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Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Wright Brothers - Flyers Not Liars

This is the beginning of a new cycle of 12 posts (at the rate of one a month). It follows the same structure that this blog has had since its inception in April, 2009. Each twelve months there is a different theme, which is intended as a different lesson in Life Cycles theory. I explain all this in greater detail in my SECOND BLOG. The lesson for this cycle of posts is Life Cycles and Families. We are going to see a variety of usually well-known people, who share some form of family relationship. Our first case is the world famous Wright Brothers (Wilbur and Orville). But before we begin I'll show you the accidental way this piece of research happened.

Do you remember my last post on Washington DC? There aren't any prizes for this, by the way, as it's directly underneath. It mentions my trip to the capital and shows a picture of the famous National Mall, where all the museums are. Well it was recommended not to miss the Aeronautical and Space Museum, so that was my first visit. Whilst waiting to get admitted I overheard someone being told that they should try and see the historical exhibit first, because it was closing in 10-15 mins. I thought, OK, that sounds like a good idea. I'm glad I did, because as I walked by the Wright Brothers' exhibit, I read a bit of their story and began to wonder if this could be another discovery, similar to the Walter Burley Griffin story in the second blog. Here's what I found.....

In one flash I saw that Wilbur, the elder of the two brothers was born in 1867 and that the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight happened on December 17, 1903. Try adding 36 to 1867 and what do you get? Yes it's 1903 and that's the year in question again isn't it? Bingo, I'd hit pay dirt. Same as last time. No pouring over copious biographies for hours on end. As I've indicated before I'd never have got started if the going had been too tough. I also noticed that his younger brother Orville would have been aged 31 for part of this year. What does this tell you? Probably nothing for most of you, but if you really understood my posts, you would know it means they were also Confluent during this time ie. they shared time together in the Life Cycles significant years (ie. 19/24/31/36 etc). A photo of the famous 1903 flight is shown below.

I'm not going to reprise all of their fascinating story, but instead I will concentrate on just two periods :- 1903 and the second half of 1907/first half, or so, of 1908. Why would I do this? Well the answer is :- 1903 is the major beakthrough year when Wilbur was 36 and during 1907/8 Orville was 36. See, my method is just maths and stats, maths and stats. Wilbur Wright was born April 16, 1867 and Orville Wright was born August 19, 1871. Their period of Confluence when they were aged 36/31 was therefore April-August, 1903.

In summary, during 1903 the brothers built the powered Wright Flyer I, using their preferred material for construction, spruce, a strong and lightweight wood. They also designed and carved their own wooden propellers, and had a purpose-built gasoline engine fabricated in their bicycle shop. I will now create a timeline for these events. On Feb. 12-13th they tested an unsuccessful engine, whose body and frame cracked during testing. Then Wilbur made a March 1903 entry in his notebook indicating the prototype propeller was 66% efficient. So just prior to our period of Confluence (April-August) things were not complete. We all know a powered airplane needs a workable engine and though they almost had their design done, it wouldn't succeed without it.

The Wrights next wrote to several engine manufacturers, but none met their need for a sufficiently lightweight powerplant (this is like the period of temporary frustration I mention during a Year of Revolution). They then turned to their shop mechanic, Charlie Taylor, who built an engine in just six weeks in close consultation with the brothers. To keep the weight low enough, the engine block was cast from aluminum, a rare practice for the time. The Wright-Taylor engine had no fuel pump, carburetor, or spark plugs. Nor did it have a throttle. Yet this simple motor produced 12 horsepower, an acceptable margin above the Wrights’ minimum requirement of 8 horsepower. It was patented on May 22nd, 1903. So now preparations were properly underway. Below is a photo of a later model Wright engine circa 1910.

Those preparations were largely completed by August, because in Sept. they arrived in Kill Devil Hills and in Oct. they commenced assembling it. It should be noted that their airplane -The Flyer - cost less than a thousand dollars, in contrast to more than $50,000 in government funds that was given to their great rival Samuel Langley for his man-carrying Great Aerodrome project. He was trying to beat them to the punch at precisely the same time. You know what? Langley gave up the project after two crashes at take-off on October 7 and December 8, 1903. There's destiny if ever there was. If I'd been around then I'd have said:- "put your money on the 36 year-old Wilbur Wright, not the 69 year-old Samuel Langley. He's not in any sort of significant year." This also says something about the sheer tenacity and eventual superiority of the solo underfunded pioneers.

So here is your evidence writ large:-



Following their initial success the Wright Brothers deliberately kept a low profile so that they could concentrate on creating and marketing a practical airplane. This was a financially risky venture for them, as they wound down their successful bicycle business at the same time. Flights taken during the years 1904-1905 were unspectacular and reporters went away without a clear impression of their claims. There was reasonable speculation that this was done on purpose by the Wrights, to get reporters off their backs. In fact the Paris edition of the Herald Tribune headlined a 1906 article on the Wrights titled :- "Flyers Or Liars?" Even the publisher of their hometown newspaper The Dayton Daily News stated :- "Frankly, none of us believed it." The photo below shows the newspaper reporting an unspectacular flight in Oct. 1905, on page 9, in the agricultural and general news section.

