Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's a Wretched Life

The war on Christmas is over, and time has once again emerged victorious. Eventually Christmas will amass enough support that it will be celebrated year-round. Hordes of elf-hat-topped red-and-green storm-troopers will goose-step straight through the fourth of July, and successfully out-flank thanksgiving.

The nuclear family at whose table I sit as patriarch went to go see the new Hollywood film version of Les Miserables today. What a wonderful holiday movie; it should have a seat with "Its a Wonderful life" or "Miracle on 34th Street".

The original French title of Victor Hugo's 1900-page tale of compounded woe can also be translated as “The Wretched”.

The version we saw was a screen adaptation of a English language adaptation of a French musical adaptation of Hugo's tale. Hugo's tale was about events taking place from 1815 to 1832, and it was first published in 1862. The musical came out in French in 1980, and English in 1985.

It is interesting to note that the 1985 opening of the English language Les Miserables musical in London closely coincided with the 100th anniversary of the installation of the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Lady Liberty also came from France, and inscribed in its pedestal is the poem entitled “The New Colossus”, which was penned by the little-known poet Emma Lazarus. Interesting as the name Emma Lazarus may appear her father's name was actually Moses Lazarus, and I would think it would be quite interesting growing up in New York with a name like that.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
                       --- The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus 1883

To think that we so ironically paraphrased this entire poem by simply voicing our desire to go see Les Miserables in the movie theater. Of course ours is an adaptation of the poem perverted by our consumered perspective.

On the way home from the matinée we drove slowly past the final battlefields of the war on Christmas. The WalMart parking lot was eerily empty. The day's slush was turning to ice in the mercury-vapor light. Since 2012 was a leap year 365 days have passed since the WalMart parking lot stood empty, and it was open 24 hours of each of those 365 days.

We are all enlisted in the war on Christmas. I personally have been running a fifth-column campaign. I have been purposely wishing folks a “Merry Christmas”; enthusiastically to those who know I am an atheist.

“Shouldn't you be wishing people a Happy Nothing or Wonderful Winter or something?” I have been asked.

“Since you mention it I do wish you a Wonderful Winter” I would retort “But I want to wish you a merry Christ-Mas as well. I don't have to believe any of that stuff to wish you a Merry Christ-Mas do I? It is really about you and the traditional ritual celebrations you use to mark this time of year. We can all enjoy the great sales and deep-deep discounts that this holiday season graces us with.”

Unfortunately nobody this year hit me with a “You know that Jesus is the reason for the season”. I guess they gave up after last-year's Christmas skirmishes.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nibiru

Zecharia Sitchin did not make it. He had a good run, but on October 9th of 2010 he died; he was 90 years old. Would it have been too much to ask of the Anunnaku that he be given some sort of restorative draft so that he could live til 21 December 2012?  Just long enough to witness the cataclysmic collision between their home planet (Nibiru) and ours?

I guess the fact that we are all the genetically engineered work-slaves of the Anunnaku detracts from the value any one of our lives might have for them. We have really overpopulated the planet since we were created. Humans are now the most populous vertebrate species on the planet.

The Anunnaku are undoubtedly busy with the collision of their planet with Earth. Just what do you take with you when something like that is going to happen?

Though the Planet Niburu has been hidden from view all these centuries we were given fair warning that the big splat would take place. Extensive detailed records were left with the Sumerians. There were even pictures. The information was right there staring us in the face, but it took the work of Zecharia Sitchin to show us that everyone who had looked at the Sumerian artifacts before and since had gotten it wrong.

Instead of the standard “gods mundanely controlling everything and acting badly” fare of ancient civilizations the Sumerians were given a detailed account of Nibiru pinballing through the solar system, colliding several times with a planet called Tiamat, and forming various components of the solar system; One of those components was the Earth. To most researchers it just seemed like it was a standard set of mythologies, but Zech knew better, and he convinced the thousands of people who bought his book.

Some of you are probably insisting that there must be more evidence than uncovered re-translations of ancient Sumerian texts, and as luck would have it there is. Even though the super intelligent god-like Anunnaku from Nibiru might think of us as disposable constructs (as evidenced by the fact that they constructed, and then disposed of us) there are others in the universe more empathetic to our needs as sentient beings.

