brave new intelligent solutions need to be found and only brave, intelligent leadership can find them. But a CG&I tax is, as the metaphor states, just moving deck chairs on the Titanic. Back to the movie and what happens when the ballast is compromised:
“She can stay afloat with the first four compartments breached but not five. Not five. She goes down by the head, the water will spill over the bulkheads, from one to the next back and back there’s no stopping it.”
“But this ship can’t sink!”
“I assure you, she can. And she will. It is a mathematical certainty.”
Footnote: While the report said ‘full steam ahead, that is no iceberg it’s a mirage’ Jacinda sniffed the wind and decided if she wanted to go back to the ballroom where she was the belle, she had better steer a by-pass course to starboard. Iceberg averted, mirage or not.
The star of Bethlehem is the defining cosmic symbol of the birth of Christianity. The star that attracted the three Magi to travel for several months to bear witness to the birth of the Messiah. The one who would be king of the Jews. This of course made the three magi themselves also an essential part of the birth of Christianity and yet we never hear of them again in the books of the New Testament..
We read in the bible they visited the Court of King Herod on their journey and were instructed to report back to him when they had found this royal baby. We read that after the Magi witnessed the birth they returned to Persia by a different route to avoid Herod; and we read that Herod then issued orders for all Jewish males under the age of two to be slaughtered to ensure the death of this potential threat to his line.
We also read that Mary and Joseph were warned of the threat and departed urgently with their new born for Egypt; and that when Herod died two years later, the family returned to Judea. But after that we read very little about Yeshua (subsequently amended to Ioasus by Greek scholars and later Romanised/Anglicised to Jesus). The only reference during his first thirty years of his life was a time that the family went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. We read from the bible that Yeshua, at age twelve, astounded the Hebrew scholars with his knowledge of scripture; but then we know nothing again of Yeshua’s young adult life until he publicly began his ministry with his baptism at age thirty, quite a mature man by the standard of the day.
He was baptised by John, the son of his mother’s cousin although we also know nothing of their relationship prior to that point. We have no idea where he gained the knowledge that he impressed the scholars with, or where and how he spent the subsequent eighteen years preparing for his mission to gather “the lost sheep of Israel”. His mission appeared directed against the religious hierarchy of Judea who had ‘turned God’s house into a den of thieves’.
What was the wandering star that caused the Magi to set off around 6bc (minor errors in creating the modern Gregorian calendar have demonstrated that the birth of Jesus would not have been at the beginning of 1ad as we assume. King Herod the great, who is also central to the nativity story, is recorded to have died in 4bc.
Computers today enable us to actually back-trace the location of planets and even comets two thousand years ago. An obvious first point to check is whether the star of Bethlehem was Halley’s comet on its regular circuit. But that passed through earth’s sky in 12bc, at least 5 years before the birth. Apart from which, in ancient times, comets were considered forerunners of catastrophe, not the joyful birth of a saviour.
Of interest, the original Aramaic text of the Magi’s explanation is that they had seen Yeshua’ star “in heliacal rising.” This means a star that appears immediately prior to sunrise. The most significant planetary observation is the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn which make an exceptionally bright ‘star’. This alignment randomly appears in different constellations each time but when it occurs in the constellation of Pisces it is recognised as the Star of David.
It was Johannes Kepler, the father of modern astronomy, who had studied the writings of a medieval Jewish scholar, Rabbi Abarbonel, and discovered the significance to the Jewish people of the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which together shine like a superstar, in the constellation of Pisces. This alignment was regarded as the ‘star of David’. Kepler also calculated that during 6-7 bc this alignment of Jupiter and Saturn made the rare appearance in Pisces and was in fact a triple conjunction, occurring three times in the period. This has been confirmed by modern computer-generated calculations as occurring in 6bc on May 22, October 8 and December 2 with the heliacal rising of Jupiter in the dawn sky. This is a very plausible source of the legend that a king to restore the line of David would be signalled by this ‘star of David’ appearing. With such a favourable birth star in Jewish beliefs, Yeshua was well worth a lifetime of training by the leaders of Persia to become a future leader of Judea and Israel.
So the Magi were literally looking for the Jewish baby boy born under the star of David. This would certainly spark the interest of Magi given such a rare conjunction and even more so spark the alarm of the current King of Judea, Herod. Triple conjunctions are rare, the next after 6bc was 786ad, and the next after that in 1583. A triple conjunction in Pisces, the Star of David, is even more rare. It should also be noted that this time was also when the vernal equinox was moving from the age of Aries into the age of Pisces, the fish. This is notable with the significance of the symbol of the fish in Christianity. The last 2,000 years with the vernal equinox in Pisces has certainly been the age of Christianity. The Spring equinox is now changing to the age of Aquarius.
