Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The bizarre "barbed tributaries" of Marble Canyon

Above is a beautiful image taken from the platform of the space shuttle Discovery in 1985, showing the Grand Canyon in November (south is at the top of this image, and north is at the bottom).  This image is not only breathtaking, but also clearly reveals many of the important pieces of geological evidence about the Grand Canyon which support a catastrophic mechanism for its creation, as opposed to the uniformitarian explanations which are commonly foisted upon the public.

Specifically, these pieces of evidence are features which Dr. Walt Brown discusses in the chapter of his book in which he discusses the Grand Canyon and the facts there which support his hydroplate theory, a theory which proposes that almost all of the geological features of our planet were shaped in the events surrounding a catastrophic global flood.  In that chapter, he proposes that the Grand Canyon was formed when waters trapped after the flood in two huge lakes (which he names "Grand Lake" and "Hopi Lake") breached and poured out with tremendous violence, carving the awe-inspiring wonder of the world that we know today.

Some of the evidence which can be seen in the NASA image which refute the standard explanation that the Colorado River gradually carved out the Grand Canyon over millions of years include the Colorado River's dramatic "right turn" in which it plows right through the massif of the Kaibab Plateau (which is labeled in the image below), as well as the many mysterious canyons that lead into the path that the Colorado River takes but which seem to have no perceptible source.  

Previous posts have discussed the formation of the Grand Canyon and the way that Dr. Brown's theory can explain the path right through the Kaibab Plateau (while conventional theories have great difficulty explaining this geological fact).  To revisit some of the previous discussion of the Grand Canyon and surrounds, see for example:
Let's now examine these mysterious side canyons, which this superb space shuttle image make so easy to see, in a bit more detail.

In a section entitled "Side Canyons" on this page of his online book in the chapter on the Grand Canyon, Dr. Brown explains some of the enigmatic features of these side canyons which make them very difficult to account for if using conventional uniformitarian theories of gradual erosion by the Colorado River:
Dozens of large side canyons intersect the main trunk of Grand and Marble Canyons and cut down to the level of the Colorado River. These side canyons also have their own side canyons, all connected like branches on a big, bushy tree. Surprisingly, most side canyons, at least today, have no source of water that could have carved them—or basins above that could have held much water.  
Even more difficult to explain is the direction of some of these side canyons, which some geologists call "barbed" canyons, because they come into the main river path from what would seem to be the "wrong direction."  Dr. Brown writes:
A few side canyons are “barbed.” That is, they connect to the main canyon “backwards,” similar to the barbs in barbed wire or fishhooks. Tributaries almost always enter rivers at acute angles, but the barbed canyons are oriented at obtuse angles. Very strange.15 What happened? 
The footnote is to a description from a book by geologist, trail guide and author Wayne Ranney, entitled Carving Grand Canyon:  Evidence, Theory, and Mysteries, in which Mr. Ranney writes:
Additionally, in Marble Canyon, many tributary streams come into the Colorado River flowing generally to the north, against the southerly flow of the modern river. This creates a pattern of drainage known to geologists as "barbed" tributaries. The Marble Platform, into which the tributaries have been carved, also slopes down to the northeast exactly opposite the flow direction of the modern river.  23.
The image below (same NASA image, with additional markings and labels) points out a two of these barbed canyons.  Note that they are intersecting the main channel of the Colorado from south to north, even though the Colorado River is flowing from north to south:

Strictly speaking, as noted in Mr. Ranney's quotation above, these barbed canyons are found in the portion of the overall canyon complex known as Marble Canyon, which is the name given to the canyon section between Lee's Ferry and the point where the Little Colorado River comes into the path of the Colorado River (see map below):

Note, of course, that unlike the previous two images, this map is oriented with north at the top rather than at the bottom.  The barbed canyons along the path of Marble Canyon are clearly visible, especially along the section of Marble Canyon just south of the arrow indicating the location of Lee's Ferry.

So, what could account for these strange barbed canyons, which appear from no apparent source and enter the Colorado River and the main channel of the canyon from a generally south-to-north angle instead of coming in the same way that the river flows, namely north-to-south?  

The standard uniformitarian answer involves, of course, long periods of time, and posits that drainage plain between the Kaibab Plateau and the canyon allowed the runoff from occasional thunderstorms to gather itself together into channels that flowed from south-to-north, and that the drainage plain on the other side, between the canyon and the Vermillion and Echo Cliffs, did the same thing.  The Vermillion and Echo Cliffs are the line of cliffs through which the tell-tale "funnel" feature can be seen to erupt -- Lee's Ferry is right in the middle of this funnel.

This uniformitarian explanation relies on the idea that the line of the Vermillion and Echo Cliffs slowly retreats to the northeast, due to erosion, while the hump of the Kaibab Plateau remains anchored in place.  This northward retreat causes the water to run generally from the higher ground in the direction of the Kaibab towards the lower ground in the direction of the retreating cliffs -- thus, the runoff from the annual wet season goes towards the north.  

That is certainly one possible explanation.  Readers should examine the evidence closely and see whether it fits what is seen "on the ground," and whether does a better job than other theories at explaining the features in the area, including the cliffs, the funnel, Marble Canyon itself, and the deep barbed canyons running into it from the south on either side.  

This and other competing explanations should be compared against the detailed explanation offered by Dr. Brown in his book -- one aspect of his book that I think is very laudable is Dr. Brown's comparison of competing explanations, which he tries to present as fairly as possible.  He then points out evidence that each theory (including his own) has difficulty explaining, and evidence that each theory explains well.

This webpage from Dr. Brown's online book gives a detailed explanation, with terrific photographs, of the geology of Marble Canyon, and the forces that he believes created its incredible features, including the barbed canyons.  

He explains that the Vermillion and Echo Cliffs were originally joined in one long cliff-line, which was uplifted as a reaction to the sinking down of the newly-formed Rocky Mountains further west (the Rockies having been created by the violent buckling of the hydroplates that had been sliding away from the rupture in the earth's crust that started the flood to begin with -- this previous post explains why the principles of physics tell us that the creation of huge mountain ranges such as the Rockies require more force than the tectonic theory can muster).  

