WOOF! Watchdogs of Our Freedom

Keeping up with the Universe (or) Why “Settled Science” needs a “New Physics!”

In "The World Turned Upside Down" forum on May 26, 2019 at 2:08 pm


In which WOOF’s editor in chief, Old Bugler, expresses his up-to-the-minute-if-frustratingly-excursive views on nothing but 100% guaranteed genuine news, mostly in the annoyingly officious third-person, as befits his station!   

 Too apolitical you say? They asked your humble editor to submit a critique of the “Green New Deal,” but he refused. Anyone more intellectually gifted than a hamster can spot the idiocies with which that particular travesty is brimful, so devoting a column to their itemization amounts to shooting fish in the proverbial barrel; unsporting, boresome–a profligate expenditure of spleen. Instead, Old Bugler sets fingers to Woodstock to peck out a review of something famously intelligent: settled science, and its handling of a topic that directly affects all of us—the universe. As every high school student would know if it weren’t for the NEA, CommonCore, and the Department of Education, the consensus among astrophysicists has, for nearly a century now, maintained that our universe started with a Big Bang and has been expanding ever since—settled science at its most immutable–and dull. But recent events have taken a turn for the dramatic.

Apparently, a majority of Americans under 35 identify the Big Bang Theory as a television comedy, rather than as an astrophysical hypothesis. Perhaps the NEA isn’t all bad.

When the universe stood still….

Einstein originally believed the universe was reliably static. In keeping with the commonsense assumption that the mutual gravitation of all matter would naturally cause the universe to contract, he speculated that we were saved from cosmic implosion by some mysterious force that counteracted the compressive impulse, thus creating stasis. In other words, the universe was stable and —pleasantly enough—eternal. Einstein called this “the cosmological constant,” and for a while, this was settled science because—well—Einstein. But Einstein, we are nowadays assured, miscalculated because, as the Encyclopedia Britannica rather snarkily asserts, “he was not well acquainted with recent work in astronomy.”

When the universe started moving…

Vesto-Slipher: discoverer of Einstein’s greatest blunder.

Einstein’s rookie error was uncovered by American astronomer Vesto M. Sliphe, after he more rigorously measured the radial velocities of spiral nebulae. (The lay reader is encouraged to accept the result as decisive–mainly in lieu of the space-consuming complexities otherwise necessary for its confirmation, and particularly because Einstein acknowledged the error, calling it–by most accounts–his “greatest blunder,” or at least the greatest one he knew about.) Many experts ignored the retraction, however, and remained wedded to the cosmological constant, persuaded, in other words, that Einstein was right before he incorrectly decided he was wrong. The universe was supposed to be static, and several astronomers went to considerable lengths to keep it that way. In 1917, the Dutch mathematician Willem de Sitter announced his own proof of a static cosmology, different from Einstein’s, by calculating  a correlation between distance and redshift. Redshift, for the dismally uninformed, refers to a phenomenon whereby electromagnetic radiation (such as light) undergoes an increase in wavelength. There is also blueshift, but most WOOF readers will immediately apprehend that redshift is better.

Willem de Sitter, explaining to Einstein why he was right all along, but for the wrong reasons.

The universe’s legal age….

In 1927 Belgian physicist Georges Lemaitre published his study of Doppler shifts of the spiral nebulae as evidence of cosmic expansion, and first postulated the Big Bang–but everyone ignored him. Lemaitre received his due only once astronomy grew less resistant to the expansionist theory, mainly after 1929 when Edwin Hubble showed a linear relationship between distance and the aforementioned redshift, from which he inferred our cosmic velocity. Hubble’s formulations were soon pronounced “Hubble’s law,” which, among other points inconsequential to this discussion, allowed Hubble to estimate the age of the universe as two billion years. This figure, being lawfully derived, enjoyed the status of settled science until other scientists with different proclivities determined that Earth itself was at least 4.5 billion years old. In that era, before the validity of two clearly contradictory findings could be simultaneously defended by evoking quantum physics, logic seemed to discommend Hubble’s Law– but no one hurried to abandon it. The fault, experts agreed, was not in Hubble’s reliance on the distance-redshift equation, but traceable in all likelihood to some glitch buried deep in his formidable computations. The Law, in other words, was correct, but would be more correct after some minor adjustments.

Georges Lemaitre, Big-Banging before anyone believed Catholic priests could do physics.

Trouble with Hubble….

Walter Baade–rethinking galactic distances.

