10/20/18

Grand Deluges – A Pedantic Wet Dream

A Book by Joe Peters

Proudly and humbly announcing my new book, Grand Deluges – A Pedantic Wet Dream

From a 32 page essay I wrote years ago and kept going back to, I fell down the rabbit hole it became and after a couple of years of writing at night and painting houses during the day, Grand Deluges appeared. Feedback so far has been very good, from “unique writing style and pace” to “very relative to today considering it’s like an encyclopedia written as a story” to “refreshing, rational and at times even funny”, and a “very interesting non-linear read”.

A dense tale told in fragments, covering a plethora of topics branching out from the inception of the planet Earth, through its geological, environmental and atmospheric changes, to the beginning of life forms, and the development of the human species, in body and mind. With forks in the road, covering such things as science, myth, spirituality, hunters and gatherers, the birth of agriculture, religions, civilizations, empires and our social worlds, and societies. And signposts along the way touching on everything from climate disruption and the actions of nature, whether human or otherwise, the degradation of forests, land, the sea and air, to pluralistic ignorance, cognitive dissonance, facts, myths and theories, education, politics, capitalism, socialism, monetary systems, and to be or not to be human.

Hope you enjoy the read.

484 Pages / 23 Pages Bibliography, Research & References

Proof-Reader/ Co-Editor: Janet James

Cover Design: Peter Scott

Author/Publisher/Editing /Formatting: Joseph Peters

Printed by Bruce A. Cadorette / Advantage Graphix Inc

Vancouver BC, Canada, August, 2018.

 

For ordering information –Go here

08/1/19

Mesopotamia – Sunshine Supermen

Chapter III – Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia has been home to some of the oldest major civilizations, including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians. Grouped together they are known as the Chaldean. It began with the rise of the first cities in southern Mesopotamia around 7,300 years ago and ended with the Persian conquest around 2,500 years ago. The achievements of these early astronomers, especially the Persians, and later Islamic, which I will include in this chapter, though not being significant until the seventh century A.D., were extremely significant to astronomy.

Tablet Of Shamash / historyly.com

By about 2,500 years ago, the Sumerian civilization was firmly established in Mesopotamia, during the archaeological period of Uruk. These early Sumerians saw the night sky as a blackboard on which the gods left cryptic messages. Their priests began to seriously and systematically observe the stars and planet’s movements, with a form of writing, known as cuneiform, also emerging around this time. The Sumerians would only practise a basic form of astronomy, but they had an important influence on the sophisticated astronomy of the later Babylonians, when astral theologies would give planetary gods an important role in mythology and religion.

Celestial phenomena, known as portents, have become linked to earthly events for millennia. Centuries of Babylonian observations of celestial phenomena are recorded in the series of cuneiform tablets known as the Enu‑ma Anu Enlil, a collection of nearly seven thousand portents dating back to about 3,500 years ago. The oldest significant astronomical text is carved into Tablet 63, the Venus tablet of Ammi‑saduqa, which lists the first and last visible risings of Venus over a period of about 21 years and show the first evidence of recognition that astronomical phenomena are periodic, and of the application of mathematics to these predictions.  All the portents were considered affairs of the state, since the priests believed that the gods used the sky to communicate great matters.

As such, the study of astronomy in most all ancient cultures became associated with omens, and within these Babylonian tablets the many omens were divided into four categories. Each named for the four gods (planets) under whose area they fell.

The Sin (the Moon) covered eclipses, conjunctions with fixed stars, and first crescents, which’s symbol represents the lunar first quarter, or the “sickle moon”, with its shape also representing the Moon itself, and, of Islam.

The Shamash (the Sun), were the observations of two suns solar haloes, and perihelia (the point in the orbit of a planet or comet at which it is nearest to the Sun).

Ishtar (Venus) listed the stations, risings, and first and last visibilities (what planets we can see with the naked eye). The time a planet becomes visible in the dawn sky (rising shortly before the Sun), to the time it disappears into the dark sky is called an apparition.

Adad (the Weather god), recorded a variety of meteorological phenomena, such as thunder, lightning, earth tremors and cloud formations. These tablets also contain catalogues of stars and constellations as well as schemes for predicting heliacal risings and the settings of the planets, which occurs annually when they briefly become visible above the eastern horizon at dawn just before sunrise, after a period of less than a year when it had not been visible.

The Ammi‑saduqa also tell the lengths of daylight measured by a water clock, a gnomon, and shadows, as well as the application of mathematics to the variation in the length of daylight over a solar year. Also listed was a complete list of the helical risings and settings of the planet Venus. Star charts taken from this time are inscribed in clay tablets and show three concentric circles, each one divided up by 12 radii, with each of these 36 equally sized divisions containing the names of the constellations. It seems even the Sumerians knew the precession (a change in the orientation of the rotational axis of a rotating body), of the equinoxes (constellations), which is incredible.

To know about the precession of the equinoxes, where each constellation takes a turn at rising behind the rising Sun, (the observable phenomena of the rotation of the heavens), one would have to observe and take measurements, for thousands of years. Consider, the precession of the equinoxes spans a period of approximately, 25,920 years, over which time the constellations appear to slowly rotate around the Earth, (the observable phenomena of the rotation of the heavens), so how long could the Sumerians, and those before them, had studied and observed such events, one needs to ask. If indeed this was the case these ancient astronomers had already figured out one of the theories that Einstein would mathematically prove six thousand years later. That space does indeed perform the central function of time.

The precession of the equinoxes is where every 25,900 years the Earth’s axis of rotation changes. This slow change in the angle of the axis makes it appear that the positions of stars change over time, for example, the North Star today is Polaris, five thousand years ago it was Thuban, two thousand years from now it will be Alrai. The angle change causes the constellations of the zodiac to change relative to the spring equinox (April 21). In this precession the constellations appear to move backwards as time moves forwards, moving to the next constellation every 2,150 years.

Presently the Sun on April 21 rises in the constellation of Pisces. A few hundred years from now it will rise in the constellation of Aquarius, which is to say that every 25,900 years, each constellation will have had its turn rising in the east on April 21

Soon astrology, the idea that the position of the stars and planets could influence the fate of individual humans, by the differences in energy from the universe, began with the organization of the original 18 groups of stars into 12 constellations, where each became associated with a specific deity, for instance Orion was a shepherd with his sheep and his shepherds staff. The origins of much of astrological doctrine and method are found among the ancient Babylonians and their system of celestial omens that began to be compiled around this time. This system of celestial omens later spread either directly or indirectly from the Sumerians then, through the Babylonians and Assyrians to other areas such as India, Middle East, and Greece where it merged with pre‑existing indigenous forms of astrology. Babylonian astrology came to Greece around 2,400 years ago, and then around 2,100 years ago, after the Alexandrian conquests, this Babylonian astrology was mixed with the Egyptian tradition of deity astrology to create a diagram of the heavens showing the positions of the planets. This new form of astrology appears to have originated in Alexandrian Egypt, and then quickly spread back across the ancient world into Europe, the Middle East and India, where it still very much exists today.

As to astronomy, because a chapter further along discusses astrology, by 2,800 years ago, observations had become so organized that most all planetary movements were understood and observed. There are dozens of cuneiform Mesopotamia texts with real observations of eclipses, mainly from the Babylonian Era, that show they had the ability to predict eclipses of the sun and moon. Which gave no doubt that Babylonia was using highly-developed geometry as the basis for astronomical measurements. For example they arranged stars in “strings” that lie along declination circles and thus were able to measure ascensions (risings) or time intervals. They also used the star’s zenith, the highest point it reaches.

As to astronomy, because a chapter further along discusses astrology, by 2,800 years ago, observations had become so organized that most all planetary movements were understood and observed. There are dozens of cuneiform Mesopotamia texts with real observations of eclipses, mainly from the Babylonian Era, that show they had the ability to predict eclipses of the sun and moon. Which gave no doubt that Babylonia was using highly-developed geometry as the basis for astronomical measurements. For example they arranged stars in “strings” that lie along declination circles and thus were able to measure ascensions (risings) or time intervals. They also used the star’s zenith, the highest point it reaches.

In mathematics they came up with the idea of dividing up circles into 360 degrees, splitting up an hour into 60 minutes, and the same with a minute to 60 seconds, by using a sexagesimal system (based on the number 60 and relating to or reckoning by sixtieths). This simplified the task of recording very large and very small numbers. Under the realm of the Babylonian king, Nabonassar, around 2,700 years ago, there was a surge in quality and frequency in recorded observations, including the discovery of a repeating 18‑year cycle of lunar eclipses for example, which they called a saros.

One of many clay tablets unearthed from the Assyrian king Assurbanipal’s era (about 2,600 yrs ago), contained the vast number: 195,955,200,000,000. It is called the Nineveh number and is 60 times 70 to the power of seven. Working it out in seconds, it is a bit more than six million years. The time it takes for the earth to complete its precessional cycle (the regular motion of a spinning object) is just less than 26,000 years. Dividing this number into the Nineveh number, works out to be exactly 240 precessional cycles. Calculating the cycles of the planets and their satellites in seconds, each divides into the Nineveh number exactly. This is amazing mathematics at any time, let alone more than two and a half thousand years ago.

By 2,700 years ago Babylonian astronomy began to conform to present reckonings. A new calendar was then introduced that had 354 days, regulated into 12 months, alternating between 29 and 30 days. The New Year started with the appearance of the first new moon following the spring equinox. But this arrangement lagged behind the solar calendar by about 11 days so it was always falling out of time with the seasons. They solved the problem by noting that 235 lunar months made up exactly 19 solar years, so they decreed that seven extra lunar months would be inter-calculated every 19 lunar years to close the gap. This became known as the Nabunasir Calender.

Around this time the Babylonian astronomers also began to develop a new empirical approach to astronomy. They began studying philosophy dealing with the ideal nature of the universe and began employing an internal logic within their predictive planetary systems. This was an important contribution to astronomy and the philosophy of science, and some scholars have referred to this new approach as the first scientific revolution. And was closely related to the fact most of these early astronomers were actually priest-scribes specializing in astrology and other forms of divination. This new approach to astronomy was adopted and further developed in Hellenistic (Greek) astronomy.

Around 300 years later, in the fourth century BC, the Greek, Eudoxus of Cnidus wrote a book on the fixed stars, with his descriptions of many constellations, especially the twelve signs of the zodiac, are suspiciously very similar to Babylonian originals. One hundred years later the Greek, Aristarchus of Samos, used an eclipse cycle of Babylonian origin called the Saros cycle to determine the year’s length. It is clear that by this time, many other Greek astronomers had a complete list of eclipse observations covering many centuries, and mostly all compiled from the earlier mentioned Sumerian’s clay tablets, the Enu-ma Anu Enlil, and from the relevant observations that the Babylonians had routinely made and recorded also.             

Around the same time, back in Babylonia, the astronomer/priest Kidinnu worked out the duration of the solar year to within 4min 33sec, which western astronomers did not achieve until less than 150 years ago. The Babylonians observed Halley’s Comet in 164 BC, and again in 87 BC, and determined that it passes the Earth every seventy-seven years.

During the rise of Islam, to assist in their observations, the Chaldean made use of an early rudimentary instrument called an astrolabe, invented by the Greeks in either the first or second centuries BC, and is often attributed to Hipparchus. (190-120 BC). It was effectively, an analog calculator, capable of working out several different kinds of problems in spherical astronomy. They also began to use an armillary sphere. The name of this device comes ultimately from the Latin armilla (circle or bracelet); since it has a skeleton made of graduated metal circles linking the poles, and represented the equator, the ecliptic, meridians and parallels. Usually a ball represented the Earth as the centre, such a sphere is known as a Ptolemaic, while the later spheres with the Sun at the centre were known as the Copernican. The armillary sphere was used to demonstrate the motion of the stars around the Earth.

While in its simplest form, consisting of a ring fixed in the plane of the equator, the armillary sphere was one of the most ancient of astronomical instruments. Slightly developed, it was crossed by another ring fixed in the plane of the meridian, with the first being an equinoctial, and the second, a solstitial armilla. Shadows were used as indications of the Sun’s positions, in combinations with angular divisions. When several rings or circles were combined representing the great circles of the heavens, the instrument became an armillary sphere.

Brass astrolabes on the other hand, were developed in the later Mesopotamia ages of the medieval Islamic world, chiefly as an aid to navigation but also as a way of finding the qibla, the direction of Mecca. Muslim astronomers produced an improved version of the Greek armillary sphere in the 8th century AD. Abbas Ibn Firnas (d.887) is thought to have produced another instrument with rings in 9th century, which he gifted to Caliph Muhammad I (ruled 852‑886).

The spherical astrolabe, a variation of both the astrolabe and the armillary sphere, was invented during the Middle Ages by astronomers and inventors in the Islamic world. The earliest description of the spherical astrolabe dates back to Al Nayrizi (892‑902 AD). Muslim astronomers also independently invented the celestial globe, which were used primarily for solving problems in celestial astronomy. Today, 126 such instruments remain worldwide, the oldest from the 11th century. The altitude of the Sun, and the right ascension and declination of stars could be calculated with these instruments by inputting the location of the observer on the meridian ring of the globe.

Astrolabe – Pinterest

In the Islamic world, astrolabes were used to find the times of sunrise and the rising of fixed stars, and were also used to help schedule morning prayers (salat). In the 10th century, al Sufi first described more than 1,000 different uses of an astrolabe, in areas as diverse as astronomy, astrology, horoscopes, navigation, surveying, timekeeping, and prayer.

After 700AD, Islam also advised Muslims to find ways of using the stars and on the basis of this advice, Muslims began to develop better observational and navigational instruments, thus most navigational stars today have Arabic names.

Influences of the Qur’an on Islamic astronomy included its “insistence that the universe is ruled by a single set of laws,” which was rooted in the Islamic concept, “the unity of God” (tawhid). There was also more respect for empirical data than was common in the preceding Greek civilization. Muslims were inspired to place a greater emphasis on empirical observation, instead of the ancient Greek philosophers such as the Plato and Aristotle, who expressed a general distrust toward the senses and instead viewed reason alone as being sufficient to understanding nature. The Qur’an’s insistence on observation, reason and contemplation, (see, think, and contemplate), led Muslims to develop an early scientific method based on these principles. For the Qur’an said; “And it is he who ordained the stars for you that you may be guided thereby in the darkness of the land and the sea.” There are also several cosmological verses in the Qur’an which some modern writers have interpreted as foreshadowing the expansion of the universe and possibly even the Big Bang theory. These include the verses, “Don’t those who reject faith see that the heavens and the earth were a single entity then we ripped them apart?” (Qur’an21:30), and “And the heavens we did create with Our Hands, and we do cause it to expand.”(Qur’an 51:47)

Though several texts attributed to Muhammad, show that he was generally opposed to astrology as well as superstition in general. An example of this is when an eclipse occurred during his son Ibrahim ibn Muhammad’s death, and rumours began spreading about this being a personal show of sympathy from God himself. Muhammad is said to have replied: “An eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things to the death or birth of a human being.”

In observational astronomy, the first major original, Muslim work of astronomy was the “Zij-al Sindh” by al Khwarizimi in 830 AD. The work contains tables for the movements of the Sun, the moon and the other five planets known at the time. He used Hindu-Arabic numerals in his calculations, while Muhammad ibn Ja‑bir al Harra-ni al Batta-ni (Albatenius) (853‑929), discovered that the direction of the Sun’s eccentric was changing, which in modern astronomy is equivalent to the Earth moving in an elliptical orbit around the Sun. His times for the new moon, lengths for the solar year and sidereal year, prediction of eclipses, and work on the phenomenon of parallax, carried astronomers closer and closer to understanding the laws of relativity and which would not happen for another 500 years.

In the 9th century, Ja’far Muhammad ibn Mu sa ‑ ibn Sha‑kir, would make significant contributions to astrophysics and celestial mechanics, he was the first to hypothesize that the heavenly bodies and celestial spheres are subject to the same laws of physics as Earth, unlike the ancients who believed that the celestial spheres followed their own set of physical laws different from that of Earth. In his “Astral Motion and The Force of Attraction,” he would also propose that there is a force of attraction between heavenly bodies, which foreshadows Newton’s law of universal gravitation. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Kathi-r al-Fargha-ni, in 850, gave values for the obliquity of the ecliptic and the processional movements of the sun, when it is at its farthest distance from the earth.

In the 10th century A.D., Abd al Rahman al Sufi (Azophi) carried out observations on the stars and described their positions, magnitudes, brightness, and colour, through drawings of each constellation in his book, the “Book of Fixed Stars,” where he also mentions the “nebula.” He also gave the first descriptions and pictures of what he called, “a little cloud,” which is now known as the Andromeda Galaxy, and along with the Large Magellanic Cloud, are the first galaxies other than the Milky Way to be observed from Earth. He mentions it as lying before the mouth of the Big Fish, an Arabic constellation.

The astronomer, Ibn Yunis, used an astrolabe with a diameter of nearly 1.4 metres, and spent years observing and then recording more than 10,000 entries for the Sun’s position. Around 1000 the Persian astronomer Abu-Rayha-n al-Bi-ru-ni, described the Milky Way as a collection of many nebulous stars, and in 1019 observes and gives a detailed description of the solar eclipse on April 8 and the lunar eclipse on September 17, and then gives the exact latitudes of the stars during the lunar eclipse. He also calculates the distance between the Earth and the Sun in his work, the “Mas’udicus.” Then in 1006, Ali ibn Ridwan, as well as Chinese astronomers, observed SN 1006, the brightest supernova in recorded history, and left a detailed description of the temporary star.

The 11th century would become a landmark time for the Islamic astronomers, who diligently kept studying the celestial realm and furthered knowledge in most all of the sciences. In the beginning of the century, Omar Khayyám would compile many tables, and perform a reformation of the calendar that was more accurate than the Julian calendar, and came close to the Gregorian. An amazing feat was his calculation of the year to be 365.24219858156 days long, which is accurate to the 6th decimal place. Later that year the Arabian astronomer Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen) discovered and recorded that the celestial spheres do not consist of solid matter, and that the heavens are less dense than air, in his “Book of Optics.” He also refutes Aristotle’s theory on the Milky Way by making the first attempt at observing and measuring the Milky Way’s parallax. It’s angular displacement due to it being observed from the surface, instead of the centre of the Earth, and the difference of it being observed from the Earth instead of the Sun. He determined that because the Milky Way had no parallax, it had to be very far from the Earth and did not belong to the Earth’s atmosphere. Then in 1054, Arabian, and once again, Chinese astronomers, observe the star SN 1054, which becomes responsible for the creation of the Crab Nebula, the only nebula whose creation has ever been observed.

The hits kept coming, when in 1350, Ibn al-Shatir, anticipated Copernicus by more than a hundred years, and by abandoning the theory of Ptolemy, that all axis are the same length, he provided new calculations of planetary motion, which provided the first provable model of lunar motions which accurately match observations. Around the same time, Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya of Syria, proposes that the Milky Way galaxy to be a great number of tiny stars packed together in the sphere of the fixed stars, and that these stars are larger than the planets.

In the 15th century, Ali Kus-cu provided empirical evidence for the Earth’s rotation on its axis, and rejects the stationary Earth theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy.

In the 16th century, Taqi al-Din measured the right ascension of the stars at his observatory in Istanbul, using an “observational clock” in which he invented, and described as a mechanical clock with three dials which show the hours, minutes and seconds. And to think, all this combined knowledge that had been achieved up until this time, had been reached through dedicated observing of the universe, with the naked eye, and the use of mathematics.            

Up until the 17th century the Chaldean civilizations had a profound effect on astronomy and cosmology. They had the advantage of being some of the first humans ever, to study the skies and record what they were seeing, as well as having the advantage that their astronomers, scientists, and mathematicians had the freedom and security to advance along in their quest for seeking knowledge. Much unlike the West, where after the Greeks, Christianity would, more often than not, prosecute or murder an individual who was interested in science. Though there were many who would continue on from the Greeks in Europe, in most cases, they had to achieve this in secrecy and were supported privately.

06/30/19

Sunshine Supermen – Megaliths and Mounds

Adams Calendar, South Africa Realhistoryww
Adams Calendar, South Africa

Chapter II – Megaliths and Mounds

Megaliths are structures made of large stones by ancient cultures, without the use of any mortar or cement. As to not knowing what exactly their roles were, we can only surmise that they fulfilled both astronomical and religious functions, due to the astronomical significance of their alignments. In general, megaliths do not include structures built by developed and well expressed cultures like the Romans or Maya, and their pyramids, but rather the more ancient cultures.

Pyramids themselves were first used in ancient Mesopotamia as mud-brick structures known as ziggurats. Egypt would go on and build over 70 pyramids, with recent archaeological finds there and elsewhere, supporting the theory that most pyramid’s were centers of stargazing, worship, work, commerce, and social life rather than lone tombs erected on empty plains.