The huge lakes trapped on this uplifted Colorado Plateau during the recovery phase after the flood (after the floodwaters drained into the ocean basins -- creating huge submarine canyons still visible today and difficult to explain by uniformitarian theories) eventually breached, starting with the northern of the two lakes, a breach which created the huge funnel clearly visible in the map above in the middle of which is Lee's Ferry.  This breaching water did not carve Marble Canyon; rather, it blasted away all the soft sedimentary layers (the ones that uniformitarians call the "mesozoic" layers) in the path of the funnel, stripping away down to the harder and more brittle limestone below.

Dr. Brown explains:
Suddenly, Grand Lake breaches a point on its bank and catastrophically erodes the soft Mesozoic sediments, forming a gigantic spillway—a steep, 18-mile-long channel shaped like a widening funnel. The escaping water’s large volume and high velocity erodes the far end of the funnel within weeks to a width of 12 miles and a depth of 2,000 feet.

Marble Canyon. The originally horizontal sedimentary layers below the floor of the funnel steadily arch upward as weight is removed by this downward erosion. Eventually, the funnel’s floor—hard, brittle Kaibab Limestone—cracks in tension, splitting open the entire floor parallel to the funnel’s axis, forming Marble Canyon. [See Figure 121.] 
Dr. Brown explains that the removal of all that earth in the funnel allowed subsurface water to gush out the newly-formed cliff-sides of the funnel, and down into the floor of the funnel, where it created a maze of tiny tributaries flowing into the crack that we call Marble Canyon.  However, the upward-arching action of the hard limestone floor that followed the removal of the sediments above and created the crack in the first place also created a north-to-south slope for that water to follow.  

As these torrents flowed together, they ran into "sinkholes" created by subsurface waters that were spilling down into the crack of Marble Canyon.  These sinkholes were actually "sink-canyons," as an examination of the weirdly collapsed layers seen in Dr. Brown's Figure 124 (linked in his paragraph quoted above) reveals.  The subsurface water spilling into Marble Canyon created sink-canyons (the same way that sinkholes form in limestone in other parts of North America, such as the southeast), which invited the torrents of water that was spilling out of the cliff-sides of the funnel onto the funnel floor, and these torrents of water further deepened those sink-canyons that became the barbed canyons we see today.  They intersect the crack of Marble Canyon from a south-to-north direction because the upward-arching of the funnel-floor after the softer Mesozoic sediments were removed was greater at the wider end of the funnel than at the narrow end of the funnel.

Further evidence to support this theory can be seen in the tipped layers at the base of the cliffs on either side of the "funnel," which Dr. Brown shows clearly in his Figure 120 and explains in the caption beneath.

The reader is invited to compare all the possible explanations for the very distinctive series of geological phenomena surrounding Marble Canyon and its barbed canyons.  Ask yourself which explanation does the best job of accounting for the truly bizarre features of these barbed canyons, the size and shape of the funnel itself, and the dramatic upward-arching of the layers in the cliffs that form the sides of the funnel.

Note that even if the reader decides that the uniformitarian explanation does a better job (and I personally think that would be a dubious conclusion), that still leaves the mystery of the Grand Canyon's pathway through the Kaibab Plateau to explain, as well as the origin of the Little Colorado River and its own (less distinctive) funnel region.  These geological features are comprehensively explained by the hydroplate theory account, but not by the conventional explanation for the barbed canyons.

I believe that the fantastic barbed canyons of the Marble Canyon region of the Grand Canyon complex are an often-overlooked but extremely powerful argument in support of Dr. Brown's theory.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dinosaur Dance Floors, Part II (Australia edition)

A big thank-you to Mr. T.R.B. of California for alerting me to this recent news item, regarding a new study analyzing the Lark Quarry dinosaur trackways in Queensland, Australia, first discovered in the 1960s.

The quarry, which contains an amazing 3,300 fossilized dinosaur tracks, has long been interpreted as preserving the record of a stampede of small bipedal dinosaurs fleeing from a large predator dinosaur (perhaps a Tyrannosaur).  However, in an article entitled "Reevaluation of the Lark Quarry Dinosaur Tracksite (Late Albian-Cenomanian Winton Formation, Central-Western Queensland, Australia): No Longer a Stampede?" authors Anthony Romilio, Ryan Tucker, and Steven Salisbury examine evidence that suggests that some of the tracks were actually made by swimming dinosaurs whose claw-marks scraped into the sediment, and based on this and other evidence (such as the possibility that the larger dinosaur's tracks belonged to an herbivore and not a predator), they suggest that the tracksite "may represent part of a riverine setting, where the water was shallow, in which small dinosaurs swam and/or waded," rather than a one-time stampede as has been previously thought.

As Mr. T.R.B. (who sent me the link) insightfully noted, this fascinating and important collection of fossil evidence has strong parallels to other trace fossils of dinosaur tracks found in other parts of the world, such as the "dinosaur dance floors" found in Bolivia (South America) and in northern Arizona (North America) discussed in this previous blog post.

In that post, we saw that explaining the mechanism by which dinosaur tracks would be preserved at all is very difficult for proponents of the conventional "uniformitarian" geological theories, in which most pieces of evidence (including fossils) are explained as the result of gradual changes wrought by forces similar to those operating today (as opposed to the extraordinary or catastrophic events proposed by adherents to what has been termed "catastrophism"):
How were dinosaur tracks preserved in what is now stone, anyway?  This question is actually one that remains difficult to answer under conventional models, and one that scientists continue to work on.  It is so difficult to imagine conditions that would allow such trace fossils to be preserved that scientists use the term "Goldilocks" or the "Goldilocks effect" to underscore that a multitude of factors must all be "just right" in order to lead to track preservation.
In fact, preserving any kind of fossils actually is very difficult to explain using uniformitarian mechanisms, and the presence of the fossils on our planet points toward a catastrophic event or events in the past, as discussed in numerous previous posts such as this one and this one.   Trace fossils present other difficulties of their own, such as how they were blanketed with layers of sediment thick enough to preserve them from erosion, but gently enough to preserve them for later discovery.

