flashback

‘Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell’ –John Milton

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“History is full of civilizations that have collapsed, followed by people who have had other ways of living,” Sale said. “My optimism is based on the certainty that civilization will collapse.” […]

In the final pages of his Luddite book, Sale had predicted society would collapse “within not more than a few decades.” Kelly, who saw technology as an enriching force, believed the opposite—that society would flourish. Baiting his trap, Kelly asked just when Sale thought this might happen. […] Sale blurted out 2020.

Kelly then asked how, in a quarter century, one might determine whether Sale was right.

Sale extemporaneously cited three factors: an economic disaster that would render the dollar worthless, causing a depression worse than the one in 1930; a rebellion of the poor against the monied; and a significant number of environmental catastrophes. […]

“I bet you $1,000 that in the year 2020, we’re not even close to the kind of disaster you describe,” Kelly said. […]

In May 2020, Sale and Kelly settled on the terms of the decision. Their editor, Bill Patrick, would name the winner. Kelly proposed that Patrick wait until the last day of the year to issue his verdict, giving civilization every possible chance to self-destruct. […] the bet was constructed on three clear conditions, and Patrick would consider each one separately […]

Economic Collapse. Sale predicted flatly that the dollar and other accepted currencies would be worthless in 2020. Patrick points to the Dow at 30,000 and the success of new currencies such as Bitcoin. “Not much contest here,” Patrick writes. Round goes to Kelly.

[…] it’s hard to dispute that we are at least ‘close to’ global environmental disaster,” Patrick wrote in his final decision. This one is Sale’s.

The War Between Rich and Poor. […] Patrick calls this round a toss-up, with an edge to Sale. […]

Round by round, the outcome would seem to make it a draw. But when making the final call, Patrick stuck to the language of the original bet. […] Sale called for a convergence of three disasters.

{ Wired | Continue reading }

‘There’s not a joy the world can give like that it takes away.’ –Lord Byron

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The pandemic is conventionally marked as having begun on 4 March 1918 […] The first wave of the flu lasted from the first quarter of 1918 and was relatively mild […]

The second wave began in the second half of August 1918 […] much more deadly than the first […]

In January 1919, a third wave hit Australia […] then spread quickly through Europe and the United States, where it lingered through the Spring and until June 1919. […] It was less severe than the second wave but still much more deadly than the initial first wave. […]

In spring 1920, a fourth wave occurred in isolated areas including New York City, Switzerland, Scandinavia, and some South American islands. […] Peru experienced a late wave in early 1920, and Japan had one from late 1919 to 1920, with the last cases in March. In Europe, five countries (Spain, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Switzerland) recorded a late peak between January–April 1920. […]

Scientists offer several possible explanations for the high mortality rate of the 1918 influenza pandemic […]

Studies have shown that the immune system of Spanish flu victims was weakened by adverse climate conditions which were particularly unseasonably cold and wet for extended periods of time during the duration of the pandemic. This affected especially WWI troops exposed to incessant rains and lower-than-average temperatures for the duration of the conflict, and especially during the second wave of the pandemic. […] The climate anomaly has been associated with an anthropogenic increase in atmospheric dust, due to the incessant bombardment; increased nucleation due to dust particles (cloud condensation nuclei) contributed to increased precipitation. […]

Some analyses have shown the virus to be particularly deadly because it triggers a cytokine storm, which ravages the stronger immune system of young adults. In contrast, a 2007 analysis of medical journals from the period of the pandemic found that the viral infection was no more aggressive than previous influenza strains. Instead, malnourishment, overcrowded medical camps and hospitals, and poor hygiene, all exacerbated by the recent war, promoted bacterial superinfection. This superinfection killed most of the victims, typically after a somewhat prolonged death bed.

