Sunday, December 30, 2012

Water, Always Water

There are stories of catastrophic floods in myths everywhere. So, did they (the floods) really happen? Very likely, given the several Ice Ages that feature in the earth's history. What I mean to say is that when there's lots of ice, as there is in any old Ice Age, and it all melts when the Ice Age ends, there's always lots of water left that has no-where to go but into the seas, whose levels consequently rise, and you get floods that, if they're big enough, wash away whole civilisations.

You can, then, safely assume the great floods, that myths all over the world tell of, really happened. And, because the ice sheets of just the last Ice Age covered all of North America, northern Europe and northern Asia, they would, when they melted, have caused catastrophic floods, that likely washed away whole civilisations.

As I said *last time*, there's still an Ice Age, but it's at the North Pole and South Pole (Antarctica). Given the one-mile-deep sheet of ice that covers Antarctica, which is almost twice the size of Australia, you don't have to think too hard to understand how big the floods would be if all this ice melted. And it would all melt, and quickly, were Antarctica to woosh a few thousand miles north.

The prospect of Antarctica wooshing north isn't far-fetched, since it may well have wooshed into where it now is, from north within the last few thousand years. Think of the ancient world-maps I told you of last time, that show Antarctica. Since our modern civilisation didn't know Antarctica existed until 200 years ago, these maps must have been made when Antarctica was last ice-free.

According to the experts, Antarctica was last ice-free several million years ago. Are you, then, to believe that these old maps, thought to be only a few thousand years sold, are actually a few million years old? Perhaps, though, the civilisation that made these old maps, already had the technology to map Antarctica despite the ice, just as our modern civilisation has done.

The answer, whatever it is, doesn't take away the likelihood that several thousand years ago - when the Human was supposed only to have begun farming - there was already a civilisation with the technology and know-how to map the entire earth and build the Great Pyramid of Giza.

I'm still not finished..........

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wooshing

If you've read all of what *I've said so far* about Isaac Asimov's and Robert Silverberg's “Nightfall”, and what it may indicate about the history of the Human, you'll now know that the Great Pyramid of Giza, and also ancient maps showing Antarctica, bespeak a technologically advanced civilisation that vanished from earth more than 12,000 years ago.

I'll today talk a little of the last Ice Age, when ice sheets covered North America, northern Europe and Asia. This Ice Age began 60,000 years ago, and was for all intents and purposes over about 11,500 years ago. There is, by the way, an Ice Age still, but it's at the North Pole and South Pole (Antarctica).

No-one knows exactly why the Ice Ages (there have been several) happened. Experts think changes in the earth's orbit or tilt, the most likely cause. But, how about massive and sudden shifts in the earth's crust? so that if you had lived thousands of years ago in a place with weather as nice as yours now is, you one day experienced yourself, and everything around you, wooshing to a different place. Soon you were amid mounds of ice and snow, that covered your house and garden too, as well as everywhere else as far as you could see.

Once you got over the immediate shock, you would have had an inkling that everything had inexplicably shifted to a polar region. You would have been somewhat comforted when you saw that your wife and children and your little friends had all shifted with you. But still.

A huge and quite sudden shifting of a continental land mass most likely explains Antarctica appearing in maps many thousands of years old, despite that our modern civilisation didn't even know about Antarctica until 200 years ago, because it was hidden by the one-mile-deep ice sheet on top of it.

These old maps can only have been made when Antarctica was still ice-free – hundreds of thousands, nay millions, of years ago. But, what if Antarctica was once where it was nice and warm and had no ice? Then it shifted thousands of miles south. Because it would have taken hundreds of years for the ice to pile up to its current the one-mile thickness, it was before this when the ancient mappers mapped Antarctica.

Since your teachers in school would have told you nothing of this, you are likely now in a state of disorientation, and in need of time to recover. Hence it'll have to be next time when I talk more.  

Ice and Maps

As I said *last time*, the Great Pyramid of Giza, that may have been built as long as 12,500 years ago, is an edifice bespeaking builders of such engineering genius, they could only have been from a technologically advanced civilisation, whose technology was at least the equal of ours today, because it's doubtful the Great Pyramid could be built today.