Further, as pointed out in that previous post (published in August of 2012, before the new theory of Lark Quarry was published), dinosaur track fossils very often appear to have been made in situations of somewhat shallow water.  Tracks often lack "tail drag" marks, leading some paleontologists to conclude that dinosaurs held their tails aloft when they walked, even large dinosaurs with very heavy tails.  Another explanation, however, is that these tracks were made by dinosaurs walking in water, so that their tails did not always drag (although sometimes tail drag marks are in evidence on some of the tracks, though not all, which may suggests a variability to the water level during the event or period in which the tracks were made).

As discussed in that previous post, while adherents of the conventional geological theories often admit they are at a loss to describe in detail what took place to preserve the dinosaur tracks, or describe a mechanism of preservation in very vague terms, the hydroplate theory of Dr. Walt Brown provides a very detailed description of what probably took place and how such tracks were formed.  His theory analyzes an enormous amount of geological evidence on our planet (and in our solar system) and explains this evidence in light of the violent events that took place surrounding a catastrophic global flood.  The theory is very comprehensive, as you can see for yourself by reading his book discussing this evidence in light of the theory, which can be purchased in hardback or read online for free on his website.

Discussing dinosaur tracks in particular, Dr. Brown writes:
Almost all trackways moved uphill, and traces of the animal’s bodies are never found, even as fossils. Obviously, thick sediments must have gently and quickly blanketed the footprints to prevent their erosion—but how? Evolutionists have difficulty explaining what protected these delicate footprints. How did it happen? During the early weeks of the flood, flutter amplitudes were large enough for the crust to rise repeatedly, but slowly, out of the flood waters. [See “Water Hammers and Flutter Produced Gigantic Waves” on page 188.] Frightened animals—and sometimes dinosaurs—scampered uphill onto the rising land, each leaving footprints. Minutes later, the crust again submerged, allowing sediments falling through the thick muddy waters to blanket and protect the prints while the rising water swept the animals’ bodies away.
Intriguingly, this proposed scenario (published long before the latest reevaluation of the Lark Quarry site) very much fits the findings of Anthony Romilio et al. that the smaller dinosaurs that left the tracks in Queensland were partially running and partially swimming.  However, it differs in that Dr. Brown's theory proposes that dinosaur track fossils were made by animals fleeing in terror from the completely extraordinary circumstances surrounding a catastrophic event, rather than by dinosaurs going about their normal routines.  In this case, it would probably be accurate to say that the hydroplate theory supports the "stampede" descriptor, albeit a stampede from terrifying flood conditions, not from a terrifying dinosaur predator.

It is important to note that Dr. Brown's analysis of the events that led to the dinosaur track fossils in various parts of the globe flows very naturally from his proposed mechanism for the flood itself.  In other words, he examined literally hundreds of pieces of geological evidence around the world (from submarine canyons to folded sediment layers to deposits of sediments in Pakistan to the incredible geology of the Grand Canyon) and proposed a theory which would explain this evidence.  The fact that this broad theory does an outstanding job of explaining new developments, such as this new research at the Lark Quarry site, or the discovery of fossil jellyfish in Utah (whose discovery was also published well after Dr. Brown had published his hydroplate theory), is a strong indicator of its validity.

Anthony Romilio, Ryan Tucker, and Steven Salisbury should be commended for their "outside-the-box" thinking regarding the Lark Quarry site, and their willingness to challenge the conventional explanation and examine possible alternative explanations.  Their detailed examination of the evidence, and application of new and innovative technology, has led to some important new information about this incredible collection of trace fossils.  I believe that they and others investigating Lark Quarry should carefully consider the hydroplate theory, which may shed further light on the ancient mystery left to us to decipher, in the tracks of these long-vanished animals.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Basking in the sun

As long as we're on the subject of what the ancients advised regarding the connection between physical and spiritual health, we might also touch on the fact that the ancient civilizations appear to have set a rather high regard upon deliberate exposure to the sun.

For instance, Herodotus relates that the fact that the Egyptians shaved their heads and exposed them to the sun, which (he relates) apparently causes the skull to become thick and hard, as opposed to the brittle skulls of those who keep their heads out of the sun.  Here is the passage from Book III of the Histories by Herodotus (translation by George Rawlinson):
On the field where this battle was fought I saw a very wonderful thing which the natives pointed out to me. The bones of the slain lie scattered upon the field in two lots, those of the Persians in one place by themselves, as the bodies lay at the first- those of the Egyptians in another place apart from them. If, then, you strike the Persian skulls, even with a pebble, they are so weak, that you break a hole in them; but the Egyptian skulls are so strong, that you may smite them with a stone and you will scarcely break them in. They gave me the following reason for this difference, which seemed to me likely enough:- The Egyptians (they said) from early childhood have the head shaved, and so by the action of the sun the skull becomes thick and hard. The same cause prevents baldness in Egypt, where you see fewer bald men than in any other land. Such, then, is the reason why the skulls of the Egyptians are so strong. The Persians, on the other hand, have feeble skulls, because they keep themselves shaded from the first, wearing turbans upon their heads. What I have here mentioned I saw with my own eyes, and I observed also the like at Papremis, in the case of the Persians who were killed with Achaeamenes, the son of Darius, by Inarus the Libyan. 
Whatever we think of the propensity of Herodotus to pass along stories that seem a little difficult to believe, it is clear that at least some ancients appear to have believed in a connection between exposure to the sun and the health and strength of the skull, for what it's worth. 

Nor was Herodotus alone in relating belief in the health-giving properties of habitual exposure to the sun.  The writings of other ancient historians including Pliny the Younger contain descriptions of habitual sun-bathing, often after a meal.  Pliny relates that his uncle, Pliny the Elder, was accustomed to such a sun bath every day.  

Other ancient writers and philosophers also appear to have extolled the virtues of habitual daily exposure to the sun for some period of time.  Like other ancient wisdom, this knowledge appears to have been widespread.  The Vedic traditions, for instance, appear to teach a connection between prana and the habitual daily exposure to the sun's rays.

Some modern medical practitioners now argue that deliberate daily exposure to the sun is extremely beneficial (I am not a doctor, so check with them for your specific case).  Dr. Joseph Mercola, who often discusses areas in which he believes that current medical orthodoxy is mistaken or even potentially harmful, has many articles on his website discussing the importance of deliberate exposure to the sun, and with more of the skin than just the hands and face.  Links to some of his discussions of this subject include:
And there are many others.  Dr. Mercola has also written a book about evidence for health benefits of habitual sun exposure.

