Friday, November 30, 2018

More Evidence Against "The Simulation"

I never have found the simulation hypothesis - that is, the contention that we all are living in some sort of artificial reality simulated by computer systems - particularly compelling. As I've pointed out in previous posts, Nick Bostrom's 2003 philosophical argument that we might be suffers from the same logical error as Gambler's Fallacy, which is a proposition that can easily be disproved with a few coin flips. Nonetheless, there are otherwise smart people out there who take it seriously, and that makes me question their smarts. Now yet another test has shown that the simulation idea is unlikely. Specifically, physicists have found that quantum interactions cannot be modeled by classical computers.

Scientists have discovered that it’s impossible to model the physics of our universe on even the biggest computer. What that means is that we’re probably not living in a computer simulation .

Theoretical physicists Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhin from the University of Oxford and the Hebrew University in Israel applied Monte Carlo simulations (computations used to generate probabilities) to quantum objects moving through various dimensions and found that classical systems cannot create the mathematics necessary to describe quantum systems. They showed this by proving that classical physics can’t erase the sign problem, a particular quirk of quantum Monte Carlo simulations of gravitational anomalies (like warped spacetime, except in this case the researchers used an analogue from condensed matter physics).

Therefore, according to Ringel and Kovrizhin, classical computers most certainly aren’t controlling our universe.

Now I know what you're thinking - what about quantum computers? The issue there is that quantum computers model quantum interactions as quantum interactions. So you could model the world using a quantum computer and get all the quantum interactions, but only if said computer was the size of the world and contained as many particles and so forth. In that scenario, the world would be its own simulation and basically we would just call it "reality." We perhaps could be left with a Douglas Adams scenario of the world being the computer and all of us being part of it, but that's as far as it goes.

I never have understood what makes the simulation argument compelling. The Matrix was fun as a movie, but it was a Gnostic allegory rather than a world you would want to live in. Likewise, if we really did live in a perfectly simulated universe, what would be the point of knowing? Everything would work exactly the same, and it would confer no advantage upon us. So what's the appeal? That still mystifies me, and I'm going to assume that the world I live in is the world I live in until somebody provides me with compelling evidence otherwise.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

This Noah's Ark Floats

Forget that piker Ken Ham and his "Ark Encounter" attraction. Anybody with enough money and free time can build a giant replica of the famous ark from the Bible. But whereas Ham built his in the middle of a field with no thoughts of any kind given to seaworthiness, Dutch businessman Johan Huibers built an ark replica that actually works - you know, as a ship. The vessel is currently parked in Holland and Huibers now has plans to sail it to Israel - a homecoming, as it were, for the recreated ark.

Devout Christian businessman Johan Huibers built the huge vessel, which has already sailed on Holland’s Maas River. He built the boat over five years ago to the exact specifications listed in the Bible – making it 390ft-long, 75ft-high and containing 12,000 trees worth of wood.

And now, he is ready to take it to Jesus Christ’s birthplace after announcing plans to set sail to Israel. He said: “My preferred destination for the ark is Israel. This is a copy of God’s ship. It only makes sense to take it to God’s land.”

Maybe that right there is the reason that Ark Encounter isn't attracting the attendance that Ham originally hoped for. I mean, it's a Noah's Ark and it doesn't float. He could have at least built it in a big pond or something, but I suppose given the many schemes that went into raising the money a functional boat was out. That means Ham is left with a Noah's Ark that just doesn't work - and really, that's kind of boring. At least the Creation Museum is supposed to have Jesus riding a dinosaur.

It remains to be seen how eventful the voyage to Israel would be. Huibers' ark collided with a Norwegian Coast Guard vessel back in 2016 in an Oslo harbor, and while neither ship appeared to sustain much damage it also is true that Noah didn't have to worry much about precision navigation. A ship shaped like the Ark is just plain unwieldy, which means that it will probably take some work to get it from the North Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and finally to the Middle East.

Still, with Huibers' Ark such a voyage is actually possible. With Ham's, not so much.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Thinking as Navigation

Science Daily has an article up today discussing the idea that human cognition may be closely related to spatial navigation. I've talked a bit over the years how I think that conflating thought and language is a big mistake, in part because my mind clearly (to me, anyway) does much of its internal processing using spatial rather than linguistic means and it always has seemed obvious to me that this is just how thinking works - though of course this is a classic "generalization from self" and there are apparently a significant number of people out there who do think mostly in words and probably find my self-description as mystifying as I find theirs. The article discusses how spatial thinking seems to work and some of the implications of this new model.

