Tag: Stonehenge

Celestial certainties

Our December Solstice

I deliberately planned for this post to be published at the precise moment, in Pacific Time that is, when the solstice occurs.

Welcome to the shortest day of 2016.

Winter Solstice at the Stonehenge Monument in Southern England.
Winter Solstice at the Stonehenge Monument in Southern England.

I am now republishing much of what appeared on the EarthSky blog a few days ago.

Late dawn. Early sunset. Short day. Long night. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. Meanwhile, on the day of the December solstice, the Southern Hemisphere has its longest day and shortest night. This special day is coming up on Wednesday, December 21 at 10:44 UTC (December 21 at 4:44 a.m. CST). No matter where you live on Earth’s globe, a solstice is your signal to celebrate.

Want to know what time it is where you are living?

When is the solstice where I live? The solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. In 2016, the December solstice comes on December 21 at 4:44 a.m. CST. That’s on December 21 at 10:44 Universal Time. It’s when the sun on our sky’s dome reaches its farthest southward point for the year. At this solstice, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night of the year.

To find the time in your location, you have to translate to your time zone. Click here to translate Universal Time to your local time.

World Time Zones
World Time Zones

Roll on Summer!

Footnote:

This morning I read an interesting set of facts about the Solstice over on the Mother Nature Network. It included this:

The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium, meaning “point at which the sun stands still.” Since when has the sun ever moved?! Of course, before Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (aka “super smartypants”) came up with the ‘ol heliocentric model, we all figured that everything revolved around the Earth, sun included. Our continued use of the word “solstice” is a beautiful reminder of just how far we’ve come and provides a nice opportunity to give a tip of the hat to great thinkers who challenged the status quo.

Moments in history

You can blame John Zande for today’s post!

John left an intriguing question as a comment to yesterday’s post.

Oh to have a time machine!

Tell me, Paul, if you did have one, a time machine, what three moments in history would you visit?

It really grabbed Jean and me and we spent quite a few minutes during the day kicking around ideas. At first, it was easy just to do a web search on epic moments in history and see if any of them related to me. But that seemed too easy. So I have picked three that do connect with my life.

  1. May 8th, 1945

I was born on November 8th, 1944. I was born in North London (Acton). It was the period of the Second World War when the V2 rockets were landing all around. Take, for example, the incident just eleven days after my birth, when on the 19th November, 1944 a V2 landed in Wandsworth causing much damage and many fatalities around Hazlehurst Road and Garratt Lane. Spend a moment reviewing who died, and their ages, in that bombing.

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So I was precisely six months old when the armistice was announced on May 8th, 1945. As Wikipedia describes it:

Victory in Europe Day, generally known as V-E Day, VE Day or simply V Day was the public holiday celebrated on 8 May 1945 (7 May in Commonwealth realms) to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces.[1] It thus marked the end of World War II in Europe.

On 30 April, Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin. Germany’s surrender, therefore, was authorised by his successor, Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz. The administration headed by Dönitz was known as the Flensburg Government. The act of military surrender was signed on 7 May in Reims, France and on 8 May in Berlin, Germany.

I would have loved to witness, by being in the crowd that day, the King and Queen acknowledging the end of the war in Europe.

tdih-may08-HD_still_624x352
May 8, 1945: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, with Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, are joined by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Nevertheless, that day in May, 1945 has been memorable for me for all of my life. Because my mother, who is still alive today, aged 96, (still living in London but spending Christmas with my sister in Cape Town, by the way), held me in her arms and said aloud: “My dear Paul, you are going to live!” I grew up with those loving words deeply rooted within me.

2. Stonehenge – too many moons ago!

For reasons that I am not entirely clear about, I have always been fascinated by the stars. From the point of view of using the stars to help me navigate strange parts of the world, both on land and at sea. I grew up regarding Polaris, the North Star, almost as a companion. Later in my life when sailing solo from Gibraltar to The Azores, a distance of just under 1,150 nautical miles, on a Tradewind 33 yacht, despite having an early GPS unit it was backup to me using a sextant to maintain (some) awareness of my position.

Tradewind 33 - Songbird of Kent. My home for five years.
Tradewind 33 – Songbird of Kent. My home for five years.

(Reminds me of a anecdote when I was crewing on a privately-owned East Coast Essex fishing smack. I was asking Bill, the owner, why he always laid his thumb on the position on the chart in response to the question, “Where are we?” Bill’s reply: “That’s as accurate as anyone can be!”)

In 1969, when I was driving across the desert plains of Australia, often with inhabited places more than a 150-mile radius away (the Simpson Desert especially coming to mind) the Southern Cross seemed to keep me grounded and remind me that I was making progress.

