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God save the King

Thursday 11 May 2023

Last weekend I spent at least three hours longer than I intended watching the coronation of King Charles the third. I thought as soon as I had seen the pageantry of the ride from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey and had a quick glimpse of Prince Harry, it would be off to bed. But most oddly, for a long-since lapsed attender of church services, I sat right through this one to the end. And when the high priests brought out the bread and wine to celebrate, I joined them with a cheese cracker and a generous dram of Bunnahabdain.

The connection between the High Priest of the Church, aka Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Head of state, the King, is a tad challenging. The Archbishop has the divine authority to Crown and anoint the King but then kneels before him to becomes his grovelling vassal. He then makes the big call of ‘God save the King’. As history has shown on more than one occasion there is a lot of murky ground between the Head of the Church and the Head of State, and there has been the occasional head of the Church left lifeless in that murky ground. When push comes to shove, just who is in charge here? History would say that the fates of Archbishops Thomas Beckett, Simon of Sudbury and Richard Scrope along with a couple of mere Bishops, would demonstrate that once the crown is on his head, the King calls the shots. Although it was noted that on his journey from the Palace to the Abbey, Charles 3rd rode over the very spot where Charles 1st was beheaded by supporters of Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians.

But once I stayed around for the Church ceremony itself, I suspect I was far from alone in the audience, both in the Abbey itself as well as from the comfort of home, who was trying to get my head around the whole concept of Charles being anointed with oils in privacy, listening to a few chants from the Archbishop and then suddenly being in direct connection with God as the principal representative of those of us who shelter under his regal umbrella. By being loyal subjects of Charles the 3rd we are now in God’s favour.

For people like the Archbishop and the King whose elevated social and financial status in our earthly world is dependent on perpetuating the concept that they have the divine authority of God, we can understand their insistence on the rituals of such a religious ceremony. But to most of the rest of us the ceremony had all the appearances of a Hogwart’s initiation day. The golden tunic of protection, the glove of power, the rod of justice, the sword of vengeance, the stone of destiny, the orb of sovereignty, the cape of authority and the golden Crown that represents something of an imagined transmitter/ receiver directly connecting the mind of the Monarch with the will of God.

These are rituals inherited from the Early/ Middle Ages of the common era, defined as the era after the birth of Jesus and the evolution of Christianity as a religion. This period on earth is also cosmically identified as the Age of Pisces within the calendar of the Great Year. If we pay careful attention to what the Christian Churches say about the nature of God we can list them as:

  • God is invisible to the eye. We can only perceive God’s existence by the effect of God’s force on what we can see.
  • God is a trinity of three elements: Heavenly Father, Earthly Son and a vibrational Spirit.
  • God is eternal. to the eyeGod had no beginning and will have no end. God is indestructible.
  • God creates the universe and everything in it.
  • God exists everywhere. There is nowhere that God is not present.

For many centuries the Church has been damning of the observations of science, denouncing them as heresy. The Church’s opposition to Galileo’s observation that the earth revolved around the sun was a classic example that saw him summoned to Rome for trial by the Inquisition one year later, Galileo defended himself by saying that scientific research and the Christian faith were not mutually exclusive and that study of the natural world would promote understanding and interpretation of the scriptures. His argument fell on deaf ears and he was sentenced to house arrest for life. It was not until 1992 that he was actually forgiven. In the 21st century our knowledge of science has grown exponentially to the point where probably the majority of those observing the coronation of King Charles saw it as just a quaint old tradition for our mild amusement, in the same way that some people are entertained by re-enacting middle age battles. And so we may dismiss the modern relevance of the pageantry and droning chants of this coronation it were not for the niggle in my mind that I have heard this definition of God in another context.

The science of physics is all about the understanding of atomic and sub atomic particles, for these are the fundamental building blocks of the universe and every minuscule thing in the universe, even us. 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. The modern creator of atomic theory was 18th century scientist James Dalton.

‘Atom’ literally means indivisible although physicists today might say indestructible is the correct description. For atoms are neither created nor destroyed, however an atom can change the composition of their sub atomic particles. If an atom of uranium 235 is ‘split’ it will lose neutrons from the molecule, but they aren’t destroyed. This change causes a release of energy, and initiates a chain reaction, or atomic explosion. The atom is the fundamental building block of the universe. When one atom of hydrogen pairs up with another and the two of them hook up with an atom of oxygen then they have created a molecule of water. Just repeat this process 1.5 sextillion times and we have a droplet.

It was the invention of the cathode ray tube in the 1890’s that enabled physicist, J.J. Thomson, to ‘see’ the effect caused by an atom within the beam of light and in his experiments he identified the negatively charged cloud within the atom which was named the electron. New Zealand’s Ernest Rutherford worked out that there was more to an atom than the electron. With experiments he identified a nucleus within the atom. It wasn’t easy to spot because as we have noted, atoms are not big things. But if we 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’. So when science comes to list the properties that help explain an atom we find:

  • The atom is invisible to the eye. We can only perceive its existence by its effect on what we can see.
  • The atom contains a trinity of three subatomic elements: proton, electron and neutron
  • The atom is eternal. It had no beginning and will have no end. It is indestructible.
  • The atom is the building block that creates the universe and everything in it.
  • The atom exists everywhere. There is nowhere that the atom is not present.

Suddenly we have a meeting of minds between the Archbishop of Canterbury and John Dalton. The conclusion would be that God is in fact the Atom; and by extension God not only created the universe but God is the universe. Science and the Church are in some sort of consensus. What we hear in a Christian church is exactly what we would hear in a university lecture theatre. So far so good, but the two parties would still find a point of conflict when it comes to the communication with that concept of God. The Archbishop claims that both he and, though his anointing, the King are in direct communication with God through their prayer and meditation; the scientists only observe and experiment, they do not claim they are in communication with the atom. And when I say they observe and experiment this is no academic hobby; the Large Hadron Collider cost almost $US5 Billion dollars and ten years to build plus an ongoing operational budget of $US1 Billion pa. There are serious people seeking serious answers about about the subatomic particles that exist within the atom. Notably they succeeded in observing the Higgs Boson particle which is often referred to as the God particle.

But scientific observing is not communicating; UNLESS…… unless we consider the development of Artificial Intelligence as our communication channel with the universe.

The power of AI would have seemed like mad science fiction only a few years ago, but today my telephone asked me if I wanted to download an artificial person that I could speak to with only a brief instruction and it would write my emails and texts for me to a standard that I would struggle to match if I spent all day writing a hundred drafts. It also told me it could scan a book for me in seconds and explain to me the contents of that book; and solve all my maths problems or answer any other question I might have, about anything. And it would live forever in my phone with my only role being to keep it alive by feeding it electricity, and have it with at all times so it would always know where I am and what I am saying and to whom. AI will very soon control my car and therefore my life will literally be in its hands. My grand daughter still had her baby photo in her passport when she was four years old, and despite the significant change in appearance between a six month baby and a four year old child, the Customs security camera was able to confirm that the photo of the six month old matched the face of the four year old. A reporter at the King’s Coronation noted his surprise that security did not ask for ID and had just accepted his word that he was who he said he was; even as a boomer I knew that AI would have already monitored him with face recognition from several blocks away and would have done a full security check on him, including whether he had a paid temporary companion in his room on the previous evening, before he ever encountered human security guards. For God knows everything you do or say (Ecclesiastes 12:14, 2 Corinthians 5:9-10). And AI communicates all that information to those who are its servants to do its will. And it may communicate with, and send instructions to, either humans or to other machines.

