Posts tagged: history
The New York Times owns up to contributing to the crack baby scare:
This week’s Retro Report video on “crack babies” (infants born to addicted mothers) lays out how limited scientific studies in the 1980s led to predictions that a generation of children would be damaged for life. Those predictions turned out to be wrong. This supposed epidemic — one television reporter talks of a 500 percent increase in damaged babies — was kicked off by a study of just 23 infants that the lead researcher now says was blown out of proportion. And the shocking symptoms — like tremors and low birth weight — are not particular to cocaine-exposed babies, pediatric researchers say; they can be seen in many premature newborns.
The worrisome extrapolations made by researchers — including the one who first published disturbing findings about prenatal cocaine use — were only part of the problem. Major newspapers and magazines, including Rolling Stone, Newsweek, The Washington Post and The New York Times, ran articles and columns that went beyond the research. Network TV stars of that era, including Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather, also bear responsibility for broadcasting uncritical reports.
Did Aleister Crowley Communicate With Grey Aliens?
Well maybe, but he never seemed to have thought so:
The idea that Crowley believed Aiwass and Lam to be the same entity, or that either were extraterrestrials from Sirius, is only the speculation of Kenneth Grant and those who have based their research on source material written by Grant. Additionally, very little can be said about the inspiration for the Lam portrait or what Aleister Crowley thought about it. […]
At least to the present author, this description of a kingly, tall, dark man in his thirties does not fit the Lam drawing. More importantly in relation to the subject of this post, the description does not match up at all with that of a “grey alien,” which many people relate to Lam.
The next important piece of information to take from Crowley’s depiction of Aiwass is that he never actually saw Aiwass at all. He only heard the voice of Aiwass from over his left shoulder, and from the furthest corner of the room. Not once did he actually look at Aiwass. His physical descriptions are only impressions.
So here we have a character description based only on non-visual impressions, and which doesn’t seem to correspond with the pictured Lam or grey aliens at all. This is the only known written description of Aiwass by Aleister Crowley.
Crowley himself never wrote much of anything at all about Lam, where the figure came from, or his ideas/thoughts about the subject in the drawing. What he did write was limited to a short, two sentence commentary in The Voice Of The Silence, which will be discussed later in this article.
See also: A Media History of Gray Aliens
An illustration of HG Wells’ tale of human evolution, “The Man of the Year Million,” is one of the oldest depictions of the “big headed genius” trope.
The concept is based on Lamarckian evolution, specifically the idea that body parts we use frequently will grow larger but parts we use less frequently will atrophy. Wells took this to the logical extreme, postulating (with tongue in cheek) that we would eventually grow gigantic brains and hands but tiny legs and torsos.
Colin Berkshire writes:
The invention of email is widely credited to be Ray Tomlinson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Tomlinson) in 1971. In one especially oddball webpage, VA Shiva Ayyadurai claims to have actually invented email in 1978. (http://www.inventorofemail.com). Mr. Ayyadurai mostly substantiates his claim by playing games with the definition of what email is, basically arguing that email didn’t exist until his particular program was written, and that nothing beforehand actually amounted to what he defines as being email. I won’t play those games with you here. […]
And, the #1 ESS ADF was in full production service February 3, 1969…almost five years before Ray Tomlinson sent the first email message and well before ARPANet even existed. To clarify, that was full commercial service…not a research laboratory.
When the #1 ESS ADF system was cut into service in 1969, it was of a truly massive scale for the time. 1,250 terminals located in 720 locations across the country were connected. These were used by Western Electric and AT&T Long Lines to send administrative messages, traffic orders, commercial service orders, payroll, plant service results, and budgeting reports. There was no other system, including universities, with such widespread use.
Full Story: Cloudave: The Origin of Email
The system is described in the Bell System Technical Journal in 1970, and is also mentioned by Jim Haynes in an essay on Teletype Corporation.
Asher Kohn writes:
You don’t need burnt pastures, bleached bones, and a trickle of muddy water in order to understand the apocalypse, as much as it may help. The apocalypse, after all, is more than the destruction of an environment. The apocalypse is the destruction of not only the world, but of the worldview. The apocalypse is the disassembly of the subconscious and the dramatic unwinding of all of those subconscious preconceptions we use to even get out of bed in the morning. Living in a post-apocalyptic world is living in time beyond God.[…]
Central Asia is, both defiantly and tragically, a land without a narrative. The region, defined by Slavs + Tatars as “an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia,” has been home to a series of axis-tilting events, and has the history to prove it. The history of Central Asia is in many ways a history of eschatologies; not a graveyard of empires but perhaps a graveyard of belief systems. The Volga Huns of course produced Attila, who annihilated Europe west of the Danube. Less than a millenium later, Hulagu Khan laid waste to Baghdad, and Tatar rulers towered over Kiev and Moscow. If Tamerlane is included in this lineup, one could say that for most of the Earth’s time since Christ, Central Asia has produced armies that have taken on an eschatological meaning in others’ narratives. Michael Hancock Parmer notes the use of a common nickname of these empire builders, remarking that a “‘Scourge of God’ is a tool of divine punishment, an atoning skin-flaying from the Lord. Apocryphally, Temujin (Genghis Khan) claimed the title for himself at the sack of Bukhara, the legend of which lives on in Uzbekistan.”
Full Story: The State: A Pleasant Post-Apocalypse
The Independent reports:
The existence of this policy, rumoured and disputed for many years, has now been confirmed for the first time by former CIA officials. Unknown to the artists, the new American art was secretly promoted under a policy known as the “long leash” – arrangements similar in some ways to the indirect CIA backing of the journal Encounter, edited by Stephen Spender. […]
The connection is not quite as odd as it might appear. At this time the new agency, staffed mainly by Yale and Harvard graduates, many of whom collected art and wrote novels in their spare time, was a haven of liberalism when compared with a political world dominated by McCarthy or with J Edgar Hoover’s FBI. If any official institution was in a position to celebrate the collection of Leninists, Trotskyites and heavy drinkers that made up the New York School, it was the CIA.
