Thursday, March 31, 2022

I posted my many-eyed whale dream on the 430th anniversary of Dee and Kelley's many-eyed whale vision.

Last night, curious about John Dee and Edward Kelley's vision of a many-eyed whale which I had heard summarized by Jason Louv on a podcast, I searched the Internet for john dee whale and found on Google Books the part of Louv's 2018 book, John Dee and the Empire of Angels, where this vision is related. Louv gave the date of the vision as April 27. That date struck me as significant or familiar somehow but I wasn't sure how.

Then I looked back at my recent post "The many-eyed whale shows up again," and saw that it begins, "Back in 2014, in the early hours of April 26, I had a dream . . . ." But my original post describing that dream, "A beast with many eyes," didn't give the date of the dream itself but just said, "On Friday night (actually, very early Saturday morning), I dreamed . . . ." For some reason, I had thought it was important to mention the date of the dream in my recent post, so I checked a 2014 calendar for the Saturday before the date of the post.

I went back and checked the date of the post. It was April 27, 2014.

I had checked all this on my phone just before going to bed. It was late, so I told myself that in the morning I would look it up again and post on it.

In the morning, I got up and went into the study. I found that my wife had left her laptop on so she could charge something in the USB port. Whatever version of Windows she has shows a picture when the computer is on but you haven't signed in yet. It's generally some sort of exotic scenery, with something you can click on to get more information about that place. Today, the picture was this:

On my own computer, I went to Google Books to find and transcribe the passage that gives the date of the whale vision, only to find that I was no longer able to do so: "You have either reached a page that is unavailable for viewing or reached your viewing limit for this book."

Fortunately, Louv's source material, Meric Casaubon's A True & Faithful Relation of What passed for many Yeers between Dr. John Dee (A Mathematician of Great Fame in Q. Eliz. and King James their Reignes) and Some Spirits, is available online. I found the whale bit, which starts on p. 102, but it is dated only "Friday, Cracoviae, Aprilis." However, looking back at the date of the previous entry, on p. 93, we find "Wensday, Cracoviae, Aprilis 25," so Louv's date of April 27 for the whale vision checks out. As for the year, the vision took place in Kraków. Dee went to Poland in September 1583 and returned to England in 1589. The only year in that range in which April 27 falls on a Friday is 1586.

(Update: I had for some reason checked June 27 instead of April! The actual year was 1584, as given on p. 73.)

Here is the account as given in A True & Faithful Relation.

The Firmament and the waters were joyned together, and the Whale CAME, like unto a legion of stormes: or as the bottomless Cave of the North when it is opened: and she was full of eyes on every side.

The Prophet said, Stand still, but they trembled. The waters sank, and fell suddenly away, so that the Whale lay upon the Hill, roaring like a Cave of Lions, and the Prophet took them by the hands, and led them to the Whales mouth, saying, Go in, but they trembled vehemently; He said unto them the second time, Go in: and they durst not. And he sware unto them, and they entred in, and he lifted up his voyce, and cried mightily, Come away, and, lo, they stood before him richer than an Emperours Throne, for unto him that was naked, were clothes given: unto him that was a child and a man, were 12 gates opened. And the Prophet cried mightily, and said, This Whale cannot die; and lifted up his voyce again and said: Within this Whale are many Chambers, and secret dwelling places, which I will divide betwixt you on the right side (unto the which was a child, and now a man) there are twelve opened, but unto thee that hast provided strange Garments for thy self, and not such as men use to wear, I will give thee head, hart, and left side, whose places are 46. You shall enter, and be possessed this day together: And behold, the son shall return again 21 times, and in one year, but not all at one time. You shalt depart hence into a dwelling that shall be all one: where there is no end, the place of comfort and inspeakable glorie.

After this, Dee says, "As you have delivered us a parable, enigma, or prophesie, so I beseech you . . . to expound what is meant by the Whale, the naked man, the Child, &c."

The angels Gabriel and Nalvage reply, "The naked man is Dee, The Childe is Kelly, . . . The Hill is the World, The waters are the bosome of God, . . . The Whale is the spirit of God, The Chambers are the degrees of wisdome . . . ."

This is a bit different from Louv's summary ("they meet God, and God is a whale"). The whole thing is clearly framed as a parable, and God is "what is meant by the Whale."

Specifically, the whale represents "the spirit of God" -- i.e., the Holy Ghost, whose more usual symbol is the dove. This is interesting because entering the mouth of the whale is a reference to the story of Jonah, and the name Jonah means "dove."

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Life imitates Unsong: A real-life double pun correction

My first mention of Joan of Arc on this blog was on December 15, 2020. I mentioned her as part of a pun from Unsong, which had been brought to mind by a P. G. Wodehouse novel, which had been brought to mind by a mention of the biblical story of Balaam's ass.

I am suddenly reminded of a passage from the P. G. Wodehouse novel Jeeves in the Offing.

'And, anyway, Reggie's gone for a walk and isn't available. I do wish you wouldn't always be so difficult, Bertie. Your aunt tells me it was just the same when you were a child. She'd want you to eat your cereal, and you would stick your ears back and be stubborn and non-cooperative, like Jonah's ass in the Bible.'

I could not let this go uncorrected. It's pretty generally known that when at school I won a prize for Scripture Knowledge.

'Balaam's ass. Jonah was the chap who had the whale. Jeeves!'

'Sir?'

'To settle a bet, wasn't it Balaam's ass that entered the nolle prosequi?'

'Yes, sir.'

I have recently been reading Scott Alexander's novel Unsong. One of the running gags is "biblical pun correction." One of the characters mentions Joan of Arc and is "corrected" by another: "Jonah whale; Noah ark." Later in the conversation, someone says "to no avail" and received the converse correction: "Noah ark; Jonah whale."

These pun corrections in Unsong always come in reciprocal pairs like this. So when one of the characters describes the pyramids as "solemn and huge," and is corrected with "Solomon wise; Goliath huge," you know that somewhere along the line someone is going to say something that sounds like "Goliath wise" and receive the converse correction. Trying to anticipate how and when the second pun will drop is part of the fun of reading the novel.


In my March 27 post "The New Orleans Saint," I mentioned Joan of Arc and also happened to mention February 14 (Valentine's Day) as the date the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl. Mr. Andrew left this comment on the post:

I just finished "Something Fresh" by Wodehouse last night. The main love interest woman is named Joan Valentine. I think Wodehouse meant this as a joke because Valentine obviously refers to romance, while the Joan character is a strong, independent, and daring/brave woman - and both are names of Saints.

My sister Kat Valentine has drawn a portrait of Joan of Arc and written a poem about her, both of which have been featured on this blog. So when I read this comment, I thought, Unsong style, "Joan of Arc; Kat Valentine." (I didn't notice the Wodehouse connection until I went back and read my original Joan of Arc comment.)

Knowing the rules of Unsong puns, I started waiting for the second pun to drop. After "Joan Valentine," I should be on the lookout for something like "Kat of Arc" -- or, since Kat's real name is Crystal . . . Wait a second, this is the second pun! The first one dropped over a year ago! On January 19, 2021, I posted this:

There was an LED advertising board behind the counter at the shop. I looked up at it and saw the Tricolor and the words "Made in France" -- Maid in France -- which got my attention. Then the screen changed, and I saw what it was advertising: a brand of glassware called Cristal d'Arques. "Made in France" notwithstanding, I'm pretty sure d'Arques isn't real French; but if it were, it would be a homophone of d'Arc. (Incidentally, my post on Joan of Arc was illustrated with a portrait of that saint by my sister Kat, whose given name is actually Crystal.)

So let me say now what I should have said back then: "Crystal Valentine; Jeanne d'Arc."

The many-eyed whale shows up again

Back in 2014, in the early hours of April 26, I had a dream which proved to be precognitive.