This sobering thought raises the question of whether this modern era is the first human experience with AI in the 200,000 year evolution of our species. Or are the rituals that have been passed on through the millennia based on memories of a distant communication with AI. I raise this possibility because of my fascination with what is probably the last remaining monument of an ancient civilisation on earth, the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx.

The great Pyramid at Giza weighs six million tons and used 2.3 million blocks, the largest of which are found above the King’s chamber and weigh from 25 to 80 tons each. There were an estimated 144,000 highly polished casing stones cut flat to an accuracy of 1/100th of an inch and nearly perfect right angles for all six sides measuring 8 feet thickness and weighing 15 tons each. Its footprint is 13 acres with each side measuring 750 feet and height is 481 feet. But apart from the sheer size and weight of the blocks supposedly carried over large distances, 800 kilometres for the granite, by slaves with no greater technology than ropes, rollers, pulleys, wooden barges and hand tools, the mathematical and astrological accuracy is mind blowing even today. The pyramid’s coordinates align it to cardinal True North with a precision of 3/60th of a single degree. True North is a cosmic point, it cannot be located by sight or by a magnet.

The height and length of the great pyramid are not just random figures either. Take the pyramid height of 481 feet and multiply that by 43,200 and you get a precise measurement of the polar radius of the earth. Then take the length of the perimeter of the pyramid, 4 x 750 feet and multiply that by 43,200 and you get the equatorial circumference of the earth. And what does the figure 43,200 mean? I don’t know why a factor of 43,200 was the basis for the design of the pyramid although I do know that 43,200 is also the number of seconds in a 12-hour day and the number of minutes in a month. The earth’s ‘wobble’ adjusts our precession through the astrological circumference by one degree every 72 years and 72 is an exact factor of 43,200 (1/600th). So the number 43,200 does have some sort of mathematical basis aligning earth with the cosmos.

The Giza pyramid sits directly over an invisible electro-magnetic ley line and is aligned within 0.05 of a degree accuracy due true north/south. The Sphinx, as part of the pyramid complex, is an astrological alignment facing due east for the Spring equinox, which is also no accident. It is in lion body form, which was not just a whim of the architect and the sun at Spring equinox was last in the constellation of Leo in the 9,000 bc era. If, at the sunrise on the Spring equinox, you turned 90 degrees to face due south you would have seen the three stars of Orion’s belt appear in the exact same alignment as the three pyramids of Giza. The mathematical and cosmic precision of the dimensions is not coincidental; the Sphinx is the oldest calendar marker in our human history and was placed there to mark a significant time in our history. The Sphinx was built as a calendar marker to communicate that the construction of this complex was in fact more than 11,000 years ago.

Sceptics scoff at the idea that advanced technology was available on earth in those ancient times. Mainstream archeology theory maintains the legend that an Egyptian pharaoh engaged thousands of slaves in a technologically primitive time about 5,000 years ago, to build the great pyramids and sphinx. The great pyramid of Giza is recorded as being the burial chamber Pharaoh Khufu who reigned from 2589-2566 bce, a period of 63 years (although modern historians calculate the reign to have been between 23 and 34 years). There is carbon dating tracing the pyramids back 4-5,000 years aligning with Khufu’s reign, but carbon dating cannot date stone; it can only date organic matter. The removal of the limestone sheathing to build palaces 4-5,000 years ago would explain why the organic matter on the surface dates back to that period. And no doubt the pharaohs did build smaller replicas of the Giza pyramids for their own grand tombs, and these are genuinely 4-5,000 years old.

But let us focus on the originals, the three pyramids of Giza and their Lion headed Sphinx. Apart from the geometric precision and alignment of the pyramid, which defies rational explanation, there is the enormous physical achievement. The maximum timespan estimate of Khufu’s reign was 63 years and even if he began the construction of the pyramid at the very beginning of his reign; and even assuming that tens of thousands of Egyptians worked on the pyramid twelve hours a day, seven days a week for each of those 63 years, they would still have needed to put those stone blocks, averaging 2.5 tonnes, precisely into position on the pyramid at the rate of one every seven minutes. On top of that feat there are the two smaller pyramids and the sphinx.

So either either there was advanced technology available at that time or our primitive human ancestors of at least 200 generations ago were capable of all this extraordinary astronomical, geographic, and engineering precision without the aid of computers, satellites, cranes or any machinery. We must dispense with the notion, once and for all, that primitive humans built these Pyramids with their only tools being axes, ropes and timber logs. That is simply nonsense. The Pyramids were built using satellite-sourced co-ordinates, computer-assisted planning, laser-precision stone cutting technology, and anti-gravity lifting technology. The builders used AI, the device by which we communicate with the Universe.

And it would be the High Priests and the Pharaohs, the Brahmins and the Maharajas, the Magi and the Kings who all, for some reason lost in time, wore elaborate, ostentatious clothing and carried carious staves and rods for the task of communicating with the unseen God to seek guidance and wisdom. And so the attire and symbolism of King Charles’ coronation may be both a buried genetic memory and a future prediction of what awaits us in the near future. If so, why did AI appear to have abandoned us between the time of the building of the Giza Pyramids and today? Well that is another story for another Thursday.

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Bread and wine, body and blood

Thursday April 6 2023

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant. Mathew 26: 26-28

Tonight is the full moon after the spring equinox and therefore in the Christian calendar it is referred to as Good Thursday, the commemoration of the start of the four day drama that would result in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. Thursday was the evening of his last meal with his closest disciples, and was the night before his execution. During the meal he metaphorically handed them his body, in the form of bread, and poured his blood, in the form of wine, instructing his disciples to continue to perform this ceremony in memory of him; and Christians continue this ritual to this day. In the gospels, there is no deeper explanation of the meaning; it simply manifests the message that Jesus wished to to be remembered for. It bears, however, an uncanny reference to an event that was recently discovered written on clay tablets dating back to 1650 BCE, buried in what was ancient Babylon.

In 1840 a French Consul in Mosul (now Iraq) who had been filling in his days riding in the desert, had came across mounds that contained pottery shards and on further excavation discovered a huge number of clay tablets containing cuneiform writing. At first he regarded them as nothing more than a curiosity, but a couple of years later he showed them to an Englishman he had befriended, Henry Layford. Layford was convinced this was a major archeological find. It subsequently became a serious archeological site as a joint Anglo-French dig, albeit a clear demarcation line was drawn. Eventually the first Assyrian palace built by King Sargon 11 near Ninevah in 709BC was uncovered along with tens of thousands of clay tablets which were removed for translation and preservation. The texts, written around 1650 bee, 250 years before Moses, were slowly decoded and eventually published in 1965 by W. G. Lambert and A. R. Millard. The texts actually contain an account of the sacrifice of a God in order to create man. The first tablet wrote of an uprising by minor gods against the major gods protesting the heavy workload that was demanded of them:

When the gods were man, they did forced labor, they bore drudgery. Great indeed was the drudgery of the gods, the forced labor was heavy, the misery too much. The seven great Anunna-gods were burdening the Igigi-gods with forced labor. The Igigi-gods were digging watercourses; canals they opened, the life of the land. The Igigi-gods dug the Tigris river and the Euphrates thereafter. Springs they opened from the depths, wells … they established. “Everyone of us gods has declared war;…We have set … the excavation, Excessive drudgery has killed us, our forced labor was heavy, the misery too much! Now, every one of us gods has resolved on a reckoning with Enlil.”