Back when I was living just outside Totnes in South Devon, my frequent drives up to London along the A303 took me past Stonehenge in Wiltshire.

The December solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. This year the solstice occurs on Tuesday December 22nd at 04:49 GMT (Universal time) with the sun rising over Stonehenge in Wiltshire at 08:04.
The December solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. This year the solstice occurs on Tuesday December 22nd at 04:49 GMT (Universal time) with the sun rising over Stonehenge in Wiltshire at 08:04.

THE EARLIEST MONUMENT

It is possible that features such as the Heel Stone and the low mound known as the North Barrow were early components of Stonehenge,[3] but the earliest known major event was the construction of a circular ditch with an inner and outer bank, built about 3000 BC. This enclosed an area about 100 metres in diameter, and had two entrances. It was an early form of henge monument.[4]

Within the bank and ditch were possibly some timber structures and set just inside the bank were 56 pits, known as the Aubrey Holes. There has been much debate about what stood in these holes: the consensus for many years has been that they held upright timber posts, but recently the idea has re-emerged that some of them may have held stones.[5]

Within and around the Aubrey Holes, and also in the ditch, people buried cremations. About 64 cremations have been found, and perhaps as many as 150 individuals were originally buried at Stonehenge, making it the largest late Neolithic cemetery in the British Isles.[6]

Taken from here.

I would have loved being present at Stonehenge when the builders finally were able to stand back and see the Sun “speak” to them at the first Solstice after that point in its construction.

It seems to me to be a most magical place yet Stonehenge offers a mathematical and rhythmic foundation to that magic.

3. First man into space – 12th April, 1961

It was, of course, Yuri Gagarin, who made the first complete orbit of Planet Earth in space.

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin

I would have given anything to be in his seat (and suit). For to look out and see our planet as a small object in an enormous outer space would have to change one’s perception of almost everything; for evermore.

exo-planet-earth-from-space

My wish for the New Year is that we recognise our place both in history and on our Planet Earth, and care for it as the sole, beautiful home that we have.

Now that global recognition would be a moment in history that I would want to experience before I die!

(Thanks John for inspiring me to jot down these thoughts!)

 

Our Winter Solstice.

Is the moment of publishing this post.

I thought it would make a nice change to publish tomorrow’s post a little earlier than usual. To be precise to publish it on Dec. 22, at 04:48, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Or in our local Pacific Standard Time (PST) UTC-8 hrs or 20:48 Dec. 21., i.e. 20:48 on the evening of the 21st December. (I am seeing the exact time being declared as 04:48 or 04:49 UTC depending on what you read.)

Granted that the Northern Hemisphere tends to deliver the worst of the Winter weather after the shortest day, it still is good to know that for the next six months, the hours of daylight, in the Northern Hemisphere, will be increasing.

My inclination to write a post on the topic was greatly influenced by a most beautiful post over on Val Boyco’s blogsite. It was called And Winter Came.  Here’s the video that Val included in her post.

Isn’t that a most beautiful few minutes!

Impossible to top that!

But I can continue including an informative item that was published over on Mother Nature News, and is republished here within the terms of MNN.

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8 things to know about the winter solstice

From when it happens to why, here’s your crash course on the shortest day of the year.

By: Melissa Breyer, December 18, 2015

Hello, winter. (Photo: psynovec/Shutterstock)
Hello, winter. (Photo: psynovec/Shutterstock)

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night,” quipped Steve Martin – and indeed, even a day with less sunshine can feel a bit dark. Our world depends on the light radiating from that big star we traipse around, and when it’s in short supply, we feel it. But if you count yourself amongst those who don’t love waking up before the sun rises and getting off work after it has set, things are about to lighten up. Hello, winter solstice!

Although winter is really just beginning, we can at least say goodbye to these short little days we’ve been suffering (and don’t let the door hit you on the way out). With that in mind, here’s a collection of curious facts to celebrate the long-awaited return to longer days.

1. There are actually two winter solstices every year


It’s sometimes easy to be hemisphere-o-centric, but the other side of the planet gets a winter solstice too. With the planet’s orbit tilted on its axis, Earth’s hemispheres swap who gets direct sun over the course of a year. Even though the Northern Hemisphere is closer to the sun during the winter, it’s the tilt away from the sun that causes cold temperatures and less light — which is when the Southern Hemisphere is toasty. So while our winter solstice is on Dec. 21 or 22, the Southern Hemisphere celebrates the same on June 21 or 22.

Here’s how that looks from space (kind of):

2. The winter solstice happens in the blink of an eye


Although the solstice is marked by a whole day on the calendar, it’s actually just the brief moment when the sun is exactly over the Tropic of Capricorn that the event occurs.