I dreamed that I was watching TV and saw an image of what I interpreted as being a whale with many eyes, though I only saw its face. It was blue in color, with a row of eyes on the left and a row of eyes on the right — perhaps eight eyes in all. It also had feelers on the sides of its mouth like a catfish. I dreamed that, after seeing this, I got on Wikipedia to do some research, trying to find out if whales with many eyes actually existed. I found information about a particular gene (with a Latin-sounding name which I no longer remember), rare but not unheard of (comparable to albinism), which manifests sometimes in whales and other animals and causes them to have several pairs of eyes. Now that I knew the name of the gene, I ran a Google image search on it and found several pictures of animals with it — several blue whales, killer whales, and other cetaceans, as well as a couple of tigers. As I did this online research, I had the feeling that I had learned about this gene once before but had forgotten about it. My reaction was, “Oh, yeah, that’s right. That gene.”

Last night, my recent interest in John Dee led me to search the archives of The Higherside Chats for his name and listen to an interview with Jason Louv called "John Dee, Enochian Magick, & the Empire of Angels." Louv discusses how the "angels" with whom John Dee and Edward Kelley interacted were quite different from the precious pink cherubs of popular imagination, and he recounts their meeting with what was supposedly God himself.

And at one point they even meet God, and God is not an old man with a white beard up in the clouds. God is a whale covered with eyes from head to toe, from the mouth of which emits a deafening sound that Dee and Kelley say is like a cave of roaring lions. And they go into it and see reality peeled back, the thirty aethyrs of reality unveiled from within the mouth of the whale. So that's a little different from the Hallmark version.

This remind me of a passage near the end of Scott Alexander's novel Unsong. One of the characters is having a dialogue with God about the problem of evil whilst pursuing the Leviathan on the ship Not A Metaphor. The passage I quote below begins with God speaking.

"I did not say, Ana Thurmond, that your world is good now. I said that Adam Kadmon, its seed, was a good seed. That it will unfold, bit by bit, ringing conclusion after conclusion from its premises, until finally its own internal logic culminates in its salvation."

"How?" asked Ana, begging, pleading, shouting.

"Come and see," said God.

Then the Leviathan wheeled around, opened its colossal maw, and engulfed the Not A Metaphor. The ship spent a single wild moment in its mouth before the monster closed its jaws and crushed them all into tiny pieces.

Like Dee and Kelley, she had to enter the mouth of on otherworldly whale in order to receive the final revelation.

Dark Maga, Dark Magus


Possible sync development here.

Sunday, March 27: I post "The New Orleans Saint"; the sync fairies are yet again drawing my attention to Joan of Arc.

Monday, March 28: I become aware of the #DarkMAGA meme.

Tuesday, March 29: John Dee pings my radar and I start reading a biography of him. Hours later, I get sync feedback.

Dark = d'Arc. I've posted on this before.

Maga (feminine of magus) means "witch" -- which is what Joan's enemies accused her of being.

According to Wikipedia, John Dee's surname comes from the Welsh word for "black." In other words, his name was John Dark. Dee is commonly referred to as a "magus."

No idea where this is going, but I'm keeping my eyes open.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The New Orleans Saint

Yesterday I received this email:

Here's a synchronicity that Wm may appreciate.  Yesterday, I saw a sign on someone's lawn that said "We love our saint" with a fleur de lys underneath it.  I don't know what the people who put up the sign meant by it, but there is definitely a connection to St. Joan. 

Trying to guess what it could have meant, I replied,

Could it have been plural, Saints? The Saints football team has a fleur-de-lys as their logo.

I know and care nothing about football and have never lived anywhere near New Orleans, and this was probably the first time in my life I have ever had occasion to refer to that team.

The next day, today, I listened to the latest episode of The Higherside Chats, "The Psyop circus, para-geopolitics, and signs of the times." Near the end, the host, Greg Carlwood, briefly mentioned that the Los Angeles Rams, whose colors are blue and yellow, won the Super Bowl on February 14, 2022, and just 10 days later those colors were suddenly everywhere. He said that he thought the Super Bowl was probably rigged and was used to send messages like that -- for instance, if he remembered correctly, the New Orleans Saints had won the Super Bowl just before Hurricane Katrina.

He hadn't remembered correctly. The Saints' only Super Bowl win to date was in 2010, five years after Katrina. So, a completely random reference to the New Orleans Saints just a day after I received that email. The synchronicity fairies are apparently trying to get my attention.

The pairing of the fleur-de-lys with the word saint is not directly connected to Saint Joan, the Maid of Old Orleans. The team takes its name from the song "When the Saints Go Marching In," and the fleur-de-lys has long been used as a symbol of New Orleans because of its French heritage.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Surely as you put it on this earth, my friends, it's gonna fall

For the past several weeks, I've been listening to the 1967 Grass Roots song "Let's Live For Today" -- moved, I guess, by the same counterintuitive "nostalgia for a more wholesome time" that had me listening to "The Bad Touch" on repeat about a year ago (as described here). A message of vapid nihilism, yes, but still a healthier sort of vapid nihilism than the 2020s variety.


I've also recently taken an interest in the astronomical and mythological theories of David Talbott -- an interest which developed out of my recent posts about the Tower card of the Tarot de Marseille. Having watched the three episodes of "Symbols of an Alien Sky" on YouTube, I checked the Thunderbolts Project channel for more in the same vein and found "Remembering the End of the World." As I was watching, I scrolled down in the comments a bit and found -- bizarrely! -- that someone had left a comment with an extensive quote from the lyrics of "Let's Live For Today."


It's a completely incongruous thing to post on this sort of video, and it coincided with my own recent interest in the song -- an interest that started before, and had absolutely nothing to do with, my interest in David Talbott. Intrigued by the coincidence, I searched the Web for more information about the song, and what came up was a list of tracks on the album "Let's Live For Today." I know nothing of the Grass Roots except that one song, so this was all new to me. The last song on the album caught my eye: "House of Stone." I looked up the lyrics.

You can build your house of brick
You can build your house of stone
But surely as you put it on
This earth my friend
Just as likely it'll fall on down

And you can build it high as a mountain
Oh, you can build it thick as a wall
But surely as you put it on
This earth my friends it's gonna fall

Did I mention that I first started watching David Talbott videos because of a comment someone left on one my posts about this image?

Friday, March 25, 2022

The red and blue jackals

Over at The Magician's Table, I discuss the Indian fable of the Blue Jackal and a possible chain of events leading to this fantastic animal's putting in an appearance in the Tarot de Marseille.

For breath as fresh as a surgical mask!

I spotted this at a convenience store in Taiwan.


Since my brain still doesn't process most Chinese automatically, only if I deliberately look at it, the first thing I noticed was the picture, which I found quite perplexing. I mean, I get why she's not wearing the mask over her mouth -- not much need for breath mints if you keep your mouth covered up! -- but why is she wearing one at all? So far, Taiwan's mask mandate doesn't extend to photos of models in breath mint ads. Is it just to show solidarity with the birdemic agenda? But this sort of letter-of-the-law loophole ("I am wearing a mask; the sign doesn't say I can't wear it as an earring!") is a pretty dodgy show of solidarity. I really don't think the marketers thought this through. They decided they needed a mask in the picture to show they're good people, but they couldn't have the mask obviating the need for the product they're advertising, so they settled on this!

Then I read the actual copy: 清新一錠,罩樣好口氣. This is a pun, taking 照樣好口氣 ("good breath as usual") and replacing the first character with the homophonous 罩 ("mask"). This punning version isn't quite grammatical Chinese, but the literal meaning would be "good breath like a mask" ("And in some face masks is there more delight / Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks"). So basically, in the copy as in the photo, they've shoehorned in a mask for no real reason.

