Uncategorized, Venezuela

Venezuela – Look Alikes, Hyperinflation and Unconcerned Birds

October 29, 2013 100 Bolivares banknote, front, Venezuela
December 7, 2017 100 Thousand Bolivares banknote, front, Venezuela

The banknote on the left was issued in late 2013. The banknote on the right was issued in late 2017.  The denominations, bolivares, are the same.

 

The front and back images are the same.  The left banknote is more beige in color and the right banknote is more yellow in color.

Both banknotes have the numeral 100 displayed prominently.  The banknote on the right, however, adds the word “mil”, thousand, after the word “cien”, hundred.  The banknote on the left is 100 Bolivares.  The banknote on the right is 100,000 Bolivares.

At the time of issuance of the 100 bolivares banknote in 2013, it was equivalent to approximately 10 US dollars.  So that means that, at that time, 100,000 bolivares would buy pretty much the same thing as would 10,000 US dollars.

At the time of issuance of the 100,000 bolivares banknote in 2017, it was equivalent to about 1 US dollar.

That means that, in December 2017, it takes ten times 100,000 bolivares, or 1 million bolivares, to buy what could be bought for 100 bolivares just 4 years ago, in 2013.  Another way of saying this that the value of the bolivares has been divided by 10,000; or, yet another way of saying this, is that, the price of things to buy in Venezuela have gone up by a factor of 10,000, in 4 years.  Life today is ten thousand times more expensive then it was 4 years ago.  And, think of this, Venezuela has the largest known oil reserves in the world.  Why then, is it not among the richest nations of the world?

 

detail from back of 100 bolivares banknote, Venezuela (2013)

Said a man of old: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”  This is natural Law.  Hyperinflation occurs when men make a mess of things.

image from internet

The birds illustrated on the back of our banknotes are Cardenalitos.  They are native to Venezuela in Parque Nacional El Avila and found also in verly limited surrounding areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bahamas

Bahamas – The Beautiful

detail from front of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.
front of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

The Bahamas issued a beautiful banknote commemorating the 500th anniversary of Columbus setting foot in the New World, which happened to be, The Bahamas.

 

 

 

detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.
back of of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

In this map of The Bahamas on the left, the island group is shown, and the individual island, San Salvador, is labeled. San Salvador is the island accepted by preponderance of scholarship as the island upon which Columbus first set foot October 12, 1994.

 

 

 

detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

It was morning.  And we might imagine the sun rising distant and glorious, illuminating the paradise before those three little sailing ships.  It was October 12, 1492, Friday according to our reckoning.  Christopher Columbus climbed down from the Santa Maria, into a little excursion boat, rowed the short distance to the little island, and stepped ashore.

This pre-Industrial Age, pre-Age of Enlightenment, pre-Scientific Revolution, pre-Reformation, Admiral, armored and weaponed, with his fleet of three ships anchored behind him, and the monarchy of Spain behind them, stood before handful of curious and naked inhabitants of Guanahani, for so they called their island home.

I cannot imagine a more fateful meeting in world history.

The record of this first day ashore is reproduced below.

 

detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

To be sure, the Bahamas are very beautiful islands.   Columbus reports seeing only parrots on his first venture.  And these parrots are beautiful as illustrated here on our banknote.

These parrots live in there island nations of the Caribbean Sea; the Bahamas and Cuba and the Cayman Islands.  Leucocephala Bahamensis are also known as the Cuban Parrot and the Rose Throated Parrot.

These beautiful birds gather in gorgeous flocks during the Winter, and then disperse into mating pairs from March to September.

 

detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

Phoenicopterus Ruber, or, the American Flamingo, is also known as the Caribbean flamingo, although it lives also in the Galapagos islands in the Pacific ocean. It is the only species of flamingo native to North America.

This beautiful bird grows to 4 feet or 5 feet tall and lives for 40 years, one of the longest life spans in the kingdom of fliers.

detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

Our Cylura Rileyi, or San Salvador Rock Iquana lives on three island groups in The Bahamas.  Our iguana grows to about 15 inches long and can be very colorful with colors varying from subspecies to subspecies and among individuals in a subspecies.

 

detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

The Coat of Arms of The Bahamas has a shield at center with the shining sun over the Santa Maria , the sailing ship of Columbus.  Overhead is a conch shell brimmed with five palm fronds.  To the left is a marlin and to the right is a flamingo, the national wildlife of the Bahamas illustrating its island nature.

 

 

 

The following is the record of October 11 and 12, 1492, from the Journals of Christopher Columbus:

detail from front of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

Thursday, 11 October. Steered west-southwest; and encountered a heavier sea than they had met with before in the whole voyage. Saw pardelas and a green rush near the vessel. The crew of the Pinta saw a cane and a log; they also picked up a stick which appeared to have been carved with an iron tool, a piece of cane, a plant which grows on land, and a board. The crew of the Nina saw other signs of land, and a stalk loaded with rose berries. These signs encouraged them, and they all grew cheerful. Sailed this day till sunset, twenty-seven leagues.