Pyramids continued to be used by the Greeks and Romans, and are found throughout the world, most notably in Central and South America, India and China.

Megaliths and mounds meanwhile are also found around the world. Especially in large areas of the Middle East, from the Turkish border, through Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Undoubtedly because of its large population at the time with agriculture blooming, the largest concentration of megaliths can be found in southern Syria and along the Jordan Rift Valley. Many of them are found to align with the summer solstice sunrise, and may have been used as a place to gaze at and track the stars, with their rock formations working like a kind of ancient calendar.

The oldest megalithic structure in the world, which we know of, is Adam’s Calendar, South Africa, (shown above) with some studies suggesting it could have been made around 75,000 years ago. It’s one of an estimated 100,000 such structures in the hills around Mpumalanga (Zulu name for “the place where the sun rises”) a province in eastern South Africa, bordering the nations of Swaziland and Mozambique.

But the majority of megaliths seem to have been erected during the Neolithic period, the final stage of cultural evolution and technological development among prehistoric humans, and the final division of the Stone Age. The Neolithic began about 12,000 years ago (10,000 BC) with the development of farming, and ended around 3000 BC. Overtaken then by the Bronze Age, which denoted the first period in which metal was used.

One of the oldest megalithic places of worship in the world, erected around 11,000 years ago, is Gobekli Tepe, in Turkey. Four stone circles have been excavated from an estimated 20, with some 3 meters high and up to 30 m across. The stones have a variety of carved reliefs and pictograms depicting boars, foxes, lions, birds, snakes and scorpions. Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, the people of the time hadn’t yet developed pottery or metal tools but managed to build this place with massive carved stones.

Gobekli Tepe, Turkey / Anadolu Agency

While at Nabta Playa, in Egypt, which will be discussed later on, stone circles, groups of megalithic structures, and alignments of upright stones, dating from about 4,500 BC, was a vast star chart.

Other notable Middle Eastern megaliths, include, Rujm-el-Hiri (3000 BC) at Quneitra in Syria, which is currently in the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights. An enormous megalithic monument consisting of several concentric stone rings made up of more than 42,000 basalt rocks, it resembles a giant target from above and boasts intricate stone arrangements within its circle. The stones range from 2.5 m in height to 4.5 m tall in the center.

Foundation Stones of Baalbek, Lebanon/ Hidden Inca Tours April/2019

The Trilithon of Baalbek, Lebanon, in the ruins of the former city of Heliopolis has some of the largest cut stones ever known to have been created by human civilization. At the base of the ruins of the Jupiter Baal temple are three stones, called the Trilithon, and each weighs more than seven hundred and fifty tons. Researchers remain divided as to who created these monsters.

Foundation stone – Temple of Jupiter

Many European stone sentinels, megaliths and stone groupings, also conformed to celestial alignments, which required skilled observation, measurement, and prediction. In some locations, such as Stonehenge, on the Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire England, the massive standing stones, around 4m high and 2m wide, and weighing around 25 tons, had some astronomical purpose, and of course, used for ceremonies and rituals. As in most all other cases, these observatories were employed to determine the seasons, an important factor in knowing when to plant crops, as well as in understanding the length of the year. Stonehenge was built around 3000 BC and constructed to calculate the moment of sunrise and moonrise, over an 18.6 year cycle. By standing at the centre of the circle, one can face either the sunrise or the moonrise, and foretell the season according to its position behind the “markers”.

In the English Midlands, limestone monuments called The Rollright Stones; date back to as early as 4000 BC. The Stones consist of three major formations, constructed at different times throughout the Neolithic and Bronze Age: the Whispering Nights dolmen, the King’s Men stone circle, and the King Stone.

The Standing Stones of Callanish on the isle of Lewis, in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, form a megalithic complex also based on astronomy. Built in about 3000 BC, lines can be identified to the moon, Sun, and stars, and seems to have been a huge lunar calendar.

Newgrange, in the County of Meath, Ireland, is a tomb hill, 76 m wide and 12 m high. It was built between 5500 and 3200 BC. Renowned due to its astronomic positioning: at the dawn of winter solstice day the Sun shines through its 18 m long main passage. Also in Ireland sits the Drombeg megaliths, formed into a circle that aligns with the sunset on the winter solstice. Human remains suggest the monument was used from as early as 1100 BC.

In Brittany, France, at Carnac, more than 3,000 stones have stood in careful rows since as early as 4500 BC. It is the largest collection of prehistoric hand cut stones in the world. Carnac’s megaliths cover the countryside, along with dolmens (tombs), burial mounds, and individual memorials. Some arrangements align with the stars, while local legend says the stones were once soldiers, frozen in place for all eternity. Other theories point to the sky. Also in France, The Grand Menhir of Locmariaquer, is one of the largest freestanding stones to have been erected anywhere in Europe and is a part of a wider site of significance in the area. It is estimated to have been erected over six thousand five hundred years ago. Though having fallen over perhaps a thousand years ago and now lying in four pieces, it is estimated to have weighed as much as three hundred and fifty tons and stood nearly twenty meters tall.

On the island of Menorca in the Mediterranean Sea, off of Spain, are the Talati de Dalt megalithic monuments, called taulas (Catalan for “tables”), and dated between 1000 and 3000 BC. They are visually very similar to Stonehenge, but are a mystery to what religious or astronomical significance they had. Another theory suggested they were centers of healing for the Talaiotic people who built them. Also in the Mediterranean, and submerged by around 7200 BC, a 12 m long monolith, probably weighing around 15,000 kg was found 40 m under water in the Strait of Sicily, south-west of Sicily, but whose function is unknown. Nearby, the megalithic structures on the nearby island of Malta are believed to be one the oldest in Europe, in particular the Skorba Temples, which were built around 4850 BC, while the Ggantija (giant), is a temple on the island of Gozo, a part of Malta, and dates back to 3600 BC. It is made up of huge limestone blocks with an innermost section, passageways, altars, carvings and libation holes.

Elsewhere, the eastern North American Native peoples, the Hopewell (200 BC-500 AD), and the Adena (1000 BC-200 BC), built huge earth mounds, many in the shape of an octagon as well as pyramid mounds which were square, rectangular and circular.

The pre-Columbian city Cahokia, beside the Mississippi river, near St. Louis, built earthen pyramids that still stand today. The largest one covers sixteen acres at its base and rises 30 metres, making it one of the biggest buildings of any period, and the largest in the United States before the 20th century. Many are burial tombs, though just as many are also thought to encode various sunrise and moon-rise patterns, including the winter and summer solstices, equinoxes, and minimum and maximum lunar risings and settings on the local horizon.

The “Big Horn Medicine Wheel” in Wyoming, USA, is a stone setting resembling an enormous spiked wheel. Historically on native Crow land, oral history from several indigenous nations sets the Big Horn Medicine Wheel as already existing before them, having been built by “people without iron”. It has been dated archaeologically to 3200 BC.

Big Horn Medicine Wheel, Wyoming/ by Airphoto NA

The Wheel is one of four or five astronomically complex wheels that are publicly known to exist in the Rocky Mountain region. It is of a type termed “Subgroup 6”, for its prominent central stone cairn surrounded by a stone ring, while two or more interior stone lines connect the stone ring to the cairn in the center. Smaller, less complex wheels may also have astronomical significance, such as solstice alignments and east-west orientations. The larger complex wheels are capable of tracking several different cosmic cycles, including the precession of the equinoxes, the Moon’s phases, lunar and solar eclipse cycles, and planets’ orbital cycles. These astronomical wheels mirror the north ecliptic polar region of the sky, and are useful as celestial grids to track changes over the millennia.

While in central and South America, megaliths run into the hundreds. The Calçoene megalithic observatory (the Amazon Stonehenge), erected sometime in the 1st to 10th centuries AD, in Amapá, Brazil, is a circle marked with 127 blocks of granite, and stones up to 3 m high. Other South American megaliths include The Chilla Pyramids, and the Banos Del Inca, in Ecuador, and the Huaca del Sol, in Peru.

While, 3,512 kilometers east off the coast of Chile lays the island of Rapa Nui, a remote volcanic island in Polynesia. The nearest inhabited land to it is Pitcairn Island, 2,075 km away. Rapa Nui has nearly 1,000 massive upright stone statues called moai. Created during the 13th and 16th centuries, the moai are carved human figures with oversize heads, often resting on massive stone pedestals called ahus. The largest standing moai was estimated to weigh at least 86 tons.

Other notable megaliths include Padang Hill in West Jawa, Indonesia. It is the largest concentration of megalithic stones in Southeast Asia, consisting of thousands of stone blocks. And the Diquis Spheres in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, a very unusual megalith in that it is made up of perfectly round stone spheres, some up to 16 tons in weight. While ancient, the exact timing of its building and culture, are unknown.

And finally Inuksuk Point, on Baffin Island, in Nunavut, Canada. Inuksuk Point is a group of over 100 vertical stone settings, which serve as navigation and reference points. The word inuksuk (also called inukshuk), could be translated as “somebody/something who acts on behalf of a human”. An Inuksuk in the shape of a person signifies safety, hope and friendship, which today has been transformed into a symbol of hope and friendship that transcends borders to reach people all over the world.

Inunnguaq at Rankin Inlet, Nunavit, Canada / photo by Ansgar Walk


Chapter One – Sunshine Supermen

05/25/19

Sunshine Supermen

By Joseph Peters

Started in 2010 ended in 2019

Contents

  1. Prologue
  2. Megaliths & Mounds
  3. Mesopotamia
  4. Egyptians
  5. Chinese
  6. India
  7. Greeks
  8. Maya
  9. Inca
  10. Aztec
  11. Nicolaus Copernicus
  12. Johnnes Kepler
  13. Galileo Galilei
  14. Isaac Newton
  15. Albert Einstein
  16. Astrology
  17. Modern Astronomy
  18. Spacemen
  19. Sun / Summary

Chapter I – Prologue

Today, astronomy is known as the study of objects and matter outside the Earth’s atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties. It is one of the oldest sciences, if not the first. From the beginning of time, all living things have been affected by what goes on in the sky, and since humans have been on the planet, the sky, especially the night sky, has been the most awesome and most mysterious aspect of our lives, as well as the most overwhelming. The earliest human, would perhaps stand up on a rock, in the quiet of a clear night and stare up at the panorama of the sky and probably feel so very small, swimming amongst the stars. Dwarfed by the seemingly, endless and uncountable twinkles of light, whilst standing agape with eyes open wide and bottom lip hanging open, drooling upon oneself. Or we’d sit around our campfire and tell stories about the night skies and attempt to decipher them. Shooting stars would be talked about for days, while we may have danced with the Aureole-Aurora Borealis.

Besides the vastness of the sky, there were always the Sun and the Moon as well. With both, so much larger and brighter than anything else that dwelled up in space. The Moon could be stared at for hours, while the Sun could not, though it was able to touch all living things with its heat. The Sun represented life, the Moon, no doubt reflection. It never gets boring for some reason when we stare up into the sky. We sense there is much going on, but to us it seems ever so slowly, while in reality it’s all happening very quickly.

From very early on, humans have sensed, felt, and seen the effects that the Sun and Moon seem to have on all aspects of life and nature, from the oceans to flora and fauna. We’ve probably always been extremely dedicated observers of the sky. But the majority of humankind’s concerns are what is going on in their individual life here on the Earth, and not so much what was happening on a daily basis in the heavens. Indeed the enormity of the sky, to most, had to have been very scary on some levels. The eclipses of the Sun and Moon themselves must have been both awe-inspiring to an early human’s spirit, and yet at the same time very traumatic. A lunar eclipse turns the Moon red as it passes in the Earth’s shadow, a partial lunar eclipse creates the image that part of the Moon is covered by the Sun, and the most fearful to humans was no doubt during a total solar eclipse, when the Moon completely blocks out the Sun.

There would come to be individuals who spent enough time staring up at the stars, watching the Sun and Moon on a regular basis, to notice that there was a lot of movement going on up there, with much of the movements happening regularly, like the time between full moons and the day and night. From very early on, watching the sky would become the responsibility of certain dedicated and patient individuals, sunshine supermen, if you will, with their observations becoming our measurement and concept, of time, and continuing wonder.

Time is forever moving forward, but we can only measure it in relation to other things that have a regular pattern, like the rising sun or swing of a pendulum. The earliest measurement of time would be the day. Which was easily calculated by everyone, the Sun rose and moved across the sky then disappeared, to be replaced by the Moon which would also move across the sky and eventually disappear. The earliest astronomers had no idea that, in reality the Earth was moving and not the Sun. Our next measurement of time was the month. The time it takes for one full Moon to become another full Moon, about 29 days.

The Babylonians would be the first to break up a day into twenty-four hours, with sixty minutes per hour. All numbers which are easily divisible by two, three, and four. The first clocks were simple sundials, using shadow, then came hourglasses of sand, with the first pendulum clock not appearing until the 17th century.

Besides measuring time, humans would eventually relate the sky’s actions into the need to understand their place and purpose in the universe as well. This need for a universal meaning to our lives does not need to be religious, for anyone should be able to sense and see that a cosmic perspective does give meaning to our lives. That somehow we are connected, and not separated like many would come to believe.

To study the sky, is to seek knowledge, for astronomy is not just a science about the physicality of the planet Earths place in the universe. It is also to seek an understanding of its beginnings, it’s future, and it’s time. It also has a human perspective, the study for truth, and from very early on astronomy would become intertwined with religion, from which would evolve cosmology, which can be considered as the study of the universe as a whole.

Historically, optical astronomy, also called visible light astronomy, is the oldest form of astronomy. What was observed in the sky was at first memorized and then eventually drawn by hand, by the individuals who patiently and diligently each night stood atop a monument and stared up into the night sky, recording in pictures or script of their methodical observations, for generation after generation. Astronomical artefacts have been found from much earlier periods than even our first civilizations. Early cultures, as far back as the Ethiopians, 17,000 years ago, identified celestial objects with gods and spirits. They related these objects, and their movements, to phenomena such as rain, drought, seasons, and tides. It is generally believed that the first astronomers were priests and shamans, and that their understanding of the heavens was seen as divine, hence astronomy’s ancient connection to what is now called astrology. At first these early astronomer-priests were involved with not only a primitive form of speculative meteorology, but also the attempt to read divine will. This was expressed everywhere and from all things, such as how the smoke rises from a fire, cloud-formations, the entrails of an animal, or the flight patterns of birds. These priests were also the first to develop the process by which this divine will, could be appeased, and that was through sacrifice. These early astronomer-priests were fed and sustained by the people, so that they could study the sky continuously, and would become the privileged few in the earliest civilizations. Besides creating ceremonies, feasts, timekeeping and rituals, they also were in charge of expulsion of all demons, diseases, and sins and thus, they took care of their community’s spiritual well being.

Before tools such as telescopes were invented in the 17th century, early study of the stars had to be conducted from the only vantage points available, namely tall buildings and high ground using the bare eye and then later, the armillary sphere, would become the prime instrument of all astronomers in determining celestial positions. Several of the planets have been known since prehistoric times, with the ancients aware of seven of them, the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, mostly because these bodies are very bright, and they wander among the fixed stars, through the constellations. These were known to the Greeks as plane‑te‑s or “wanderers.”

In ancient times the sky was probably more respected than it is today, being so all consuming. Today many people go days without ever looking up. But long ago, the sky would have been the mother of all distractions. The Supreme Being would have been the Sun, for it represented the cycles of life, the staples of resurrection: life during the day, death when it disappeared and a rebirth the next morning.

The constellation Orion would have been next in importance. There were many names and interpretations of the stars of this constellation, including the Hunter, named by the Greeks. Though Orion was also known as “thief thrown to the buzzards,” in South America. The Pawnee of North America called the constellation, “the Deer,” and the Egyptians named it Osiris. Orion is found on the celestial equator and is the largest, most conspicuous and recognizable constellation worldwide.

The sky is overpoweringly magnificent, but as mentioned earlier, it brought out fear as well, and still does. This fear would be used by the early astronomer priests to their advantage, for only they were believed to be able to know what the gods expected from the people. Night after night they’d watch the night sky, trying to interpret what the gods were saying by their movements in the stars and planets, and at the same time allowing what they would find, to control nearly every aspect of the people’s lives, and to keep themselves fed, by sowing and harvesting at the right times. Unfortunately, their work, and themselves, were also often easily influenced by whoever was in power.

Old or even ancient astronomy is not to be confused with astrology, the belief system which claims that human affairs are correlated with the positions of celestial objects. Although the two fields share a common origin and a part of their methods, by using tables showing positions of the heavens, they are distinct. In early times, astronomy only comprised the observation and predictions of the motions of objects visible to the naked eye.

As civilizations developed, most notably in Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, Persia, Central America, India, China, and the Islamic world, astronomical observatories were assembled, and ideas on the nature of the universe began to be explored. Most of early astronomy actually consisted of mapping the positions of the stars and planets, a science now referred to as, astrometry. From these observations, early ideas about the motions of the planets were formed, and the nature of the Sun, Moon, and the Earth in the universe were explored philosophically. The Earth was believed to be the center of the universe with the Sun, the Moon and the stars rotating around it. This is known as the geocentric model of the universe. In contrast to ancient Greek philosophers who believed that the universe had an infinite past with no beginning, while medieval philosophers and theologians developed the concept of the universe having a finite past with a beginning. This view was inspired by the creation myth shared by the three Abraham based religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

While Islam produced some incredible astronomers, the bibles of Judaism and Christianity, contain only a few statements as to the position of the Earth, the universe and the nature of planets and stars. With Venus and Saturn being the only planets expressly mentioned in the Old Testament. The closest interpretations of biblical “stars” are, Kimah, related to the Pleiades; the Kesil, related to Orion; Ayish, to Hyades; Mezarim – the Bears (Great and Little); MazzarothVens (Lucifer and Hesperus); Hadre, the “Chamber of the South”, and Canopus, the Southern Cross and Centauri.

Over five thousand years ago, many individuals, in many different parts of the world, had gained much firsthand experience and knowledge about Mother Nature, and the duality she provided of destruction and growth. They were achieving a better understanding of the natural world by studying the stars and sky. Cultures around the globe, nearly all at the same time, became fixated on being able to forecast and keep time, to mark seasonal changes for the growing and harvesting of crops. And the desire grew to foretell, and to forestall, if possible, future events by sacrifice and ritual.

Much of ancient astronomy was all about timekeeping, and soon most all of the early sky watchers would develop calendars, with the first ones marking the seasons and rituals. All calendars of the world have usually been set by the Sun and Moon – measuring the day, month and year – and were very important to agriculture in which the harvest depended on planting at the correct time of year. The most common modern calendar is based on the Roman calendar, which divided the year into twelve months of alternating thirty and thirty‑one days apiece. In 46 BC the Roman emperor Julius Caesar instigated calendar reform and adopted a calendar based upon the 365 1/4 day year length, originally proposed by the 4th century BC, Greek astronomer Callippus. But as you shall see, there have been many calendars and much pondering about the celestial realm.

This essay hopes to record and share with you the incredible achievements attained by the amazingly disciplined sunshine supermen and gazers of the stars, up to the 17th century and the invention of the telescope, while before that time so much had already been achieved by simply using the human eyeball and mathematics. And afterwards, right up to the present day when the technologies of optics and photography would begin to share the stargazing.

I hope I am not diminishing the explorations of space that have been reached, or the nearly divine work that modern astronomers have achieved, and so have also included chapters on Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, because, though they were not all astronomers, through their combined genius, they would develop and put forth definitions and theories, to exactly what the sunshine supermen of past and present were and are, looking at. And to what they were looking for. So lie back upon a cool patch of grass and stare up at the night sky, or simply strap in and enjoy the ride.

Will be releasing chapters weekly. Peace Out for now.


02/18/19

The Village of One Hundred

If we were to reduce the seven and a half billion people currently residing on the planet, down to only one hundred people and all living in the only village in the world, who would they be? Or rather what would the village initially look like before any changes, which would undoubtedly occur, and if they would survive. Would they get along? Where would the village be? These are questions that could be discussed at extreme length and have been, throughout human history, and when discussing, one could easily fall down into numerous bottomless rabbit-holes. Since we are talking about human nature here, and not just any other far less complicated, but just as intelligent animal on the planet. Roles would obviously change, especially since all the focus would have to be on hunting, gathering and growing, and not spending. As to authority it’d either be one of two eggs, egalitarian or ego. There would also be just as many males and females with alpha, sigma or beta traits. All of which is far too interesting, with most conclusions based on the roll of the dice, for all the permutations, outcomes, and scenarios there would be. For being human is a very complicated affair.