Fortunately, in the nick of time–as it were–American astronomer Walter Baade discovered Hubble’s trouble, (the silly goose had underestimated galactic distances). Then, In 1948, Ralph Alpher’s landmark dissertation injected nuclear physics into cosmology, one consequence of which was the ascendancy of the previously underappreciated Big Bang Theory. While generative of numerous fresh insights, equations, and derivative postulates, the theory also had the unfortunate effect of requiring scientists to demonstrate how something burst forth out of nothing, which they frankly admitted they couldn’t—although they retained the theory on the premise that sooner or later they’d come up with an explanation. In the meantime, thinkers like Akash Peshin at Science ABC kept the religiomanics at bay by laughing to derision the notion that some deity had preexisted and perhaps even induced the “bang,” explaining in clear, scientific terms that, “The answer, at least right now…is… we simply don’t know. What we can say is, apparently, there is something rather than nothing.” Try to keep up, Christians.

Actual historic photo of the Big Bang, captured just as it created the universe–and they laughed at us for saving all those old LIFE magazines!

Allan Sandage said “Astronomers may have found the first effect, but not… the first cause sought by Anselm and Aquinas.” Obviously, he wasn’t smart like Akash Peshin.

By 1953, Hubble’s former assistant Allan Sandage, embarrassed, perhaps, by his boss’s misidentification of gaseous nebulae as single stars, recalculated Hubble’s formula. His results hiked the age of the universe to 3.6 billion years, still frustratingly short of the earth’s known age, meaning wrong.  Undaunted, Sandage recalculated, this time incorporating an additional (and, some thought, suspiciously-arbitrary) 1.5-fold increase which produced a more satisfactory result of 5.5 billion years. Still, many experts took exception, arguing that Sandage’s figure remained implausibly low. Decades ensued during which astronomers and astrophysicists battled over what, in fact, the “cosmic constant” really was, or ought to be, and how best to apply it to the dimensions of the cosmos. Finally, however, came the arrival of the Lambda-CDM model, ushering in a welcome era of stability during which order was restored to the turbulent cosmos–just as Edwin Hubble envisioned it–well, mutatis mutandis.

One way you can tell Hubble’s Law was correct the whole time is: They put Hubble on a postage stamp! They don’t do that unless you’re correct. For instance, there are no Immanuel Velikovsky postage stamps. Think about it!

Lambda, Lambda, Big Bang!

Highest resolution photo to date of Dark Matter in our galaxy. Did we mention you can’t actually see Dark Matter? That’s because it’s theoretic.

The Lambda CDM model recalibrated the cosmological constant by factoring in such avant-garde concepts as vacuum effects in space, dubbed “dark energy,” and their equally-theoretic counterpart, dark matter—not to mention non-baryonic dark matter (which is colder, supposedly, than garden-variety dark matter). Skipping over the complexities, the findings were summed up nicely by science writer and Chambliss Achievement Award-winning astronomer, R. Jay GaBany, who wrote: “An overwhelming weight of evidence has convinced cosmologists that the Universe came into existence at a definite moment in time, some 13.6 billion years ago, in the form of a…fireball of energetic radiation known as the Big Bang event.” (Actually, the figure more frequently given is 13.7 billion, but why quibble with a man bold enough to go on record asserting our universe began “at a definite moment in time?”) The corresponding velocity of expansion was found to be 44 miles per second per megaparsec (don’t ask), settling the precise value of the long-disputed “constant” to almost everyone’s satisfaction.

Unsettling Science from The Edge

The EDGE newspaper, breaking a cosmic bombshell! (And the “I’m on a Boat!” story looks pretty compelling, too, we think.)

And there the matter rested, or one might say settled, until one of our contributors here at WOOF forgot to bring a book with him to college. This was significant because our contributor was about to administer final exams to several sections of psychology undergrads, meaning he would need something to read while his students pondered and scribbled.  In the cafeteria lounge, he chanced upon a thin, unprepossessing tabloid titled The Edge. Upon returning to the WOOF cave, our compatriot (having by then read the issue in its entirety numerous times) tossed his crumpled copy on the desk of your humble editor, directing his attention to a specific headline. There, all the more arresting juxtaposed to such frivolities as RED SOX REPORT CARD and AVENGERS ENDGAME:THE END OF AN ERA, the headline NEW STUDY SAYS UNIVERSE YOUNGER AND EXPANDING FASTER, demanded attention, if only because it begged the question: “younger and expanding faster” than what?

No nonsense!

Your amazed editor absorbs the cosmic implications!

Readers may well imagine your editor’s amazement upon discovering that what the universe is now scientifically proven to be “faster and younger” than, is, in fact, itself.  The perceptive reader (tautology hereabouts, we think) will readily apprehend with what sense of urgency Old Bugler scanned this report, authored, (to verbify in the interest of brevity) by Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press. Apparently, and, we think admirably, The Edge holds matters of cosmic magnitude too vital to entrust to staff writers already burdened with updating “The Weekly Time Waster,” reviewing the latest production by the Penobscot Theatre Company, and reporting from the scene of Bangor’s city-wide celebration of Independent Bookstore Day—which we applaud despite being unaware (until now) of the tradition.