Even more interesting, perhaps, than the physical benefits of exposure to the sun, however, is the evidence that there may be spiritual benefits to this practice as well. Santos Bonacci, in an interview with Curtis Davis from October of 2011, touches on this important aspect of exposure to the sun  (this is a different interview from the one mentioned in the previous post, but it too can be found on iTunes as a podcast and downloaded for free -- use the search function inside of the iTunes podcast section to look for Santos Bonacci and then look for a date of October 2, 2011).

At 27:51 in that interview, Santos tells us:
The sun provides us with three things, which all begin with "L" -- Love, Light, and Life.  It's the source of all of those things.  So when the rays of the sun bathe us, every atom of our body rejoices.  Our soul is bathed in photons, and this is why we should strip ourselves naked and lie in the sun's rays, as much as we can, to be bathed with those vitalizing little atoms, those electrons and protons which come from the sun.
While we're at it, we may also want to shave our heads as the ancient Egyptians did (according to Herodotus and later Plutarch), to help the skull to grow thick and hard!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ovid on Pythagoras and the abstention of eating the flesh of animals

Previous posts have examined the evidence that an important aspect of the ancient wisdom was a teaching on the abstention from the eating of meat (see for example "The ancients and the 'plant-based diet' debate," "Ancient wisdom and modern raw foodists,"  "Plutarch's 'On the eating of flesh,'" and "Plutarch, Demeter, and genetically-modified food").

One of the reasons this subject is important is that the vegetarian tradition among ancient philosophers such as Plutarch, who had by their own admission been taught by the priests of Egypt, provides another strong piece of evidence for some kind of connection between ancient Egypt and the Buddhist monastic tradition that survives to this day in China, Tibet, and other parts of the globe east of Egypt.

Another reason that this subject is important is that, if the ancient philosophers taught so clearly against the consumption of meat, we may want to carefully consider whether this teaching might have important implications for the larger subject that they were all about, which we might term the "pursuit of consciousness." 

In an interview with Curtis Davis from November 25, 2011, Santos Bonacci discusses another ancient writer whose work conveys to us some very vivid arguments against the consumption of the flesh of animals: the poet Ovid (43 BC -- AD 17 or 18). 

You can hear that interview for yourself for free by going to the "iTunes store" podcast section and searching for Santos Bonacci, and then downloading the podcase dated November 25, 2011 (entitled "Santos Bonacci Returns" -- but look for the date, as there are other interviews from other dates with that same title or a similar title).  The discussion of Ovid and the abstention from the eating of meat begins around the 1:02:00 mark in that interview podcast.

Here is how Santos introduces the subject, including a strong recommendation to get your hands on a copy of Ovid's Metamorphosis as soon as possible (he is reading from the new translation by Charles Martin from 2004, an outstanding edition and the one that I use as well):
Now I'm not reading from here to condemn anyone who is eating meat -- please -- please understand what I'm trying to do: I'm trying to give us the philosopher's perspective. [. . .] He knew who he was, and he was trying to share with us this wisdom and knowledge of knowing who we are.  [. . .]  I would be reading Ovid's Metamorphoses as soon as possible.  And, in particular, I would go to the Fifteenth Book, and I would be reading -- there's some beautiful stuff in there -- and in one portion, at the very start of the book, it's called "The Teachings of Pythagoras."
Ovid begins to tell us of Pythagoras by saying:
There was a man who had been born on Samos,
but fled his native land and its rulers, 
freely choosing to become an exile
out of his hatred for despotism [. . .];
he was the first to censure man for eating
the flesh of animals and was the first
to preach this learned, but not widely held
doctrine, in these words from his own lips.  XV, 89-92 and  108-111.
Ovid then goes on to give us some of the "teachings of Pythagoras" on this subject of not eating flesh, and as Ovid is the past master of vivid imagery and language, the teachings of Pythagoras on this subject are very convincing indeed.  They should really be read in full, as Ovid moves from this subject to the subject of the human spirit which does not die with the human body but remains the same "even though it migrates to various bodies" (XV, 217), and then comes back to the subject of abstaining from the eating of animals once again.  

It must be that Ovid perceived a connection between these two subjects!

In fact, it must be considered somewhat striking that Ovid included this discussion of Pythagoras in the Metamorphoses at all, especially in the Fifteenth Book, which is the crowning conclusion of the work.  This should be considered a strong hint as to the layers of spiritual meaning contained in all the stories that have gone before. 

It is also striking that, of all the things he could have emphasized about the great ancient sage Pythagoras, Ovid chose to emphasize most strongly his teaching on the abstention from eating meat, and the connection of this abstention to the true nature of the human soul and spirit.

To convey a bit of the power of Ovid's recreation of Pythagoras' speech regarding the eating of meat, a few choice portions follow, but this is a speech that should really be read in its glorious entirety, for Ovid's Phythagoras goes on to new heights of philosophy as the speech unfolds, only to conclude with the strongest of all his urgings to cease killing animals for food.

The speech begins with these words, which follow immediately from the portion quoted above (this is now meant to be Pythagoras speaking):
"Mortals, refrain from defiling your bodies with sinful
feasting, for you have the fruits of the earth and of arbors,
whose branches bow with their burden; for you the grapes ripen,
for you the delicious greens are made tender by cooking;
milk is permitted to you too, and thyme-scented honey:
Earth is abundantly wealthy and freely provides you
her gentle sustenance, offered without any bloodshed."  XV, 112-118.
If Pythagoras, of whom Ovid says his chief occupation was to "lecture to improve people's minds" was so adamant about this subject (and the above short sample is just a taste of the powerful arguments that Ovid has Pythagoras deliver during the 434-line discourse), then we might ask ourselves whether the conditioning we receive beginning at a very early age that we simply have to eat meat for optimal health might be doing something other than "improving our minds."

In any case, every individual should of course be allowed to make these choices for himself or herself, free from coercion or from pressure, censure, or condemnation from others on the matter of food.  However, if the ancient philosophers thought that the choice of whether or not to eat animals for food was such a critical matter, and one somehow bound up in the issue of the journey of the spirit, we should probably pay close attention to what they had to say about this question.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Further meditation on Huo Yuanjia

Here in California it is still January 18, and I am still continuing the direction of thought from the previous post honoring Huo Yuanjia.  

