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#5131 – Planning for
the Future – Unsolveable Puzzles – Roger Ebert’s
The Nonduality Highlights – Sunday, January 5, 2014 – Editor: Dustin LindenSmith
Extreme cold temperatures throughout northeastern North America appear to have ground several cities to a halt this weekend. I find myself wondering if we'll look back on this particular period of time as a kind of physical tipping point for our planet. The number of major storms and unprecedented weather events around the globe certainly seems higher now than it ever has been before.
My first piece comes from the listener mailbag to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's weekly program on CBC Radio One called The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright. This listener wrote in to decry the “here and now” generation that refuses to acknowledge how many of today’s biggest challenges have come directly as a result of past generations having kicked the can down the road.
In her letter, she described a large-scale pre-emptive measure undertaken to divert flood waters somewhere in the province of Manitoba, situated above North Dakota and Minnesota. When the project was first conceived by the then-Premier Duff Roblin, it was nearly defeated in the legislature because the projected costs were considered to be too large. She concluded:
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It wasn't until the 1979 flood that everyone cheered Duff Roblin's foresight. Every single new flood reminds us of how that money saved us financial and personal misery. If we built it today, some say it would cost us a billion dollars that would take us forever to pay.
We can't afford to dance around the issues anymore; we have to plan how we go into the future. If we don't, we fail on a grand scale. No one will remember who we are a few generations down the line, but they WILL remember that our generation—the here and now generation—failed them.
That listener appears to be possessed of a certain wellspring of cynicism. While I cannot deny the existence of numerous reasons to be pessimistic in the current political zeitgeist of the world's largest power brokers, I continue to maintain a positive outlook overall about our potential as a human race. For what is human history if not a never-ending tale of its own ingenuity?
Some of the world’s most ingenious codebreakers seem to have found themselves caught up in a multinational test of their wits, although it is unknown to what end. The apparently unsolveable problems are accessible only via the uncharted, "dark" regions of the internet, having been created by an organization or entity that calls itself Cicada 3301:
The article follows the story of a 34-year-old amateur Swedish cryptographer named Joel Eriksson who became so hooked into the puzzles that he eventually took leave from his job to pursue them full-time. The puzzles require "a knowledge of number theory, philosophy, and classical music,” but interest in cyberpunk literature, the Victorian occult, and Mayan numerology have also come into play, as well as the use of hexadecimal characters and prime numbers.
Later, the puzzle would lead him to the cyberpunk writer William Gibson – specifically his 1992 poem "Agrippa” (a book of the dead), infamous for the fact that it was only published on a 3.5in floppy disk, and was programmed to erase itself after being read once. But as word spread across the web, thousands of amateur codebreakers joined the hunt for clues. Armies of users of 4chan, the anarchic internet forum where the first Cicada message is thought to have appeared, pooled their collective intelligence – and endless free time – to crack the puzzles.
Chaz Ebert, wife of legendary US film critic Roger Ebert, recounts her personal memoir of her husband's passing after an intense battle with cancer in Esquire:
Ebert’s detailed history with cancer can be read elsewhere, but I was most taken with these words Chaz wrote about her husband’s last few weeks alive. It sounds very much as though Ebert got some clear glimpses of the nondual shortly before he died:
Roger looked beautiful. He looked really beautiful. I don't know how to describe it, but he looked peaceful, and he looked young.
The one thing people might be surprised about—Roger said that he didn't know if he could believe in God. He had his doubts. But toward the end, something really interesting happened. That week before Roger passed away, I would see him and he would talk about having visited this other place. I thought he was hallucinating. I thought they were giving him too much medication. But the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: "This is all an elaborate hoax." I asked him, "What's a hoax?" And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion. I thought he was just confused. But he was not confused. He wasn't visiting heaven, not the way we think of heaven. He described it as a vastness that you can't even imagine. It was a place where the past, present, and future were happening all at once.
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