Monday, July 29, 2013

Cyberflanerie: Timothy McSweeney, Seth Godin, Paul Nicklen, You Are Not So Smart, Skillshare, Moon Calendar, Fox Sisters

Light blogging here because I am still (OMG) working out the revisions on my introduction to Francisco I. Madero's book of 1911... I've got some 150 pages so far...and and a result, have fallen woefully behind on the Marfa Mondays podcasts... but I will be catching up soon. The revisions are almost finished. Stay tuned for a batch of Marfa Mondays podcasts in August and September...

Pictured right: The Fox sisters, who star in the opening of my revised intro. Yes, they did have something to do with the Mexican Revolution. If indirectly.

The Fox Sisters

Free online moon calendar (recommended for historians and historical novelists)

Timothy McSweeney's update on tweetspeak & etc

Seth Godin on the Art of Noticing, and Then Creating

Paul Nicklen: Tales of Ice-Bound Wonderlands (TED video)

You are not so smart: Survivorship Bias
(OK, so no need to ask J.K. Rowling how she did it?)

Oyyy, will I ever teach again in person? Skillshare
(Re robots and bots)


Monday, July 22, 2013

Jiddu Krishnamurti and The Lives of Alcyone

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Still revising the introduction for the 2nd edition of my translation of Francisco I Madero's Spiritist Manual of 1911... and the introduction is turning into a book itself... meanwhile, here's a brief excerpt from a new bit about the Theosophists-- it's the part where I go through Madero's personal library. (For those of you new to the blog, Francisco I. Madero was the leader of the Mexican 1910 Revolution and President of Mexico 1911-1913. His Spiritist Manual has never before been translated.)

. . . . One book apparently did not belong to Madero: Las últimas treinta vidas de Alcione, Federico Climet Terrer’s 1912 Barcelona translation of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater’s Lives of Alcyone, inscribed to Sara Pérez Vd. de Madero, Habana, Oct 18 1918. (Sara Pérez, Widow of Madero).

Now, as we see in Madero’s own library, Spiritist and Theosophical ideas so overlapped and intertwined, it behooves us to venture a little ways down another rabbit hole for the answer to the question, Who, pray tell, was Alcyone?

Alcyone (and Other Lives) in the 20th Century

Greek answer:A star-nymph, daughter of Atlas and lover of Poseidon.
Literal answer: Jiddu Krishnamurti, a sickly Brahmin boy.
The Theosophists’ answer:  As revealed by the Mahatmas, the vehicle for the Lord Maitreya, the Christ, the World Teacher.

It was C.W. Leadbeater who had discovered the adolescent Krishnamurti playing on a beach in 1909, identifying him as said vehicle by clairvoyant means. Alas, no story of the Theosophical Society gets told without the taint of Leadbeater’s, shall we say, intimate involvement with other young boys. Prior to this, in 1906, after vociferous complaints from parents, Leadbeater was obliged to resign. By 1909, however, his old friend and fellow Initiate before the Mahatmas, and expert on the Bhagavad-Gita, Annie Besant, had taken the reigns of the Theosophical Society and readmitted Leadbeater. In the Theosophical Society’s headquarters in Adyar, together Besant and Leadbeater arranged Krishnamurti’s care and education, and almost immediately, Leadbeater, by psychic means known only to himself, began researching the “Akashic” or astral records, on the lives of “Alcyone,” that is, the previous incarnations of Krishnamurti, in which Annie Besant appeared under the code-name “Heracles,” Leadbeater as “Sirius,” and various other Theosophists under various other names in mind-numbing permutations reaching back to 22,662 B.C. Mary Lutyens, daughter of the Theosphical Society’s benefactress Lady Emily Lutyens, and both childhood friend and biographer of Krishnamurti, in her memoir, To Be Young, recalled of the Lives of Alcyone, “a great deal of heart-burning and snobbery.”

'Are you in the Lives?’ Became the question most constantly asked by one Theosophist of another, and, if so, ‘How closely related have you been to Alcyone?’

At night, by means of their astral bodies, Leadbeater took Krishnamurti to study with “Master Kuthumi,” that “Great White Brother” first introduced to this world by Madame Blavatsky, and in the morning, in his octagonal office, Leadbeater obliged Krishnamurti, whose English and writing skills were what one would expect of a little boy whose first language was Telegu, to record what he could remember of those lessons. Flash forward two decades to 1929, and the world traveling, English-educated World Teacher, venerated Head of Leadbeater and Besant’s creation, the 43,000 member-strong Order of the Star in the East, took the stage at Erde Castle in Holland before 3,000 members and, with a solemn salaam, dissolved that order. Krishnamurti did not deny being whatever they conceived him to be; he said:

I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect… I do not care if you believe I am the World Teacher or not… I do not want you to follow me… You have been accustomed to being told how far you have advanced, what is your spiritual status. How childish! Who but yourself can tell you if you are incorruptible?... You can form other organizations and expect someone else. With that I am not concerned, nor with creating new cages, new decorations for those cages. My only concern is to set men absolutely, unconditionally, free.

That, as one might guess, signaled the decline (though not the disappearance) of the Theosophical Society, as well as Annie Besant’s health. But fantastically, Krishnamurti’s career, unmoored from official disciples, continued to flourish. Like Teresa Urrea and the Niño Fidencio, Krishnamurti had a serene and childlike quality and an ability to draw and mesmerize crowds, but unlike them, Krishnmurti exuded an urbane polish, and he wrote some 30 books that articulated a philosophy of freedom and that appealed to such diverse figures as physicist David Bohm, writer Aldous Huxley, Indira Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama.

