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thecast newsletter! personal!
Renaissance and Resistance! How the Industrial Revolution Started! Knowing History! Money! Video Explorations!
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T H EC A ST NEWSLET TER
thecast by Mac Davis December 2012
“You must be ready to burn yourself in your own ﬂame; How could you rise anew if you have not ﬁrst become ashes?” ! ! ! ! ! ! -- Friedrich Nietzsche
delicious hand-baked delicacies
The truth is, we’re never told anything deep about the lives of revolutionaries and the climates of their times. The answers are not diﬃcult to ﬁnd or understand. They just call too much into question to be commonly discussed.
Renaissance and Resistance
The Renaissance men that we so revere today, were in their time, criminals, fugitives, and enemies of the state. Their discoveries upset the existing order to such depth that federal police were sent out to kill them. Imagine yourself as living in a time just before the invention of the book. All serious information was owned by the church. They kept the information in a language that most people could not read or speak (Latin). They had an immense monopoly of power. But then, the printing press was invented. Individuals (the geeky types who were the only kind of people that would build printing presses) now had more power than the established order did. They were able to broadcast any information they chose over an entire city. Information that was once rare, illegal, or esoteric could be had by anyone. These ﬁrst anarchist printmakers lived as delinquent (but intelligent) youths with access to futuristic underground technology. They were the ﬁrst generation in history who grew up reading accounts of what human life was like in other places. They were the ﬁrst generation in history that had access to books on any topic they wanted... including pornography. The existence of books signiﬁcantly altered the minds of those who read them to a degree never before achieved. The deeper they delved into the act of reading unauthorized books and ﬁnding others like themselves, the more they broke with consensus reality and started generating their own.
Some of these people began living in a completely unrestricted manner, and learned to expressed their own unique identities. They became who we call today, Renaissance men. The proliferation of underground printing presses and the ability to read subverted the existing order to the extent that police oﬃcers were sent out to burn books, destroy unregulated presses, and murder their operators. Men who lived in the birth of the Renaissance had to keep underground channels for trading books and writing. Microscope and telescope usage was restricted by the government and criminalized. Galileo Galilei, today known as “the father of science” was famously arrested and tried for writing a book that contained his many telescope observations. Spiritual and intellectual groups like The Brethren of the Free Spirit, Homines Inte$igentiae, The Friends of God, and the Lollards and Waldensians, were labeled “Enemies of God.” They had their members kidnapped, tortured, and executed. Roman courts sentenced Giordano Bruno, the famous Italian philosopher and physicist, to execution by public immolation (being burned alive) in the streets of Rome for “blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy.” Those founders of the Renaissance that we so revere today, were in their time, criminals, arrested for the possession of illegal heretical materials, for engaging in acts of witchcraft and unregulated mysticism, and for publishing books without a license. Whether or not you get written into the oﬃcial history of things, really standing up to the system and living your own way means doing some real heroic, world changing shit. And being near those people lights your world. From a vantage point of clarity, we today revere the Renaissance men. But we have to extend that clarity onward towards the present day and our own lives. We have to understand that the patterns of history are eternal patterns in consciousness, and we have to choose what part of the pattern we want to be.
How the Industrial Revolution Started
When we think of the Industrial Revolution, most of us think of huge factories and automobiles, or perhaps locomotives. The truth is, however, that it began with fabric. People of that time had never dreamed of cars or locomotives, but they had dreamt long and hard about better clothing. This is a time, recall, when books had been recently invented, and cities were still a new concept. Prior to the industrial revolution, weaving fabric was a slow, diﬃcult process. People certainly did it, but ineﬃciently. The average person had a few articles of clothing, often in odd sizes. In the cities, weaving was oﬃcially done by the Weaver’s Guild, who was an established corporate/economic power. When a machine that a person could use to weave in their house was invented, it was called the “weaving engine.” (The word “engine” comes from the Latin, ingenium, meaning ingenious.) Clothes became a lot cheaper and readily available. Nearly everyone was eager to buy better fabric at a fraction of the usual cost. But the Weaver’s Guilds, who had been cashing in with monopolistic agreements, refused to accept the existence of the weaving engine. They used every political connection they had to make it illegal. Here are some records from the time: 1616 – Oﬃcial English documents refer to “alien weavers,” who were: bold of late, to devise engines for working of tape, laces, ribbon and such, wherein one man does more among them than seven English men can do, so as their cheap sale of these commodities be(areth a$ our English artiﬁcers of that trade. 1625 – The Weavers Company of London beseeches the city fathers: Order that none may use the said engine, except those who are Weavers by trade, for they which now use them are... Merchants and other tradesmen, but not Weavers by trade.
