Looking Into the Future

I saw National Geographic Channel’s feature about Nostradamus in Nostradamus: Is it Real and was utterly surprised to saw the same topic again in Discovery channel in Nostradamus: the Truth at least two days after. It was weird, but maybe that’s how competition goes. Ha-ha!

Well, almost everybody knows about Nostradamus, who was extremely famous for his prophecies. It was said that his book of prophecies was sold in very large numbers, and widely circulated all over the world. In both features, they tried to present if these prophecies were really real, or just purely coincidental. His glimpses to the fate of mankind were mostly depressing views of the world, written in different language of French, in a style that depicted clearly the raw visions of his mind.

To give you a background story about how I got acquainted with Nostradamus, I was told off when I was 10 to get ready for the end of the world. Whoah! I was really scared back then, because in that coming year (that was 1999), there would be complete darkness to hover all over the world and widespread hunger where the King of Terror would descend to the Earth. We all panicked there, (hehe, the kids in the neighborhood and old people) about the coming of what we believed as The Judgment Day. But nothing happened. There was no darkness for the coming years, there was no such thing as end of the world (though there was still widespread hunger in other parts of the world and a few eclipses) but still life went on. Now, its year 2008, and everything is running in its usual course. So what the heck just happened at that time?

Did Nostradamus make a very grave mistake OR did we make a huge mistake in interpreting his prophecies?

***

A famous historical event that we can associate with Nostradamus is about Catherine d’Medici and King Henry II ofFrance. Catherine read the book of prophecies of Nostradamus, and summoned him to look into her king’s fate. And Nostradamus predicted the death of her husband – a one quatrain that troubled the queen that tells about King Henry II’s death. And it did happen. It was said that that was the first time that Nostradamus successfully looked into the future.

But there was more: the predictions about the Great Fire of London in 1666, the rise of Hitler, the atomic bombs dropped inHiroshimaandNagasaki, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Although there were seemingly perfect matches, science does not support it. Although many people believe that Nostradamus might have acquired divine inspiration or paranormal abilities, scientists still believe that it is utterly nonsense.

There were also few misinterpretations of the prophecies, some dates written in the quatrains were recalculated, and we cannot deny the fact that because of manual ‘publishing’ of the prophecies, people involved might constantly and unintentionally change the words which only added errors. Then, the original quatrain might have been misprinted by hand, and this is also because of the mistranslation of Nostradamus’s complicated French. He was so careful in anything that he said in the prophecy because of the height of the Inquisition.

But this is my take: the language that Nostradamus used in his prophecy is ambiguous, generally, and this vagueness, I personally think, is responsible for the increase of probabilities. What I think is that he was not looking into the future, but referring back to historical past events, knowing that the astronomical patterns involved in his passion for astrology, would always follow the same historical pattern.


Advertisements

I’m Out of Food!

I was walking in the street when I noticed a long queue of people waiting to buy at least three kilos of rice from the NFA. This is because the market price of the rice in the country nowadays has skyrocketed from 23Php to a painstaking 33Php. But the rice that is being sold in the NFA-accredited stores only costs 18Php, which is convenient to low-income families. Some people find this alarming, but others remained to be passive about it and say that the people are just in the state of ‘panic-buying’.

Hunger is apparently widespread in the country, and it is not only because we have problems in the supply aspects, but the growing demand for food is rapidly increasing each year because of the growing population. Thus, the problem is relative to other problems as well, which includes the employees demanding for a wage increase, transportation groups calling for fare hikes, and the mounting uneasy of the administration’s performance on alleviating poverty of the people.

But with the advent of the agribiotech research on Golden Rice, chances are big that this would alleviate hunger in the country, researchers said.

Golden Rice is one of the genetically modified crops that are in the research pipelines today, along with virus-resistant papaya, bt eggplant, and many more. It is GM rice engineered to produce pro vitamin A. Because it has a value added pro vitamin A, it is regarded as a cure for the Third World countries’s widespread deficiencies in vitamin A that would decrease the risks of blindness in children and other vitamin A related-deficiencies. When you think about it, it seems to be totally amazing, but some critics say the otherwise.

Issues raised by the GMO critics are mainly centered on safety issues of the said modified rice. And they also insisted that there are absolutely alternative and cheap medicines to combat vitamin A deficiencies. Furthermore, beta-carotene/pro vitamin A is consumed when Golden Rice is eaten, but it is a only a precursor for vitamin A, so therefore, in order to absorb vitamin A, one should also consume food that is rich in protein and fat, with which the low-income families couldn’t afford readily. What’s more, they also said that Golden Rice is like a Trojan horse, that if we learn to accept it, then it would be easy to accept other GM crops as well.

Another issue is also the capitalist control. Will other people tend to become richer than the other people? Is there a uniform sizes in the pie in terms of global distribution?

But the truth is, the technology behind the Golden Rice is given free of charge to subsistent farmers. And the issue of capitalist control is not possible because it would not be developed for and by an industry. But let’s just hope and be wary that the benefits of this would outweigh capitalist control and consumers would also benefit from the GM technology.

This is a great leap to limit the possible numbers of blind children and vitamin-A deficiency-related deaths, however, scientists and researchers should be certain of this technology before releasing it to the market. There is definitely a need to continuous monitoring and proper regulation for the introduction of this GM crop.

Presently, Golden Rice is still under rigorous research. IRRI and PhilRice are the two institutions that investigate this project as of the moment. It is said to be available in 2010.

By then, I hope I won’t see a long queue of people in the street squeezing themselves to buy rice.