Saturday, August 7, 2010

Time Is Cyclical and Truths Are Linear


Time is the school in which we all learn, and time is the fire in which we all burn.”

-Delmore Schwartz, American poet


Indeed, man has always had an uneasy and intimate relationship with time. Though we are all currently alive at this exact moment, we may have an entirely different perspective on time. One of us sitting on death row knowing that the earth is careening towards the at a little over 1,040 miles per hour and sunrise this will be will be the last he will witness in this life. Concurrently, just 12 inches of masonry and mortar away sits a man with five consecutive life sentences for crimes, and each day creeps like like a timid animal. In the world outside the prison walls, people rush and scurry through their days without the slightest sign of precaution. We are obsessed with getting to what we imagine to be a better future, and only stop to remember the traumas of the past, and this is where we spend most of our lives although we are and always will be creatures of the present, we the least comfortable in our own space and time.  It is a universal human characteristic to find humor in a puppy chasing its tail, perhaps it is that we recognize the symptoms of our own folly.  Our pace of life has increased exponentially in the last 100 years, and our children are exhibiting symptoms of stress related disorders and social dysfunctions at alarming rates as a result of stress burden placed upon the society as a whole. All the while we are spinning ever faster in headlong pursuit of completing another cycle, the start and finish of our workday, the beginning and completion of our week at the office, and the reaping and sowing of crops are examples of regular, perhaps even mundane,  short term cycles with which we are most familiar.  Beyond these tight orbits that are our daily lives in which we chase our tails, are grander cycles with equally predictable results found in the booms and busts of our economies driven by the cycle of the waxing and waning of consumer confidence and bulls and bears that of Wall Street.  There are longer cycles beyond these which are familiar to us found in the birth and death of generations, and the innovation and obsolescence of technologies. Beyond lay more wheels within wheels increasingly remote and seemingly removed our individual effect are cycles involving the rise and fall of nations, cycles of intellectual enlightenment and decay, and the warming and cooling of out planet due to yet another oscillation of solar activity. Although predictable in results the specific timing of these remote cycles are far more difficult to discern, only becoming clear through the lens of history. It is this parallax effect which gives us the illusion of time being linear, and that we are moving along between the two points of past and future, without much regard for the point at which we are now in what is the wheel of our cycle.


mayancalThe Mayans were on to something when they compiled their calendar and almanac which was improved upon and refined from technology passed down to them by the the earlier Zapotec and Olmec civilizations. The design of wheels within wheels in a pattern so complex that we have only recently come to fully understand the amount of technology that went into this precise, not to mention very aesthetically attractive, system.  By comparison our modern calendars however practical seem rather rudimentary, even crude to the Mayan craft of calendar design. Our calendar is a tool of scheduling and planning, while theirs was all these thing as well but there was another element of the sacred and mystical. While we tend to discount these aspects as the primitive pantheism of early man, is it so very different from the modern theistic belief found in Psalm 19:1 the prophet David acknowledges that "The heavens declare the glory of God." That is, a thoughtful look into the heavens will reveal something of the wonderful power of the God Who created it all. Then he goes on to explain that this witness to God in creation is perpetual (v.2) and universally understood (vv.3-4).  We have excised this element of connection with the Divine from our secular calendar at the expense of seeing the complexity and wonder in the elegant cycles of the Universe and our eternal relationship with it as well as the Divine. Secular humanism wishes to divorce us from these concepts entirely claiming to do so in the name if progress, science, and reason.  However, the Mayans were remarkably advanced in many areas some of them surpassing our own, such as their masonry skills, which as one would imagine is a real plus for a people trying to make a living in the stone age.

Their surviving buildings are  a testament to this skill each stone having been laid without mortar and with laser like precision so that a sheet of paper cannot be slipped into the joints. This marvelous knowledge was lost to the cycles of time and perhaps human intervention as well. While we possess their calendar, and their stone artifacts, we have no evidence of what became of the Mayans themselves being lost in a cycle time recorded on the calendar left to us.  Some very serious and respected “outside of the the box” researchers believe the Mayans possessed considerable aerospace skills as well.  As for me, I can only assume that these esteemed scholars may be thinking outside of their minds as well. Another highly developed area of Mayan culture was their criminal code in which the severity of punishment increased the higher the offenders position or status in the society. A laborer who stole a loaf of bread may receive a public lashing, while the kings minister would have been put to death for such a crime. It seems that our justice system in this time of progress, science, and reason applies the opposite theory when a homeless man can get 90 days in jail for theft and Enron's Ken Lay get’s to pass away a very rich man vacationing in Snowmass, Colorado. Our principles claim equal protection under the law, but in application few would agree. However, we have a consensus of agreement among Mayan researchers that one of the most striking mystery’s about the Mayans is they seem to have vanished without leaving so much as a forwarding address at the post office, and there are several theories about how and why they went missing. The theories run  the spectrum from (the ever so trendy) climate change, civil war, disease, even or the arrival of a rather rough group of Spaniards moving into the neighborhood. Records left by the Spaniards claim to no information on the Mayans’ fate, but details the retrieval of vast sums of Mayan gold. Yet another cycle well documented in human events, people disappearing without a trace and the last one to see them ending up with their gold. Of course, my money is on the Mayans, seeing the writing was on the wall and that neighborhood was going into decline, decided that all the gold they had been mining was too heavy to transport and opted to pack into their sandstone space ships and left for another planet in search of rising property values.