We are now perched at the precipice of our second period of study ie. when Orville was in his age 36 Year of Revolution (Aug. 1907-Aug.1908). What happened next to get them true recognition, that had so far proven elusive? In 1907 they decided it was France, rather than the US (who had shown indifference to their work), that they would journey to get some backing. Whilst there they had face-to-face talks with government officials and businessmen. They also met with aviation representatives in Germany and Britain. Before traveling, Orville shipped a newly built Model A Flyer to France in anticipation of demonstration flights. The European end of things became more his baby, because whilst in France (ironically enough) Wilbur met Frank P. Lahm, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Aeronautical Division, who allowed him to give an in-person presentation to the U.S. Board of Ordnance and Fortification in Washington, D.C. when he returned to the U.S.

This time, the Board was favorably impressed, in contrast to its previous indifference. With further input from the Wrights, the U.S. Army Signal Corps issued Specification #486 in December 1907 (so here is direct evidence of a breakthrough in the exact period of study). Bids were invited for construction of a flying machine under military contract. The Wrights submitted their bid in January, 1908. In early 1908 the brothers also agreed to a contract with a French company. This was Orville's direct breakthrough moment, not that either brother hadn't been across things, but you can't be in two places at once. In May, 1908 they went back to Kitty Hawk with their Flyer to practice in private for their all-important public demonstration flights, as required by the contracts.

What else could have taken place of real importance between June and August 19th? (ie. Orville's remaining age 36 Year of Revolution). Well everything culminated in one day - August 8th, 1908 (I often write about this one day phenomenon in Years of Revolution). I'll let the narrative take over here, it's just such a great story :-

Facing much skepticism in the French aeronautical community and outright scorn by some newspapers that called him a "bluffeur", Wilbur began official public demonstrations on August 8, 1908 at the Hunaudières horse racing track near the town of Le Mans, France. His first flight lasted only one minute 45 seconds, but his ability to effortlessly make banking turns and fly a circle amazed and stunned onlookers, including several pioneer French aviators, among them Louis Bleriot. In the following days, Wilbur made a series of technically challenging flights, including figure-eights, demonstrating his skills as a pilot and the capability of his flying machine, which far surpassed those of all other pioneering aircraft and pilots of the day.

The French public was thrilled by Wilbur's feats and flocked to the field by the thousands, and the Wright brothers instantly became world-famous. Former doubters issued apologies and effusive praise. L'Aérophile editor Georges Besançon wrote that the flights "have completely dissipated all doubts. Not one of the former detractors of the Wrights dare question, today, the previous experiments of the men who were truly the first to fly....". Leading French aviation promoter Ernest Archdeacon wrote, "For a long time, the Wright brothers have been accused in Europe of bluff... They are today hallowed in France, and I feel an intense make amends."

Below is a photo taken of this famous flight at the Le Mans racecourse, France, on August 8th, 1908 - showing inset, a section of the large crowd.

So there it is. I don't think I need to spell it out any more than this. In Orville's age 36 Year of Revolution the Wrights finally gained the recognition and kudos they so rightfully deserved. Orville's French connection had paid off big time. You can actually see how this was a more central event for his whole life because Wilbur was to die tragically in 1912 from typhoid fever, leaving Orville to carry on their future struggles with Patents and running The Wright Company.

I think I'm done. It strikes me that all true pioneers have to fight long and hard for recognition and in that regard I believe my pioneering of a new theory of life is just another variant of this. Except I don't have a brother to share it with. However, all of you who read and enjoy my work are my brothers and sisters-in-arms. Next month Life Cycles Families will return with a totally different and maybe even slightly shocking change of pace. Till then :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune".

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Washington DC - A Dream Half Realised - 'Life Cycles' And The Career Of Peter 'LEnfant

A couple of years ago I visited Washington and was most impressed when our guide explained the height restrictions on all buildings. He said the original notion was that no buildings be taller than Capitol Hill, because this symbolised freedom and no idea was above freedom. I'm told that currently there are now four buildings that are higher, but we're not here to split hairs. Washington is also based on Jefferson's memories and desire to see a recreation of Paris and other European cities, with low buildings and wide boulevards. It certainly looked like this to me. Indeed both countries having revolutions at a similar time fomented an exchange of ideas and the most tangible of all gifts - the Statue of Liberty. However, Washington DC was also a gift from a Frenchman, who came to America and fought in the Revolutionary army of George Washington. A man called Peter (not Pierre) L'Enfant (who is pictured below). This is his story told from the always unique angle of 'Life Cycles'.