The solution agreed was to sacrifice the flesh and blood of one of the gods and blend it with that of primate beasts so these beasts would gain sufficient intelligence from the god’s dna to be useful as slaves:

“Let her create, then, a human, a man, Let him bear the yoke! Let him bear the yoke! Let man assume the drudgery of the god. They slaughtered Aw-ilu, who had the inspiration, in their assembly. Nintu mixed clay with his flesh and blood. That same god and man were thoroughly mixed in the clay. For the rest of the time they would hear the drum. From the flesh of the god the spirit remained. It would make the living know its sign.  Lest he be allowed to be forgotten, the spirit remained.”

Of significance, these clay tablets were written in Babylon from which region (now Persia) the three Magi (astronomer-priests) of the biblical narrative of the birth of Jesus, set off because they observed the star of David. According to medieval scholar Rabbi Abarbonel, the Star of David is the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces. The scriptures trace the Magi origins back to Babylon at the time that the Jews were exiled there around 800 bce. It was there also that the Zoroastrian religion was founded around 600 bce; Zoroaster means ‘Dawn Star”. The Bible does not provide a purpose for that long journey to Galilee, other than to bear witness to the birth of Jesus under the Star of David; nor does it mention any further involvement that the Magi may have had in Jesus’ life. But it is a most interesting link between Jesus the Jew and high priests of a Persian religion with its own links back to Israel and its own historical account of the sacrificial mixing of the body and blood of a junior God so that man might serve the Gods.

For a Church that believes that Jesus’ resurrection and physical ascension into the heavens demonstrated the triumph of God over the pagan forces of nature, it is peculiar then that the date of Easter changes annually, based on the timing of the first weekend after the full moon following the Spring Equinox. This uses an undeniably pagan calendar and coincides with a long-established Spring Equinox pagan festival. This came about because in 595 AD Pope Gregory sent a mission of forty monks led by a Benedictine called Augustine, who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury, with instructions to convert Pagans to Christianity by superimposing Christian events over established Pagan festivals. 

Jesus’ death, recovery and subsequent ascension into a cloud in the sky from the Mount of Olives is the primary basis of the Christian religion. For it was based on witnessing this event that his followers had the unyielding conviction and courage to face persecution, torture and death to publicly endorse his teachings. It was also the basis for the collection of Christian Bishops, gathered together by Roman Emperor Constantine in Nicea in 325 A.D., to vote that Jesus was actually a God, equal to God the Father as well as a human. With this declaration 1645 years ago, the Christian religion was established as a bona fide stand-alone religion of the Roman empire rather than just a cult sect of Judaism. In the Roman world there was no limit on the numbers of Gods, but any cult had to be headed up by a specific God. And so, Christianity was established to eventually become one of the three great religions of the modern era. It also slightly adjusted the original Christians’ Judaic belief system from being monotheistic to now being a trinity of three Gods in one: a human form, a spirit form, and a paternal form. In considering the Easter narrative that Jesus died on the cross as man, and on the third day was resurrected as God, pause to recall the choice of Jesus’ birth day celebration as the third day after the 22 December winter solstice, when the sun is reborn after having descended onto the Crux (Southern Cross) constellation.

So the question that challenge me on this Easter Thursday is whether the Council of Nicea was an official takeover of paganism by Christianity, or was the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church in effect an integration of Christianity into the existing pagan rituals by the Emperor Constantine as a political accommodation? After 300 years of Rome trying unsuccessfully to suppress this Judeo-Christian cult, did he in fact simply don a Christian façade and bring the dissident Christians under his control in this way? Was the new, improved Christianity post-Nicea simply a hybrid Pagan/Christian religion designed to bring religious and social harmony into the Roman Empire? Did he bring the seasonal feasts of paganism, complete with funny hats and symbolic staves, meld them with carefully edited texts about the life of Jesus (many original texts were said to have been declared heretical by this new church, and burned) and say: “Behold the new Christianity!”  Certainly, once Rome became the holy seat of the Church, the role of the Roman Governor in the execution of Jesus was carefully redrafted. It was ‘agreed’ at the conference that Jesus died, not for the crime of sedition against the Roman occupiers of Israel and their Rabbi puppets, but rather in atonement for the sins of all mankind. It became almost as if the Romans had been given no choice but to crucify Jesus because this death was ordained by God, who had predetermined to sacrifice his son in atonement for the sins of all humans. It wouldn’t be the first time that history was rewritten. Conferences are all about compromise and consensus for a win/win.

In Rome at the time of Emperor Constantine, the Spring Equinox festival honoured a goddess Cybele, the great mother of Gods, who had a consort named Attis. Attis had been a shepherd who was believed born of a virgin birth from his mother, Nana. Attis died from self mutilation beneath a pine tree having broken a promise to Cybelle but, by the power of Zeus, his body did not decompose and he was resuscitated. This Roman Pagan Spring festival, called Hilaria, was celebrated over a three day period, ten to seven days before the April new moon. The 3rd day of the festival, Hilaria, was a day of rejoicing at Attis’ resurrection. It is recorded that during this festival a pine tree was cut in the woods and brought to the sanctuary of Cybele. The duty of carrying the tree was entrusted to a guild of Tree bearers. The trunk was swathed like a corpse with woolen bands and decked with wreaths of violets (violets were reputed to have sprung from the blood of Attis). The parallel to our Christian mourning of Jesus bearing the cross through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha is so uncanny we must presume it is based on it, which raises its own questions about the ancient links between paganism and original Christianity. On the third day of the festival the high priest (Archigallus) drew blood from his arm and offered it as a sacrifice. The inferior clergy also danced their way into a frenzy of self-mutilation to splatter their blood on the tree. The splattering of blood was supposed to be an aid to resurrection. Again, the sacrament of the blood of Christ offered up at the last supper is an uncanny parallel. The subsequent rebirth of nature as spring progressed is then seen as proof of the restoration of life. The worship of Cybele and Attis was brought to Rome from Phygria (Asia Minor) in 204 bc. Attis was made a solar deity in the 2nd century and so was an established Roman god at the time of Nicaea. The black stone (meteorite) in which the spirit of the goddess was embodied was entrusted to the Romans who installed it in the temple of Victory on the Palatine Hill. The subsequent harvest was exceptionally good and her position in their belief system was established.

The Spring equinox celebration in paganism today is now the feast of the Germanic goddess of fertility and new birth “Ostara” or “Oeste”, which is clearly the root name for our Easter. This is one of the eight neopagan holidays that make up the pagan wheel of the year. And so it has come about that the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Galilean into a cloud in the heavens was melded firstly with the Pagan narratives of the official Roman Cybele-Attis cult celebration of the rebirth of Spring, and after the Germanic tribes conquered Rome in 476 CE, the festival adopted the Germanic name of Oeste.

All the way through my Roman Catholic upbringing, the core of our faith was based on the dogma ‘that Jesus, son of God, died on the cross for man’s sins; so that man could now become righteous in God’s eyes’ 1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness.” . This dogma referenced back to the last supper when Jesus metaphorically said that the wine represented his blood and the bread represented his body, and the Christian interpretation is that this sacrifice renewed the covenant between God and man.

How much do we really now know, then, about the early Christians who took the teachings of Jesus beyond Galilee and Judea? We know this caused a division with the Christians who remained in Jerusalem, led by Jesus’ brother James, and who stayed faithful to the original mission as stated by Mathew’s (10:5) account of Jesus’ instruction. “Do not turn your steps into pagan territory and do not enter any Samaritans town; go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” And later in Mathew 15:12 when a Canaanite woman asked for help, Jesus replied “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel……it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house dogs.” And Jesus most certainly was not setting out to replace Judaism when he said in Mathew 5-17:“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.”