The 1918 Spanish flu was the first of two pandemics caused by H1N1 influenza A virus; the second was the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

‘The Trump government in exile has established a foothold at Four Seasons Total Landscape and will begin exchanging ambassadors on Monday.’ –Jack Shafer

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On November 8, 1932, Americans decisively rejected Herbert Hoover’s leadership; he lost the popular vote by 17 percent and the Electoral College by 472 to 59. Franklin Roosevelt won an overwhelming victory, promising hope and government assistance for those in need. […]

Despite his defeat, Hoover was unrepentant, and doubled down on the very actions that voters had rejected. He used the long period between the election and the March 4 inauguration to sow discord, undermine the economy, and constrain his successor’s options. Hoover even pressured Roosevelt to abandon his campaign promises and sign on to his own failed policies. […]

The Twentieth Amendment, ratified in 1933, moved the presidential inauguration to January 20, where it remains.

{ The Bulwark | Continue reading }

related { Trump Team Holds News Conference Outside Drab Landscaping Firm, Next to Adult Book Store [and Crematorium] | More }

‘There are more important things than living’ –Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) on reopening state

Adam’s age at death is given as 930 years

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life expectancy for men in 1907 was 45.6 years; by 1957 it rose to 66.4; in 2007 it reached 75.5. Unlike the most recent increase in life expectancy (which was attributable largely to a decline in half of the leading causes of death including heart disease, homicide, and influenza), the increase in life expectancy between 1907 and 2007 was largely due to a decreasing infant mortality rate, which was 9.99 percent in 1907; 2.63 percent in 1957; and 0.68 percent in 2007.

But the inclusion of infant mortality rates in calculating life expectancy creates the mistaken impression that earlier generations died at a young age; Americans were not dying en masse at the age of 46 in 1907. The fact is that the maximum human lifespan — a concept often confused with “life expectancy” — has remained more or less the same for thousands of years. The idea that our ancestors routinely died young (say, at age 40) has no basis in scientific fact. […]

If a couple has two children and one of them dies in childbirth while the other lives to be 90, stating that on average the couple’s children lived to be 45 is statistically accurate but meaningless.

{ LiveScience | Continue reading | BBC }

‘Mathematics is the simple bit. It’s the stuff we can understand. It’s cats that are complicated.’ – John J. Conway

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{ Pete, the pet squirrel, who was a pet of U.S. President Warren G. Harding, 1922 }

‘there is light somewhere. it may not be much light but it beats the darkness.’ –Charles Bukowski

During the Tang dynasty, a golden age for poets, Empress Wu Chao forced every male dignitary who had an audience with her to wash his mouth with rose water and practice cunnilingus on her. Diplomats and courtiers had to do their best so that their requests were met, and even then it was not a guarantee, since Chinese politics have always been cunning and inscrutable, with oscillations between the sun and the shadow of yin and yang.

{ Taki’s Magazine | Continue reading }

related { Wu was the only empress regnant (or female emperor) in the history of China. }

Desire, for hire, would tire a shire, phone, phunkel, or wire

When the world’s first cellular network was installed in Washington, D.C., in 1983, Gatt and Rwayitare knew instinctively that cellular could solve many of Africa’s communication problems. […] “How do you educate a government on what cellular is all about?” asked Gatt. […] You hand him a mobile phone and get him to call home, of course. […]

On an official state visit to the United States, Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko was handed a Motorola mobile phone and urged to call home. It was 1985, so he had to be persuaded that the device — which weighed as much as a bottle of wine and boasted a retractable antenna — was not a walkie-talkie. But once he’d spoken to his family in Kinshasa, he needed no further convincing. Joseph Gatt and Miko Rwayitare’s plan was coming together.

Telecel, the company they formally founded a year later, would soon have 3,000 subscribers in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) — well before mobile phones were ubiquitous in America. Zaire’s near-defunct fixed-line infrastructure meant that the country’s elite were willing to spend $5,000 on a handset and up to $16 per minute to remain connected. […]

Despite being impressed, the dictator — like most people in 1985 — hadn’t fully grasped how life-changing the technology would be and he initially refused to grant Telecel an operating license. Gatt and Rwayitare knew they were onto a good thing, however, so they used their life savings to purchase an ailing U.S. mobile technology firm and obtained finance from Motorola to erect a small system in Kinshasa. All that remained was to buy a couple of hundred handsets — at $3,000 a pop — and give them to Mobutu and his inner circle.

“These 200 Zairean officials called each other and overseas over the next year without paying for a single call.” […] At the end of the trial period, and faced with the prospect of losing what had now become an essential cog in the state machinery, Mobutu agreed to give them their license.