So what then became of the three Magi? The Magi were the astronomer-priests from Persia, adherents of the religion founded by a Persian astrologer/ philosopher named Zarathustra. It seems peculiar that three foreigners who followed the religion of Zarathustra, an opposing religion to Judaism, would be summoned by the Jewish God, Yahweh to witness the birth of Yeshua for no other reason than to bring gifts and then depart. But yet the Bible speaks no more of them. There is a reference in an excerpt from a medieval saints calendar printed in Cologne which read, “Having undergone many trials and fatigues for the Gospel, the three wise men met at Sewa (Sebaste in Armenia) in A.D. 54 to celebrate the feast of Christmas. Thereupon, after the celebration of Mass, they died: St. Melchior on Jan. 1, aged 116; St. Balthasar on Jan. 6, aged 112; and St. Caspar on Jan. 11, aged 109.” The Roman Martyrology also lists these dates as the Magi’s respective feast days.
So did the Magi play a real part in the mission of Yeshua throughout his life? Did they continue a role in his education after his birth and the family’s return from Egypt? Did Yeshua live with them in Persia to prepare for his mission? And did they see his mission as purely spiritual to bring Zoroastrianism to Israel or as the cosmically anointed inheritor of the kingship of David to restore the sovereignty of Israel as a defence against Rome?
Rome was a serious enemy to Persian Empire and Judea was right on their western border; it was earlier ruled by Persia before Alexander the Great conquered them. So it was certainly in the Persians’ political interest to have an allied, independent Judea between them and Rome. Whatever you think of this theory, clearly the Roman governor of the time and his Jewish religious puppets took the possibility seriously.
It raises the question about just how much influence the Persian magi had on the politics of Judea and whether they were continually working towards the eventual 66AD great uprising of religious zealots in Galilee and Judea when the Romans were actually finally driven out of the region. If so it was a short-lived victory as Rome returned with a vengeance in 70AD and the Jews were driven from the land which was given to the Philistines.
Incidentally the next great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be in November/ December 2020. I can’t wait, but this one will be in Capricorn, not Pisces so don’t expect a descendant of David to appear in Israel.
That is earth on the left of the sun with Mars behind us. Top of picture the giants Saturn and Jupiter (father and son in Greek mythology) one behind the other in direct line with the sun, forming a superstar.
Once again, following the “Peace in our time” success of Paris three years ago, “Climate Change” has been adopted as the theme for this year’s global bureaucratic Christmas party with Poland, of all places, the host.
Never mind the carbon footprint of the twenty thousand plus people who travelled from all over the globe to have a ‘conversation about climate change”. Never mind the irony that it was being held in the heartland of Europe’s largest coal-producing region. The important thing is who hosted the best party of the week?
Once again we are told that the high priests had a resoundingly successful conference as the chairman was able to announce at the Grand Galah dinner that sacrifices have been made and the gods of the climate have been appeased. A signed charter will save the planet from global warming. As if we had not heard that all before. The climate change deniers, including the most powerful people in the most industrialised countries, just ignore them; the hand wringers say it is far too little, far too late, we are all going to fry.
Here’s an interesting climate change footnote: we are currently deep in the depths of an ice age.
Yep, it’s a fact. There have been five known ice ages over the last 4.5 billion years that our planet has been in business and we are still deep in the fifth one. The study of the chemical structure of ancient polar ice cores, fossilised plant matter and lake and sea bed sediments has enabled scientists to accurately map the climatic changes over the eons.
And here is another really interesting climate fact: C02 levels have absolutely zero correlation with temperature. No idea how the alarmists managed to convince everyone that our C02 levels are causing our climate change, but the climate scientists own published research tracking the earth’s climate over hundreds of millions of years show conclusively that C02 change has no connection with temperature change.
As you can see, (click image to enlarge) the earth itself, and life on it, have survived both temperature and C02 levels significantly higher than anything we are currently experiencing. The temperature has only been as low as it is now at the coldest point of three of the previous four ice ages.
C02 levels at the beginning of the chart (600+ million years ago) were seriously high. They dropped and bounced around for two hundred million years before coming right down and then again the levels bounced around quite a bit for another 360 million years before settling and stabilising over the last two million years to the level we hominids know as normal.
The temperature also bounces around an awful lot but if, as the high priests of climate change claim, the temperature changes are in sync with the dance moves of Carbon Dioxide, it is very hard to identify exactly what dance they are doing.
At the start of the chart the planet is in the depths of an ice age while the C02 levels are at extremely high levels. The correlation between the two is non-existent. And while there are two apparently matching spike and falls, on one of them it is the temperature that leads and the C02 that follows and on both occasions the movements are millions of years apart, not the 200 years that today’s ’cause/effect’ scientists are claiming.