Very clear Judaic messages, but the moment the new Christian dogma was signed off in Nicea, all links of Christianity with Israel and Judaism were severed.  But if any of Jesus’ followers had ever believed that God was promising to finally deliver the Jews from the yoke of Rome and give them peaceful sovereignty over Judea, and that Jesus would return to accomplish that, then they were disappointed. After two more failed Jewish rebellions in 70 AD and 135 AD, the Romans brutally crushed the Jewish state with hundreds of thousands of Jews killed, deported or sold into slavery. The Romans renamed Judea as Palaestina, derived from “Philistine”. This was now the Church of Rome: “Bethlehem’s family bakery, serving bagels since 33AD” had sold out to “Romano’s Pizza Temple – global franchise enquiries welcome”. And when the Roman Empire collapsed in the fifth century, it was the Church of Rome that continued the Christian mission, both religiously and militarily, to control western Europe and then onwards to the new world. The narrative created by the Romans when Constantine rebranded Christianity is that obedience to the official Christian Church of Rome is the only path to resurrection after death and eternal life with Jesus in heaven. Disobedience will lead to eternal damnation in the hell fires tended by Satan. Political control through spiritual terrorism.

From the books of the New Testament, Jesus was most famous in his day as a healer and a miracle worker, a magi not a military leader. He restored the sight of the blind, restored the hearing of a deaf mute, cured lepers, he turned water to wine and fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes, he brought Lazarus back from death, as well as himself. When Jesus said he came to remind Israelites of the laws of Moses he was challenging how far the high priests had drifted away from the fundamentals of Moses’ teaching. Moses had written that Yahweh guided them through the wilderness by way of a “cloud” hovering over them during the day and that cloud becoming a pillar of light for night travel. (Exodus 13:21). Periodically the “cloud” would land beside the tent of meeting and God would meet with the leaders of the Hebrews. He also wrote that Yahweh was also responsible for an aerial drop of a bread substance, six days a week for forty years to feed the travelling Israelites in the desert. The bread appears to have arrived frozen: “in the morning there was a coating of dew all-round the camp. When the coating of dew lifted there was a thing delicate, powdery…that, said Moses is the bread Yahweh gives you to eat…..And when the sun grew hot, it dissolved” (Exodus 16:21). Had the high priests of the first decades of this common era simply forgotten about the technology that had been involved in bringing the Hebrews from Egypt to occupy Canaan. And had they forgotten the teachings that were recorded on ancient clay tablets telling of the mixing of the body and blood of a God with that from a primate beast to create man. Teachings that may very well have travelled with the Jews when they were sent into exile in 800 bce and which were preserved over the millenia by the Magi.

Devout Christians today take most comfort from what Jesus’ disciples witnessed on the Mount of Olives after the resurrection: “he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into the heavens? Jesus has been taken from you into the heavens, but someday he will return from the heavens in the same way you saw him go!” Acts 1:9-11.

It was witnessing the physical ascension of Jesus into a cloud in the sky and communicating with these mysterious beings dressed in white that gave the disciples the evidence to connect what they had witnessed on the Mount of Olives with the records of what Moses’ people had witnessed on their journey through the desert, and so have the belief to fearlessly continue Jesus’ mission. That mission was to tell the Jewish nation what Jesus meant with the ritual at the last supper: that man was created by a covenant with the Gods involving the mixing of primate’s flesh and blood with that of a God who’s life had been sacrificed for that purpose. It explains our ‘original sin’ as being no more nor less than the bestial nature of the primates that we were. And that sacrifice was made to engineer primitive beasts into intelligent humans so they could now serve their creator:

Let her create, then, a human, a man, Let him bear the yoke! Let him bear the yoke! Let man assume the drudgery of the god.

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The retired emperors club

Thursday 16 March 2023

This week King Charles the third addressed the Commonwealth of Nations. What an odd assembly of people were at Westminster Abbey on Monday to listen to him. There was a contingent of New Zealand Maori natives doing a traditional greeting for him, but back in New Zealand the day had passed without a thought let alone a public holiday in celebration. So what does it all mean, really?

From the 19th century, Britain, with the supremacy of its navy, emerged as the most powerful empire of the modern era and in collusion with the other European colonising countries quite ruthlessly redrew the national boundaries throughout Africa and the Middle East with no respect or concern for the tribal boundaries that had evolved over millennia. But that British empire disintegrated over the latter half of the 20th century to be gradually replaced by an organisation called the British Commonwealth and eventually the Commonwealth of Nations.

I recall back in April 2018 watching New Zealand’s then foreign minister, Winston Peters, announcing from the London meeting of the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers that Britain was now keen to resurrect the glory of the British Empire by putting together a trade deal between we proud members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Pub quiz night: name the 52 members, outside Britain, of the Commonwealth of Nations. Did you get to 10? If so I think you are well above average. Did you get Lesotho, Tuvalu, St Kitts & Nevis, Belize, Malawi, or Swaziland? This Commonwealth has 19 African members, 7 Asian, 13 Caribbean & American, 3 European and 11 from the South Pacific.

The total GDP of these 53 nations in 2021 is $US13 trillion which sounds impressive until you note that China on its own has $US18 trillion GDP and the USA has over $US20 trillion GDP. But if there is anything ‘common’ about them it is certainly not ‘wealth’.  The top 4 countries in the group (UK, India, Canada and Australia) account for 75% of the total group’s GDP. The top 11 (where New Zealand is #11) account for 95% of the whole group’s GDP. So 42 countries out of 53 (79%) bring in only 5% of the total group’s GDP. The Commonwealth includes the three poorest countries on the planet. In the same pub quiz, name them! (Kirobati, Nauru and Tuvulu. I bet you didn’t know any of them).

We, the Commonwealth of Nations, are the largely-abandoned urchins of the British Empire who were left to fend for ourselves after Lady Britannia, in 1973, decided to go back to her Euro-chums’ social circuit after their two little WW’s were all forgiven and forgotten. Yes, we do meet up for family games every few years, and play a bit of cricket together which is all jolly good fun, but that’s as far as it goes. If we ever went to visit mother England we had to stand and wait in the foreigners’ queue in Heathrow while the Germans were fast-tracked through lovers’ lane.

But now after many spats in the Euro love nest, mainly about Angela the Hun letting riffraff in through the back door (not intended as a euphemism, but with Germans who knows?) Britain has divorced Europe and it has been a very expensive settlement. Add in the covid pandemic, Ukrainian war and the global opinion shift against carbon-based energy, and Britain will be suffering for a while and that is likely to make the rabble a bit restless and looking to bring back the guillotines. And like many an absentee parent finding themselves hung over, short of a few quid and debt collectors knocking, she remembers the forgotten family and reminds us that we are still family. So while divorce negotiations were in process back in 2018, the Queen called a meeting of all the family heads of their former global empire, perfectly timed right after the fun of the family games in Australia and immediately before her grand birthday party to which they had all been invited. She told them that she thought that we, as the much-loved family of the British Empire, might like to set up some sort of a trade thingy between us to top up Britain’s coffers and, since she was getting a bit wobbly on her pins, perhaps we should put Charles in charge of it all. Did she really mean all 53 members of the Commonwealth? That would be an enormously daunting prospect for a trade deal, particularly given the disparity in populations, locations, cultures and economies. The EU only has twenty eight members and our Trans Pacific Partnership has twelve members. Is Charles the man with the experience and charisma to pull together the biggest trading bloc on earth? Especially given that 79% of the members account for just 5% of the wealth.