After sunset steered their original course west and sailed twelve miles an hour till two hours after midnight, going ninety miles, which are twenty-two leagues and a half; and as the Pinta was the swiftest sailer, and kept ahead of the Admiral, she discovered land and made the signals which had been ordered. The land was first seen by a sailor called Rodrigo de Triana, although the Admiral at ten o’clock that evening standing on the quarter-deck saw a light, but so small a body that he could not affirm it to be land; calling to Pero Gutierrez, groom of the King’s wardrobe, he told him he saw a light, and bid him look that way, which he did and saw it; he did the same to Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, whom the King and Queen had sent with the squadron as comptroller, but he was unable to see it from his situation. The Admiral again perceived it once or twice, appearing like the light of a wax candle moving up and down, which some thought an indication of land. But the Admiral held it for certain that land was near; for which reason, after they had said the Salve which the seamen are accustomed to repeat and chant after their fashion, the Admiral directed them to keep a strict watch upon the forecastle and look out diligently for land, and to him who should first discover it he promised a silken jacket, besides the reward which the King and Queen had offered, which was an annuity of ten thousand maravedis.

At two o’clock in the morning the land was discovered, at two leagues’ distance; they took in sail and remained under the square-sail lying to till day, which was Friday, when they found themselves near a small island, one of the Lucayos, called in the Indian language Guanahani.

Presently they descried people, naked, and the Admiral landed in the boat, which was armed, along with Martin Alonzo Pinzon, and Vincent Yanez his brother, captain of the Nina. The Admiral bore the royal standard, and the two captains each a banner of the Green Cross, which all the ships had carried; this contained the initials of the names of the King and Queen each side of the cross, and a crown over each letter Arrived on shore, they saw trees very green many streams of water, and diverse sorts of fruits.

The Admiral called upon the two Captains, and the rest of the crew who landed, as also to Rodrigo de Escovedo notary of the fleet, and Rodrigo Sanchez, of Segovia, to bear witness that he before all others took possession (as in fact he did) of that island for the King and Queen his sovereigns, making the requisite declarations, which are more at large set down here in writing.

Numbers of the people of the island straightway collected together. Here follow the precise words of the Admiral: “As I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted, and became wonderfully attached to us.

Afterwards they came swimming to the boats, bringing parrots, balls of cotton thread, javelins, and many other things which they exchanged for articles we gave them, such as glass beads, and hawk’s bells; which trade was carried on with the utmost good will. But they seemed on the whole to me, to be a very poor people. They all go completely naked, even the women, though I saw but one girl. All whom I saw were young, not above thirty years of age, well made, with fine shapes and faces; their hair short, and coarse like that of a horse’s tail, combed toward the forehead, except a small portion which they suffer to hang down behind, and never cut. Some paint themselves with black, which makes them appear like those of the Canaries, neither black nor white; others with white, others with red, and others with such colors as they can find. Some paint the face, and some the whole body; others only the eyes, and others the nose. Weapons they have none, nor are acquainted with them, for I showed them swords which they grasped by the blades, and cut themselves through ignorance. They have no iron, their javelins being without it, and nothing more than sticks, though some have fish-bones or other things at the ends. They are all of a good size and stature, and handsomely formed. I saw some with scars of wounds upon their bodies, and demanded by signs the of them; they answered me in the same way, that there came people from the other islands in the neighborhood who endeavored to make prisoners of them, and they defended themselves. I thought then, and still believe, that these were from the continent. It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion. They very quickly learn such words as are spoken to them. If it please our Lord, I intend at my return to carry home six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn our language. I saw no beasts in the island, nor any sort of animals except parrots.” These are the words of the Admiral.

 

 

Poland, Uncategorized

Poland’s Copernicus – The Revolutionary of Revolutions

Nicolaus Copernicus wrote a book and called it “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.” The Heavenly Spheres were the five known planets of his age. The word “planet” came from the ancient Greek word for “wanderer”, because these five planets appeared to wander about against the fixed background of the starry night. These wandering movements had for millennium puzzled and intrigued the minds of people. Copernicus added our Earth to the classification of planets and argued that it moved through the heavens like the other five wanders, and that they all traveled around the Sun.

Galileo was born 21 years after Copernicus died, and built upon the work of Nicolaus.

 

detail from front of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, Nikolai Kopernik

Copernicus wrote the book when he was around 40 years old. But because he anticipated that his ideas would be controversial, he delayed publication until just before his passing about 30 years later.

He didn’t seek to be controversial but merely sought a more elegant explanation for the truth of the observed universe. He sought Beauty. He built upon the ideas of predecessors, many of them out of the mainstream of contemporary thought.