But look at 440 million years ago and see the temperature plummet to ice age levels while C02 levels spike. Then 320 million years ago the reverse happens C02 levels fall dramatically while the temperature soars to the hottest levels in earth’s record. Exactly the opposite of what today’s hand-wringers claim is proven fact.
Again have a look at the above chart at the line of 200 million years ago. There you see a big spike in C02 levels having no effect on temperature. 146 million years ago we see the anomaly of a massive temperature drop at the same time as a massive increase in C02 levels. Then as the C02 levels drop dramatically over subsequent millennia, the temperature begins to rise even more dramatically, quite against the theory that there is a correlation between the two. Then around 50 million years ago, between the Paleocene and Eocene epochs, we see one of the most dramatic global warming periods in earth’s history at a time when C02 levels were falling significantly.
So I am not a ‘climate change denier’. The point I raise from the above chart is not whether there is climate change, but in fact why would we ever think that climate change, the warming and cooling of the planet and the raising and lowering of C02 levels, are anything other than normal natural processes that have continued throughout the eons.
The issue for us is that our ancestor, homo erectus, evolved about 2 million years and our sapiens species is only 200,000 years young; so an ice age with low C02 levels is the only climatic condition our species has ever known. So let’s not be barraged into accepting a doomsday panic and giving the ‘end of the world is nigh’ high priests a blank chequebook to fund global conferences for their ‘conversations’. Let us only consider what impact the current climate observations and speculations might practically have on the lifestyle of our ice age species.
When I say climate change, what do you think that means? The scientists work, of course, off average mean temperatures when they get into this global warming issue. You might be surprised to know (I was) that the global mean temperature today is about 14-15 degrees celsius. That, for reference, is the average mean temperature of Wellington, New Zealand or Milan, Italy. When they talk about the global warming over the past 30-40 years, they are talking about a rise of 1 degree celsius. Back in the Miocene epoch at the last major global warming spike, the global mean temperature was another 4-5 degrees celsius higher than today, or an average of around 20 degrees C (or the current mean temperature of Brisbane Australia, but much cooler than Montego Bay, Jamaica which now averages 27 C).
And there is the misleading result of talking about ‘averages.’ A region that has a summer average of 40 degrees followed by an autumn average of 15 degrees, a winter average of minus 10 degrees and Spring of 15 degrees actually has an annual average of 15 degrees which sounds pleasant enough but in reality has 3 months of blistering heatwaves and 3 months of sub zero conditions which is a dreadful climate. And while our climate scientists at Paris and Poland go on about the C02 emissions creating a greenhouse effect which warms the planet, the reality is quite different. We have regions experiencing exceptionally hot summers at the same time as they are experiencing record breaking cold temperatures in winter across Europe, Asia and the USA. What we are experiencing is not a gradual warming from C02 gas in the atmosphere like we are living in a glasshouse, but in fact the weather become more extreme at both ends of the temperature gauge. And those extremes are not explained by C02.
In fact if we look at the period of the last 10,000 years we can see temperatures rise and fall quite notably even within the ice age condition, while C02 levels remain very stable throughout. So over this whole period, within the reasonably modern era of homo sapiens, temperatures rose and fell with no change in the C02 levels.
It just puts a little perspective into the debate and perspective is what the current climate hand-wringers seem to be ignoring. Man has been through these climate changes before with C02 having no part to play. Life goes on in those climates. Yes we would probably want to improve our air conditioning systems and some of us may end up with a beachfront property where once we had a main road between us and the sea, but we can adapt.
Having emerged from the forests 200,000 years ago, we have built our great cities and civilisations because of the ‘sapiens’ gene. We have done so through notable periods of climate change with ice caps expanding and retracting, sea levels rising and falling. We have had the imagination to adapt to our ever-changing conditions and challenges to improve our experience of life on earth.
We now need to focus our energies on more intelligent and imaginative use of resources, recycling and re-engineering to meet the climate challenges that nature and our own activities present us today. Yes we need less air polluting sources of power than fossil fuels and less ground polluting sources than nuclear power. Yes we need to regenerate forests and natural habitats. Yes we need to prepare for higher seas and more extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.
Let’s get on with it and stop wasting time with King Canute conferences that just clog up the process with hand-wringing, progress-stalling bureaucracy. And stop blaming humans as though we created carbon dioxide. For whatever caused the high levels of C02 in the atmosphere in the eons before 1800 ad, we are reasonably sure it wasn’t humans and engines. And the evidence is pretty convincing that there is no direct correlation between C02 levels and temperature.
As a footnote, we are also becoming aware that the magnetic field is on the move with North / South preparing to switch places which is something they have done quite a few times before in Earth’s history. In recent years the magnetic north has been moving 55km a year. I wonder if that change in the electrical magnetic field that surrounds our planet is effecting our winds, storms and weather patterns? To a non-scientist it certainly seems a likely culprit, but that can’t be blamed on us humans and there is not a global conference opportunity in something we cannot explain so the hand wringers are just not interested in investigating that potential cause.