On YouTube, I found an old film of the white-haired Krishnamurti holding forth in a tent in Ojai, California, and what struck me was not anything he said—he sounded halting and vapid to my ears— but the faces of the hundreds of people sitting on the lawn before him, eyes shining, jaws slack. I could not help but think of Niño Fidencio— and the strange power I had seen in Francisco Madero in the films and photographs of his political rallies. . . .

>Want to be alerted when the 2nd edition is ready? Click here to join the mailing list. 

***UPDATE My book, Metaphysical Odyssey Into the Mexican Revolution, is now available***

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cyberflanerie: Tabarrok on the Emerging Servant Boom

Over at Tyler Cowan and Alexander Tabarrok's excellent & ever-effervescent Marginal Revolution blog, Tabarrok notes the emerging servant boom. 

My take on this issue: Yes, it looks like economic polarization is sending us back to the Victorian age, somewhat, which does not bode well. But there's a big difference between now and the 19th century: cheap information changes everything.

Ponder the implications:

1. When a US family member had to have a live-in nurse, this nurse, who happened to be from a small town in the Philippines, casually mentioned that she had, from her cell phone, uploaded a photo of my relative's "super cute" dog, which was resting on the bed, to her facebook page. 
2. I live in Mexico City where most of the maids come to work with a cell phone. Increasingly these have cameras and wifi capabilities. 
3. Emerging information-rich intermediaries may change the dynamics between employer and servant and quite dramatically in the direction of customer and peer provider. I am not just talking about the growth of age-old British nanny providers and home health care agencies, but Task Rabbit. And one big service in this category is dog walking. Read what the NYT had to say about adding information to that. The other is Ikea furniture assembly. Of all things.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cyberflanerie: Bug-A-Salt, Dave Meslin, Margaret Dulaney, Digital Tattoos, Tyler Cowan, Gene Logsdon

Salt is the new bullets! For your Texas BBQ, the Bug-A-Salt.

Remove that cement block to get up off the couch: Dave Meslin's TED Talk: "The Antidote to Apathy"

Inspired sandwich accompaniment: Margaret Dulaney's "Listen Well" podcast, "The Lean of the Dog"

Juan Enriquez's TED Talk on how to think about "digital tattoos"
(I was horrified when I logged in one day to facebook from an "unrecognized device" and facebook made me answer a multiple choice test to identify-- from faces circled in photos on their fb pages-- several of my personal friends. There was M on vacation with her children, B reading in a bookstore.... eeeeeeeeew.)

Yummy brainy surfing: Tyler Cowan's Marginal Revolution blog, like a bin to root around in, lots of good stuff in there.

Guess the Beijing poobahs don't have fond memories of the 60s: "The Contrary Farmer" Gene Logsdon's take on the latest Chinese mass boondoggle 

Monday, July 08, 2013

Creelman Interview with Porfirio Díaz in Pearson's Magazine March 1908

***UPDATE Dec 2013 My book, Metaphysical Odyssey Into the Mexican Revolution, is now available***

Still plowing on here with the revisions to my introduction to my translation of Francisco I. Madero's Spiritist Manual of 1911. The new edition will be published this fall in both paperback and Kindle-- and Spanish. Stay tuned. Apart from providing more of the metaphysical context (see my previous posts on Madame BlavatskyAllen Kardec, the Bhagavad-Gita and El Niño Fidencio) I'll go into much more detail about Madero's political career and the Revolution, which he launched in November 1910. And apropos of the Revolution, the fuse was lit in 1908 by yellow journalist James Creelman's interview with Porfirio Diaz, the dictator who was then nearing 80 years old, without having indicated a clear successor. (Chimes of Hosni Mubarak...) If there were a banana peel of destiny, Don Porfirio smoked it. It is a deeply strange interview... a bubblebath of drool... Read it for yourself here.

The oft-quoted part, where Porfirio Diaz states that he does not want to run for reelection in 1910 and would welcome an opposition party, appears on the 12th page in.

“I welcome an opposition party in the Mexican republic,” [Don Porfirio] said. “If it appears, I will regard it as a blessing, not as an evil. And of it can develop power, not to exploit, but to govern, I will stand by it, support it, advise it and forget myself in the successful inauguration of complete democratic government of the country.
“It is enough for me that I have seen Mexico rise among the peaceful and useful nations. I have no desire to continue in the Presidency. This nation is ready for her ultimate life of freedom.”

Of course Don Porfirio did run in 1910, jailed the opposition candidate, Framcisco I. Madero, and outrageously stuffed the ballot boxes. Madero then overthrew him in 1911.


Monday, July 01, 2013

Cyberflanerie: Beltway's Resurrection Issue, Travel, Farmstand, USSR in the 60s, Eight Martinis, Steven Hart Has a Twitter

A fascinating and beautiful read: Poet Kim Robert's has just announced Beltway's Resurrection issue, which brings several long-lost Washington DC poets back into print.

It's a weirdly ever-morphing publishing world out there: My amiga the intrepid, far-ranging and widely published travel writer L. Peat O'Neil offers 5 sites for travel writers to publish

For those who avoid Wal-Mart at all costs: Where's the farmstand? Get the app.

Very gray, very cold, very scary... Naomi F. Collins interviewed about life as student in 1960s USSR

More po news: Wilson Wyatt, photographer and editor celebrates Richard Blanco

For Ingo Swann fans: Daz Smith's Eight Martinis remote viewing magazine May 2013 is out.

One of my favorite bloggers: Steven Hart has entered the labyrinth of the Twitterverse and seeks followers

Another literary labor of love: Ezra: an online journal of translation has just posted its new issue

Jawdropping: Pigs, Gourds & Wikis blog has info on the video capabilities of Kindle (EPUB3)