Huo Yuanjia's achievement in founding the Jingwu Athletic Association in 1909 cannot be underestimated.  In their 2010 book Jingwu: The School That Transformed Kung Fu, authors Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo demonstrate that the establishment of this school marked a significant change in the way that kung fu was taught, one that would reverberate to this day, and one with very important implications.

They write:
The first public martial arts school where one could just walk in the door, pay a fee, and sign up was the Jingwu Association, which opened in 1909 and ushered in a new era in Chinese martial arts training.  The Jingwu's most influential time ran from 1909 to 1924.  The founding of the Jingwu Association, with its focus on "walk in, sign up, and learn Chinese martial arts as a form of exercise and recreation" marks the single most important turning point in Chinese martial arts -- the transition from being a manual trade associated with the military, militias and bodyguards to being a form of cultural recreation.
In fairness, it should be mentioned that there were other privately funded martial arts groups in China who were doing the same things that the Jingwu Association was doing.  But these other groups, for whatever variety of reasons, were all short-lived and not particularly influential.  3.
Earlier in the book (page x), they noted the other significant "firsts" that the Jingwu Association should be credited with:
  • The first public Chinese martial arts training facility.
  • The first to teach Chinese martial arts as a sport or recreation.
  • The first to place women's programs on an equal footing with men's programs.
  • The first to use books, magazines and movies to promote Chinese martial arts.
In other words, Huo Yuanjia's vision (and by all accounts he was central in the founding of the Jingwu Association) in large part created the transition to the way we think of martial arts training today, a vision that clearly established four aspects still very much present in the landscape around the world to this day.

In short, I believe it is no great stretch to deduce that Huo Yuanjia and his fellow founders of this new association believed that martial arts are an important aspect of life, one that goes along with other forms of learning.  In fact, as Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo inform us, the Jingwu Association was not only devoted to training its members in the martial arts, but in providing other forms of learning, including "cerebral activities" including playing chess and learning from books (xi).  In other words, its founders clearly saw a connection between the mental and physical disciplines and the importance of each.

If you study the martial arts, it may be of some interest to think that Huo Yuanjia seems to have wanted you to be able to have the opportunity to do so, and to have believed that such an opportunity is as important to human development as any other form of learning.

In any event, it is also noteworthy that the movie Fearless (2006), which features Jet Li as Huo Yuanjia, takes its name from a line in the Tao Teh Ching of Lao Tzu (33): 

Mastering others is strength --
Mastering yourself makes you fearless.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Birthday of Huo Yuanjia

January 18 is the birthday of Huo Yuanjia, born this day in 1868.

He became one of the most famous and legendary martial artists in China before his untimely death at the age of 42.

Huo Yuanjia was memorably portrayed by Jet Li in the 2006 film, Fearless.  The film does introduce what seems to be gratuitous and upsetting violence during the first half of the movie, including the murder of Huo's family and children. Descendants of Huo Yuanjia have understandably complained that they are disturbed by the tremendous liberties taken in the portrayal, particularly this incident, which did not take place, and it does seem that the film could have been made without that particular consequence being used as the incident that leads to the realization by the hero that he is on the wrong path and needs to change his ways.

Nevertheless, the film is remarkable in its portrayal of the martial artist and his development as a human being, from a rather unsympathetic character to one who embodies a superlative virtue in addition to his superlative skill.  

The film's most memorable moment (I think) comes not in the final fight scene but in the tea ceremony between Huo Yuanjia and his final opponent, which takes place before the match.  The words that are spoken there are worth considering deeply, invoking as they do the question of our purpose here in this world:

ANNO TANAKA:  In your opinion, is one style of wushu superior to another?

HUO YUANJIA:  I don't think so.

TANAKA:  If no particular style is superior, why have so many competitions?

HUO YUANJIA:  I believe no single style is superior -- it's just that the people who practice them have different skill levels.  Competitions can help uncover our weakness, and lead us to a path of self-discovery.  For our true enemies are but ourselves.

TANAKA:  Your words are poignant.

It is well worth watching the entire film to see this moment in context.  One could, it seems, do worse than to make a habit of watching Fearless on January 18 and considering the memory of Huo Yuanjia.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Incredible new spider with an absolutely astonishing skill

Here's a link to a recently-released video which, if it is confirmed, is pretty incredible.  It shows the actual footage in the rainforest at night of the discovery of a new spider, and one with an amazing talent. 

The discovery of this new spider and its incredible sculpting ability was reported last month in Wired magazine, in an article entitled "Spider That Builds Its Own Spider Decoys Discovered."  That article describes how this tiny spider, believed to be a member of the species Cyclosa, uses leaves, debris and bits of dead insects to fashion a much larger spider-shaped "sculpture" in the middle of its web.  As the video above shows, the image crafted by these spiders actually has the correct number of spider-legs, and the tiny builders even go so far as to give their artistic creations distinguishable abdomen and cephalothorax body sections.

But that's not all: the tiny spider artists will then pluck the strands of the web in order to cause their creation to jiggle and dance as if alive.  More information on the discovery of this tiny (5mm) spider in the Peruvian Amazon can be found on the blog of Phil Torres, a biologist and one of the discoverers in the video.

This behavior is completely astounding.  

Although biologists are already speculating that the spiders build these incredible decoys as a defensive measure, perhaps to scare off or divert predators, they really do not know yet what these spiders are really up to. While some may attribute this incredible "effigy-building" ability to natural selection, and call it an "adaptation" (implying that some web-building spiders who could not create self-portraits existed in some long-distant past, and then they "adapted" their web-building to include the construction of large spider sculptures in the middle of their webs), this discovery may one day come to rank as one of the most challenging pieces of evidence in the natural world for the theory of natural selection, if examined impartially.

Is it really plausible to argue that the existence of spiders building accurate spider-effigies in the middle of their orbs came about by random mutations in the genes of this line of spiders, resulting in spiders which now are born with the ability to gather dead leaves and bits of insect carcasses and bind them together into large spider shapes complete with the correct number of legs and a definable abdomen and cephalothorax?