Here is a thought, when the first mother of our species was ‘created’, it was done so by the accumulation of trillions of atoms to form a ‘mass’ that is a human mammal with all the operational functions that we think of as making us distinctively human.
In order to understand how we humans came to be, first we have to understand exactly what ‘mass’ is and what is involved in the mechanics of forming it. I will start with our solar system, I could keep going out further but our own solar system is far enough to make a point. So we start with the biggest bit of mass in our solar system which is of course… you in the back row! yes you! daydreaming??? what is the biggest object of mass in the solar system? The sun? Yes of course it is the sun. Then we step down then to Jupiter the next biggest bit of mass, skip over a couple and make your way down to earth, and within earth we have rocks. And what is all this mass made up of? It is all molecules and they all work as a team to form a mass of something. And so it is with every lump of mass in the solar system, from rocks to planets to a sun, everything of mass has a molecular structure. For perspective, about 45 billion, billion molecules would make an object the size of a dice.
But what makes up molecules? Well that, of course, is our old friend the atom. The ancient Greek philosopher Democritus first theorised that all matter would continually be divisible until it gets down to a point where it could no longer be divisible and that point he called an atom. Atom literally means indivisible. It was the invention of the cathode ray tube in the 1890’s that enabled physicist, JJ Thomson, to ‘see’ the effect caused by an atom within the beam of light and in his experiments he identified the electron, the negatively charged cloud within the atom.
The cathode ray tube is what enabled the creation of television, which is the transfer of particles to enable us to see in one location what is happening in another location. It is interesting to note the 1926 prophesy of famous inventor Nikola Tesla:
“When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles, and the instruments through which we shall be able to do all of this, will fit in our vest pockets”.
Here he accurately predicted the cellphone but also identified that the earth is simply a huge brain that can enable communication between all the particles that make it up. In fact this same description can be applied to the whole universe.
The fact that all atoms are cloaked with the negative energy charge that we call an electron is the reason we cannot walk through a brick wall. Like forces repel each other as any kid playing with a magnet knows. So it is when your negatively charged atoms try to walk through the negatively charged atoms that are the brick wall. And if the wall has trillions more atoms bonded together than your body, because different chemical elements contain different numbers of protons, neutrons and electrons, then you are flat on your arse with a lump on your head.
Our own Ernest Rutherford worked out that there was more to an atom than just this negatively charged electron. And so with experiments he identified a nucleus within the atom. It wasn’t easy to spot because atoms are not big things. I am reliably informed that about a million of them standing one behind the other would bridge the width of a needle. And if we then imagine the atom as the size of a basketball, the nucleus would be the size of a marble inside it (about 1:1000).
Following on from that he eventually found the proton, the little positive charge housed within the nucleus. He named it ‘proton’ after the Greek word ‘protos’ meaning ‘first’.
Rutherford then discovered that he could disintegrate the nuclei of nitrogen atoms by firing particles from a radioactive source which, in turn, resulted in the release of fast protons. This was the first ever artificially-induced nuclear reaction, a breakthrough that would lead ultimately to nuclear power and the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. But while smashing atoms into each other may change the structure of the atom, he did not end up with two half-atoms split down the middle as the common language would imply. An atom does not die, it always was and always will be.
In 1932 an English physicist, James Chadwick, identified the neutron, the neutral particle within the nucleus and finally we had the trinity of energy that makes up the one atom; the positive, the neutral and the negative, like the red, green and black wires in the cord that turns on our light.
Moving onwards to us humans, as well as other animals and living plants, and we discover that after our atoms sort themselves out into the appropriate molecular structures (seven billion billion billion molecules make up a 70kg human; so I am probably a tad over 7 billion billion billion). Of this, almost 2/3 is hydrogen, 1/4 is oxygen, and about 1/10 is carbon. These three molecular structures add up to 99% of the total human. The molecules then co-operate to create cells, over 30 trillion of them in fact (although again I might be a tad over that).
So how do all these atoms, molecules and cells actually cohabit within a body in a way that does not create chaotic collisions everywhere? Communication. It is what makes the world go round. Just as humans walking down the street by intuitive cooperation and unspoken signals of communication do not continually bump into each other, so too quantrillions of atoms have a communication system that allows them to co-operate harmoniously and creatively avoiding bumping into each other; and they create more communication systems within the molecules and cells that they create.