The super-inteligent beings who inhabit one of the planets orbiting a binary star called Zeta Reticuli in the southern Reticulum constellation (about 39 light years away) have been providing more modern updates. They implanted a transmitter into the brain of an otherwise unimpressive member of our species called Nancy Lieder.

Nancy receives regular transmissions from the “Zetas”. She also meets with all sorts of other interesting aliens. Unfortunately the transmissions must sometimes have a bit of static in them. Nancy originally predicted that the Nibiru cataclysm would take place in 2003. Now she knows that it takes place tomorrow, on 21 December 2012. This coincides with the Mayan calander stuff, and the winter solstice, and Stonehenge has something to do with it I’m sure.

I really would go out and sit in a lounge chair sipping iced tea to welcome our uninspiring super-intelligent creator’s planet, but it is just too darn cold outside here. This morning it was 0F (like -18C) outside.

They are just going to have to start the cataclysm without me.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Five Stages

It is unnerving how precisely psychological grief follows Kubler-Ross’s five stage process. Sure there are people that get stuck in some stage or another, but those who successfully move to acceptance usually go through the previous four stages in their prescribed order. Acceptance itself is not a perfect state, but it does provide the appearance of some temporary balance. Only people who have never experienced a great loss in their lives think that acceptance is the end to healing, but if they live long enough they will have the opportunity to learn otherwise.

Most people are not intimately affected by the Sandy Hook massacre; I’m certainly not. The little kids who were gunned down would likely have lived to adulthood without ever interacting with me. I’d likely never meet their parents, and if I did I would probably never know their kids ever went to Sandy Hook Elementary.

The size of the massacre was not enough to cause a great disturbance in the force either. If the averages played out 80 kids in the US under the age of five died on December 14th; an estimated 19,000 died in Africa.

Yet despite the myriad of reasons to minimize, or even ignore, the Sandy Hook Massacre many people –myself included- are reacting to this as if it was a personal tragedy. This is both unworthy and commendable: unworthy because there are actual people suffering very significant loss, and they are not me; commendable because empathy is rarely misplaced.

So I am ambiguous about finding myself force-marched through the stages of grief, but at least I know what’s coming.

The Kubler-Ross stages of grief are:

   1) Denial and Isolation
   2) Anger
   3) Bargaining
   4) Depression
   5) Acceptance


   1)  I personally would prefer to just go through the grieving process alone. It is unseemly and best handled without anyone else’s input. Besides, as I pointed out earlier, there really is no reason why I should be going through a grieving process for those kids. There is really nothing to grieve about for me. In fact, when I really think about it, this is just the same as any news story, and I’m perfectly OK.

 I’ll just listen to some happy music. Nothing really is wrong. I just want to be alone.

   2)  But how could that a**hole even think about doing something like that. This is what is wrong with society these days. Too many a**holes!

 Just look at the way this is being spun. How can people say things like “We take god out of the schools and the Devil strolls in” or “20 kids get an early Christmas present: they get to meet Jesus.” Somehow my atheism is to blame for this massacre.

Just yesterday someone messaged me with a: “People like you make me so f**king angry when things like this happen.

To which I replied snarkily: “Well that’s a lot better than angry with no f**king involved.

Prety much everyone is an a**hole aren’t they. They don’t want the right kind of gun control, or they balk at effective school security, or they are paying too much attention to the shooter, or whatever; they are just paving the way for something like this to happen again.

   3) But can't something substantive come from this loss.

 It is a fact that the ready availability of his mother’s guns allowed this to take place the way it did. On the other hand the firearms were stolen after the owner was killed, and many of the recommended national gun control measures are less stringent than what is in place in Connecticut.

 Maybe a solution lies in providing better treatment for our mentally ill children. Of course the over-prescription of psychiatric drugs is already a serious epidemic in the US.

   4)To be perfectly honest I have no idea what to do. Maybe these things will just happen. I can’t really protect my kids from the many varieties of violence in my society.

 Eventually we all have to die, and we can only hope that the road getting there is not too rocky.

   5) However, before we die there is work to do. Life goes on, and it is genuinely good to be changed by tragedy. Hopefully even people like me will be a little more comfortable at expressing empathy after an exercise like this.

 There are many meaningful conversations that should lead to substantive change.

If we are still talking after stage 2 we can have those conversations.




Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reflections on violence

After yesterday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary I took a full moment of silence in reflection. It felt right so I took another. I reflected on confusion, and anger, terror, and loss. I reflected on kids, and vulnerability, and innocence.

Reflect too much and you begin to resemble a mirror. I strolled into the bathroom while the radio continued to play out incomplete and conflicting reports, and I stared into a real mirror to see how reflection is done right.

How many lifetimes-worth of fear are ticking off while parents struggle to find out if their child was in the sobbing mass who escaped Adam Lanza’s killing spree? What horrible end to that fear comes to those parents whose child did not make it out? I tried to reflect on what that would mean in my life, with AOD or AYD, but the mirror's reflection of me was blurry. I could wipe a moment of clarity from my eyes, but the lack of focus would rapidly return.

When Americans target other Americans they often target children. When we take the foreign 9/11 attack out of the top three terrorist attacks in the US the other two have an enormous child body count.

Timothy McVeigh parked his truckload of explosives right under the Murrah building’s daycare center. 19 kids under the age of 6 were killed.

Andrew Keogh placed his rough explosive charges all around the Bath consolidated school. 38 children between the ages of 7 and 11 were killed despite the fact that much of the explosive did not detonate.

The shocking enormity of these wholesale massacres may try to overshadow the retail killing of children in the US, but the sheer regularity of “unconnected” killings has grown their raw statistics so large they should block out the sun. When was the last time a year went by without a handful of reports of some adult violently ending the lives of a couple kids?

You know the drumbeat of this endless march; each beat another grisly headline: a mother drowns her kids, a father shoots his whole family, Cassie Anthony, a naked child’s body is found in a roadside ditch... The mass killings like Bath or Sandy Hook are just the occasional cymbal crash or “shave and a haircut”.

There is an argument to be made that negligence is a type of violence against kids. If we look at the numbers of kids killed one-at-a-time by negligent caregivers not a day goes by without the dispassionate numbers growing.

Including the act of negligence does more than simply swell the already too big numbers; it provides a way that I can see myself as part of a solution.

When the talk is about gunning children down in a school the very fact that I cannot imagine someone choosing to do this prevents me from picturing myself in the solution. When the talk is about a crazed father burning his family alive in their trailer I look at AOD or AYD, and I cannot imagine someone choosing to do that. However, when I ask myself if I have neglected my kids today I always realize that there is enough time to give them one more hug; one more word of encouragement.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Disco Cancer

I just heard about a new super cancer treatment. It is amazingly more effective than conventional treatments, and has zero side effects. Yesterday I heard of one as well. Did you know marijuana cures cancer? So does Sour sop, and baking soda. I’m not sure how anyone conducted cancer research before the advent of facebook.

Treatment for cancers has improved dramatically in the last 40 years. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) is one of the cancers that has responded quite well to early advances in chemotherapy. In 1950 nearly all children with ALL died. By 1980 there was an over 70% 5-year survival rate. Continuing advances have increased the survival numbers, and even cautiously optimistic researchers are suggesting that a 100% cure rate may soon be possible for childhood ALL patients. The high cure rate would obviously be dependent on competent diagnosis and responsible treatment.

There are so many cancer treatments that are 100 times as effective as conventional treatments that we really should have hit that 100% cure rate for ALL by now. According to my facebook feed we just need to unhook those kids from chemo, and hand them a fatty. If conventional treatments are leaving 3 patients out of 10 uncured then whatever is making the rounds on the internet this week should leave only 3 out of 1000 uncured. That is a 99.7% cure rate, and that is pretty darn close to 100%.

What is apparently standing in the way of the medical realization that the world is brimming with natural safe and effective therapies is that big pharma, or big government, or some big-something organization is conspiring to prevent these cancer patients from getting the low-cost effective therapy they need. They are all in this: the drug companies, the cancer researchers, the politicians, the court system…everyone but the people passing on vital information through facebook.

Just this past week a young girl who had been diagnosed with ALL was saved from conventional cancer therapy. Her parents spirited her away to Mexico where she could get real treatment. The conventional doctors said she was in remission, but can you really believe them? Knowing what truth they are keeping from you? What lies they are feeding you to protect their jobs and investments? I bet you can find clues to their conspiracy by doing something like staring at the new 20-dolar bill and slightly crossing your eyes; the big conspiracies often slip up by publishing clues on common objects.

