Archive for November 2012

Utopia Dream

The Grand Dream will end. Fade to black.

Death will be feared.

This is only a sign that the next Reality Engine is ready to start.

Fueled by Hope & Love. Imagination the Key.

Silent Circle: Mike Janke’s iPhone app makes encryption easy, governments nervous.

Lately, Mike Janke has been getting what he calls the “hairy eyeball” from international government agencies. The 44-year-old former Navy SEAL commando, together with two of the world’s most renowned cryptographers, was always bound to ruffle some high-level feathers with his new project—a surveillance-resistant communications platform that makes complex encryption so simple your grandma can use it.

This week, after more than two years of preparation, the finished product has hit the market. Named Silent Circle, it is in essence a series of applications that can be used on a mobile device to encrypt communications—text messages, plus voice and video calls. Currently, apps for the iPhone and iPad are available, with versions for Windows, Galaxy, Nexus, and Android in the works. An email service is also soon scheduled to launch.

The encryption is peer to peer, which means that Silent Circle doesn’t centrally hold a key that can be used to decrypt people’s messages or phone calls. Each phone generates a unique key every time a call is made, then deletes it straight after the call finishes. When sending text messages or images, there is even a “burn” function, which allows you to set a time limit on anything you send to another Silent Circle user—a bit like how “this tape will self destruct” goes down in Mission: Impossible, but without the smoke or fire.

Silent Circle began as an idea Janke had after spending 12 years working for the U.S. military and later as a security contractor. When traveling overseas, he realized that there was no easy-to-use, trustworthy encrypted communications provider available to keep in touch with family back home. Cellphone calls, text messages, and emails sent over the likes of Hotmail and Gmail can just be “pulled right out of the air,” according to Janke, and he didn’t think the few commercial services offering encryption—like Skype and Hushmail—were secure enough. He was also made uneasy by reports about increased government snooping on communications. “It offended what I thought were my God-given rights—to be able to have a free conversation,” Janke says. “And so I began on this quest to find something to solve it.”

via Silent Circle: Mike Janke’s iPhone app makes encryption easy, governments nervous. – Slate Magazine.

With Plan X, Pentagon seeks to spread U.S. military might to cyberspace

The Pentagon is turning to the private sector, universities and even computer-game companies as part of an ambitious effort to develop technologies to improve its cyberwarfare capabilities, launch effective attacks and withstand the likely retaliation.

The previously unreported effort, which its authors have dubbed Plan X, marks a new phase in the nation’s fledgling military operations in cyberspace, which have focused more on protecting the Defense Department’s computer systems than on disrupting or destroying those of enemies.

Plan X is a project of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a Pentagon division that focuses on experimental efforts and has a key role in harnessing computing power to help the military wage war more effectively.

“If they can do it, it’s a really big deal,” said Herbert S. Lin, a cybersecurity expert with the National Research Council of the National Academies. “If they achieve it, they’re talking about being able to dominate the digital battlefield just like they do the traditional battlefield.”

Cyberwarfare conjures images of smoking servers, downed electrical systems and exploding industrial plants, but military officials say cyberweapons are unlikely to be used on their own. Instead, they would support conventional attacks, by blinding an enemy to an impending airstrike, for example, or disabling a foe’s communications system during battle.

The five-year, $110 million research program will begin seeking proposals this summer. Among the goals will be the creation of an advanced map that details the entirety of cyberspace — a global domain that includestens of billions of computers and other devices — and updates itself continuously. Such a map would help commanders identify targets and disable them using computer code delivered through the Internet or other means.

Another goal is the creation of a robust operating system capable of launching attacks and surviving counterattacks. Officials say this would be the cyberspace equivalent of an armored tank; they compare existing computer operating systems to sport-utility vehicles — well suited to peaceful highways but too vulnerable to work on battlefields.

The architects of Plan X also hope to develop systems that could give commanders the ability to carry out speed-of-light attacks and counterattacks using preplanned scenarios that do not involve human operators manually typing in code — a process considered much too slow.

via With Plan X, Pentagon seeks to spread U.S. military might to cyberspace – The Washington Post.