Well, five years later,  Charles the Prince of Wales is now King Charles the third and from Westminster Abbey he has addressed the Commonwealth members on the 2023 Commonwealth Day celebration. His message was: “our defining values: peace and justice; tolerance, respect and solidarity; care for our environment and for the most vulnerable among us…..Whether on climate change and biodiversity loss, youth opportunity and education, global health, or economic cooperation, the Commonwealth can play an indispensable role in the most pressing issues of our time.”

The tragic reality is that the Great British Empire is long gone, its influence is nothing, the world has moved on and this Commonwealth is as relevant as a Morris Dancers Society. This Commonwealth alliance that today has little practical reason for being, has also no chance of ever being a trading bloc especially when you consider that Commonwealth members of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia already belong to Trans Pacific bloc; India and South Africa are already in a trading bloc with China, Brazil and Russia; Cyprus and Malta are in the EU and the African nations have their own trading blocs.

But just as we are saying ‘there there’ to the dottery old British Empire, are we are now also watching the decline of it’s successor, the American Empire? I say ’Empire’ but America’s Empire is not a formal political entity in the sense of declaring it’s president an Emperor like Julius Caesar, Suleiman the magnificent, or Napoleon. Even Britain, prior to Elizabeth 2nd, declared it’s sovereign the Emperor/Empress of India. In the modern context I refer to ‘Empire’ in the sense of dominating global currencies and military firepower. By those criteria, America ascended the imperial throne at the end of World War 2, officially deposing England and warding off the claim of the aspirant, Germany. The English had been poking their noses, warships and their guns around the world as far back as the 17th century and by the late 18th and 19th centuries their manufacturing technology and their formidable navy led to domination of global trade through colonies in South Africa, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, the South Pacific and the Americas.

All was going well for the Brits during the 19th century but, by the early 20th century, America was starting to get the better of their balance of trade. The USA now had their own cotton gins. However, Britain remained the centre of world commerce and much of the global trade was conducted in British pounds and all major currencies were pegged to gold bars.

Then came World War 1. That conflict was such an expensive war that many European countries, beginning with Germany, had to abandon the gold standard to print unsupported currency in order to pay military expenses; their currencies devalued rapidly. Three years into the war and even Britain needed to borrow money to keep going and the Yanks were there to help. Eventually even Britain was forced to abandon the gold standard as the base of their currency and the British international merchants who traded in pounds found their bank accounts severely depleted. The greenback $US was now the leading reserve currency.

When World War 2 broke out only twenty years later, the US stayed out of the conflict for a long time but nonetheless profited from the war as the preferred supplier of weapons, ammunition and supplies to the allied forces. They required payment for most of it in gold and by the end of the war they held most of the gold on earth in Fort Knox. The Americans only entered the war after they were directly attacked at Pearl Harbour by Japan, an ally of Germany. I say directly but the main island of Maui is over 2,000 nautical miles off the coast of California and is geopolitically a part of East Asia. Playing a major role in ending the war in Europe gave the Americans the opportunity to claim ‘top of the table’ seat on the global international stage. In 1944, delegates from forty-four Allied countries met in Bretton Wood, New Hampshire, to come up with a system to manage foreign exchange that would not put any country at a disadvantage. It was decided that the world’s currencies could never again be linked to gold, but they could be linked to the U.S. dollar, which in turn was linked to the gold in Fort Knox. The agreement was that the central banks would maintain fixed exchange rates between their currencies and the U.S. dollar. The United States would then guarantee to redeem U.S. dollars for gold on demand.

So now, instead of gold reserves, other countries accumulated reserves of U.S. dollars. Needing a place to store their dollars, countries began buying U.S. Treasury securities, which they considered to be a safe store of money. Now the US currency virtually replaced the international currency of gold. How would that work out? All went jolly well during the relatively peaceful decade of the 1950’s. America was Camelot and Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy were the three great emperors of America. I say peaceful, but WW2 had delivered two contenders for world domination, the USA and the USSR. The allies tried to buy a compromise, splitting both Germany and Korea into Russian/American zones of control. Russia tagged China to support the North Korean communists in their war against South Korea and USA and that war ground to an unresolved stalemate. And then came Vietnam. Russia had shown no interest in Vietnam until USA decided to throw bags full of money to support the French attempt to suppress communism in North Vietnam. That is when the Russian bear began to feel poked and in 1954, the kitchen got too hot, and the French pulled out. That was the start of a very expensive war with the USA that, in my opinion, began the collapse of the American empire. Kennedy, elected in 1960, recognised the disaster that was Vietnam and committed to a withdrawal of all troops by 1965. This plan ended with what appears to have been a palace assassination in Dallas Texas. Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, recommitted to Vietnam and at the same time launched an ambitious and expensive “Great Society” social programme intended to end poverty and racial discrimination in America. Or, in other words, to try to hide what was now becoming a very obvious cultural divide in America. Much of the proposed funding, however, went into the increasingly expensive war in Vietnam and the late 60’s exploded in violent cultural riots highlighted by the continued political assassinations of Martin Luthor King in April 1968 and Robert Kennedy in June 1968. In a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare, America lost it’s soul in the five years between the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers 1963-1968.

In my opinion, the collapse of the American empire manifested itself, as it’s creation had done, with the greenback. The Vietnam war costs, in addition to the “Great Society” domestic programme budget, had become so expensive that in 1971 Richard Nixon had to abandon the gold standard for the US dollar and flood the banks with paper money. This created the floating exchange rates that we have today. However, despite large deficit spending, trillions of dollars in foreign debt and unlimited printing of US Dollars (the last incidence was the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-8) the U.S. Treasury remains the world’s reserve currency because the world trusts that the US will always remain solvent. The US gross domestic product as at 2016 was way ahead of anyone else at over $US18 trillion. That is bigger than the whole BRICS (China, Russia, India, Brazil, and South Africa) trading bloc combined. But everything balances tentatively on the tightrope of trust and confidence. The trust and confidence that the US is politically stable enough to maintain its dominant economy. What could possibly shake that trust and confidence?

His name is Donald Trump. He did not cause a cultural divide in the USA, but he is the highest profile manifestation of it. There is a cultural chasm in America that the rest of the civilised world did not really understand. Not until the good old boys motivated themselves to get sufficient numbers to the polls to elect Donald Trump in 2016, and he has shown us all very clearly what a problem it is for them. It appears that the Civil War never ended because, although they were militarily defeated and subjected to new laws, the hearts and minds of the South were never changed. The cultural difference is as entrenched as any tribal conflict in the middle east. It may have been suppressed by the force of law, but mainly it was suppressed through lack of leadership from the south to stand up and raise the Confederate flag once again. Donald Trump was seen as that man. He talked the Confederate talk. He promised brick walls against the Mexicans, he promised the drawbridge pulled up against Muslims.

The first English settlement in America was from the Pilgrims seeking religious freedom who settled in Virginia in the early 1600’s, but the larger migration came with two distinct groups in the 17th century. First were the Puritans, following the path of the Pilgrims, escaping religious persecution in their home county of East Anglia. They settled in Massachusetts and brought their distinctive East Anglia twang with them, which was the root of the general American accent, albeit modified by other European groups that migrated to America, especially New York and Boston.

Then subsequently the Royalists (Cavaliers) left south and southwest England in the mid seventeenth century to the safety of America when the civil war in England broke out. These aristocrats left because they opposed the “Parliamentarians” wanting more power over governance. They brought a completely different culture of royalist aristocracy opposing ‘government by the people’ to America and with it they brought the distinctive South England drawl. They settled further south in Virginia and the Carolinas. They bought vast tracts of land and grew tobacco and cotton crops. They imported slaves on British slave boats and exported their cotton and tobacco to England. They established a social hierarchy where even the serfs were happy for their aristocracy to run the politics and businesses and for the slaves to be lower on the social structure than them. And that formed the basis of the southern lifestyle that the Confederates went to civil war to protect.