In 1979 the 5-year cure rate for ALL had not yet hit 70%, but Chad Green was one of the luck few kids who was in remission from ALL. Chad’s parents had received information attesting to the efficacy of a metabolic therapy (MT) that included a compound called vitamin B-17 (aka Laetrile). They decided to start Chad on MT.  Chad developed symptoms of cyanide poisoning, which was not surprising because the apricot pit extract that was B-17 contained cyanide. Chad’s parents were sued for custody, and Chad was put back on conventional chemotherapy. In order to save Chad from conventional therapy his parents spirited him away to Mexico for continued MT. Seven months later Chad was dead from possible cyanide poisoning.

Treating kids for ALL is not a gentle affair. When Emily Bracamontes appeared on the TODAY show and Good Morning America with her mother Norma she was wearing a hot-pink hat that had a cartoon face and sequins sewn onto it. The hat covered the hair loss her ALL treatment had caused. Emily also had a bandaged stump where before her chemotherapy she had a right arm. Emily, like Chad, was in remission. The path through treatment to remission had been paved with torment and agony.

In the 1970s the battle for MT was taken to the courts. The embattled proponents of B-17 found enough money to successfully sue to make their product legal in 28 states. Tens of thousands of people received MT. In 1980 a study of 178 possibly terminal patients (for some an effective conventional cure was not commercially available) was conducted. Not one patient was cured with B-17. The only clinical effect of B-17 was to cause alarmingly high –almost toxic- levels of cyanide to develop in the patients.

Slowly the use of B-17 disappeared from the American cancer therapy landscape. However, you can still buy it on the internet under the name Vitamin B17 or Amygdalin. MT and related therapies are also still available in Mexican clinics. Is Emily trading conventional therapy for a disproven therapy from the age of Disco?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Being and Nothingness

There has got to be room for stuff.

I have been told that I own too much stuff; although the word used for stuff rhymed with “IT”. The “too much” judgment perhaps came from the mistaken idea that the IT took up too much room, but that cannot be the case since there is nothing that can take up more room than it does. In other words there is at least a one-to-one mapping of IT to the nothing it sits in.

“On voit que, pour arriver à la solution de ces deux questions, il fallait d'abord bien connaître l'analyse et la nature du corps susceptible de fermenter, et les produits de la fermentation ; car rien ne se crée, ni dans les opérations de l'art, ni dans celles de la nature, et l'on peut poser en principe que, dans toute opération, il y a une égale quantité de matière avant et après l'opération ; que la qualité et la quantité des principes est la même, et qu'il n'y a que des changements, des modifications.” -- Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier

Matter, or stuff, can be converted to other assemblies of matter, but it stays matter. The famous E=MC^2 of the general theory of relativity states that it is possible to convert matter to energy (and back again), but that refinement to Lavoiser’s law of conservation of matter did not become clear till Antoine’s head and body had been separated for a over a century. Antoine birthed the discipline of chemistry by conjecturing that every single type of stuff is created by rearranging elemental building blocks.

Antoine shot down the idea that there was an elemental phlogiston that is destroyed when things burn. Instead the transformations seen in fire are the result of interacting measurable and postulated attributes assigned to the components of existence differentiated by having attributes from the nothing they exist in. In this model existence and nothingness themselves are attributes of being.

This idea, that the nothing needed for the context of existence is an attribute of being, is a basic concept of our understanding of any thing, and by extension hints at an underlying one-ness behind every thing. This, of course, has not gone unnoticed.

"Oh Sariputra, form does not differ from the void, and the void does not differ from form. Form is void and void is form” -- Hsuen Tsang

However, the idea that the space for stuff cannot be separated from the stuff itself predated the discovery that most of the stuff we know is void. At first gasses were separated into concentrated and dilute quantities, and pressure on the containers of diluted gas was found to be proportional to the concentration of the gas outside the diluted gas container. The attribute of the gas that was concentrated was described as being comprised of particulate molecules. The material the molecules moved through, and that which the gas was diluted by when molecules were concentrated out, was vacuum.

Is it proper to call vacuum a material? Is it possible to concentrate void? Can we have areas of space where there is more void than form?

The substance we have arguably the most intimate experience with –air- is mostly void. That is one reason why it is so much easier to put stuff into a room that has mostly air in it rather than one containing boxes of more solid material. Solids contain less void. So far from being synonymous, or void being an attribute of matter, it appears as if matter is an attribute of void.