3. Which is why it happens on different days in the same year

What? Yes! In 2015, the solstice happens on Dec. 22, at 04:49 on the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) time clock, the time standard that the world regulates its hours by. Which means any location that is at least five hours behind UTC should break out the party hats on Dec. 21. For example, in the United States the winter solstice happens on Dec. 21 at 11:49 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The rest of the time zones can welcome longer days beginning on the 22nd.

4. It’s the first day of winter … or it’s not, depending on whom you ask

Meteorologists consider the first day of winter to be Dec. 1, but ask an astronomer — or just about anyone else — and they’ll likely answer that the winter solstice marks the start of the season. There are two ways to look at it: meteorological seasons and astronomical seasons. Meteorological seasons are based on the annual temperature cycle, explains NOAA, while astronomical seasons are based on the position of the Earth in relation to the sun.

5. It’s a time of gloriously long shadows

Shadows are at their playful best on the solstice. (Photo: Mike Page/flickr)
Shadows are at their playful best on the solstice. (Photo: Mike Page/flickr)

If you’re inclined to take pleasure in the little things, like shadows that seem cast from a funhouse mirror, then the winter solstice is the time for you. It’s now that the sun is at its lowest arc across the sky and thus, shadows from its light are at their longest. (Imagine a flashlight directly above your head and one hitting you from the side, and picture the respective shadows.) And in fact, your noontime shadow on the solstice is the longest it will be all year. Relish those long legs while you can.

6. Full solstice moons are rarer than blue ones

Since 1793, the full moon has only occurred on the winter solstice 10 times, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The last one was in 2010, which was also a lunar eclipse! The next full moon on a winter solstice won’t be until 2094.

7. There’s a Christmas connection

Since Christ wasn’t issued a birth certificate, there’s no record of the date when he was supposed to have been born. Meanwhile, humans have been celebrating the winter solstice throughout history — the Romans had their feast of Saturnalia, early German and Nordic pagans had their yuletide celebrations. Even Stonehenge has connections to the solstice. But eventually Christian leaders, endeavoring to attract pagans to their faith, added Christian meaning to these traditional festivals. Many Christmas customs, like the Christmas tree, can be directly traced to solstice celebrations.

8. It’s a reminder to thank Copernicus

Will the real Saint Nick please step forward? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Will the real Saint Nick please step forward? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium, meaning “point at which the sun stands still.” Since when has the sun ever moved?! Of course, before Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (aka “super smartypants”) came up with the ‘ol heliocentric model, we all figured that everything revolved around the Earth, sun included. Our continued use of the word “solstice” is a beautiful reminder of just how far we’ve come and provides a nice opportunity to give a tip of the hat to great thinkers who challenged the status quo.

And now go have some hot cocoa. Happy winter!

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Only one way to close. That is with this picture of the sun perfectly aligned with the stones at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK at the moment of the Winter Solstice.

The December solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. This year the solstice occurs on Tuesday December 22nd at 04:49 GMT (Universal time) with the sun rising over Stonehenge in Wiltshire at 08:04.
The December solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. This year the solstice occurs on Tuesday December 22nd at 04:49 GMT (Universal time) with the sun rising over Stonehenge in Wiltshire at 08:04.

Stay safe and warm wherever you are.

The next post from Learning from Dogs will be published at 00:00 PST Wednesday, 23rd December.

Picture parade one hundred and one.

Welcome to the Summer Solstice!

(And grateful for the technology giving me a window in which to write and post this.)

Only one way to open this week’s picture parade!

Rising sun over the Heel Stone at Stonehenge on the dawn  of the Summer Solstice.
Rising sun over the Heel Stone at Stonehenge on the dawn of the Summer Solstice.

Now to the second set of pictures under the theme of

Hiding in Plain Sight

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Danny9

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Danny10

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Danny11

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Danny12

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Danny13

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Danny14

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Danny15

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Danny16
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Yet another set of these incredible pictures in a week’s time; technology notwithstanding!

Ancient rhythms.

The Winter Solstice.

I’m breaking the pattern of publishing a new post at midnight, Pacific Time, (08:00 UTC) because it seemed like fun to publish Monday’s post at the moment of the Winter Solstice; namely Sunday, December 21 at 23:03 UTC (15:03 PST).

There is no doubt in my mind that everyone is familiar with the Winter Solstice being the moment when the planet has perfect opposites, in terms of light and darkness, as the following image shows so clearly.

