Thursday, September 30, 2010

What Mysteries does Pyramid Conceal? Part.II

The most magnificent pyramid standing today the only surviving structure of the seven wonders of the ancient world is the pyramid at Giza, built during the reign of Cheops, the Greek name for King Khufu. At the time of its construction, the pyramid rose some 482 feed, covered 13 acres, and weighed at least 6.5 million tons. Napoleon calculated that the material from which it was built over 2300000 blocks would form a wall around France 10 feet high and one foot wide. The grand scale of the Cheops pyramid is matched by its precise design.

 Each side of its base measures some 776 feet, and the sides vary by only 7.9 inches; the pyramid’s stones are placed so accurately that it’s impossible to fit a sheet of paper between them. The sides of the pyramid run with an error of a little more than 4 degrees, almost exactly from north to south and from east to west.
In the 19th century, as archeologists mapped out the pyramids, the wonder induced by these details encouraged a whole new pseudo scientific discipline. “Pyramidology” sought to discover the “Pyramid inch,” a standard unit that allowed the Egyptians to build with such uncanny precision. Standard such as pi, the mass and circumference of the earth, and the distance of earth to sun were suggested. Others proposed the theory that the pyramids were great stone texts, in which details of the entire history of the world had been encoded.  Pyramidologists stretched to even greater imaginative lengths to explain how these stone marvels were constructed. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Mysteries does Pyramid Conceal? Part.I

Even today, almost five thousand years after its completion, the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt is a technical masterpiece. But its builders left no plans that might explain how it came to be built. It is still not completely clear why the pyramid was erected. With so few answers available, it seems that the great Pyramid will be surrounded by mystery forever.
 On the west bank of the Nile stand the astonishing Pyramids. The very shape of the pyramid, with its sturdy, earthbound base and its apex reaching for the heavens, articulates the combination of technical skill and spiritual commitment that their construction required.
The golden age of construction in Egypt occurred during the Fourth Dynasty, from 2868 to 2613 BC. For the most part, the pyramids were meant to serve as burial chambers for Pharaohs and other high officials. The foundation of the Egyptian monarchy relied on the immortality of the Pharaoh, and thus was predicted on a devout belief in an afterlife.
 The pyramid not only glorified the pharaoh but served as a sort of antechamber in which he would wait until he entered the next world. The Egyptians perfected the art of embalming to preserve the buried body, and often stocked the pyramids with royal amenities the pharaoh would want with him in the afterlife. In one tomb, for example, archeologists found some 40,000 stone vessels, enough to satisfy even the most regal of mummies as well as a retinue of servants, often buried close by the pharaoh.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Creative Brainstorming

One of the most effective methods of creative thinking is brainstorming. This technique was developed in 1948 by Alex Osborne, who defined four rules:
1)      Everything can be said, since nothing will be evaluated;
2)      The more ideas expressed, the better, as in the old Chinese proverb: “to catch many fish you should cast many lines’;
3)      No idea is too exotic, too bizarre or too trivial;
4)      Any combinations, deviations and improvements on the ideas presented are desirable.
 The decisive thing with this technique is not to find exactly the right answer there can be many answers to problems but to unleash new ideas that have previously not seen considered. Every idea put on the table acts as an incentive for other group members to find a new idea themselves. The most important and most difficult rule for such as communal gathering of ideas is : no criticism! This would immediately stifle the creativity and collective thinking of the people involved in the brains storming. Also, the ideas presented need not be explained or even defended. They must only be taken down spontaneously and in rapid sequence; then, at a later stage, they can be evaluated by the entire team to find out if they are of use or not.
                 Here is an example: while searching for a zip replacement for space suits, NASA designers employed a particularly open technique of idea association. One participant would pick a word or term at random from the dictionary for example, rain forest. During the brainstorming session that followed, he had the image of walking through a rain forest with thorns getting stuck on his clothes. For the astronauts, the result was a type of fasteners in which thousands of thorn like fibers hooks into one another. The material was named Velcro, and today it is a household name.
                 When conversing with your inner adviser, you can think freely how you wish to proceed. This may appear strange to you at first, but if you try, you will soon get used to it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Mystery of the sunken city of Atlantis Part.II

In the decade that followed, more theories bubbled to the surface, placing Atlantis everywhere from Tibet to the Amazon basin to the Bahamas. But the most plausible account situated the island in the vicinity of Greece.