I've tried searching the Web for the slogan to see if there was any explanation -- maybe a free pack of face masks if you buy 10 tins of mints or something -- but there's nothing. All I could find was that Mars (the company behind Eclipse) is branding itself in Taiwan as 瑪氏應援口罩族 ("Mars pro-mask generation").

I'm surprised they haven't switched to the much more breath-mint-friendly Standing With Ukraine, but that hasn't really caught on yet in Taiwan. Give it a few months.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Lightning from the Sun?

Over at The Magician's Table, I discuss the strange way lightning is depicted in the Tarot, with some insane, extremely specific synchronicities at the end.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

"Moon River" synchronicities

In my March 19 post "Meteor sync," I relate how seeing a peculiar "squiggly" meteor made me think of a similarly peculiar description of a comet I had once read. I tracked down this comet reference and found it on p. 100 of Whitley Strieber's 1997 book The Secret School. (That was the year of Hale-Bopp and Heaven's Gate, which may have influenced Strieber in his emphasis on comets.) While trying to find that passage, I also ran across a reference on p. 103 to being "covered with scorpions," which also fit in with the meteor-related cluster of synchronicities. (Read that post for details.)

On March 21, I posted "Two moons," about a dream in which I saw two full moons in the sky. I also linked to an older two-moon sync post of mine, "Synchronicity: A parallel world with two moons in a book named after a year" (August 17, 2020). In that earlier post, I had written,

Meanwhile, back in the real world, it just so happens that NASA has recently discovered a tiny asteroid that has been orbiting the earth for a few years, and the press is hyping it a "second moon" despite its diminutive size (just a few meters wide).

On March 22, reader and pen friend Debbie (Ra1119bee) left a comment on "Two moons" recounting one of her own moon-related dreams.

On July 14, 2014 I had a dream I titled; Moon River.

Here's the dream:

I recall being at this hippie like market place ( kinda like Yellow Springs ). I recall being on a bus with other people ( we were riding throughout the city like Market place ) … when all of a sudden there was a deadening silence.

I recall it felt out of the ordinary… and then sure enough we could see ( from the bus ) people scattering throughout the village like city, running everywhere.

[. . .]

I walked around and could see large billows of smoke and fire in the distance and the billows were everywhere.

[. . .]

I then began asking different people if they would help me get home. I said over and over again "Are you going NORTH? I have to go North to Clinton County where I live." I saw people getting in train boxcars traveling somewhere , but I don’t know where they were going.
 
At one point we all were looking at the sky and we saw the Moon come back ( I was excited because I felt the reason why the chaos happened was because of something having to do with the change of planet placement in the sky, and the reappearance of the Moon meant everything would get back to normal. 

The Moon began falling, coming closer and closer to Earth, however all of a sudden the Moon fell into the water..

I woke up.

When I read that, I realized that the last part -- about the moon coming closer and closer to earth and falling into the water -- was quite similar to something else I had seen while looking for the comet quote in The Secret School. In fact, it begins on p. 103, just three paragraphs after the scorpion bit. Strieber is describing something he saw in a VR helmet at the age of nine, which he later inferred was supposed to be the Permian-Triassic extinction event.

Then a huge moon began rising, a moon so large that there was the illusion that I was looking down at it and would fall into its immense, bleak surface or be impaled on its mountains. These were clearly visible. They looked craggy and brutal.

In the moon's light, large shapes took whirring flight, their wings rattling like New Year's noisemakers. They drew my eyes upward, but I could not see them clearly. The sight of that ancient moon fully risen was awesome indeed. It has been hanging in my memory ever since, glaring with yellow-golden light. It easily filled a quarter of the sky. . . .

The moon raced up the sky, going so fast that it made me feel as if I was moving instead. Trailing it, I saw another object, a silver moonlet, star-shining.

As in Debbie's dream, the moon is abnormally close to the earth. As in the NASA report referenced in my earlier two-moon post, the moon is accompanied by a much smaller object which is characterized as a second moon ("moonlet").

As Strieber's VR vision continues, his point of view changes; he is no longer on the earth but on the "moonlet" itself.

What I saw was that the whole firmament was filled by a wall of dark blue. For a moment I did not know what to make of it. I thought that I was in a huge room -- but then I realized that the "wall" was composed of water, because I could see long, wrinkled lines of waves. . . . I got the sense that I was falling from a great height. I concluded that I must be on a meteor. I assumed that it was the small silver object I had seen near the moon when I'd looked up. So I had been transported from the surface of the Earth to the surface of a small asteroid that was floating between the Earth and the moon. . . .

The planet below began to get much larger. Because of a movie I had seen, When Worlds Collide, I was well aware of the meaning of this phenomenon. This was a cosmic collision, just like what was happening on a more massive scale in the colliding galaxies. It was the end of the world, I decided.

This second moon is now characterized as a meteor, another link to my "Meteor Sync" post, and like the moon in Debbie's dream, it is falling into the water.


Debbie's mention of Yellow Springs, Ohio, also got my attention. My first thought was that it was the birthplace of Jorn Barger, the pioneering blogger, whose work I used to follow quite closely in the 1990s.

My second thought was that my earlier two-moon post had been about parallel worlds, and that back in my early teens (in Ohio, though far from Yellow Springs) my D&D friends and I had invented a setting featuring two parallel worlds connected by yellow hot springs which served as portals.

We were very into the Dark Sun campaign setting -- a world called Athas, which had ages ago been transformed by the side effects of magic into a vast desert. All the standard fantasy races (elves, dwarves, etc.) had adapted to this new setting, changing almost beyond recognition, and of course there were plenty of horrible desert monsters. (How this blasted wasteland was able to support so many enormous monsters was never quite made clear.)

The original Dark Sun handbook contained this evocative description of a boiling yellow lake.

The Lake of Golden Dreams lies on the western side of the Smoking Crown, where a thick yellowish steam constantly rises from its boiling waters. Where the yellow water is not too deep, it is possible to see that the bottom of the lake is laced with hundreds of tunnels and passageways. According to rumor, these tunnels lead to an incredible city that lies at the heart of the Smoking Crown. It is difficult to say whether there is any truth to this story, however; those who have survived the scalding waters long enough to swim into the tunnels have never returned.

We decided that what was in those tunnels was a trans-dimensional portal to another boiling yellow lake in a different world. Dune Freak Lake was on another planet, on a large subarctic island inhabited primarily by the distant descendants of Athasian creatures that had somehow managed to survive the boiling lake long enough to pass through the portal. Like fish evolving into terrestrial animals and then back into ichthyosaurs and dolphins, the inhabitants of New Athas were subarctic-adapted descendants of desert-adapted descendants of standard fantasy.


Debbie titled her dream "Moon River" -- after the song Henry Mancini wrote for the film Breakfast at Tiffany's. In my June 11, 2021 post "Synchronicity: The locusts of Joel, and the traveling man," I mentioned that when I was a child we referred to a particular sort of grasshopper as Breakfast at Tiffany's. In that same post, I quote another Strieber book: "She asked me if I was going west. I said, 'No, I'm going east,' and she said, 'Well, that's good'" -- tying in with Debbie's emphasis on directions ("Are you going NORTH? I have to go North").

How did that post begin? "The synchronicity fairies have been drawing my attention to the biblical Book of Joel recently, as I mentioned in my post on last month's lunar eclipse." I had forgotten about the moon connection.

The eclipse post mentions how Joel's locusts also appear in the Book of Revelation -- where they are introduced thus: "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" (Rev. 9:3). So, a scorpion connection, too. Just as the apocalyptic locusts come "out of the smoke," Debbie's dream features "large billows of smoke . . . and the billows were everywhere."

In Strieber's moon vision, he describes how "large shapes took whirring flight, their wings rattling like New Year's noisemakers." These sound like they could be locusts, and my June 11 post, in cataloguing the names of different grasshoppers, says that "the biggest, baddest kind, with rough sand-colored armor and chattering wings, were called Lokeys -- from locust."

