Monday, May 31, 2021

C. S. Lewis's chivalry as a virtue set

Searle Lansing-Jones (1925-2018)

In my discussion of precursors to the Ganymede model of virtue and vice, I gave credit to Solomon, Confucius, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Steiner, and G -- but I didn't think of C. S. Lewis. Now it occurs to me that Lewis's short essay "The Necessity of Chivalry" (which can be found in the anthology Present Concerns and probably elsewhere) prefigures one of the key concepts of the Ganymede model: that there are pairs of complementary (seemingly "opposite") virtues, and the greatest virtue is found not in finding some Aristotelian mean between the two, but in (paradoxically) maximizing both. Here is some of what Lewis had to say about chivalry.

[W]e cannot do better than turn to the words addressed to the greatest of all the imaginary knights in Malory's Morte Darthur. "Thou wert the meekest man," says Sir Ector to the dead Launcelot. "Thou wert the meekest man that ever ate in hall among ladies; and thou wert the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest."

(Note: I didn't realize until just now that wert was used this way in Malory's day; King James English, a century and a quarter later, would use wast in such sentences, reserving wert for the subjunctive.)

The important thing about this ideal is, of course, the double demand it makes on human nature. The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and the ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also a demure, almost maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobstrusive man. He is not a compromise or happy mean between ferocity and meekness; he is fierce to the nth and meek to the nth. When Launcelot heard himself pronounced the best knight in the world, "he wept as he had been a child that had been beaten."

This fits right into the Ganymede model, with ferocity as a Hot/Ahuric/Type-2 virtue, and meekness as its Cool/Devic/Type-1 counterpart. The corresponding vices are easy enough to work out.

Note: I wanted very much to illustrate this post with a photo of the abstract sculpture Knight by the late Searle Lansing-Jones, whom I knew when I was a missionary in Kanab, Utah, in 1998, and who passed away in 2018. It has stuck with me all these years as a powerful expression of the paradox of chivalry. Since no photos of that piece can be found on the Internet, I have used a photo of Searle himself -- who, as an ex-Marine who fought at Iwo Jima and one of the gentlest men I have ever known, embodied something of the knightly ideal himself.

Do the locusts have a king?

Rodney Matthews, Out of the Pit

Here's a "biblical contradiction" you don't see very often on those atheist gotcha lists.

The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands.
-- Proverbs 30:27

And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. . . . And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
-- Revelation 9:3, 10-11

Of course I'm not seriously proposing this as a contradiction! The metaphorical "locusts" of the Apocalypse (pinched from Joel 2; John of Patmos was the Quentin Tarantino of prophets) obviously have little in common with the ordinary insects referred to in the proverb. I'm just using it to ask the question: Do the locusts in fact have a king? All around us, we see all major institutions -- most of them formally independent from one another -- acting in lockstep to do whatever the Next Evil Thing happen to be. They certainly do "go forth all of them by bands" -- so are they proverbial locusts, or apocalyptic ones?

Proverbial locusts appear to be carrying out an organized and highly efficient raid, the purpose of which is to destroy the crops in a region and cause suffering and death, but in fact they have no plan -- they're just bugs -- and the appearance of a coordinated attack is actually the result of hundreds of billions of similarly constituted bugs finding themselves in similar circumstances and behaving accordingly.

Apocalyptic locusts, in contrast, are exactly what they appear to be: an organized conspiracy, taking orders from a hierarchy and ultimately from their demonic "king," the Angel of the Abyss.

(And the synchronicity fairies have just chimed in. In the middle of writing this post, I went downstairs to get something. My wife was watching television, and I caught the middle of a commercial for some "ancient unsolved mysteries" kind of program -- the commercial consisting of a lot of very short, unrelated clips strung together so as to suggest the range of topics covered. A shot of some biblical-looking blokes walking through a sandy desert, then a shot of swarming locusts, and then a talking head saying, "Humans didn't do this." Okay, sync fairies, noted.)


Just bugs: The case for proverbial locusts

Faustus: The devil what the devil what do I care if the devil is there.

Mephisto: But Doctor Faustus dear yes I am here.

Faustus: What do I care there is no here nor there. . . . I saw you miserable devil I saw you and I was deceived and I believed miserable devil I thought I needed you, and I thought I was tempted by the devil and I know no temptation is tempting unless the devil tells you so. And you wanted my soul what the hell did you want my soul for, how do you know I have a soul, who says so nobody but you the devil and everybody knows the devil is all lies . . .

-- Gertrude Stein, Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

-- James 1:13-14

In opposing the idea that God tempts people, James does not say that it is the devil that does so, but rather that every man "is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." Sin and temptation seem to be perfectly explicable in terms of ordinary human motivations and appetites, without recourse to the idea of some supernatural whisperer-in-ears egging us on to do what we already want to do anyway.

When Stein's Faustus says, "I know no temptation is tempting unless the devil tells you so," his (and her) sarcasm is evident. If all the devils in hell went on strike and all supernatural temptation ceased, wouldn't money still be attractive? Wouldn't fornication still feel good? Wouldn't it still often be convenient to lie? Would human behavior really change at all? Isn't the Tempter strictly redundant? If Satan turned out not to be a being or beings at all, but just a poetic personification of human vice and folly, would that fact have any important consequences? Can't we all say, with Faustus, "The devil what the devil what do I care if the devil is there"?

This line of thinking leads to the conclusion that there may or may not be a devil, but it doesn't really matter much one way or the other -- and that therefore, like good clean-shaven Franciscans, we ought not to multiply entities beyond necessity. The burden of proof lies with those who say the devil's existence matters.


Lord of the bugs: The case for apocalyptic locusts

And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none -- and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

-- 2 Nephi 28:22

And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.

-- 2 Nephi 26:22

For all that here on earth we dreadfull hold,
Be but as bugs to fearen babes withall
Comparèd to the creatures in the seas entrall

-- Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene II.xii.25.7-9

("Secret combinations" is Mormonese for Satanic conspiracies of the sort associated with the name of Gadianton. See the Ether 8Moses 5, the Book of Helaman, and 3 Nephi 1-3 for a crash course.)

By invoking the name of Faustus, Gertrude Stein has given the key to answering her own question. The difference between a real devil and a metaphorical one is that you can make a deal with the former. While it's obviously not true that "no temptation is tempting unless the devil tells you so," I think there are evils that are not at all attractive in themselves but which can be made attractive by means of artificially attached incentives -- but this takes an intelligent being to do this; it doesn't just happen.