Modern day seismologists and volcanologists have scoured the historical record to find an event of such cataclysmic proportions that it could literally destroy an entire civilization, and the promising match occurred in an island in the Aegean Sea. Some 3500 years ago, a tremendous explosion rocked the island of Kalliste, now known as Satorini, the southern most of Cyclades Islands. The eruption had a force of 500 to 1000 atomic bombs and deposited ash over an area greater than 300000 square miles. Kalliste was an outpost of the larger island of Crete, which was then at the height of its decadence. In fact, archeologists have excavated the ruins of magnificent cities that seem to match the ones described by Plato in his dialogues. The eruption on Kalliste created tidal waves that quickly spread to Crete, destroying many of its ports, including its magnificent capital, Knossos –in its time, the largest city in the eastern Mediterranean. Crete never recovered and soon waned in power- interestingly, a trajectory of rise and fall quiet similar to that of Atlantis.

 So how did the legend emerge? In the dialogues, Critias claims he heard the tale from his great grandfather, who traces the story back to Egypt. Egyptians were not themselves a seafaring people, but they did trade extensively with Cretans and had no doubt heard tales of Crete’s grandeur. After the eruption, when the Cretan ships suddenly disappeared, it might have seemed to Egyptians as if Crete simply vanished. Ti is quite possible that over time, the idea amassed the barnacles of narrative embellishment and was transformed into the legend of the Lost City of Atlantis.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Mystery of the sunken city of Atlantis Part.I

The Mystery of the sunken city of Atlantis, lost and glittering somewhere on the ocean floor, has fascinated people for centuries. But few realize that the source of the legend isn’t some crackpot dreamer but the father of Western thought, Plato, the Greek philosopher.  Indeed, the only references to the Atlantis from antiquity occur in two of Plato’s dialogues: Critias and Timaeus. In them, Plato describes a vast island paradise, rich in metals and dotted with luxurious gardens, that existed somewhere off the coast of the Straits of Gibraltar. The city, which had conquered the surrounding regions with its mighty navy, was protected by Poseidon, the god of the sea. However, when the island’s inhabitants became corrupt and began to worship other gods, Poseidon punished them with “a single day and night misfortune in which the island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea”.

Plato reveled in allegories and fables, and some scholars- including Plato’s student, Aristotle- have speculated that the legend of Atlantis was merely a philosophical device, a way to highlight the dangers of national conceit. But some historians believe otherwise, and have searched antiquity for signs of an actual even that might correspond to this devastating cataclysm. The search reached a peak of intensity during the 15th century, the age of European exploration; any newly discovered territory was a candidate to be the Lost city. In fact when America was first discovered, many considered it Atlantis-although there was no evidence that the new world was ever submerged in water.

In fact, the United States itself has harbored more than its share of Atlantis fanatics. Congress man Ignatius Donnelly published his best selling Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in 1882, which posited that Atlantis was an island continent that existed between the Old and New worlds. Donnelly claimed that the existence of Atlantis explained the similarities between the pre Columbian civilizations of America and ancient Egyptian culture, including the building of pyramids and the 365 day years. Both cultures originated on Atlantis, said Donnelly, and moved to their respective continents when the island was submerged.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Bay of Pigs Aftermath and Operation Mongoose