Once all the required cells have produced a mammal such as Eve, a few of them form into a pea sized gland called the pineal and happily nestle between the two hemispheres of her brain. In fact this is the first gland to be created in the human body after initial conception. You may recall an earlier blog where I wrote about the cultural and religious significance we have historically given to this tiny, pine-shaped gland. I concluded that this little gland may in fact be our human router connecting our PC (brain) to the universal internet. Do we have a built in universal wi-fi? If so is it this wi-fi that connects us with all other groups of atoms also connected (other humans and mammals) by their pineal router and enables us to co-operate, avoid bumping into each other and live in harmony (unless our ambition or hunger overrides such harmony)?
When you ask a physicist to describe an atom he or she will tell you:
- It is invisible to the eye. We can only perceive its existence by its effect on things we can see.
- It is three elements in one.
- It is eternal. It had no beginning and has no end.
- It is all-powerful. It creates the universe and everything in it.
- It exists everywhere. There is nowhere that the atom is not present.
I was raised in Christian schools my entire school life. I know by heart the Christian theologian’s description of God. It is as above, word for word.
I saw on some facebook page a bit of a self indulgent reminiscence by one of my generation recalling the good old days when we had face-to-face friends not face-book friends; when we built go carts to race downhill against our mates rather than played X Box games against avatars. When someone else took photos of us if the occasion was significant and we kept those photo prints in a private album. There is nothing new in the older generation despairing for the younger generation; that has been going on since at least the time of Socrates, but the difference today is not so much attitudinal as it is technological. Today’s technology has had an influence on the behaviour of youth that Socrates could never imagine in his wildest philosophies.
The facebook post put the timing of this quantum shift in normality at the mid 1980’s. Those of us born before that time had real lives, but the post 80’s generation are now living a fake online life and they seem to be really struggling, emotionally, to adapt their natural human psyche to this self-created virtual world.
Computers in primitive form had been around well before the 1980’s but they were just big, cumbersome calculating machines. I tried, unsuccessfully, to learn to speak to one of these great machines when I did accounting at university in the early 1970’s. The computer then needed its own room, actually it was the size of a small room itself. It spake strange tongues of Portran and Fortran. It told me, numerically speaking, that it was in control of me, not the other way around. If what I put in did not compute, it spat it back out. Start again human.
But it was in the late 1970’s that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started a business to bring these giant computing machines down to size and into our homes. They wanted computers to be fun for all. They named the company Apple. In his biography Steve Jobs said that it was just a serendipitous choice; that he was on a fruitarian diet at the time and had just returned from an apple farm and thought the fresh, fun name suited his company’s vibe. If so, the coincidence is uncanny. The apple has an established historical connection with a quantum leap in mankind’s knowledge of universal law when Isaac Newton said he had his ‘eureka’ moment about gravity when he watched an apple fall from a tree.
The apple also has a prehistorical connection with man’s quest for knowledge and even immortality.
In Norse mythology the goddess Idun was the keeper of the apples of the tree of knowledge and life and is known as the goddess of eternal youth.
In Greek mythology, the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, ruled the Garden of the Hesperides (nymphs) where there was an orchard in which trees bearing golden apples had the power to heal and renew.
The Hebrew mythology, which is the one most well known in the Judaeo-Christian world, is that Lucifer (the enlightened one) gave Eve, the mother of all mankind, an apple from the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden. Yahweh was most displeased because mortal man was not ready for such knowledge and so was banished from the lush farmlands of Eden; sent back to the wild to forage like the beasts lest man also eats the apple from the tree of eternal life.
And yet still mankind flourished. According to Genesis 6, the sons of God mated with the daughters of man to create ‘great men’. However the next chapter of genesis describes a cataclysmic forty day flood over all the earth that might well have resulted in our species becoming extinct. Geological and climatic research has now shown us that the biblical and mythical global flood that killed most of humankind, at least in the northern hemisphere, did actually happen 13,000 years ago and the cause was a massive meteor strike on earth, just like the one that had caused the dinosaurs’ extinction 66 million years earlier.
At the time, planet earth was emerging from an ice age; but still the whole of Canada and countries across northern Europe were under an ice cap that would have been about two kilometres thick. And this is where the biggest chunks of the comet hit. The evidence it left behind is in the form of nano diamonds; beds of micro diamonds that were created from a massive explosion creating heat of over 2,200 degrees centigrade. By comparison, fire is 600 degrees C and volcanic molten larva is 700-1200 degrees C. The immediate impact was the instantaneous melting of large parts of the ice cap and an unimaginable tsunami that washed over much of the known world. The meteorological evidence shows that 13,000 years ago, just as earth was emerging naturally from an ice age, it was suddenly plunged back into a big chill referred to as the ‘Younger Dryas.’ This winter lasted 1200 years before the climate recovered again.