Eben Moglen at Re:Publica: Freedom of thought requires free media

Eben is talking about freedom of thought, how it evolved from the early Latin world up to our times, with the Christian story, the revolutions, the history of the book and the right to read and think in private. Then he talks about the Internet, how it is connecting the humanity in a single entity.

Talking about freedom of thought, he then start to explain how the US government, big corporations and other regimes are trying to expel anonymous reading and thinking from our societies, so that they can do datamining on our inner thought, to sell us the right product at the right time, and also to know how to punish unorthodox thinking again.

In that part of the speech, Apple and Facebook have their responsibility exposed, in that situation, and they are not forgotten by Mr Moglen.

Finally, he talks about the media, how they also need to datamine our thought, behaviour and add massive surveillance to our day to day life.

- Format OGG with hard subtitles
- Format WEBM with hard subtitles
- Format MP4 with hard subtitles

via Moglen at Re:Publica: Freedom of thought requires free media – Benjamin Sonntag Blog.

How NASA might build its very first warp drive

A few months ago, physicist Harold White stunned the aeronautics world when he announced that he and his team at NASA had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive. His proposed design, an ingenious re-imagining of an Alcubierre Drive, may eventually result in an engine that can transport a spacecraft to the nearest star in a matter of weeks — and all without violating Einstein’s law of relativity. We contacted White at NASA and asked him to explain how this real life warp drive could actually work.

The above image of a Vulcan command ship features a warp engine similar to an Alcubierre Drive. Image courtesy CBS.

The Alcubierre Drive

The idea came to White while he was considering a rather remarkable equation formulated by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. In his 1994 paper titled, “The Warp Drive: Hyper-Fast Travel Within General Relativity,” Alcubierre suggested a mechanism by which space-time could be “warped” both in front of and behind a spacecraft.

via How NASA might build its very first warp drive.

The Supernatural World

Preface to The Supernatural World by Danish author and philosopher Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff:

Dear reader!

Are you fascinated by the supernatural? By the idea, that there may be a deeper meaning to existence?

That demons – or just beings from other worlds or dimensions – actually exist? Or do you simply wonder why some people seem to believe in, or even in some form experience, the supernatural?

If not, then you probably belong to a very small minority. In all likelihood it will not have escaped your attention, that there are entire retail chains, that exist to provide you with anything from gemstones with healing properties to inverted crosses – anything according to taste.

What is it all about? And what has auras and reincarnation got to do with the religion we were taught at Sunday school?

Are people who communicate with spirits insane, do they have real contact, or maybe both? And is the fascinating “forgotten wisdom” in any way compatible with modern science?

In this little book you will meet supernatural beings, and even follow them into their own world. You will learn about how they think, and what they are doing here. You will discover that they are neither angels nor demons, men from Mars or hallucinations, but that they nevertheless visit us for a very specific reason.

And what is even more: That they and their world are only separated from ours with a thin veil. That it does not require a mystical spell to get to see them, but on the contrary that we every day more or less unconsciously perform a “ritual of deflection” to keep them away from us.

Have you ever had the feeling that you were not alone, even though you ‘knew’ that you were? Or thought about how goldfish in a bowl might feel the same way?

Maybe this book will answer questions, which you have asked yourself a thousand times. Or maybe it will start you on a journey of discovery, more exciting that you would ever have dreamt possible.

Happy travels!

via The Supernatural World | Disinformation.

Read the whole book online

Ominous Forewarning from Prof. Norman Finkelstein

In November 2010, Professor Norman Finkelstein and Hamza Andreas Tzortzis spoke at a hosted event to address the question: “What Will Bring Peace to the Middle East?”

This was an excellent discussion where Prof. Finkelstein provided a secular perspective focusing on international law, while Mr. Tzortzis shared his perspective as an international public speaker on Islam.