If the devil whispers, "Go ahead, do what you want, you'll enjoy it!" (the same thing the temptee's own mind is already whispering) he might as well just be a metaphor. But if he whispers, "Commit this unspeakably obscene act, and I will make all your wildest dreams come true" -- if he offers a Faustian, sell-your-soul bargain -- well, then Doctor Faustus dear yes I am here.

Conveniently, the same point can be illustrated using my extended metaphor of the two kinds of biblical locusts. What do proverbial locusts do? They fly around looking for anything they can eat, and they eat it. No one but Mother Nature needs to tell them to do that. Now look at the apocalyptic locusts and see what their king commands (Revelation 9:4-5):

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only . . . men . . . . And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months.

These locusts are explicitly commanded not to yield to the natural temptations of locust-nature -- not to indulge themselves in any of the delicious greenery around them -- but to focus their energies on torturing human beings. And what's in it for the locusts? What motivates them to carry out this mission? Well, we don't know, but we can be damn sure it's not natural. Presumably their king motivates them with artificial incentives: promised rewards if they obey, threatened punishment if they do not. And maybe over time some of them acquire a taste for what Mick Jagger called "all the special pleasures of doing something wrong" and begin to break free of artificial incentives and do evil strictly for the evulz -- but there's no way they could arrive there without their king, no way a whole swarm of locusts would just spontaneously decide to go forth by bands on such a glaringly unlocustly mission.

Returning from this biblico-entomological excursus to the world of human beings and human evil, it is specifically in unnatural evil -- unattractive evil, disgusting evil, ugly and abhorrent evil -- that we can see the fingerprints of Abaddon. Have you ever wondered why the "witch" of popular imagination, with enough magical power to get lots of nice things for herself, has instead such a predilection for brews of poison'd entrails and baboon's blood, and chooses to appear as a hideous, green-faced, warty hag? Because the embrace of the horrible -- like a locust swearing off grass and going in for torture instead -- is the price of admission, the mark of the beast, the secret sign of Gadianton, the proof that one is obeying the devil and not one's own natural lusts.

Reading the Epstein articles I linked to earlier, don't you think it surprising that a man like Cohn or Epstein, who sets out to control the rich and powerful by means of blackmail, finds that the most effective way of getting suitable material is to secretly film his marks raping children? Something doesn't add up here. I'm sure that some pedophiles are "born that way," suffering from a sexual neurosis that makes their crime spontaneously appealing to them, but these must surely be a tiny minority, and it's statistically impossible that so many of the rich and powerful -- most of whom appear to have "normal" sexual lives as well -- would just happen to suffer from it. Sure, child-rape on tape is extremely effective blackmail material if you can get it -- people would surely do almost anything to stop such material from being made public -- but why assume you can get it? Why assume that you could easily trick any halfway-normal person into raping a child on camera in exchange for -- what, money and political string-pulling? None of it makes any sense unless the supernatural is involved, unless something is being promised that goes far beyond what a mere mortal schmuck like Epstein could ever be expected to deliver. I don't pretend, or want, to know the details, but it certainly looks as if we're dealing with apocalyptic locusts here.

I've chosen an extreme example because of the clarity it provides, but we can see, at a lesser degree, the embrace of the horrible all around us, and it is a sign that devils are at work. Real devils, not metaphors.

Six degrees of Jeffrey Epstein

This investigative series by Whitney Webb, author of the upcoming book One Nation Under Blackmail, is highly recommended. It's a bit of a long read, but I found it to be quite eye-opening.


It was surprising to see the extent to which Reagan, the Bushes, the Clintons, and Trump -- the Republican establishment, the Democratic establishment, and a supposed outsider -- are all part of the same interlinked network. Also surprising was the conspicuous absence of any direct links to Obama or Biden, but I suppose they just haven't come to light yet.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

St. Joan's Day

Today marks the 590th anniversary of the murder of my patron saint, Jehanne of Domrémy. No body lies a-moldering in the grave -- she was burned at the stake and then cremated twice more to ensure nothing would be left of her -- but she lives today, a resurrected being, and her soul goes marching on.

This poem was written by my sister Kat, who has graciously given me permission to publish it here. I had originally planned to quote it as part of a much longer post I am working on, but that is a post for another day, and the poem is a poem for today.

They marched to the fire with a drum roll and battle-cries
They mobbed through the courtyard with passionate hate
They tied to the stake a soldier-maiden
And lighted the flames to purge heresy-taint
 
They shouted huzzah! as the pyre leapt upward
They tossed up their caps to the conquering flame
They toasted their mess-mates for burning a maiden
And ridding the earth of a scourge and a stain
 
They marched off in glory, content with their doing
They knew that a fire leaves nothing behind
They left her in cinders, and smoldering ashes
And wended their way with a bright, fearless mind
 
But they found, to their fury, she had somewhat escaped them
They knew not at first, but they finally learnt
Her heart was on fire with vision already
And fire is the one thing that cannot be burnt

Those who watched Joan burn report seeing a dove rise phoenix-like from the flames -- conveying, in the symbolic language of the prophets, the message, "This is my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name."

There are heavy rains and flooding in Taiwan today, forecast to continue for a week, marking the end of the longest and most serious drought in many decades. The timing of these things is never just a coincidence.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Memorable conspiracy theories

If you asked me the most memorable conspiracy theory I've ever heard, I might mention, say, Francis E. Dec's claim that each of us is being controlled remotely by "a Computer God Containment Policy Brain Bank Brain, a real brain, in the Brain Bank Cities on the far side of the moon we never see."

This isn't memorable in the right way, though, to be an effective conspiracy theory. When do I think of it? Only when I'm thinking about the topic of kooky conspiracy theories. Nothing I see in my daily life, on the news, etc., ever makes me think of the Brain Bank Cities on the far side of the moon. The illusion of constant confirmation is missing.

An example of an effectively memorable conspiracy theory is the idea that Donald Trump is secretly a white supremacist and communicates this fact through "dog whistles." Once you've heard that, anything Trump does or says that has any connection to race or immigration makes you think of it and creates the illusion that the conspiracy theory is relevant and therefore probably true.

Here are two more examples of conspiracy theories that I find to be effectively memorable despite the fact that somebody just made them up.

Utah no-fly zone: If you plot all reported UFO activity (sightings, crashes, abductions) on a map of the US, you will find that they occur all over the country -- except within a radius of 200 or 300 miles of Salt Lake City. Extend the radius by another 200 or 300 miles, though, and you have the majority of all UFO activity in America!

Antarctica: The Nazis spent a lot of money in Antarctica for unknown reasons. Today, many world leaders travel there once a year.