Archeological evidence of civilisation pre deluge is understandably a bit thin on the ground. Such a cataclysmic event would not leave much behind. But we do have writings from the middle east region; the authors of the Book of Genesis, the authors of Gilgamesh and those writings of a prophet called Zarathustra. The first two write of an ark in which the selected humans, plants and animals floated above the flood and survived to restart civilisation again. Zarathustra wrote of a prediction that a giant serpent would fly through the sky and that, in readiness for this event, underground, multi level caverns called Vara were built with sophisticated entranceways between the levels and artificial lighting. Such multi-level caverns have recently been excavated in Cabbadicia, southern Turkey. Only the highest quality human, plant and animal species were housed there and they were control- bred to maintain the population levels. When the long winter was over, they were sent out in boats to repopulate the world and to utilise, in secret, the technological knowledge that had been preserved.
But the knowledge that these great men, survivors of the great deluge, possessed must have been quite advanced. The meteor would have done a few circuits around the solar system before zooming in for the kill; so if we, or the gods, had prepared for it then then we must have had sophisticated astronomical knowledge. And as all myths record that there was indeed a plan to save the best of humanity, animal life and plants, so there must have been that astronomical knowledge to allow those plans to be made and executed. Soon human civilisation re-established itself to the level that we now have archeological evidence of sophisticated buildings and civilisations dating back 10,000 years in Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey. We know of sophisticated cities, such as Babel in Mesopotamia. Babel meant a place where many people gather to talk together. A place of debate and learning. Its modern meaning is voices talking over the top of each other in excited discussion. And it was here, in Babel, that the idea of building a tower with which they would endeavour to reach the heavens was conceived.
Was the tower of Babel a bricks and mortar tower as we assume? Or was it actually a rocket ship, which is also a tower, designed to reach the heavens. Interestingly the discovery of 5,000 year old clay tablets in southern Iraq, ancient Mesopotamia, showed an astronomical map of our solar system that included the outer planets of Uranus and Neptune which were not discovered by the post-flood modern man until the 18th and 19th centuries, after the invention of the telescope. It also shows the two largest dwarf planets of Pluto and Eris. Prior to the re-invention of the telescope only the planets visible to the naked eye were known to ancient sky watchers. As we know, Yahweh ‘confused’ the Babel, scattered the men who conceived it across the lands and the project to reach the heavens apparently never got off the ground.
But after the deluge we redeveloped our knowledge of agriculture, pottery, metallurgy, astronomy and technology. Mankind survived and flourished; the scattered regrouped, their babel no longer confused. And the two Steve’s have brought the Apple computer into our homes. Well they did not immediately arrive into our homes; in the 1970’s and 80’s they were still a geeky, impractical and expensive machine that most homes could happily live without. But while Wozniak was the brains behind the machine itself he would never have taken it beyond the techno geek market and as such would not have survived commercially. His Apple would have withered on the branch. Jobs was most certainly the man (the Satan, the enlightened one) responsible for giving the Apple to mankind. And in a very strategic move, he first took it into the classroom, actually donating the original Apple 1 to some schools just to whet the appetite. He was less interested in wasting the fruits of the Apple on the elders of humankind, he wanted to give it to the children. In 1978 he won a contract to supply 500 Apple II computers to schools in Minnesota. In 1983 he sold a computer package (including floppy disc) to over 9,000 schools in California at a cost per package then for what you would now get a decent I-Mac. The Macintosh (an actual variety of apple) was launched in 1984 and the flood gates started to open. One generation after the Apple from the tree of knowledge was fed to our children, we could no longer imagine education without computers. We could not imagine homes without computers, or people without smartphones.
My little grand daughter is two years old. Her innate demand for language, knowledge and technology led us to the conclusion that we had no option but to give her her own personal connection into the universal consciousness. Her very own Apple i-pad. She took to it like a duck to water. Her knowledge, understanding and communication skills have taken quantum leaps; she swipes through the icons as though she invented them.
So once again an apple from the tree of knowledge is the means by which knowledge and imagination is being spread throughout humanity. It is the means by which we have built our rocket propelled towers with which to explore the heavens. In history Babel was the place where many voices come to speak together. Could the modern day Babels be the headquarters of Google, Apple, NASA and Spacex? Or is 21st century Babel located in the cloud and refers to the inanity of Twitter? The fake lives of Instagram? The pretend friends of Facebook? Interestingly while the Bible’s Genesis tells us that is was man’s corruption and evil that cause the great flood, the pre-dated original Sumerian clay texts said it was the noise and unending chatter of humans that caused the Gods to bring the great flood.
The changes in our lifestyle are, in reality, just as dramatic as noted in the Facebook post that began this blog. The irony being that he used Facebook to express his concerns; he did not call around to voice his concerns to me in person over a cup of coffee.
If Steve Jobs was the 21st century Lucifer then let us hope that humanity is ready for such knowledge this time around and that we are not once again expelled from our Eden to forage like the beasts in the wild for trying to use the Apple to gain eternal life.