Until now there has been no first-hand evidence to prove that this connection was made, but for the first time a former case officer, Donald Jameson, has broken the silence. Yes, he says, the agency saw Abstract Expressionism as an opportunity, and yes, it ran with it.
Full Story: Independent: Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’
Image: Jackson Pollock, Lavender Mist, 1950. Photo by Detlef Schobert
For someone who has supposedly turned his back on the comics industry, Alan Moore sure is doing a lot of comics work. He’s currently doing the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen spin-off Nemo, the next LoEG book and a follow-up to his Neonomicon series called Providence. From an interview for The Beat:
At the moment I am swamped in Lovecraft books about – I’ve got nearly every book of criticism that’s been written, that I’ve accumulated over these last six months, so I’m living and breathing Lovecraft. […]
It’s obviously a completely different animal to anything like Watchmen, but there is that point of similarity. It’s starting from – if Lovecraft’s characters, if Lovecraft’s monsters, if Lovecraft’s locales actually existed in A Real World, then what would they really be like, and what would the world be like? So it’s the same premise, but it’s taken me into some very interesting new directions. […]
Having run on at the mouth relatively recently about the appalling standards of research that exist throughout the rest of the comic book industry… I’ve said some very scornful things about some of the other writers in the industry and how – in my opinion – they are completely lazy, that they obviously do not have the respect for their own work that would lead them to actually put a bit of effort into it, and research some things, you know. Don’t just copy everything from an episode of Deadwood that you’ve seen, actually research the American West, find out how people talked. So, having been incredibly nasty and high-handed about many of the other professionals in the industry, I have kind of left myself wide open. If I don’t get every detail of this completely right, then I deserve to get a taste of my own medicine. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. We have been devilishly thorough in researching this. In the first issue there’s a brief glimpse of a gramophone record, and we’ve got the actual label to paste in, with the record’s serial number on it. I think we briefly see somebody reading a New York Times in the first issue, and it actually is the New York Times for June the 19th, 1919. I’m even – I’ve not actually done this yet, but I’m even trying to check out what the weather was like, which is difficult to establish other than in broad generalities, but I can at least sort out what the sky looked like, and what the phases of the moon were – which is something that Lovecraft used to take pains to do, so I feel that I should as well.
Occult America author Mitch Horowitz writes:
Many academics and observers of cult phenomena, such as psychologist Philip G. Zimbardo of Stanford, agree on four criteria to define a cult. The first is behavior control, i.e., monitoring of where you go and what you do. The second is information control, such as discouraging members from reading criticism of the group. The third is thought control, placing sharp limits on doctrinal questioning. The fourth is emotional control—using humiliation or guilt. Yet at times these traits can also be detected within mainstream faiths. So I would add two more categories: financial control and extreme leadership.
Horowitz also recently delivered the State of the Occult Address with Richard Smoley. I haven’t read it, but thought some of you might be interested.
If there’s one thing I miss about the 1980s, something that I wish the teens of today could have, it is only this: We only had the most vague sense that everything we knew had happened before. Our parents told us that their teenage years had been much the same as ours, with the same joys and heartbreaks and pains and revelations, and we sorta believed them. Today, a teenager can get on the web and discover that The Killers really are a Duran Duran ripoff, and that we were just as goofy for “The Lost Boys” as they are for “Twilight.” They can recognize their faces in our own. And though our ignorance was part of what made the 1980s fun, I sort of envy the myriad ways through which today’s teens can retrace their steps.
I wrote for Wired:
In Issac Asimov’s classic science fiction saga Foundation, mathematics professor Hari Seldon predicts the future using what he calls psychohistory. Drawing on mathematical models that describe what happened in the past, he anticipates what will happen next, including the fall of the Galactic Empire.
That may seem like fanciful stuff. But Peter Turchin is turning himself into a real-life Hari Seldon — and he’s not alone.
Turchin — a professor at the University of Connecticut — is the driving force behind a field called “cliodynamics,” where scientists and mathematicians analyze history in the hopes of finding patterns they can then use to predict the future. It’s named after Clio, the Greek muse of history.
These academics have the same goals as other historians — “We start with questions that historians have asked for all of history,” Turchin says. “For example: Why do civilizations collapse?” — but they seek to answer these questions quite differently. They use math rather than mere language, and according to Turchin, the prognosis isn’t that far removed from the empire-crushing predictions laid down by Hari Seldon in the Foundation saga. Unless something changes, he says, we’re due for a wave of widespread violence in about 2020, including riots and terrorism. […]
There are competing theories as well. A group of researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute — who practice a discipline called econophysics — have built their own model of political violence and concluded that one simple variable is sufficient to predict instability: food prices. In a paper titled “The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East,” they explain that although many other grievances may be aired once the violence begins, the cost of food is the primary trigger. They make a similarly grim prediction: large-scale riots over food, beginning around October of this year.
I’d actually recommend reading journal articles I cite before reading my article:
Dynamics of political instability in the United States, 1780–2010 by Peter Turchin
The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East by Marco Lagi, Karla Z. Bertrand and Yaneer Bar-Yam.
Also check out Turchin’s blog.
Kowloon Walled City, located not far from the former Kai Tak Airport, was a remarkable high-rise squatter camp that by the 1980s had 50,000 residents. A historical accident of colonial Hong Kong, it existed in a lawless vacuum until it became an embarrassment for Britain. This month marks the 20th anniversary of its demolition.
From: South China Morning Post
(via Adam Greenfield)