Congressman Nadler–if you find the close-up disturbing, bear in mind we tastefully cropped out the rest of him.

All this by way of emphasizing, this is no tall tale confected by sensation-mongering yokels to boost circulation. No indeed. This is authentic science hot from the wires, and more  important, one assumes, than the Green New Deal, or even the latest accusations from such congressional luminaries as the rhotacistically amusing Jerry Nadler.  No, my fellow Americans, these are revelations of literally cosmic significance that affect all of us—or at least all of us who don’t anticipate being dead in 12 years from climate change. Brace yourselves for what follows.

What follows….

Adam Riess–the man who totally bollixed the entire universe. Look at those beady eyes!

Either the universe is expanding faster than it used to, as the AP story maintains, or, to inject an insight that seemingly evaded writer Borenstein, it may have been expanding faster all along. Whichever the case, a new study by Nobel Prize laureate and Johns Hopkins Astronomer, Adam Riess, revealed a rate of expansion almost ten percent faster than previously supposed. This, in turn, led Riess to recalculate the universe’s age, which he found to be a billion years younger than it was when settled science believed it was older than it is now.  But if Riess’s study threatened the canonical status of Hubble’s Constant (as currently calculated), it managed to inspire a fresh consensus among astronomers, namely that his findings were unsettling.

When reality fails….

Given the shocking nature of Reiss’s data, one might expect astronomers and physicists long reliant on the Hubble Constant (often called “the most important number in cosmology”) to greet its disconfirmation with fits of introspective angst—but whether in science, or elsewhere in our vast social matrix, cognitive dissonance continues to be resolved the old fashioned way—by applying whichever intellective adjustments seem least damaging to one’s previous beliefs. In this instance, many astronomers who acknowledged the validity of Reiss’s figures, hypothesized, after carefully reviewing the previously established estimates, that while Reiss’s findings seemed unassailable, so did the calculations supporting the Hubble Constant. Amazingly, Riess agreed, telling a collection of perplexed science writers, “It’s looking more and more like we’re going to need something new to explain this.”

Psychologist Leon Festinger invented “cognitive dissonance” in 1957, and it’s been a problem ever since.

Hubble’s proof of cosmic constancy–it’s pretty straightforward, right?

Readers, by now, will have grasped your editor’s fascination with this story. Consider: When our professorial contributor turned off his bedside lamp the night before testing his university classes, the universe was contentedly broadening its circumference at the established rate of 44 miles per second—a fact confirmed only recently by Dr. Wendy Freedman’s widely acclaimed  “Hubble Space Telescope Key Project on the Extragalactic Distance Scale,” which involved a team of 28 top-notch astronomers, possibly just to name it.

As Yale’s Gruber Foundation stated  in 2009, Freedman’s work underscored the validity of “the Hubble constant, one of the most important measurements in astronomy,” because, “after a painstaking decade-long effort, the team determined the best value of the Hubble constant …enabling scientists to more accurately answer some of the most profound questions about the age, evolution, and composition of the universe.” With an air of tangible satisfaction, not to say smugness, the Grubber report concluded that astronomers could “now confidently state that the universe is approximately 14 billion years old—the same age as the oldest stars,” or as a recent article in Cosmos Magazine affirmed, “…the Hubble Constant is, as the name suggests, constant, and…the rate at which the universe is expanding is the same today as it was pretty much 14 billion years ago.” But those were the good old days.

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TIME TRAVELING LIBERALS: How They Did It–and Why They Stopped!

In Science and the Paranormal forum on October 31, 2019 at 10:49 pm

March 4, 2007, Barack Obama makes a speech in Selma, commemorating the courageous 1965 march for equality that put the obscure Alabama town on the national front page.  Obama speechifies about the bravery and historic significance of the event—no problem—but he next reveals that his parents were inspired by Selma, implies they met there, and adds: “There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So, they [his parents] got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born. So don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don’t tell me I’m not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama.” It will surprise no one, we trust, that the crowd went wild.

Candidate Bamster, 2007, after explaining to his Selma, audience that he isn’t just visiting–he’s coming home!

We hear you. “So what? We all know Obama can’t discuss anything in a public forum without inserting himself into the narrative.”  And that’s true– but less deserving of scrutiny, we submit, than the wild violations of linear time observable in the candidate’s remarks. Indeed, for Obama’s autobiographical assertions to be correct, one would have to suppose that Obama’s parents met at–or were at least inspired by–the march at Selma, married afterwards, and proceeded to make little Barack. But the future president was born–regardless of where–in 1961. That was four years before the Selma march.  Obama’s parents were divorced in 1964, a year before the march occurred. In fact, when Selma happened, they were 10,793 miles apart (father in Kenya, mother in Honolulu).