Peter L'Enfant was born Pierre Charles L'Enfant in Paris, France August 9th. 1754, the son of a painter of good repute in the service of King Louis XV. Thus he had an aristocratic upbringing and was educated at the Louvre and the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris. In 1777 he was recruited through a French courtier to join the American War of Independence. Soon after this he joined the army of George Washington and fought with him at Valley Forge. After the war he ran a very successful civil engineering business and gained a reputation as an architect by redesigning the City Hall building in New York. He had also changed his name to Peter and was totally committed to the new America.

This brief summary is simply by way of understanding events in the first half of 1791 - the single most important career and life-defining year in his total of three score years and ten. I mean, I can't just lurch in and say he designed Washington DC without so much as a by your leave. Those who didn't know, might think he was just some uppity Frenchman, who came over because of an invitation from a grateful, fledgling American Government. No, he was a French/American, who came cap in hand to his former Commander-in-Chief - President George Washington. (who is pictured below at Valley Forge)

Now how good is your maths? If you add the single most important year in 'Life Cycles' to his first 12 months what do you get? Don't know what I'm talking about? Anyone who has read one of my many, many profiles and in-depth analyses could, I hope by now, enlighten you. Yes, it's the central, mid-life, often career and life-defining age of 36, which is called by me, the age 36 'Year of Revolution'. I've been banging on about this for years and it's so simple even the most limited mind could grasp it. So when was Peter L'Enfant 36? Just add 36 to his date of birth. That's the birthday to birthday 12 month period, which in his case is.....come on add 36 to August 1754 and what do you get? That would be the second half of 1790 and then the first half of 1791.

This period defined Peter L'Enfant's whole life. In 1789 Congress gave authority to the establishment of a new national capital. This prompted L'Enfant to write to President Washington asking for a commission to plan the city. This was on hold till July, 1790 when the Residence Act set the site of the new federal district and national capital to be on the northern and southern shores of the Potomac River, at a site to be determined by the President. So, this was almost in line with the ushering in of L'Enfant's age 36 'Year of Revolution'. He would have, no doubt, been even more motivated by this news.

However it was not until March, 1791 that L'Enfant was appointed by Washington to plan the new Federal City (later named the City of Washington) under the supervision of three Commissioners. Thomas Jefferson, who worked alongside Washington, sent L'Enfant a letter outlining his task, which was to provide a drawing of suitable sites for the federal city and the public buildings. Though Jefferson just wanted a suitable site and had modest ideas for the Capital, L'Enfant re-interpreted the task as far more grandiose, believing he was not only locating the capital, but also devising the city plan and designing the buildings. (An early painting of Washington in 1833, which hangs in the White House, is pictured below)

This re-interpretation of a commission reminds me in a curious way of what an ambitious 24 year-old Charles Dickens did when he was told to just add a few lines of text to the famous illustrator Robert Seymour's work. Instead he usurped the process and went on to make his name by writing 'The Pickwick Papers'. Also it should be noted that L'Enfant had a difficult and argumentative nature, which meant he alienated most people over a period of time.

There is no doubt though, that despite being watered down considerably, L'Enfant's original vision was the guiding inspiration for the magnificent city you see today. On June 22nd 1791, L'Enfant presented his first plan for the federal city to the President. This was his highest point of achievement in his 'Year of Revolution', the culmination of his dream. It is believed that some time prior to August 19th. he also appended a survey map to his plan (which again most probably lies within his age 36 year).

His plan specified locations for the Congress House (the United States Capitol Building), which would be built on Jenkins Hill (later to be known as Capitol Hill), which he described as a "pedestal awaiting a monument". The President's House (later known after its 1815-1817 rebuilding and white-washing, as the famous White House) was to be at a northwest diagonal from the halls of Congress along an unusually broad Pennsylvania Avenue. L'Enfant envisioned the "President's House" to have public gardens and monumental architecture. Reflecting his grandiose visions, he specified that the "President's House" (occasionally referred to as the "President's Palace") would be five times the size of the building that was actually constructed, which would have become the largest residence then constructed in America.

The plan specified that most streets would be laid out in a grid. To form the grid, some streets (later named for letters of the alphabet) would travel in an east-west direction, while others (named for numbers) would travel north-south. The diagonal avenues intersected with the north-south and east-west streets at circles and rectangular plazas that would later honor notable Americans and provide open space.

L'Enfant laid out a 400 feet-wide garden-lined Grand Avenue, which he expected to travel for about 1 mile along an east-west axis in the center of an area that would later become the National Mall (which is pictured below). He also laid out a narrower avenue (Pennsylvania Avenue) which would connect the "Congress House" with the "President's House". Additionally he laid out a system of canals (later designated as the Washington City Canal), that would pass the "Congress House" and the "President's House".

His plans may have been inspired by his native city, Paris, and other European cities, but he also had a uniquely American theme of making the "Grand Avenue" accessible to everyone in the new spirit of democracy (today this is reflected in the wonderful museums and institutes that line both sides and have free admission). I wish this story was one of L'Enfant's personal triumph and "the ushering in of his Golden Age" (which is the phrase I often use). But this grand vision did not go on to have a happy ending. His headstrong temperament and his insistence that his city design be realised as a whole, brought him into conflict with the Commissioners, who wanted to direct the limited funds available into just the construction of the Federal buildings. In this, they had the support of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. By Feb. 1792 L'Enfant was dismissed by Washington and Andrew Ellicott continued the city survey in accordance with a revised, more modest, plan.