Monday, March 21, 2022

Empirical evidence of "I support the current thing"


Two moons

In a dream last night, I went outside and saw two full moons in the sky. They were close together -- one was about a degree (two moon-diameters) higher in the sky than the other -- and looked exactly alike, except that the higher of the two was somewhat fainter.

I assumed that this must be some unusual optical effect, causing the illusion of a "double moon," and I seemed to remember reading somewhere that such effects can occur "when the moonlight reflects off something hard." When I thought of those words, I saw an image of a black-and-white photo of some sort of corrugated surface.

Still in the dream, I thought, "That's quite a coincidence. I was just thinking about double moons a few hours ago, and then I saw one! I should post about it." But then I realized that it wouldn't be a very interesting or believable post, since I had no way of documenting "what I was just thinking a few hours ago" and hadn't even taken a photo of the double moon. I thought I would have to come up with some reason for the latter omission -- that I had left my phone at home or something.


The day after the dream, I taught an English class for very young children. A page in the textbook had pictures of various things labeled in English: a star, a cloud, the moon, a flower, a bush. One of the girls had written "moons" under the moon picture -- only that one, even though moon is the least often pluralized noun of the lot.


"Moons?" I said. "But there's only one moon."

She replied in Chinese: "不同的國家不一樣。" -- "Different countries are different."

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Meteor sync

Earlier today I posted about meteorites at The Magician’s Table.

A few hours later, a student happened to ask me how to say “shooting star” in Chinese.

Then, at about half past midnight, I stepped outside for a few minutes and saw an extremely large meteor streak by overhead. It was a good six or seven arcminutes across at the wide end, and the strangest thing was that the path it traced was not a straight line but a squiggle, almost as if it were swimming like a fish rather than falling. I’m pretty sure it’s physically impossible for a meteor to do that, but that’s what I very clearly saw. I remember some years ago reading a description of a comet with its tail “luffing like a sail in the wind” and thinking that was completely ridiculous, but it would be an excellent way of describing what this meteor was doing. No idea what to make of it, and the timing only adds to the weirdness.

Update: I've found the luffing comet reference. It's from The Secret School by Whitley Strieber, p. 100.

A little boy is taken out of his life and made to confront a strange machine. Maybe he resists, maybe he even screams, but he looks in it, he cannot resist, first once and then many times.

He sees a glowing mass of material, pure white. Above it there is a comet, and the comet is moving. I recall the tail, which was very different from that of an ordinary comet. You could see its movement, you could see it luffing like a winded sail.

I've seen comets -- Halley's in 1986 and Hale-Bopp in 1997 -- and they don't do that. Strieber says as much when he says the luffing tail was "very different from that of an ordinary comet." Meteors don't do it, either. Strieber saw this luffing comet while wearing a VR helmet -- it wasn't real -- but I saw my squiggly meteor with my own eyes in a perfectly normal state of consciousness. It was in every other way an ordinary meteor; nothing even remotely UFO-like about it,

Update 2: Apparently meteors do sometimes squiggle. This article quotes a planetarium director saying, "I’ve seen some fireballs corkscrew before during some meteor showers." This thread also addresses the question.

I saw a zig zag meteorite in Bukuru, Northern Nigeria, when I was about 13 in 1959. That started from small to increasing swings, then went out near the horizon. For many years I puzzled about this, but rarely mentioned it, because no one would believe it. Years later I attended an astronomy lecture at college in London. I cornered the astronomer with this sighting and he said we know what this is. A flat dish shaped meteorite enters the atmosphere shallowly & flies in a circular motion that gets wider as it approaches the earth then extinguishes. Seeing this from the horizon, it appears to zigzag down. He told me that I was very very lucky to witness this meteor show, and I am glad that others have seen it too.

Update 3: When I was searching for Strieber's luffing comment reference, I found this just three pages later, describing a childhood phobia: "Many a night, my mother would carry me naked to the bathroom mirror to prove to me that I was not covered with scorpions."

Just after reading that, I checked the Secret Sun blog, and found this in one of Knowles's goofy everything-is-a-star-map posts.

In my Magician's Table post, I had referred to "the vision-inducing meteorite which served as Jacob's pillow."

Friday, March 18, 2022

Full transcript of President Utin-pay's March 16, 2022, remarks

The corporate media is only publishing selected excerpts, videos keep being deleted, and even the original on the Emlin-kray's website is apparently being blocked. So, for your reference, here is the Emlin-kray's official English transcript of President Utin-pay's remarks, from a March 16, 2022, videoconference meeting "on socioeconomic support for the constituent entities of the Ussian-ray Federation." Google being Google, I think it best to present it without comment.

Good afternoon, colleagues.

Taking part in our meeting are senior Government officials, plenipotentiary presidential envoys in the federal districts and heads of Ussian-ray regions.

We are meeting in a complicated period as our Armed Forces are conducting a special military operation in Aine-ukray and Onbass-day. I would like to remind you that at the beginning, on the morning of February 24, I publicly announced the reasons for and the main goal of Ussia-ray’s actions. It is to help our people in Onbass-day, who have been subjected to real genocide for nearly eight years in the most barbarous ways, that is, through blockade, large-scale punitive operations, terrorist attacks and constant artillery raids. Their only guilt was that they demanded basic human rights: to live according to their forefathers’ laws and traditions, to speak their native language, and to bring up their children as they want.

During these years, the Iev-kay authorities have ignored and sabotaged the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures for a peaceful settlement of the crisis and ultimately late last year openly refused to implement it.

They also started to implement plans to join NATO. Moreover, the Iev-kay authorities also announced their intention to have nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles. This was a real threat. With foreign technical support, the pro-Nazi Iev-kay regime would have obtained weapons of mass destruction in the foreseeable future and, of course, would have targeted them against Ussia-ray.

There was a network of dozens of laboratories in Aine-ukray, where military biological programmes were conducted under the guidance and with the financial support of the Pentagon, including experiments with birdemic strains, anthrax, cholera, African swine fever and other deadly diseases. Frantic attempts are being made to conceal traces of these secret programmes. However, we have grounds to assume that components of biological weapons were being created in direct proximity to Ussia-ray on the territory of Aine-ukray.

Our numerous warnings that such developments posed a direct threat to the security of Ussia-ray were rejected with open and cynical arrogance by Aine-ukray and its US and NATO patrons.

In other words, all our diplomatic efforts were fully in vain. We have been left with no peaceful alternative to settle the problems that developed through no fault of ours. In this situation, we were forced to begin this special military operation.

The movement of Ussian-ray forces against Iev-kay and other Ainian-ukray cities is not connected with a desire to occupy that country. This is not our goal, as I pointed out openly in my statement on February 24.

As for the combat tactics drafted by the Defence Ministry of Ussia-ray and the General Staff, this has fully justified itself. Our fellows – soldiers and officers – are displaying courage and heroism and are doing all they can to avoid civilian losses in Ainian-ukray cities.

This is what I would like to say for the first time: at the very start of the operation in Onbass-day, the Iev-kay authorities were offered opportunities to avoid hostilities, via different channels, to simply withdraw their troops from Onbass-day as an alternative to bloodshed. They did not want to do this. Well, this was their decision; now they will understand what is happening in reality, on the ground.

The operation is being carried out successfully, in strict conformity with the approved plan.

I must note that, encouraged by the United States and other Western countries, Aine-ukray was purposefully preparing for a scenario of force, a massacre and an ethnic cleansing in Onbass-day. A massive onslaught on Onbass-day and later Imea-cray was just a matter of time. However, our Armed Forces have shattered these plans.