The following statistics were first published in 1992 by the Retired Peace Corps Volunteers of Madison, Wisconsin, in a curriculum entitled “Unheard Voices: Celebrating Cultures from the Developing World”. Shortly thereafter the statistics appeared as an email that continues to be circulated and viewed by millions of people around the world. This updated version includes the detailed research, statistics and source information of the “100 People:  A World Portrait, A Global Education Toolbox” project at 100people.org/statistics, first posted in 2016. And also includes a further updated version made in January 2019 by Matt Rosenberg, at thoughtco.com/if-the-world-were-a-village.

Someone rings a bell, summoning the other ninety-nine villagers to assemble in the town square. Fifty would be male and fifty would be female, all hetrosexual, except for three who would be either gay or lesbian.

Twenty-seven would be under 14 years of age, sixty-six between the ages of 15 and 64, and only seven grey-hairs over 65.

Seventy would be non-white, thirty white. The vast majority (61) of the village would be Asian, of these; twenty are Chinese, and seventeen are East Indians. There would also be fourteen Africans, eleven Europeans, nine Latinos or South Americans, five North Americans, while none of the villagers would be from Australia, Oceania, or Antarctica.

It would no doubt be a true polyglot village, with seventeen people speaking Mandarin or Cantonese, nine speaking English, eight Hindi, six Russian, six Spanish, four Arabic, with the other fifty people somehow speaking over 5,000 other languages.

Thirty-three villagers would be Christians, twenty-two would be Muslims, thirteen Hindus, six Buddhists, two atheists, twelve not religious, or don’t identify themselves as being aligned with a particular faith, and the remaining twelve would be members of other religions. Judaism would not exist.

As to the villager’s individual characters, and though personality is not categorical, it is dimensional, for when people mature and grow, their personality also matures and grows, there would still be basically four personality types, with  the most common being average. The average individual would experience such feelings as anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, guilt, depressed mood, and loneliness, with ten of the females and six of the males in the village suffering from depression. On the other side of the coin the average person in the village would also be outgoing and social, with most enjoying being with people, participating in social gatherings, wanting to be happy, and are full of energy.

Not so average would be the reserved and silent types, who are generally not open or neurotic, but are emotionally stable. They tend to be introverted, agreeable and conscientious. Then there would be the few role-models and natural leaders who possess high levels of agreeableness, outgoingness, openness and conscientiousness. They listen to new ideas and are reliable. There will also be some villagers, who are self-centered, and though they are often very outgoing and social, they suffer from low levels of openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. And finally, one of the hundred would be a sociopath and/or a psychopath.

Physically, fourteen would be obese, and a part of the thirty villagers who would always have enough to eat. Over half the village would be malnourished, fifteen would be undernourished, with one dying of starvation. Twenty-five people would have tuberculosis, one would have HIV, twelve would be disabled, and twenty would smoke cigarettes.More than twenty-five people would regularly consume alcohol, but only seven of them would be alcoholics. Similarly, about six people would take some sort of drug at least once a year, with only one among them, an addict (using daily). And of the one hundred, around fifteen of them would recreationally smoke cannabis sativa, for its religious and spiritual moods and properties, and for medication.

By the end of a year, one villager would die and two new villagers would be born, so the population would climb to 101. There would be a one in three chance the person dying would die from a cardiovascular disease, a heart attack, stroke, cancers, or diabetes. Overall, over their lifetimes, thirty-one of the hundred would eventually die of a cardiovascular disease.

Of the thirty-seven children under 14 years old, six girls and five boys would have suffered child sexual abuse. Of the sixty to seventy adults, fifteen would have been either physically or emotionally abused as children. While one in five women and one in thirteen men in the village was sexually abused as a child.

Eighty of the villagers would have access to clean, safe drinking water, twenty would not. Sixty-eight would breathe clean air, while thirty-two would breathe polluted air. And while fifty-seven would have improved sanitation, only thirty-four of them would actually have access to a toilet. Forty-three people would live without basic sanitation.

Fifty-four people would live within the village proper, while forty-six would be rural dwellers. Seventy-eight people out of the one hundred would have a place to shelter them from the wind and the rain, twenty-two would not, with the vast majority (80%) of villagers living in substandard housing.

Overall, eighty-six would be able to read and write, while fourteen would not. 78% of the eligible males and 76% of eligible females would have a primary school education, with 66% of them (combined) at least finishing high school. Seven out of the one hundred villagers would have a college degree. In 1992 only one villager had a degree.

As to people’s freedoms, forty-eight wouldn’t be allowed to speak out loud, and act according to their faith and conscience, due to harassment, imprisonment, torture or death, while fifty-two of the villagers could. And while twenty would live in fear of death by bombardment, armed attack, landmines, or of rape or kidnapping by armed groups, eighty would not.

Sixty-six people would not have access to safe and affordable surgery, with thirty-three people unable to pay for any medicine they might need.

Of the one hundred, thirty would be unemployed or underemployed. Of the seventy who would work, twenty-eight would work in agriculture, fourteen in industry, and the remaining twenty-eight would work in the service sector. Fifty-three villagers would live on less than two U.S. dollars a day. While only sixteen villagers would be able to spend more than $20 per day. One person in the village, an American, would be able to spend over $100 per day, as well as control 50% of all the wealth. Overall, 85% of the village’s wealth would be owned by only six people, four of them the only Americans in the village, with seventy people owning only 3% of the wealth.

Though, eighty-two people would have electricity, eighteen would not. There would be 18 cars in the village, with most people walking, biking, or using horse and buggy.

The village would have a mobile-cellular network, with eighty people having a cell-phone, and forty-seven people active internet users. But only have each other to talk and communicate with. In 1992 only one person in the village had a computer.

To end, “If you keep your food in a refrigerator, your clothes in a closet, and you have a bed to sleep in, and a roof over your head, you are richer than 77% of the entire world population.” Comparatively, if you have money in the bank, some in your wallet, pocket or purse, and spare change in a dish somewhere, you are among the top 10% of the worlds wealthy.

In a village of only one hundred people would such things really matter? History has proven that unfortunately, they would. But one could hope that everyone would get along. Instead of everyone retreating into fragmented groups, and simply dying off.

 

 

 

 

References:

 

https://www.thoughtco.com/if-the-world-were-a-village-1435271 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3nllBT9ACg

https://www.euronews.com/2018/09/21/personality-types-average-self-centered-role-model-or-reserved-t137902

https://www.internationalcap.org › Abuse & Neglect Info

 

 

02/18/19

Earthquake Precautions

Because you never know; especially in areas where there is frequent earthquake activity.

A very interesting read, which goes against everything you’ve probably been told about how to survive an earthquake. And in fact was quite controversial when it came out in 2004. Here in Canada, fifteen years later, the federal government hasn’t adopted any of it, but then, the feds won’t even allow AEDs, which are literally everywhere today, in any of their office buildings, citing legal issues. An AED is an automated external defibrillator, a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening signs of a heart attack and able to treat them through defibrillation. They have and are, saving thousands of lives, unlike the advice given that in an earthquake, crawl under the desk, kitchen table or doorway, or simply duck.

Spread the word to everyone you care about and maybe save a life one day.


From Doug Copp’s article on the “triangle of life”, edited by Larry Linn for MAA Safety Committee brief on April 13th 2004.

“My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world’s most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake. I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries. I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years. I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985; except for simultaneous disasters. In 1996 we made a film which proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did ‘duck and cover,’ and ten mannequins I used in my ‘triangle of life’ survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover. There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the ‘triangle of life.’ This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA, Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV. The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under their desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn’t at the time know that the children were told to hide under something. Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the ‘triangle of life’.

The larger and stronger the object, the less it will compact, and the less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the ‘triangles’ you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building. They are everywhere.”

Copp’s Ten Tips for Earthquake Safety

1 – Most everyone who simply ‘ducks and covers’ when buildings collapse are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2 – Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3 – Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4 – If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5 – If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6 – Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jamb falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed.

7 – Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different “moment of frequency” (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads – horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn’t collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8 – Get near the outer walls of buildings or outside of them if possible – It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked

9 – People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. All the crushed cars had voids one meter (3 feet) high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10 – I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper. Spread the word.

08/16/18

The Life and Times of James Bond

Image result for images of james bond logo

One of the most iconic, cool, competent, cocky but confident, fashionable, and well mannered, truly psychopathic and ultimate protagonist characters has to be James Bond. Created by Ian Lancaster Fleming (1908-1964), English author, journalist, and naval intelligence officer, Bond appeared for the first time in the novel Casino Royale, published in 1953. Until his passing in 1964, Fleming would write another twelve novels and two short story collections about the spy James Bond, with his wartime service and his career as a journalist providing much of the background, detail, and depth of the James Bond novels.

The Bond character was further developed by the over two decades now perseverance of the Broccoli family of American film producer Albert R Broccoli, and dozens of writers and screen writers. The first Bond film Dr. No was released in 1962, when I was four years old and I’ve been hooked ever since. I have read all of Fleming’s books and some of the books that have been written since his passing, by new authors that are carrying on the Bond folklore. President John F. Kennedy was also a James Bond fan, and watched a preview screening of From Russia with Love at the White House on November 21st, 1963. He was killed the next day in Dallas.

The following is based on the combined facts of Bond, in literature and filmdom, with a “wee bit of artistic wherewithal”, said of course in a Scottish accent, with beer foam dripping from my moustache. Chronologically, I try to follow Ian Fleming’s books as they were written, but also for continuity, use some of the release dates of Bond films including those not associated with Fleming/Broccoli, and to a very small extent, the books written by various authors of the “young” Bond. I’m sure loyal James Bond aficionados, may take issue with the continuity of this story, but the recent Daniel Craig as Bond series of films throws a wrench into things by rebooting to the beginnings and Bond’s first missions. While Fleming’s introduction of Bond was Casino Royale, in film Bond was introduced in Dr No, Fleming’s sixth Bond novel. As far as M goes, M was Rear Admiral Bernard Lee for the first eleven missions. After his death, Robert Brown took over for four, and then M Judi Dench was brought on for Bond’s next four missions, and then was transported back in time for Bond’s last four films, which chronicle his first few years with MI6. There are also too many Alex Leiter’s, Moneypennys and Blofelds.

Then there is the dilemma that there has been numerous individuals who have played Bond, but then this issue can be dealt with sensibly, by suggesting that since Bond would be recognized fairly quickly, as he was well known to the underworld and most all intelligence and secret service organizations, so to further the secrecy and stealth needed to carry on such heroic and often insane actions as he does, and have to infiltrate their organizations, every so often Bond gets a face replacement. In this scenario Bond has had seven face transplants and still looks good. Rumour has it that in a few years from now, Bond will be undergoing not only another face transplant but a skin transplant as well, for a mission, which as of yet remains undisclosed. The story to follow is not sensible so there are no face alterations, rationally on the other hand, Bond probably looked like Daniel Craig at the start of his MI6 career but as he aged he started looking more like Sean Connery.

All of these things make it difficult and confusing to get some sort of continuity in Bond’s career timeline, but I have simply done the best I could and tried to stay with what makes sense, and lean towards Fleming’s novels as to storyline and details. And mean him no disrespect whatsoever of his original brilliance.

 

Beginnings

 

James Bond was born in Germany to a Scottish father, Andrew Bond of Glencoe, Scotland, and Swiss mother, Monique Delacroix, and spent much of his first ten years abroad, as his father was a Vickers armaments company representative. The Bond’s traditional family motto is Orbit Non Sufficit, the world is not enough.

Bond became multilingual in German and French at an early age. Sadly his parents were both killed in a mountain climbing accident that orphaned him at age 11. After their deaths, a friend of Andrew Bond, Hans Oberhauser, became Bond’s temporary guardian. Oberhauser had a son, Franz, and though older than Bond, he began to resent the way his father was treating Bond as if he were his only son, and felt he was being ignored. But soon Bond was placed with his full-time guardian, his aunt, Miss Charmian Bond, in the village of Pett Bottom, Kent, England, where he completed his early education. Supposedly on a holiday to Paris when he was sixteen years old, he loses his virginity. Throughout his childhood, he and Miss Charmian would spend time each year at Skyfall, the Bond family estate in the Scottish Highlands.

Bond briefly attended Eton College, but was expelled over an alleged incident with a maid, and eventually graduated from Fettes Collage in Scotland, the same college his father had attended.

At about the same time, on the continent, Franz Oberhauser had already killed his father over the animosity felt towards Bond when they were younger, had staged his own death and adopted the name Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Over the years he would control the underworld, with his tentacles reaching into state intelligence organizations, trade unions and criminal cartels. Eventually he would create Spectre (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism Revenge and Extortion) , Smersh, and Quantum, and come up with all sorts of schemes to take over the world, and most importantly, to never give up on one day killing Bond.

After graduating from college, Bond enlisted in the British Navy as a commando, and participated in an unknown number of clandestine foreign military engagements, eventually becoming a Royal Naval Reserve Commander. In his early twenties (some have suggested when he was twenty years old), the 183 cm (6 ft) tall and supposedly still, 76 kg (170 lb) Bond, already an expert boxer, pistol shooter, scuba diver and knife thrower, applied and was accepted to join the British intelligence division of MI6 as an agent. His qualities of strength, action, confidence, and brutal violence if needed, were attractive to them. Much like his raw masculinity, being dangerous, confident, suggestive, calm, polite and smart was attractive to both women and men whom he would meet.

His first control officer in MI6 was Cmdr. Ian Fleming of Naval Intelligence, who would go on and become MI6’s chronicler and historian, and followed Bond’s career in particular, as they quickly bonded, as it were, and stayed lifelong friends. Fleming was supposedly very impressed when Bond showed up for work his first day in MI6, in an immaculate 1964 Aston Martin DB5. Bond still owns the Aston but it now spends its time in a storage locker. Over his career he has driven a plethora of vehicles, including the Aston Martin DB Mark III, a Lincoln Mark VII, various 1930’s Bentleys, a BMW 750iL, Yamaha XJ650 turbo motorcycle, dunebuggys, a double-decker bus, a Russian T-55M5 tank, hovercraft, numerous boats, and has flown gyroplanes, Cessna’s, and a Harrier T4 jet, to list but a few.

The head of the British Secret Intelligence Service at the time (M) was Royal Navy Rear Admiral Judi Dench, who had held the position for the previous ten plus years. As with all other heads of MI6, before her and since, they tend to be serious, efficient, no-nonsense authoritarians. M’s Chief of Staff and overseer of the 00 division was and still is, Bill Tanner, while MI6’s quartermaster (Q), Major Desmond Liewelyn, ran the research and Development Division. The Principal Secretary of the “Double O” division of MI6, and M’s personal secretary was Ms. Loelia Ponsonby. She would soon be replaced with MI6 agent, Mary Goodnight, who would occasionally, continue to assist Bond on assignments. Interestingly, noted neurologist Sir James Moloney, was frequently employed by M and MI6, but then as you will soon find out, one can see why.

Eventually Bond became one of perhaps nine agents to earn the designation double O, meaning they had a license to kill, or the “the authorisation to, at their own discretion, commit acts of assassination and other controversial activities in order to complete their missions, without having to first seek permission from headquarters”. The true number of how many agents are designated double 00 may never be known, but rumour has it there are three double 00 agents left, while some say Bond is the only 00 agent.

When he started, Bond was issued a .25 ACP Berretta 418 handgun, which was smaller than what he had been used to in the military, but found it a weapon that was easy to conceal, especially when using a shoulder holster, and considering Bond’s penchant for well cut tuxedos, and business suits, while wearing loafers.

Bond’s designation was awarded to him after his first assignment, which there are two different versions of. Perhaps, one was a false flag operation to hide something else that went down, with the other closer to the truth, who knows. One story goes that he got it after killing two enemy agents, a Japanese spy on the thirty-sixth floor of the RCA Building at Rockefeller Center (then housing the headquarters of British Security) in New York City, and a Norwegian double agent who had betrayed two British agents. The other story was on a mission that brought him to Prague, he assassinated Dryden, the traitorous MI6 section chief stationed there. He then traveled to Lahore, Pakistan, where he kills Fisher, Dryden’s contact with criminal organizations, after a violent and intense hand to hand fight to the death in a rundown apartment, ended when Bond strangles him. From there Bond tracks down a corrupt Greek official, Alex Dimitrios in the Bahamas, who in a matter of hours, loses his car to Bond in a poker game, Bond sleeps with his wife Solange, and then he gets killed by Bond in a crowded museum.

Regardless of what actually happened, after returning to London, Bond receives his 007 designation but gets read the riot act by M who sternly established her authority. Besides berating him for breaking international law, M also made it known she felt Bond was a “sexist misogynist dinosaur”. But then considering he is maybe twenty-two to twenty-three years old at the time, what can one expect his attitude to be, considering killing in cold blood doesn’t seem to be a problem for him, yet at the same time he’s funny, smart, confident, and with the amount of experience already under his belt at such a young age, would seem to confirm one of Cmdr. Fleming’s favorite sayings “I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them”.

Bond’s first mission “officially” was the Casino Royale operation. With British treasury agent Vesper Lynd, at his side, they were tasked with trying to bankrupt Le Chiffre, a terrorist financier and paymaster for the Russian counter-surveillance agency, Smersh, which also controlled some of Europe’s largest trade unions, and other divisions of Russia’s secret service.

Bond and Vesper attend a game of Texas hold-em poker at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. CIA agent Felix Leiter was also in attendance, and would become one of Bond’s very few friends throughout their careers. Also in attendance, including those actually at the table, were members of various countries’ intelligence and secret service organizations.

After losing the bulk of the money Vesper had brought with them and to stay in the game, Felix and the CIA bankrolled Bond the rest of the way. In the final hand it was all in, $115 million. Le Chiffre topped all the other hands still left at the table except Bond’s, who beats him with a straight flush.

After blowing such millions of dollars that was not his, Le Chiffre became a cornered animal, rare for a Bond villain. Kidnapping Bond and Vesper, Le Chiffre viciously tortures Bond, but a Smersh hit squad led by a Mr. White suddenly breaks in and assassinates Le Chiffre and his henchmen, and since the contract did not include Bond or Vesper, the assassins release them, though not before cutting a Cyrillic “LLI” into the back of Bond’s hand, signifying the Russian word shpion (spy), and Vesper making a private deal with Mr. White, the money Le Chiffre lost in exchange for Bond’s life.

Sharing a suite in a Venetian hotel while they recovered, Vesper would be the first woman Bond fell truly in love. Bond confesses his love to her as does she, and actually resigns from MI6 so that they can have a normal life together. But unbeknownst to Bond, in order to save his life Vesper had agreed to assist in the transfer of the money won at the Casino Royale, into Mr White’s and Smersh’s hands. After catching her in the act and feeling as though he had been played, his heart probably felt ripped out of his chest. They end up in a sinking building in Venice, with Vesper trapped. With all he had Bond valiantly attempted to save her but the building soon sinks underwater, and though Bond still did everything he could, Vesper refused his attempts and allowed herself to drown.

Later Bond discovered a text message left for him by Vesper, with Mr. White’s name and phone number. Bond tracked him down and kidnaps him, but instead of killing him he hands him in to the authorities. Every year since Vesper’s death, Bond still visits her grave in Cornwall England. It has been said that after losing Vesper, Bond would slowly begin to, instead of doing his job because of his principles; he began to use his job more often than not, in pursuing personal battles.

After surgery on the back of his hand to try to erase the inscription carved into it, and months of recovery time, the loss of Vesper lay heavy upon him. Bond eventually took on another minor mission which ended in Nassau, Bahamas. Taking a few days off, he was invited to a dinner party held by the Governor. After the guests all leave, the Governor and Bond retire to his den for a cigar. There Bond created what he would call the Vesper; three measures of Gordon’s Gin, one of Vodka, and half a measure of the wine-based aperitif Kina Lillet, shaken and not stirred, until its ice cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel, and served in a deep champagne goblet. This drink would be his usual, and often. And though Bond also enjoys expensive wine and champagne, especially if any caviar happens to be lying about, he also enjoys the occasional neat whiskey or scotch. It was estimated by fellow agents and the few friends he has, that his weekly alcohol consumption is about five times the recommended amount, yet incredibly his alcohol intake doesn’t seem to affect his performance. As for non-alcoholic drinks he stays away from tea, once blaming it for the downfall of the British Empire, and instead prefers coffee, dark and thick. Coincidently perhaps, from what we will learn of Bond, a Vesper martini has approximately 130 calories, which on average is what men burn during sex.

Bond also became a very heavy smoker, averaging about 60 custom-made cigarettes a day (3 packs). Over time he would cut that vice down to the occasional cigar, and since, has been able to quit cigarettes altogether.