I think part of what makes these effective is that they aren't properly conspiracy theories -- no explanation is given of why UFOs won't fly over Salt Lake or why powerful people make regular pilgrimages to Antarctica -- but just assertions of (made-up) facts that fit a pattern. Once you've heard about the pattern, anything that "fits" seems to confirm it. Any UFO stories out of the American west, for example, will make you think, "Hmm... kind of close to Salt Lake but not that close" (the vagueness of the two radii is helpful here). Any celebrity saying anything about Antarctica reminds you that they're probably secretly flying there once a year.

Maybe Francis E. Dec was wrong, and the Brain Bank Cities are actually at the South Pole!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Two types, not four

In my last post on the Ganymede model, I was starting to realize that my schema of four elements (Luciferic, Ahrimanic, Ahuric, Devic) was actually about two fundamental types, each of which can manifest as either good or evil. Referring to Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, for instance, I wrote, "Isn't it obvious that Apollo is Devic/Ahrimanic in nature, while Dionysos is Ahuric/Luciferic?"

In his latest post on the subject, "The Two Types of Virtue," G makes this explicit, making a list of oppositions which he calls simply "Type 1" and "Type 2." Type 1 (Devic) virtues are distorted into Type 1 (Ahrimanic) vices, while Type 2 (Ahuric) virtues are distorted into Type 2 (Luciferic) vices. Using G's terminology, I could simply have said that Apollo is Type 1 and Dionysos is Type 2.

Solomon is Type 1, David is Type 2. Aaron is Type 1, Moses is Type 2. Odysseus is Type 1, Achilles is Type 2. Spock is Type 1, Kirk is Type 2. Hobbes is Type 1, Calvin is Type 2. Once the element of good/evil is abstracted away, classifying these archetypal characters becomes much easier. (I do notice, though, that G appears to have got the numbers backwards. For most pairs of characters I have listed, we would more naturally mention the "Type 2" figure first and the "Type 1" figure second: David and Solomon, Calvin and Hobbes, etc.)

G doesn't like my terminology, because it is "randomly technical" (i.e., uses words in a technical sense that would not be intuitive even to a well-educated person), and because Lucifer is the name of a specific being in Mormon theology who is definitely not "Luciferic." (In my post "Satan divided against himself," I even introduced the concept of Ahriman by quoting something Joseph Smith had written about "one of the angels," conveniently not mentioning that this angel's name was actually Lucifer.)

I had wanted to keep Luciferic and Ahrimanic because of their currency in my circle, and among followers of Rudolf Steiner. However, I do realize the confusion this may cause for Mormons, whose "Lucifer" is an Ahrimanic being. It's probably best to choose labels that have no religious or philosophical baggage. That way, Mormons and Anthroposophists can argue over whether Lucifer is Type 1 or Type 2 without arguing about the model itself.

G's terminology has the advantage of carrying no baggage, and of recognizing the unity of Devic/Ahrimanic and of Ahuric/Luciferic. However, the labels "Type 1" and "Type 2" have no semantic or mnemonic content and are thus even more "randomly technical" than my own, making it easy to get them carelessly mixed up. (In this very post, I originally wrote that Dionysos is Type 1 and Apollo is Type 2 and had to go back and correct it. I'm sure I would never have carelessly written that Dionysos is Ahrimanic.)

So, what terms would be better? Yin and yang spring immediately to mind, of course, but I think they are unsatisfactory on all counts. On the one hand, they bring with them considerable philosophical baggage. On the other, their foreign-ness and their phonetic similarity make it very easy for Westerners to get mixed up as to which is which. Lawful and chaotic (as used in D&D alignment) are another obvious possibility, but they carry too much semantic content that doesn't really fit.

Trying to think what sort of terminology would be best, I thought of Marshall MacLuhan's technical use of hot and cool to refer to different types of media, and how perfect it was -- simple, memorable, intuitively "right," and yet free of theoretical baggage. A few straightforward examples from everyday language (bikinis are hot, sunglasses are cool) made it easy to remember that, for example, film is hot and television (the low-definition TV of MacLuhan's day) is cool.

Then it hit me that perhaps what is needed is not just terms as good as MacLuhan's, but those very terms. Ahuric/Luciferic is Hot, Devic/Ahrimanic is Cool.

The temperature metaphor is a very natural one, I think, and G even includes "hot" and "cold" as one of the pairs of opposites on his chart. (I think cold always has a negative connotation, though -- cold virtue sounds weird -- so I prefer cool.) He also lists "expansion" vs. "consolidation" -- meanings which are included in the Aristotelian/alchemical use of hot and cool. There's also Nietzsche's "coldest of all cold monsters" -- the Ahrimanic state -- and so on. In fact, I even used a biblical hot/cold metaphor in my original post on this subject.

It is wrong to conceptualize the Christ this way -- as if the goodness of God consisted in being just Ahrimanic enough without being too Ahrimanic -- as if Lucifer were 0, Ahriman were 1, and the Christ were 0.618... (realized to infinite decimal places in the Christ himself, but only approximated by mere mortals!). "Moderation in all things" is a Greek maxim, not a Christian one. The Christian version is this: "I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:15-16).

The master virtue chart, them, would look like this:


What do you think? Is this terminology better? More intuitive? Easier to think with?

Total eclipse of the Moon

This evening I just happened to be out and about at the right time to witness a total lunar eclipse, not knowing in advance that there was going to be one. I saw it exactly at the moment of totality and stayed and watched it until the end.

If the panic police had not shut down my school for a few weeks, I would have been in my classroom at that time and would have missed the whole thing -- so yes, good can come out of evil.

About a month ago, someone sent me a scan from a Tintin book (sending it, by chance, on the exact anniversary of its original publication) showing a total solar eclipse, and this set off a chain of synchronicities.

This is how I received it. Not sure who added the face on the Sun!

The lunar eclipse ("blood moon") made me think of this solar eclipse, and the combination of the two made me think of the second chapter of Joel: "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2:31).

A few days ago, I was looking through this blog's drafts folder, found an old unfinished post called "Do the locusts have a king?" and started working on it again. It begins by quoting the bit about the locusts in Revelation 9, mentioning parenthetically that John had pinched his imagery from Joel 2.

I see that the emergence of the Great Eastern Brood of 17-year cicadas is in the news these days. I witnessed this event once, 34 years ago, when my family was living in Maryland. Back in those less entomologically literate days, the locals all referred to the insects as "locusts," and news programs would have Bug Experts on to explain how cicadas differed from "true locusts." The most important difference from the human perspective is that locusts devour everything in sight (as so poetically described by Joel), whereas cicadas just make a lot of noise (a lot of noise!), mate, and die.