Day and night sides of Earth at the instant of the December 2014 solstice (2014 December 21 at 23:03 Universal Time). Note that the north polar region of Earth must endure 24 hours of night, while the south polar region gets to bask in 24 hours of daylight. Image credit: Earth and Moon Viewer
Day and night sides of Earth at the instant of the December 2014 solstice (2014 December 21 at 23:03 Universal Time). Note that the north polar region of Earth must endure 24 hours of night, while the south polar region gets to bask in 24 hours of daylight. Image credit: Earth and Moon Viewer

What may not be so well-known is that it occurs within about two-and-a-half hours of the new moon.

From times immemorial, early peoples on Earth knew much about the sun and the seasons, the length of daylight, and how the direction of the sunrise and sunset all shifted in a regular way throughout the year. As an Englishman, who in past times frequently drove the A303 road between London and Exeter, going past the ancient site of Stonehenge was always wonderful. Many are familiar with the sun rising during the Summer Solstice over the Heel Stone but far fewer realise that Stonehenge also marks the sun’s dawning the morning after the Winter Solstice.

winter-solstice-stonehenge
The shortest day is behind us.

 

The English Heritage website Discover Stonehenge is brim full of facts and information so won’t ‘copy and paste’ from one to the other! Suffice to say that what we see today was completed about 3500 years ago.

However, it seems as though the ancient site is still delivering new surprises.  I write this simply because just a few days ago, on the 19th December, 2014, the BBC reported:

Stonehenge dig finds 6,000-year-old encampment

Archaeologists found the encampment during a dig at Blick Mead near Stonehenge
Archaeologists found the encampment during a dig at Blick Mead near Stonehenge

Archaeologists working on a site near Stonehenge say they have found an untouched 6,000-year-old encampment which “could rewrite British history”.

David Jacques, from the University of Buckingham, made the discovery at Blick Mead in October, and said the carbon dating results had just been confirmed.

But he also raised concerns about possible damage to the site over plans to build a road tunnel past Stonehenge.

The Department of Transport said it would “consult before any building”.

The Blick Mead site is about 1.5 miles (2.4km) from Stonehenge and archaeologists said “scientifically tested charcoal” dug up from the site had “revealed that it dated from around 4000 BC”.

The archaeologists found burnt flints, remains of animals and tools
The archaeologists found burnt flints, remains of animals and tools

David Jacques said the dig had also found “evidence of feasting” including burnt flints, tools and remains of giant cattle, known as aurochs, which were eaten by early hunter gatherers.

Mr Jacques said: “British pre-history may have to be rewritten. This is the latest dated Mesolithic encampment ever found in the UK.

“Blick Mead site connects the early hunter gatherer groups returning to Britain after the Ice Age to the Stonehenge area, all the way through to the Neolithic in the late 5th Millennium BC.

“But our only chance to find out about the earliest chapter of Britain’s history could be wrecked if the tunnel goes ahead.”

Archaeologists said the latest carbon date suggested it was continuously occupied between 7500-4000 BC
Archaeologists said the latest carbon date suggested it was continuously occupied between 7500-4000 BC

Andy Rhind-Tutt, a former mayor and current chairman of Amesbury Museum, which part-funded the dig, said the discovery could “provide what archaeologists have been searching for centuries – the answer to the story of the pre-history of Stonehenge.”

Earlier this month, the government announced funding for a 1.8-mile (2.9km) tunnel to remove congestion from the main road past Stonehenge.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “As with any road scheme, we will consult with interested parties before any building begins on the A303.

“English Heritage and National Trust are supportive of our plans, and we will ensure sites of cultural or historical significance are safeguarded as we progress with the upgrade.”

The A303 past Stonehenge is a highly congested route.
The A303 past Stonehenge is a highly congested route.

So as the planet and the sun continue their dance to a rhythm, ancient beyond comprehension, let us reflect on the scale of the universe and our fortune to be alive this Winter Solstice, 2014.

Is it really the age of loneliness?

Much as I respect Mr. Monbiot’s views, I hope he is wrong in this respect.

I have long admired the writings of George Monbiot and, as often as not, have republished his essays in this place.

But an essay by George that was published in the UK Guardian newspaper yesterday portrays a frightening picture of modern-day Britain.  It was called Falling Apart and is republished, with George’s permission, today.

I want to offer a personal response to the essay, that immediately follows George’s piece.

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Falling Apart

October 14, 2014

Competition and individualism are forcing us into a devastating Age of Loneliness

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 15th October 2014

What do we call this time? It’s not the information age: the collapse of popular education movements left a void now filled by marketing and conspiracy theories(1). Like the stone age, iron age and space age, the digital age says plenty about our artefacts but little about society. The anthropocene, in which humans exert a major impact on the biosphere, fails to distinguish this century from the previous twenty. What clear social change marks out our time from those that precede it? To me it’s obvious. This is the Age of Loneliness.