As they sipped and smoked, Bond asked who the boring couple at the party were. The Governor began by telling the story about the relationship between fellow Brits, civil servant Phillip Masters and air hostess Rhoda Llewellyn. After a brief whirlwind romance they married and moved to Bermuda. Early into the marriage Rhoda began a long open affair with the son of a rich Bermudian family. Philip was devastated, his work began to slide, and eventually he suffered a nervous breakdown. Taking the time to recover he traveled a bit, then returned and divided his home into two sections, his and hers. In private they did not acknowledge each other, in public they simply pretended to be a couple. Eventually Phillip divorced her and moves back to the UK, leaving Rhoda with all their debt, and stranded in Bermuda. And though Phillip was successful in his plan of avenging Rhoda, emotionally he never recovered, while Rhoda remarried a rich Canadian. The “boring couple” were Rhoda and her Canadian husband.

The Governor explained the point of the story as being, when you don’t  have a quantum of solace in a relationship, defined as “a precise figure defining the comfort, humanity, and fellow feeling required between two people for love to survive”, it’s time to end it and give it up. As soon as lack of respect for each other rears its ugly head, it’s over, simply walk away. I’m sure, and it has been said, that Bond thought long and hard over that story. Perhaps flying back to London was enough time to think about his and Vesper’s relationship, where their quantum of solace ended with her dying, and he began to focus on seeking revenge for her death.

Returning to London, Bond finds out Mr. White had escaped and there had been an attempt on M’s life. Chomping at the bit he was given a mission that was possibly related to such events.

The assignment was to eliminate wealthy businessman Dominic Greene, who intended to stage a coup d’état in Bolivia to seize control of their water supply, and who was, whether by twist of fate or happenstance, a member of the Quantum criminal organisation. Bond was assisted by Bolivian agent Camille Montes, who was plotting revenge for the murder of her own family. Also helping was MI6 agent Strawberry Fields, who Bond seduced, but unfortunately she was subsequently killed working undercover. The mission would become known as one of Bond’s most violent, as he destroyed Greene’s plans and captured him, then left him in the middle of a desert with nothing but a can of oil. M later told Bond Greene was found with two bullets in his chest and his stomach held a can of oil. Bond simply shrugged and thought, Greene’s boss no doubt.

M asked where his loyalties lay and was he mentally able to continue doing his job, Bond replied he never left. Besides, Bond felt the mission wasn’t yet completed, and on his own time flew to Russia and tracked down Vesper’s former lover Yesef Kabira, who was now involved with Smersh and Quantum, and had been involved in the blackmailing of Vesper, thus, indirectly responsible for her death. But once again, instead of a double tap to the forehead Bond allowed him to live and be arrested.

Another mission around this time took Bond and fellow agent 006, Alec Trevelyan, to infiltrate a Russian chemical weapons facility. There they were attacked and captured. During the struggle 006 was shot and left for dead, while Bond made his escape. In actual fact Trevelyan had faked his own death and would spend the next nine years creating what became known as the Janus crime syndicate. Oblivious to such knowledge, until nine years later, when Bond meets the attractive psychopath and sadist Xenia Onatopp in Monte Carlo, and soon finds out she is a member of Janus. He also finds out she had recently killed a Canadian Admiral by crushing him between her thighs while having sex. Though knowing all this, Bond still seduces her and while undressing for bed, and removing his jacket, Onatopp notices his shoulder holster and tells him that “you won’t need a gun”, Bond replied, “well that depends on your definition of safe sex”. A downright scary individual, she visibly experienced an orgasm whenever she killed someone. But then, at the same time, this mission would be Bond’s most violent operation to-date, where he personally killed 47 individuals.

Bond also finds out that Janus’s leader is none other than the now scarred and disfigured Trevelyan, whose plan was to steal the command codes and hardware to control two electromagnetic pulse weapons (GoldenEyes) mounted on orbiting satellites. During the theft Onatopp excitedly killed every individual in the scientific faculty that built them, except for one lone survivor, Natalya Simonova, a skilled programmer who hid and lived. Simonova ends up with Bond and after becoming lovers, she helps him complete his mission. Onatopp on the other hand ends up fighting Bond, and died crushed against a tree by a crashed helicopter. In the end, Trevelyan asked Bond, “I might as well ask you if all those martinis ever silence the screams of all the men you’ve killed or if you find forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women for all the dead ones you failed to protect”. A mirror of each other, their fight to the death was extremely brutal, until Trevelyan was dropped seventy meters onto a satellite dish.

A few months after the mission where he had taken the air out of the tires of Dominic Greene’s and Quantum’s grandiose plans, Bond found himself in New York City, investigating the deaths of three MI6 agents over a 24 hour period. With friend CIA agent Felix Leiter at his side, they investigated a couple of Harlem nightclubs, but were kidnapped by a Mr. Big (short for Bonaparte Ignace Gallia), a ruthless gangster and drug dealer, who owned a chain of New York, “Filet of Soul” dinner clubs. After some torture, carried out by Mr. Big’s henchman Tee Hee Johnson, who had a pincer for a hand, Bond told their mundane made-up cover story. To determine if Bond was telling the truth Mr. Big brought in the beautiful, Simone “Solitaire” Latrelle, so named because she excluded men from her life. She was a tarot card reader and possessed the power of obeah, a voodoo cult of the West Indies. She was said to be able to see the future and events in the present. She lied to Mr. Big saying Bond was telling the truth, so he and Leiter were released, though not before Tee Hee breaks one of Bond’s fingers.

Leaving Mr. Big, Solitaire was seduced by Bond, and gladly helps him complete the mission, though by doing so she would forever lose her powers. With Solitaire’s assistance, Bond tracked Mr. Big down to the small Caribbean island of San Monique, where he ruled over his people using voodoo and the occult. To his people he was known as Dr. Kananga. His big plan was to distribute, free of charge, two tons of heroin, through his chain of “Filet of Soul” restaurants, thereby increasing demand by creating more addicts. Bond killed Mr, Big, by blowing him up with compressed air, and his remaining henchmen, Mo Thing, Sam Miami, The Flannel, and Blabbermouth Foley, then burned the island’s poppy crop to the ground.

In between missions, and considering his exploits in far off exotic locations, and trysts with beautiful women, when Bond  was back in London, he was actually very routine driven. Bond lived in a flat off King’s Road in Chelsea, and was looked after by an elderly Scottish housekeeper named May Maxwell.

Some people who knew him at the time, thought there was a slowly, seeping “sourness” to him. When in town Bond showed up at his office at MI6 headquarters, at about ten and be gone at about six, Monday to Friday. Most of his evenings were spent at the pub playing cards with a few close friends, with his card game of chance being baccarat and not poker.

To Bond, his increasing alcohol consumption meant “relaxation, ritual and reliability”. Rumour had it that he had had rotating affairs with three similarly disposed married women, each one used strictly as cold passionate release. Then, and for quite awhile, his off and on regular love interest when home was Sylvia Trench, who he had met playing baccarat at a club. She would endear herself to Bond from the time they first met, when she shook his hand and confidently said, “Trench. Sylvia Trench”. Bond would reply in kind, and keep the greeting as his own, which at times would seem odd. Considering that over time, every time he’d be trying to fly under the radar, to be secret, as it were, he would blow his cover by declaring his name out loud upon introduction each time he meets a bad guy, “Bond… James Bond”.

On an even more personal note, when at home, Bond’s favorite foods were grilled sole and baked oeufsen cocotte (eggs and crème fraiche), eggs Benedict, and cold roast beef with potato salad. When on a mission, however, Bond ate far more extravagantly, as it was then on MI6’s credit card.

Bond rarely listened to music, and if he did, only when he was home. Though his housekeeper once admitted his musical tastes run the gamut, from orchestral compositions by John Barry, David Arnold, George Martin and Thomas Newman to the singers Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Dusty Springfield, Louis Armstrong, and Lulu. He seemed to prefer female singers such as Carly Simon, Rita Coolidge, Sheryl Crow, Gladys Knight, Alicia Keys, Sheena Easton, K.D. Lang and Adele, but also enjoyed listening to the Pretenders, Duran Duran, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave, Jack White, Sam Smith, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and Moby.

Bond’s next assignment began when a hard drive containing the details of undercover agents was stolen by a mercenary, by the name of Patrice. Bond and experienced fellow MI6 agent Eve Moneypenny, track Patrice down to Turkey, where he and Bond get into a fight atop a moving train, with Moneypenny set up as a sniper, but from afar. She was ordered over her headset by M, to take out Patrice. But Moneypenny missed and hit Bond instead, who fell off the train and dropped over 91 meters (300 ft) into a raging river, while Patrice got away. Bond was presumed dead after search attempts found nothing.

Three months later, M’s outspoken nemesis in meetings, Gareth Mallory, the chairman of the British parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, was pressuring her to retire. Amidst this, MI6’s computer servers were hacked, with M receiving a taunting message, just before MI6 headquarters in downtown London exploded.

With everyone thinking he was dead, Bond had used the presumption to stay off the grid, but when he learned of the attack on MI6 he returned. And though Bond failed a series of physical and psychological examinations by Dr. Moloney, M approved his return to the field. His job, identify Patrice’s employer, recover the stolen hard drive, and kill Patrice. Ordered to MI6 Q’s office, Bond’s Berretta was replaced with a 7.65 mm Walther PPK (the same handgun Hitler used to kill himself). Eventually Bond would be issued what he uses today, the 9 mm Walther P99.

Bond found Patrice in Shanghai and they fought once again, but this time Patrice falls about the same height that Bond fell from the train, unfortunately Patrice does his header off a tall building. Bond ended up in Macau, where he met the lovely Sévérine, an accomplice of Patrice. A former sex slave who worked for a Raoul Silva, she collaborated with Bond to show him where Silva’s base of operations was and to kill him.

While travelling to a small island off the coast on Sévérine’s yacht and becoming lovers, she and Bond were captured and taken to see the man himself, Raoul Silva. Who turns out to be, Tiago Rodriguez, a disgruntled ex-employee, former MI6 agent, now working as a cyber-terrorist, and the one behind the hacking and attack on MI6 headquarters. He also carries a deep resentment of M, because years ago, she had turned him over to the Chinese in order to save six other agents. Silva shot Sévérine in the head while she was tied to a statue, while the bound Bond could only watch. But Bond eventually takes Silva down and he was brought back to London.

At MI6’s new underground headquarters, Q attempted to decrypt Silva’s laptop, but unknowingly gave the laptop access to the MI6 servers, which allowed Silva to escape. During a government inquiry into MI6’s, and M’s in particular, handling of the stolen hard drive, Silva attempted to assassinate M, but Bond arrived in the nick of time, though not before Mallory would be the one to take a bullet, saving M’s life. Bond quickly hustled M into a waiting car and they made their escape. Bond and M travelled to the Bond family estate Skyfall, in the Scottish Highlands, and met up with the estate’s gamekeeper, Kincade. They quickly prepared booby traps around the property and house, expecting Silva to show up, because Q and Bill Tanner had led an electronic trail for him to follow, like breadcrumbs.

A group of Silva’s men slither in but Bond, M and Kincade killed most of them, though M took a bullet but concealed it from Bond. Soon enough Silva showed up himself by helicopter, with more men and heavy weapons. Bond sent M and Kincade off through a tunnel to a chapel on the grounds and fought a delaying action. Soon he had to also escape down the tunnel, but Silva showed up at the chapel first, and held a gun to M’s temple as he pressed his up against hers, pleading with M to kill them both. Finally Bond appears and throws a knife into Silva’s back killing him. Cradling M in his arms she would succumb to her wound and breathe her last breath.

Following M’s funeral, Eve Moneypenny would retire from field work to become secretary for the newly appointed M, Gareth Mallory. And Bond would once again try to hide extreme loss through booze, women, gambling and increasingly, mixing Benzedrine, an amphetamine, into a glass of champagne every now and then.

A few days after M’s funeral Bond would receive a posthumous message from her detailing a terrorist bombing plot going to be pulled off by terrorist leader Marco Sciarra in Mexico City. After foiling the attempted bombing, Bond confronted Sciarra, and before he kicked him out of a helicopter for him to fall to his death, Bond took Sciarra’s ring, which was emblazoned with a stylised octopus. He would soon find out that it is the emblem for a group called Spectre.

When he returned to London, Bond was suspended from field duty by the new M, but Bond disobeyed M’s orders and traveled to Rome to attend Sciarra’s funeral. There he seduced Sciarra’s widow, Lucia, who tells him Marco belonged to an organisation of businessmen with criminal and terrorist connections. Bond used Sciarra’s ring to infiltrate a meeting to select Sciarra’s replacement, where he identified the leader as Franz Oberhauser. The meeting also included talk about putting a hit on someone, who Bond surmised to be Mr. White, and whom Bond knew very well. Bond’s cover was blown at the meeting and he ran for it, followed by the assassin Mr Hinx, who he loses. Bond contacted Ms. Moneypenny to find out who Oberhauser really was, considering he was presumed dead years earlier. Moneypenny in return found out that the previously known Mr. White was a former member of Oberhauser’s organization’s subsidy Quantum, but who was now in hiding.

Bond tracked White down in Austria, where he was dying of thallium poisoning. He tells Bond all about Oberhauser’s organization, called Spectre, short for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism Revenge and Extortion. It was run as a commercial enterprise, with the executive made up of three from six of the world’s most notorious organizations, including the neo-Nazis, jihadists, drug lords, arms dealers, terrorist organizations and mad megalomaniacs. Not aligned to any nation or political ideology it was all about money and power no matter what it took. White asks Bond to find and protect his daughter, Dr. Madeline Swann, a psychiatrist working at a private medical clinic and who could help him find Oberhauser. After Bond promised to do so, White committed suicide. Bond finds Swann and they become lovers.

Soon Bond and Swann are captured by Oberhauser himself, and taken to his base of operations in the Sahara desert, where he admits he now goes by the name Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and as he tortured Bond he tells him of their connection so long ago and the deep resentment he still felt. Bond also finds out that many of his past villains, including Le Chiffre, Dominic Greene, Raoul Silva, and Mr. White, were actually all agents of Spectre, running its various umbrella organizations.  Bond and Swann eventually escaped and blew up Blofeld’s base, leaving him to his death.

Back in London, a couple of weeks later, Bond and Swann are kidnapped separately. Bond is taken to the ruins of the old MI6 building, scheduled for demolition after Silva’s bombing. A disfigured Blofeld showed up in a helicopter and told Bond that he must escape before explosives are detonated or die trying to save Swann, who is also somewhere in the building. Bond breaks loose and after finding Swann, they escaped by boat as the building collapsed around them. Bond then shoots down Blofeld’s helicopter, which crashed onto Westminster Bridge. Bond pulled the injured and disfigured Blofeld from the wreckage and allowed him to be arrested. Of course, the bald Blofeld would eventually escape, and continue acting on his lunatic fantasies of taking over the world. Most often while stroking a Chinchilla Silver Persian cat purring on his lap.

Over the next few months MI6 itself seemed splintered, as to loyalties and resentment, and along with a disturbing rise in failed missions and agents deaths, the powers that be finally decided that M Mallory was to be replaced by British Navy Rear Admiral Bernard Lee.

Having individual introductory meetings with his agents, M Lee tells Bond his latest physical assessment was poor because of his excessive drinking and smoking, and sent him off to re-hab at the Shrublands Health Clinic near a UN airbase. There Bond noticed a tattoo on a fellow patient indicating he was a member of a Chinese criminal organization, and had something suspicious going on with another patient whose head was covered in bandages. Bond was caught searching his room and after a brief struggle the man with the tattoo tried to kill Bond using a spinal traction machine. Bond was saved by his physiotherapist, Patricia Fearing, whom he then blackmailed into having sex in exchange for not telling her employer about the incident. The man with his head wrapped in bandages was Spectre pilot Angelo Palazzi, whose face was being surgically altered to match French Air Force pilot François Derval, who was also staying at Shrublands.

By the time Bond returned to London he finds out that an RAF Avro Vulcan strategic jet bomber loaded with two atomic bombs was stolen from the base that was nearby the clinic he had just returned from, and that the French pilot who usually flew her was found dead.

At a meeting at MI6, all agents were informed that Spectre was demanding $400 million in diamonds from NATO in exchange for the bombs, or else Spectre would destroy a major city in either the US or the UK. The plan was overseen by Blofeld, but carried out by his number two, the eye patch-wearing, wealthy playboy, and head of Spectre’s Extortion Division, Emilio Largo.

The Americans and British launched “Operation Thunderball” to take Spectre down and return the two atomic bombs intact. Acting on a tip, M sent Bond to the Bahamas, who hooked up once again with CIA’s Felix Leiter. In Nassau, Bond met Dominique “Domino” Derval, Emilio Largo’s mistress, and soon after seducing her, Bond informed her that Largo killed her brother (the pilot killed at the clinic) and recruits her to spy on Largo. But while doing so Largo captured her in the act and tortured her by burning her with a cigar for heat and then using ice cubes for cold. Domino eventually escaped and told Bond the two bombs are onboard Largo’s yacht, the Disco Volante, so Bond contacted MI6 and soon an American nuclear submarine showed up to assist. The crews of both vessels engaged in an undersea battle, while Bond, who was weakened after disabling the bombs, fights Largo who quickly gets the upper hand and just before finishing off Bond, Domino showed up and shot Largo in the back with a spear-gun.

Bond and Domino escaped, along with Largo’s nuclear scientist Dr. Ladislav Kutze, who in the end had turned on Largo and assisted Bond to save the day. While travelling in a boat in their escape he innocently admitted he can’t swim, Bond pushed him overboard. He and Domino end up convalescing in the same hospital.

Altogether there were seven operations against Spectre. For Bond, perhaps the toughest of these was when he was once again, on her majesty’s secret service, and trying to thwart another Spectre plan run by Blofeld, who this time was brainwashing patients to distribute bacteriological warfare agents throughout the world. While Bond was trying to track down the lunatic, he ran across the Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo, who preferred to be called Tracy, on a beach and saves her from committing suicide by drowning. It is said it was love at first sight. No doubt the experience affected Bond considering the suicide by drowning of Vesper earlier in his career. With the assistance of Tracy and her father, Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the European crime syndicate “Unione Corse”, they are able to attack Blofeld’s Swiss Alp’s lair, and foil his plan though once again Blofeld escapes.

After the mission and smitten by the resourceful, headstrong yet vulnerable woman, Bond proposes marriage and she accepts. They were married in Portugal, and driving away to I’m sure a very wonderful, exotic honeymoon somewhere, when Bond pulled over and got out to retrieve some flowers from the car, just as another car driven by Blofeld pulls up and Blofeld’s partner Irma Bunt, opens up on them with a machine gun. Bond survives, but Tracy is killed in the attack. Blofeld would escape and Irma Bunt would disappear, and be the only villain to have beaten Bond, leaving him broken and human. It would also be the only time Bond ever married. Word has it that when the first policeman showed up a tearful Bond was cradling Tracy’s body on the side of the road, and told the officer, “It’s all right. It’s quite all right, really. She’s having a rest. We’ll be going on soon. There’s no hurry you see, we have all the time in the world.”

Eight months after the murder of Tracy Bond, Bond was drinking and gambling heavily, and beginning to make mistakes, even confined to his desk  in MI6’s diplomatic branch, where he had been temporarily been transferred to. M saw a depressed man in mourning and as a last resort sends Bond to Japan on a semi-diplomatic mission. There Bond was to simply trade some information from radio transmissions captured from Russia, with the head of Japan’s secret intelligence service, Tiger Tanaka, who would provide information in return. The deal fell through when Tanaka revealed that they had already penetrated the British information source and gotten the information themselves. But Bond and Tanaka immediately connect, and Bond decided to stay another couple of days as Tanaka introduced Bond to the Japanese lifestyle, which began to make an impression on Bond, in a good way some have said.

After many conversations over sushi and plenty of sake, one day Tanaka tells Bond that an NASA spacecraft was hijacked from orbit by an unidentified spaceship and that it might have landed on the small isolated Japanese island of Ama. Tanaka asks Bond to help investigate and with permission from M, they come up with a plan to infiltrate the island, which had nothing more than a couple of small fishing villages, and an extinct volcano that dominated the island. After a few flybys of the island it was determined that the spaceship had to have landed inside the volcano. On one of the reconnaissance missions Bond was captured by a Mr. Osato, a Japanese industrialist rumoured to be working with Spectre. And that, lo and behold, the true mastermind behind this operation was Ernst Blofeld, who had been hired by the People’s Republic of China to start a Soviet-American war.