1638 – King Charles I illegalizes the use of “engine, or great looms,” and adds, “whereby much deceit is practiced.” 1666 – France begins publishing the Crafts Codes: 2,200 pages of regulations describing established crafting techniques, and forbidding any innovations or diﬀerences from them. 1667 – The Weavers Court of Assistants in London sends search teams to ﬁnd out how many engines were in their jurisdiction, so that, “a course of action may be decided upon.” 1675 – A guild of London area weavers petitions the Lord Mayor to outlaw new “engine looms.” The Weavers then riot for three days and destroy many of the new machines. The spread of these new weaving engines caused a great deal of psychological and economic instability. People rioted in the streets. Police broke into people’s houses to destroy their weaving machines and charge them with the crime of unauthorized fabric manufacture. The inventor of the weaving engine was executed. By the end of that century, it became common for a family to build or buy an illegal weaving machine and hide it in a back room. They would secretly produce clothing and then sell it underground or even smuggle it overseas. The weaving engine was improved over time by many, and its existence was eventually accepted. The existence of the weaving engine completely altered the course of European history by opening people’s minds up to the idea that they could run machines to multiply human eﬀort. Economic historians today widely describe the onset of the industrial revolution as the most important event in human history since the domestication of animals and plants.
Imagine the value of a book of poetry, or mathematics to someone who lived in a time where there were no books. Imagine the value of a machine that could make clothes, to someone who lived in a time when they were so poor, they only had a few pieces of clothing. Imagine the idea that a discovery was made that could upset the entire structure of government. Imagine that major economic powers wanted these objects destroyed, and the police worked intimately with them to destroy every object they could ﬁnd. The older generation would dismiss these things as something dangerous that the youth should not get into, and it would be a violation of social norms to talk about these things in public. It took lethal courage to ﬁght through these dark times—against every cultural and political institution, to preserve and extend something you knew was valuable and beautiful. Today, we clothe our children in clothes made by weaving engines. We give them books, and hope that they will love reading. The most commonplace things in your lives, are things that people died to protect. Every Renaissance man we foster and grow, can be the choice of creating something of value and beauty in the lives of every human being in every successive generation, as well as our own. We don’t have to destroy new forms of consciousness. We can accept it. People died to protect many of the most important objects and thoughts that make up your life. Things in your worldview that you just accept as standard, that always existed. How much do you understand the value of the things in your life? How much do you know the value of history?
Money is probably one of the most important elements of reality that is poorly understood. Many people assume that the way money has existed in your life is the only way it has existed. This is natural to think, but unfortunately is not true. The relationship that money has with value is like the relationship between a restaurant menu and the food you are served. It’s also like the relationship between a map and a territory. The point of money is that a lot of people use it. In this way, money is a shared map of value. Depending on where a society or group of people puts their money, that says how much that portion of reality will be emphasized. A surplus is when you have more stuﬀ than you thought you would at the end of a time period. If you were at a restaurant, it would be like getting more or higher quality food than you were expecting for your meal. The concept of a surplus is an interesting concept. It sounds like an experience I want to have. But when’s the last time you heard anybody in the government say that word? They are always arguing about things, but all of the arguments seem to be about how large the deﬁcit should be. No one is saying “guys, I think we should really do a surplus this time.” The Federal Reserve Bank likes deﬁcits. They just announced “Unlimited Quantitative Easing” this September (that means they’re going to make the deﬁcit REALLY big). On November 21st, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner suggested that we “simply eliminate debt limits.” Banks, governments, and laws, are collections of orders written down. They live in a universe of money, and want a larger fraction of the world to exist as numbers on paper: they prefer a rising ratio of money to value. Humans live in a world where we experience real things, freedom, and value. Individuals prefer to exist in a world with a rising ratio of value to money.
The relationship that money has with value is like the relationship between a restaurant menu and the food you are served. It’s also like the relationship between a map and a territory. If the two parts of the system are not synced up, everything gets weird. Why would you go to a restaurant where they served you the wrong menu? An old way to sync up the map and the territory was to use what was called an “objective money system.” Having an objective money system means that an object that humans nor banks can make is used as money. Some people associate this type of money with God, because it had to come from a thirdparty source. Gold was the most famous monetary object, because it has a lot of special properties. Like: you can cut it up into really small pieces, it doesn’t get old, and it’s pretty. Gold was widely used by the Romans, Chinese, and Arabs. Another kind of monetary object is sea shells. Sea shells also have a lot of special properties: Many people agree that shells are very pretty, they also come in diﬀerent sizes, and do not get old. Shells are also not made by humans or banks—they are objects that come from the surrounding environment (i.e. “God”). Shell money was popularly used in Africa, Asia, Oceania, Australia, North America. People on the Paciﬁc islands of Yap and Palau used stone money to pay for land, weddings, and other important ﬁnancial transactions. Geologically, large stones were extremely rare, and adventurers had to sail 300 miles away to caves on distant islands. They used crude handmade tools to cut stone from stalactites into a disc and carry the stones back to Yap using handmade canoes. Sometimes, 20 men would be required to lift one stone. The trip was often very dangerous, and it was not uncommon for one member of the team to die.