In his Meditations on the Tarot, Valentin Tomberg interprets the Moon card of the Tarot de Marseille as depicting a total eclipse of the Moon.

Claude Burdel, 1751

Tomberg explains this symbol thus:

Just as man's will to master Nature sets "materialistic intellectuality" in motion and prescribes it the "rules of the game" for its work, so is the moon of the eighteenth Arcanum on eclipse, i.e. it is only fringed by rays of reflected sunlight, whilst the surface of the moon itself reflects only the image of a human face in profile.

The crayfish, which can go only backward, represents the human mind stymied by this materialistic intellectuality, and the only way forward is for this crayfish to transform itself into an eagle.

The eighteenth Arcanum of the Tarot asks us: Do you want to choose the way of the eagle which rises above antinomies or the way of the crayfish which retreats before them until arriving at complete absurdity, i.e. at the scorpionic suicide of inteligence? This is the point -- i.e. the message to the human will -- of the eighteenth Major Arcanum of the Tarot.

Tomberg connects the crayfish with the scorpion, and it is from there but a short jump to connecting it with the scorpion-like apocalyptic "locusts" (inspired by Joel 2) that rise from the Abyss in Revelation 9. But further discussion of this will have to wait until I have completed my locust post.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

No, there weren't more excess deaths in 2017 than in 2020.

Perhaps you've seen Samuel H. Preston and Yana C. Vierboom's paper, "Excess mortality in the United States in the 21st century," published this April in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

It was linked on the Junior Ganymede with the comment, "2020 is the deadliest year on record since . . . 2017." Vox Day, referencing the same paper, said, "Got that? Fewer people died in 2020 than in 2017." I more or less trust the JG and VD, but I clicked through to the original paper and read the abstract, which seemed to confirm their summaries:

In 2017, excess deaths and years of life lost in the United States represent a larger annual loss of life than that associated with the [birdemic] in 2020.

There's no excuse for my letting this slip past my BS detector -- I knew it completely contradicted the statistics W. M. Briggs faithfully reports every week -- or for failing to read the whole paper, which turns out to be really short. I'm ashamed to say I just saw it as ammo I could use with friends and family members who trust The Science and accepted it without asking too many questions. In fact, it turns out that the abstract is misleading, and the paper is garbage, publish-or-perish busywork that contributes nothing to human knowledge.

"Excess deaths in the United States" means, in this paper, not deaths in excess of what would be expected in a "normal" year in the United States, but rather the degree to which death rates in the U.S. in a given year exceed those of five selected European countries in the same year. The paper's meaningless and useless "finding" is that the difference between American and European death rates in 2017 (with American rates being higher) was larger than the difference between American and European death rates in 2020.

This has nothing to do with whether more people died in 2017 or in 2020, or with how serious the birdemic was. In fact, it has nothing to do with anything, and it's not entirely clear why anyone thought it worth publishing.

Thanks to my father for reading the whole thing and informing me that it doesn't actually say what it says on the tin.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The birdemic vs. flu and pneumonia in Taiwan

According to the government, the birdemic has so far claimed the lives of 29 Taiwanese people since it started in March 2020. For perspective, I checked the official cause of death statistics from the Ministry of Health and Welfare to see how many people had died of flu or pneumonia in recent years. (When flu kills, it generally does so indirectly through pneumonia, as does the birdemic.) No numbers have yet been released from 2020, but here are the flu/pneumonia death tolls for the four years preceding.

  • 2019: 15,715
  • 2018: 13,725
  • 2017: 12,869
  • 2016: 12,790
  • Mean: 13,325

So if birdemic deaths should increase 50,000% from where they stand now, then we would be justified in saying that the birdemic had reached the status of -- just the flu, bro. How much higher than that it would have to go to be considered a national emergency justifying martial law is a judgment call.

What the government in fact decided to do was to go totalitarian after just 14 people -- a milliflu -- had died.

(Note: In an older post, I gave the 2019 flu death toll as 89, when in fact it was 530, plus 15,185 pneumonia deaths. I'm not sure where that incorrect figure came from.)

Scattered thoughts on the Ganymede model (virtue sets)

"G" of the Junior Ganymede is writing about virtue sets again, and incorporating some of my own work in that area. Most importantly, he now agrees with me that all individual virtue sets are examples of two complementary types of good (Ahuric and Devic) and two complementary types of evil (Luciferic and Ahrimanic). I'm going to go ahead and dub this four-factor theory of good and evil the Ganymede model, unless G strenuously objects and suggests a better name.

Since someone else is also working on this now, I am, in the interests of creative cross-pollination, going to throw out several half-developed ideas in the hope that some of them will fall on fertile ground.


In defense of opaque terminology

G says he doesn't really like my terminology (Ahuric, Devic, Luciferic, Ahrimanic), but I would like to insist on it and on the importance of not replacing it with more descriptive terminology such as Active/Passive, Masculine/Feminine, etc. Essentially, I think the observation that there are two complementary types of good and two complementary types of evil is prior to any hypotheses about the fundamental nature of these goods and evils. It is important to keep in mind that I arrived at the Ganymede model inductively, by looking at lots of individual virtue charts. This inductive -- "botanical," as it were -- classification of good and evil comes first. Theories about why there are two types of good and two types of evil, and about how these may relate to other concepts, come later. To use descriptive titles rather than just names is to make unjustified presuppositions.

As I explained when I originally introduced the terms, Zoroastrianism contrasts good ahuras with evil daevas, while Hinduism contrasts good devas with evil asuras. The terms are assumed to be etymologically related, but the moral polarity is reversed. These four words, then, would be perfect for the Ganymede model. Asuric evil distorts Ahuric good and opposes Devic good; Daevic evil distorts Devic good and opposes Ahuric good. In practice, though, I think the terms are too phonetically similar to be practical, and would be easily confused. Since Steiner's Luciferic/Ahrimanic distinction fits the Ganymede model so well and is already well established, and since Ahriman happens to be the Zoroastrian name for the enemy of the ahuras, I decided to keep Steiner's terms for the two evils and use Ahuric and Devic for the two goods.

I think the fact that most of the terms are of non-Christian origin is a feature, not a bug. It keeps the terms free of unwanted baggage, since we Christians are unlikely to get sidetracked by arguments over whether Ahriman is truly "Ahrimanic" or the devas are truly "Devic." Lucifer, of course, is a name used in Christianity, so we just have to accept that we're using it in a technical sense in the Ganymede model and are not necessarily claiming that the Lucifer of scripture is specifically "Luciferic" rather than "Ahrimanic" in nature.