When Thomas Hobbes claimed that in the state of nature, before authority arose to keep us in check, we were engaged in a war “of every man against every man”(2), he could not have been more wrong. We were social creatures from the start, mammalian bees, who depended entirely on each other. The hominims of East Africa could not have survived one night alone. We are shaped, to a greater extent than almost any other species, by contact with others. The age we are entering, in which we exist apart, is unlike any that has gone before.

Three months ago we read that loneliness has become an epidemic among young adults(3). Now we learn that it is just as great an affliction of older people. A study by Independent Age shows that severe loneliness in England blights the lives of 700,000 men and 1.1m women over 50(4), and is rising with astonishing speed.

Ebola is unlikely ever to kill as many people as this disease strikes down. Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day(5); loneliness, research suggests, is twice as deadly as obesity(6). Dementia, high blood pressure, alcoholism and accidents – all these, like depression, paranoia, anxiety and suicide, become more prevalent when connections are cut(7,8). We cannot cope alone.

Yes, factories have closed, people travel by car instead of buses, use YouTube rather than the cinema. But these shifts alone fail to explain the speed of our social collapse. These structural changes have been accompanied by a life-denying ideology, which enforces and celebrates our social isolation. The war of every man against every man – competition and individualism in other words – is the religion of our time, justified by a mythology of lone rangers, sole traders, self-starters, self-made men and women, going it alone. For the most social of creatures, who cannot prosper without love, there is now no such thing as society, only heroic individualism. What counts is to win. The rest is collateral damage.

British children no longer aspire to be train drivers or nurses, more than a fifth now say they “just want to be rich”: wealth and fame are the sole ambitions of 40% of those surveyed(9). A government study in June revealed that Britain is the loneliness capital of Europe(10). We are less likely than other Europeans to have close friends or to know our neighbours. Who can be surprised, when everywhere we are urged to fight like stray dogs over a dustbin?

We have changed our language to reflect this shift. Our most cutting insult is loser. We no longer talk about people. Now we call them individuals. So pervasive has this alienating, atomising term become that even the charities fighting loneliness use it to describe the bipedal entities formerly known as human beings(11). We can scarcely complete a sentence without getting personal. Personally speaking (to distinguish myself from a ventriloquist’s dummy), I prefer personal friends to the impersonal variety and personal belongings to the kind that don’t belong to me. Though that’s just my personal preference, otherwise known as my preference.

One of the tragic outcomes of loneliness is that people turn to their televisions for consolation: two-fifths of older people now report that the one-eyed god is their principal company(12). This self-medication enhances the disease. Research by economists at the University of Milan suggests that television helps to drive competitive aspiration(13). It strongly reinforces the income-happiness paradox: the fact that, as national incomes rise, happiness does not rise with them.

Aspiration, which increases with income, ensures that the point of arrival, of sustained satisfaction, retreats before us. The researchers found that those who watch a lot of television derive less satisfaction from a given level of income than those who watch only a little. Television speeds up the hedonic treadmill, forcing us to strive even harder to sustain the same level of satisfaction. You have only to think of the wall-to-wall auctions on daytime TV, Dragon’s Den, the Apprentice and the myriad forms of career-making competition the medium celebrates, the generalised obsession with fame and wealth, the pervasive sense, in watching it, that life is somewhere other than where you are, to see why this might be.

So what’s the point? What do we gain from this war of all against all? Competition drives growth, but growth no longer makes us wealthier. Figures published this week show that while the income of company directors has risen by more than a fifth, wages for the workforce as a whole have fallen in real terms over the past year (14). The bosses now earn – sorry, I mean take – 120 times more than the average full-time worker. (In 2000, it was 47 times). And even if competition did make us richer, it would make us no happier, as the satisfaction derived from a rise in income would be undermined by the aspirational impacts of competition.

The top 1% now own 48% of global wealth(15), but even they aren’t happy. A survey by Boston College of people with an average net worth of $78m found that they too are assailed by anxiety, dissatisfaction and loneliness(16). Many of them reported feeling financially insecure: to reach safe ground, they believed, they would need, on average, about 25% more money. (And if they got it? They’d doubtless need another 25%). One respondent said he wouldn’t get there until he had $1 billion in the bank.

For this we have ripped the natural world apart, degraded our conditions of life, surrendered our freedoms and prospects of contentment to a compulsive, atomising, joyless hedonism, in which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. For this we have destroyed the essence of humanity: our connectedness.