The remainder of his life is, unfortunately, also tinged with sadness. L'Enfant was initially not paid for his work on his plan for the "Federal City". He fell into disgrace, spending much of the rest of his life trying to persuade Congress to pay him the tens of thousands of dollars that he claimed he was owed. After a number of years, Congress finally paid him a small sum, nearly all of which went to his creditors. This is a salutary reminder that our ultimate fate is always in our own hands.

His dismissal revolved around a key incident in which he refused to give Andrew Ellicott (who had been surveying the District of Columbia and the "Federal City" under direction of the Commissioners) a copy of his original plan. Ellicott then worked on without it. With the aid of his brother, Benjamin, they completed a revised plan, despite L'Enfant's protests. Shortly thereafter, having along with Secretary Jefferson (who is pictured below in 1791) grown increasingly frustrated by L'Enfant's unresponsiveness and headstrong ways, President Washington dismissed the architect. He had managed to alienate even Washington, who had been his strongest supporter. In common parlance he had "pissed off the boss" and you know you just can't do this. Please see the beginning of my post on Erin Brockovich. You will then see that I classify him as an 'N' Factor (which is something I used to be all too familiar with in my business of Outplacement).

But when you make a tour of discovery in the magnificent city of Washington, as I did some two years ago, and you see the grandeur of Pennsylvania Avenue (America had never heard of Avenues before this) and the Congress Building on Capitol Hill and enjoy visiting the excellent museums for free along National Mall (I'm told you probably need a week to really do them justice) and see the White House for the first time.....spare a thought for the man behind all this. A man who truly loved America and who is remembered for one thing the L'Enfant Plan For Washington. A man who should have enjoyed a "Golden Age" of success and recognition for his lasting contribution to his adopted country....but who was brought low by his own temperamental flaws.

Also spare some more time to use your imagination and try to envisage the Washington Peter L'Enfant saw....a White House of epic proportions. Five times it's current size. To be quite honest when I finally visited it, I felt a bit underwhelmed by it's relatively small stature, but figured that's how they did things back then. But imagine a Presidential Palace complete with sweeping ornamental gardens and architecture and linked to Capitol Hill by a system of canals...the Versailles of the New World....a palace fitting the importance of your country. And if you look really deeply you can almost see the spirit of L'Enfant....his head bowed in discontent for a dream which never materialised....His Washington - a dream only half-realised.

I hope you enjoyed this post in which I found myself, somewhat unusually, compelled to wax lyrical, because I write as I feel and nearly everything is in one take. 'Life Cycles' will return next month with a whole new theme and a new twelve month cycle of posts. Until then :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune."

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cars For Everyone - 'Life Cycles' And The Career Of Henry Ford

We are going to be featuring two of the biggest names from the annals of great inventors in this blog and my SECOND BLOG. What is also important, however, is that the inclusion of the story about the birth of mass-produced cars by Henry Ford; marks a significant statistical milestone for me. You see I am always mindful of the accusation that all my cases are self-selected. If you know my style by now, you will see case after detailed case, where I knew almost nothing of my subjects until my attention was drawn to them, because they featured in some element of current affairs. But, of course, the true sceptic and those who get their kicks by debunking the work of others, would pay scant heed to this and probably not even bother to read my copious evidence. Pity for them I would say, but still I have thought about the issue.

There are several approaches I could take, but since I do this pioneering analysis on my own, the easiest is to simply use an objectively derived list. Since I deal with so many famous and very famous lives it has given me the idea that I should try to examine everyone on a "Top 10/20/50 List of famous people" etc. One such list grabbed my attention almost by accident and that was the "Top 10 Most Influential People Of The Twentieth Century". See it for yourselves at THIS. You will see the following names :-

10. Henry Ford (analysis about to be done in this article)
9. Muhammad Ali Jinnah (analysis not done. He was to Pakistan as Gandhi was to India)
8. Mao Zedong (analysis has been done, but is currently unpublished)
7. The Wright Brothers (about to be featured later this year in a series of posts on families)
6. Adolf Hitler (already featured, but I have much greater detail still unpublished)
5. Winston Churchill (already featured in BOOK ONE)
4. Franklin D. Roosevelt (no analysis undertaken)
3. Mahatma Gandhi (extensive analysis already featured in THE LIFE CYCLES REVOLUTION. Also a subject of my independent statistical analysis project)
2. Nelson Mandela (already featured in this blog and much more detail in LIFE CYCLES)
1. Albert Einstein (extensively featured in THE LIFE CYCLES REVOLUTION).

So, at the completion of this article that will make 8/10 cases analysed, with either 'very good' or 'outstanding' correlations to my 'Life Cycles' 'significant years'. I didn't generate this list. By any definition these correlations are well in excess of what is considered as statistically significant. Very far beyond what mere chance occurrence would predict.