Nietzsche again

I've mentioned Nietzsche's discussion, in The Genealogy of Morals, of Gut-und-Böse versus Gut-und-Schlecht, and identified Böse and Schlecht with Luciferic and Ahrimanic, respectively. The other day I got out The Genealogy of Morals to review some of the specific things Nietzsche had said about this. My copy of this work is bound together with The Birth of Tragedy, which made me realize that another famous Nietzschean dichotomy may also be relevant: Apollinisch vs. Dionysisch. Isn't it obvious that Apollo is Devic/Ahrimanic in nature, while Dionysos is Ahuric/Luciferic?


Throwing Dante into the mix

Dante's Purgatorio groups the Seven Deadly Sins into three categories: perverted love, insufficient love, and excessive love. Our model tends to identify supposed "excess" of virtue with perversion or distortion of virtue. It would be an interesting exercise to give the Seven Deadly Sins the Ganymede treatment.

From Barry Moser's illustration for Allen Mandelbaum's Dante


What about Sorath?

Bruce Charlton and I, in our thinking about Steiner's Lucifer and Ahriman, have both come to place more and more emphasis on a third sort of evil, the Sorathic, and to see it as being just as important as the other two. How does Sorathic evil fit into the Ganymede model? Does it have as its opposite some third type of good?


Masculine and feminine

Looking at lists of Ahuric and Devic virtues, I found that the first list made me think of Jesus Christ and the second of Our Lady. This led me to the tentative conclusion that these two types of good corresponded to masculine and feminine, and that the Ganymede model helped to explain why the two sexes were necessary and eternal.

I had also at one point thought of Ahuric good as primarily "seeking good," and Devic good as "avoiding evil." I was not really happy with those descriptions, though, since "avoiding evil" can be accomplished perfectly by not existing at all! Both types of good must be in some way positive and active, not merely negative and passive.

In his latest post on the topic. G helpfully summarizes the two types of good in a rather different way.

In a virtue set, one complementary virtue will be [an Ahuric] virtue of strength and passion.  The other complementary virtue will generally be a [Devic] virtue of control and discipline.  The matching vices will be [Luciferic] vices of uncontrolled strength and passion and [Ahrimanic] vices of a lack of strength and passion.

This startled me because, by "coincidence," my wife and I had just hours earlier been discussing (without reference to the Ganymede model) the question "What is masculinity?" and kept coming back to the idea of control and discipline as definitive masculine characteristics. My wife also mentioned that very masculine men -- Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart, James Bond -- sometimes seem to be almost emotionless and not to care about anything. Since I had provisionally been thinking of Ahuric as masculine and Devic as feminine, it came as a shock to see G (correctly) identify Devic virtue with "control and disciple" and Ahuric virtue with "passion." Clearly the relationship of masculinity and femininity to Ahuric and Devic good is more complicated than I had been assuming.

Apropos of this, Ron Tomlinson left this comment on my post "Satan divided against himself" -- a post which discussed Lucifer and Ahriman extensively, before I had developed the Ahuric/Devic concept.

Good men tend to err on the side of Luciferanism (pursue good by evil means)
Good women tend to err on the side of Ahrimanism (avoid evil by playing it safe)

Bad men are often Ahrimanic, e.g. those who pursue power/promotion
Bad women are often Luciferan, e.g. overweight with tattoos

Again, this suggests that sex is an important element in the Ganymede model, but not in so straightforward a way that we can simply identify each sex with one type of good or evil.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Keeping us safe


The Chinese says, translating loosely, "Due to the birdemic, this hiking trail is closed for the time being." Yes, this little hiking trail in the middle of nowhere, where you can hike all day and meet maybe five or six other people. Real super-spreader potential there!

(Did we pay any attention to the sign? I guess the safest answer to that question -- which different people will, very conveniently, interpret differently -- is, "Is the Pope Catholic?")

Taiwan is now under Level 3 restrictions -- meaning, among other things, that "All people must wear masks at all times when going out." And yes, that means even in your own car. Fortunately, "city and county governments agree that people not wearing masks in public should first be 'persuaded' before being fined. . . . If a person fails to heed the directive to wear a mask, the fine will then be imposed." In other words, just keep a mask handy to put on in case a cop directly asks you to do so; otherwise, you're good. Even this half-assed degree of civil disobedience is beyond the pale for most Taiwanese, though; everyone, with vanishingly few exceptions, wears a mask all the time now.

And with good reason! Check out the latest birdemic stats.


Last time I posted a chart like this, the number of people affected by the birdemic was so tiny that the chart just looked like a featureless blue circle -- but no longer! If you look very closely at the 12:00 position, you'll see a little hairline fracture of not-blue-ness. It's hard to say what color it is exactly, but it's definitely not blue, and that means the situation is worse.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Real intent of heart

Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

-- Titus 1:15 

Never been a sinner, I never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
-- Norman Greenbaum, "Spirit in the Sky"

I've been thinking about this passage from the Book of Mormon (Moroni 7:5-11).

[5] For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also. [6] For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good.

For if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. [7] For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness. [8] For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God. [9] And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such. [10] Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.

[11] For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ.

And if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.

The first paragraph (the paragraph divisions are my own) seems to be saying that we can judge people by what they do. If a man is observed to do a good deed, we can be sure that he is a good man, because evil people are incapable of doing good deeds. We cannot directly observe a person's inner nature, but it is revealed in his observable behavior. And not much observation is needed; since evil people cannot do good deeds, just one observed good deed is enough to establish that a person is good.

Well, that sounds rather simple! So if we observe someone doing a good deed -- praying to God, say, or offering a gift to someone in need -- we can conclude without hesitation that he is a good man, right?

Well, no. The next paragraph goes on to explain that "a man being evil cannot do that which is good" does not mean that evil people cannot pray or speak the truth or give alms or anything like that. In fact, evil people can exhibit all the same observable behaviors as good people -- but the same outer behaviors that are good when done by a good person, are evil when done by an evil person! That's why an evil person can never do a good deed -- because, no matter what he does, it will done by an evil person and will therefore by definition not be good.

But this seems to reverse the original statement that "by their works ye shall know them." Rather than judging people by what they do, we have to judge deeds by those who do them. An observed behavior, such as praying, cannot be judged good or evil until we know whether the person who does it is a good or evil person.

Most people are familiar with the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. I assert that no Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge, and you object that your uncle Angus is a Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge. In the canonical version of the fallacy, I retort, "But no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge." Mormon's version would be, "Well, any porridge a Scotsman puts sugar on obviously can't be considered his porridge!" Thus is the evidentiary value of porridge-sweetening in establishing non-Scottishness destroyed.