Obama’s parents at Selma? Don’t laugh–it might have just been a moment in time!

On CNN Jake Tapper summarized the event straight-facedly, reporting that Obama “credited the 1965 Selma march with his parents, a Black African father and White Kansas mother, meeting and falling in love.” Like the rest of the media, Tapper either didn’t notice, or didn’t care to notice, the speech’s glaring array of impossibilities. A few right-wing commentators and media voices took note, citing the Selma appearance as further evidence that Obama was a pathological liar. A plausible enough explanation–but was it correct? Emerging evidence suggests a dramatically different and far more disturbing explanation. The Selma speech is only one item of evidence.  Many others follow.

THE IRANIAN CONNECTION

Ali Razeghi, saying a bunch of junk the Russians told him to say?

Our story begins (if that verb retains any relevance, given our topic) in 2013, when Iran developed a rudimentary form of trans-time technology.  Deep within the humming environs of Iran’s Centre for Strategic Inventions–a secret, assault-proof, underground facility devoted to advancing science and technology in the interest of eliminating the United States, Israel, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, pop musicians, and sundry other infidels, a young scientist was engaged in developing algorithms. The scientist, Ali Razeghi, was charged with the “development and electronic reification” of cyberspacially advanced algorithms capable of out-thinking strategic planners in the Satanic West. Thus, Iran, as an emergent nuclear power, hoped to dominate battlefields and airspace in the Middle East while delivering nuclear blows to specific targets including, but not limited to, those already mentioned.

BREAKTHROUGH!

Percy Spencer, shocked to discover his Hershey bar melted in his shirt pocket.

But while tinkering with algorithmic constructs, 27-year-old Razeghi entered that pantheon of scientific immortals whose discoveries of paradigm-shifting phenomena occurred entirely by accident. Like Percy Spencer, the Raytheon Corporation engineer who accidentally melted his Hershey bar while working on a radar project, thus discovering the microwave oven, or the chemists at Pfizer who failed in their efforts to cure angina but accidentally invented Viagra, Razeghi unintentionally created an algorithmic sequence that effected an entry-level form of time travel. At first, the so called Aryayek Time Machine functioned at the level of a high-tech fortune cookie. But even in its earliest form, it predicted future events with 98 percent accuracy. When Razeghi first announced his findings, he explained, “The reason we are not launching our prototype at this stage is that the Chinese will steal the idea and produce it in millions overnight.” But that was baloney.

THE LESOVIK “SIMULATION”…

Doctor Gordey Lesovik, specializing in  methods of reversing quantum irreversability.

In Russia, physicists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, after much experimentation, succeeded in sending a quantum computer a fraction of a second into the past. At CNN, some neolithic iconoclast committed journalism, tracking down the story, verifying its authenticity, and even wrangling an interview with project’s lead physicist, Dr. Gordey Lesovik. But Lesovik downplayed the entire matter, assuring CNN’s newshound that the reported time reversal was merely “simulated,”  The reporter asked whether the “simulation” placed Russia on the cusp of developing time travel. After a telling pause, Lesovik replied, “not really,” and the reporter reverted to type, reporting Lesovik’s denial unquestioningly.

ALGORITHM, WHO COULD ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE?

Time travel has long been theorized to require an ASIC-resistant hashing algorithm. (ASIC stands for Application-Specific Integrated Circuit.) A hashing algorithm is normally associated with one-way functions, impossible to invert. However, several recent discoveries suggest that certain hashing algorithms contain the potential for reversal. Physicists have hypothesized that the proper hashing algorithm could make visiting the past a reality–but the number of potentially useful algorithms was calculated at nearly four-hundred thousand.  If one such algorithm could be isolated and proven effective, Doctor Lesovik’s “simulation” could become reality. Restated metaphorically, Lesovik built the car, but without a key it was useless. Moreover, the quest for the key algorithm promised to be agonizingly complex– until Iran went public with its own time-travel story.

BACK TO IRAN!