Why, then, is this civilisation not known about? Is it because it was destroyed as apocalyptically as was the planet-wide civilisation in Isaac Asimov's and Robert Silverberg's “Nightfall”?

There are world maps thousands of years old that show Antarctica, despite Antarctica not being known about until 200 years ago. Your teachers in school no doubt told you Antarctica is covered by ice two miles thick, so this was why it wasn't known about until 200 years ago. And your teachers were right. They wouldn't, though, have told you about the ancient maps showing Antarctica.

These ancient maps showing Antarctica must have been made before it was covered with all that ice, else how could the mappers have known Antarctica was there? Since it's thought by many that Antarctica didn't become covered with ice until about 12,000 years ago, these ancient maps must have been made more than 12,000 years ago. And because these maps show the contours of the world's continents amazingly accurately, the mappers must have been of a technologically advanced civilisation. Was it the same one that built the Great Pyramid of Giza?

More to come...........

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Crawling From the Ruins

Apropos Isaac Asimov's and Robert Silverberg's “Nightfall”, I *spoke last time* about how odd it is that the Human has vastly more brainpower than the Ape – a surprise, given the Human and the Ape became separate species 200,000 years ago or less. And, while you may think 200,000 years an awfully long time, evolutionists think it piffling. 

Since no other animal species has more brainpower than the Ape, the brain-power of the Human is an anomaly. Because evolutionary change is so slow, the Human, in order to evolve his  anomalously powerful brain, would have to have lived in a technologically advanced civilisation for many millions of years.

That the Human only 10,000 years ago began living in a civilisation with a technology sufficient only to carry out farming, and has only been around as a Human for 200,000 years or less, simply isn't believable because it was too fast. More believable is the Vatican's assertion that when the Human first evolved 200,000 years ago, God stepped in and gave him a soul and the all-powerful brain so he could think, feel and and act as a Human. But your Men of Science will have none of this.

Your Men of Science will also have none of the assertion that we of today are the descendants of those who crawled from the ruins of a world-wide technologically advanced civilisation that, many thousands of years ago, collapsed as apocalyptically as did the planet-wide civilisation in “Nightfall”.

Is there proof this happened? Well, not conclusive proof necessarily, but clues are everywhere. One such is the Great Pyramid of Giza. Your teachers in school doubtless told you that 4,500 years ago the Egyptians built it so the Pharaoh, Khufu, might rest in it for eternity.  However, the Great Pyramid is so huge and embodies such engineering genius, it's doubtful anyone could build it today. It seems, then, doubtful the Egyptians of 4,500 years ago could build it either.

Actually, there's good reason to think the Great Pyramid was built, not 4,500 years ago, but 12,500 years ago. And it's clear the builders had an advanced knowledge of the movements of the planets, and also knew things like the exact size of the earth's circumference and the length of its radius. So it's clear the builders were of a technologically advanced society. 

Who were they? And what became of their society? Stay tuned.........

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Of Apes and Men

You'll know *from last time* that, in discussing Isaac Asimov's and Robert Silverberg's “Nightfall”, I began speaking of how your teachers at school likely told you how the Human on this planet (earth) came to be.

Only in the last 10,000 years did the Human, by taking up farming, begin to separate himself definitively from the Ape because the Ape didn't have the brainpower to farm. And it's only in the last 100 years that the Human was able to come up with electricity, the Ford motor car, the 747 jet aeroplane, the laptop computer, the atomic bomb, the cell-phone, and the digital TV. But this required brainpower far greater than the Human needed to survive only 10,000 years ago.

So the question is: when did the Human develop this extraordinary brainpower? Did he already have it 200,000 years ago when he first appeared, and was living as primitively as the Ape? If the Human did already have this extraordinary brainpower, how did it evolve? You see, when your teachers in school told you about evolution, they would have told you that evolution in any species is only in response to external changes that threaten the survival of that species.