The circularity of the definitions -- good people are those who do good deeds, and good deeds are those done by good people -- emphasizes the necessity of making an actual judgment, a choice. "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit" (Matt. 12:33). Either judgment is possible; you just have to be consistent. "For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge" (Moroni 7:15).


As the quotation from Matthew shows, this is not some uniquely Mormon concept. Mormon's reference (for Moroni is quoting his father, Mormon) to a bitter fountain bringing forth good water alludes to James 3:10-12.

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

What is James trying to say here? Is "the same mouth . . . blessing and cursing" something that, while regrettably common, ought not to be -- or is it something that is impossible, like a vine bearing figs? I think his deeper point is the latter. If you think you're a person who both blesses and curses, you're not -- not really -- and you had better search your soul and determine which is sincere and which is done without "real intent of heart."

The Gospels report Jesus saying both "he that is not with me is against me" (Matt. 12:30) and "he that is not against us is on our part" (Mark 9:40). This is sometimes presented as a "Bible contradiction" on atheist gotcha lists, despite the logical consistency of the two statements, because they appear to disagree on the status of the "neutral." Matthew seems to be saying that neutral people, because they are not actively with Jesus, are against him; while Mark says that, because they are not actively against Jesus, they are on his side. In fact, both are simply saying that no one is neutral. Anyone who appears to be neutral is in fact on the one side or the other.

Just as no one is on neither side, no one is on both sides. Every fountain yields exactly one kind of water, salt or fresh, and appearances to the contrary are just that.


Coming back to Mormon, it's fairly easy to accept the idea that bad people never really do anything good, that any superficially "good" deeds they do are in fact done from impure motives, without real intent of heart. A bad man doing such "good deeds" is a hypocrite -- literally, an actor. He's not a good person, no matter how well he plays one on TV.

Rather more startling is the vice versa Mormon adds at the end: ". . . and if follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil." Bad people never do anything truly good -- and good people never do anything truly bad. A good man who sins doesn't really sin, not in the truest sense, because he does not do it with real intent of heart. He is just as much a "hypocrite," an actor, as the bad man who does "good deeds."

To drive home how surprising this is, we could imagine Mormon spelling it out with examples, as he does for the opposite:

For behold, God hath said a man being good cannot do that which is evil.

For if he telleth a lie, or committeth adultery, except he shall do it with real intent it hurteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for wickedness. For behold, if a man being good telleth a lie, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had told the truth; wherefore he is counted good before God. And likewise also is it counted good unto a man, if he shall commit adultery and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it hurteth him nothing, for God receiveth all such. Wherefore, a man being good cannot do that which is evil; neither will he tell an evil lie.

But who really believes such a doctrine? Who has the spiritual chutzpah to say sincerely what the non-Christian Norman Greenbaum said ironically, "Never been a sinner, I never sinned"? The First Epistle of John (1:7-10) -- likely by the same author as the Fourth Gospel -- has this to say.

[7] But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 
 
[8] If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 
 
[9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
 
[10] If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

This seems clear, and familiar, enough: Followers of Jesus still commit sin, and to be in denial about that fact -- to refuse to "confess our sins" -- is damnation. If sin is acknowledged, it is forgiven -- but only if it is acknowledged. It is impossible to stop sinning (anyone who thinks he has done so is delusional); what is required of us is simply to admit that we sin.

However, in the very same epistle (3:6-10), we find this.

[6] Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

[7] Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

[8] He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

[9] Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

[10] In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

But we know that Christians sin all the time -- that even the greatest of saints berated themselves as the greatest of sinners. There seem to be only two ways to reconcile this obvious fact with what John (and James and Mormon and others) have written:

1. No true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge. Any "Christian" who sins is not a true Christian and has not truly been born of God. But this essentially means that there have never been any true Christians, ever, and that everyone is damned. This is scarcely consistent with the idea that Jesus brought "good news."

2. Any porridge a Scotsman puts sugar on can't be considered his porridge. When Christians lie, or are slothful, or succumb to lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, avarice, or pride, they aren't really sinning, because it is impossible for a Christian to sin. Their actions, like a transubstantiated Host in Catholic doctrine, are entirely good in substance even if the accidents remain to some degree evil.

In the support of the it's-not-my-porridge interpretation, we have Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (7:14-20, 24-25).

[14] For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. [15] For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. [16] If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. [17] Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

[18] For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. [19] For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. [20] Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

. . .

[24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? [25] I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Now I am not a "Bible believer" in any simple sense. I do not believe that Paul was always right, or that his writings have the same authority as eyewitness accounts of the teachings of Jesus, and I certainly don't want to derive my deepest beliefs from the "dueling proof-texts" method of Abelard's Sic et Non. Nevertheless, when so many serious Christians converge upon the same non-obvious idea, it is certainly worthy at least of serious consideration.

Paul here seems to arrive at Mormon's criterion of "real intent of heart." When Paul sins -- against his own will, as it were -- doing "the evil which I would not" while at the same time "consenting unto the law" and recognizing it as evil -- he sins without real intent of heart, and it is therefore not in the deepest sense he -- not his True Self -- that sins. A good fountain cannot bring forth bitter water. When tares appear in a field sown with wheat, "an enemy hath done this" (Matt. 13:28).

I need to spend more time -- probably a lot more time -- brooding over this, meditating and praying. I post these tentative thoughts in the hope that some of my readers may have something helpful to contribute.

Friday, May 21, 2021

The dream-makers flub an Isaac Hayes pun

In my dream, I saw a man build a campfire. Then he sat down, took a shoe out of his backpack, and cut a thin slice off the bottom. He smeared this with butter and roasted it over the fire.

“And this,” explained a voice-over (my dreams often feature nature-documentary voice-overs), “is the delicacy known as hot buttered shoe.”

Come on, dream-makers! This is like Porky Pine trying to tell a joke!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

In case you're still not sure who's behind all this nonsense

They're not exactly being subtle about it.


From Reuters:

The world's most famous statue of Jesus Christ was lit up in Rio de Janeiro to promote [peck] equality as Brazil and developing countries struggle to protect residents from [the birdemic].

The message . . . was projected on Saturday onto the 98-foot (30-meter) statue . . . in partnership with the Cristo Redentor Sanctuary . . .
 
In January, two healthcare workers received the first [pecks] at the foot of the statue as Brazil kicked off its . . . campaign.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The dragon and the subterranean swan

Back in December 2019, I posted about an allegorical picture of my sister Kat's -- a rather unconventional depiction of the Last Judgment, using a swan in an underground chamber as a symbol of Christ.