Yes, there are palliatives, clever and delightful schemes like Men in Sheds and Walking Football developed by charities for isolated older people(17). But if we are to break this cycle and come together once more, we must confront the world-eating, flesh-eating system into which we have been forced.

Hobbes’s pre-social condition was a myth. But we are now entering a post-social condition our ancestors would have believed impossible. Our lives are becoming nasty, brutish and long.

http://www.monbiot.com

References:

1. http://www.autodidactproject.org/other/hj1.html

2. http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/hobbes/leviathan-contents.html

3. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jul/20/loneliness-britains-silent-plague-hurts-young-people-most

4. http://www.independentage.org/isolation-a-growing-issue-among-older-men/

5. http://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/threat-to-health/

6. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/16/loneliness-twice-as-unhealthy-as-obesity-older-people

7. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jul/20/loneliness-britains-silent-plague-hurts-young-people-most

8. http://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/threat-to-health/

9. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/11014591/One-in-five-children-just-want-to-be-rich-when-they-grow-up.html

10. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10909524/Britain-the-loneliness-capital-of-Europe.html

11. http://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2014/05/FINAL-Age-UK-PR-response-02.05.14.pdf

12. http://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/loneliness-research/

13. http://boa.unimib.it/bitstream/10281/23044/2/Income_Aspirations_Television_and_Happiness.pdf

14. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4234843.ece

15. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/14/richest-1percent-half-global-wealth-credit-suisse-report

16. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/04/secret-fears-of-the-super-rich/308419/

17. http://www.independentage.org/isolation-a-growing-issue-among-older-men/

ooOOoo

Our lives are becoming nasty, brutish and long.

As closing sentences go, that’s about as tough as it gets.

Nevertheless, I’m going to offer a perspective, something that George doesn’t mention.  That is the importance of community.

Back in 2008 BBC Timewatch screened a programme about the revelations that came from the latest archaeological dig at Stonehenge, near Amesbury in Wiltshire in England.  I wrote about the programme over four years ago: Stonehenge – a place of healing.

Stonehenge is one of Britain’s most famous historical sites, deservedly so because Stonehenge was one of the most important places in ancient Europe.

Stonehenge

But evidence from a dig that was authorised in 2008 has shown that not only is Stonehenge a much older site of human habitation but that it’s purpose is altogether different to what has been assumed.  It was, indeed, a healing place, possibly the most important in Europe.

Professors Tim Darvill and Geoff Wainwright are the world-renowned archaeologists who believe they have cracked the conundrum of Stonehenge’s original purpose.

If you would like to watch that Timewatch episode, and it is highly recommended, then someone has neatly uploaded it to YouTube.

The programme clearly offers evidence from the carbon-dating of seeds buried under the famous blue stones that dates this settlement to some 9,000 years BP. The detailed examination of ancient humans buried nearby indicates they came to Stonehenge with a range of diseases, many terminal in nature.

So back to George Monbiot’s essay and the element that screams out at me.

We have lost sight of the huge healing benefits that come from old-fashioned, shoulder-to-shoulder communities.

Not to mention the healing properties of a loving dog or two in one’s life!

Loving each other: woman and dog!
Loving each other: woman and dog!

Our Earthing experiences.

This is really starting to open our eyes!

On Saturday, the 14th June, I published a post Are you grounded?  That post was a reaction to this book that Jean and I had recently read.

english2ndbkcover
I also explained that we had ordered an earthing sheet for the bed and that I would report further upon our findings.

Today’s post is that further report.

The slim box containing the half-sheet kit was delivered on the 18th June, five days ago at the time of writing this.

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The next photograph shows more clearly what was included in the kit.

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From left to right: Case histories from users, an earthing rod above, the earthing half-sheet, and below the sheet, an outlet ground checker, the earthing connection cord, the book, and a full-length DVD of a film on the subject of grounding.

It was then a case of laying the sheet on the bed as recommended in the instruction guide.

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Then upon testing that we had a safe earthing connection via the ground pin on our nearby outlet, it was a case of connecting the earthing sheet to ground, as may be observed in the next photograph.

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I’m writing this yesterday.  We have both slept on the earthing sheet for four nights now.

So what are the results so far?

Jean

Jean has had leg muscle cramps each night for months and months.  Often just enough to waken her but frequently sufficiently severe to require her getting out of bed and walking around the room.  I can vouch for the latter!

Jean has had those four nights totally free from cramps!

Plus Jean has reported sleeping more soundly.

Me – Prostate

In recent months my bladder has been showing ‘old man’s bladder control’!  Certainly, over the last year I have been getting up for a pee two times, frequently three times, during the night.