Hence the brainpower of your average Ape of today is no greater than the brainpower of your average Ape of 200,000 years ago because evolving more brainpower wasn't necessary for the Ape to survive as an Ape. For all you know, there's the occasional very clever Ape that could, under the right conditions, compose music on the order of Ludwig van's Glorious Ninth, or easily learn trigonometry (a random mutation). But that very clever Ape is no more likely spread his genes than any one of the overwhelming majority of ordinary run-of-the-mill Apes, that can do no more than swing from trees and eat bananas.

If the female Ape is anything like the female Human, she's infinitely more attracted to the male Ape that only swings from trees and eats bananas, than to the male Ape that can compose music like Ludwig van's Glorious Ninth, or who likes trigonometry. Hence the very clever male Ape won't likely spread his genes. The future Ape, then, will continue to be as....well..... Ape-like, as he has always been.

I'll continue this next time.......

Monday, December 24, 2012

From Hunter To Farmer

I spoke *last time* about Isaac Asimov's and Robert Silverberg's “Nightfall”. It's about a planet whose civilisation is catastrophically destroyed every few thousand years. Each time this happens, the surviving denizens must crawl out from the rubble and start again.

Where did Asimov get this idea from - the idea that a planet-wide civilisation every now and again catastrophically destroys itself, or becomes catastrophically destroyed through influences beyond its control. Was he (Asimov) thinking of our earthly human civilisation?

***

Your teachers, when you were in school, no doubt told you about how humans came to be, about how today's humans (of which you are one) descended from apes. Your teachers would also have told you that today's human hasn't been around that long – 200,000 years at most, but possibly as little as 100,000 years. Before that, there was just the ancestor of the human, the ape.

Your teachers would also have told you that the early humans lived in Africa, in a manner not much different from actual apes ie. apes not lucky enough to have evolved into humans. The early humans, who spent most of each day just hunting down other animals to eat, began getting bored, and developed itchy feet. So they trekked off to all corners of the earth.

They may, though, in their new domains of Europe and Asia and whatnot, have continued just to hunt and to be as bored as they were in Africa, for it wasn't until 10,000 years ago that they began farming, which, when you think about it, is even more boring than hunting. Anyway, one thing led to another, and today, a mere 10,000 years after the first human farmers, you have cell-phones, digital TVs and whatnot. Suspiciously quick, don't you think?

I, as did the early humans, am, too, becoming bored. I'll have to continue this next time.........

Thursday, December 20, 2012

When Night Falls

With the nights becoming longer as the winter solstice nears, I've been thinking of a science fiction novel I read some twenty years ago, “Nightfall”, by Robert Silverberg, who had based it on a short story of the same name by Isaac Asimov.

The story is set on a planet that is bathed always in sunlight because it has two or three (I don't remember how many exactly) suns, positioned in such a way that there's no corner of this planet that's ever dark, despite that it revolves on its axis, like earth.

Therefore the peoples of this planet (the name of which I also don't remember) know not what night is. The very idea of night, with its black sky and twinkling stars, is something this planet's denizens can't even imagine, except the most clever ones, like some of its scientists.

The denizens (except the clever ones, like some of the scientists) are unaware that every few thousand years the positions of the suns become aligned in such a way that half the planet as it revolves becomes dark (Nightfall) for a few hours.

The scientists have calculated that the end of the last several thousand years of uninterrupted sunlight is nigh. Nightfall is suddenly to descend on the planet's peoples. How will they react? A pertinent question, because there are stories, credible stories, that when the previous Nightfall descended those many thousand years ago, the people panicked. They went on a rampage - burning libraries, demolishing buildings, that sort of thing. All the recorded knowledge and structure of their society was destroyed. The civilisation collapsed.

Is this about again to happen? I won't say more, in case you decide to read “Nightfall”.

My summary is no doubt extremely imperfect because, as I said earlier, it's twenty or so years since I read “Nightfall”, and my power of recall isn't what it once upon a time was. However, what I sketched out above will do for what I'll talk of in my next posting.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What Comes Around.......

“A Man of Parts”, David Lodge's novel about the life of HG Wells, that I 've begun reading, begins in 1944, when HG Wells was terminally ill and living alone in wartime London, intrepidly ignoring the bombs and V1 rockets.