Back to Henry Ford. Henry was born July 30th. 1863. He founded the Ford Motor Corporation and although he didn't actually invent either the automobile or the assembly line, it was his vision that led to the production of the famous Model T, which was the first car that ordinary middle-class Americans could afford. In doing so, Ford converted the automobile from an expensive curiosity into a practical conveyance that would profoundly impact the landscape of the twentieth century. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. In the process he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He supported consumerism and the mass production of inexpensive goods, and as a life-long pacifist, saw it as a key to achieving peace in the world. He truly made a giant contribution to mankind in every way.

But it wasn't always this way. He was not born great. When he was aged 12 and in his first Year of Revolution (1875-1876) his beloved mother died. He was expected to take over the farm, but he despised farm work, later leaving for several years to work as a machinist. His direction changed in his age 19 Year of Broken Pathways (1882-1883) when he became adept at operating a Westinghouse portable steam engine and was later hired by Westinghouse to service their steam engines. During this time he also began to study bookkeeping at a business college in Detroit. His new career direction was forming at this time, just as it does in so many other lives I study.

In his first adult age 24 Year of Revolution (1887-1888) he got married and supported himself by farming and running a sawmill. So, his new era then was to assume family responsibility and to continue his interest in machinery and engineering. After a few years he joined the Edison Illuminating Company as an engineer and was fairly soon promoted to the position of Chief Engineer. During his age 31 Year of Broken Pathways(1894-1895) he began a new direction by using some of his spare time to devote to his personal interest in gasoline engines. This was to mark a commencement of an uphill journey resulting in him designing and building a self-propelled vehicle called a Ford Quadricycle. With support from Edison he built a second vehicle, completing it in 1898. This was one year short of his central age 36 Year of Revolution. What happened then? Was he further promoted by Edison to become a partner in a separate business? Did he decide that without sufficient funds he would have to leave things be? Well maybe, it's always up to the individual. The achievements of people I write about are solely due to their own vision and hard work. It's just that there are some times in their lives when circumstances are very much in their favour.

Henry Ford was about to experience such a time. Backed by the capital of Detroit lumber baron William H. Murphy, Ford resigned from the Edison Company and founded the Detroit Automobile Company on August 5, 1899. So there you have it once again in letters two feet high :-

When Henry Ford was in his age 36 'Year of Revolution' he left employment with Edison found a wealthy backer and began his true life's work ie. to design and build inexpensive automobiles.

Unless you have an extremely closed mind this should come as an impressive result. However that's, as always, up to you. Let's go on with Henry's story shall we? August, 1899 may have been when he began his life's work, but it was not when he succeeded. At first the automobiles produced were of a lower quality and higher price than Ford wanted. Ultimately, the company was not successful and was dissolved in January 1901. Did this stop him? You know how it goes :- "well I gave it my best shot and that's it. I better go back to Edison's cap in hand." May have been what others did, but not Henry Ford. With the help of a younger engineer, C. Harold Willis, he built and successfully raced a 26-horsepower automobile in October 1901. In 1902, he formed the Henry Ford Company and went to work trying to design an inexpensive automobile. Over the next several years he and his team worked on a series of Ford Model Cars, starting off with the letters A and then C (no the models were not simply alphabetic).

OK, the next and final 'significant year' I am going to deal with is when he was in his age 43 Year of Broken Pathways. Now I'll be the first to admit that it would have been very convenient indeed if this coincided with the launch of the Model T, but 'Life Cycles' is not science and the analysis involves going to the year in question, rather than simply dismissing the data as not fitting (that's where the subjectivity comes in). So, I am going to be looking one year short of the launch of the Model T in 1908, which will be a bridge between 1906-7. My question is therefore :- "What, if anything, happened then to constitute a direction change and uphill challenge?"

Following the Models A and C and other early attempts, there were several quite important developments in the history of Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company in the exact period I need to study ie. July, 1906-July, 1907. I am very thankful for this resource, being a storyboard of that time and I strongly recommend you view it for yourselves HERE. I am writing this as I go. Here is the objective coverage which says :-

Early 1907 – Henry Ford tells Joseph Galamb that he has an idea to design a new car … Began construction of a walled off secured area to begin work on the new model. Formed a team of individuals to begin design of a new model to be released in 1908.
International Design Team (Team of 9)
 4 Americans… Henry Ford (engineer),
C. Harold Willis (design & metallurgist),
Edward Huff “Spider” (genius, electricity & magnets),
Edsel Ford (Henry’s son);
 2 Hungarians … Joseph Galamb (engineer, designer, draftsman),
Charles Balough (engineer & draftsman)
 1 Swedish … Charles Sorenson (wood patterns)
 1 German … Julius Hartenberger (designer)
 1 Canadian … C. James Smith (machinist joined 1906)

This, of course, is the now immortal Model T Ford

Not only that, but you can also read for yourselves how in this time Henry Ford was elected President of the Ford Motor Company and also that the company announced plans in the Press, saying they were going to be planning a factory at Highland Park by 1910. This, of course, formed part of the challenge for the next several years, typical of what I say happens in a Year of Broken Pathways. Also of interest, by way of uphill climbs, you will see coverage of a stock market crash and tight liquidity and that things did not improve till 1908.