During the day, I could hardly take a hot drink without the need to pee within minutes.  It had got to the stage where I would avoid having a drink before Jean and I went out unless I was certain that there would be public restrooms available.  I was taking a natural prostate medicine, morning and evening, but still starting to think that it wouldn’t be long before I would need to see a medical specialist.

Since sleeping on the earthing sheet, I have gone down to getting up just once during the night.  But it’s better than that!

I have stopped the prostate tablets.  During the day, my bladder control is hugely improved.  I hold my breath that this is going to continue.

Me – Memory

Like many of my age (I’m 70 in November), my short-term memory is not what it used to be.  I have not noticed any improvements in this area.

But I am sleeping much more soundly, which is never a bad thing.

But get this!

Being an old Englishman with a sense of connection to the ancient customs of Stonehenge, especially observing the sun’s dawn on the morning of Mid-Summer’s Day, I had looked up the exact local time equivalent of the moment of the Solstice here in Oregon.

Stonehenge at Dawn.  On the morning of Mid-Summer's Day the sun rises exactly over the heel stone.
Stonehenge at Dawn. On the morning of Mid-Summer’s Day the sun rises exactly over the heel stone.

Early in the hours of the morning of June 21st, ergo Mid-Summer’s Day, I woke unexpectedly.  I lay there wondering what had awoken me.  It wasn’t to jump out of bed and have a pee.  How strange!

I lay there for what felt like ten minutes and then curious as to the hour reached across and pressed the illuminate button on my bedside clock.  It read 3:48 am.

3:48 am!! How could that be! I could hardly believe it!

Let me explain.

The previous afternoon, I had been curious as to the exact time of the 2014 Summer Solstice.  Had looked it up online.  In the United Kingdom that precise moment was 10:41 am.  The equivalent time of the Summer Solstice in Oregon’s local Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) was 3:41 am.

I knew that was when I had woken up.

Now that’s what I call being grounded to the Planet!

OK, that’s enough for today but there is much more information about the whole business of being grounded to the planet. I shall return to the subject in Wednesday’s post.

Way to go!
Way to go!

Summer solstice

As old as time itself!

holding-the-sun

The point at which the sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator is the Summer Solstice, well it is for the Northern Hemisphere. This occurs annually on June 20 or June 21, depending on your time zone.

Here in Southern Oregon, the moment of the Summer Solstice will be 22:04 Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) on the evening of June 20th and at 05:04 GMT/UTC on June 21 2013 in the United Kingdom.

A quick web ‘look-up’ finds that the word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time, albeit momentarily.

At the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge in Southern England, the prehistoric monument that took Neolithic builders an estimated 1,500 years to erect, for many years the Druids have celebrated the Solstice and, undoubtedly, will be doing so again.

AMESBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 21:  A man stands on top of Stonehenge as the sun rises over Salisbury Plain on June 21, 2006 in Amesbury, England.  Police estimated around 17,000 people travelled to watch the sun rise ove the 5,000 year old stone circle to start the longest day of the year. The all-night party to celebrate the Summer Solstice passed with only four arrests being made. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
AMESBURY, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 21: A man stands on top of Stonehenge as the sun rises over Salisbury Plain on June 21, 2006 in Amesbury, England. Police estimated around 17,000 people travelled to watch the sun rise over the 5,000 year old stone circle to start the longest day of the year. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Göbekli Tepe

The most amazing ancient site, possibly in the world.

I know this is a bit of a giant leap from yesterday’s Post but bear with me.  A short while ago, my friend Suzann sent me a link to some information about the archaeological site in Eastern Turkey known as Göbekli Tepe.  Suzann, as many regular readers will know, was the person who caused me to meet Jeannie back in December 2007 when Su invited me to spend Christmas with her and Don, her husband, at their home down in San Carlos, Mexico.

Before I go on to write about Göbekli Tepe let me also muse on another fascinating connection between Suzann and me.  That is that Su and I were sharing the same waters in the Eastern Mediterranean around 1991.  Here’s an extract from a recent email from Su.,

Don’s brother’s boat was Hana Ho.from Honolulu, Hawaii, a Tayana 55…gorgeous thing! They sailed in the Med for years around that time…it is possible you could have run into them…..

When we first flew in to Cyprus June of 1991, Bob’s boat was up on the hard. It took another 5 days to finish, and we had to climb straight up and down a steep, rickety ladder each time we went out, because we slept on the boat every night….was it ever hot and muggy! and no bathroom facilities in use!! But had a lovely time in Cyprus and really got out and saw things there. Delicious food!!

Then we sailed over toward the Turkey/Syrian border area and then gunk-holed west along the coast, ending up at Izmer, after visiting places like Antalya, Kekova Roads,Fethiya and the magnificent Rock Tombs, Marmaris, Bodrum, Kisadasi, Ephesus to name a few….