Then Cometh the End

I connected this with a drawing by Oswald Wirth which I had seen a few days earlier -- the Judgment card of the Tarot, with a huge swan replacing the angel who sounds the Last Trump. Just as Kat's swan is underground, Wirth's seems to be diving down into an open grave.


Wirth associates each of the Major Arcana with a constellation, and the constellation associated with the Judgment is Cygnus, the Swan. These correspondences are summarized in this diagram, taken from an English translation of Wirth's Le Tarot des imagiers du Moyen Âge.


Note that Cygnus is directly above Draco and oriented as if it were diving down towards the dragon. (These two constellations are not so oriented in the sky.) Notice also that Draco is labeled 13, meaning that it corresponds to the nameless 13th trump, which represents Death. Wirth's swan drawing also shows the swan diving down into a representation of death, while Kat's shows the swan already in a sort of "underworld."

In his 2006 article "Constellations Testify of Seven Angels," John P. Pratt connects the Swan with Simon Peter -- who was, famously, crucified upside down.

The constellation of the Cross is usually called the Southern Cross because another name for the Swan is the Northern Cross. Note how the stars in the Swan form a nearly perfect crucifix in the heavens. And also note that the Swan is upside-down on the cross, the head of the Swan being the foot of the cross. Could it be that Peter's upside-down crucifixion could have been represented in these heavenly figures thousands of years before it occurred? What do you think? There is no doubt in my mind that the answer is yes, because the symbolism is too clear and too perfect.

There is no dragon in the story of Peter's martyrdom, but it does feature the "swan" (Peter) being in an underground chamber. In the same article, Pratt quotes this account of the apostle's last days.

Maliciously condemned, Peter was cast into the horrible, fetid prison of the Mamertine. . . . described as a deep cell cut out of solid rock at the foot of the capitol, consisting of two chambers, one above the other. The only entrance is through an aperture in the ceiling. The lower chamber was the death cell. Light never entered it and it was never cleaned.

This deep cell, accessible only through an aperture in the ceiling, suggests the cavern in Kat's drawing, or the open grave in Wirth's. The use of the word "aperture" in this context also puts me in mind of one of the most laughably bad passages in the Bible translation used by Jehovah's Witnesses: "upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand" (Isaiah 11:8; KJV "the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den") -- giving us an indirect link to the serpent or dragon.

Finally, the identification of the swan with the angel of Judgment, and its association with the dragon, ties in with the Rider-Waite version of the Judgment card, where the angel bears the banner of St. George the Dragon-slayer.


In a recent post, I saw the name George paired not just with the dragon, but with Draco -- the Dragon as constellation.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Leo does Roxette

Hey, Suzy, where you been today?

After a break of several months, the synchronicity fairies are suddenly back into politics again. I do apologize.

In "The Trumpiest trump," my recent post at The Magician's Table, I revisited the Judgment card of the Tarot as a prediction of Trump's winning the 2020 election and discussed how John Opsopaus has connected that trump with the number 45 -- a number that Trump, the 45th president, has recently begun to emphasize in his branding.

In the post I mentioned that "trump occurs only twice in the King James Bible (1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thes. 4:16), and both instances refer to the scene depicted on the card." This reminded me that I had also found the string biden in the Bible, in 2 Chronicles 25:29.

Thou sayest, Lo, thou hast smitten the Edomites; and thine heart lifteth thee up to boast: abide now at home; why shouldest thou meddle to thine hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?

At the time, my interpretation was that "Edom means 'red' in Hebrew, so the Edomites are the Republican." Today, though, a more specific meaning of Edom struck me: Edom = aleph daleth mem = 1 + 4 + 40 = 45. "Lo, thou hast smitten the 45-ites!"


Today, YouTube Music autoplay served up a Weezer song I had never heard before, "The End Of The Game" (2019).


It didn't do much for me musically, at least on the first listen, but the music video got my attention because of its many very specific references to the 1989 Philippe Mora film Communion, starring Christopher Walken as Whitley Strieber, with a score composed by Eric Clapton (who, incidentally, was recently in the news for anti-peck statements). (I still can't entirely believe that such a movie really exists! It sounds too much like something I would dream up in a fantasy!) Anyway, it held my interest long enough to make me look up the lyrics. They begin like this:

Hey, Suzy, where you been today?
I'm looking for you every way
No sign of you when I wake up
I'm on an island with no sun

I feel like I've known you my whole life
You got me crying like when Aslan died
Now you're gone

For the significance of "Suzy," see my January 13 post "Wake up, little Susie." For Trump as Aslan, see my January 11 post "Hush my darling, be still my darling, the lion's on the phone." For Trump as the Sun, see my November 9, 2020, post "The other Trump trump."

Aslan, of course, represents Jesus Christ and as such comes back to life after being killed -- so "crying like when Aslan died" implies crying over a disaster that is soon to be reversed in a eucatastrophe.

The "island with no sun" also makes me think of the solar eclipse in the Tintin book Prisoners of the Sun -- a scan of which was emailed to me this year on (by complete coincidence!) the precise anniversary (and even the same day of the week) of its original publication. See "St. George, stake for the sun, and inevitable 'miracles.'"

Although I should definitely know better by now than to discuss specific future dates, let me just say for the record that various lines of synchronistic "evidence" are currently pointing at Sunday, August 1.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Trumpiest trump

Over at The Magician's Table, I revisit my Tarot-based prediction about Trump in light of its apparent failure. And no, I don't retract it.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

The plague worsens!

As the birdemic grows "ever more serious," with a "record number" (uh, 29) of new local "cases" (positive PCR "tests") in one day, the government of Taiwan is threatening to implement lockdowns, which it never did all through 2020. Every conversation I have with, like, everybody here revolves around how the situation is getting "more and more serious." A few students are taking a day off today because their parents are afraid, and one parent has asked me if we're planning to switch to online "classes."

(In other news, the government is warning that overuse is causing severe scare-quote depletion and that rationing may become necessary.)

To help people visualize just how grave the situation has become, I put together this pie chart based on the numbers being reported in the press.


(No, I didn't just make an all-blue circle by hand and label it as a joke. This is what Google Sheets produces if you feed it the numbers and tell it to make a pie chart.)

No matter how many people I point this out to, no one will even come close to admitting that this is not an emergency and that the government may be overreacting just a tad. Not one single person. The responses I get are about at the level of, "But, but . . . Brawndo's got what plants crave!" And this is in one of the best-educated, most-numerate, highest-IQ countries in the entire world.

