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Posts Tagged ‘John Dee

“The more we claim to discriminate between cultures and customs as good and bad, the more completely do we identify ourselves with those we would condemn”*…

 

blog_cultural_distance_scotch_tape_black_white

A new paper, “Coming Apart? Cultural Distances in the United States over Time” aims to see if people of different races, genders, and incomes have become more culturally distant from each other over the past few decades…

The authors use a simple metric for this: how easy is it to predict who you are? For example, if I know your five favorite TV shows, how well does that predict whether you’re male or black or high income? If different groups watched similar shows in the past but now they all watch different shows, this kind of prediction becomes more accurate because we’re moving apart in our tastes. But it turns out we aren’t. The basic conclusion of the paper is that nothing much has happened:

blog_cultural_distance_time

For the most part, these lines are pretty flat. For example, take a look at the red line in the top left panel. It represents the consumption pattern of rich vs. poor, and it’s around 0.9. This means that the rich and poor are very different in the products they buy, but also that they’ve always been very different. The size of the difference, or “cultural distance,” is about the same as it’s always been…

The biggest changes have been in gender issues, party affiliation, religion, and confidence in institutions. This isn’t surprising, nor is the fact that the divergences have been relatively large, since ideology is self-selected. The increasing political polarization of Americans has been a topic of endless discussion over the past decade, and it’s a real thing.

[And] on a less serious side, here are the products [see chart at the head of this post] that most distinguish whether or not you’re white…

Read on for more detail on the ways in which “We’re About as Different From Each Other As We’ve Always Been.”

C.f. also: “What we buy can be used to predict our politics, race or education — sometimes with more than 90 percent accuracy.”

* “The more we claim to discriminate between cultures and customs as good and bad, the more completely do we identify ourselves with those we would condemn. By refusing to consider as human those who seem to us to be the most “savage” or “barbarous” of their representatives, we merely adopt one of their own characteristic attitudes. The barbarian is, first and foremost, the man who believes in barbarism.”  ― Claude Lévi-Strauss, Race et histoire

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As we note that what’s true latitudinally is arguably also true through time, we might send magical birthday greetings to John Dee, the  mathematician, astronomer, and geographer who was a consultant to Elizabeth I– and who was born on this date in 1527. Dee was a translator of Euclid, and a friend of both Gerardus Mercator and Tycho Brahe; he revolutionized navigation by applying geometry; and he coined the word “Brittannia” and the phrase “British Empire.”  He had a tremendous impact on architecture and theater– and was the model for Shakespeare’s Prospero.

“So how come such a significant philosopher– one of very few in a country then considered an intellectual backwater– barely features in British history books?  Because of his notorious links with magic” (observed BBC’s Discover).  Dee was indeed involved (most heavily, toward the end of his life) in the Hermetic Arts: alchemy, astrology, divination, Hermetic philosophy and Rosicrucianism (the Protestant answer to the Jesuits, which Dee founded).  Perhaps most (in)famously, Dee put a hex on the Spanish Armada, a spell widely credited at the time for the misfortunes that befell the Iberian fleet (as readers may recall).

In a way that presaged Isaac Newton, Dee’s work spanned the world’s of science and magic at just the point that those world’s began to separate.

220px-John_Dee_Ashmolean source

 

 

Written by LW

July 13, 2018 at 1:01 am

“I don’t care what you think unless it is about me”*…

 

Louis XIV– the Sun King– ruled France for seventy-two years, a reign during which he oversaw construction of the palace of Versaille, and consolidated political power in an unprecedented fashion.  Still, he he sought constant assurances that His Highness was, in fact, the highest– assurances supplied by his counselors, staff, and consorts, all of whom showered the king with flattery to keep him content and to keep their own positions secure.