He does, though, get visits from the likes of Anthony, his son with Rebecca West, and from Rebecca herself, who, despite her long ago divorce from HG, still loves him in a way. In the extract below, Rebecca is travelling home from visiting HG. Among what they had talked about was Anthony's wish to divorce his wife, Kitty, because he'd met Someone Else who he liked better:
Travelling from Marylebone to High Wycombe in a stuffy first-class railway compartment, in the company of three elderly businessmen with bowler hats, peeping at her from time to time over their evening newspapers, Rebecca is overwhelmed by dread. The sense of a curse working itself out in delinquent fathers over several generations.

Her father had deserted his family when she was eight, going off to South Africa on some vague business venture and disappearing without trace, leaving his wife to bring up Rebecca and her two sisters on barely adequate means. Then she herself had to bring up Anthony on her own – admittedly with more generous financial support from his father, but HG kept his distance and his freedom – and now Anthony is planning to leave Kitty to bring up his children on her own. And what was the reward for the mothers whose lives were pinched and frustrated by the responsibility thrust upon them? They became the object of their children's displaced resentment, that was their reward.

She never gave up hope that her beloved Daddy would somehow return to the family with an honourable explanation for his absence, like the father in The Railway Children (how she had wept over the ending of that book!), until she was thirteen, when they heard that he had died. Later she learned from her mother that he had been an incorrigible philanderer, seducing their own housemaids and resorting to prostitutes.

She recognises in retrospect that she was a difficult disruptive child and adolescent, always quarrelling with her sisters and criticising her mother; Anthony was the same when he was growing up – hero-worshipping his absent father and blaming her for all the miserable experiences of his schooldays. She can so easily imagine little Caroline and Edmund [Anthony's and Kitty's children] in years to come repeating the same mistake, adoring Anthony and inflicting the same undeserved punishment on Kitty, as she struggles to bring them up, run the farm and, if she is lucky, find a little time for her art.

The feminism Rebecca campaigned for all her adult life has liberated women sexually – the bolder spirits among them anyway – but it has not redressed this fundamental imbalance in the relations between men and women: the female instinct to nurture their offspring and the male instinct to spend their seed promiscuously.

HG is simply a more intelligent and more successful version of her father. Even Henry [Rebecca's current husband] has disappointed her in this respect. Unfailingly kind and protective, admiring and supportive of her work (gamely escorting her around Yugoslavia in dirty trains and flea-infested hotels when she was researching Black Lamb and Grey Falcon), possessing impeccable manners, and enough money to allow her to live in some style, he is in every respect the perfect spouse, except that he is prone to infatuations with pretty young women, and he hasn't made love to her since 1937.

Lying beside him in bed one night she cried out in the dark: 'Why don't you make love to me any more?' But he was asleep, or pretended to be, and said nothing. She has had other lovers herself, of course, since then, though none at present. She reflects despondently that her sexual life may have come to an end.
Living as we do in today's enlightened times, we can read Rebecca's musings only in aghast, as we reflect on the fact that the lot of Rebecca was once upon a time the lot of so many other women too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Being Boring

This morning, while continuing to read Ian McEwan's “Sweet Tooth, I came across a passage that......like........spoke to me.

Serena is visiting her mother and father over Christmas, as also is her sister, Lucy, with her (Lucy's) boyfriend, Luke. One evening after supper Serena joins Lucy and Luke for a stroll outside.
.....I wanted to tell Lucy about him [Tom]. I would have loved a sisterly session. We occasionally managed one, but set between us now was Luke's giant form and he was doing that inexcusable thing that men who liked cannabis tended to do, which was to go on about it – some famous stuff from a village in Thailand, the terrifying near-bust one night, the view across a certain holy lake at sunset under the influence, a hilarious misunderstanding in a bus station and other stultifying anecdotes. What was wrong with our generation? Our parents had the war to be boring about. We had this.