Among the covert operations that the CIA arranged during the 20th century, Operation Mongoose must take the prize for peculiarity. Begun by an administration in the grip of cold war paranoia, the aim of the operation was to disrupt, defame and to ultimately depose Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba.
Castro came to power in 1959 with the promise that he would reform the 1940 constitution and undertake moderate reforms. But he had grander plans. He nationalized Cuba’s private commerce and industry institute massive land reforms and take over American agricultural estates. American officials were deeply disturbed. Enlivened by Cold war rhetoric and ideology, they had come to see the insidious spread of Communism as their main postwar concern. Castro’s Cuba was the first communist regime in the Western Hemisphere, and it was feared that he might wield influence over other Latin American Countries. In 1960, Castro signed a trade agreement with the Soviet Union, confirming all the worst American fears. In January 1961, the United States broke diplomatic ties with Cuba.
 The controversy that ensued after the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion convinced the Kennedy administration that covert acts were a far more manageable means of eroding Castro’s power than invasions, and Operation Mongoose was inaugurated. The operation was headed up by Brigadier General Edward G. Lansdale, who was famous for his propaganda warfare tactics in the Philippines. A firm believer in psychological operations (what the CIA term is PSYOP), his initial contributions to the cause were inspired. The propose operations included such as schemes as convincing the Cuban people that Castro was the anti Christ, and equally bizarre activities.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 Operation Mongoose was dismantled, but it put no end to the group’s shenanigans. The CIA continued their PSYOP planning, and in 1963, Lt. Colonel James Patchell conceived of a new plan to topple Castro – the invention of a mythical anti Castro rebel, whoem Patchell decided to call ‘The Fighting Friend’. Patchell believed that as the imaginary friend’s fame grew, other anti Castro rebels would be drawn to his cause, and eventually, when victory was certain, one of them would claim his identity.
None of the ideas were enacted. Anti Castro radio was the main form of covert action practiced by the United States.  But these broadcasts failed to foment anything close to an uprising, perhaps because of their cryptic messages. During the Bay of Pigs invasion, the American based Radio free Cuba repeatedly issued this rousing call to arms: “The fish will rise very soon.”

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Ten Lost Tribes Part.III

Europeans claimed the “natives “had Semitic features and that their language bore some phonetic similarities to Hebrew. Too, a traveler returning from South America told the rabbi in Amsterdam that the Indians in Peru practiced Jewish rituals. And after seeing his first American native, William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, declared, “I imagine myself in the Jewish Quarter of London.’
The implicit claim was that the lost tribes had somehow managed to cross the Atlantic and to pass their culture on to the native population. Similar claims linking a cultural, religious, or ethnic group to the lost tribes have been made by the Mormons, the Afghans, the Falashas of Ethiopia, the Tatars, and even by the Britons.
The most likely explanation behind the disappearance of the ten tribes is that after their exile from Israel at the hands of the Assyrians, the people of the Kingdom of Israel simply assimilated into the nearby regional cultures. This vanishing is perhaps less dramatic than an ancient crossing of the Atlantic, but in the grand view of history, just fascinating.
One of the most imaginative stories about the ten lost tribes was advanced by Eldad ha – Dan, a 9th century Jewish traveler. He claimed to have seen the lost tribes beyond the River of Sambatyon, the legendary “Sabbath River.” The river was an impassable torrent of stones, which ceased only on the Sabbath. Since for Jews, travel is proscribed on the Sabbath, the lost tribes were forever guarded behind the river. Throughout the ages, historians have sought out the location of this magical river. The Jewish historian Josephus claimed it was in Syria, and Pliny asserted it was in Judea; others searched for it in India, Africa, china, Japan and Spain. Like the Lost Ten Tribes, to this day it has never been found.

Part.I                                                                                                                                   Cont. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Ten Lost Tribes Part.II

In 732 BC, The Assyrian king Tiglath Pileser III conquered Damascus. In 722 – 721 BC, his successors, Shalmaneser V and Sargon II, defeated the northern kingdom of Israel, sending its people into exile. And then they vanished from the pages of history, seemingly without a trace. The Kingdom of Judah reminded intact.
 Although these Jews were exiled by the Babylonians in 586 BC, they were allowed to return ti their homeland by the Persian ruler Cyrus, who conquered Babylon in 539 BC. The known history of the Jews after this point is essentially that of the Kingdom of Judah, home to only two of the original twelve tribes.
The first hint of the lost tribes’ whereabouts appears in the Bible (II Kings 17:6), placing them in upper Mesopotamia. Josephus, the Jewish historian, believed they were dispersed even farther- “beyond the Euphrates.” According to another Greek text written at around the same time, the tries set off for a place called “Azareth.” But this name has not been attached to any known locations; and it is likely that it merely a corruptions of the Hebrew phrase erez aharet, meaning “another place.”
Historically, interest in the whereabout of the ten lost tribes has revived at times of disaster, when the Jewish people were in need of an inspiring legend. During the Crusades, while the Jews were suffering terrible persecution, they took hoe on the prophecy that promised the entire House of Israel would soon be reunited. New and unfamiliar land shave also frequently been suggested as they location of the lost tribes. For instance, when the New World was discovered, many explorers thought that the native people of the America where descended from one or more of the tribes.