When humans stepped into space (I like the solid metaphor of the astronaut, but it is more historically correct here to think of some abstract “stepping into space”) they encountered a seemingly infinite void that swallowed entire galaxies, and diluted what we know of as matter into unimaginable levels of vacuum. And space was very cold.

I have looked out into the fragile distance of oceans. Waves near and far continually obstruct an even farther horizon. It is as infinite an expanse as I am capable of imagining without coffee, and when I stand on its shore I can see its terminus at my feet.

Ex nihilo nihil fit

When humans began dissecting the atom they found the scale of the void around them increased. Form retreated into the void, and only after incredible increases in the resolution of our observations were we able to see it. There is was hiding in 0.00000001% of what we thought was there. The void was 100% of the universe. It was 100.0% of the universe. It was 100.00% of the universe. It was only after we could determine that 99.99999999% of every atom was void that we could see where the stuff was that for millennia was all we could see.

It is as if we were all we knew existed till we realized we were hardly there at all.



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chuck Norris's Hobby

You are entitled to your own opinions, but only Chuck Norris is entitled to his own facts.”

I have lots of hobbies. Many of them involve doing things alone, like looking into the night sky and imagining the extent of everything. Some involve other people, and some of those are my favorites.

There is a company called Hobby Lobby that purportedly sells items necessary for all sorts of hobbies. Looking at their online items it appears as if their idea of "all sorts of hobbies" involve lots of silk flowers, glitter, and yarn. These are not things that I buy for any of my hobbies.

I expect that Hobby Lobby does sell Super Glue. Cyanoacrylate (CA) glues are wonderful playthings. There is a company called Hobby Lobby International which sells large containers (and by large I mean one full fluid ounce in volume) of CA glue. This company is not connected with the Hobby Lobby craft stores.

The Hobby Lobby craft stores do not sell important hobby items like microcontroller units or ammonium perchlorate.  I have a sneaking feeling that they may not consider hobbies requiring items like these as being proper hobbies. For some other hobbies they are much more direct about their condemnation.

Hobby Lobby refuses to sell shot glasses. They apparently won’t allow their store locations to be sold to liquor stores or allow “backhauling” of beer shipments.

They also do not think that any money they spend should go to healthcare options that pay for contraceptives.

Hobby Lobby’s owners apparently frown on many of the really good hobbies. They have even gone to court to fight against the possibility that any money they have touched might be spent by anyone on hobbies they disapprove of.

A federal judge has recently ruled that Hobby Lobby's religious liberties have not been violated by requiring Hobby Lobby to provide heath care benefits for its 13,240 employees.

I’ve read several articles on the subject, and none of them have mentioned the outstanding contraceptive-free healthcare benefits that Hobby Lobby is currently offering their employees. The articles tend only to pontificate on religious liberty and the millions of dollars in fines Hobby Lobby will have to start paying in a few weeks.

A more jaded researcher might suspect that they are not currently offering a healthcare package that is much better than what they will be required to provide under Obamacare.  I'm sure they must..I mean in order to really have the moral high ground they must be offering something that is gold-plated awesome. 

I searched the Hobby Lobby webpage to find out more about the amazing contraceptive-free healthcare that their employees will not have once they switch to the new mandated plans. I found extensive information about their missionary activities. I found out that they were closed on Sundays, and did not use barcodes in their stores. I found out that their mission statement included the statement: “ Providing a return on the owners' investment, sharing the Lord's blessings with our employees, and investing in our community.” Perhaps “the Lord’s blessings” is the name of a gold-plated healthcare plan.

The fact that Hobby Lobby is being beaten up by the big bad Obamacare is more important than the healthcare of their employees now, in the past, or anytime in the future.

Those who can afford it get themselves a bodyguard when they are in danger of getting beaten up, and who would make a better bodyguard than Chuck Norris?

Chuck is getting a little long in the tooth these days –he will be 73 next March- and he is not able to take on big bad healthcare by himself. He wants your help to “choke the life out of Obamacare”.

“There’s no middle ground in this fight. Citizens and employers shouldn’t be forced to choose between obeying the law and honoring the Sixth Commandment.” – Chuck Norris

But Chuck says he is not only protecting good Christian Americans like Hobby Lobby, he is also protecting people like you. Apparently, when people think that they can suddenly get healthcare for free, they will swarm healthcare providers and cause costs to skyrocket. He points out that Canadians and Europeans already swarm to America to get our better healthcare because their countries are foolish enough to give it away for free.

