A Thought for the Day
The undeniable truth that humankind stands on the brink of mass collective suicide ought to elicit the most stalwart and thoroughgoing assessment of how to avoid such an eventuality, unless of course one posits that people want to murder everybody on our otherwise fair planet, including themselves; altogether, this represents an argument that must first start by stating the blindingly obvious point that thermonuclear weapons are far and away the most likely vector for humanity’s removing itself from Earth’s future and second continue by wrestling with the reality of the nuclear age’s inception seventy-two years ago this week in the then horrific, but now barely noticeable, incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: after all, since solving any problem that one does not fully comprehend is at best a matter of unlikely luck and at worst impossible, to begin planning for survival instead of immolation, we must acknowledge the irrefutable fact that the entire edifice and unfolding of the Modern Nuclear Project occurred by design as a conscious process in which the plutocrats in charge both sought power in the form of an ultimate threat and believed that they could lock in a profitable balance statement for their ilk more or less for eternity, or at least until they led the way to the murder of every man, woman, and child alive rather than face a future in which their wealth and hegemony might no longer hold sway.
This Day in History
Today of late promotes the celebration of Happiness Happens Day; in the annals of science and the awareness of the cosmos four hundred forty-one years ago, masons and builders set down the cornerstone for Tycho Brahe’s planned observatory, Uraniborg, on the island of Hven, roughly halfway between Sweden and Denmark; three hundred seventy years ahead of today, en route to the full conquest of Confederated Ireland, English forces won out over Irish partisans on this date in the Battle of Dungan’s Hill; three hundred eight years prior to the present pass, a young priest from Brazil, Bartolomeu de Gusmao, demonstrated to the King of Portugal in Lisbon the uplifting potential of the world’s first hot air balloon; eighty-four years hence, in 1793, to the North and West in Lyon, locals rose up against the erstwhile revolutionary National Convention in Paris; a quarter century beyond that, across the English Channel in 1818, the young John Keats returned from a walking tour of Scotland with signs of the tuberculosis that would eventually lay him low; exactly fifty-two years later, in 1870, back toward the center of Europe, the citizens of Ploesti rebelled against the newly appointed Prince Carol whom the Austrians designated Romania’s leader; half a dozen years subsequent to that moment, in 1876, across the ocean in America, Thomas Edison received a patent for his mimeograph device; another three years onward from that, in 1879, in nearby Mexico, the baby boy was busy being born who would grow up as Emiliano Zapata, and another male infant bounced into the world in the U.S. whom fate had designated as the drinker Bob Smith, a founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, while back in Europe, the German philosopher and theistic thinker Immanuel Fichte breathed his last; another six years in the direction of today, in 1885, as many as a million and a half mourners, or more, gathered in New York City to commemorate the passing of Ulysses S. Grant; sixteen years further along time’s arc, in 1901, a male child shouted out who would mature as the estimable thinker and ‘father of matters nuclear,’ Ernest Lawrence; a mere year more in today’s direction, in 1902, another baby boy came along who would also become a major thinker in the realm of the physics of the atom and the applications of such science, in the person of Paul Dirac, while back in the United States, St. Paul Minnesota’s shoe workers for the first time elected a Black man, Charles James, as their leader; an addition three hundred sixty-five days forward in space and time, in 1903, farther to the West in Colorado, the Cripple Creek Miner’s Strike began; a half decade yet later on, in 1908, the Wright Brothers gave their first public demonstration of a heavier-than-air flying machine in Le Mans, France; ninety-five years back, across the ocean in New York City, a baby girl entered the world in standard fashion who would end up the historian of reaction and privilege, Gertrude Himmelfarb, a perfect outcome from the perspective of her White Russian parents; seven years thereafter, in 1929, in Europe once again, the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin departed on its round the world journey; seven hundred thirty days subsequently, in 1931, an English baby boy was born who would grow up as the redoubtable mathematician, physicist, and philosopher, Roger Penrose; another year on time’s path, in 1932, in the United States once more, a male child first looked round him would grow up as the country crooner and grassroots lyricist, Mel Tillis; a thousand four hundred and thirty-one days past that musical conjunction, in 1936, a different sort of grassroots cultural passage occurred with the death ofMourning Dove, best known for her novel Cogewea, the Half-Blood: A Depiction of the Great Montana Cattle Range; a further four years farther along, in 1940, the Nazi commander Wilhelm Keitel put his signature on Aufbau Ost, the protocols for the military buildup in preparation for the invasion of the Soviet Union through Ukraine; exactly two years in the future from that, in 1942, around the globe in India, Mahatma Gandhi’s