Bond woke up, tied up, in an opulent cabin aboard a yacht. Spectre operative number eleven, Helga Brandt, entered and interrogated Bond but he somehow managed to seduce her enough for her to kiss him, and who then ended up freeing him in order to have sex. After spending the night together, Brandt would change her mind and try to kill Bond but he escapes. Brandt meanwhile, would be dropped into a pool of piranhas by Blofeld for her failure.

Back in Tokyo, Bond began training with Tanaka’s ninja troops, and made to look Japanese in order to disguise himself as a fisherman alongside a wife, who would act like newlyweds and spend their honeymoon on the island in order to infiltrate it. The woman chosen, Aki, one of Tanaka’s assistants, would play the role of the wife, and of course became romantically involved with Bond. Unfortunately she was poisoned by a Spectre assassin, who’s target was actually Bond. Quickly moving on, Tanaka selected Kissy Suzuki, an intern in the service, who entered into a fake marriage with Bond, who began to look more Japanese each day. Tanaka renames Bond “Taro Todoroki” for the mission.

After arriving on the island, Bond and Suzuki established that the mouth of the volcano was indeed a disguised hatch to the secret rocket base. Tanaka and his ninjas attack, and in the ensuing battle Bond faced off with Blofeld in the control room. Some say Blofeld activated the base’s self-destruct system, and escaped. More credible sources say Bond finally killed him, strangling him in a vicious rage. Whichever the case may be, Bond, Suzuki, Tanaka, and his surviving ninja troops escaped, though in the confusion when in fact the entire complex did explode, Bond and Suzuki became separated from the main group.

While escaping, Bond had suffered a head injury, leaving him an amnesiac. He and Suzuki made their way to another small fishing village, with Bond believing he was a simple fisherman. Kissy conceals his true identity to keep him forever to herself. And once again, the rest of the world believed him to be dead, with his obituary appearing in the newspapers. Many who knew him were body-slammed by the news.

Soon Suzuki becomes pregnant, but doesn’t tell Bond, hoping when she does tell him he will marry her for real. Though now a peaceful, loving and simple fisherman, Bond would have flashbacks of things he could not understand and confused over the fact he had no memory. But for all intents and purposes he was a happy man. He had a renewed sense of humour and a purpose in life and becoming healthier each day.  Even dabbling in Haiku (Japanese poetry), and supposedly written by or in the style of Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō, “You only live twice. Once when you are born, and once when you look death in the face.”  (You Only Live Twice, Chapter 11)

Reading a newspaper one day there was a reference to Vladivostok, Russia, which touched a nerve, making him wonder if the far-off city was a key to his missing memory. Bond told Suzuki he must travel to Russia to find out. It was a sad parting of ways but Bond was adamant, and left a crying Suzuki, who had decided to keep her secret to herself, and become the only woman to bear his child. Suzuki and the baby’s current whereabouts are still unknown.

Finally making his way to Russia, Bond was kidnapped by their secret service, tortured, then brainwashed into assassinating MI6’s head M.

A year later a man claiming to be the presumed dead Bond appears at MI6 headquarters, in London, and demands to meet the head of the Secret Service. Bond’s identity was confirmed, but during his debriefing interview with M, Bond tries to kill him with a cyanide pistol, but the attempt failed. MI6 doctors, medical specialists and psychologists swarm Bond over the next few months, and find out he had suffered the loss of his only wife and biggest true love, a head injury which caused amnesia, lived as a Japanese fisherman for several months, and had been tortured and brainwashed in Russia, but they could cure him they frowned, and so they say they did.

De-programmed, Bond is given another chance to prove his worth as a member of the 00 section, and once again to be the best tool in their toolbox. He is soon is sent to Jamaica, with the seemingly impossible mission of killing the world’s most professional and feared assassin, Francisco (Paco) “Pistols” Scaramanga, a Cuban assassin who was believed to have also killed several British secret agents. He was known as “The Man with the Golden Gun”, because his weapon of choice was a gold-plated Colt .45 revolver, which fired silver-jacketed solid-gold bullets.

Tracking Scaramanga down to an island off China’s east coast, and Bond being Bond, he seduced Scaramanga’s mistress Andrea Anders. Afterwards, and in front of Scaramanga, whom he had just met, she entered the room they were in and Bond looks at her and said, “Miss Anders, I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on”.

MI6 agent, former personal secretary and friend Mary Goodnight, also appeared and assisted Bond in his endeavors, while still having the time to strike up a romance together. Bond and Goodnight foiled Scaramanga’s terroristic plans, with Bond facing off against him, and though Bond takes a shot in the arm, Bond killed him with two shots to the chest. And instead of killing Scaramanga’s sidekick, the short person Nick Nack, Bond cages him. It would be Bond’s only mission in which he only kills once. But after this mission it is said that Bond became ever more cold and emotionless.

His most recent missions, at least what has been leaked, include one run by M Brown, which brought Bond and CIA friend Felix Leiter, to Key West to initially take out drug lord Franz Sanchez. They quickly captured him, and soon after, Bond is best man at Leiter’s wedding. But a crooked DEA agent allowed Sanchez to escape, who quickly sent his crew to ambush Leiter and his newlywed. Felix is lowered into a tank occupied by a Tiger shark, while his wife is raped and killed. Bond showed up later to Leiter’s home and finds his friend maimed and wife killed. First going after the DEA agent, Bond found him and killed him by dropping him into the same shark tank Felix had been dropped into, but this time not letting him out. Before following the trail to Sanchez though, M showed up and reassigns Bond to a mission in Turkey, but Bond refused. M suspends him and revokes his 00 status. No matter, once again Bond goes rogue.

Assisting him in taking out Sanchez was ex-CIA agent and pilot Pam Bouvier, who he met of course, in a Bimini bar. They fly to the Republic of Isthmus, where Bond put out the word to Sanchez that he was an assassin for hire. But just before Bond gets close and assassinates Sanchez, two British Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau agents, along with MI6 agent Fallon, sent by M to arrest Bond, capture him. Thinking the agents are assassins, the paranoid Sanchez kills them all, saving Bond so he could hire him.

After Bond met Sanchez’s girlfriend Lupe Lamora, who was visibly attracted to him, Bond finds out the trick in Sanchez’s successful drug business was that his scientists had figured out how to dissolve cocaine in gas, and sell it to Asian dealers disguised as fuel. Bond and Bouvier systematically took down Sanchez’s empire. Bond kills Sanchez’s three main henchmen, by using a pressure chamber, wood shredder and harpoon. Finally facing off with Sanchez, Bond was caught in a bad spot and about to be attacked with the a machete wielding, covered in fuel madman, but at the last second Bond pulled out the lighter Leiter had given him for being best-man and lit Sanchez up.

Partying afterwards at Sanchez’s estate, with Lupe now the host, Bond gets a call from Alex telling him M was trying to get a hold of him and asking for Bond to return. Hanging up Bond politely rejected Lupe’s advances and romances Bouvier instead.

A few months later it was off to Hamburg, Germany, where Bond was ordered to investigate Elliot Carver, a psychopathic media mogul who planned to provoke global war to boost sales and ratings of his news divisions. There Bond bumps into Paris Carver, a former girlfriend of his who was now Carver’s trophy wife. He seduced her by relighting old flames, to get information on Carver. Then afterwards and with the assistance of Colonel Wai Lin, a Chinese spy, who Bond also seduced, together they destroy Carver’s plans and kill him, and most of his henchmen, unfortunately, not before one of them killed Paris.

The next mission to arise out of the dirt was germinated when a dear friend of M, Sir Robert King, a British oil tycoon, was assassinated by Victor “Renard” Zokas, a former KGB agent turned high-tech terrorist. Bond chased down the assassin, hired by Renard to do the actual deed, but she died during the chase. Getting first aid on a few minor injuries absorbed during the chase, Bond seduced Dr. Molly Warmflash, an MI6 agent and doctor assigned to examine him. Bond’s assignment then became to protect King’s daughter Elektra, who had previously been held for ransom by Renard. But soon Bond doubted where Elektra’s loyalties exactly lie.

Bond unraveled Renard’s scheme to increase petroleum prices by triggering a nuclear meltdown of a submarine in the waters of Istanbul, Turkey. Assisting Bond was Dr. Christmas Jones, an American nuclear physicist. Elektra eventually revealed that indeed, she and Renard were co- conspirators, and that she had had her father killed as revenge for using her as bait for Renard.

Elektra ends up abducting M, whom she resented for advising her father not to pay the ransom money, and imprisoned her in the one thousand year old, Maidens Tower, which lies on a small islet located at the southern entrance of the Bosporus strait, off of Turkey. Bond and Christmas were then captured by Elektra’s henchmen, and while Christmas was taken aboard a submarine, Bond was taken to the tower where Elektra tortured him with a garrote. But allies of Bond seize the tower and free Bond and M. Bond and Electra would face off and after getting the upper hand on her and pointing a gun at her head, Electra smiled at Bond and told him that “he would be unable to kill her because he’d miss her too much”. Bond smiled back “I never miss”, and promptly shot her in the face.

Bond gets aboard the submarine, frees Christmas, gets into a fight with Renard, who was killed by being impaled by a plutonium rod shot out of a sub’s reactor core at high speed, and finally, he and Christmas set the sub to safely implode underwater. They both escaped from the submarine via the torpedo launcher. Supposedly after the mission, Bond and Christmas would spend a couple weeks holed up in Bond’s London flat “recovering”.

Bond’s most recent assignment, and perhaps his last, was no doubt one of his most brutal. After infiltrating a North Korean military base, which was suspected of being the base of operations for a Colonel Tan-Sun Moon, who was trading weapons for conflict diamonds. Someone rats Bond out, and Moon attempted to kill him, but after a chase ended with Moon’s apparent death, Bond is captured by his father General Moon. Bond is kept in captivity for fourteen months, interspersed with seemingly endless torture sessions. It has been rumoured that Bond went mad.

Eventually Bond is traded in a prisoner exchange, sedated and taken to Hong Kong, where M suspends his 00 status under suspicion of having leaked information under duress. Bond believes he was set up by someone in the British government, and as Bond does, he decided to avenge the betrayal. And but yet again escapes MI6 and goes rogue.

He soon learns of agents connected to the supposedly dead Colonel Moon operating in Cuba. There Bond met American NSA agent Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson, with whom he immediately seduced. Afterwards they made their way to a gene therapy clinic, where patients can have their appearances altered through DNA restructuring. Bond confronted a Korean agent, who escaped, but which led Bond and Jinx to a cache of diamonds bearing the crest of the company owned by British billionaire businessman Gustav Graves. They learn that Graves only appeared a year prior, seemingly out of thin air, after apparently discovering a vein of diamonds in Iceland, which led to his current wealth, celebrity, and philanthropy from its assets.

Back in London Bond meets Graves, along with his assistant Miranda Frost, who was also an undercover MI6 agent. After a fencing duel between Graves and Bond that nearly got out of hand, Graves invited Bond to Iceland for a scientific demonstration. Bond gets a phone call from M who told him that MI6 had doubts about Graves, restored his 00 status and offered all the assistance he needed.

At his ice palace in Iceland, Graves unveiled a new orbital mirror satellite, “Icarus”, which is able to focus solar energy on a small area and provide year-round sunshine for crop development, but in actual fact his plan was to use it to cut a path through the Korean Demilitarized Zone with concentrated sunlight, allowing North Korean troops to invade South Korea and reunite the peninsula by force.

Jinx infiltrated Graves’ command centre, but was captured. Bond rescued her and later discovered that Colonel Moon was still alive, because he’s Gustav Grimes, via gene therapy to change his appearance. Bond confronted Graves, but Frost arrived to reveal herself as the traitor who betrayed Bond in North Korea. Bond escaped only to return in an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish to rescue Jinx, who had been captured once again within the palace. After she almost drowned, Bond saves her by using CPR, then simple kissing techniques, while Graves and Frost escaped to their C-130 cargo plane and headed back to North Korea, with the Icarus weapon on board. But totally unaware that Bond and Jinx had stowed away on board as well.

After Graves tells his father General Moon, who was also onboard, of his diabolical plan, his dad was horrified by the plan because it would cause a nuclear war with the United States. Graves shoots his father dead. Bond and Graves then engage in a fist fight, while Frost attacked Jinx. Getting beaten badly by Bond, Graves attempts to escape by parachute, but Bond opened the parachute, and caused Graves to be pulled out of the plane and into one of its engines, killing him and disabling the Icarus beam. It is said Bond yelled out after him, “time to face destiny”. Jinx meanwhile had killed Frost, and they escaped from the disintegrating plane in a helicopter from the cargo hold, carrying away Graves’ stash of diamonds in the process. And once again Bond ends up with a beautiful woman for a week or so long sexual affair, this time in a South Korean Buddhist temple located on the slopes of a forested tranquil valley.

Love interest, sidekick or foe, and whether or not he is on a mission or relaxing, or dealing with the demons inside his head, Bond has no qualms about sleeping with beautiful women. Most are “ubiquitous symbols of glamour and sophistication”, and seem to always have splendid figures and tend to dress in a “slightly masculine, assertive fashion, wear little jewellery and they generally use little or no makeup and no nail polish”. Whatever the variation in dress they are always very beautiful. Many of the women Bond beds have some sort of independent job or even career, with some involved in intelligence or law enforcement. Even those who were criminals tended to be similarly independent-minded in how they approached their work.

Other than the ones already noted, his little black book also includes, Tiffany Case, who is a good example of the type of women Bond was attracted to. Bond first met Tiffany on one of many earlier operations against Blofeld’s Spectre organization, this one, infiltrating a diamond smuggling ring connected to Blofeld’s plan of destroying targets in China, the United States and the Soviet Union with a laser satellite he had created, and then propose an international auction for global nuclear supremacy. Tiffany was one of the members of the smuggling gang, and had developed an antipathy towards men after being gang-raped as a teenager. Many women Bond has been with have had similar experiences, as many of them had risen up from being either sex slaves or sexually assaulted and gravitate to becoming a mistress or aide to the man running the organization, simple self preservation. Like many women Bond came to admire, Tiffany was tough, but lonely and insecure, and like many others, felt more confident in themselves when with Bond. Who himself hoped he could at least align them with a more honest lifestyle. Bond fell in love with Tiffany, the first time he had done so since Vesper and Tracey, even though he did fit in a quick affair with a similar beautiful woman with a similar background, by the name of Plenty O’Toole, who unfortunately would be killed soon after.

After the mission was completed and another Blofeld plan had been thwarted, Tiffany moved in with Bond back home, but eventually she left him to marry an American business man, and is now supposedly a very loving and happy wife and mother to three children. Alike was Honeychile Rider, a shell diver who was making a living by selling Jamaican seashells to dealers in Miami, when she met up with Bond. After being sexually abused for much of her young life, then assisting Bond on a mission and becoming his lover, she would move to Philadelphia, where she married a doctor by the name of Wilder and had two children with him.

Others in his book include, Fatima Blush, Holly Goodhead, Chow Mee, Gala Brand, Countess Lisl von Schlaf, Melina Havelock, Lavender Peacock, Penelope Smallbone, Jill and Tilly Masterton, Fiona Volpe and wealthy business woman and smuggler, Octopussy. He has slept with women on trains, planes, in a forest, a stable, a motorized iceberg, in hospitals, a submarine, and a dinghy, and even on the space shuttle, along of course in multiple suites of fine exotic hotels and inns. Rumour has it that when Bond and a woman are kissing, making love, or implying he will do so, they nearly all purr “Oh James”.

Bond has had an estimated 78 sexual encounters over his career so far, but actually has had sex with only 55 of them. Unfortunately 75% of the women he sleeps with attempt to kill him, and that one of every three women he beds dies. Of his main love interests, whom some within MI6 have called “Bond Girls” only two have died. Both, being the ones Bond loved the most, the previously mentioned Vesper Lynd and Tracy Bond.

As to his day job, to-date Bond has over 378 kills and the cause for nearly 1,000 collateral damage deaths. On the flip side it was estimated that he has been shot at over 5,000 times. Since his medical records have never been released, he has taken who knows how many bullet and knife injuries along the way, as well as all the mental and physical damage from being tortured on a fairly regular basis.  Supposedly Bond has a habit of laughing hysterically when being tortured, and there is no doubt being held by the North Koreans for so long had to have affected him, but supposedly he has always been that way. When being tortured by Le Chiffre on his first mission, by being tied to an open bottomed chair naked, and having his testicles hit with a carpet beater, it is said Bond laughed in Chiffre’s face, spitting at him “that the whole world will now know that you died scratching my balls.” By happenstance Le Chiffre is killed soon after. It is also said by those who know him or have faced off against him that Bond also has a dry wit about him, especially after many of his kills, and as we have touched on throughout, seemed to be a master of the one-liner.

Today he has a scar down his right cheek and left shoulder, with visible plastic surgery on the back of his right hand. It has been estimated that he has had at least sixteen, maybe more, severe concussions over his career. As to PTSD, one would think his case would be severe, but then I don’t know, can psychopaths be afflicted with such a disorder.

One would also have to consider some of his foes that he has fought, other than those already mentioned. One of the most formidable would have to be the mercenary henchman, Jaws. Standing 217 cm (7.1 ft) tall with steel capped teeth, he was big and very strong. The first time they fought, Bond found himself in an unbreakable death grip and about to be bitten, and only got out of it by pushing a nearby broken electric lamp up against Jaws teeth, stunning him. Jaws also had an uncanny ability to survive any misfortune seemingly unscathed, in this one mission alone he survives an Egyptian structure’s collapse on top of him, being hit by a van, being thrown from a rapidly moving train, sitting in the passenger seat of a car which veers off a cliff, a battle underwater with a shark, and the destruction of his employer, scientist and anarchist Karl Stomberg’s base of operations.

On another mission Bond and Jaws faced off once more, and after falling over one thousand meters (several thousand feet) after accidentally disabling his own parachute (he falls through a circus tent and lands in the trapeze net), a later crash through a building inside a runaway cable car, and finally going over the over 300 m (1000 ft) Iguazu Falls, in Brazil, Jaws turns on his latest employer and helps Bond complete the mission. Perhaps because of a growing respect for each other or because Jaws realized he was working for a madman named Hugo Drax, who’s plan was to stuff every space shuttle available with hand-picked, genetically perfect young men and women of varying races, then poison all of humanity, but leaving the other animals alone, then repopulating the planet. In the end Bond cornered Drax in the International space station’s airlock, shoots him with a cyanide-tipped dart, then ejected him into space. Speaking of the space shuttle, Bond has had many operations and associations with the US manned space program, including the projects Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle program.

Other foes include the Korean manservant of greedy megalomaniac Auric Goldfinger (who wanted to control the world’s gold supply), the bald and deadly Oddjob, who wore a steel razor sharp brim on his bowler. There were the mobsters Sol “Horror” Horowitz and “Sluggsy” Morant, who Bond killed with shots to their foreheads. On another mission, two of Bond’s antagonists were a pair of gay hit men, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, and a pair of female body guards, Bambi and Thumper. The girls fought Bond wearing bikinis until they all ended up in a pool and Bond held their heads underwater until the second before they drowned and released them. The girls were arrested, while Wint and Kidd were blown up later.

Bond’s toughest foe pound for pound, was undoubtedly Donald “Red” Grant, a viscous Spectre assassin possessing Bond’s ugliest traits and relenting toughness. A ruthless hand to hand fight came to an end with Bond garroting him to death.

The villains and the henchmen that Bond has faced run the gamut, with most of them seemingly very over-ambitious. Nearly all were snobby, intellectual, and geniuses and scientists with elaborate island fortresses and lairs, all trying to take over and control the world in some sort of way. Many also have some sort of strange physical disfigurement, and were all pure megalomaniacs, perfectly blending ego and viciousness. Interestingly the only American villain Bond has faced was Brad Whitaker, a loud, obnoxious and brash American arms dealer, working out of Afghanistan. Go figure. Bond killed him by activating a bomb disguised as a key chain, which dropped a large statue of 18th century British general, Duke of Wellington onto his head crushing him. With Bond remarking that the poor chap, “had met his Waterloo”.

There also has been a litany of female antagonists who could also hold their own against Bond. Spectre assassin Fiona Volpe wounded him severely in a fight and actually cornered him, but just as she went in for the kill she herself is killed. One of the toughest female foes, and the boss of one of Bond’s toughest male foes, the already mentioned Red Grant, was Rosa Klebb, number three at Spectre.

After killing Red Grant, Bond tracked Klebb to a hotel in Paris, where she was to rendezvous with Grant at the conclusion of his mission, and where Bond finds out that she and Red have been trying to kill him in revenge for him killing Dr Julius No, during his previous mission. Dr No was also a tough opponent, being nearly 2 m (6’6”) tall, steel pincers for hands and having Dextrocardia, where the apex of his heart was located on the right side of his body, and not on the normally left. To end their final fight Bond tossed No into a vat of nuclear reactor cooling water, where he boiled to death.