The Russians learned of the device through press reports. It seems the Mullahs didn’t consider it a security issue and announced it publicly as a means of highlighting Iranian science. In Moscow, the news was viewed with intense interest, particularly at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Confidence was building that Razehghi, whilst seeking an algorithm by which to thwart Western arms superiority, had blundered into the “golden” hash algorithm essential to making Doctor Lesovik’s time-travel dreams come true.  Moscow quickly contacted Tehran about the significance of the matter, and maximum secrecy was imposed.  Razeghi’s plans to commercialize his discovery were quashed and disinformation released to the effect that his prototype was under wraps for fear the Chinese would merchandise the technology. Meanwhile, Razeghi, and his technology, were flown to Moscow for a tête-à-tête with Russian physicists. Insights gained were further augmented by research already in Lesovik’s possession, dating from 1987. That year, substantial advances in time-travel technology were achieved by another Russian: Vadim Chernobrov. Chernobrov claimed his machine could slow or speed up the course of time by manipulating Earth’s magnetic field, and his research proved a vital addition to the Russian/Iranian project. The combined technologies placed the manipulation of time within Lesovik’s grasp.

BREAKING “THE ARROW OF TIME!”

Once Ali’s algorithm met Gordey’s reversal technology, and combined with Chernobrov’s discoveries– the only thing missing was Rod Taylor!

The first test of the hybridized Russian prototype pitted it against Sir Arthur Eddington’s 1927 postulate, commonly known as “the arrow of time hypothesis.” Eddington argued that the asymmetry of time–its inherent irreversibility–was immutable, making visitations to the past scientifically impossible. Well before the first operational test of the Russian device, physicists were beginning to suspect Eddington was wrong. Arguing that nothing in Einsteinian theory precludes time travel, several physicists around the globe published fresh ideas on how it could be accomplished.  In fact, considerable evidence indicates the Russian machine, albeit somewhat sporadically and unpredictably, was capable of travel into the past by 2014.  According to rumor, one of the earliest “chrononauts” on these experimental voyages was Vladimir Putin, who is said to have visited several historical eras. Photos purporting to document Putin’s rovings have circulated on the dark web for years. Early experiments performed with the Gordey/Razeghi machine persuaded even hardcore Eddington supporters that time, as we conventionally define it, is manipulable, and because time manipulation makes almost anything possible almost any time, linear continuity became an obsolete concept.

CLOSING THE TIME GAP!

Reports of the Iranian/Russian time-travel project soon leaked out of Moscow and Tehran. These leaks, combined with a number of confirmatory NSA intercepts, found their way to the Oval Office. According to various accounts, President Obama was instantly captivated, and (somewhat uncharacteristically) given to expound protractedly on the dangers of time-traveling Russians. Shortly, a presidential order went out to CIA Director John Brennan, which stated, in essence: Take a break from harassing your agency’s Benghazi survivors, and focus on closing the time-travel gap!

Putin, among Russia’s first Chrononauts?–evidence leaked from the Motherland.

TIME FOR THE CIA!

CIA Director “Smilin’ John” Brennan–Assignment: Steal time!

To hasten the plot forward, and also because we are not privy to the exact details, suffice it that at some point in transit from Moscow to its intended base deep inside Yamantau mountain in the Beloretsky District of the Urals, the Russian prototype went missing. Following the usual number or summary executions and prolonged interrogations, suspicion narrowed to the American CIA, who were, in fact, responsible.  Evidently, the Russian prototype, once liberated from its owners, traversed Northwestern Russia by riverboat, emigrated to Finland via a specially designed drone, and thence overland to the port of Helsinki. The package left Helsinki listed as refrigerator parts on a cargo ship’s manifest. After a midnight transfer to the nuclear submarine New Hampshire, the purloined prototype was transported to the naval facility at Norfolk, Virginia.  From Norfolk, of course, it was a quick hop to CIA headquarters at Langley, where the Agency’s Directorate of Science and Technology began analyzing the device.

The New Hampshire— delivering the package.

ADMITTEDLY, MISTAKES WERE MADE…. 

While the heist itself went flawlessly, the CIA plan to suborn or kidnap scientists and technicians familiar with the Russian machine’s handling characteristics failed utterly, for reasons that remain obscure. Confronted with this setback, the CIA assembled a team of American and British scientists whose research closely paralleled Lesovik’s. But despite the international brain trust’s best efforts, America’s first experiments with time travel proved dicey.  Several early missions into the past are said to have gone shockingly awry.  Details remain unavailable, but multiple sources agree that initial missteps by the Agency resulted in nightmarish consequences.

ON THE WHOLE, I’D RATHER BE IN PHILADELPHIA…

A photo of the machine assembled aboard a Navy escort vessel in 1943 meant to render the ship invisible. Clearly observable are a pair of melons used for experimentation. Seventy-one years later, the CIA skipped the melons.