Left: Yap stones in *ont of a local mansion, indicating great wealth. Stones were taken *om the island of Palau to the island of Yap by legendary adventurers.
After the invention of the printing press, people became used to the idea that paper could be meaningful when language was printed on it using ink. When everybody decided that carrying around pieces of paper with intricate drawings on them was important and normal, paper money was possible. Paper money was ﬁrst invented in China, where the printing press was also invented ﬁrst. Wikipedia’s “Banknote” article says: “Before the use of paper, the Chinese used coins that were circular, with a rectangular hole in the middle. Several coins could be strung together on a rope. Merchants in China, if they became rich enough, found that their strings of coins were too heavy to carry around easily. To solve this problem, coins were often left with a trustworthy person, and the merchant was given a slip of paper recording how much money he had with that person. If he showed the paper to that person he could regain his money. Eventually, the Song Dynasty paper money called "jiaozi" originated from these promissory notes.” The importance of paper money was that it decreased the amount of weight associated with a quantity of value. This was done by removing one of the dimensions (gold is three dimensional, money is two). Because the money was lighter, ﬁnancial transactions could occur faster.
Unfortunately, paper money was not objective money by itself. It depended on gold to be objective, and because of that, all paper money everywhere said, “exchangeable for this amount of gold” on it, for about 600 years. Paper money doesn’t say that anymore. Now, in banks, there are signs that say “your deposit is backed by the full faith and credit of the united states government.”
These signs indicate that the money system is not objective. Faith and credibility, are not objects the same way that sea shells or pieces of gold are. Even though every piece of money says “In God We Trust,” on it (added in 1957), none of our money was actually created by a third party source. Similar to the way that paper money developed, there’s a new kind of money being developed right now. Enough people exist that see the “internet” as a plausible normal part of reality, that there can be money based on it. Bitcoin is the most popular kind of virtual money. The most interesting about Bitcoin is that it uses prime forms as money. Any mathematician can tell you that prime forms are special, but only a cryptographer will know why. Prime numbers are numbers that can not be evenly divided into parts. 29 is the number of days in the lunar cycle and is a prime number. You can’t divide it by any normal number without getting a fraction. You can divide it by 1, but that’s
not very meaningful. You can divide it by 29, but that’s like, totally the same thing! You can’t analyze it into smaller pieces. If you were able to, it would reduce into a special series of prime numbers called the prime form. Euclid wrote in his book, Elements of Geometry that all numbers are either prime, or have a hidden prime form. He called it the fundamental theorem of arithmetic. Prime numbers are special because they are local minimums in entropy. Entropy means, if you had to guess what a number was, and only knew the number of digits that number was, you would have to guess a lot of times. The quantity of times you had to guess is called the entropy of that number. The more digits there are, the more possibilities you have to guess, and the higher entropy the number is. Remember that all numbers have a hidden prime form. Even if the number is high entropy (1024 digits long), its prime form might only be 24 digits long. Prime forms allow us to express extremely high entropy numbers in terms of extremely low entropy states. Essentially, it is a way to store an extremely large quantity of information in an extremely small quantity of information. The prime form is the lowest entropy state given any quantity of high entropy noise. Finding the prime form of a number is like ﬁnding a special pocket of rare and beautiful in the middle of a lot of meaningless noise. It’s like ﬁnding a beautiful ﬂower in the after math of a nuclear disaster or meeting somebody you love in a busy airport. Bitcoin has special properties similar to past money objects. Like: it’s pretty (even if you have to understand it ﬁrst), it can be divided into small pieces, and it doesn’t physically decay. Similar to the most important beneﬁt that paper money expressed, Bitcoin decreases the amount of weight associated with a quantity of value. Whereas a traditional bank might take several days or weeks approve an international
“wire transfer,” with Bitcoin, it takes less than a second. The size of the money has decreased by one more dimension. Money is probably one of the most important elements of reality that is poorly understood. Many people assume that the way money has existed in your life is the only way it has existed. This is natural to think, but unfortunately is not true. Money has changed signiﬁcantly many times in human history, and it is changing again. The problem of synchronizing banks and governments with humans is an essential problem that is not happen stance, and one way we solve that is by using money objects. This information-based reality of computers is one where gold and shells are not appropriate, but is one where beautiful numbers with special properties are.
Have you ever explored an abandoned nuclear missile launch facility? Here’s a great video I recommend of some people doing so! ! ! “Exploring an abandoned nuclear missile silo, as you do”: http://youtube.com/watch?v=yP_PwQJlXk0
Here’s one more video I found this week, of the world’s deepest swimming pool. It’s more than 100 feet deep! ! ! “Guillaume Néry playing at NEMO 33”: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Gs79qz286QE
There is a diving culture called “No-Limits Apnea” where divers of high ability dive more than 100 feet underwater and then swim back up, all on only a single breath of air. It’s regarded by many as highly dangerous, but some people really like it. (Link)
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