Are we to believe that the ancestors of these spiders were the ones who built their effigies with eight legs, while the line of genes representing orb-spinners who built sculptures with only five, six, or seven legs (or nine, ten or eleven legs) all died out?  Did some ancient spiders get genetic mutations which caused them to construct effigies depicting elephants or dolphins, but because those shapes were not as effective at scaring off predators, those hapless arachnid artists were eaten before their genes could come down to the present day?

Although the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection is triumphant among conventional academicians today, this does not mean that it is correct.  In fact, previous posts have explored the extensive evidence which suggests that natural selection may be entirely wrong.  While some believe that supernatural creation is the only alternative to acceptance of the Darwinian (or neo-Darwinian) theory of natural selection, this is not entirely true (although it is of course one possible alternative).

It is at least as possible to believe that aliens or other advanced beings capable of genetic engineering tampered with these spiders to impart this ability to them (for some reason we can hardly fathom, perhaps just for fun) as it is to believe that natural selection gave them such a trait.  In fact, we have already discussed the fact that genetic engineering by beings with advanced abilities (whether human beings or alien beings) is at least as plausible an explanation for the existence of domesticated animals and grain crops as is the unlikely idea that a bunch of hunter-gatherers selected the right species to try to domesticate and then embarked on a project that would take dozens of generations (at least) of selective breeding (and even dozens of generations of selective breeding probably would not be able to do the trick: does anyone think that humans could simply breed the mighty American bison aka buffalo into something akin to domestic cattle?  It cannot be done that way).

There have also been respected scientists who have believed in some sort of evolution while rejecting the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection, such as botanist J.C. Willis (1868 - 1958).  He pointed out numerous reasons, mainly using his field of botany, that natural selection is an unsatisfactory model for explaining the evidence that we find in nature.  He proposed a very different model of evolution, propelled forward by the general laws of the universe, and speculated that the law which created new species was "probably electrical" (and in doing so, he can be seen to have anticipated the importance of electricity in the universe, the centrality of which is only now beginning to be fully appreciated by cutting-edge research in the field of plasma science and related subjects).

The building of astonishingly accurate effigies by this species of spider in the Peruvian Amazon may also be interpreted as a piece of evidence that seems to support the idea that there is "consciousness" that exists separately from the physical bodies of the beings on this planet (including the human beings) and which "works its way out" through us, much in the way that a radio or television signal can be received or displayed by a radio or a television, even though it is not produced by the radio or the television.

One could argue that these spiders are manifesting "spider consciousness" in a way that has never been seen before, but that might now start popping up in other spiders around the world!  If it does, that would be a powerful piece of evidence supporting Rupert Sheldrake's "morphic resonance" theory.  Even if these Amazonian effigy-builders are the only spiders that ever are observed to build such detailed spider sculptures in their webs, they can still be seen as a piece of evidence which may support the "transmission" or "manifestation" of consciousness theory.

We might also offer the possibility that these spiders are watching one another and learning how to do it, although that doesn't explain where the behavior came from in the first place, and it is also probably quite easy to disprove by isolating a spider from birth and seeing if it builds these types of web designs (it probably will).  There is already plenty of evidence that spiders build the distinctive web of their species by instinct, not by observing the webs of other spiders.

All of these possibilities are certainly worth pursuing.  The only reason they seem to be "on the fringe" is that the establishment has fully bought into the Darwinian theory, and refuses to countenance any alternatives.  This is both unfortunate and unscientific. 

All that discussion aside, the discoverers of this new and incredible spider are to be congratulated, and we should all be grateful that they were so observant while trekking through the Amazon in the dark!

Monday, January 14, 2013

How long until this log jam pushes itself up into a massive vertical pile-up?

In the most recent edition of Dr. Walt Brown's remarkable book explaining his hydroplate theory, which is available for reading on line here (although you may enjoy reading the hardcopy, as I do, and wish to order one at his website here), Dr. Brown provides an extremely vivid and helpful analogy to help explain a major flaw in the tectonic theory that has been taught for the past thirty years as the "settled science" explanation for earth's geology.

The hydroplate theory provides an alternative explanation for the evidence we see on the earth around us (and beyond earth in the rest of the solar system as well), and one that is very different from the tectonic explanation.  The tectonic explanation is basically "uniformitarian," meaning that it assumes that the same processes working today -- at roughly the same rate and strength that they are operating today -- could if given enough time create nearly all of the geological features we find on the earth, including the highest peaks in the Himalayas and the deepest submarine trenches in the Pacific.  The hydroplate theory is "catastrophic," meaning that it argues that nearly all of the major features on earth were created by an unusual event or series of events which brought to bear forces that are entirely extraordinary and nothing like the processes that we see around us today.

Specifically, the hydroplate theory argues that these extraordinary forces were unleashed by a global flood of massive proportions, and that they acted at a rate and at a level of force that is magnitudes greater than the forces going on today.  Dr. Brown provides example after example of features on earth that cannot be explained by ordinary forces operating at ordinary rates and magnitudes, even though supporters of the uniformitarian theories (of which tectonics is the most recent and current manifestation) argue that, given enough time, steady application of ordinary forces can accomplish almost anything.

In a footnote at the bottom of this page of his online version of the book, footnote 132, Dr. Brown discusses the fallacy that, given enough time, tectonic drift could and did lift up mighty mountain ranges including the Himalayas.  He writes:
A tectonic plate of mass m moves with a velocity v. If all its kinetic energy were used to elevate the plate and no energy was lost due to such things as friction, how high, h, could the entire plate rise?
liquefactionzz-buckling1.jpg Image Thumbnail
Today, crustal plates move at about 4 cm/year—the rate a fingernail grows. [See Figure 90 on page 167.] Therefore,
liquefactionzz-buckling2.jpg Image Thumbnail
where g is the acceleration of gravity (or 980 cm/sec2) and 31,556,736 seconds are in a year. Even if just the central 10% of the plate rose, as in buckling or crushing, it would rise only 8.2 × 10-17 cm. Therefore, today’s velocities of crustal plates couldn’t possibly push up mountains.
Could millions of years of steady, but slight, pressure of one plate on another eventually push up mountains? Not anymore than logs in a river’s log jam might steadily crush or buckle up over millions of years (assuming the logs did not disintegrate). Until the compression of one plate against another reaches a very high threshold—not even remotely reached by plate tectonics—the plates will not crush, buckle, or lift one iota. However the compression event, at the end of the flood, easily explains how earth’s major mountains were pushed up in hours.
Dr. Brown's inspired metaphor for the supposed action of plate tectonics -- "logs in a river's log jam" -- helps us to wrap our minds around the problem for the tectonic theory.  If the river is only flowing at a very slow rate, it is not going to push the logs (representing the plates floating on top of the supposedly "circulating mantle") up into mountainous shapes, no matter how much time we give it.  