What I found especially of interest, however, were the following opening remarks by Prof. Finkelstein:

“I was asked to speak on a very specific topic this evening namely ‘How to resolve the conflict’, if I had my choice in the matter I would’ve preferred to speak about what’s happening now in Gaza and more importantly, what seems to be unfolding in Lebanon, which is quite serious and quite ominous. I think we’re headed towards a crossroads in the Israeli-Palestine conflict in Lebanon in the near future, probably in the next several months…

“In my opinion, there is a very sinister plot, and I don’t usually use the word plot, and there is a very sinister conspiracy, and I don’t usually use the word conspiracy, but I do think there is a plot, a conspiracy afoot, not just by the usual suspects the US and Israel, but also France, Italy, Canada, all the western powers are now acting in concert for a decisive moment.

“We should be very sensitive to that fact and just as they’re laying the groundwork for their evil, we should now be preparing ourselves and not being left at the last moment trying to mitigate a war but to prepare for it because it’s going to be a decisive moment. It will either be 1967 where a significant defeat was delivered to the Arab world or it’ll be 1956 where the British and the French and the imperial powers at the time suffered a major setback. But it is serious and in my opinion it’s really, if I could use the word, it’s quite filthy.”

via chycho: Ominous Forewarning from Prof. Norman Finkelstein: “I do think there is a plot, a conspiracy afoot… all the western powers are now acting in concert for a decisive moment.”.

European Parliament: Stop the ITU taking over the Internet

Control of the Internet must be stopped from falling into the hands of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the European Parliament has warned.

The European Union’s elected representatives loudly called for negotiators to block attempts by the ITU to gain ultimate control over the Internet at a conference in Dubai next month.

The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) will attempt to revise international telecommunication regulations, which have not been updated since 1988. A resolution approved by an overwhelming majority of Members of the European Parliament on Thursday warned that some of the proposals presented ahead of WCIT could result in the ITU itself becoming “the ruling power of the Internet,” something the parliament is determined to prevent.

“The ITU, or any other single international institution, is not the appropriate body to assert regulatory authority over the Internet,” said the resolution, drawn up by Dutch parliamentarian Marietje Schaake.

The resolution calls on the E.U. member states to prevent any changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations that would be harmful to the openness of the Internet, net neutrality and freedom of expression.

The ITU is the United Nations industry body for telecommunications operators. Its original brief was to allocate global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, and to develop technical interoperability standards for telecommunication networks. However, the Internet as we know it did not exist when the international telecommunication regulations (ITRs) were drawn up.

All 27 member states of the E.U. are signatories of these ITRs and as a result can negotiate as a bloc. The parliament’s resolution calls on the Council and Commission, which will represent the E.U. in Dubai, to ensure that any changes to the ITRs “will further the E.U.’s objectives and interests to advance the Internet as a public place, where human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of expression and assembly, are respected, as well as free market principles, net neutrality and entrepreneurship are ensured.”

The Parliament also said that it is concerned that some of the ITU reform proposals would set up charging mechanisms, which could seriously threaten the open and competitive nature of the Internet by driving up prices and hurting innovation.

Meanwhile search giant Google has invited users to “pledge your support for the free and open Internet,” warning that governments working behind closed doors in Dubai should not direct its future.

via European Parliament: Stop the ITU taking over the Internet | PCWorld.

First Teleportation from One Macroscopic Object to Another

Physicists have teleported quantum information from one ensemble of atoms to another 150 metres away, a demonstration that paves the way towards quantum routers and a quantum Internet technologies behind a quantum internet will be quantum routers capable of transmitting quantum information from one location to another without destroying it.

That’s no easy task. Quantum bits or qubits are famously fragile—a single measurement destroys them. So it’s not all obvious how macroscopic objects such as routers in a fibre optics network can handle qubits without demolishing them.

However, physicists have a trick up their sleeve to help send qubits safely. This trick is teleportation, a standard tool in any decent quantum optics lab.

It relies on the strange phenomenon of entanglement in which two quantum objects share the same existence. That link ensures that no matter how far apart they are, a measurement on one particle instantly influences the other.

It is this ‘influence’ that allows physicists to transmit quantum information from one point in space to another without it passing through the space in between.