Louis de Rouvoy, duc de Saint-Simon, served the Sun King until they fell out over Saint-Simon’s opposition to one of the King’s power grabs.  From Saint-Simon’s memoir:

c. 1694 | Versaille
Base Flattery

Louis XIV’s ministers, his generals, his mistresses, his courtiers perceived, very soon after he became master, his foible, rather than his real taste for glory. They vied with each other in praising him, and they spoiled him. Praise, or to speak more truly, flattery pleased him to such a degree that the coarsest was well-received, the basest with most relish. It was only in this way that anyone ever reached him. It was this that gave such power to his ministers through the constant opportunities that they had to adulate him, especially by attributing to him whatever they did themselves and letting him think he inspired them. Suppleness, baseness, an admiring, cringing, and dependent air, above all, an air of nullity except through him, were the only means of pleasing him. Leaving that path, there was no recovery. Year by year the poison spread, till it reached an almost incredible height in a prince who was not without some intelligence, and who had experience. He, who had neither voice nor music in him, would sing in his private rooms the prologues of plays and operas that praised him; he was so bathed in that delight that sometimes at his public suppers, if the violins played the tune of those praises, he would hum the words between his teeth as an accompaniment.

[Via Lapham’s Quarterly]

* Kurt Cobain

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As we note, with Mark Twain, that while history may not repeat itself, it does in fact rhyme, we might recall that it was on this date in 1582 that Britain’s second-best-known magician, the necromancer Edward Kelley, first met the best-known: the  mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee.

While Dee’s most important legacy was his rich series of contributions to the development of modern science (and his coining of the word “Brittannia” and the phrase “British Empire”), Dee might also be remembered as the man who, while trading on his fame as a sage, served abroad as a spy for the Queen– and signed his reports “007”…  thus inspiring Ian Fleming’s trade-naming of James Bond.

Dee and Kelley

source

Written by LW

March 10, 2017 at 1:01 am

“And he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the apothecary”*…

 

“The Anointing of David,” from the Paris Psalter, 10th century (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris).

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The Bible includes various plants that are used often and deemed holy. Some of these plants are psychedelic while others have medical qualities. Both the new and old testament mention the use of these plants in religious purpose. Jesus used shamanic techniques to help establish a stable religion in the name of God.

Holy Anointing Oil

Leviticus 10:6 And Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his sons, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the people. But let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord has kindled.7 You shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses. John 12:3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Exodus 29:7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head and anoint him.

Holy Anointing Oil according to the bible
Pure myrrh, 500 shekels (about 6 kg)
Sweet cinnamon, 250 shekels (about 3 kg)
Calamus, 250 shekels (about 3 kg)
Cassia, 500 shekels (about 6 kg)
Olive oil, one hin (3.7 Liters)

The holy anointing oil is a potent psychedelic extract. The 18 kg of plant material that is extracted into 3.7 liters of olive oil yields a potent essential oil. The holy anointing oil is essentially an anxiolytic-hallucinogen…

For more on how Holy Anointing Oil works, and for a run-down of other hallucinogens in the Holy Book, see “Psychoactive Plants in the Bible.”

* Exodus 37:29

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As we study the Scriptures more closely, we might recall that it was on this date in 1582 that Britain’s second-best-known magician, the necromancer Edward Kelley, first met the best-known: the  mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee.

While Dee’s most important legacy was his rich series of contributions to the development of modern science (and his coining of the word “Brittannia” and the phrase “British Empire”), Dee might also be remembered as the man who, while trading on his fame as a sage, served abroad as a spy for the Queen– and signed his reports “007”…  thus inspiring Ian Fleming’s trade-naming of James Bond.

Dee and Kelley

source

 

Written by LW

March 10, 2014 at 1:01 am

Crowd(source)ing into a small spot…

When Canadian Graham Hill bought his 420-square-foot Soho apartment in New York City he saw it as a chance to prove that even a tiny apartment could be luxurious – luxury being defined as being able to hold everything he wants.

Founder of the website treehugger.com that tracks, among other things, developments in green design, Mr. Hill, a designer himself, espouses the joy of living with less and the necessity of doing it in as small a footprint as possible.