In their proposal, [Christian] Doeller and his team combine individual threads of evidence to form a theory of human thinking. The theory begins with the Nobel Prize-winning discoveries of place and grid cells in rodents' brains, which were subsequently shown to exist in humans. Both cell types show patterns of activity representing the animal's position in space, for example, while it forages for food. Each position in space is represented by a unique pattern of activity. Together, the activity of place and grid cells allows the formation of a mental map of the surroundings, which is stored and reactivated during later visits.

The very regular activation pattern of grid cells can also be observed in humans -- but importantly, not only during navigation through geographical spaces. Grids cells are also active when learning new concepts, as shown by a study from 2016. In that study, volunteers learned to associate pictures of birds, which only varied in the length of their necks and legs, with different symbols, such as a tree or a bell. A bird with a long neck and short legs was associated with the tree whereas a bird with a short neck and long legs belonged to the bell. Thus, a specific combination of bodily features came to be represented by a symbol.

In a subsequent memory test, performed in a brain scanner, volunteers indicated whether various birds were associated with one of the symbols. Interestingly, the entorhinal cortex was activated, in much the same way as it is during navigation, providing a coordinate system for our thoughts. "By connecting all these previous discoveries, we came to the assumption that the brain stores a mental map, regardless of whether we are thinking about a real space or the space between dimensions of our thoughts. Our train of thought can be considered a path though the spaces of our thoughts, along different mental dimensions," Jacob Bellmund, the first author of the publication, explains.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Just Don't Do This

Just about every American knows how annoying it is to have Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses show up at their door and try to tell them the "good news" about Jesus. For those of us who are non-Christians, the annoyance factor is even higher. Now imagine you're a non-Christian member of an isolated tribe living on a protected island with an essentially unlimited supply of arrows. A missionary shows up trying to preach to you, and you shoot a couple arrows at him and break his canoe to keep him away. Then, he comes back anyway.

Is it any surprise that the American missionary who did exactly that to the people of North Sentinel Island is no longer alive? In a way you have to admire the persistence of the aforementioned missionary, John Chau. On the other hand, he should have been smart enough to leave when it became clear that he was not wanted. Chau is now believed to be dead, and the authorities are trying to work out a way to safely retrieve his body.

The island, North Sentinel Island, is inhabited by the Sentinelese, who are protected under Indian law. Just more than a dozen people are officially thought to live on the remote island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. The island is a protected area, and people are not allowed to go within 5 nautical miles of it, after previous incidents of aggressive behavior toward outsiders were observed. In 2006, two local fishermen were killed by the tribes. Pathak said the American missionary had asked one of his local friends, an electronic engineer, to arrange a boat and find some fishermen who could take him to the island. The contact found a boat and the fishermen, along with a water sports expert, to help with the expedition. All seven locals who facilitated the trip have been arrested.

"According to the fishermen, they used a wooden boat fitted with motors to travel to the island on November 15," Pathak said. "The boat stopped 500-700 meters (1,640 - 2,300 feet) away from the island and (the American missionary) used a canoe to reach the shore of the island. He came back later that day with arrow injuries. On the 16th, the (tribespeople) broke his canoe. "So he came back to the boat swimming. He did not come back on the 17th; the fishermen later saw the tribespeople dragging his body around." The police haven't independently verified that he is dead, but based on what the fishermen have told them believe that he was killed. "We have a team out in the waters for reconnaissance and to strategize how to recover his body. The team consists of coastal guards, officials from tribal welfare department, forest department officers and police officials."

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Canada's Stupid Witchcraft Law

For several years now, the Canadian government has been discussing the repeal of a law prohibiting "pretending to practice witchcraft." The law may finally be going away, but not before two more people were charged with the offense. The criminal cases themselves seem sound - according to the allegations, both defendants defrauded their clients using psychic and fortune-telling scams. My problem with the law is not that it prohibits scams, but rather that it carves out a special exception for "witchcraft-related" scams when it seems to me that what is going on is more properly fraud and can be handled under the same statutes.

Two Canadian women have been charged with pretending to practise witchcraft, breaking a little-known law in Canada's criminal code that could soon be out the door. The first charge was levied against Dorie "Madeena" Stevenson, a fortune teller from Milton, Ontario on 18 October after a months-long investigation. She is accused of defrauding a client of C$60,000 ($45,700; £35,700) in cash and property.

A week later, Toronto psychic Samantha Stevenson was also arrested in a similar but unrelated investigation. Police allege she convinced a man the only way to get rid of "evil spirits" in his home would be to sell it, and transfer the proceeds into her account.The accused often advertise themselves as a psychic or religious healer, and demand large sums of money to help remove curses or evil spirits from clients, police say.