Back in the hotel room, Klebb battled Bond solo, and after failing to kill him with a gun hidden in a telephone, she successfully poisons him by means of a fugu venom-laced blade hidden in the toe of her shoe. Bond slowly collapses to the ground and begins to die, but Rene Mathis, an agent of the French secret service DGSE (General Directorate for External Security) breaks in and captures Klebb. Mathis was a long time friend of Bond, and had both worked together on numerous few missions, including a few with Bond and Mathis’s other long time friend Alex Leiter. Here, Mathis perhaps saves Bond’s life, as he relentlessly performed CPR on his friend until the paramedics arrived. It took Bond months to recover.

Another time, while taking out Max Zorin, a psychopathic industrialist, and the product of a Nazi genetic experiment who attempted to destroy Silicon Valley and take over the microchip market, Bond came up against Zorin’s lover and chief henchwoman, the extremely powerful May Day. Her bodyguard detail included the assassins Jenny Flex, Pan Ho, Alison Doody and Papillon Soo Soo. As the mission neared its end, May Day is abandoned by her lover Zorin and would turn on him, and help Bond complete the mission. As we have seen, Bond has the uncanny ability to seduce many former female foes in turning and helping him instead. During the “Goldfinger” operation, Bond’s foe was Pussy Galore, who was the leader of Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus, a group of women aviators working for Auric Goldfinger, and who happened to be lesbian. By the end of the mission, they end up in bed, where Bond asks, “They told me you only liked women,” Pussy purred in her reply, “I never met a man before.”

So far details of 25 missions have been leaked or hacked then leaked, with who knows how many we will never know about or if the information was even correct. No doubt many of them as Bond the catalyst to all sorts of goings on. Strangely, though Bond’s missions have taken him to over 60 countries, as well as outer space, and he has saved the world numerous times, there would be only two films ever made about his exploits.

The Casino Royale operation would be the basis for one of only two films ever made about Bond, and Hollywood being Hollywood, would make the story a “spy-comedy spoof”. The other film made was a version of MI6’s Thunderball mission, called “Never Say Never Again” which was released in 1983, and starred Sean Connery (in his mid-fifties) as Bond, who comes out of retirement for one more mission, Barbara Carrera as Fatima Blush, Kim Basinger as Domino Petachi, Klaus Maria Brandauer as Maximillian (instead of Emilio) Largo, and Max von Sydow as Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The movie was mostly filmed in the French Riviera and the Bahamas.

The farcical “Casino Royale” film on the other hand, was an ensemble affair done entirely tongue in cheek. Released in 1967, its cast included David Niven as Sir James Bond, Ursula Andress as retired British secret agent Vesper Lynd, who was forced back into service in exchange for writing off her tax arrears, Peter Sellers as baccarat master, Evelyn Tremble, who would be recruited by Vesper to challenge Le Chiffre at Casino Royale. After the game Le Chiffre hallucinogenic ally tortures Tremble, but Vesper rescues him only to kill him. Barbara Bouchet plays Bond’s new secretary Miss Moneypenny, the daughter of the original Miss Moneypenny. Joanna Pettet played Mata Bond, Bond’s daughter by the famed spy Mata Hari, and Jacqueline Bisset played Miss Goodthighs. The extremely Scottish, Duncan Macrae, played the French agent, Rene Mathis, forcing the confused Evelyn Tremble to state his concern that despite being a French agent Rene spoke with a Scottish accent, Rene replied, “Aye, it worries me too”.

Other cast members included William Holden as CIA executive and agent, Ransome, Daliah Lavi, as British secret agent The Detainer, John Huston as M, who dies from an explosion caused by his own bombardment of Bond’s estate when the cross-spy-agency team visits in the beginning of the film, Terrence Cooper as Coop, a British agent and karate expert who begins training to resist seductive women, and Orson Welles as Le Chiffre, Smersh’s financial agent, who is desperate to win at baccarat to repay the money he has embezzled from the organization.

Its premise was that the criminal organization Smersh was going around assassinating intelligence officers all over the globe, primarily because of their inability to resist sex. It got so extreme that M would lead a contingent of heads of secret service agencies, including French Intelligence, the CIA, and the Russian KGB, to try to talk Bond, retired from the secret service 20 years previously, to help them out. When they all meet on Bond’s estate, a bomb goes off and M dies in the explosion. Ironically he was the culprit behind the attack. Bond comes out of retirement to head MI6. The film’s tagline: “Casino Royale is too much… for one James Bond!” refers to Bond’s ruse to mislead Smersh by having six other agents pretending to be James Bond.

A high-stakes baccarat game was arranged at the Casino Royale, in Royale-les-Eaux in Northern France, and was located atop a giant underground headquarters run by the evil Dr. Noah, who secretly was Sir James’ nephew Jimmy Bond, and played by Woody Allen. Noah was once an MI6 agent but had defected to Smersh to spite his uncle and destroy him by discrediting his “celibate image”.  His plan was to use biological warfare to make all women beautiful, and kill all men over 137 cm (4 ft 6 inch) tall, leaving Noah as the “big man” who gets all the girls. Jimmy captured The Detainer, and pleads with her to please be his partner. She agrees then cons him into swallowing an “atomic time pill” he had developed, making him a walking nuclear devise.

After also being kidnapped by Noah, Bond, Moneypenny, Mata and Coop escape and fight their way back up to the casino. The casino is then overrun by secret agents from many organizations, including British, American, Russian and French support troops. It was chaos in the casino and surrounding grounds. Elsewhere Noah is counting down his nuclear explosion, by his hiccups. When he reaches his last hiccup the pill explodes and vaporizes Casino Royale, killing everyone. Bond and all of his agents then appear as angels flying up into heaven, while Noah is shown falling backwards into hell.

Its main theme song, the instrumental “Casino Royale”, written by Burt Bacharach, was performed by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana brass, while the hit song to come from the film was Dusty Springfield singing “The Look of Love”. The soundtrack album became famous among audio purists for the excellence of its recording. It then became a standard “audiophile test” record for decades to come, especially the vocal performance by Dusty Springfield.

Rumour has it that Bond is now retired, after purchasing a 61,000 sq m (15 acre) patch of land on Oracabessa bay, on the northern coastline of Jamaica, earlier in his career. The former site of a donkey race track, Bond would eventually build a three bedroom home, every window louvered, on a cliff overlooking a private beach on the property which he called Goldeneye. It is said his companion is Dominique “Domino” Derval, the woman he first met years ago during the Thunderball mission. Maybe he’s writing his memoirs, or staring off into space sipping on a Vesper, or painting pictures, but no doubt heavily medicated and hurting aplenty getting out of bed each morning, considering the damage his body has taken. And though the life and times of James Bond seems fictional, regardless, there is no doubt a team of clinical psychologists would have a field day with Bond… James Bond.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

Ian Fleming, “James Bond” Novels – Casino Royale, Live And Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds Are Forever, From Russia With Love, Dr No, Goldfinger, For Your Eyes Only, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice. Pan Books Ltd: Toronto, 1964. And from the memories of watching, numerous times, every Bond film ever released.

http://www.ianfleming.com/james-bond/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_James_Bond

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Bond_(literary_character)

http://www.uselessdaily.com/movies/james-bond-43-interesting-facts-about-the-movie-series/#ixzz5NwGeFFVp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19bA1jN2sKk

https://ca.ign.com/articles/2012/10/24/25-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-james-bond

 

06/22/18

How Combinations of Letters Work Sometimes

When words become sing-song,

Osama bin Laden, Barack Hussein Obama, Joe Biden, Saddam Hussein.

National Hockey League players, Zac Rinaldo, Rocco Grimaldi, Jarred Tinordi, all signing one-year deals with the Nashville Predators on the same day in July 2018.

Leading scorers of the Los Angeles Kings early in the 2018/19 season, Alex Iafallo and Tyler Toffoli.

Just saying.

03/30/17

Imogene

Imogene

By Janet James

    No, I’m not amused and I want to go for a smoke. I’ve been sitting here for two hours listening to nattering and bitching about how Johnny was caught by the schoolmaster for kissing Becky What’s-Her-Name and the trouble Mrs. Standish has with her cook. I wish they’d choke on their tea.

    When George and I moved here from the city, he assured me that I’d never be bored and that social functions would fill my calendar. Well, the daytime social functions turned out to be tedious exercises in perseverance while watching equally as tedious women get bloated on tea or tipsy on sherry. Whilst the evening parties are sustained by demure smiles and delicate conversations, like how many debutantes are coming out this year. Not a wicked book or a naked painting to be seen. The boredom is endless.

    Oh god – it’s nearly three o’clock. The rally must have begun already, but hopefully with the strength and conviction of the women attending, it would go on for some time. Maybe I could catch at least the end.

    If George discovered my involvement with the suffragettes or even that I smoke, he’d lock me away or pack me off to the country with some imaginary illness. But then husbands can be like that, so arrogant about tedious virtues. And with the company of these priggish biddies, I feel even more compelled to support what I’ve always believed. The rights of women – they’ve been ignored long enough, but I would find no advocates in this room.

    Oh, Mrs. Riddley, a woman of whopping proportions, is offering yet another round of sweet cakes, and after listening to her go on about the gown she’s having made for her daughter’s coming-out ball, I can’t help but wonder how many bolts of cloth were used, one dozen or two?

    I don’t suppose another feigned headache could get me away from this monotony. I’ve used that excuse for the last three parties. But oh god – can I stand any more of this drivel?

    Servants, planning parties, dressing up, pouring tea – that’s the best these women can do for excitement. What this bunch needs is a good scandal. Not just some maid, who’s become a fallen woman, and oh, how I hate that expression – but something totally unsavoury, rancid even. For that matter, I could light up a cigarette right here and then excuse myself with a sweet smile and say I’m off to the suffragettes’ rally. That would get some attention. Oh, but dare I? What’s to be gained and what’s to be lost? Self-satisfaction – yes, I would most certainly get that and my open support for the suffragettes would lend them strength. But, unfortunately the losses would be mostly George’s. His peers would not treat this lightly and aside from that, he may be totally extricated from his club.

    Ah, perhaps that’s too harsh. Two social disgraces in one day for George would be a bit much. However… “Ahem, excuse me ladies, I’m sorry to have to leave this little gathering, but I must be on my way. I am off to attend the suffragettes’ rally, ta ta.” I’ll light up another time.

 

 

07/28/16

My Colonoscopy, the Magic School Bus, Voyager I, and Some Unfortunate Truths – A Dense Essay

Chapter One

Born in the fifties and three years short of sixty, I seem to have been blessed with the genes and metabolism which seem oblivious to the abuse I have given them. Generally a healthy later middle aged male, I am fortunate to have been born, and still living, where I do here in British Columbia. But life is still life and when one is an anatomically and behaviourally modern Homo sapien, living in a body composed of mostly water and oxygen, things are bound to happen.

Beneath the hair of an average adult human, no matter the race, color, faith, or where they live, sixty per cent of their body’s weight and volume is water. Incredulously, it stands, can fall, and get back up. The body also contains about five and a half litres (just over one gallon) of blood, and about ten litres (two and a half gallons) of interstitial fluid, which washes and surrounds our trillions of cells. Other elements of the body include oxygen (sixty-five per cent), carbon (eighteen per cent) and other trace elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, potassium, sulphur, sodium chlorine, and magnesium, to name but a few.

human bodyMaterials include protein, connective tissue, fats, carbohydrates and bone, with operating systems that include mechanical, physical, and bio-electrical and biochemical functions, which make up such a life form, and the machine it is.

Naturally odd and kind of eerie, the vast majority of our cells in our bodies are not even human, but instead microorganisms and bacteria in a symbiotic relationship with our functions and make up. The largest proportions of these cells, about one hundred trillion of them, a number about ten times greater than the total number of other human cells in the entire body, live in the digestive tract. Such microorganism cells digest our food, gleaning the energy and fatty acids needed for us to exist, and keep all the body’s systems running properly. They also metabolize acids and synthesize vitamins, working closely with the liver, digestive tract, and even muscle tissue, with their combined efforts resembling an alien organ seemingly existing within us. Much like our skin is also considered an organ. But many believe, and rightly so, that for all intents and purposes in most living things, the digestive tract is running the show.

Chapter Two

One hundred years ago an average human never made it to sixty years of age. Today many do, though often are hurting units when they get there. That is the downside of living longer, especially in developed corporations, sorry I mean developed countries. As humans age their lives become filled with chronic pain, depression, cancer, ever continuing prescription needs, strokes, kidneys and knees shutting down, and increasing rates of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, among so many other ailments.

But when young we all thought and felt we were invincible, and became distracted by it. It distracts us even more today because we think it keeps us from going mad, and yet our survival depends on being aware, of ourselves yes, but also and more importantly, of our surroundings, including all the other thousands of living things sharing the planet with us, and most critically, the natural workings of the world. Having lost such awareness, it’s not surprising that the leading cause of death for people from the ages, one to thirty-four years old, is accidents.

Personally I have learned to embrace moderation of all things. And, am grateful and humbled that, as of yet, I do not live with pain on a daily basis. But besides the absorption of toxins, hormones and viruses  that exists in frighteningly increasing numbers, I have not always been nice and respectful to my body regarding what goes into it, whether food, drink and smoke, or given enough concern for the health of some of its operating systems.

I smoke cigarettes, which often makes me worry that since I have been a full time smoker for over forty years I would not be surprised for that shoe to drop, and the thing I thought was bound to happen does. Yet I continue to play ignorant and not even attempt to alter the outcome, which may yet still arrive, by hiding behind the excuse that I am basically a drug addict and allowing the addiction to control, in many ways, my life. As it is, the nicotine and the few thousand other chemicals in each cigarette I smoke have given me chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which shows up in my lungs as emphysema. Meaning the small air sacs of my lungs have been weakened and have ruptured, creating one larger air sac instead of the higher efficiency small ones. My lungs’ cavities are also filling up with black carbon deposits. So it takes longer for me to breathe out than in.

I am sure that the few thousand hours of bottom time spent as a commercial diver and seafood harvester, which took part of my right lung, caused calcified barnacles to form on my rotator cuff in my left shoulder, and living through multiple near death experiences, does not aid the cause.

M’lady has told me my breath rattles in my lungs as I sleep and I dry cough regularly throughout the day, though it’s a subdued and quick one. But as each year passes, the cough worsens and further embarrasses me with sometimes overwhelming grief for not doing anything about it. The worst is in the morning, when I cough for a few minutes until I give a couple of good nose blows in tissue, after which I feel relatively cleared up. It is curious that after we blow our noses, somewhat instinctively, we all take a second to examine what was expelled, like a forensic specialist or tea leaf reader. So far the coughs are rarely productive of any mucous, or blood or black tar, which is good I figure.

Of those who do smoke, about two out of ten will get COPD. For those who are life-long smokers, over half will develop COPD. Worldwide, it affects over 329 million people, nearly five per cent of the planet’s population. Along with chronic bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory diseases, it is currently one of the leading causes of death in the world, with over three million people dying from it each year.

In Canada, it is estimated that seventeen per cent of Canadians thirty-five to seventy-nine (over two million people) have some sort of airflow obstruction condition, with eight per cent, or 1.3 million people having severe degrees of it. Nearly twelve thousand Canadians die each year from COPD, somewhat close to the number of deaths attributed to all cerebrovascular diseases, mainly stroke.

Chapter Three

Though very aware of the importance of eating well, and the vital importance of stretching the body’s sinew and muscles each day, I rarely do. When I am with m’lady, I eat much healthier, as she is a seafood and salad gal and not as lazy as I am in the kitchen when eating alone. When alone, I eat as everyone else does, according to one’s pay grade. But the fact of the matter is that most days I plumb forget to eat, then, just before going to bed devour a large plate of something along the lines of a half dozen perogies covered in butter and a couple of scoops of cottage cheese, a couple of boiled Chinese sausages, a few olives, two slices of toast, one with just butter and peanut butter, which along with ketchup should be deemed a basic food group, and the other slice of toast lathered in peanut butter and honey, or perhaps cinnamon spread. For dessert, it is often a half litre of chocolate milk, a multi-vitamin, Vitamin D and a cod-liver oil, a small bag of either Hawkins Cheezies or salted corn chips and a chocolate chip muffin. A quick bite for me is usually sliced banana, yogurt, milk, ice-cream or raisin bran, in any combination thereof.

Though never putting much stress on my cardio, and not having much lung wind, I keep active and at least look fit, as in, I do not appear to have a basketball duct taped to my belly, and can still see my penis. Up to last year, I spent eight seasons on the ice a few times a week coaching midget hockey, which I miss very much. But other than sitting and writing, and because it’s my lot in life to have to work for a living, my employment usually entails physicality through good old plain hard work, using brush, ladder, hammer, paint, saw, wood and my hands, on buildings or the boat I live on. About the only actual exercise being the occasional karate kata, regular walkabouts, dog-like stretches, a physically active work life, and love making.

As for my bowels, just like my heart that somehow continues to beat regularly, I usually have to empty it at about six minutes and thirty-three seconds after arising from the bed in the morning. Which is also a good thing, one would think. Considering that the usual cause of death for a middle aged man in the industrial world, is colon cancer. But we will get to that lower down, as it were.

I am very fortunate here on Vancouver Island to actually have a regular doctor. He, of course, works out of a clinic with others, as lone general practitioners of medicine have become a rare species, whether in the city or in the country, and are booked solid.

A general practitioner (GP), works outrageous hours, and needs more than one assistant to deal with the tidal surge of paperwork created by having to submit endless reams of forms, charts and invoices, many of which go to the government, where payment could arrive anytime over the next couple of months. And they need large office spaces in which to store it all, because their basements are probably already full. And a great many new doctors want to specialize, further diminishing the number of GP’s.

Being a medical specialist, means one works in a silo and rarely communicates with doctors not in their field of study or department. So I can see why clinics are the way to go. For the doctors, sharing costs, space, and staff, and perhaps even sharing camaraderie with their team, instead of just themselves. And to think, advice could be two doors down the hall and to the left.

I was fortunate enough to have coached two of my doctor’s sons through their midget hockey years, and was grateful to work with him when he was the team’s manager. His sons are exceptional young men, as is he and the rest of their family. Thankfully he was able to take me into his stable. As such, his office calls me about once every year to set up an appointment for an annual physical.

Some people who own cars get them tuned up regularly. Some people just wait until something breaks or wears out and then gets it replaced. An annual physical on the other hand is a bit different and much more important. Instead of perhaps missing the chance to discover something early on before it breaks down, thus preventing further collapse, or even death, it may be wise to occasionally look under the hood. I have no qualms about letting a medical professional poke and prod the machine called my body and determine whether it shall continue to live or perhaps needs adjustment, therapy or replacement to sustain its life.

Chapter 4

Having an annual exam, is where they check our dipsticks and kick our tires, and go over all operating systems. This scares many people, often because of the absurd concept, that if something is deathly wrong, do they really need to know, or in the case of having a colonoscopy, the fear of someone sticking a finger up their butt. But when something is wrong with our bodies we know it. All living things do. Our dog eats grass when her stomach is upset and drags her bum along the lawn when it has been especially messy back there or she just needs a good scratch, and we do not have to tell her to do it. For over sixty years my Mom, has been drinking Coke whenever she feels under the weather, and to ward off all sorts of evils and ague. Whenever I feel something is brewing in me I take five cod liver oil pills with about the same number of garlic pills before going to bed, and in most cases feel much better in the morning. But anything to do with our rectum is uncomfortable for everyone involved, regardless of whether the doctor and patient are emotionless, or professionally smiling through it all.

While on the same topic, here’s a tip I learned long ago. When getting a physical and you are lying on your side and the doctor is getting the glove lubed up, of course it is going to be uncomfortable, but do not, I repeat, do not lean your head over and continue the discussion you had been having with your doctor, as he will politely ask you to please look the other way. But really people, we will allow doctors to slice open our chests and replace our hearts and other organs but heaven forbid if they should want to stick a well lubricated finger a few inches up our asses, one of the most frequent places for cancer to rear its ugly head in the human body.

One in fourteen Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime, and it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in adults. Thirty per cent of all deaths in Canada, about seventy-two thousand people, die of malignant neoplasm or cancer, while twenty one per cent of all deaths are due to diseases of the heart.

Going global, of all the human deaths in the world in one year (about sixty million), 270 individuals out of every thousand people, will die because their hearts either gave out, or was diseased. It is by far the leading cause of death in the world. Stroke is the number two cause of death, followed closely by deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases and other cardiovascular diseases.