I, too, was living on a yacht, over-wintering in Cyprus, and cruising the Turkish and Greek coasts during the summer.  Anyway, enough of these musings.

A scene from Gobekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe is old.  I mean seriously old.  For example, I’m very familiar, being an Englishman, with the mystery and antiquity of Stonehenge.  But even the revised estimates of Stonehenge’s age, now believed to be 3,000 B.C., don’t measure up to the age of Göbekli Tepe.

The Smithsonian website explains much in a fascinating article about Gobekli Tepe, (do click on that link as the Smithsonian article is extremely interesting).

Six miles from Urfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey, Klaus Schmidt has made one of the most startling archaeological discoveries of our time: massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery. The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years. The place is called Gobekli Tepe, and Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, is convinced it’s the site of the world’s oldest temple.

[my italics]

Imagine, there are fewer years between today and the building of Stonehenge than there are between the construction of Göbekli Tepe and Stonehenge!  Think about that!

Anyway, enjoy this video,

and if that grabs your interest then there is a longer 25-minute radio broadcast by Klaus Schmidt that is on YouTube, see below:

German archeologist Klaus Schmidt, from the German Archaeological Institute, who has been working as the head archeologist at Göbekli Tepe, a temple site located in southeastern Turkey close to the boarder to Syria. Klaus has been excavating there since 1994 and he joins us to talk about the excavation work, and to give us his impressions and theories about the site and the people who built it and worshiped at this ancient temple site. The temple is believed to have been erected in the 10th millennium BC (about 11,500 years ago). It is believed to be the oldest human-made place of worship, it’s even been called the Garden of Eden. Only about 3-5% of the site has been excavated so far, which has unveiled several stone circle rooms, only one of which has been dug down to the floor. As many as 20 such structures are thought to exist under the ground at the site, these have been detected by radar scans. These stone circles have large T-shaped pillars, some of the heaviest stones weigh up to 50 tons. The monoliths are decorated with carved reliefs of animals, abstract pictograms, sacred symbols and similarities to Neolithic cave paintings have been pointed out. The carefully carved figurative reliefs depict lions, bulls, boars, foxes, gazelles, donkeys, snakes and other reptiles, insects, arachnids, and birds, particularly vultures and water fowl. Göbekli Tepe means “Hill with a potbelly” although there already exists other interpretations of the name, connected to the word “Zep Tepi” or “The First Time” a period in beliefs of a mythological golden age when the gods lived amongst humanity together with half-divine offsprings of gods and humans. Is Göbekli Tepe the Garden of Eden? June 24, 2010

If you want more to read then I can do no better than recommend the article that Suzann linked to in her email.  It’s here and it starts thus,

Gobekli Tepe: 12,000 Years Old and Rewriting Human History

“This time what came first was the temple and then the city.”

– Klaus Schmidt, Ph.D., German Archaeological Institute

12,000-year-old circles of limestone columns weighing from 7 to 15 tons or more have been excavated in Gobekli Tepe, Turkey, about 6 miles northeast of Urfa.

Older than Egypt, Sumeria and Stonehenge, 40 standing T-shaped columns have so far been uncovered in four circles 98 feet (30 meters) in diameter. To date, no metal tools have been found since meticulous digging and dating began in 1994. Only 5% of the temple complex in repeating circles has been uncovered.

Ground-penetrating radar surveys indicate there might be at least 250 more standing stones in 18 still-buried circles. Finely honed reliefs and some 3-dimensional sculptures on the limestone columns depict boars, foxes, lions, birds, snakes, scorpions, vultures, reptiles, humans and other figures.

You’ll have to read the rest of the article here.

Sort of puts the history of man into perspective!

Stonehenge, again!

As yesterday, travelling demands make it impossible to find creative time for the Blog.  Thus a repeat of one of the most popular Posts from the last year.

Incredible outcomes from the dig in 2008

Stonehenge is one of Britain’s most famous historical sites, deservedly so because Stonehenge was one of the most important places in ancient Europe.

Stonehenge
Professors Tim Darvill and Geoff Wainwright are the world-renowned archaeologists who believe they have cracked the conundrum of Stonehenge's original purpose.

But evidence from a dig that was authorised in 2008 has shown that not only is Stonehenge a much older site of human habitation but that it’s purpose is altogether different to what has been assumed.  It was, indeed, a healing place, possibly the most important in Europe.

Those living in the UK can watch the Timewatch programme on the BBC iPlayer.  But for those living outside the UK then the following web site has reams of wonderfully fascinating information.  That site is here.

By Paul Handover