Of course, teleportation is tricky, but physicists are getting better at it. They’ve teleported quantum information from one photon to another, from ions to photons and even from a macroscopic ensemble of atoms to a photon.

via First Teleportation from One Macroscopic Object to Another | MIT Technology Review.

Also see:

Ref: Quantum Teleportation Between Remote Atomic-Ensemble Quantum Memories

The Deverry Cycle

Daggerspell - first book of the Deverry series

Daggerspell – first book of the Deverry series

This is an epic series of Celtic fantasy novels by Katherine Kerr. I am close to finishing (soon-ish) all fifteen books and I can’t say enough good things about this series and it’s talented author. I can’t even begin to describe the complex woven story lines, so I’ll just leave you all with some links that explain it better than I ever could. Possible spoilers ahead – but it won’t at all take away from reading this sprawling and detailed series. /

Astronomers Directly Image Distant Exoplanet

Astronomers using the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii have found a super-Jupiter-sized exoplanet orbiting a massive star about 170 light years away from Earth. Not only have they detected the planet, but they’ve also taken a direct image of it. This is exciting because only a handful of exo-planets have been imaged directly. But the other interesting aspect of this newly-found planet is that it orbits its star at a distance comparable to Neptune in our own solar system. Astronomers say this is a strong indication that the planet formed in a manner similar to how it is believed smaller, rocky planets form: from a protoplanetary disk of gas and dusk which surrounded the star during its earliest stages.

The star, Kappa Andromedae, is a naked-eye object that can be seen in the constellation Andromeda, and it has a mass 2.5 times that of the Sun, making it the highest mass star to ever host a directly observed planet. The observations were made by a team of astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and the University of Toronto and the College of Charleston, part of the SEEDS project (Strategic Explorations of Exoplanets and Disks with Subaru.)

“Our team identified a faint object located very close to Kappa Andromedae in January that looks much like other young, massive directly imaged planets but does not look like a star,” said Thayne Currie. co-author of the paper from the University of Toronto. “It’s likely a directly imaged planet.”

via Astronomers Directly Image Distant Exoplanet.

The Magick of Trees

Trees have been considered to be magickal for many centuries. They have been the homes of wood spirits and the keepers of sacred circles. Many tales of the part trees have played in witchcraft and the occult were told to young children, such as the admonition to avoid old oak trees or groves of oaks. These were places witches met and were filled with much power. Even today some of the old tales live on in superstitions such as ‘knock on wood’. So you may ask if there is any truth to these tales, for all legends have some basis in truth. Well for the Wiccan or Neo-Pagan trees are a source of power because they are rooted in the Mother Earth and they reach to the heavens. This is the essential posture we humans seek in trying to reach a state of balance during meditation. We visualize a stream of energy from the Earth flowing up into us, as a stream of energy flows into us from above. Trees are in this state all the time and are therefore a very natural source of power for magick. Most any tree can be used for magickal purposes, though certain trees seem better suited to certain forms of Magick.

There are lists called tables of correspondences, which contain specific colors, smells, tastes, plants, and sounds associated with certain emotions and concepts. There are also trees listed in some of these. Examples of trees used in certain situations include the following:

  • APPLE…Healing, Prosperity, Love, Youth
  • BIRCH…Protection, Fertility New Beginnings
  • CYPRESS…Past Lives
  • MAPLE…Divination, Love
  • OAK…Healing, Strength, Money
  • PINE…Purification, Health, Prosperity
  • WILLOW…Enchantments, Wishing

As you can see, for those of us who live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, there are many trees which we can use in magickal work. So how does one tap into this wealth of power. One way is to let the tree help in ‘recharging’ you after a long day or after an extremely emotional event. A simple procedure for doing this follows. Pick a tall, straight tree such as a pine. Generally you should try to feel the tree’s spirit to see if it seems welcoming to you. Once you’ve found a tree you feel comfortable with, walk once around it clockwise saying ‘Great tree, Ancient of the Earth, Will you grant and give my strength rebirth?’ Now sit on the ground with your back straight and pressed against the tree. As you sit, feel the power running between the Earth and sky through the tree. See your body surrounded by the aura of the tree and feel this power filling you with renewed strength. You may at this point even begin to actually ‘hear’ the tree speaking to you. A wise person will listen to it’s wisdom. Once you feel rested and renewed, rise slowly and thank the tree for helping you regain your balance and strength. A gift to the tree is not inappropriate. One way of doing this would be to bury a coin or something of value at the base of the tree. Care should be taken not to injure the tree in the process of burying the item. This is but one way of having trees aid you in your daily life. There are many others to be found in various books on Earth/Nature magick. I hope you will explore the many possibilities further. The only advice I can offer is to remember you are dealing with a living spirit and that you should avoid harming the tree. Have fun with your experiments and enjoy the new friendships to be found in trees.