Iev-kay was not just preparing for war, for aggression against Ussia-ray – it was conducting it. There were endless attempts to stage acts of subversion and organise a terrorist underground in Imea-cray. Hostilities in Onbass-day and the shelling of peaceful residential areas have continued all these years. Almost 14,000 civilians, including children have been killed over this time.

As you know, there was a missile strike at the centre of Onetsk-day on March 14. This was an overt bloody act of terror that took over 20 lives. Shelling has been ongoing during the past few days. They are striking randomly at squares with the fervor of fanatics and the exasperation of the doomed. They are acting like the Nazis did when they tried to drag as many innocent victims as they could to their graves.

But what is shocking in its extreme cynicism is not just Iev-kay’s blatant lies and statements that Ussia-ray allegedly launched this missile at Onetsk-day (they have gone as far as this), but the attitude of the so-called civilised world. The European and American press did not even notice this tragedy in Onetsk-day, as if nothing happened.

This is how they have been hypocritically looking the other way over the past eight years as mothers buried their children in Onbass-day, as elderly people were killed. This is simply moral degradation, complete de-humanisation.

It was no longer possible to tolerate this outrageous attitude towards the people of Onbass-day. To put an end to this genocide, Ussia-ray recognized the people’s republics of Onbass-day and signed treaties of friendship and mutual aid with them. Based on these treaties, the republics appealed to Ussia-ray for military aid in rebuffing the aggression. We rendered this aid because we simply could not do otherwise. We had no right to act otherwise.

I would like to emphasise this point and draw your attention to it: if our troops had acted only within the people's republics and helped them liberate their territory, it would not have been a final solution, it would not have led to peace and would not have ultimately removed the threat – to our country, this time to Ussia-ray. On the contrary, a new frontline would have been extended around Onbass-day and its borders, and shelling and provocations would have continued. In other words, this armed conflict would have continued indefinitely. It would have been fuelled by the revanchist hysteria of the Iev-kay regime, as NATO deployed its military infrastructure faster and more aggressively. In this case, we would have been faced with the fact that the attack, the offensive weapons of the alliance were already at our borders.

I will repeat – we had no alternative for self-defence, for ensuring Ussia-ray's security, to this special military operation. We will reach the goals we set. We will certainly ensure the security of Ussia-ray and our people and will never allow Aine-ukray to be a bridgehead for aggressive actions against our country.

We remain ready to discuss matters of fundamental importance to Ussia-ray’s future during the talks. This includes Aine-ukray’s status as a neutral country, and demilitarisation and denazification. Our country has done everything it could to organise and hold these talks realising that it is important to use every opportunity to save people and their lives.

But time and time again we see that the Iev-kay regime, which its Western handlers have charged with the task of creating an aggressive “anti-Ussia-ray” stance, does not care about the future of the people of Aine-ukray. They do not care that people are dying, that hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people had to flee their homes, and that a horrendous humanitarian disaster is unfolding in the cities controlled by the neo-Nazis and armed criminals who were cut loose.

Clearly, Iev-kay’s Western patrons are just pushing them to continue the bloodshed. They incessantly supply Iev-kay with weapons and intelligence, as well as other types of assistance, including military advisers and mercenaries.

They are using economic, financial, trade and other sanctions against Ussia-ray as weapons, but these sanctions have backfired in Europe and in the United States where prices of gasoline, energy and food have shot up, and jobs in the industries associated with the Ussian-ray market have been cut. So, do not shift the blame on us and do not accuse our country of everything that goes wrong in your countries.

I want ordinary Western people to hear me, too. You are being persistently told that your current difficulties are the result of Ussia-ray’s hostile actions and that you have to pay for the efforts to counter the alleged Ussian-ray threat from your own pockets. All of that is a lie.

The truth is that the problems faced by millions of people in the West are the result of many years of actions by the ruling elite of your respective countries, their mistakes, and short-sighted policies and ambitions. This elite is not thinking about how to improve the lives of their citizens in Western countries. They are obsessed with their own self-serving interests and super profits.

This can be seen in the data provided by international organisations, which clearly show that social problems, even in the leading Western countries, have exacerbated in recent years, that inequality and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, and racial and ethnic conflicts are making themselves felt. The myth of the Western welfare society, the so-called golden billion, is crumbling.

To reiterate, the whole planet is now paying for the West’s ambitions and the West’s attempts to maintain its elusive dominance by any means possible.

Imposing sanctions is the logical continuation and the distillation of the irresponsible and short-sighted policy of the US and EU countries’ governments and central banks. They themselves have driven up global inflation in recent years, and with their actions caused rising global poverty and greater inequality across the world. The question now arises – who will answer for the millions who will die of hunger in the world’s poorest countries due to growing food shortages?

Let me reiterate, the global economy and global trade as a whole have suffered a major blow, as did trust in the US dollar as the main reserve currency.

The illegitimate freezing of some of the currency reserves of the Bank of Ussia-ray marks the end of the reliability of so-called first-class assets. In fact, the US and the EU have defaulted on their obligations to Ussia-ray. Now everybody knows that financial reserves can simply be stolen. And many countries in the immediate future may begin – I am sure this is what will happen – to convert their paper and digital assets into real reserves of raw materials, land, food, gold and other real assets which will only result in more shortages in these markets.

Let me add that the seizure of foreign assets and accounts of Ussian-ray companies and individuals is also a lesson for domestic businesses that there is nothing as reliable as investing in one’s own country. I personally have said that a number of times.

We appreciate the position of those foreign companies who continue working in our country despite the brazen pressure from the US and its vassals. They are sure to find additional opportunities for growth in the future.

We also know those who cowardly betrayed their partners and forgot about their responsibility to employees and customers in Ussia-ray, rushing to earn illusory dividends from joining the anti-Ussia-ray campaign. However, unlike Western countries, we will respect property rights.

Here is what I would like to point out. We must clearly understand that a new package of sanctions and restrictions would have been imposed on us no matter what. I want to emphasise this. For the West, our military operation in Aine-ukray is just a pretext for imposing more sanctions on us. Indeed, this time they are concentrated. In the same way, the West used the referendum in Imea-cray as a pretext, which, by the way, took place on March 16, 2014, eight years ago today, when the residents of Imea-cray and Evastopol-say made the free choice to be one with their historical homeland.

To reiterate, these are just pretexts. The policy of containing and weakening Ussia-ray, including through economic isolation, a blockade, is a premeditated, long-term strategy. Western leaders are no longer hiding the fact that the sanctions are not directed against individuals or companies. Their goal is to deliver a blow to our entire economy, our social and cultural sphere, every family, and every Ussian-ray citizen.

In fact, the steps designed to make the lives of millions of people worse have all the attributes of an aggression, a war by economic, political, and informational means, and it is of a comprehensive and blatant nature. Again, the West’s top political circles do not even hesitate to talk about it openly.

The verbal tinsel of political correctness, inviolability of private property and freedom of speech was blown off overnight. Even the Olympic principles were trampled upon. They did not hesitate to settle their score through the Paralympic athletes. So much for “sport being separate from politics.”

In many Western countries, people are subjected to persecution just because they are originally from Ussia-ray. They are being denied medical care, their children are expelled from schools, parents are losing their jobs, and Ussian-ray music, culture, and literature are being banned. In its attempts to “cancel” Ussia-ray, the West tore off its mask of decency and began to act crudely showing its true colours. One cannot help but remember the anti-Semitic Nazi pogroms in Germany in the 1930s, and then pogroms perpetrated by their henchmen in many European countries that joined the Nazi aggression against our country during the Great Patriotic War.

A massive attack against Ussia-ray has also been unleashed in cyberspace. An unprecedented information campaign has been launched through global social networks and all Western media outlets, whose impartiality and independence have proved to be a mere myth. Access to information is being restricted and people are being crammed full of all sorts of fake stories, propaganda, and fabrication, or simply put, snake oil. It even got to the point where American social media companies said straight out that it was possible to post calls for the murder of Ussian-ray nationals.