"Not even trying" is a phrase Bruce Charlton likes to use with reference to modern science's non-pursuit of the truth. Well, here we have a case of not even lying. The Taiwan government doesn't even bother to cook the numbers. They report the real situation, tell people to panic anyway, and can be sure they will do so -- because the human race is apparently vastly, vastly stupider than even the boldest misanthrope of centuries past had ever dared to imagine.

Ixnay on the Agonday

Maybe, you should worship a fish god.

-- Gene Ray, Greatest Thinker and Wisest Human

After being reminded by the sync fairies of the existence of the Piers Anthony novel Night Mare, I've been rereading it for the first time since childhood. I've just got to the part about the nix that says "Nix, nix!" The nix is described as shapeshifting between human, fish, and half-human-half-fish forms.

Today, I found this whiteboard art in my classroom.

When I asked what it was, I was informed that it was "You! But you're a mermaid!" Then one of the kids said, "美國人魚!" -- a rather clever pun in Chinese, splicing together 美國人 (American) and 美人魚 (mermaid).

Besides the nix in Night Mare, the illustration suggests Dagon, the Philistine god whose temple Samson demolished.

I take anything Samson-related as a good omen. Stand me by those pillars! Oh, and, kids, it's mer-MAN!

Friday, May 14, 2021

The time for UFO disclosure is now.

These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now.

Why now? Because the government, the military, and the press have finally achieved zero credibility. They can "disclose" whatever they like, and people won't panic because they'll still feel deep down that it's all got to be BS. Boys who cry wolf may speak freely.

Not that people won't "believe" the disclosures, of course. Watch for a time when belief in UFOs and little green men is mandatory, and those who peddle laughable conspiracy theories about lenticular clouds and weather balloons will be tarred as "ET deniers" or whatever the term ends up being. ("Xenophobes" is already taken, I'm afraid.)

"Little green men" will be hatespeak, of course -- to say nothing of the depersonizing "Grays" -- and old books using such phrases will get Seussed.

Oh, and it'll be a splendid opportunity to purge the language of such problematically non-inclusive expressions as "human rights." Humans are set to become the new white people.

An interesting time to be alive!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

A five and a twelve

Background: One of my readers and correspondents has been experiencing a lot of synchronicities lately related to sequences of fives, and particularly 555.

On the morning of May 11, it occurred to me that the next day would be May 12, and that 5/12 seemed somehow mathematically significant. I couldn't figure out how, though; all that came to mind was that a dodecahedron is made up of 12 pentagons. I dismissed the matter from my mind.

That afternoon, I received a shipment of books for my school, and the invoice was for $3718. I immediately thought, "Hey, it's the number of the beast!" -- because 37 × 18 = 666. Then I realized that if I added instead of multiplying, 37 + 18 = 55. No sooner had I noticed this, and thought of my correspondent and his sequences of fives, than the phone number on the invoice caught my eye. It contained the string 555! As everyone knows, it is de rigueur to use 555 in fake phone numbers, but here it was in a real one!

I went about the rest of my day, and while I was on the way home, I thought about how I ought to email so-and-so and tell him about the fives. At the exact moment I thought this, I noticed an LED sign that said "5月5日到5月20日" -- meaning "from May 5 to May 20," and including three consecutive fives. Shortly after that, I passed another sign that had "55 50" on it (the prices of two different products, with the products' names written vertically above the numbers). And then I passed something I pass every day but had never particularly noticed before: the San Wu Rubber Company -- San Wu (三五) being Chinese for "three five."


The company's logo features what looks like the Roman numeral XXX (30), but in fact it is a triple repetition of 𠄡, an archaic form of 五, the character for "five." The logo makes it clear that the intended meaning of the name San Wu is "three fives," or 555.

Having noticed so many triple-fives in such a short span of time, I naturally thought of 5³, which is 125 -- and then I finally realized the mathematical significance of the next day's date. The date can be written either as 5/12 or 12/5 -- and both 512 and 125 are cubes. May 12 and its counterpart, December 5, are the only dates to have this property. The number 512 has the additional distinction of being (2³)³, the first (not counting the trivial cases of 0 and 1) cube-of-a-cube. Looking back at the San Wu logo, doesn't it suggest 888 as well as 𠄡𠄡𠄡? This is another link between 5³ = 125 and 8³ = 512.

So the numbers 5 and 12 can be combined in two different ways to make a cube. And how about the most obvious way of "combining" them? Well, 5 + 12 = 17 -- and, as anyone at all in touch with the world of conspiracy theories can tell you, the 17th letter of the alphabet is Q. (When Trump gave his Jan. 20 farewell speech with 17 American flags behind him, for example, this was seen as a reference to Q.)

I never really followed the whole "Q" thing, but the synchronicity fairies did occasionally take an interest. Back on January 13, I wrote a sync post about Q*bert, the video-game character whose name was originally going to be spelled "Cubert," a combination of "cubes" and "Hubert." So that's another link between cubes (plural) and the letter Q. In that post, I noted a Babylon Bee article that juxtaposed Q and Bert, which led me to the old "Bert is evil" meme and to the Scott Adams character "Catbert the evil HR director." Looking back at that post now, I see that two of the images I posted contain references to 5-and-12.


In the above "evil Bert" image, note the "Friday, 12." Here in Taiwan, both Friday and May are represented on calendars by the character 五, "five."


Because of the Catbert connection (the post was originally inspired by a cat named Q*bert), I checked Scott Adams' blog and noted that his most recent post highlighted Q. Now I see that it also just happened to be "Episode 1250" -- 12 and 5 together again.


Late last night, thinking again about all the triple-fives, I suddenly thought that I ought to do a one-card Tarot reading. I was thinking I would most likely draw either the Three of Pentacles (three fives) or the Devil (numbered 15, which is also three fives). What I actually drew, though, was the Queen of Pentacles.


At first I was a bit disappointed, but then I realized the significance of Queen. Ordinary playing cards mark the queen with a letter Q in the corner. In Taiwan, because the Queen is two ranks higher than the Ten, it is commonly referred to as "Twelve." So, there you have it: 5 and 12 and the letter Q.

(Incidentally, this is the first time I noticed the rabbit in the lower right corner of the Rider-Waite Queen of Pentacles. Earlier that very day, I had suddenly felt an urge to make a list of all the specific plants and animals that appear in the Rider-Waite deck and which cards they are on -- and even though this involved going through all the cards specifically looking for animals, I still somehow missed the rabbit, only to have it jump out at me later, when I did the reading.)

One final coincidence: I normally record the date and time of my Tarot readings, and it just so happens that I drew the Queen of Pentacles at precisely 12:05 a.m. on May 12!

Another unremarked milestone

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