In the image above, a photograph of a log jam taken around the year 1937, the men walking around on the floating logs are not at all concerned that the logs will suddenly buckle upwards into huge piles of vertical logs -- if they were, they probably would not be walking about on them.  Nor will the logs slowly work their way into a vertical position over time, if the river continues to creep along at a "uniformitarian" pace.  We would not expect to go back to this same river today, seventy-six years later, and expect to see a veritable mountain of logs piled up, unless a huge wave of water had somehow been released upon them in a "catastrophic" event of some sort in the intervening years.

This argument by Dr. Brown, supported by the laws of physics as explained in the footnote, is yet another powerful piece of supporting evidence for the conclusion that the plate tectonic theory is fatally flawed.

There are literally many hundreds of other pieces of evidence offered by Dr. Brown to support the same conclusion.  Many of these have been discussed on the pages of this blog -- some of them are referenced below for ease of review by interested readers.  In addition, I have argued that if the plates have been uniformly drifting at rates proposed by the advocates of the tectonic theory, precisely-aligned ancient monuments such as the passage mounds at Newgrange, the shafts of the Great Pyramid, the incredibly precise "windows" to specific sunrises and sunsets built into Stonehenge from many different angles, and the ancient megalithic temples on the islands of Malta (among many other ancient aligned sites around the globe) would no longer be so precisely aligned, and yet they absolutely are in every case (consideration has to be made for precession, but not for tectonic drift).

The next time someone tells you that tectonics has been absolutely "proven" and that catastrophic explanations for the geological features you see on the planet all around you are ridiculous and only "the stuff of legends" or "unscientific," just think about the log jam analogy, and perhaps ask what it would take to push a log jam of horizontal logs on a relatively placid body of water into a violently up-heaved mass.  The answer is a catastrophic event.
Below is a selection of just a few of many previous blog posts detailing geological evidence on the earth that poses enormous problems for the conventional tectonic theory, but which the hydroplate theory explains quite well:


Friday, January 11, 2013

The staggering implications of the ancient inscriptions at Hidden Mountain near Los Lunas, New Mexico

On a stark mountain in New Mexico west of the town of Los Lunas (south of Albuquerque) is extremely strong archaeological evidence of ancient trans-oceanic travel, evidence which completely upends the conventional isolationist paradigm of human history.  David Allen Deal's 1984 book Discovery of Ancient America provides an outstanding in-depth analysis of this site, as well as its implications.

Known as Hidden Mountain, or Mystery Mountain, or "Cerro los Moqujino," the site contains rock inscriptions which are indisputably Hebrew, but a form of Hebrew prior to the adoption of the more-familiar "square" letters.  This "Paleo-Hebrew" alphabet was still retained for the writing of the Tetragrammaton in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as Mr. Deal shows with photographs in his book, even though those extremely ancient scrolls already used the square Hebrew letters for the rest of the words in their texts (for a bit more on the Dead Sea Scrolls, see this previous post).  

The stunning aspect of the rock inscriptions at Los Lunas / Hidden Mountain is not only the fact that these inscriptions are one of the few remaining lapidary inscriptions with Paleo-Hebrew lettering, but that the main inscription (shown above) is a rendering of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments -- in the middle of the New Mexico desert.

Mr. Deal provides many photographs, plus a full table of corresponding letters (modern Hebrew to Paleo-Hebrew to Roman letters of our current alphabet), so that the reader can follow the inscription for himself or herself (the inscription reads from right-to-left).  He also provides a full translation including reference to the Strong's Number for each Hebrew word.  The inscription above, rendered from left-to-right, is as follows (adapted from the translation given on page 6 of Discovery of Ancient America):
line 1:  I [am] YHWH your mighty one who has brought you out from the land
line 2:  Not shall there be mighty ones any other besides me
line 3:  Mizriam [Egypt] from the house of bondage ^ [here, as Mr. Deal explains, the ancient inscriber actually inserted a caret symbol, which you can see in the third line from the top, because he left out the end of the first sentence in the first line, and inserted it after he finished his second line -- we can almost hear his frustration when he first discovered his error after carefully and painstakingly carving the neat letters of his first and second lines, but perhaps he was one of those ancients who believed in never showing anger; see the link above to the Dead Sea Scrolls discussion] Not shall you make for yourself a graven image.  Not shall take
line 4:  you the name of YHWH in vain.  Remember you day
line 5:  the Sabbath to keep it holy.  Honor you your father and your mother so that
line 6:  may be long your days on the land which YHWH your might one
line 7:  is giving to you.  Not shall you murder.  Not shall you commit adultery.  Not shall you steal.  Not
line 8:  shall you testify against your neighbor a witness false.  Not shall you covet wife of your neighbor's 
line 9:  or anything which to your neighbor [belongs]

Let's just look again at the map where this Paleo-Hebrew inscription is located and let that sink in:

The implications of this inscription are enormous.  That is why defenders of the conventional paradigm are at pains to dismiss these inscriptions on a lonely 5,800-foot mountain in the middle of the American southwest as fraudulent.  This Wikipedia article is typical of the treatment the inscription stone receives: numerous aspersions about those who found it, along with references to unnamed "researchers" who doubt its authenticity, contrasted with "amateur archaeologists" who allege it is authentic, followed by hints that it was not found until after it was possible to translate and forge such a text, and no mention of some of the most powerful pieces of evidence in favor of believing that it is no forgery, which Mr. Deal details in his book and which are discussed in brief below.

Here is an image of the Wikimedia entry for the Decalogue Stone, as referenced on 01/10/2013 (perhaps they will improve it in the future, but as of now it is a thinly-veiled sneer at the "amateur" idea that this stone could overturn the historical paradigm, and comes complete with a link to "pseudoarchaeology" at the end of the article, in the "See Also" section):

While that Wikipedia entry says that the stone was not discovered until the 1880s, Mr. Deal in his book points to an account from a former resident of the Los Lunas area named Florencio Chavez, Sr. who stated that he was shown the rock by his maternal grandfather, Simon Serna, who was born around 1829 and who had been shown the rock by his own father, who said he had seen it as early as 1800.