"What we typically see is a tendency for perpetrators to take advantage of persons when they are in their most vulnerable state," wrote Det Sgt Dave Costantini of Halton Regional Police, in a press release. "Victims are manipulated into believing something bad will happen to them unless they remit cash. We even see incidents where victims are required to make purchases and remit these purchases in order to be cleansed. When victims cannot be squeezed any longer, the perpetrators rely on the victim's embarrassment in not contacting police."

The charges could lead to Canada's last witch trials, as the section of the law banning pretending to practise witchcraft will soon be repealed. In June 2017, the federal government proposed a bill repealing dozens of outdated sections of the criminal code, including the law against pretending to be a witch.

To be clear, if the allegations are true I don't have any problem with these folks being convicted. What I have a problem with is that there's a special law just for those who "fraudulently pretend to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration." Fraud, as I see it, is just fraud and should be charged accordingly. An example: if I'm a confidence artist and I defraud somebody with a stock-picking scam, should it matter whether I tell them I have a computer model picking the stocks or if I tell them I have a psychic doing it? Isn't fraud just fraud?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Planetary Work Updated

The planetary work posts have now been updated with new conjurations calling on the Intelligence and Spirit from Agrippa in addition to the planetary angel. This hearkens back to my older method of working down through the spiritual hierarchy, but with some changes based on my more recent better understanding of the distinction between paths and sephirah. You don't need to conjure the godname because you already have used it to tune the space, and only use it as a controlling name for the angel during the conjuration. Otherwise, the assumption is that Angel rules Intelligence and Intelligence rules Spirit. All three entities are conjured and called upon, and presumably will fulfill their appointed tasks according to their individual natures.

Eventually I plan on updating the figures to include all three sigils instead of just that of the angel, but the designs that are there now should work. Effectively, the angel's sigil acts like a "phone number" to access the hierarchy and from there you are calling on the angel to help you conjure the intelligence and spirit - which I have tested out. The updated artwork will show up eventually, but some of the pieces such as the sigil for the Intelligence of the Moon are quite complex. Knowing myself, I probably will put up the easiest ones first and save that Moon figure for last. At any rate, the conjured names here now match the intelligence and spirit names in Liber 777 for the paths and also the information in my original Planetary Magick post from back in 2011 which remains quite popular. Happy conjuring!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

False Prophet!

This is my last midterms post, I promise. It concerns "firefighter prophet" and guy-on-his-way-to-getting-his-own-Augoeides-tag Mark Taylor, whose laughable "prophecies" keep piling up. Like many wannabe prophets, Taylor is deliberately vague most of the time so it can be hard to explicitly call him out when he's wrong. But for the midterms, he offered up a prediction that was entirely testable. He predicted that there would be a "red tsunami" of Republican voters and that his party would sweep the midterms because God told him so. That flat-out didn't happen. So Taylor is now trying to spin a straightforward prediction into something else, and the result is completely ridiculous.

Contrary to Taylor’s prophecy of a “red tsunami” that would sweep the midterms, it was no red tsunami. While Republicans expanded their control in the Senate, the Democrats took control of the House, picking up 27 seats. The House takeover by Dems puts Trump’s agenda to a virtual halt, as many analysts have suggested. In the run-up to the midterms, Taylor was confident that his red tsunami prediction was going to come to pass. “Go back to 2016 to the presidential election – all the fake news, the pundits, the polls were all wrong as we found out,” Taylor told the Christian broadcasting network CBN News. “It was just the exact opposite of what they were saying. So the same thing’s going to happen here.”

“There will be no ‘Blue Wave.’ A lot of people are talking about a ‘Red Wave,’ but it’s actually going to be a ‘Red Tsunami’ is what the Lord is showing me,” he added. But as Right Wing Watch points out, Taylor is now kicking the proverbial can down the road after the midterm results came in, saying you need an earthquake first before the tsunami comes. “What does it take to create a tsunami? It takes an earthquake,” he said in a live webcast this Friday. “This is what God is saying: ‘The election is not over, this red tsunami has got to be started by an earthquake.’ We had the red wave; the earthquake was [Jeff] Sessions stepping aside. The delay is over. They are going after these people hard.”