Evidently, the fates of the first CIA chrononauts bore a striking resemblance to what allegedly befell the crew of an American destroyer escort during the notorious “Philadelphia Experiment” of October 3rd, 1943. According to numerous researchers, this project combined Einstein’s unified field theory with Tesla’s advances in space-time manipulation, in an effort to render a warship invisible. According to histories of the event, the ship not only became invisible, but also transported itself ten minutes into the past, returned, and bi-located to several additional moorings before the test could be halted. Supposedly, the effort wrought devastating effects on the ship’s complement. Some were described as “fused to bulkheads” while others seemed to shift between fragmentary temporal states, materializing and dematerializing at intervals.

Despite the fact that it was written by Charles Berlitz and William Moore, many readers take this book seriously.

WOOF hastens to add that substantial evidence indicates the so-called Philadelphia experiment never happened. That said, an equally substantial body of supportive reportage, testimony, research, books, films, and photos, argue the contrary case. We review the matter here without regard to its historic validity–which we neither dismiss nor maintain–because sources we deem reliable describe the ramifications of botched time-travel as “almost identical to those reported following the Philadelphia Navy Yard incident of 1943.” Obviously, the CIA required help, and the Russians weren’t offering any.

TIME FOR BIGELOW….

Elusive billionaire Robert Bigelow–because who wants to look at Harry Reid?

Confronted with his team’s inability to work out the complexities of “retrogression and retrieval,” as they called it, Director Brennan consulted President Obama, who in turn consulted then-Senate-Majority Leader Harry Reid, who in turn reached out to his friend, Robert Thomas Bigelow. The reclusive billionaire, hotel magnate, real-estate mogul, and founder of Bigelow Aerospace, wasted no time referring the matter to his best thinkers. Soon, a group of physicists, mathematicians, and experts on electromagnetism was detached from duties at Aerospace, and reassigned to the CIA time project.  According to sources, the Aerospace scientists proved invaluable in adjusting the project’s time-penetrative characteristics. The result seemed to be a technology capable of retrogressing or projecting individuals through time, and retrieving them safely.  It may well be imagined, therefore, with what astonishment the CIA’s team greeted news that despite so many promising advances, the project was cancelled.  

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An Evening with Karl Marx: In Which “the Moore” agrees to be Interviewed, Postmortem.

In "I only read WOOF for the interviews!" forum on July 18, 2019 at 8:50 pm

Prologue:
Following our embarrassment back in 2013 [viewable here] when he persuaded us to go ahead with a story based on his psychic surety that Obama’s presidency was doomed to collapse that very year, (which our historically adroit readers will recall it did not), we at WOOF severed ties with our long-time official psychic, Dr. Gootensteiner Johannes Walters, resident of beautiful, historic, Zug, Switzerland,(nestled against the breathtaking azure placidity that is Lake Zug) and for quite some time WOOF’s official seer, prophesier and mystic, was banned from these pages, relieved even of his editorship of ODD, WOOF’s fabled Occult Divination Division, now expertly overseen by Grayson Moseley Straith as part of his duties as editor of our Science and the Paranormal forum.

Doctor Walters

Recently, however, Dr. Walters approached us with an exciting proposal. Reminding us of his (admittedly somewhat innervating) skills as a necromancer and a medium par excellence, he offered us exclusive rights to one of the most astonishing interviews ever conducted—and with the interviewee of cur choice. Why, you may ask, (or may not, we don’t pretend to know) would such an interview provoke astonishment? Because, Goot insisted, it could be with anyone we cared to name–so long as the interviewee was dead. As you might surmise, considerable debate ensued in the WOOF Cave as to whether the Doctor’s proposal was too bizarre to pursue, and simultaneously, concerning which dead person should be chosen in the event we proceeded. We agreed to rule out religious figures because Dr. Walters caused us enough trouble with his Obama predictions, and we knew all too well his methods often affronted orthodox sensibilities–ours included. But after bruiting about several possibilities, we settled on a preference–and in so doing, essentially acquiesced to the project.

Given his tremendous influence on nearly every Democrat presidential contender approaching 2020, the faith placed in his teachings by waves of millennials, his pervasive influence on our entertainment industry (rhetorically, that is, although never practically), and his largely unsung but near total dominance of higher education, we decided on Karl Marx. A fortnight elapsed, and we received word from Goot [Dr. Walters] that the interview was arranged, and that only two conditions obtained: We could ask no more than 20 questions, and we could only send one interviewer. We agreed, and prepared to dispatch a staffer to Switzerland.

Beautiful downtown Zug, Switzerland.

Alex arrives in Zug.

Alex arrives in Zug.

We initially chose a Woofette who was fluent in German. But economic expediency took over once Dr. Walters assured us Marx spoke quite understandable English, on which basis we reassigned the interview to junior-assistant Tech-Elf Alex, because he was already booked on a flight to Bern for entirely unrelated purposes. While this proved a budgetary blessing, it meant handing the responsibility for the interview to a callow youth of 20, whose relative inexperience was worrisome. This in mind, we supplied Alex with a list of 20 questions for Marx, although. in the event, this method met with only partial success.