Mr. Hill, originally from Hudson, Quebec, threw down the design gauntlet on the Web and offered up to $70,000 (U.S.) in cash and prizes. Wanting to generate a public discussion, the competition to re-design his tenement apartment would be crowd-sourced,which means it would involve mass collaboration of ideas from everyone who registered online.

The criteria were specific. There had to be room for 12 people to have a sit-down dinner; for “a comfortable lounging option” for eight people; and room for two overnight guests with “some visual and, ideally, auditory privacy.” In addition, it had to include a home office, a work area with space for a rolling tool chest and a kitchen that could be hidden. Creating the illusion of spaciousness was critical, or, as Mr. Hill explained it: When “the room function is changed, it should not feel like you are sleeping in your office or eating in your bedroom”…

See the results in Mary Ambrose‘s story in The Globe and Mail.

 

As we ponder parsimony, we might we might recall that it was on this date in 1582 that Britain’s second-best-known magician, the necromancer Edward Kelley, first met the best-known–  mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee.

While Dee’s most important legacy was his contributions to the development of modern science, Dee might also be remembered as the man who, while serving abroad as a spy for the Queen, signed his reports “007”…  and was the inspiration Ian Fleming’s trade-naming of James Bond.

 Dee and Kelley (source)

 

Written by LW

March 10, 2012 at 1:01 am

The pursuit of the hirsute…

From the doers…

…to the done…

… it’s all at The Hair Hall of Fame.

As we let it all go to our heads, we might wish a mystically happy birthday to mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, alchemist/occultist, navigator, and champion of English expansionism John Dee; he was born on this date in 1527.  Widely regarded as the smartest man and/or most powerful magician in the Europe of his time, Dee was an intimate advisor to Queen Elizabeth I and her closest ministers.  But Dee, a student of Copernicus and a friend of Tycho Brahe, was also a serious scholar (his library was the largest in England, perhaps in Europe) and  one of the most learned men of his day– a central figure in the development of modern science… and underneath that cap, he had a killer head of hair.

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I for one welcome our new computer overlords…

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In the aftermath of Watson’s triumph over humanity’s best, your correspondent thought it wise to remind readers (and himself) that this is not the first time that we mortals have faced the onslaught of astounding new technology.

The good folks at Dark Roasted Blend have compiled a nifty through-the-ages recap of attempts to create “life” in new-fangled ways; from Leonardo’s “robot” and John Dee’s “flying beetle” to an “steam-powered hiker” and an “electric milk man” from Victorian England, there’s quite a selection in “Amazing Automatons: Ancient Robots & Victorian Androids.”

It’s all fascinating; but the sweet spot is surely the selection of creations from the 18th (and early 19th) centuries, when the then-highly-developed crafts of metal working and watchmaking were turned to automata.  Consider, for example…

Jacques Vaucason created numerous working figures, including a flute player, which actually played the instrument, in 1738, plus this duck from 1739. The gilded copper bird could sit, stand, splash around in water, quack and even give the impression of eating food and digesting it.

Pierre Jaquet-Doz created three automata, The Writer, The Draughtsman and The Musician, which are still considered scientific marvels today. The Draughtsman is capable of producing four distinct pictures, while the Writer dips his pen in the ink and can write as many as forty letters. The Musician’s fingers actually play the organ and the figure ends her performance with a bow.

More, at Dark Roasted Blend.

As we remind ourselves to re-read Kevin Kelly’s excellent What Technology Wants and then to retake the Turing Test, we might stage a dramatic memorial dramatist and scenic innovator James Morrison Steele (“Steele”) MacKaye; he died on this date in 1894.  He opened the Madison Square Theatre in 1879, where he created a huge elevator with two stages stacked one on top of the other so that elaborate furnishings could be changed quickly between scenes. MacKaye was the first to light a New York theatre– the Lyceum, which he founded in 1884– entirely by electricity. And he invented and installed overhead and indirect stage lighting, movable stage wagons, artificial ventilation, the disappearing orchestra pit, and folding seats. In all, MacKaye patented over a hundred inventions, mostly for the improvement of theatrical production and its experience.

Steele MacKaye

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