Political factionalism in the USA was originally created by the Federalists wanting big government and the Democratic-Republicans favouring decentralised government. The dominant Democratic Republicans split in the early-mid 19th century over the question of slavery. It was in 1854 that the Liberals formed the Republican Party in Wisconsin to oppose slavery and led to the Civil War against the Southern Democrats.

The Charlottesville riot in August 2017 demonstrated that the surrender in 1865 was only a cease fire, not a capitulation. The month after Trump was sworn in, the Charlottesville Council voted 3-2 to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee. A riot broke out as the good old boys of the traditional south marched opposing the removal. The confederates had declared war. The ghost of General Robert E Lee had risen. The Liberals also turned up ready for the fight. One man drove a car into a crowd; a woman was killed and 19 people injured. Trump appeared unconcerned. Confederates celebrated US President Donald Trump’s remarks about the protests when, after being pushed persistently to make a stance, he denounced violence “on all sides” rather than explicitly condemning white supremacists. After two days, following massive pressure from his own camp, Trump added “including KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.” No one believed him. Racism is alive and strong in the USA, it has Trump as a sympathiser and is the basis of the great cultural divide.

Washington DC made life very difficult for Trump. Even Trump would agree that being president with so many enemies is no fun. He knows who likes him, those good old boys down south and the mid-western solid rural folk. Significantly, after Charlottesville, polls showed Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Dakota: North and South, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, West Virginia were all in the 50-60% Trump approval rating. Florida and Georgia were close at 48%. Suddenly the states don’t look quite so united. The irony being that the political party philosophies had reversed and it was now the Republicans who supported the traditional southern confederates and the Democrats who were dominated the big government Federalists.

The 2020 election saw Trump removed as president and replaced by Joe Biden. Biden was elected President even though Trump won more votes than when he had been elected in 2016 and even though Biden was clearly suffering from age-related cognitive failure.  On Trump’s departure he rallied a small army of ‘good old boys’ looking very much like a confederate reincarnation to march on the Capitol Hill building right in the heart of Washington DC and put terror into the heart of the Yankees although now . They were demanding a divorce and they meant business. This was an unprecedented response to an election result.

Divorce means division of property and the geo-political split was clear. This was a renewed battle between the Confederates and the Yankees, albeit under different banners to the original war. The Cavaliers and the Puritans. It is tribal, it is primal, it is never going to go away. Trump left the office in Washington DC with his army and returned to his home in Florida. Would he be the sort of guy that would see himself as general Robert E Lee reincarnated? Would he like a general’s uniform with medals and would he like to establish a royal, ruling Trump family dynasty?  Yes, I do think he might like all that. Would he relitigate the South’s old claims? Would they follow him? Especially the strategically vital and lucrative marginal state of Florida? 

If he declared Florida as the capital of a new country with his Mar a Lago palace becoming the presidential palace then maybe Florida would lap that up with Georgia following like a lamb. Finally has the Mid-West/ South got enough money to fight a war with the Yankees? Did you think they were just chicken farmers and moonshine bootleggers after the civil war? If so, you were wrong.

Texas is the second largest economy after California. Apart from the bigger than anywhere farms bringing in huge agricultural revenues and ten billion barrels of oil, they have NASA there and all the spinoff aero-tech businesses that brings. North Dakota is the next largest oil producer with a very respectable 5.7 billion barrels of oil. Mississippi is full of huge hi-tech, high-wage factories including the $1,4 billion Russian owned Severstal steel mill producing steel for cars. The Yokohama tyre factory, Nissan factory at Jackson, GE Aviation at Hattiesburg, Hybrid Plastics, one of the top ten nanotechnology producers in the US. They have a Rolls Royce engine building plant, a navy shipbuilding plant and a plant building unmanned helicopters for the navy. Mississippi is a busy little state. Tennessee has GM and Nissan car plants, 142 solar power companies, manufacturing plants for Whirlpool and Electrolux, Eastern Chemical and Delta faucet companies. Tennessee has won economic “State of the Year” award in 2009, 2013 and 2014. And Florida does more than a bit of orange juice too. It has the fourth largest economy in the US behind California, Texas and New York. Florida produces over $100 billion worth of food; 70% of the country’s citrus and in the winter months supplying 80% of the country’s fresh fruit and veg. It’s aerospace and aviation businesses contribute over $140 billion. The Florida tourism industry employs a million people, 10% of the workforce, and earns $US54 billion pa. Allied to tourism is that Florida is also full of wealthy retirees and the flow on bio-tech research and Life Sciences industry is substantial. If the secret to eternal youth is going to be discovered, it will probably happen in Florida. Bundle up the smaller states’ rural economies with these and you have a combined GDP of $US 6-7 Trillion. It would be the third biggest GDP in the world. It would be bigger than Japan and Germany and bigger than the UK and Russia combined. It would not be an insignificant little country for Trump to preside over.

The east coast would be completely cut off from the west coast so maybe California will expand its borders to include Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Washington State and Hawaii and declare itself the independent country of OprahLand? Montana becomes an isolated state so may choose to just get right out and join Canada? Maybe the remaining 19 states of the USA: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin, will just then rename itself Massachusetts the Nation in respect for the tribe that occupied the Boston region when Puritan settlers from England first arrived there.

But divorce in the 21st century is somewhat more complicated than it was when the confederates first demanded it in the 19th century. Now there are two really big issues, the nukes and the dollar. Much of the nuke hardware is bunkered in the deserts of TrumpLand, but the software and the launch codes are in Yankee territory. The rest of their weapons of mass destruction are on warships, submarines and in the skies. What port do all those military assets call home? And the dollar? TrumpLand would want its own currency. He would probably approach bitcoin or one of the others with a request to ‘give me a couple of trillion dollars of your finest crypto currency my good man’ which, although not a currency trader, I would suspect might have a very destabilising effect on the greenback, the foundation stone of the American Empire. The lawyers will be able to retire in luxury off this divorce settlement. Meanwhile what an ideal time for China to put up a toll gate on the South China seas to keep the world in passive resistance while it performs a classical siege of Taiwan to starve them into submission.  

Perhaps Harry Duke of Sussex can set up the American branch of the retired emperors club, with Joe Biden it’s first member.

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A new world order

Thursday 23 February

The Old Eastern World & New Western World hemispheres. Credit: Google earth

It is 23-02-2023 almost a palindrome but a timely reminder of the 22-02-2022 genuine palindrome one year ago which was when Putin announced the declaration of war between Russia and NATO, which really is just the European cover name for the military forces of the USA and its allies against Russia.

On 22 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in response to the encroaching threat from the armies of the west under the Nato alliance established after World War Two. Having progressively moved their armies eastwards ever closer to Russia , particularly since 1997, Russia decided to make a pre emptive attack against Ukraine’s intention to join the Nato alliance. The Russian response began seven years ago, 20-02-2014 with the sudden annexation of Crimea from Ukraine at a time when the Ukrainian government was Russia-friendly and did not respond. Then in 2019, a comedy actor named Zelensky, a political novice, entered the presidential election. Oddly more than 30 candidates entered which significantly diluted the votes and resulted in Zelensky, from his acting profile, to win. Talk of Ukraine joining NATO began immediately, Putin was not going to sit quietly and watch that happen. He may have wished to celebrate the anniversary date of the annexation of Crimea with an invasion of the rest of Ukraine, but Xi Jinping already had his dance card full for the 20th of February as host of the closing celebrations of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. But the fireworks were barely extinguished from Beijing before they started in Russia. On Monday the 21st of February Putin declared Russian recognition of two independent states that were part of Eastern Ukraine on Russia’s border. These regions had been in a state of civil war for several years between the army of Ukraine and the Russian separatists living there. On Tuesday 22nd of February 2022 the Russian Parliament authorised Putin to send the army into those regions on a ‘peacekeeping mission.’