After a while we girls fell completely silent while Luke, in elated urgent terms, plunged deeper into the misapprehension that he was interesting, that we were enthralled. And almost immediately I had a contrary insight. I saw it clearly. Of course. Lucy and Luke were waiting for me to leave so they could be alone. That's what I would have wanted, if it had been Tom and me. Luke was deliberately and systematically boring me to drive me away. It was insensitive of me not to have noticed. Poor fellow, he was having to overreach himself and it was not a good performance, hopelessly overdone. No one in real life could be as boring as this. But in his round-about way he was only trying to be kind......
Was, though, Luke being deliberately boring, or was he just naturally boring? I, for what it's worth, have always found the Anecdote, regardless of what it's about, to be stultifyingly boring. And it's almost always a man who is the teller of the Anecdote. Why is this, I always stop to wonder. 

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Songs of San Francisco

The other day I received an e-mail from a friend in which was a hyperlink to an on-line video he'd just made about his recent visit to San Francisco. It turned out to be a nice enough video that showed a montage of what one should see when in San Francisco.

The video had as musical background the *immortal 1960's song* about San Francisco by Scott McKenzie. How perfect, I thought. However, the video being more than 12 minutes, and Scott McKenzie's song being only 3 minutes, the song was of necessity repeated four and more times on the video. 

As much as I love this Scott McKenzie song, I found hearing it over and over a little trying at the end. Since there are many other songs about San Francisco, why couldn't my friend have added some of these others to the video. It would have been the better for this.

Hence I e-mailed my friend and suggested the following songs for his consideration should he ever wish to amend his video:

*I Left My Heart in San Francisco* – Tony Bennett

*San Franciscan Nights* – Eric Burdon and the Animals

*Let's Go to San Francisco* - The Flower Pot Men

*Streets of San Francisco* – Sanford Clark

*'Frisco Blues* – John Lee Hooker

*San Francisco* – Jeanette MacDonald

While you listen, do you not feel it would be Heaven not only to visit San Francisco, but to live there too? Hence native San Franciscans might feel they do in fact live in Heaven, and so skip out to work each morning with smiles on their faces and music in their hearts. When next I'm there I'll check this out.

I got an e-mail back from my friend who thanked me for the songs. I sensed, though, that he felt I was casting aspersions on his video, on which he'd obviously spent much time. So, while it doesn't seem likely he'll be heeding my advice any time soon, I do live in hope that someday he will.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Maths or Literature?

I've begun reading Ian McEwan's “Sweet Tooth”. I'm finding it a veritable page-turner, no doubt because the prose is so elegant, and the tone so ironic and witty, reflecting a luminous intelligence that Ian McEwan obviously possesses.

Set in the Britain of circa 1972, “Sweet Tooth” is written from the first-person viewpoint of Serena Frome, a twenty-something woman, who, after graduating from the University with a Maths degree, has joined MI5 as a very junior functionary.

Despite that Serena's degree was in Maths, her big love has always been reading novels, that she gobbles up at a rate of four or five a week. It might be thought, then, that Serena would have studied English literature at the University. However, her Mother had insisted she study Maths because it would be more useful afterwards.

While Serena would have loved to major in English literature, she didn't subsequently regret not doing so because she saw that having to study novels to pass exams might have destroyed her love of literature. For what it's worth, I understand absolutely why she thought this. Novels shouldn't be cerebrally analysed, but savoured and experienced and enjoyed. Well, it's what I think.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Seeds and Hogs and Tractors and Water-Tanks and Chemicals

I finished reading Jane Smiley's "A Thousand Acres" last night. It had just too much farming in it for my taste. It seemed to go on and on and on and on about farming, so that I eventually found myself wincing each time the words "farm" and "farming" came up.

"A Thousand Acres" does have its juicy bits, though, but they are overshadowed by all the interminable passages about seeds and hogs and tractors and water-tanks and chemicals.

But, while I was reading, I reflected often that we who are city-slickers take so much for granted. Like, the water that gushes out our kitchen and bathroom taps. Where does it really come from? And, where would any of us be without the Farmer?

If, then, you're a Farmer, or a lover of Shakespeare, particularly his "King Lear" (on which this novel is loosely based), you'll likely love "A Thousand Acres". Since I'm neither, I shouldn't be surprised that I found "A Thousand Acres" not quite my cup of tea.