The redoubtable Mrs. Heffelfinger

It is young Alex’s unshakable testimony and firm belief that he witnessed the shade of Karl Marx summoned in the candlelit ambiance of Dr. Walters’s Victorian parlor,snugged in Zug’s Old Town district at the foot of beautiful Mount Zug. There, at twilight, May 1, 2019, Alex insists he interacted with the ghostly presence of “The Moore,” Karl Marx, and addressed him directly, Unhelpfully, Dr. Walters lapsed into a trance (also observed by Alex) and remembers nothing of the event after Marx’s materialization. The only additional witness apart from Dr. Walters’s cats, Rudolf and Helena, was his loyal secretary of several decades, Mrs. Heffelfinger, who confirmed Marx’s appearance—and who dutifully transcribed the dialogue between Alex and the ghostly presence, she being adept at shorthand, and fluent in English.

What follows, then, is what we believe may well constitute a record of a phenomenal event–an interview conducted by Tech Elf Alex. (last name withheld in deference to his WOOF affiliation and consequent anonymity) and the legendary founder of the sociopolitical-cum-historical philosophy generally known as COMMUNISM! We invite you to judge for yourselves. –Editors

Dr. Walters's study in Zug, scene of interview.

Dr. Walters’s study in Zug, scene of interview.

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Alex: Doctor Marx, I can see you—at least I guess it’s you—you look kind of like Brahms.

Marx: Young man, I am most definitely not Brahms—I am, as you clearly perceive, Karl Marx: philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist, New York Tribune columnist, author of Das Kapital, and revolutionary. Brahms was a composer, and I cannot possibly discuss aesthetics in fewer than six or seven lectures, except to be dismissive of Wagner. You are not an admirer of his, I hope?

Alex: Uh—not really….

Marx: I should hope not. His romanticism in the service of what amounts to a total falsification of primitive times is intolerable. Also, it’s nationalistic propaganda—which is a betrayal of the potential of the musical arts. Brahms? You said Brahms? I prefer Beethoven, Mozart, and Handel. Engels liked Wagner; can you believe it? I couldn’t cure him of it!

By way of comparison, Johannes Brahms. Maybe Alex had a point, but not much of one.

Alex: Okay.

Marx: You also don’t need to call me “doctor,” I am not reliant on such elitist honorifics.

Alex: Okay. I’m sorry—I thought I read where you were in the Doctors’ club, or…

Marx: The Docktors Club? Ha! That club was for students! I joined while I was convalescing in Stralau—having been diagnosed with a weak chest. It was a good group of young scholars devoted to the philosophy of Hegel—are you familiar with Hegel’s works?

Alex: Well, I….

Marx: They say I plagiarized Hegel—can you plagiarize a man whose thought you amplified to cover the entire span of socioeconomic oppression through the ages, and in greater detail than his philosophies ever touched upon? So did you say you are familiar with Hegel?

Alex: Well, no, ….I…

Marx: No? You must begin at once—pick up his Science of Knowledge, young man—but be warned, his metaphysics are deficient and mystical to a fault—No, it is his pure theory of dialectics you must grasp—because it will assist you in grasping my own theory of dialectical materialism.

Alex: The dialectical part—that’s what they say you sort of stole….

Marx: Liars! That is the part I perfected and trimmed of its gauzy esotericism! It formed the perfect backbone of my thinking—it permitted me to demonstrate the inevitability of the revolution of the proletariat, not to mention….

Hegel–who regardless of the dialectics controversy, doesn’t seem to resemble Brahms at all.

Alex: So I’m sorry, I didn’t know you weren’t really a doctor– and as for the revol–

Marx: Did I say I wasn’t? I said I abjure such bourgeois titles. If you must know, then, I earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1841 from the University of Berlin. Quite an accomplishment, by the way, given that even then the bourgeois state and its functionaries in the academy were set against me—determined as they were to obstruct any scholar who embraced Hegelian dialectics as a revolutionary philosophy! Also, I must admit I was pretty drunk most of the time in those days, which marginally impeded my—

Alex: Drunk? I never thought of you as–

Marx: Well of course, I overcame that defect. Mostly. But at the time I was somewhat prone to the bottle, and prone to getting into quarrels about philosophy, politics, religion, society—yes, I was quite outspoken. One might even say insolent. Back in Bonn I was tossed in jail for drinking and disturbing the peace. That’s also when I fought that duel.

Alex: I didn’t know you were ever in a duel!