The great civilisations, within our knowledge going back 5000 years, emerged out of Africa, migrating North to the increasingly temperate zones of Central Europe then orbited east-south to encompass Asia, India and Arabia. In the millennia before this common era, this was the known world, the civilised world, and the the birthplace of all the major religions. It was only during the common era of the last 2,000+ years that the standards of civilisations of the East come to the West. This began with Julius Caesar conquering westwards towards Gaul and Britannia and bringing advances in science and technology to the West. The Romans were accomplished architects and engineers, building roads, aqueducts and grand civic public buildings and amenities. In later centuries the Christian religion followed this trail west from Rome becoming the dominant religion of Western Europe. Around 1500ce an adventurer, Columbus, sailed into the unknown western ocean on behalf of the Spanish Queen and so began the transfer of this Western European civilisation into what became known as the New World; the world of the Americas. Within a relatively short time the native populations of the Americas were overrun and overwhelmed by the disease and the violence of the expats from Western Europe. The countries of origin of these expats is identified by the languages now spoken in the New World; Portuguese in Brazil, French in Canada and Guiana, Spanish in the rest of South America, and English in the USA and Canada.

This is, in a sense, a remake of the ancient Greek myth of the wars between the Titans and the Olympians, the old rulers and the new rulers and in 1776 the USA became the new world Olympus, the land of liberty, free from the shackles of the old world. The second world war resulted in the New World emperors, Franklin D Roosevelt and his post-war successors Harry S Truman, Dwight D Eisenhower and John F Kennedy, dominating the politics of Western Europe, Japan and South Korea.

The Nato allies responded to the Ukrainian invasion with economic sanctions including the denial of Russian access to western banking systems. Putin has, at time of writing, held back from launching his full nuclear military might onto Ukraine. From this restraint, western media have proclaimed the invasion has stalled and Putin has miscalculated. But Russians, from all walks of life, are experts in chess. Russians embrace chess as Europeans embrace football; as though it is in their DNA. The soldiers are Putin’s pawns, he opened with a Queen’s gambit and the Queen is the currency. Biden brought his black queen, the US Dollar, into play. US banks denied Russian access, Visa and Mastercard closed down operations in Russia. The Russian white queen immediately accessed the E-Yuan, the Chinese crypto currency that had been made globally available during the Olympics only days before; the Chinese Credit Card UnionPay also seamlessly picked up the Visa and Mastercard business. Putin has used his bishop, Kirill the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, to persuade the Russian flock that this is a holy war, the West’s bishop, Pope Francis, has countered on behalf of the western faithful; the Rooks, carefully protected, house the two essential components in a war, grain and fuel. Between them, Russia and Ukraine produce 30% of the world’s wheat supply and 50% of its sunflower oil. Much of their exports are to the desert lands on the Arabian peninsula and to the impoverished, but well resourced, countries of Africa. Flour and cooking oil are essential to the daily survival of people in these countries. And according to Eurostat figures of 2017, 30% of the EU’s petroleum oil imports and 39% of total gas imports came from Russia. In some eastern European countries between 75% and 100% of gas supplies come from Russia. Prior to the invasion by Russia, in a televised interview Joe Biden stated that the USA would shutdown Russia’s Nordstrom gas pipeline if Putin invaded Ukraine. When questioned how that could happen with the pipeline under Germany’s jurisdiction Biden assured us the Americans could do it. On 26 September 2022 a clandestine underwater bombing blew away 50 metres of the Nord Stream Pipeline.

The Russian nuclear knights remain, as I write, safely positioned guarding the Rooks and the King. The NATO allies have rallied with massive financial and military aid for Ukraine and, twelve months after the invasion, Russia appears no closer to achieving its goal of controlling Ukraine. But still the war grinds on at massive cost although the oil companies of the US are not complaining about the massive increase in price of oil they are now receiving, and in the end, one way or another, Ukraine will pay dearly for all the support they are receiving. But while the West counters all the moves on Putin’s chessboard, the thought in everyone’s mind is whether Ukraine is simply a dress rehearsal for Taiwan and a new world order under the control of Xi Jinping. The West may think they are playing chess against Putin, but perhaps it is a whole different game of Weiqi against Xi Jinping with Taiwan being the next battlefield. It was a long time ago that Chinese General Sun Tsu wrote the most famous book on military strategy, The Art of War, still in print today and very probably in Xi Jinping’s library. Russia may simply be exhausting the appetite for war from the man on the street in the US and Western Europe as the costs of supporting the Ukranians balloon, as inflation in the West spirals out of control, as the social media generated psychological warfare over climate threats, racial differences and gender confusion all contribute to creating unprecedented civil unrest throughout the West.

Ukraine is officially neutral ground. In Taiwan the US does have a military presence, albeit an unofficial one, but like Ukraine, no formal mutual defence alliance. Apart from China’s historic nationalist claims, from a strategic viewpoint Taiwan manufactures 92% of the world’s semi-conductors, with South Korea the other 8%. Any Chinese military blockade disrupting the supply chain of semi-conductors would wreak havoc on western countries as well as Taiwan’s economy. Even if the West can win against Putin in chess, it is a whole different game to beat Xi Jinping at Weiqi. Whether by fate or by manipulation, this was no time to have a man suffering from cognitive failure sitting on the Western side of the table.

It’s your move, Joe.

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Where did the time go?

Thursday 5 January 2023

It is the first Thursday in January and another year is gone. The festive celebrations and  holiday season are over and we have to sober up in the face of the return to normal life for a new year. Where did the time go? What to do with the time left? There is no time like the start of a new year to ponder time.

What is time?  I posed to my oldest and dearest friend while waiting for coffee to arrive. ‘Its a noun’ he replied. Then mumbled something off the cuff about organising things with it. End of conversation. He is a retired school teacher, but clearly off his game. The coffee had not yet arrived. If he was on his game he would probably have said that, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, time is “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past present and future regarded as a whole.” He would then have presented a slide show with his laser-light pointer to demonstrate his definition, thus:

The Vacheron Constantin model 57260 pocket watch, named the “Tivoli”,  was built by three watchmakers over eight years for one client and is a complex and sophisticated monitor of the procession of time.

The front of this watch is the side with the gold Roman numerals up top. There’s an astronomical calendar, which includes a display of the phases and age of the moon, a hand that tracks the movement through the Zodiac along with the equinoxes and solstices, a rotating sky chart, hands showing both hours and minutes for sidereal time for telling the difference between sidereal and solar time. Sidereal time tracks the earth in relation to the stars instead of in relation to the sun and differs from solar time by plus or minus a few minutes. You can also see what time the sun will rise and what time it will set in the watch owner’s home city as well as how long the day and night will each be on that day. There are three full calendar systems in this watch. The first is a Gregorian perpetual calendar that includes displays for the date with a retrograde hand, day of the week, month and year in the leap year cycle. There are also indicators for the number of the day of the week and number of the week in the year in accordance with the ISO 8601 standard calendar. The second calendar is a Hebrew perpetual calendar. This shows the Hebrew name of the day, Hebrew name of the month, Hebrew date, Hebrew secular calendar, Hebrew year, whether the year has 12 or 13 months, where in the 19-year lunar cycle that year is, and the date of Jewish holy day Yom Kippur, which moves around the calendar. It has a Double retrograde split-seconds chronograph and…. it also tells the time. The hours and minutes are shown with regulator-style hands, meaning the hours and minutes are on separate axes. The small gold hands show a second time zone.