Much farther down the list and still globally, for every one thousand people, fourteen will take their own lives each year, comparatively, about three people per thousand deaths are attributed to war, yet this is where all the money is being generated and spent. Much like the trillion-dollar war on terrorism, where every year before and after 9/11, anywhere from eight to twenty American citizens died worldwide due to terrorism, less than the number of people killed each year from a bolt of lightning.  And that one is forty thousand times likely to die from heart disease or cancer than by terrorist actions. The leading cause of death for American civilians abroad, at least the few who actually have been off the continental United States, is actually car crashes. While in Canada, the number of deaths attributed to terrorism is minimal, and in fact, in the last thirty years, there have been four deaths.

Overall, in most developed countries, the largest increase in deaths over the past few years has been from Alzheimer’s, accidents and unintentional injuries, not from being victims of the blowback from the activities of the industrial military complex.

In related news, the Earth’s human population as of October 2015 is about 7.3 billion individuals. This is twice the number of people who lived on the planet in 1970. There are about 131 million births every year, meaning one million births every three days or 250 births every sixty seconds. For every one thousand people, nineteen are newborns.

At the other end, with an average life expectancy of sixty-seven years, for every thousand people on the planet there are about eight deaths (about fifty-five million) each year. It works out that two people die every second, while at the same time four babies are born.

Chapter 5

With a screech, thud, and oh my, we are back at the garage getting an annual physical exam. Starting on the outside of the body, the doctor begins to make his or her way through physically examining the human body by inspecting, feeling, tapping, and listening.

The body’s all important blood pressure (BP) is taken, because it indicates whether the blood has enough power behind it or is under too much pressure, as it flows around the body doing its sublime job of pushing blood around. It is measured as the pressure at which the heart contracts, called the systole, which is when it pumps blood out to the rest of body, over the pressure called the diastole, when the heart re-fills with more blood. The medical gadgets used to do this are a stethoscope, and a sphygmomanometer (nearly broke out in a sweat typing that). Less than one twenty over eighty (120/80), is normal, while something like one ninety over one hundred (190/ 100), it’s Houston we have a problem.

Later, at a lab, blood will be taken for a blood count, which determines the kinds and numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets (thrombocytes) it contains. The red cells are the worker ants of the blood. They carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and once relieved of the oxygen, return carrying carbon dioxide (CO2) which is expelled as we exhale. Bigger than the reds but fewer in numbers, the whites protect the body from infection and act like a pack of wolves when doing so. The platelets meanwhile are the runts of the blood cells, and hang out in gangs called Clotters. Whenever bleeding occurs they gather together in a mob and swell themselves up like Pillsbury dough boys to form a sticky plug to stop the leak. They are relentless, and will continue to staunch any flow until it is stopped or the body simply runs out of blood and its organs shut down. At which time it becomes “aah, Houston….aah…we have another problem.”

Heart rate is checked, sixty to just less than one hundred beats a minute is considered normal, sixty being the optimum. Of course people, who exercise daily, by whatever means, usually have a much lower heart rate at rest. Joggers in particular, tell you that running is adding years onto their lives. Unfortunately, those years will have already been taken, by the years spent running.

Next up is a cold stethoscope held to your chest. Invented over 200 years ago, back when leeches were most often used for getting rid of any bad blood, the stethoscope was another way of seeing into the body, especially the chest. All one had to do was put their ear up against the chest, while today we do with technological imagery.

The typical respiratory rate for a healthy adult at rest is twelve to twenty breaths per minute. Anything above twenty is typically signs of a heart or lung problem. At birth and up to about six weeks we take thirty to sixty breaths every minute. If we make eighty years of age our respiratory rate could be as low as ten every minute. The doctor is also listening for any snaps, crackles and pops, wheezes, ticking or decreased breath sounds.

Temperature is then taken and should be as close to 37C (98.6F) as possible. Women going through menopause are occasionally exempt from this rule.

All joints are checked for movement, with the doctor standing back or to one side to protect themselves, as the knees, elbows, wrists and ankles are tapped with a small rubber mallet and checked for reflex. Our reflexes are crucial in determining the integrity of the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord, which together coordinate the movement and activity of all parts of the body. Just as importantly, reflexes also determine the integrity of the peripheral nervous system, which is the communication link between the brain and the limbs and organs.

The abdomen is tapped to judge liver size and if there is any presence of abdominal fluid. Throat and tonsils are checked by going aaaah, just like when the doctor is holding one’s testicles checking for lumps. Similarly, women get their breasts checked for lumps and are also given a Pap test, to check for abnormal cellular changes to some of their pink parts.

The thyroid is especially checked, in both sexes. It is a butterfly shaped gland in the throat, just below the Adam’s apple, and is one of the body’s governors, controlling how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and produces hormones, which regulate other hormones throughout the body. Lymph nodes are important filters of the immune system and though located throughout the body, the ones under the armpits and in the groin are checked delicately.

Ears, nose and sinuses are checked by shining a little flash light into those orifices. Though dental is not included in BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) at this point and time, the gums and teeth are checked by simply smiling. Speaking of which, it is unfortunate that dental coverage is but a dream for anyone having only MSP. For due to my lack of attention earlier on, my teeth need constant attention and one by one are falling out, often painlessly as my gums continue to recede. Long in the tooth, as it were. Whenever the next tooth needs to be added to my upper or lower plate, it is only done whenever I can afford it, or have enough of a balance on my credit card to cover it, unlike my smoking habit, which somehow continues whether I am able to afford it or not.

Chapter Six

Once again we are back to the part of the body, where for some reason many people, especially men, do not bother to get a physical because of, the dreaded prostate exam. I know many men who have some sort of mental hang up about what a human is biologically, or they think they are far too macho for such a thing, and that no one is going to shove anything up their butts, including themselves. Yet all one is doing is lying on, usually the left side, with the doctor slowly inserting a very well lubricated gloved finger a few inches up the rectum and feeling around for a couple of seconds, checking the prostrate for size and any suspicious lumps. Although one’s eyes may bug out, it does not hurt nor is it a big deal.

The prostate is a gland of the males’ reproductive system. Over thirty per cent of its volume is semen, and it possesses muscles that expel the semen mixture, during ejaculation. The word comes from the Greek, prostates, meaning “one who stands before” and “the guardian”. Women also have a prostate, called the Skene’s gland or para urethral gland. It operates the same as a male’s prostate, minus the sperm of course, however it can also expel fluid during an orgasm. Anatomically, a women’s uterus is in the same position within her body as that of a prostate gland in his body.

With the physical exam complete, I’m sent for chest x-rays, which as usual confirms my lungs, should be classed as the vilest of porn. Then at yet another clinic, blood and urine samples are taken. The previously mentioned blood count is done, while the urine sample is used mainly to check on the kidneys since they deal with the waste products of metabolism and are the filters and expellers of waste material, minerals, fluids and other substances from the blood. They also contribute to the regulation of electrolytes, blood pressure and maintenance of an acid-alkaline balance in the blood.

Electrolytes are the substance that produces an “electrically” conducting solution, mainly sodium, when absorbed with water, and involves itself with fluid balance and blood pressure control. It also controls the electrical components of the body, such as muscle tissue and neurons.

The kidneys themselves are vital enough that there are two of them, with the ability of each to maybe carry on even if the other is lost. Each kidney has more than enough functioning renal tissue to do the job.

The exam’s final task is completed at one’s leisure at home – providing a sample of your pooh. A stool sample kit, called a fecal immuno-chemical test (FIT), is prescribed and bought at a pharmacy. Taking it home I read the directions three or four times and when the next bowel movement was imminent, I laid the piece of supplied paper over the surface of water in the toilet bowl.  I was going to paint target rings on the paper, but all that was handy was m’lady’s tube of lipstick, and I wouldn’t dare. Hovering over the seat I squeezed out just a little bit then puckered back up. Standing, I took the wooden popsicle stick provided with the kit and daubed a small sample, which I then put into the provided tube, stick and all, sealed well, and voila, a sample any forensics investigator would be proud of. Returning to the seat and finishing the task at hand, I was ready to deliver the sacred Fit tube to the lab.

Chapter Seven

A month or so goes by and I get a call from my doctor’s office that the results are in. A date is set. Upon that day and working within the ten-minute window given for appointments, my doctor comes in, and after the “how are you doings” and genuine “would love to talk but”, he sits down beside me with his laptop and we review all the tests given. Besides both being disgusted by my lung pictures, and me being deeply embarrassed, we move forward. I am told my heart is steady-eddy, there are no deranged things, icky or untoward chemicals, needles or condoms flowing through my blood, and that I have beautiful cholesterol. But there were traces of blood found in my stool sample. If average traces are eighty whatever, my trace amount was about a thirty, which is far from a death sentence I am told, but… we talk about it for a bit more then as nonchalantly as possible, he leans over and asks as Tom Waits sings “Happy Anniversary”, how about a colonoscopy. And I thought, why not.

On average fifteen per cent of people who get their stool examined are found to have traces of blood in them. This does not mean one has cancer, though four per cent of people tested with a colonoscopy will have. The pooh-test is strictly a diagnostic test looking for potential signs of cancer, but all it really shows is that one is bleeding from somewhere inside.

The majority of times the blood traces come from polyps, benign growths that hang off the wall of the rectum or colon, and which rarely show any symptoms. Polyps that do become cancerous usually take years to develop, which is why it is important for those of us over fifty to get checked.

Bleeding from the behind could also mean all sorts of other things, like haemorrhoids, which are sometimes painless or internal, ulcers, anal cracks or cuts, irritable bowel syndrome, a colony of polyps, simple inflammation or having the evil diverticular disease.

Diverticulitis affects more than ten per cent of the populations of Canada, Western Europe, Britain and Australia over the age of forty. Coincidently, these places all represent the world’s largest meat consumers. By sixty years of age, half will have some sort of diverticular disease of the colon. Seen as balloon-like extensions bulging out from the wall of the colon, they are sometimes filled with fluid. This happens, because of weakness of the muscle layers and are in serious jeopardy of becoming infected since they exist within the sewer pipe of a “civilized” human’s body. In severe cases abscesses develop which can perforate and begin bleeding into the abdomen, or exploding like a pimple. Other than the occasional cramping, bloating, expelling pooh gas, and irregular schedule of when you need to empty your bowels, most people are totally unaware of the fact that the make-up of their intestines has changed into structures that are not normally present or natural. It gets serious when blood is showing up much too often and in higher volumes in any stool.

Interestingly enough, in the rest of the world, mainly Africa and Asia, diverticular disease is not at all common. The reasons why are many, from the possibility that Africans, especially, eat a diet that contains more fibre than the Western populations, to the possibility that most people in Africa, India and Asia still use the natural squatting position to empty their bowels, as humans have done all through our evolution. The benefits include the stretching of limbs and muscles used in the act of squatting in the first place, which many “civilized” people, especially in Canada and the States would have a hard time doing, because of their obesity rates. The position allows the bowel not to be as compressed as it is when sitting on a toilet, thus, even with the larger loads, there is far less straining. In the West there is a long list of people dying, often with their hearts giving out, trying to expel their stool. In many countries, especially amongst Muslim and Hindu peoples, another benefit is that they clean themselves with water, instead of smearing the remains off with multiple sheets of eight-ply toilet tissue, which both happen to be far easier to do squatting then sitting on a toilet. The trick with using water to clean one’s nether regions is to always use your left hand; right hand is reserved for eating and hand shaking. As for lefties, it is unfortunate.

Chapter Eight

After my doctor and I agreed on a colonoscopy and that I would be contacted soon to set it up, I began to think about the Magic School Bus, which was popular when my son was five years old, and the episode where after being shrunk down to a tiny speck, they enter the body down the throat to explore the human digestive system.

yellow school busThe Magic School Bus was one of the best animated educational programs ever. Running from 1994 to 1997, it was about a class of kids led by the incredibly informative Ms. Valerie Frizzle, voiced by Lily Tomlin, who in 1995 won an Emmy for the role for outstanding performance in an animated program. Ms Frizzle and her class would take adventurous day trips in their yellow school bus exploring the whys and how’s of nearly every science known to man.

For example, of the fifty-two episodes created, “Inside Ralphie”, was about germs. Ralphie, one of the students, was sick with a fever and sore throat, so for that day’s outing Ms Frizzle shrunk their magic school bus down to a pin point and they entered their ailing classmate through a cut on his arm. They travelled to his throat to see what was making him sick, but white blood cells, the body’s attack hounds and defenders, saw the magic school bus as a threat and began to attack, and attempted to devour it. Ms Frizzle got them out real quick-like, in saliva the next time Ralphie coughed.

Same sort of thing happened in the 1966 sci-fi classic film, Fantastic Voyage, where instead of a yellow school bus filled with kids, a spacecraft-type ship filled with scientists made the inner journey. The premise was that when an important scientist developed a blood clot on the brain after being shot in an assassination attempt, a small group of medical specialists and scientists boarded the submarine Proteus, which was armed with a laser. They were then miniaturized, inserted into a needle and injected into the patient to remove the clot. They had one hour to complete their mission before they and the ship begin to grow back to its normal size and explode out of the injured scientist’s body.

Besides being constantly attacked by the same hyena-like white blood cells that attacked the school bus, they had to detour through the heart. A cardiac arrest was induced in the patient, to avoid turbulence as they passed through the atria and ventricles. Running low on oxygen, they flew into the lungs to replenish their supply, after which they arrived in the middle ear, where everyone inside the ship and those surrounding the patient outside had to keep very quiet and still, once again to prevent any turbulence. As they got to the clot in the brain, a traitor on board created chaos and the ship crashed. The survivors swam out via a tear drop, and surfaced in the lake of the corner of the eye and escaped by being sucked up in a syringe.

But the Magic School Bus episode that I thinking about was the digestion episode titled, “For Lunch”, which seemed appropriate, considering my digestive tract, at least the bottom half, was soon going to be explored too. In reality, the undertaking of exploring the entire human gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), would be a daunting task, a truly epic endeavour. If it were a movie, the scope of it would put to shame “The Bridge over the River Kwai”, “Lawrence of Arabia” and any one of the episodes of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Chapter Nine

From mouth to anus the GI tract is, on average, nine metres (thirty feet) long, about the average height of a three-storey building. Besides the previously mentioned trillions of cells found in it, there are also about one hundred million neurons which the brain uses for its control and regulation.     digestive system

The entire gastric phase that food goes through takes from twenty-four to seventy-two hours, depending on what was eaten, how much and numerous other variables. But I find it odd that a McDonald’s Big-Mac seems to be given carte blanche to make it through me in under an hour, and a Magic School Bus episode was less than thirty minutes long.

In “For Lunch”, Arnold, another one of the students, gets sick after eating something, so Ms Frizzle comes up with yet another brilliant idea, and herding her kids onto the magic bus, they once again get shrunk down to nearly nothing and head on down Arnold’s esophagus. Though the episode could not detail all they would see and experience during such an epic journey, even though animated, I will ad-lib the narration and try to fill in the gaps.

After putting almost anything solid, other than a yellow school bus filled with kids and a teacher, in your mouth, the process of mastication (chewing) begins. While the tongue and cheeks position and move the food, chewing creates saliva (digestive enzyme) which immediately begins breaking down any starch and absorbing nutrients and energy from what you eat. How and for how long you chew can have a huge impact on your health. The best ways to retain the most energy from what you eat is to take smaller bites, chew until food is liquefied and lost all texture, then swallow completely before taking another bite. The importance of mastication cannot be stressed enough. Because, by the time the chewing is over, whatever is left splashes down into the hydrochloric acid and pepsin digestive juices of the stomach, where it quickly becomes either, if chewed properly, liquefied baby food and easily digestible, or a big fat bolus, a furry ball containing chunks of undigested food.

The stomach, which is a distensible organ and can normally expand to hold about one litre (about two pounds) of food, is where the mechanical and chemical digestion processes continue. It mixes the food down to molecules using peristalsis, which are waves of muscular contractions moving along the stomach wall like an arena crowd doing the “wave” at a hockey game, which furthers protein digestion. It takes a lot of energy to do this, and is why we often would love to take a nap while we digest a big meal. Most of the absorption of nutrients that is taking place goes to the circulatory and lymphatic capillaries through the actions of cellular biology, including osmosis, active transport and diffusion. But if there are chunks in the food it forces the digestion process to expend even more energy trying to break them down. Chunks that are unable to be digested in the stomach scrape their way through the gut, until they get to the intestine, where bacteria will cause it to putrefy and potentially cause a plethora of problems, including gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and other digestive tribulations.

So chew well and savour each bite. With the brain taking about twenty minutes to signal the stomach that it is full, studies show by chewing slowly, one ends up consuming about ten percent fewer calories and burning less energy to achieve it.

Chapter Ten

After whatever is chewed and swallowed, it mixes in the stomach for typically one to two hours, what is left then enters the duodenum, the top part of the small intestine, where a finer break down process takes place using digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile juice from the liver. Then it is onto the small intestine where ninety-five per cent of the absorption of nutrients into the blood stream takes place. This process gets a boost when the gallbladder, the storage tank for the excess bile produced by the liver, releases bile into the small intestine sort of like an automated car wash. This process breaks down even further what had originally been chewed and swallowed.

Another organ, the pancreas, besides being an endocrine gland, secreting insulin which allows glucose to move from the blood into the muscles and other tissues for use as energy, is also an exocrine gland, releasing glucagon when the blood sugar is too low. This allows the liver to break down the stored sugar into glucose, to re-balance the sugar levels. Another very important function of the pancreas, and which is pertinent to this story, is that also secretes digestive enzymes.

At this point in the Magic School bus’ journey, wise one, Ms. Frizzle, glances at her watch and announces that it’s time to return and her class and their yellow school bus head back out, hopefully heading for the nearest car-wash. Waving goodbye, we will continue the journey alone.

Where the small intestine joins the colon, the large intestine, whatever has made it through and still undigested will eventually make its way down the slalom course of the, on average, one and a half metre (nearly five foot) long colon. This process will take about three to four hours. Along the way any remaining water and minerals are re-absorbed into the blood vessels of the colon. The bacteria, which reside in the colon, produce such things as biotin and vitamin K, which are also re-absorbed into the blood. But at this point the bacteria are mostly just dashing madly about like chickens with their heads cut off, frolicking in what to them, is both a Garden of Eden, and a smorgasbord of delicious debauchery. More the chaos, the more the colon’s acidity rises.

Eventually the waste and indigestible make it to the rectum, the final portion of the colon. About twelve centimetres (four point seven inches) long, it is the only straight section in the GI tract, and the storage silo for stools about to be launched.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that after all the hoop jumping of the GI tract that so many of the human body’s problems arise in the colon. Considering all the unimaginable volumes of chemicals, hormones, pharmaceuticals and toxins a human takes in daily, from the food we eat, what we drink and air that we breathe, it’s no wonder our personal sewer pipes have become ever the more toxic and just plain nasty.

Staying between the legs, human anatomy is very functional, and so it should be after a couple of million years of evolution. But for those who believe it was achieved through intelligent design, perhaps Neil de Grasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator, can better explain. “I think of, like, the human body, and I look at what’s going on between our legs. There’s like a sewage system and entertainment complex intermingling. No engineer of any intelligence would have designed it that way.”

Chapter Eleven

Back to the physical exam, and after the x-rays and body fluid samples, it was a couple of months before the party planner, a bubbly Colon Screening Program Patient Coordinator, contacted me with a date for an information/awareness meeting the following month. There were about seven people in my group, where a couple of very positive and perky nurses showed and told us what foods and drinks to avoid pre-op, what to buy to get the colon flushed, and not with embarrassment, the importance of a clean, thus happy colon. We all sat apart, equally uncomfortable. Of course one individual had a list of inane questions to ask, mostly about what could he eat and not eat, and then had to ask them again, all the while remaining just as confused.

We were shown slides on a big screen showing that a clean and happy colon looks like the inside of a light pink, ribbed water hose when inflated, but which usually lies flat. A weak attempt at cleaning a colon showed pools of yellow and brown gunk lodged along its ribs and caked along its sides. We were shown no slides of a colon when in use, as I’m sure we could all visualize the occasional brown train kneading its way down – sometimes firm, sometimes just a flash flood.

I thought we would get together when it was over and gather in a chanting group hug in the middle of the room, wishing each other the best, a “Remember the Titans” moment, but alas, everyone left rather quickly.

Another month went by, and as the date of the colonoscopy neared, the medical terms and conditions about being examined or operated on internally kick in. For a colonoscopy, one is to cease and desist in taking iron pills or supplements that contain iron, and immediately stop eating foods that contain seeds including whole flax, sesame seeds, berries and popcorn, because they stick in the folds of one’s colon, hindering further inspection and generally mucking up the whole exercise.