Further, while the Wikipedia article declares that "The Paleo-Hebrew script is practically identical to the Phoenician script, which was known at the time, thus not precluding the possibility of fraud," no evidence is presented to explain who in the barren desert of New Mexico with knowledge of Paleo-Hebrew chose to painstakingly scratch it onto the side of an 80-ton boulder -- with a misplaced line and a later correction with a caret, a symbol which can be shown to have been used in antiquity for inserting missing text, by the way -- as a fraud.  It is one thing to say someone could have made a fraudulent inscription out there, but it is an entirely different thing to provide a suspect and a motive for such an elaborate fraud in such a remote spot.

Further, and also completely ignored by the debunkers, is the fact that the inscriptions at Los Lunas / Hidden Mountain, use a form of the Paleo-Hebrew symbol for "Q" which was unknown to nineteenth-century scholars until 1884, a key piece of evidence which Mr. Deal explains in his outstanding and thorough analysis of the argument over its authenticity.  The typical Paleo-Hebrew symbol for "Q" was a circle roughly bisected by a vertical line (which we can readily see relates to the capital letter Q still in use in our alphabet).  In the inscriptions at Los Lunas, a different form of "Q" is used, one that looks like an angular "figure 8," or like two triangles stacked with their points together in the middle (like an hourglass symbol).  

This version of a "Q" appears in the fifth line of the text on the Decalogue Stone, in the second word from the far right, the second letter from the right in that word and the sixth from the right in that line.  It is part of the verb "to keep it holy," referring to the Sabbath day.  Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to see in the photograph above, but can be easily seen on other photos and in the Deal book.

As Mr. Deal explains:
This letter first became known to modern scholars in the latter half of the 19th century.  The earliest work in which it can be found is a publication in 1884, referred to by E. Hubener in 1893 (see Jensen, Sign Symbol and Script, p. 290, fig. 247).  Even if we discounted the claims of the local Indians and the story of Simon Serna's father, which would place the site in existence at least as far back as the early 1800's, and dismissed the good word of Frank Huning, the respected and honorable man who claims to have been shown the site in 1871, it is difficult indeed to also set aside the claims by other settlers that it was in place in 1883 -- a full year before any knowledge of the letter [hourglass-shaped symbol] was known to the world of scholars.  How could a forger have produced a letter style not yet known?  25.
Further, as Mr. Deal explains in great detail along with numerous photographs and diagrams, the Hidden Mountain site also contains a rock inscribed with a beautiful star-map depicting the zodiac constellations Sagittarius, Scorpio, Libra, and Virgo along with nearby constellations Ophiuchus, Cygnus, Aquila, Hercules, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Draco, Bootes, Leo, and the Big and Little Dippers (for help fiinding these constellations in the sky, and their significance, use the search window at upper left corner of this blog to search for previous posts containing those constellations).  According to Mr. Deal's painstaking analysis, the rock accurately depicts the location of a total solar eclipse that took place in September of the year 107 BC, and the stone is properly oriented towards the sky scene that it depicts!  

Somehow, any mention of this incredible piece of supporting evidence is completely ignored on the Wikipedia entry.  Mr. Deal also details aspects of the site's layout which support the idea that it was a military outpost with observation posts and an animal enclosure for a period of time before it was abandoned.  He compares this evidence to known archaeological sites in the Old World to support his argument.  All of this supporting evidence makes a strong case for the authenticity of the inscriptions at Los Lunas.

The full explanation of this zodiac stone is worth the price of Mr. Deal's book alone.  However, he provides extensive analysis of the possible historical context for the crossing of the oceans by ancient peoples during the centuries in question, and supports his hypothesis with numerous quotations from ancient historians, from Herodotus to Strabo.  His hypothesis is extremely well laid-out and is in fact one of the most compelling I have seen.  It demands more attention and study.

Finally, it should be noted that the inscriptions at Los Lunas, as revolutionary as they are, are by no means the only evidence of deliberate, routine, and long-lasting contact between the Old and New World by sea-going ancient cultures capable of crossing the oceans.  Many other pieces of evidence have been discussed in previous blog posts, as well as in my own book.  For previous blog posts on this topic, see also "The Calixtlahuaca Head" and its list of links to other posts, as well as other posts written since that one on the same topic (such as this one about ancient copper mines in Michigan, or this one about the possibility that stone monuments found on both sides of the Atlantic contain coded "maps" to help ancient mariners navigate the sea-lanes), as well as the extensive analysis in Mr. Deal's book.

Given the numerous pieces of evidence which support the conclusion that the inscriptions at Hidden Mountain in New Mexico are authentic, and the fact that Hidden Mountain is just one of a plethora of archaeological finds in the Americas that point to the ancient ability to cross the oceans, it appears to be a powerful clue that mankind's ancient past is far different than we have been led to believe.

We should all be extremely grateful to Mr. Deal for his outstanding examination of this critical and overlooked historical treasure in the rugged terrain of New Mexico south of Albuquerque, as well as to those ancients who adorned their lonely outpost with such dramatic inscriptions and diagrams which still speak to us across the gulf of centuries.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Only flux and motion"

SOCRATES:  By the dog of Egypt I have not a bad notion which came into my head only this moment.  I believe that the primeval givers of names were undoubtedly like too many of our modern philosophers, who, in their search after the nature of things, are always getting dizzy from constantly going round and round, and then they imagine that the world is going round and round and moving in all directions.  And this appearance, which arises out of their own internal condition, they suppose to be a reality of nature; they think that there is nothing stable or permanent, but only flux and motion, and that the world is always full of every sort of motion and change.  The consideration of the names which I mentioned has led me into making this reflection.
The above passage from Plato's Cratylus, translated here by Benjamin Jowett and available in the collected dialogues of Plato edited by Edith Hamilton (page 447), appears to be more important than Socrates (and Plato) are letting on. 

I would even guess that the interjection which starts this brief passage, "By the dog of Egypt," is meant to carry a hidden message.