{ OZY | Continue reading }

And the cloud that took the form (when the rest of Heaven was blue) of a demon in my view

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Cooping was an alleged form of electoral fraud in the United States cited in relation to the death of Edgar Allan Poe in October 1849, by which unwilling participants were forced to vote, often several times over, for a particular candidate in an election. According to several of Poe’s biographers, these innocent bystanders would be grabbed off the street by so-called ‘cooping gangs’ or ‘election gangs’ working on the payroll of a political candidate, and they would be kept in a room, called the “coop”, and given alcoholic beverages in order for them to comply. If they refused to cooperate, they would be beaten or even killed. Often their clothing would be changed to allow them to vote multiple times. Sometimes the victims would be forced to wear disguises such as wigs, fake beards or mustaches to prevent them from being recognized by voting officials at polling stations.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

On October 3, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, “in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance”, according to Joseph W. Walker who found him. He was taken to the Washington Medical College where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849 at 5:00 in the morning. He was not coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own.

He is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring.

All medical records and documents, including Poe’s death certificate, have been lost, if they ever existed.

Newspapers at the time reported Poe’s death as “congestion of the brain” or “cerebral inflammation”, common euphemisms for death from disreputable causes such as alcoholism.

The actual cause of death remains a mystery. […] One theory dating from 1872 suggests that cooping was the cause of Poe’s death, a form of electoral fraud in which citizens were forced to vote for a particular candidate, sometimes leading to violence and even murder. […] Cooping had become the standard explanation for Poe’s death in most of his biographies for several decades, though his status in Baltimore may have made him too recognizable for this scam to have worked. […]

Immediately after Poe’s death, his literary rival Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote a slanted high-profile obituary under a pseudonym, filled with falsehoods that cast him as a lunatic and a madman, and which described him as a person who “walked the streets, in madness or melancholy, with lips moving in indistinct curses, or with eyes upturned in passionate prayers, (never for himself, for he felt, or professed to feel, that he was already damned)”.

The long obituary appeared in the New York Tribune signed “Ludwig” on the day that Poe was buried. It was soon further published throughout the country. The piece began, “Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it.” “Ludwig” was soon identified as Griswold, an editor, critic, and anthologist who had borne a grudge against Poe since 1842. Griswold somehow became Poe’s literary executor and attempted to destroy his enemy’s reputation after his death.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows.

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In mid-1947, a United States Army Air Forces balloon crashed at a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico. Following wide initial interest in the crashed “flying disc”, the US military stated that it was merely a conventional weather balloon. Interest subsequently waned until the late 1970s, when ufologists began promoting a variety of increasingly elaborate conspiracy theories, claiming that one or more alien spacecraft had crash-landed and that the extraterrestrial occupants had been recovered by the military, which then engaged in a cover-up.

In the 1990s, the US military published two reports disclosing the true nature of the crashed object: a nuclear test surveillance balloon from Project Mogul.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

photo { W. Eugene Smith, Untitled [man holding bottle, S-shaped foam form emerging from it], Springfield, Massachusetts, 1952 }

‘Elle lui rendit son baiser. L’appartement tourna. Il n’y voyait plus.’ –Gustave Flaubert

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Sometime after four in a dark and cold Italian morning, a young woman accompanied a band of men to a duck shoot. After it was over and the frigid hunters sat by the fire, the eighteen-year old Adriana Ivancich, the only woman in the gathering, asked for a comb for her long black hair. Nearly all the men in the party ignored her and kept up their talking. Ernest Hemingway, however, was not ever one to let a lady go unattended. After rooting around in his pockets, he produced a comb, broke it in half and gave it to her.

{ Long Reads | Continue reading }

photo { Self-portrait of Adriana Ivancich }

‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.’ –Oscar Wilde

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Throughout her life, Bly—born Elizabeth Jane Cochran 155 years ago on May 5, 1864—refused to be what other people wanted her to be. That trait, some philosophers say, is the key to human happiness, and Bly’s life shows why.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

oil on linen { Susannah Martin, Helium, 2017 }