Finally, I'd like to draw your attention to the other aspect of 'Life Cycles'. Even though the biographical analysis is the major focus, it also involves the synthesis of material between similar 'significant years'. You know, if you did this at 24 and then that at 36, in what ways could they be considered similar? I use two terms here. The first is symbolic similarity, or where there is some general theme implied (and hopefully not one with a very long bow). The second I call substantive similarity. That's where there's almost a re-run of events 12 years apart. So let me end by saying that events when Henry Ford was in his age 31 Year of Broken Pathways were remarkably similar to what I have just covered regarding events in his age 43 Year of Broken Pathways. How so, I hear some ask.

Well if you remember when Henry was 31, he began to use his spare time by designing, on his own, a gasoline-powered vehicle, and that a year or so after this, he unveiled the first Ford Quadricycle. Now fast-forward 12 years to when he was 43 and this time he embarked on a secret mission to design the best model Ford, to be the ultimate affordable automobile, that would transform so many lives. The very next year he unveils the Model T Ford. Only difference is that he now had a small team of nine to help him and was playing on a much larger stage. This similarity of actions, magnified by being capable of influencing many more people, is something I have witnessed in many different cases and I have talked about it quite a few times in this blog. So, go back and have a look at the article on Barak Obama for starters. I hope you enjoyed this post, which was part-story, part-analysis and also part-tutorial. Till next month, when 'Life Cycles' returns with the story of the man behind Washington DC :- "May the cycles always bring you good fortune."


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The World Wide Web - 'Life Cycles' And The Career Of Tim Berners-Lee

What are you doing right now? You are reading my communication to the world at large, written from my study in Sydney, Australia. I love the fact that I can connect with such a spread of different countries and potential readers. I can share my cutting-edge ideas and research as I go. Isn't this fantastic? If you have a website you can do the same. We are truly the most fortunate generation in all of history. Want advice on a range of products, services and information generally? Go to a search engine (I won't single any particular one out here) and look it up. Incredible what we can find isn't it? We take it for granted. The mighty World Wide Web has changed us all forever.

But it's not all that old is it? I was raised in an era when computers were large and unwieldy things that universities had and you fed punch-cards into them and got answers to your specific (usually mathematical) questions. They used to call it jokingly - 'garbage in, garbage out'. The military used them and academics shared information with them, but it was a closed club of the elite. Just what, and more importantly who, changed all this? ....And when?? Who gave the internet to the people??

We are going to examine the 'Life Cycles' of Sir Tim Berners-Lee - the father of the World Wide Web. We are going to see the amazing correlations of his career highlights and the predictive powers of 'Life Cycles'. You know, I did this analysis on a whim after seeing an article on him. I actually had never heard his name before this. Such was my ignorance. Tim Berners-Lee was born June 8th. 1955, so the two 'significant years' we will be examining are his first two adult 'Years of Revolution' when he was aged 24 and most importantly at 36. What will we find?

We are going back to his first adult age 24 'Year of Revolution' (June 1979 to June 1980). At this time he was a physicist and software engineer, working with D.G Nash Ltd (Ferndown, Dorset, UK), where he wrote among other things, typesetting software for intelligent printers and a multitasking operating system. However, towards the end of this period he applied for and was accepted to work at CERN (the famous Particle Physics Laboratory in Switzerland). He worked as an independent consultant for six months between June and December 1980. So, this was just outside the age 24 period, although the lead-up and destiny-making job offer began within it. I'm not quite as good as science I realise, so I just deal with what I have.

At CERN, the organization consists of many facilities located in a beautiful area in the Jura mountains on the border between France and Switzerland. It was because it was so large and complex, with thousands of researchers and hundreds of systems, that Berners-Lee developed his first hypertext system to keep track of who worked on which project, what software was associated with which program, and which software ran on which computers.

He named his hypertext system Enquire after an old 19th century book he found as a child in his parents house called Enquire Within Upon Everything,which provided a range of household tips and advice. The book fascinated young Tim with the suggestion that it magically contained the answer to any problem in the world. With the building of the Enquire system in 1980, and then the Web ten years or so later, Berners-Lee has pretty much successfully dedicated his life to making that childhood book real. With the hypertext system he used, each new page using Enquire was linked to an existing page. This was the birth of the often used prefix - http://. Ever wonder what it stands for? Well it's stands for 'Hypertext Transfer Protocol'. What about the //?. Tim himself states that it has no particular meaning, just a format that he borrowed to use back in the day. Such is life.