Part.III                                                                                                                                   Cont.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Ten Lost Tribes Part.I

The exile of the ten lost tribes of Israel and their unexplained disappearance is a story shrouded in mystery, not to mention historical significance.  Until recent times, the history of the Jewish people was by and large a tale of wandering and displacement. Exiled from one land or driven by famine or persecution from another, the Jews became a diasporic nation, settling in lands throughout the world but with a steady, vigilant eye cast toward Zion. Such an uprooted culture finds great solace in stories- especially those that feature redemption, reunification, and a return to its ancestral homeland.
The legend of the ten lost tribes is perhaps the most poignant of these stories, a tale of the loss of more than three quarter of the Jewish people and of the hope that someday they will be found. In fact, the story is based more on this hoe than on any historical truth. The ten tries of Israel were indeed ‘lost’ but the secret of their disappearance is much more mundane than the fantastic tales traditionally associate with them.
The story begins with the reign of King Solomon and of his prodigal son Rehoboam, whose rule was so odious that is split Israel into two hostile kingdoms. Ten of the original twelve tribes descendants of Jacob’s sons, moved north, while the remaining two, Benjamin and Judah, established the southern kingdom of Judah. For the next 200 years, the two kingdoms squabbled and fought each other, paving the way for an enterprising king to conquer the region.

Part.II     ...      ...      ...         ...  ...     ...       ...     ...   ...    ...     ...     ...                                  Cont.                                                                                                                              

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Misquoted quotes of American History Part. II

“You can fool all the people…”
“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time may ring true, but it’s doubtful that Lincoln said it. He is supposed to have made the remark in September, 1858, in Clinton, Illinois. Lincoln was running for the Senate against Stephen Douglas, but no mention of the quote appeared in the local newspapers. A few individuals who alleged they heard the speech said they had heard him say something similar in response to a survey by the Chicago Tribune and the Brooklyn Eagle, but this was 50 years after the speech was given.
“…Of the people, by the people…”
“Government of the People, by the people, for the People shall not perish form the Earth,” said Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. But this thought was expressed in at least two prior speeches. Unitarian minister and abolitionist Theodore Parker said: “[Government] becomes more and more of all, by of all and for all.” In Daniel Webster’s words, it went this way: “the people’s government made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people.”  
“The only thing we have to fear…”

In the throes of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the American people, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ But similar statements have been attributed to other equally distinguished people and sources. A similar quote is found in the Bible, which says “Be not afraid of sudden fear.” “Closer to FDR’s idea is Montaigne’s “The thing I fear most is fear.” Francis Bacon’s “Nothing is terrible except fear itself” is also a note worth precedent, as it the Duke of Wellington’s “The only thing I am afraid of is fear” and Henry David Thoreau’s “nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”


Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Misquoted quotes of American History Part. I

American history is steeped in famous quotations, with certain noted phrases inspiring great pride in many a patriot’s heart whenever they are red or uttered. Every one recalls the words of John F. Kennedy when he proclaimed, “Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country.” However, many historical quotations are not so much remembered as mangled, misquoted, or misremembered. What is more, the more famous the quote, the more likely it was said by someone else.

“Give me Liberty or Give me Death”. Patrick Henry’s famous line is often quoted. But there’s no definitive proof that these were his words. The quote was attributed to Henry by William Wirt, his first biographer, who created so many factoids in his book that historians constantly ask the question” Is it fact or is it Wirt?’ We do know, however, that in 1765, when Henry was accused of treason, he uttered the words “If this be the treason make the most of it.” His reply, more courageous than any other speech given that year in response to the reviled stamp Act, caused a sensation. If the quote didn’t find a place in the history, it is probably because Henry apologized for his strong words.

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
                Nathan Hale is attributed with saying “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” just before he was hanged by the British at the young age of 21. But according to the journal of Captain Frederick Mackenzie, a British officer who was with Hale at his death, Hale’s last words actually were: “It is the duty of every good officer to obey any orders given him by his commander-in-chief.”
“The mass of Mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs…”

Thomas Jefferson is purported to have originated this metaphorical paean to the democratic spirit: “The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately by the grace of God.”  In fact, Jefferson must have based the remark on a speech mad by 17th century English politician Richard Rumbold. In a famous speech delivered on a scaffold in 1685, just before he was hanged, Rumbold told the assembled that he did not “believe that providence had sent a few men into the world, ready booted and spurred to ride, and millions ready saddled and bridled to be ridden.’