Blessed Be…

Starrider References:

Earth Power by Scott Cunningham

Llewellyn Publishing

via The Magick of Trees.

Personal Daimons by Patrick Harpur

Guardian angels derived from Neoplatonism and, along with the other classes of angels, became part of Christian dogma at the Council of Nicaea AD 325 . But, long before this, the ancient Greeks believed that individuals were attached at birth to a daimon who determined, wholly or in part, their destiny. Philemon was clearly such a daimon for Jung, who emphasized the crucial part this strange Gnostic figure played in his life and work. Plato s mentor, Socrates, had a daimon who was famous for always saying No. It did not enter into rational discourse with Socrates; it merely warned him when he was about to do something wrong especially something displeasing to the gods , like the prompting of conscience…

However, Plato in Timaeus identified the individual daimon with the element of pure reason in man and so it became a sort of lofty spirit-guide, or Freudian super-ego. This may be true of certain, perhaps exceptional individuals, but is is also true—as we shall see—that daimons are as likely to represent unreason or at least to be equivocal. But meanwhile it is instructive to consider the case of Napoleon. He had a familiar spirit which protected him. which guided him, as a daemon, and which he called his star, or which visited him in the figure of a dwarf clothed in red that warned him.

This reminds us that personal daimons favor two forms by which to manifest: the abstract light, globe, oval and as here shining sphere, or the personification—angelic, manikin-like or whatever. It confirms, in other words, my speculation … that the two forms are different manifestations of each other, with in Napoleon s case different functions: the star guides, the dwarf warns. Both are images of the soul, which is another way of understanding the daimon.

Indeed, it seems that, next to personification, daimons prefer luminous appearances or phasmata, as the Syrian Neoplatonist Iamblichus d. 326 called them. He was a real expert on daimons, and ufologists could do worse than study the distinctions he makes between phasmata. For instance, while phasmata of archangels are both terrible and mild, their images full of supernatural light, the phasmata of daimons are various and dreadful. They appear at different times … in a different form, and appear at one time great, but at another small, yet are still recognized to be the phasmata of daemons. As we have seen, this could equally well describe their personifications. Their operations, interestingly, appear to be more rapid than they are in reality an observation which might be borne in mind by ufologists . Their images are obscure, presenting themselves within a turbid fire which is unstable.

The first of the great Neoplatonists, Plotinus AD 204-70 , maintained that the individual daimon was not an anthropomorphic daemon, but an inner psychological principle, viz:—the level above that on which we consciously live, and so is both within and yet transcendent… Like Jung, he takes it as read that daimons are objective phenomena and thinks to emphasize only that, paradoxically, they manifest both inwardly dreams, inspirations, thoughts, fantasies and outwardly or transcendently visions and apparitions . Plotinus does not, we notice—like the early Jung—speak of daimons as primarily inner and as seen outwardly only in projection. He seems to agree with the later Jung—that there is a psyche outside the body. However, his use of the word transcendent also suggests that the real distinction to be made is not between inner and outer, but between personal and impersonal. There is a sense, he seems to be saying, in which daimons can be both at once. Personal daimons are not fixed but can develop or unfold according to our own spiritual development. Jung might say: in the course of individuation, we move beyond the personal unconscious to the impersonal, collective unconscious, through the daimonic to the divine. Acording to Iamblichus, we are assigned a daimon at birth to govern and direct our lives but our task is to obtain a god in its place.

via Personal Daimons.