We realise what kind of resources this empire of lies has at its disposal but, all the same, when confronted with truth and justice, it is helpless. Ussia-ray will never stop trying to make its position clear to the whole world. And our position is honest and open, and an increasing number of people hear, understand and share it.

I want to be as direct as possible: hostile geopolitical designs lie behind the hypocritical talk and recent actions by the so-called collective West. They have no use – simply no use – for a strong and sovereign Ussia-ray, and they will not forgive us for our independent policy or for standing up for our national interests.

We still remember how they supported separatism and terrorism by encouraging terrorists and bandits in the North Caucasus. Just like in the 1990s and the early 2000s, they want to try again to finish us off, to reduce us to nothing by turning us into a weak and dependent country, destroying our territorial integrity and dismembering Ussia-ray as they see fit. The failed then and they will fail this time.

Yes, of course, they will back the so-called fifth column, national traitors – those who make money here in our country but live over there, and “live” not in the geographical sense of the word but in their minds, in their servile mentality

I do not in the least condemn those who have villas in Miami or the French Riviera, who cannot make do without foie gras, oysters or gender freedom as they call it. That is not the problem, not at all. The problem, again, is that many of these people are, essentially, over there in their minds and not here with our people and with Ussia-ray. In their opinion – in their opinion! – it is a sign of belonging to the superior caste, the superior race. People like this would sell their own mothers just to be allowed to sit on the entry bench of the superior caste. They want to be just like them and imitate them in everything. But they forget or just completely fail to see that even if this so-called superior caste needs them, it needs them as expendable raw material to inflict maximum damage on our people.

The collective West is trying to divide our society using, to its own advantage, combat losses and the socioeconomic consequences of the sanctions, and to provoke civil unrest in Ussia-ray and use its fifth column in an attempt to achieve this goal. As I mentioned earlier, their goal is to destroy Ussia-ray.

But any nation, and even more so the Ussian-ray people, will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like an insect in their mouth, spit them onto the pavement. I am convinced that a natural and necessary self-detoxification of society like this would strengthen our country, our solidarity and cohesion and our readiness to respond to any challenge.

The so-called collective West and its fifth column are accustomed to measuring everything and everyone by their own standards. They believe that everything is for sale and everything can be bought, and therefore they think we will break down and back off. But they do not know our history and our people well enough.

Indeed, many countries around the world have long put up with living with their backs bent, obsequiously accepting all the decisions that come from their sovereign, looking up to it subserviently. This is how many countries live. Unfortunately, in Europe, as well.

But Ussia-ray will never be seen in such a miserable and humiliated situation, and the fight we are waging is the fight for our sovereignty and the future of our country and our children. We will fight for the right to be and remain Ussia-ray. The courage and fortitude of our soldiers and officers, the faithful defenders of the Fatherland, should inspire us.

Colleagues,

Clearly, the ongoing developments are drawing a line under the global dominance of Western countries in politics and the economy. Moreover, they call into question the economic model that has been imposed on the developing countries and the entire world in recent decades.

Importantly, the obsession of the United States and its proponents with the sanctions is not shared by the countries that are home to more than half of the global population. These states represent the fastest growing and the most promising portion of the global economy. That includes Ussia-ray.

Indeed, it is difficult for us at the moment. Ussian-ray financial companies, major enterprises, small and medium-sized businesses are facing unprecedented pressure.

The banking system was the first to come under sanctions, but our banks dealt with this challenge. They are working literally around the clock to make payments and settlements between individual clients and to ensure the functioning of enterprises.

The second wave of sanctions was designed to set off panic in the area of retail. According to estimates, over the past three weeks, additional demand for goods has exceeded one trillion rubles. However, our manufacturers, suppliers, transport and logistics companies did everything humanly possible to avoid major shortages in retail chains.

I would like to thank the business community and the teams at companies, banks and organisations, which are not only responding effectively to sanction-related challenges but are also laying the foundation for the continued sustainable development of our economy. I would like to make a special mention of the Government, the Bank of Ussia-ray, regional governors and regional and municipal teams. In the current tough conditions, you are carrying out your responsibilities admirably.

Obviously, the attempts to organise an economic blitzkrieg against Ussia-ray, demoralise our society and push us around have failed, and so we are sure to see attempts to bring even greater pressure to bear on our country. But we will overcome these difficulties as well. The Ussian-ray economy will adapt to the new realities. We will strengthen our sovereignty in science and technology, allocate additional resources to support agriculture, the processing industry, infrastructure, and housing, and continue developing foreign trade ties to tap into rapidly growing, dynamic international markets.

Clearly, in the new realities we will have to make deep structural changes in our economy, and I will not pretend that they will be easy or that they will not lead to a temporary increase in inflation and unemployment.

In this situation, our task is to minimise such risks. We must not just meet all the social commitments of the state but also launch new, more effective mechanisms for supporting our people and their incomes.

We will focus on protecting mothers and children and supporting families with children. We have already made a decision – you know about it – to introduce as of April 1 payments for children aged 8 through 16 in low-income families. The size of the payment will range from 50 to 100 percent of the subsistence minimum for every child. Currently the national average is up to 12,300 rubles. Thus, we will have a uniform system of support from when a mother first becomes pregnant until the child turns 17.

I am instructing the Government to oversee the operation of this system so that it quickly detects any changes in the material status of families. That is, it is necessary to make sure families start receiving state support as soon as possible if the parents lost their jobs or faced other difficult circumstances.

I also ask the Government to promptly analyse the efficacy of the measures to support those who have lost their jobs. Such measures must obviously be expanded, through the social contract mechanism, among other.

I am aware that the price hikes are a big blow to people’s incomes, and so we will take action to increase all social payments shortly including benefits and pensions, we will raise the minimum wage and the minimum subsistence level and also the wages of public-sector workers. I ask the Government to calculate the exact parameters for the increases.

To emphasise, even under the current difficult conditions we must reduce poverty and inequality by the end of the year. This issue remains quite solvable even now. I ask the Government and the regions to focus on this task. I will add that we understand that it is not only an economic issue but also one of social justice.

At present, much depends on the lead of the heads of the constituent entities of the Federation and their readiness to assume responsibility. I signed an executive order today on additional powers for heads of regions – they will be authorised to take flexible and responsive decisions to support our citizens, the economy and social policy in light of the situation on the ground. Let me remind you that we streamlined our steps in fighting the birdemic in exactly this way, making it possible to consider the situation in each region, city and village – and the situation is different everywhere.

I am instructing all the departments of federal bodies in the constituent entities of the Federation to coordinate their work with the regional authorities, and governors must establish operational centres to ensure economic development and to personally lead this work.

What is the priority here?

Private businesses must play the key role in overcoming the current problems as they can quickly rework logistics, find new suppliers and increase output of in-demand products. Supporting employment, incomes and wages and supporting the stable, balanced performance of the economy in general depend on how quickly private businesses will be able to find the right solutions and take them.

That is why we must respond to external pressure with the utmost entrepreneurial freedom and with support for business initiative.

I want the Government, law enforcement agencies and oversight authorities to continue their work on lifting unnecessary administrative and regulatory barriers. Furthermore, it is unacceptable to distract the private sector and regional authorities from addressing the most pressing tasks and burden them with all sorts of inspections and oversight procedures.

The lack of working capital and the unavailability or high cost of loans is among the key problems facing companies now, and the Central Bank was forced to take appropriate measures. In this regard, I am ordering the following steps to be taken.

First, companies that fulfill orders placed by government authorities and companies partly owned by the state should be paid for the delivered goods and services as soon as possible, and reinvest the proceeds into business. In this regard, I propose increasing the amount of advance payments under government contracts. The advance payment must amount to at least a half of the total amount of a contract, and the payment term for the delivered goods and services should be reduced to seven business days. A similar decision must also be made at the level of the constituent entities of the Federation, municipalities and companies with state participation.