I feel I should be in the middle of this uproar about the pedophile Magnus Murray who stalked the parish and school of my childhood preying on the young and vulnerable, breaching the trust given without hesitation to any man who donned the robes of Roman Catholicism priesthood. Those accepted as having a direct connection with God, with the divine authority to forgive sins on Christ’s behalf. It went on around me while never touching me. I knew the priest Magnus Murray ( I refrain from now referring to him as ‘father Murray’). He was our family parish priest during my high school years and took the latin class that I was in. ‘Amo, amas, amat, I love, you love, he loves’; the chanting we did in class now has such a sinister sound. But instead of feeling part of the story, I feel oddly outside looking in at it all.
Magnus Murray never molested me, but I was vaguely aware of a bit of murmur about a creep factor in him and you might hear the odd snigger when he would get a bit touchy in class. Pedophilia back then seemed to have a weird sort of unspoken denial. I recall in the early 1970’s when I had returned from Australia and met up with an old schoolmate who also lived in our parish. He mentioned, with a bit of a knowing smirk, that Magnus Murray had been sent away from the parish to Mosgiel for getting up to a bit of you know, nudge nudge. It turns out that the schoolmate’s brother was one of Murray’s worst effected victims and has suffered dreadfully his whole life. So while I am personally unscarred, I am also obligated to now reflect on this for it happened around me, by and to people I knew and yet I was essentially oblivious to the evil and emotional damage that I walked amongst.
He is only one of many Roman Catholic priests and brothers guilty of pedophilia. Why so many sexual deviants would be in one institution is not, in hindsight, unexpected. I don’t know, and will not venture to speculate on, the cause of pedophilia in our wider community. But to examine why so many pedophiles have been found in Roman catholic religious orders, we need to examine the structure of the catholic church of Rome. Catholics of Europe and Ireland tended to have large families, as was encouraged by their church. These families were expected to offer one of their children to the service of the church. Understandably when giving up one of your children you might, as a parent, discount those who you consider good breeding stock to produce future generations to look after you in your old age. But if one child was a bit different, a bit of an odd character, the runt of the litter, or one who may have been traumatised themselves by a childhood experience, then it was very likely that would be the one you gift to the service of the church.
And so it came to pass. A collection of family rejects for one reason or another brought together in a celibate environment under strict authoritarian rule and denied any normality or freedom in their life. And while all the focus currently is on male pedophiles, the girls from the catholic girls’ school also have disturbing recollections of the behaviour of some of the nuns who taught them.
Whatever their personal aspirations in life may have been, these were denied to them. Whatever their talents may have been were left to wither, unless they related to functions within the church’s scope of business. Whatever their emotional troubles might be, they were hidden, or protected, by the institution they were adopted into. Church secrets that even the police were reluctant to challenge. After all, the priests had the ear of God and no one wanted to risk going to hell for getting offside with God’s own priests.
Not that I am excusing pedophilia. I am as far from that position as it is possible to be. No matter what shitty card life might deal you, there is absolutely no mitigation for pedophilia. My point is that the hierarchy of the Church of Rome is also directly guilty of tacitly allowing pedophiles to prey on the children of their congregations. Apart from Magnus Murray, who did not overly surprise me in hindsight, a number of other teachers at my school have since been accused of sexual assaults on pupils. I now recall a story a friend of my brother told me at Mike’s funeral. He recalled how Mike phoned him one Friday afternoon and invited him for a drink. With inhibitions suitably dulled Mike told him they were off to a school reunion, and so they went. At the door they were asked for their tickets and the doorkeeper was brushed aside as Mike stormed into the hall, raised a $50 note above his head and called out “$50 for the guy who points out brother x to me.” The $50 was claimed in a heartbeat and brother x, a former teacher of Mike’s, found himself cowering under the outrage and public judgement of a grown man that he had last seen when he was just a vulnerable little boy.
Mike told him exactly what he thought of him as a man and a human who had ruined his life. The teacher was left a gibbering mess as Mike and his friend turned and left the hall to pin-drop silence and the teacher had to face his reunion. I doubt anyone in the hall had any doubt of the legitimacy of Mike’s accusations. He need do no more. He had personally, eye to eye, reclaimed his self esteem. He had completely overcome his tormentor and they both knew it. One would sleep well that night, the other would not sleep well again.
Magnus Murray got a couple of years in jail after some of his victims decided to go the police to accuse him. His guilt became undeniable, he was duly exposed and eventually tried and convicted. Out of sight out of mind and when released was confined to the security of a catholic home for the old and bewildered. And the world moved on, justice done. All a bit of an anticlimax in the end that probably did not entirely satisfy the victims. NOT GOOD ENOUGH. He was undeniably guilty of planned, calculating and cruel actions against trusting and vulnerable children and had offended for many years despite being challenged, warned and given chances to reform.