Marx: Almost two of them–even three. The first time, I was drunk enough to show up—and the martinet who challenged me nearly killed me—he nicked the side of my eye—so, of course, I missed him completely. The other time was in England—I was supposed to duel someone on behalf of Engels, but I didn’t show up—why risk it, given the importance of my survival to the workers of the world? And just as a point of history, I was challenged also to a third duel by some idiot Prussian named Willich.  I declined, but a friend dueled Willich on my behalf and was wounded for his troubles. Anyway, after the dueling got out of hand, my father enrolled me at the University of Berlin because he wanted me to study law.

Karl Marx, reluctant gunfighter.

Alex: So, I guess you learned about law at that point…

Marx: Law? The law is mask for the enrichment of the holders of the means of production! The invalid erection of statutes serving only to protect bourgeois property…which is improperly called property, but never fear! The very autocracy that creates the chimera of law shall prove the means by which communism advances. It’s dialectically inevitable, but since you don’t understand dialectics, I suppose there’s no point in my continuing. Anyway, yes, I received a degree in law—big deal–a reward from the bourgeoisie for imbibing the juridical pretexts empowering the ruling class!

Alex: But I—I’d like to know about…

Marx: About how I evolved my critique of the bourgeoisie? Of course! It depended a lot on where I was, because I got thrown out of a lot of places. I think one of my first breakthroughs was in France—there was this guy, Bruno Bauer, a Hegelian and a mentor to me in the early days—you’ve heard of him?

Alex: Umm…possibly not—

Marx: No matter. Bauer is unimportant, except as a transitional figure whose misconceptions found antithesis in my correct ones. I first noticed he was wrong about Jews—he wrote this completely absurd tract about how Jews could become politically emancipated in Prussia—but he didn’t understand Jews at all—he failed to grasp that Jews are not understandable in a religious context—they can only be understood economically.

Bruno Bauer,–getting Jews all wrong, apparently even Jesus.

Alex:: Really?

Marx: Is that your first question?

Alex: No, no—I just meant, I always thought part of being Jewish was religion—maybe—

Marx: Ach, you’re as hopeless as Bauer! The real Jew is not understood through his religion, but rather by the real secret of his religion!

Alex: You mean, like—the Kabbalah?

Marx: Ach, that is such a stupid question, I won’t count it either. No, of course not—mysticism and transcendence are absurdities—they can never lead to truth—they only distort it in order to make it seem bearable to the masses—they are a principal tool of oppression!! The secret of the Jew, as I wrote in my essay–which you obviously haven’t read–is his practical need, his racial self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering! What is his worldly God? Money! His god is only an illusory bill of exchange…. The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general…of capitalism! And then, I ended with this really snappy line, where I explained that in the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism! A little dialectical humor, get it?

Alex: But aren’t you Jewish?

Marx: All right, hold it right there, my young friend! Your inappropriate fixation on my lineage is irrelevant to matters fit for philosophical discussion, but since you’ve introduced the subject, let me just say, for your information, neither of my parents was a Jew!

Alex: Really? I–

Marx: Really! They both converted to Protestantism! And I? I, sir, was baptized Lutheran!

Karl Marx, lifelong Lutheran–nevertheless keeping company here with a well known Jew.

Alex: So–umm–

Marx: I can show you Jews, young man! Take that embarrassment to the socialist cause, that ignoramus Lassalle—

Alex: Who? Or wait—did that count as a question?

Marx: It certainly does not count as a question, for the simple reason that Lassalle doesn’t count as a human being—that repulsive combination of Jewry and negroid substance—that’s what I called him, and rightly so!

Alex:: I’m confused—he was Black, this Lassalle guy….but he was–

Marx: Not entirely, but you could see it in him—not just his simian cranial shape, either! His pushiness was also [N-word deleted]-like…

Ferdinand Lassalle–called “simian” by the Interviewee… not by us!

Alex: Oh! Uh, sir…sir, I think we have a policy against racist terminology, I don’t know if…

Marx: Das ist blödsinn! Your corporate overseers may indulge themselves in all the bourgeois conventions they like, young man, but you will find my remarks on Lassalle quoted in all the most important compendia of history’s great thoughts and thinkers! They wouldn’t dare deny my voice– and I was quite vocal about Lassalle! It was completely clear to me that he, as is proved by his cranial formation and his hair, descended from–very well–let us simply say Negroes, isn’t that the current bourgeois idiom?.

Alex: Uh—not really, but meanwhile, you were telling me how you came up with Communism.

Marx: Well! First, let us define our terms, since philology is essential to intellectual accuracy—that is, once relieved of capitalist distortions and falsities—so, in the interest of linguistic clarity, Communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes and money.

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