I guess what Taylor is trying to say here is that Sessions stepping aside was something that only a prophet or a regular news reader could possibly know. And that's supposed to be impressive! To be a little fair to Taylor, he probably is worried because he's a Biblical literalist and technically the Bible says that false prophets are supposed to die (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). Of course, I think Biblical literalism is silly so I would never suggest such a thing. But I do suggest that anyone who considers themselves a good Christian should stop listening to him. The Bible is very clear in many places that false prophets lead their followers astray.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

What Karma Looks Like

Going over the results of Tuesday's midterms I came across another example that might be of interest to Augoeides readers and magical practitioners in general. It may not sound like it at first, but bear with me. I'll explain further after the pull quote. Yesterday Wisconsin governor Scott Walker lost by a narrow margin. Wisconsin is right next door to my home state of Minnesota, so I've been following Walker for years and can't stand the guy. I'm very happy that he lost. The point that is relevant to this post, though, is that he can't ask for a recount precisely because of a law he passed after the 2016 election.

Scott Walker, Wisconsin's Republican governor, was ousted from office in the state's closest gubernatorial race in more than 50 years in Tuesday's midterm elections, and he won't be able to ask for a recount because of a law he put in place. With 99% of precincts reporting on Wednesday morning, the Democrat Tony Evers narrowly led Walker, 49.6% to 48.4%, according to The Associated Press. The gap was 1.2 percentage points, or about 31,000 votes out of the more than 2.6 million cast in the election.

After President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by just 23,000 votes in 2016, Walker signed into law a measure mandating that recounts would be allowed only when candidates are projected to be within 1 percentage point of each other. The law triggers a free recount if the margin is 0.25 percentage points or less. When it's between 0.25 and 1 points, the candidate projected to lose must petition and pay for a recount.

That, my friends, is an accurate example of karma, a term that gets thrown around a lot by New Agers who don't really understand it. Karma does NOT mean that if you do "good" or "nice" things, unrelated "good" or "nice" things will happen to you because of some spooky spiritual principle. Karma is simply about the law of cause and effect. It means that if you create a change in the world of whatever sort, for good or ill, what you have to deal with are the direct consequences of that change. There's nothing spooky about it, no "I refused to help an old lady across the street yesterday and today my car won't start" - that is, unless said old lady sabotaged your car.

Walker passed a law limiting recounts in his state. The consequence for him is that he has to run for office in a state with limited recounts, which just backfired on him. When contemplating the consequences of magical actions taken to transform your world, this is what you need to take into account in order to successfully navigate karmic conditions. You should be as sure as you can be about what the consequences of that change will be, so you can be equally sure that you want to live with them before you make it happen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kim Davis Has Lost

Among the election news from yesterday's midterms is an item that should be near and dear to all regular Augoeides readers. Kim Davis has lost her bid for re-election as county clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky. Davis refused to sign applications for same-sex marriages, citing her religious beliefs, even though it was part of her job. She went on to have a GoFundMe taken down, failed to secure a book deal, lied about the Pope supporting her cause, and got an archbishop fired as apostolic nuncio. As I see it she's an awful person and I'm glad she will no longer hold office.

Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr. beat Davis, a Republican, in the race for Rowan County clerk by an estimated 4,210 votes to 3,566 votes with all 19 precincts reporting, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. Davis refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, citing her religious beliefs, after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.

She was sued by five couples and a judge ordered her to issue the marriage licenses. She spent five days in jail when she refused to comply with the decision. The Kentucky state legislature later changed the law so clerks did not have to sign their names on the documents in response to her refusal, which made national headlines.

It's not just Davis' refusal to sign marriage licenses that makes her awful, it's the craven way that she went about trying to profit from her prejudices. She turned out to be pretty ineffective at doing so, even after resorting to lies and subterfuge, but still. Her subsequent behavior makes me wonder how much of her signing refusals had to do with real religious beliefs and how much they had to do with trying to get in the news so that Poor Oppressed Christian bigots would send her money, either directly in the form of the (taken down) GoFundMe or indirectly by buying her (never actually published) book. While there may be something to be said for taking those fools' money, she messed with a bunch of people who just needed their paperwork signed in order to do it.

And I'll say this again, as I do every time Davis' name comes up, her cited "religious beliefs" only make sense if we start by assuming that no separation exists between civil and religious law, which none of Davis' political opponents actually believes. This is also the reason that Poor Oppressed crowd goes on about how churches will be forced to perform same-sex weddings - which absolutely can't happen because under the constitution there is separation of church and state. It seems to me that a (smart) Christian who opposed same-sex marriage would see it a totally different way.