Now we proceed to his central mid-life 'Year of Revolution' at 36 (June, 1991 to June, 1992). What happened during this time to represent the birth of a new and possibly career-defining era? Once again, I'm not representing 'Life Cycles' as foolproof, because some have argued that the birth of the first web server in Dec. 1990 was when it all started. He and his team at CERN (to whom he had returned) were working with a NeXT computer, a company founded by Steve Jobs. This had an advanced operating system, which made it possible for them to rapidly develop software to demonstrate the features of the World Wide Web. Others have pointed to March 1989 when he wrote a proposal to develop a web server, although it got little interest at the time. I'm not too sure about the validity of these arguments, however, since I would argue surely you actually need a concrete instance of the world-first use of a webpage to set the seal on things.

OK, so when exactly was this? Who knows? Without looking it up of course. The first actual website was built at CERN and went online on August 6th, 1991, when Tim Berners-Lee was aged 36. The first-ever web page address was Just 23 1/2 short years ago at this time. Indisputably the birth of the World Wide Web (other things were simply part of the gestation period). Also the birth of Tim Berners-Lee's most important career and life-defining era. That's exactly how I'd call it anyway.

Of course the rest of us caught up with www. some time later. In 1994 Tim Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at MIT in the US. This consists of various companies and organisations, a full-time staff and the public, who work together to create standards and recommendations to improve the quality of the Web. Berners-Lee made his idea available freely, with no patent and no royalties due. As a result of this the World Wide Web can be easily adopted by anyone. Web pages proliferated. How many are there now (of course it changes all the time)? I'm told it's 1.18 billion and you can see how fast at

Now back in June 1991, just before it all began, how do you think it was received by some of his contemporaries? Well I'm going to quote a now famous Press report which stated :-

The Sun newspaper had a Page One large headline which read


and a sub-head that read


and text which read

"A British computer geek's brainwave...could enable computer users to see documents and pictures made available by others in "cyberspace". He uses the "internet system", which so far only links academics but could eventually include anyone....

One scientist said "This could be huge. The idea of linking strangers worldwide, sharing ideas instantly is mind-boggling." But another sneered "They said Sinclair's C5 would change the world. Now you'd struggle to give one away."

And finally a teaser which read

"Riddle of 'E' mail - Page 8"

Well it's a bit of a giggle now isn't it? But such is the way of the world. All great ideas must endure a hostile, or in this case simply mixed, reception before they are accepted. You know...The earth revolves around the sun. The theory of evolution. Diseases are spread by germs etc. etc.

Thank whomever you wish for the free World Wide Web and Tim Berners-Lee. We owe him such a debt of gratitude. I can relate to this of course. My ideas are not met with open criticism or hostility, but simply indifference from academia and the mainstream press. However, it won't stop me giving my evidence to the world at large each month, at no cost. The spread of 'Life Cycles' ideas was born from this blog, in cyberspace, in April, 2009. My research is a child of the World Wide Web. One day this unique idea will also change how we all look at our lives.

This will become a linked post to my SECOND BLOG when I write an article on another great computer pioneer, Alan Turing, whose life was featured in the very popular current movie The Imitation Game. So watch out, it will tell the story of 'The Real Imitation Game'. 'Life Cycles' will return next month with articles on two of our most famous inventors, who also changed our lives forever. Don't miss it and until then :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune."

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Why Living In The Present Is NOT The Answer

It seems that we are being flooded with the benefits of mindfulness meditation; almost constantly exhorted to 'live in the present moment' and not to dwell in 'the disappointments of the past' or 'worries about the future'. This has its roots in the Buddhist religion. Mindfulness meditation is underpinned by a rationale of communing with a universal consciousness, as Buddhists do not accept a creator God. Mindfulness meditation is now widely practiced in the West and has many proven benefits when it comes to anxiety management and improved levels of contentment. However, like everything else that has an overwhelming current appeal, we should also ask :- "hasn't a version of this concept been around before, but without the religious overtones and the heavy emphasis on the present etc.?"

When I was a recently graduated psychologist in the 1970's the newest approach to treatment for all manner of stress relief and anxiety-related disorders was Progressive Muscle Relaxation. As a then student of Behavior Therapy I embraced it enthusiastically. I practiced it at first on myself and later others, for things like public speaking anxiety, phobias and self-confidence. When combined with biofeedback you can monitor the quantity of your improvement. I remember using a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure control on myself with good results.

Now I learn that Progressive Relaxation was developed by an American physician Edmund Jacobson in the 1920's (so well before the likes of me in the 'brave new 70's'). If you combined it with cognitive behavior therapy techniques, you can direct your treatment at specific disorders, which I also practiced. Surprise, surprise, now in the 'brave new 21st. century' it is being combined with mindfulness meditation to create specific programs for treatment of depression and addictions. The question must therefore be asked :- "Aren't we just re-packaging a version of what we had already?"

But the title of this post is neither mindfulness meditation nor cognitive behavior therapy, it is about LIVING IN THE PRESENT. It is actually about the concept of TIME itself. I'll wager not many of you have thought deeply about time. You just accept what you have ie. a watch/clock and a calendar and that measures it. But think about this :- science has no agreed concept of time.