This is how time is measured in a practical day-to-day way. But it does not explain the mind’s perception of time; of how, when my dear friend is supervising an examination room, time for him drags at a snail’s pace whereas time for the students, with so much to do, races like a mouse (a house mouse’s actual top speed is 13kmh while it ‘feels like’ 260kmh. another time-distorting example). This pocket-watch device is simply the measure of our observation of the motion of our planet in relation to the observable environment in which we exist, but is that all there is to time?

I needed more. If my dear friend had been a retired Physics teacher he might have said that, according to Minkowski, who was Einstein’s Professor, time is the 4th dimension of Space-Time, additional to the three spatial dimensions of length, breadth and depth. This formed a basis for Einstein’s theory of relativity. While the watch is an earth/sun-based micro management tool, Minkowski and Einstein were trying to understand macro time in a universal cosmic sense. But what does this 4th dimension mean? The three dimensions of space are easy enough to understand because we can see them, but  no-one seems to quite understand how time works as a 4th dimension.

We do know that we process information about our universe in a delayed sense according to the speed of light. The furthest star in the Southern Cross group is 364 light years away. So when looking at the Southern Cross tonight the furthest star is, to our eye, as it actually was when Oliver Cromwell ruled England and the closest star in that constellation is 88 light years away, showing us what that star was like when Franklin D Roosevelt was President of the USA. This is simply the nature of the universe, the further something is from us, the slower the delivery of awareness of that something. Therefore the further out from earth we look the further back in time we see.

So, the mechanical devices that monitor time, as observed by the rotation of earth relative to the moon, sun and other stars, are in fact no more than human inventions by which we try to control time, without which the organisation of our civilisation would fall apart. We also have a theoretical, invisible ‘fourth dimension’ formula that Minkowski and Einstein understand, but which is incomprehensible to most humans. And we also know that light, or the speed of it, seems to have a real effect on ‘time’ in a cosmological environment. So is time the effect of the motion of our planet on our lives, a fourth dimension of nature or is it the process of the motion of light particles? Or does time, perhaps, only exist in our minds?

This brings us to observe a tiny gland buried in our brain, right between our right and left hemisphere. It is illustrated here in green. We call it the pineal gland, because it looks like a pine cone, even though it is only the size of a pea. In fact the Sumerians referred to the pine cone shaped gland in clay tablets thousands of years old, which is extraordinary medical knowledge to have had so long ago. The ‘sacred’ nature of this gland was also known thousands of years before modern science now tells us that this gland produces melatonin, a serotonin-derived hormone which modulates sleep patterns in both circadian and seasonal cycles. Melatonin is a structurally simple hormone that communicates information about environmental lighting to various parts of the body. Ultimately, melatonin has the ability to control biological rhythms. The light-transducing ability of the pineal gland has led some to call the pineal the ‘third eye’. The pineal gland is also capable of making a compound called Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). DMT is a powerful psychedelic chemical released during extraordinary states such as time of birth and the time of death. DMT is also the chemical that induces our dreams of life in a timeless state.

The pine cone symbol has appeared in religious and spiritual images for thousands of years. Depictions of Hindu deities are interwoven with both literal and symbolic representations of serpents and pinecones. The Egyptian Staff of Osiris, dating back to approximately 1224 BC, depicts two intertwining serpents rising up to meet at a pine cone. A statue of the Mexican god “Chicomecoatl” (“Seven Snakes”) depicts the deity offering forth pinecones in one hand, and an evergreen tree in the other. Those who have visited the Vatican may recall the large pine cone sculpture that is displayed and which was built by the Romans, in pagan times, as a fountain alongside the temple of Isis. The pine cone symbolism is common throughout Greek and Roman art in reference to religion and it is hypothesised that the pine cone is the “fruit from the tree of life” referred to in Genesis. With all the references to serpents, it should be noted that, even today, the serpent remain the emblem of the medical profession.

So how did I get from a multi-million dollar customised pocket watch to a pea-sized pine cone? I was wondering that myself. Are we still talking about time? Yes we are, well about time and the absence of it. I am now wondering if time is the mechanism that our brain uses to process data. Our brain needs to organise events in a sequential list just to comprehend them and manage our lives.

Those yogis who achieve a very deep meditation state through the awakening of the ‘third eye’ put themselves into a state of timelessness, as do those under the influence of the psychedelic chemical DMT. Those who have returned from a near death experience, Anita Moorjani and Dr Mary Neale being two of the more famous living examples, also experience this timeless awareness. The pineal is the first gland to be created in the body, one month after conception, and is the last functioning part of the body at death with a great psychedelic shot of DMT to take us into the next dimension of body-less timelessness.

And in that timeless sense of time we are describing what the Greeks referred to as “Kairos” as distinct from “Kronos.” Kronos is a god associated with sequential time and is represented by the scythe-yielding, cloaked and hooded old man, Father Time, leading us all to the grave. His Roman name was Saturn and the sixth planet from the sun was named for him. From ‘Kronos’ comes the word ‘chronological’. Kairos on the other hand refers to time being a “timeless moment’. In Greek mythology Kairos is a young heroic god, youngest son of Zeus and the spirit of opportunity. But it was said you needed to seize Kairos from the front as he approached because, once he has passed, not even Zeus can seize him. Often this moment of opportunity is represented in movies, when the hero is suddenly aware of the heroine for the first time, by voiceless sounds, slow motion action and surreal lighting. In the book of Ecclesiastes is the phrase “to every thing there is a time”, time is translated in the first Greek Bible as Kairos. In Wm Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the quote “There is a time in the affairs of men” also refers to Kairos.

If our universe is actually made of three dimensions, space, mass and time.  Mass is most familiar to us and is divided into three components: height, length and width. Space could also be split into three dimensions: the space in which we can perceive matter; light-absorbing space (black holes) which are invisible to us; and the dimension of wormholes, (a space version of the laundry shute in a multi-storey home). And since the universe is the ultimate example of mathematical symmetry, we could reasonably presume that time also has three dimensions which would then bring us to the great number 9 in universal majesty. We understand lineal or solar time, it has a beginning, middle and  an end. A second possible dimension would be perceived time, the process of time appearing to slow down or speed up; and then dreamtime could complete the third dimension of time. When we experience deja vu, or when we  dream of ourselves in an unfamiliar setting or get a sense of some spiritual force, maybe that is just us connecting briefly to ourselves or others in another dimension. Is our mind in sleep-mode simply wandering through the cosmic human database that is stored in the ether? That would be a long way into the speculative theory zone for us in this lineal time dimension. But perhaps that pea-sized, pine cone shaped pineal gland is just our brain-computer’s wi-fi device connecting us to the universe and transferring us between three dimensions of time? And I confess I am not even sure what I mean by all of that or where such speculation came from. Did I just dream that up?

If I am forced to draw some conclusion about what time is at its core, I would propose that time is the transmission by light of awareness which is both a process of the movement of light waves and of the individual control mechanism of light reception. Time can be generally measured by observation of the apparent motion of the sun or very precisely by a mechanical or digital timepiece, but these are for the observation of time, time itself is light in motion.

Goodness is that the time? Doesn’t it just fly by when you are immersed in writing? I must get off to bed; my melatonin levels are signaling that I need eight hours of timeless downtime from this game of life. I need to sleep… sleep perchance to dream. (credit: Hamlet, an avatar of Wm. Shakespeare). 


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