Second, it is imperative to improve entrepreneurs’ ability to raise additional resources from development institutions, by which I mean expanding the Project Financing Factory’s activities (it is working well, and we know from practice that its services are in demand), providing resources for business investment plans through the Industry Development Fund (which is one of the really well-performing tools), the Bank for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, and also through regional support institutions, including guarantee funds. I hereby instruct the Government to allocate additional funds to the constituent entities of the Federation to fund these regional tools.

I want the Government and our colleagues in the regions to pay attention to the fact that the most important task is to ensure the availability of goods on the consumer market, primarily essential supplies, medications and medical products. Logistical complications and other objective problems that result in price surges must be resolved quickly. At the same time, it is imperative to rule out intervention in price regulation. The increased supply of goods and nothing else should lead to a decrease and stabilisation of prices.

Separately, I would like to address our exporters. Whenever deliveries to international markets do not run smoothly, you should send extra batches of goods to the domestic market rather than reduce your production rates. This should objectively reduce domestic prices, including those of gasoline, diesel, bitumen, metals, and other export goods. I want the Government and the Federal Antimonopoly Service, as well regional authorities, to monitor these markets at all times.

Furthermore, considering the new challenges faced by Ussia-ray, we must maintain and expand our long-term development agenda, including the implementation of all planned federal and regional projects. We must make full use of the potential of our budget system as a tool for stimulation.

As we agreed, federal funding for various projects, including construction projects, will be carried out in full. Moreover, in December we decided on allocating additional funds if construction costs went up for objective reasons.

I consider it important to note that there will be no problems with federal budget funding in the current situation. Our economy is generating adequate revenue. This means we will not have to resort to emissions. In simple terms, the Central bank will not have to print money. We have revenue – sound market revenue. The problem is not rooted in money. Let me repeat that we have the resources. The main difficulties are related to the supply of spare parts, technology and construction materials, and the need to organise the work of subcontractors. Therefore, the deadlines and the methods for implementing specific projects and project phases may be subject to change. This will require the smooth operation of government bodies and business representatives and expediting the implementation of import substitution programmes. This is an important point.

In the process, it is also important to simplify the procedure for cooperation between the regions and the federal government bodies and give the regions of the Federation more freedom in using resources and more opportunities for launching new construction projects and programmes.

Additional funding for road construction has already been allocated to the regions. I would like to ask the Government to consider an increase in funding other infrastructure facilities so work can start this year, and the possibility of building up purchases from Ussian-ray companies, for instance, with a view to upgrading public transport.

Obviously, this will be a serious additional burden on the budgets of the regions of the Ussian-ray Federation. Therefore, as we agreed, we will additionally adjust the subsidies to even out fiscal capacity. We will also use other measures for supporting regional finances. Thus, all payments on budget loans scheduled for this year will be suspended and payments on commercial loans will be replaced with budget loans wherever necessary. I would like to ask the Government to study this issue in detail and dig to the bottom of every case. Only a case-by-case approach will produce the desired effect.

In addition, the Finance Ministry will provide an additional unconditional credit line for every region. It will amount to 10 percent of total revenue with repayment no earlier than the end of this year.

We are going to maintain the same volume of infrastructure budget loans. I am instructing the Government to make arrangements for flexible management of this programme and to take account of the challenges involved in the implementation of the projects that I mentioned earlier. The regions should be able to take swift action on altering the portfolio and the contents of the projects, and focus on the ones that can be implemented as efficiently as possible in the current circumstances. If need be, we will explore the possibility of increasing the volume of infrastructure loans. This is possible and is quite feasible. In general, we will closely monitor regional finances and make additional decisions to support them, if need be.

I would like to emphasise that direct communication between all levels of government and a clear sequence of actions are of paramount importance now. The State Council and its specialised commissions have proved their effectiveness. I want the public administration commission led by Sergei Sobyanin to team up with our colleagues from the Government and to focus on problematic items on the regional agenda, to come up with the best solutions and to scale them to all Ussian-ray regions. We have gained extensive experience from combating the pandemic.

Colleagues,

Our economy, the state budget and private sector possess the necessary resources to address long-term tasks. All strategic and national goals that we have set for the period to 2030 must be achieved. The current challenges and the opportunities that they offer should mobilise us – this is what we should set our minds to in order to achieve tangible results in the interests of our people.

Clearly, we will need to fine-tune our programmes, and we welcome the initiatives coming from business circles, academics, and public associations. In this regard, I want the regions to join in organising the forum convened by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives titled, Powerful Ideas for New Times, where every Ussian-ray citizen will have a chance to present their proposals and specific projects for advancing their respective cities, regions, and our country as a whole.

To reiterate, the current developments represent a challenge for all of us. I am confident that we will come through with dignity. By working hard and working together, by supporting each other, we will overcome all challenges and emerge even stronger, as has always been the case in the thousand-year history of Ussia-ray. That is how I want you to think about this work.

Let us move on to discussing the agenda.

What is the "House of God" in the Tarot de Marseille?

In the Tarot de Marseille, the Tower card is called the House of God. Over at The Magician's Table, I discuss the possibility that that title refers not to the tower itself but to something else depicted on the card.

Monday, March 14, 2022

The Sempiternal Count recites ALL the digits of pi!

It begins . . .

1. Introduction

For a kids' show, Sesame Street occasionally delved into some pretty deep subject matter. I'm sure you remember the 1983 episode where Big Bird visits the ancient Egyptian afterlife and defies Osiris to secure justice for the damned soul of a 4,000-year-old Egyptian prince.

Damned Prince Sahu, his demon visitant, and the great god Osiris are far from being the only ancient eldritch characters to appear on the show, though. It's a little known fact that the "Count" character is based on a mysterious but very real immortal entity known as the Sempiternal Count. This strange being, as his title denotes, exists within the time-stream like us mortals -- he is not atemporally "eternal" as some suppose God to be eternal -- and yet he has always existed and always will. (Hence his portrayal as a deathless "vampire.") And just as you've seen on Sesame Street, he really does spend the bulk of his time shouting out numbers and laughing.

The Count recently agreed to take some time out of his busy schedule to discuss this unusual pastime of his. Below is a transcript of our interview, lightly edited for clarity and to remove most of the ha-ha-ha-ing.


2. Transcript

SC: Two! Six! Four! One! Ha ha ha . . .

WJT: If I may interrupt, my -- uh, is it "Lord Courtesy"? Forgive me for being a bit unclear on how to address a Count in English. I understand that you -- that Your Lordship -- enjoys a rank corresponding to that of an Earl, isn't that right?

SC: One! One false assumption! Ha ha ha . . . . As you would have realized had you thought about it, one can hardly claim noble birth who never experienced any sort of birth at all. I've always existed, which is why they call me Sempiternal. And do you know why they call me the Count?

WJT: Don't tell me it's really because you love to count things! I'd always assumed that that was --

SC: A gross oversimplification to make an ancient eldritch entity more comprehensible to the Sesame Street audience? Just so. There are only so many things around, you understand, and one has so much time to fill! No, I've hit upon a truly inexhaustible hobby, one that will keep me busy forever, and which is never boring because it is never repetitive. Surely you must have noticed that the numbers you caught me chuckling over when you came in were not in the sequence one normally uses for counting?

WJT: I was going to ask you about that.

SC: Digits of pi! I started back in the year 1742, and I've recited nearly nine billion of them so far.

WJT: Nine billion and counting! Just how many digits of pi do you intend to recite?

SC: All of them. After all, I have all the time in the world.

WJT: All of them? But pi has an infinite number of digits. If you recite them one by one, advancing one finite step at a time, you'll never reach an infinite number, even if you keep at it forever. You'll never reach the end.