If civil marriage and religious marriage are not the same thing (which they're not, per the constitution) then all Davis was signing was paperwork for a legal union that has nothing to do with her church or her religion. If her church doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, it shouldn't recognize that the paperwork she's signing is for a marriage at all in any spiritual or religious sense. I think that's backwards and silly, but it is her right. However, it also means that there's no reason to think that there's anything "sinful" about her signing the paperwork. So basically Davis should just have done her job and left it at that.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Via Solis Scorpio Elixir Rite - Year Two

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Scorpio Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday November 6th, at Leaping Laughter Oasis, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. Going forward, we will be continuing to perform one of these per month, once for each of the twelve signs, in a ritual series called Via Solis (the way or path of the Sun). I will be posting the full scripts here on the preceding Mondays so people can take a look at them if they want to attend. Also, if you are in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota) and would like to attend, let me or someone at the Oasis know. This is a public ritual and all are welcome.

0. The Temple

The ritual space is set up with an altar table in the center. The bell chime, banishing dagger, and invoking wand are placed on the altar. In the center of the altar is placed a cup of wine for creating the elixir, within the Table of Art corresponding to Scorpio. The sign Scorpio is attributed to the power of “Necromancy." Note that this refers to work with the spirits of the dead, including ancestors, rather than magick involving dead things such as body parts and so forth. This ritual may be performed with one, two, or three officers, who may alternate taking the Officiant role and divide up the reading from Liber 963. The Via Solis Elixir Rites were written by Michele Montserrat in 2010 for the Comselh Ananael magical working group.

I. Opening

All stand surrounding the altar. Officiant inhales fully, placing the banishing dagger at his or her lips. The air is then expelled as the dagger is swept backwards.

Officiant: Bahlasti! Ompehda!

Officiant then performs the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. All rotate accordingly.

Officiant: We take refuge in Nuit, the blue-lidded daughter of sunset, the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night sky, as we issue the call to the awakened nature of all beings, for every man and every woman is a star.


Officiant: We take refuge in Hadit, the secret flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every star, as we issue the call to our own awakened natures, arousing the coiled serpent about to spring.


Officiant: We take refuge in Heru-Ra-Ha, who wields the wand of double power, the wand of the force of Coph Nia, but whose left hand is empty for he has crushed an universe and naught remains, as we unite our awakened natures with those of all beings everywhere and everywhen, dissolving all obstacles and healing all suffering.


Officiant: For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.

All: All is pure and present are and has always been so, for existence is pure joy; all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass and done; but there is that which remains. To this realization we commit ourselves – pure and total presence. So mote it be.

Bell Chime

Sunday, November 4, 2018

"False Flagging" Has Jumped the Shark

For the longest time, "false flagging" has been the mainstay of conspiracy theorists. It comes in two forms. The first is based on the idea that the government carries out shootings, terrorist attacks, and so forth in order to politicize the results. Think "the CIA perpetrated 9/11 so they could launch a war in the Middle East," or "the government faked the Sandy Hook school shooting so they could argue for gun control." The second form is when everything from pranks to full-out attacks against a particular group are carried out by members of the same group in order to make the other side look bad. Think "liberals are perpetrating hate crimes against groups they support to blame them on conservatives."

Every so often events of the second form happen, but usually more on the level of vandalism or pranks than flat-out violence. And the reality is that these are pretty easy to spot with even a cursory investigation since the vast majority of people, and especially people who think they are being clever by faking attacks, are not criminal geniuses. Most of the time tragic events are exactly what they appear to be, not some sort of smokescreen or ruse. Last weekend it came out the man who sent bombs to Democratic politicians, Democratic donors, and the "fake news media" at CNN turned out to be a hardcore Trump supporter.

Because of course he was. Democrats are not out there sending bombs to themselves, any more than Republicans are. The whole idea is just stupid. And, thankfully, it seems like we may have finally hit the shark-jumping point for false-flagging. After a flurry of nonsense from Republicans about how the bomber was probably a Democrat, the truth came to light and slapped the whole thing down.

Leading the charge, as usual, was Alex Jones’ Infowars, which posted shortly after the bombs were reported a reminder that Jones had predicted several months ago that “the media would be targeted for attacks that would bolster the narrative that President Trump is inciting violence.”

Ostensibly mainstream conservative pundits joined in the skepticism, including Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs, who tweeted: “Fake News—Fake Bombs; Who could possibly benefit by so much fakery?” He deleted it later, and replaced it with a tweet saying: “Fake News had just successfully changed the narrative from the onslaught of illegal immigrants and broken border security to ‘suspicious packages.’ ” Likewise, popular radio host Rush Limbaugh theorized: "How about a day like this? How about a day like this where you create a scenario where it looks like the mobs are on both sides? It looks like the Republicans have a mob, too, or at least an 'insaniac.' There's some Republican out there sending bombs to decent, good Democrats and media people — former Democrat presidents and the harmless people at CNN.”