Isaac Newton thought of time as a river flowing at the same rate everywhere. Einstein then changed this picture by unifying space and time into a single 4-D entity called simply spacetime. Approaches to time are not just scientific either, they can be both religious and philosophical. In the simplest terms there is the theory of Presentism, which says that only events and entities in the present exist, excluding both the past and the future. This is contrasted with the theory of Eternalism, which says all points in time are equal. It is supported by the Theory of Relativity and leads to the notion of the unreality of time.

But I'm going to leave aside these loftier notions of having different points of observation in the universe and ask a simple question :- "What is this PRESENT we keep talking about anyway?" When you read this word PRESENT now, in reality you aren't. Light has just travelled at a finite speed and it takes time for it to bounce from the book to your eye. When you see a word, you are seeing it as it looked some time in the past. The same with every object you see or person you talk to. I'm now going to quote you the words of Marcelo Gleiser, who is the Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy and Professor Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College. Gleiser received a Presidential Faculty Fellows Award, given by the White House and the National Science Foundation.

"Take a look around. You may think that you are seeing all these objects at once, or 'now', even if they are at different distances from you. But you really aren’t, as light bouncing from each one of them will take a different time to catch your eye. The brain integrates the different sources of visual information, and since the differences in arrival time are much smaller than what your eyes can discern and your brain process, you don’t see a difference. The 'present' - the sum total of the sensorial input we say is happening 'now' - is nothing but a convincing illusion....

'Now' is not only a cognitive illusion but also a mathematical trick, related to how we define space and time quantitatively. One way of seeing this is to recognize that the notion of 'present', as sandwiched between past and future, is simply a useful hoax. All that we have is the accumulated memory of the past—stored in biological or various recording devices—and the expectation of the future."

Now, of course I may be biased, but I like this argument. It makes perfect sense to me. Right here and now on Earth all we know for sure is the past. Be it the very, very recent past or the much less recent past. It is still the past. According to the philosopher Martin Heidegger :- "we do not exist inside time, we are time. Hence, the relationship to the past is a present awareness of having been, which allows the past to exist in the present." This is close, but not quite the same, as my stance.

So, it will be no surprise to you by now to learn that I do not agree with either 'living in the present moment' or 'all that exists is the present'. Quite the reverse, it's a case of :- 'all we have is the past' and 'if you ignore the past you are participating in a cognitive hoax'.

This viewpoint is totally supported by 'Life Cycles' theory, which is based on detailed and exacting study of past biographical events (in a quasi-scientific fashion). Ignoring the past will leave all of this inspirational material 'out in the cold'. To me this is just plain silly. Mind you, it is all well and good if you just confine your mindfulness meditation to a short time of the day, but it shouldn't totally define your existence.

I have also developed a new form of the notion of SUPERCONSCIOUSNESS based on the integration of events in past cycles within your life. The graphical representation of this is like the image you see above. Our lives are shaped as a series of clocks all measuring out 12 year intervals at the same rate, with only the current clock in what we call the present. 'Life Cycles' has no chronological time concept. You are only ever in one of 12 separate years. So, if you are currently aged 60 and in your important 'Year of Revolution', you are also being in other prior 'Years of Revolution' all at once. Thus you are also 48 and 36 and 24 and 12 for study purposes. This is the material I constantly analyse.

This complex concept requires no belief in an external universal consciousness or past lives (but, of course, doesn't rule things out either); rather it is based on 'Life Cycles' meditation, which involves the compiling of a 'Life Chart' and the contemplation and mental replay of key events on a regular basis. This being said, I am obviously in agreement with the Buddhist notion of the cyclical nature of time, which again I have re-defined as 'Life Cycles' symbolic time. These notions are so new and so radical as to merit you thoroughly reading THE LIFE CYCLES REVOLUTION at least twice.

So don't just go around being a 'mental goldfish' counting each breath and smelling the roses all day long. Don't get taken in by the plausible polemics of 'disappointments of the past' and 'worries about the future'. Try looking at it this way

My life is like a book with each chapter 12 years long. Then I begin this same symbolic journey again. Same underlying structure, but different events and cast of characters.

The future cannot be controlled exactly, but we can know it's general shape. The present is simply an illusory concept, a shorthand way of dealing with time. The past is not just full of disappointments, to say the least, nor is the future to be dreaded and worried about.

Learn from the past it is your most valuable asset. It is all we have.

Till next month :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune." 'Life Cycles' will return with the story of the man behind the World Wide Web. Without the gargantuan amount of history constantly caught in its memory (you know in it's past) we would all be reduced to nothing more than mental troglodytes.

PS. This also happens to be a linked post so go to MY SECOND BLOG. As if it wasn't bad enough, me having a shot at certain aspects of Buddhism, I will soon take aim at the much-lauded psychologist Carl Jung and his concept of 'synchronicity'.