insistence on complete independence resulted in the formation of a Quit India Movement that called for total British withdrawal; a thousand ninety-six days henceforth, in 1945, Russian forces declared war on Japan—as requested by the U.S. prior to the success of the Trinity Test—and prepared to invade Manchuria, the English and the French and the Americans and the Soviets all signed off on the London Charter, which specified the parameters of the upcoming Nuremberg trials, and Harry Truman put his signature on the United Nations Charter; another year onward along the temporal arrow’s flight, in 1946, the Convair B-36, the largest propeller plane ever built, flew its maiden voyage, on the way to not quite a decade and a half of expensive production of the only plane whose sole purpose was the delivery of nuclear warheads; six years afterward, in 1952, across the Atlantic in Norway, a baby boy opened his eyes who would rise as the professor of comparative religion and philosophy, Jostein Gaarder, whose magical novel Sophie’s World, would sell over forty million copies; a further thousand four hundred and sixty one days more on time’s inexorable march, in 1956, to the South and West in Belgium, a colliery fire trapped over two hundred fifty miners underground who, by the time that rescuers reached them a fortnight later, were “all corpses” to profit; seven years precisely past that point, in 1963, fifteen criminal collaborators in England staged “the great train robbery” of a Glasgow to London Mail express; another two years yet nearer to the present pass, in 1965, the brilliant and inventive storyteller, Shirley Jackson, heavily medicated, died of heart failure in her sleep; an extra seven hundred thirty days en route to the here and now, in 1967,Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia banded together as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations; six years still later, in 1973, to the North and East in Japan, the Republic of Korea democracy advocate, Dae-Jung Kim, fell into the hands of would-be assassins whose plans to drop the hapless politician into the sea with weights attached to his feet the close pursuit of Japanese
authorities foiled; the very next year, in 1974, around the world in the U.S.A., President Richard Nixon followed the advice of his C.I.A. confidante George Herbert Walker Bush and resigned his office; exactly a dozen years even closer to the current context, in 1986, the sublime genius of Spike Lee oversaw the release of his first mass market feature film, She’s Gotta Have It; a further eight years on the way to today, in 1994, Cesar Chavez posthumously received a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the first Hispanic to gain this honor, for his life’s labor of organizing agricultural workers; fourteen years hence, in 2008, the opening ceremonies transpired in China’s first hosting of the quadrennial Olympic Gamers; four years still more proximate to the present point in space and time, the hundred one year old German filmmaker Kurt Maetzig lived out his final frame.
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Interesting People Places Things of Note
A fascinating Edge read from a fascinating thinker: “The superintelligence concludes that non-existence is in the own best interest of all future self-conscious beings on this planet. Empirically, it knows that naturally evolved biological creatures are unable to realize this fact because of their firmly anchored existence bias. The superintelligence decides to act benevolently.”
General Media & ‘Intellectual Property’ Issues
A Columbia Journalism Review post that looks at rivalries and competition among media companies: “In May, the Maryland-based Sinclair announced its $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media Co., which would expand its reach to major markets including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The deal, Politico’s Margaret Harding McGill and John Hendel report, would not be possible if not for a decision by Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to revive a decades-old regulatory loophole that will keep Sinclair from vastly exceeding federal limits on media ownership. By adding 42 Tribune stations to the 173 it already owns, Sinclair will be in 72 percent of American homes, a number that would far exceed the federal limit on media ownership if not for Pai’s action.”
A World Socialist Web Site glimpse at an alarming result from scrutinizing America’s favorite pastime: “This latest study involved 202 brains from men who played football at the high school, college, or professional level. Of the 202 total players, 87 percent were found to have some degree of CTE. Aside from 110 of 111 NFL players, 48 of 53 college players and three of 14 high school players had CTE.”
General Past & Present Issues
An Aeon profile of a psychological technology that has been underutilized and demonized for too long: “Psychedelic drugs are making a psychiatric comeback. After a lull of half a century, researchers are once again investigating the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin (‘magic mushrooms’) and LSD. It turns out that the hippies were on to something. There’s mounting evidence that psychedelic experiences can be genuinely transformative, especially for people suffering from intractable anxiety, depression and addiction. ‘It is simply unprecedented in psychiatry that a single dose of a medicine produces these kinds of dramatic and enduring results,’ Stephen Ross, the clinical director of the NYU Langone Center of Excellence on Addiction, told Scientific American in 2016.”