Body Bags or Puppies

Today we have the benefit of access to information that both the Spaniards and Mayans could not fathom. In their time, information was precariously stored on a limited hand written media and physically transported with difficulty and great expense. Today when I post this article, I will have exercised a transmission of information greater than the sum of that transmitted throughout the entire Mayan empires history with the pressing of the enter button on my keyboard. It is both an astonishing and commonplace occurrence at our level technological sophistication. However, along with every advancement of technology there are always inherent and often unforeseen hazards. While information can allow us the luxury of checking our favorite baseball teams progress in losing yet another years shot at the World Series, it can just as easily transmit a series of digits across the world to less favored team of individuals in Nigeria with a much better shot of scoring your checking account. Information in vast quantities can overload the human minds ability to interpret and vet it properly resulting in dangerous conditions, an experience known to fighter pilots as data overload. American politics are a perfect example of streaming data that is nearly impossible to understand. There are so many issues, estimates, projections, promises, denouncements, discussions, denials, claims, contingencies, debates, scandals, threats, crises, convictions, bail-outs, budget overruns, censures, committees, subcommittees, summits…STOP! Information is a double edged sword in that false information can be transferred as effortlessly as true information, and with so much more of it fly out of just Washington, D.C., it takes a great deal of time and effort to figure it all out. Being buried in information is no different than being bereft of information, it leaves you unable to make critical decisions and take proper actions when necessary, and the grand ubiquitous cycles of time will not wait for us to sort it all out. Politicians are well aware of this, and our government is exceedingly good at manipulating data to its advantage. We win wars more on the blade of our information technologies than our metallurgy, ballistics, or chemistry. Our primary targets are command and control elements for the obvious reason that an army without the a chain of command or orders is, if they are lucky, a group waiting for a comfy set of zip tie handcuffs and an all inclusive vacation at a Geneva Convention resort. Those less fortunate will be leaving behind only their unsightly remains to be aired on the prime time news, but again the government has command and control in mind. Military censors, like smart bombs for digital images, intercepted the footage and classify it as too graphic.  Thus avoiding the embarrassment of the footage being seen by the average American while having a lovely evening meal with the family. The politicians and military know thanks to that very same information technology that you should not see the amazingly effective, although not necessarily glamorous ways, we kill an astounding amount of human beings in your name and on your tax dollars in less time than it have taken you to vomit up that lovely roast your wife made had you seen the video. I’m sure you will see what a blessing information technology and command and control strategy can be when your trying to gain and maintain popular support for a war and keep your supper down. In this case, all you see is an embedded reporter in her early thirties talking about a surgical strike which resulted in the anonymous although deserved deaths of four enemy combatants, and the rescue of a puppy named “Skipper”. Aw, Look at the puppy daddy!


As a government for and by the people, we have a duty to and responsibility for what this government does because we put them in that position of public trust and they act in our name. It is our duty and responsibility to determine fact from fiction when it comes to our political leaders, the ones who make the momentous decisions that effect not only us such as raising the gasoline tax, but our future generations like engaging in war, a decision which if made imprudently can eliminate the possibility all future generations. Separating truth from lies, good information from bad information, and between facts and  puppy named “Skipper” is not as difficult as it first may seem when you use the cyclical nature of time, nature, and history as a lens through which to interpret all information.   It is your duty and responsibility to educate yourself on current issues, and look for similar issues discussed by the this nations Founding Fathers in their day. While some will try to dissuade you because, “timers have changed”, we know that only the date has changed, but the fundamentals of human nature, power, virtue, valor, and corruption remain unchanged since long before the Mayans noted the cyclical nature of time. War is still war and it has the same consequence as it had 230 or 2,300 years ago, death and destruction. Our family relations are the same, parents are imperfect but love their children, and worry for them. Money was tough to come by, unless you were a remarkably lucky Spaniard. People were concerned with crime, but there were also a lot of decent people out there if you knew how to pick them. The Founder's focused on universal truths, many in politics today will deny there are any such things as universal truths. They live in world of relativism where the standards of right and good are malleable almost fluid. Take a look at the difference between these two American political documents of historic value. We have the Constitutions of the United Sates, the  document which breathed life into what we know as America today, it instituted the greatest nation on earth.


Declaration of Independencelawsthenandnow

  • Declares an Act of Revolution against the greatest empire of the time in a specific, succinct, and philosophically moving document.
  • Introduces new vibrant political theories

Constitution and Bill of Rights

  • A powerful bicameral legislature with a House and a Senate
  • An executive chosen by The People
  • A judiciary, with life-terms of service and appointed by the executive
  • Check’s and Balances
  • States rights and  Limits
  • An Amendment process
  • Declares Federal Powers
  • The Ratification Process
  • Enumerates Ten Specific inviolate civil rights
  • Freedom of Religion, Speech, and Press
  • Protection from illegal search and Seizure


HR 3962 Affordable Health Care for America

  • Creates yet another wasteful, unproductive, and exceedingly costly leviathan government bureaucracy with invasive powers, unaccountable to voters and those are to whom they are to provide services
  • This legislation empowers the executive branch, namely the Secretary of Health and Human Services and a “Health Choices Commissioner,” to write thousands of pages of regulations, and to force Americans to comply with them
  • Creates 111 new boards, committees, programs, and other bureaucratic encumbrances
  • The bill amends the Public Health Service Act by granting new powers to the Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • A text search of the bill reveals more than one hundred instances of language such as “the Secretary shall determine.”

One of these two sets of documents contains the quintessential and brilliant works of a group of passionate, freedom loving, educated, and visionary men who were constructing a system that they would live in and bequeath to their posterity.

The other is something else.