Three days before, you have to confirm your ride to and from hospital, review your diet for the next two days, and purchase one container of GoLytely (gotta love the irony) or Pico-Salax, both laxative solutions, and four Dulcolax tablets, which is a stimulant laxative. The solutions are intended to create a watery stool, basically they cause diarrhea by increasing the water in the intestinal tract to stimulate bowl movements, while the Dulcolax excites the bowel’s motion to help the flow along. To get the ball or should I say bolus, rolling, you take two of the Dulcolax, two nights before the procedure, the other two the next night on the eve of the planned assault.

The day before, stop eating any solid food, milk, milk products, non-dairy creamers, protein beverages or alcoholic beverages. Ensure-type nutrition drinks and the like are allowed, as they are non-dairy products and happen to taste pretty good in coffee. Only fluids you can see through are allowed, but stay especially away from fluids that are red or purple in colour because they stain the digestive tract. Clear fluids include water, of course, popsicles, though not red or purple, Jell-O, with no added toppings of fruit, clear broth with no vegetables, noodles or meat, clear tea and thank god, black coffee with sugar. Fruit juices without pulp, like apple juice and lemonade are allowed, but no milk, cream or soy. Pop of any kind and Gatorade, Power Aid, and all the other “ades” are taboo. Finally, add four litres of water to the GoLytely container and store in fridge.

Chapter Twelve

About three in the afternoon on the eve of colonoscopy day, it came time for the cleansing. During the upcoming bowel cleanse a typical adult will lose about three to four liters (a gallon) of fluid. So the day before and up to three hours before the exam, they suggest drinking about the same amount of the clear fluids listed above. Being on such a diet, some people get light headed and I’m sure more cranky, craving a Snickers bar, so instead a Gravol is allowed.

I stood before the kitchen sink, took a deep breath and began drinking the voluminous laxative solution. Eight ounces every fifteen minutes until the four litre container is half empty. At ten PM that night, I drank the remaining two litres, at the same rate. They suggest it is best to drink it back quickly and not sip it like a Martini. I happen to agree. It is undoubtedly the worst part of the whole process.

After you have begun drinking the GoLytely or Pico-Salax mixture, Ms. Frizzle or any other wise person, would stay within twenty feet of a toilet. It definitely begins to flush out the digestive tract, and quite quickly I might add. But on average it starts working within one to three hours, though it’s also known to take up to six to eight hours. After the first few “sit-downs” you have serious diarrhea, basically pissing like a horse out of one’s arse. With each flash flood down the colon scouring any debris and waste along its way. Each time the fluid became clearer, though I was quite taken aback and rather concerned when after about the fourth or fifth sit-down a waft of fish permeated the room.

But that’s the thing, as mentioned, the colon may look like the inside of a ribbed garden hose when inflated with air, but naturally it lies flat, and has been eerily known to hide objects there for years. Like the joke I heard on a TV program, where a singer had just ended their audition song and the oldest judge asked her how old she was. She answered fourteen years. The youngest judge looked over at the eldest and crudely half-joked about the likelihood that, “There are probably pieces of steak older than that in your colon”.

But speaking from experience, I swallowed four quarters when I was about ten years old after being sent to the store for bread. Was X-rayed and told all should be good, but that I would have to check my stools and confirm that all four quarters exited my body. Using a pair of chopsticks as tools, each stool was checked thoroughly. I believe it took about a week for all four quarters to make their way to the end and out of me. And to this day I am still reminded, when I am in contact with one of my sisters, that she did the chop stick check for a promised cut of the take, and that I reneged on the deal. She is still waiting for her cut, with interest of course.

Your bowels are considered clear when you are only passing liquid, though the liquid may be clear with yellow or coloured flecks of stool. If you are unable to fully clean your bowels out, you must contact hospital immediately, instead of wasting everyone’s time showing up with a dirty, unhappy colon.

Over the entire cleansing process I managed to read a few chapters of a book and completed two Sunday crossword puzzles. As to the toilet, I felt it handled itself very well with its porcelain intact. The next time I cleaned it I lifted the seat which was obviously the blast containment ring, and now understand why the underside of a toilet seat is concave. It allows it to withstand intense forces better and deflects blasts back down into the bowl. I love well thought out and innovative designs.

Chapter Thirteen

The next morning in the dark of the early a.m., I walked the three blocks to the hospital sans nail polish, jewellery, body piercings, make-up, perfume, aftershave or other scented products. I did have wads of toilet paper stuffed into both jacket pockets, espying the bushes and hedges lining the walk just in case.

Once received into the hospital you go to the proper ward and are given a bed which gets curtained off so that you may slip into something a little more comfortable, typically a thin sheet opened at the back, which in this case seems so apropos. For many medical procedures, especially a colonoscopy, people are given the most commonly used drugs of choice, a benzodiazepine, usually midazolam, and an opioid analgesic such as fentanyl, for preoperative sedation.

After asking around before hand, I had been told that other than slight pressure from time to time, the actual procedure did not physically hurt, but if drugged, you are impaired for up to twenty-four hours. The fentanyl alone is eighty to one hundred times more potent than morphine and forty to fifty times more potent than one hundred per cent heroin. Thus, no important decision making or signing of documents, no driving a car, nor travelling alone by either bus or taxi, no riding a bicycle, swimming or climbing ladders, going to work or doing business, nor drinking alcohol, smoking pot, taking sleeping pills or anti-anxiety medicines, or even being responsible for another person for a day after the procedure. So I passed on being given the midazolam cocktail.

Midazolam is a short-acting central nervous system depressant of the benzodiazepine family, and is marketed under the names Dormicum, Hypnovel, and Versed. Benzodiazepines enhance the effect of what is called the neurotransmitter gamma (amino butyric acid) in receptors in the brain, resulting in sedative, hypnotic, anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties, thus in this day and age it is widely used in millions upon millions of people’s lives, whether they are being operated on or not.

The main reason midazolam works so well is because, besides its other attributes, it produces amnesia. Indeed it calms you from most anxiety, but in actual fact it breaks down the brain’s ability to make memory. If what you suffer from gives you pain, when you take midazolam you still hurt, but you forget about it almost immediately. As such, midazolam and other benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed medicines in the world for all sorts of things. It goes without saying, benzodiazepines of any type are also considered to be major drugs of abuse.

In combination with an antipsychotic drug, midazolam is also able to calm aggressive or out of control behaviour of those who suffer from schizophrenia, and is often used as a stop gap measure for treatment of psychiatric emergencies, such as acute psychosis, at least until the effects of lithium and other antipsychotics take effect. Midazolam is also routinely used at low doses on those in their final hours or days lying on their death beds or waiting to go to the other side, as it helps with calming any agitation, restlessness, anxiety, and accompanying twitches, jerks and seizures.

In combination with other drugs, such as vecuronium bromide, potassium chloride and hydromorphone, midazolam is also used in certain US states in executions by lethal injection. The midazolam renders the condemned unconscious, the other drugs are then injected stopping the prisoner’s breathing and heart.  It replaces pentobarbital, which was once used instead, but which was disallowed for use by the drug’s manufacturer.

Other popular benzodiazepines, which have replaced the seriously harmful and once well-used, barbiturates, include Alprazolam. Available under different generic names it is best known as Xanax, and much like other benzodiazepines is short-acting with a median half-life of only one to twelve hours. Similar to midazolam, Xanax also goes straight to the brain, and having the same, as already noted, anxiolytic, sedative, hypnotic, skeletal muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant and amnesic properties. A psychoactive drug, Xanax is commonly used for the medical treatment of panic, anxiety, and social disorders, as well as for most forms of depression. Xanax is one of the top ten selling drugs in the world today.

Chapter Fourteen

Meanwhile back at the hospital, a nurse has wheeled me into an examination room. She prepped me by saying the procedure will take from thirty minutes to an hour and introduced me to the gastroenterologist, his assistant, and the star of the show, the endoscope, who I instantly dubbed Snoopy. I was told to lie on my left side, where a large television screen sat before me, ready to record Snoopy’s walk-about up my anus and through my rectum and large bowel. It was going to be an eye opener.

Snoopy is a long soft flexible tube armed only with a camera and a light, but can perform all sorts of feats. Sort of like a Swiss army knife. As it entered my anus it began to pump air in ahead of itself. The pressure of the air to keep the colon expanded like the ribbed water hose it was described as and the initial entry of the doc’s finger inserting Snoopy were the most uncomfortable parts, but did not really hurt. The cramping that occurred at various times simply felt like the passing of a really bad case of gas.

Because the colon is usually lying flat, the air Snoopy pumps in expands the walls of the colon allowing it to see the now well-lit surfaces.  Any fluids, now lying in pools of yellow brown water, are sucked up and out so that no surface area goes unchecked. The live footage on the big screen became fascinating, especially in Snoopy’s dogged determination to check every surface of my bowel. Could not see his tail wagging, but I bet you it was.

You are asked to change your position a little whenever Snoopy has to make his way around a dogleg of sorts. After the rectum, the course starts with a turn through the sigmoid colon, another turn up through the descending colon, and then across the belly to the entrance of the coiled up small intestine, where a stop sign awaits. Snoopy cleans and inspects on the journey in and inspects again on the way out.

Snoopy is even able to have instruments passed on down within itself. If there is bleeding in the colon, a laser, heater probe or needle to inject certain medicines to stop any bleeding, can be quickly sent along. In case of severe bleeding, Snoopy can tie off a rupture using a loop of blue string. If this does happen one is warned not to worry about the length of blue string that will appear in your stool in about seven days. He can also use a steel clip to stem bleeding, which takes about seven to twenty-four days to make its way out and is also harmless. They suggest if you are having an MRI scan or going through airport security, be sure to tell staff that you have a clip attached to your colon.

Snoopy can also perform a biopsy by taking small tissue samples and removing any abnormal growths, such as the previously mentioned polyps, which can be brought back out and sent to a lab for testing.

Snoopy found a small one in me and went right up to it. It looked like a skin sac hanging from a short umbilical line on the wall of my colon. Snoopy seemed to sniff it then deftly slid a wire loop around the base and tightened it up, pinching it off, then instantly cauterized the base to prevent bleeding. Though I watched it on TV I felt no pain.

Though incredibly good at what they do, during a colonoscopy there is a one in two hundred and fifty chance that there could be a complication, such as reaction to the medication or soreness of anus. And there is a one in one thousand chance of bleeding or puncturing of the bowel, and a slight risk, because of medication given, that your stomach contents will aspirate into one’s lungs if you throw up. But the most important risk is the possibility of Snoopy missing a polyp or small tumor. This is why it is imperative that you have a happy and clean colon. If not, you will have to come back and do it all over again. Supposedly they guarantee that Snoopy will be removed from your ass once the exam is over and samples have been taken. And that he will leave the place as if he wasn’t even there.

Chapter Fifteen

Waving Snoopy good bye, I was wheeled back to the general patient dorm and curtained off. A bit of confusion occurred with the nurses when the first one said they will be allowing me time to relax and come down from the medication. “I did not take any medication”, I reply. She frowned, and then told me she would call the person picking me up from the hospital because I would be still drugged up. She left, but a few moments later returned to confirm I had not taken any medication, but really just wanting to ask, why not? I then explained that I was farting and felt a bit bloated but other than that I was fine and not pregnant or retaining water. She chuckles “that’s good”, and explains it’s probably all right for me to get dressed and wait for my pickup. She leaves.

Another nurse quickly appears and asks if I would like juice or water as I wait for the drugs to dissipate. I said I was not on any drugs. Considering I had not eaten for over twenty-four hours, my bowel had just been cleaned, probed, detailed, and a polyp hanging off its wall had been snipped off, I asked if they had the food of champions and another important food group – chocolate milk. She frowned and smiled at the same time, said no and left me alone to dress.

Thereafter, if you do not get chills, fever, severe belly pain, gas pains that do not go away by farting; shortness of breath; rectal bleeding of more than a half a cup of blood, or black tarry “baby pooh”, you are good to go, and will hear back after Snoopy’s job performance report, and whether his inspecting and tissue retrieval work were up to par and a success.

One is able to eat and drink thirty to sixty minutes after the procedure, so after eventually being released, it was off to a little restaurant where m’lady watched me eat. After being dropped off at my place I just took it easy, though later that afternoon did spend some time stomping foot wide mushrooms, which had blossomed up through the building’s parking lot’s sixty-five year old asphalt layer. As they grew upwards, reaching for the sun, they did not see that they had peeled back three inches of asphalt like petals sprouting from a bud. I was in awe, and sad that they had to go.

That night I dined alone on half of a classic Italian sub from Subway, piles of cottage cheese and potato salad sprinkled with shredded Kale and garlic stuffed olives, a couple of honey garlic pepperoni sticks, two chocolate fudge cookies and a nuked cinnamon roll topped with cream cheese. Later I read in bed munching on a bowl of pecans. Then slept like a baby.

Here in Victoria, the wait for results can take anywhere from three weeks to a couple of months. Mine arrived by phone, by the same bubbly Colon Screening Program Patient Coordinator, who had contacted me in the beginning. Results were negative, meaning good, but it was suggested that I have another one in three to five years. I smiled right back at her over the phone, thanked her very much and sincerely agreed I would.

Chapter Sixteen

So there you go the tail exploits of a physical exam and a colonoscopy. Seriously, if you are an adult over fifty, especially a male, and you have not had a check-up or a colonoscopy recently or ever, and if you are able to afford one or have coverage, do yourself a favour and get one.

Besides watching what one puts into their digestive tracts, take care of your teeth too, they are important in being able to properly chew whatever it is you swallow. Stay away from cigarettes, and exercise the best you can, because heaven knows there is not much in the way of hunting and gathering going on these days to keep us fit.

And although I often don’t practise what I preach, but will never stop trying, once again, please be aware of what you are putting into your body, whether the air you breathe or food and drink you ingest. Try to make it food which is the least compromised by human added hormones, pesticides, herbicides and chemicals. Eat food that still has the earth’s life energy within it. It’s the perfect fuel for the human body’s digestive system. It is easily distributed throughout the body, and leaves all systems running smoothly, with the power behind them making it easier for them to expel any waste, do any repair work, or fight off any germs, and as a reward, you’ll hopefully possess one of the happiest colons around.

One of the best indicators of what is going on in the body and its overall health, besides keeping an eye on what we cough, spit and blow into a tissue is, yep, you guessed it, observe, assess, and report if needed, our bowel movements. Keep an eye on your stool. It can detect all sorts of things, from bacterial infections to cancers, immune dysfunctions, stress levels, hydration and nutrition.

Pooh itself is about 75% water, 25% fibre, dead and living bacteria, other cells and mucus. The perfect stool is a sausage or a snake that squeezes out quite easily like it has a life of its own, and knows where it’s going. Medium brown in colour and possibly up to 45 cm (18 in) long, with a 5 cm (2 in) diameter. To improve on an ideal stool, drink lots of water and chew fibre, especially hemp, flax, psyllium and chia. Of course there should be a slight odor to it, but it shouldn’t reek and peel paint. Remedy is to take a pro-biotic and eat more greens, nuts, and fruit.

Be aware of the colour of your stool. Light to dark brown, even some shades of green are ok. Pretty obvious what the problem is if your stool is red, while a black stool also could mean bleeding or too much meat consumption. Yellow stools typically mean gallbladder issues or parasitic problems, while white or grey, could show liver disease, pancreatic disorder or heavy antacid use.

If stool is under high pressure and dense, it’s often hard to pass, even painful, so take deep breaths to avoid any injuries to anus, and just take it slow. Allow the muscles to expand and do their job.

If the stool is a bunch of little lumps or balls, like deer or rabbit turds, it’s commonly a sign of dehydration and/or lack of fibre. Greasy and hard to flush often means heavy consumption of drugs, inflammation in digestive tract or food intolerance. And a high sugar intake, heavy spices, food sensitivities, especially hot sauces, makes a stool sticky and wetter.

Beyond the stool, we enter the realm of explosions. Smaller explosions out of the anus is often mild food poisoning, too much sugar or food intolerance. Basically, stuff the body is trying to expel as fast as it can. Do take note, when explosion is larger, and diarrhea like, and lies like an oil slick upon the surface of the toilet water. This could either be severe food poisoning, bacterial imbalances, food intolerance or inflammatory bowel disease. Get checked out, seriously.

If there are white spots in your stool and you have one of the itchiest asses around, it is probably a parasitic infection. Get treatment as well, and wash hands more than often. And if you ever wonder why we even eat corn, since it just shows up seemingly intact in our stools, it is because of the most easily ignored, yet most important and best thing we can do to for our digestive tract, is to slow down when eating. Take three deep breaths before you eat and chew each bite and chew it well.

Chapter Seventeen

Thinking back on the whole experience, I will end this essay with what I feel was the ah-ha moment for me.

When Snoopy was almost completely pulled out, but before popping out of my anus, he stopped and slowly arched his back, bending around to take a visual of my anus looking back from whence he came. It reminded me of the Voyager space probes.

Launched in 1977, the 722 kilogram (nearly sixteen hundred pound) robotic spacecraft, the Voyager I, has been using instruments on board, including infrared spectrometer, magnetometer, cosmic ray, radio-astronomy, plasma-wave and photo polariser systems, to study atmospheric properties and the composition of space as it bee-lines away from Earth.

It has been travelling at 67,000 kilometres per hour (40,000 mph) for nearly thirty-eight years and as of September 2015 is currently a staggering, and hard to fathom, nineteen billion km (nearly thirteen billion miles) away. She is followed by her sister, Voyager II, which was launched three weeks before her, but lolly-gagging along about three billion kilometres behind.

It took Voyager I two years to pass Jupiter, three years to pass Saturn, nine years for Uranus, not my anus, and twelve years to pass Neptune. It has also passed over forty-eight moons. To send a signal travelling at the speed of light (approx. 300,000 kilometres a second), to the Voyager I today would take over sixteen hours.

Since 2004 it has been leaving the sun’s solar system and entering interstellar space, the space between the stars, where the outward motion of the solar wind of our star, the sun, ceases. Though most of the Voyager I’s instruments have been shut down, she is estimated to be able to carry on until about 2025. But even if she were able, the next nearest star is about forty thousand years away.

In 1990, when the Voyager I was only about six billion kilometres (four billion miles) away, and after nine years of having its camera turned off, astronomer and author Carl Sagan, Candy Hanson of NASA, Carolyn Porco of the University of Arizona and the rest of the Voyagers team of scientists and engineers turned Voyager I’s fifteen hundred millimetre (fifty-nine inch) high-resolution narrow angle camera back on. Rotating the camera around to face from whence it came, sixty frames were taken and are the last photos from the Voyager I. Sending the frames back to earth took nearly six hours. One of the frames shows a nearly black backdrop with a smattering of light rays from the sun amidst thousands of pricks of light. In the lower left hand corner amongst the six hundred and forty thousand pixels that make up the image is one of those mere points of light. It measures less than a pixel, zero point twelve of a pixel in fact. A tiny dot against the vastness of space, but blown-up and peering really close or using a magnifying glass, one can see that it is pale blue in colour, and happens to be where all of Earth’s history has happened. And if the whole world consumed as much resources as the United States does, we would need four of them.

Within the vastness of space, one little planet out of many. Moving and spinning around at the perfect distance from the sun for the last four and a half billion years. But this little planet is abnormally heating up, much more quickly than in the past. Reason is because of the way only one, of the millions of other living species that inhabit the planet, has lived over the last microsecond of the planet’s history, over the past few hundred years.

But the nearly seven and a half billion people that inhabit the planet today are not entirely to blame for the ever dwindling and extinction of its resources, and changing climate. In fact where population is growing the fastest today, is in Sub-Saharan Africa. Where all the areas, and countries, that lie south of the Sahara desert, include some of the poorest parts of the world, and lowest carbon dioxide emissions producers in the world. The consumption habits of only about 10% of the world’s population of Earth are to blame, and are responsible for the vast majority of both, carbon dioxide emissions, which of course will change things, and wealth.

Whilst believing in unlimited growth in all human endeavours we also believe this is possible upon this one finite planet. But then as American author, philosopher, and libertarian socialist, Noam Chomsky, has stated,

“The general population doesn’t know what’s happening and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.”

This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why, besides the cancers erupting with abandon within us, immune systems dying, toxic digestive tracts, and hearts giving out, the soon-to-be number one health problem for humanity is expected to be, if not already, our state of mind.

The planet on the other hand, is losing its forests, its fresh water, while its seas, rivers, skies, lakes, cities become acidified, and ever quickly changing climates become extreme events. Its resources being consumed by greed, and to feed an ever growing population, both of which are already far larger than what this one small planet can supply. A planet which Carl Sagan describes in his 1994 book, “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space”.

“That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” 

pale blue dot

Imagine that, as happen stance would have it, a small blue dot called earth, also in dire need of its own colonoscopy, and a date with Snoopy.