SC: Two! Two false assumptions! Ha ha ha . . . . Suppose you told me you were going to recite all the months of the year, and I told you it was impossible because no matter how well you did it, you would never reach "Febtober." What would you say to that?

WJT: I suppose I would say that, since "Febtober" is not one of the months of the year, reciting all of them without ever reaching it is not only possible but to be expected.

SC: Now consider your implication that it is impossible for me to recite all the digits of pi because, no matter how many digits I recite, I will never reach the last one. But there is no "last digit" in pi any more than there is a "Febtober" in the year, so my failure to reach it is no failure at all and is in no way inconsistent with my reciting each and every one of the digits that are in pi.

WJT: Okay, maybe I worded that poorly. What I mean is that you can never recite all the digits of pi, because there are an infinite number of them, and you go through them one by one. No matter how many times you add one (or any other finite quantity), you can never reach infinity.

SC: But I don't have to reach infinity. There is no "infinitieth digit" of pi any more than there is a "last digit." I only have to recite the digits that are in pi. I don't have to reach "Febtober."

WJT: Poor wording again. I don't literally mean an "infinitieth digit." I just mean that because there are infinitely many digits, you can't recite them all.

SC: Because, although I have unlimited time, I have to recite them one by one?

WJT: Right. No process of adding up finite quantities can ever reach --

SC: Reach what? And remember that you can't say "infinity" or "the end." If I recite one digit after another a thousand times, I reach the thousandth digit. If I do it a quintillion times, I reach the quintillionth digit. Which of the digits of pi can I not reach by this process?

WJT: Well, for every digit of pi, it is true that it has a finite ordinality and thus can be reached by the iterative process of reciting consecutive digits. So you can reach each of the digits of pi -- but you can still never reach all of them.

SC: But what do you mean by that distinction? Do you mean that there may be two digits of pi such that reaching one of them by my method is inconsistent with reaching the other -- so that, while reaching either is possible, reaching both is not?

WJT: No.

SC: Or are you imagining some particular digit called "all the digits of pi" -- a close cousin to "the last digit," "the infinitieth digit," and the month of Febtober -- and saying that I cannot reach it?

WJT: No, not that, either.

SC: Let me help you. What you are saying is that, although I will recite each and every digit of pi -- that is, for every digit of pi it is true that I will eventually recite it -- I will never have recited them all. There will never come a time when I can say that my project is complete and that I have recited all the digits of pi.

WJT: Yes, that's just what I've been trying to say.

SC: Well then our disagreement is merely verbal. I never said that I will have recited all the digits of pi; I only said that I will. If that seems slightly paradoxical, such is the nature of sempiternity.

WJT: Okay, I guess we can agree that --

SC: But --

WJT: Yes?

SC: But suppose I told you that, as it happens, I have recited all the digits of pi. This task that can never be finished -- I have finished it. That's what I was doing for all those numberless eons before 1742.

WJT: But we've just agreed that that's impossible!

SC: Three! Three false assumptions! Ha ha ha . . . . We've only agreed that it is impossible, not that it always has been.

WJT: No, it is, was, and always will be impossible. No one -- past, present, or future -- can ever have recited all the digits of pi because there is no end to them.

SC: There is no end to them, quite right. But there is a beginning, isn't there? The first digit is three, the second is four, and so on.

WJT: But we're talking about finishing, not beginning. I don't see the relevance of --

SC: I recited them backwards.

WJT: You mean you started with the --

SC: No, that's just my point: I never started. I had always been reciting digits of pi in reverse order. At 10:17 a.m. on April 14, 1742, I recited the first digit of pi. Just before that, I had recited the second; before that, the third; and so on all the way back. I had always been doing it, for mahakalpas without number, until one day I finally finished.

WJT: But how could you have finished a finite time ago, if you began infinitely long ago and advanced step by finite step?

SC: I didn't begin infinitely long ago because I didn't begin at all. I have recited an infinite number of digits of pi, but each and every one of them was recited at a particular time only finitely antecedent to 10:17 a.m. on April 14, 1742. We have already discussed all this. Just reverse past and future and apply the same logic.


3. Commentary

3.1. Bidirectional sempiternity

A typical definition of sempiternity, as a technical term in philosophy, is "existence within time but infinitely into the future, as opposed to eternity, understood as existence outside time." That is to say, sempiternity is like a geometric ray, or like the ordered set of all natural numbers -- or like the decimal expression of pi. It has a single endpoint and extends infinitely in one direction only. The Count, on the other hand, is what we might call bidirectionally sempiternal, like a geometric line, the ordered set of all integers, or the decimal expression of pi preceded by its mirror image.

I think many more people are willing to countenance future-only sempiternity than the bidirectional variety. This ultimately comes down to a very fundamental assumption about time -- namely, that the past actually exists but the future does not. A sempiternal future, these people would say, is boundless but not actually infinite. No matter how long one goes on living, one will always have lived for a finite number of years. The future is only potentially infinite, in the sense that that finite number will go on increasing indefinitely. Past sempiternity, on the other hand, is taken as meaning that an infinite amount of time has already elapsed, making it an actual infinity.

There is really no arguing with primary metaphysical assumptions, so I can only state that I do not share this one. Either only the present is actual ("presentism," as defended by Edward Feser here vis-a-vis Kalām), or the whole timeline is actual ("eternalism," which is what I believe due to the relativity of simultaneity and the fact of precognition). And either way, as I have tried to argue in recent posts, there is no question of an infinite amount of time elapsing because no point on the timeline is infinitely distant from any other.

3.2. A project which is neither completable nor hopeless

One of the things that used to bother me as a Christian youth was the idea that one day everything would be finished, every goal accomplished, and then -- an eternity of stasis and boredom? I used to think of John Lennon's infamous line, "Imagine there's no heaven . . . above us, only the sky," and reinterpret it -- thinking of "heaven" as a state of eternal rest after all has been accomplished, and Lennon as proposing that there is no such final state, only infinite potential. In Mormonism, this conception of heaven as an eternal sabbath -- when one has become "a pillar in the temple . . . to go no more out" (Rev. 3:12) -- coexists uneasily with the concept of "eternal progression." I was very much a proponent of the latter, finding the former unbearable.

But what's the alternative? Working forever to reach a goal that can never be attained? This is another sort of hell, that of Sisyphus. Still, suppose Sisyphus finally succeeded in getting his boulder into a permanently stable position at the top of the hill. Then what?


This sort of thing really used to bother me a lot, which I suppose made it emotionally easier for me to transition to atheism, since eternal extinction seemed no more futile or meaningless than any of the alternatives. Why want eternal life if it meant either chasing unreachable goals forever, or else reaching all possible goals and damning oneself to an eternity of boredom? All is vanity and vexation of spirit. As They Might Be Giants put it,

Now it's over, I'm dead, and I haven't done anything that I want --
Or I'm still alive, and there's nothing I want to do

Though the Sempiternal Count's specific pastime of reciting digits of pi would be mind-numbingly boring for us humans, it does provide a model for a tolerable eternity. Each goal is reachable, so one's efforts are not in vain; and yet there will never be a time when all the goals have already been reached.

3.3. Something new can happen, even after a sempiternity


If something has never ever happened through all the countless kalpas of our existence, shouldn't it be pretty obvious by now that it's never going to happen? Thus the thesis that we have always existed would seem to lead to despair.

But the example of the Sempiternal Count shows that this reasoning is not valid. The Count had always been reciting pi backwards without ever finishing -- until one day he did finish, and moved on to the next thing. So the thesis that we have always existed is not after all incompatible with the doctrine that "it doth not yet appear what we shall be" (1 Jn. 3:2).


Note: I've been working on this post for a week or so. It's by pure coincidence that I finally finished it on Pi Day.

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