I think in the court system there should be three categories of crime: minor, major and shameful. And pedophilia is firmly in the shameful category. And the shameful should not get to hide away from society, even in jail. For the breach of trust went beyond the actual victim to the whole of the society that trusted those wearing the robes of Christ’s representative. Shame needs to be on public display. In medieval times they put criminals in stocks on public display. I do not know why that practice was abandoned, but maybe they should bring them back for shameful crimes against humanity. Put pedophiles like Murray on public display, a placard hanging off their neck proclaiming their shameful act. Liberals will call it cruel and humiliating. And so it should be. Let victims of pedophiles see that the community supports them and shames their tormentors. I understand that my old school where Magnus Murray taught has removed any photos of him. Don’t do that. Put up a large photo of him in a public place and caption it ‘Pedophile’; write a condemnation of his actions. Lest we forget. Lest the evil rises from its slumber as soon as we relax our vigilance. One of the victims actually suggested this very idea to the school but was told that ‘was not in the spirit of Christian charity.’ I am speechless. If the Roman catholic church believe unrepentant pedophiles are worthy of our charitable thoughts, why on earth did they invent hell?
So, are you enraged about the evil of pedophiles? About the unfairness of the length of time it takes our justice system to discover the truth and eventually bring some sort of justice? About how difficult it can be to bring justice when it becomes a case of one person’s word against another’s? About the unfairness of the sentences that the guilty pedophiles are given relative to the effect that their crimes have had on their victims? Are you now sufficiently frustrated and determined to make this a better world where, in the interests of speeding up justice, the police and courts are allowed instant access to really know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? To effectively have full, constant access to everyone’s most intimate privacy?
That stopped you in your tracks didn’t it? So how do you stand on the digital intrusion of elected governments into the private lives of its citizens? Planting cameras, tapping phones and seizing computers to search hard drives for evidence of pedophilia activity. Are you comfortable with that? Since such planting, tapping and seizing requires sufficient evidence to gain a Court order to do so, most are possibly quite ok with that. You may not have been so compliant had you been asked that question ten years ago, but times change. If we have the technology to catch these criminals then we must use it; as long as there are controls in place to protect the innocent. But you also know that by the time it has reached the stage of acquiring sufficient evidence to authorise such planting, tapping and seizing, the offender has probably been engaged in this shameful activity for years. Irreparable damage to innocent children already done. It becomes too little too late, as the age and even intervening death of these pedophiles makes the bringing of justice too little, too late.
Actually the government can and does, even now, put cameras anywhere they want in public places, so what would you feel about the government bringing in a law that allowed them to constantly access all data going to all computers and phones in a 24/7 search for pedophile activity in order to prevent it rather than to solve it? Well Google are doing it anyway with their cookies and what nots, and we have nothing to hide, so if it stops pedophiles then……..maybe………
It would be a brave political party to try to sell that at election time, but lets imagine it did go through. The next stage, in a few short years, is that cyber pedophiles will be always finding ways to firewall cyber police (you do know I am bluffing my way through this cyber jargon don’t you). So all we have is two sets of online gamers doing in cyber space what cops and crims used to do on the street. Win some, lose some. But when you think about it, the brain is just a super computer hidden inside our heads and the cyber criminals have the same brain as all of us? So what if the government develop a way to scan our brain wirelessly just as they can scan a computer’s brain? Did I really say that out loud? Even for someone like me that is scarily no longer in the sci fi realm
So what about that? In, say, ten years time would we be sufficiently conditioned to buy into this idea of actually catching pedophiles while the intent is forming in their evil mind by scanning their brains as they walk through a shopping mall, or sit in a cafe? This will make the world predator free they will promise. Well, you think, if thats what it takes…..and we have the technology…… Really????? The ‘Thought Police’ then are no longer just a clever little exaggerated insult to politically correct pains in the arse? It is real? We are there?
As I write I know I should feel abhorrence about the concept that my every thought is being scanned and analysed by a super computer and that any red flag thoughts are being sent to some bureaucrat to assess and decide whether to send some men in black to pick me up for questioning and possible ‘re-education’. But the little idealist niggling inside is wondering if such openness is in fact the answer to world peace and happiness. A world of no secrets because secrets are the cloak of invisibility for evil. Without secrets the world will be truly beautiful, man. One world race of inter bred, coffee coloured, culturally homogenous people. One world government.
Oh no, am I really here? Or am I still in the middle of an acid trip from the seventies? But if we want a system comprising of police, lawyers, judges, psychiatrists and prison warders to deal with our pedophiles on our behalf then we are probably on the train ride to the state of thought police. The technology will be waiting at the station to meet us but it will be machines that asses the red flag and drones in black coming to collect us. The robots will rule the world. Wow, I think someone has been passing out bad red rope liquorice.
The alternative is to storm into a public gathering waving a $50 note in the air.