According to Aaron E. Carroll, M.D., M.S. of the AARP there are some rich Canadian folks who travel to the US for procedures, “But for the vast, vast majority of people, that’s not happening.” Some people even say there is a problem with Americans flocking to Canada for affordable healthcare.

However, Chuck says that the Canadians are flocking to the US, and are you going to argue with Chuck Norris?

Chuck knew this was going to be a problem. Before the election he and his lovely wife Gena pleaded with America to “preserve for our children this last best hope for man on earth”.  By "last best hope" they meant Mitt Romney.

Gena and Chuck identify this plea as the words of Ronald Reagan, and they quote him further as warning that: “we will sentence them to take the first step into 1,000 years of darkness," Ronald said those things in 1964 while promoting the candidacy of Barry Goldwater so we should be a good ways into that 1,000 years of Darkness by now. It is interesting to note that Ronald’s own two terms as POTUS comprise 0.8% of that darkness.

However, Chuck said the “1,000 years of darkness” prophesy really applied to the responsibility to vote for Mitt Romney in 2012, and are you going to argue with Chuck Norris?

I must admit that I had to look up what the sixth commandment was when I read Chuck's essay on choking the life out of Obamacare. I bet some of you had to also.

It is embarrassing because it is such a popular commandment that it can be either: “Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery” or “Thou Shall Not Kill”, depending on who you ask.

It is interesting to link contraception to adultery. I suspect that adultery is not a hobby that Hobby Lobby would condone. Adultery is usually described as having sex with someone who is not your spouse, and does not necessarily have anything to do with contraceptive use. Chuck certainly did not use contraceptives when he and Johanna DeCioli were at a drive-in movie conceiving Dina a few miles away from the apartment Chuck and his then wife Dianne Holechek lived in.

However, Chuck says that contraception violates the sixth commandment, and are you really going to argue with Chuck Norris?

Chuck has a blog over at WorldNetDaily where he is much more active than I am here. Looking over old posts by Chuck one can see that he has personal facts about all sorts of things.

He really needs to find a new Hobby.

I bet he knows some folks who can help with that.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

gnomon twins

The word “gnomon” is apparently pronounced: “No-Men”. For years I have been  pronouncing it “No-Mon”; sometimes affecting a cheesy faux-Jamaican accent while saying it.

  Sanka Coffie:       Hey Derice! Ya dead?
  Derice Bannock:  No mon, I'm not dead.
        -- From the 1993 Disney movie “Cool Runnings” 

The gnomon is the sticking up part of a sundial. It is movement of the shadow of the gnomon along the sun-dial that one uses to tell time.

Sundials are not the simplest of time-telling devices. One can be tricked into believing that they are by comparing one to a wristwatch. The wristwatch has all sorts of moving parts where the sundial just has a few numbers on a disk, and a stick. The stick is the gnomon (pronounced “no men”) .

The moving parts for a sundial are the rest of the universe. This happens to be a very complex mechanism.

The length of an effective gnomon is determined by the shadow it casts at noon on the summer solstice. This shadow is almost non-existent. The winter solstice –or goru in the north- casts the longest noontime gnomon shadow.

This year’s goru is supposed to be our last. Though I have been told that the end-of-the world has been predicted with amazing accuracy it has only been resolved to a single 24-hour period. Important details like what hour or how the international dateline affects the prediction have not been reveled.

And how will the world end? It cannot be a simple series of earthquakes and fires as those are parts of the world’s existence that will have to go in order for the world to really end. Will the world go “pop”? Will the world fade in-and-out while a scratchy soundtrack goes “whschnzzzz-whschzzzzzz-whschzzzzzz”? I have seen cut rate movies use this as a special effect for teleportation devices, and sometimes they don’t work right. I have seen the same thing used in the original Star-Trek series, but with a slightly different sound effect. Will we find ourselves confronted by our evil twins from another dimension? Apparently that sometimes happens when a teleportation device malfunctions.

If this is the way the world ends I hope my twin has flamboyant facial hair and fashion accessories like the Star-Trek extra-dimentional twins had.

I will call the twins no-men and no-women.