His book is considered now to mark the beginning of the Scientific Revolution which has completely transformed our understanding of the world.

 

detail showing the insight of Copernicus: Revolutions of Planets around Sun, back side of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland

The Sun at center surrounded by 6 circles for the orbits of the 6 planets. (Copernicus assumed orbits were circular as did his predecessors. Later, the true ellipse shape of orbits was uncovered.)

Our Earth is shown in the third orbit at its 4 prime astronomical locations, Spring equinox, Summer solstice, Autumn equinox and Winter Solstice.

 

detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing positions of Mercury and Venus

The two nearest planets, Mercury and Venus.

Mercury occupies the innermost orbit.

Venus occupies the second orbit from the Sun.

Our Earth occupies the third orbit from the Sun. It’s four prime orbital positions are illustrated on our banknote.

 

detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing position of Mars

 

Mars occupies the fourth orbit from the Sun.

Two of the four prime orbital positions of Earth are shown in the third orbit in this detail.

 

 

detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing orbits of Jupiter and Saturn

Jupiter occupies the fifth orbit from the Sun.

Saturn occupies the sixth orbit from the Sun.

 

Poland, 1000 zloty banknote, back
Poland, 1000 zloty banknote, front

Nicolai, you’re awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romania, Uncategorized

Romania – Marked by the Sun for the New Millenium

The 2000 Lei banknote was designated by Romania to be redesigned in honor of the approaching year 2000, the dawn of the new millennium.  The theme selected was astronomical in view of the happy circumstance of a total eclipse traversing the country in 1999.

Solar systems as depicted on front of 2000 lei banknote, Romania

Our solar system is depicted on the front of Romania’s 2000 Lei banknote.

One can count 8 planets in this artist’s rendition of the solar system.  It was a bold move.

In 1930, Pluto was discovered and considered the solar system’s ninth planet.  In 1992, it was first suggested that this ninth “planet”, Pluto, might be reclassified, no longer as a planet, but, as a dwarf planet.  This suggestion was met with great debate and outcry.

In 1998 our artist prepared this 8 planet mural of our solar system for Romania’s eternal commemoration of the solar eclipse to sweep the country at the dawn of the new millennium.

In 2005, an object 25% more massive than Pluto was discovered orbiting our sun in the Kuiper belt, and Pluto’s fate was sealed.  Both Pluto, and the newly discovered Eris, were classified as “dwarf planets”, and the term “planet” redefined to exclude these smaller bodies.  Therefore, as of 2006, at the beginning of the new millennium, our solar system is considered to consist of just 8 planets.

But Romania depicted it thus in the old millennium!  Rather forward thinking of Romania, don’t you think?

The other side of the banknote features a silhouette map of Romania together with the trail of the sun’s shadow across the country.

detail from Romania 2000 lei banknote.

The colors blue and yellow and red are the colors of the national flag, and color the map of Romania depicted on the banknote.

As the earth rotates eastward towards the sun, our moon, speeding also eastward overhead, but at approximately twice the speed of the land below, moves briefly into that region where it blocks the sun’s rays to the earth.  The track of the shadow cast by the moon, as it eclipses the sun, moves eastward across our earth.  On this day in 1999, it is shown passing through Romania, commencing in the western extremity of the country, and passing through its southeastern regions.

It is a magnificent reminder of the immense movements of this world we inhabit.

 

detail showing track of total solar eclipse in western Romania

The northernmost and southernmost extent of totality ar indicated by the outside pair of lines.  The middle line indicates the center of the shadow track where totality lasts the longest, approximately 2 minutes and 23 seconds.  The adjacent two lines on either side of the centerline indicate where totality lasts 2 minutes.  The next pair of lines indicate 1 minute 30 seconds of shadow, and the next pair of lines indicate 1 minute of shadow.

Major western Romanian cities in the path of totality are shown on the map.

 

Major central and southeastern Romanian cities in the path of totality are shown in this portion of the map of Romania.

Bucuresti is the capital of Romania, and one of the great cities of Europe.  The history of Bucharest dates from at least the 15th century, and was the one time home of Vlad III, or Vlad the Impaler, or otherwise known as Vlad Dracula; yes, you read that correctly, Dracula.  His name had its origin in the name given to his father, Vlad Dracul, or, Vlad the Dragon, upon becoming a member of the order of the dragon, or dracul.  Dracula is the genitive form of dracul, and means essentially, son of the dragon.  Vlad appears to have been born in 1429 after his father settled in Transylvania, a historic region in central Romania.  The order of the dragon was dedicated to fighting the Ottoman advance into Europe.

A similar map with additional detail, provided by NASA, is included below.

NASA map showing details of solar eclipse across Romania in 1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe – The Signpost of the Balancing Rocks

 

detail from front of banknote (2006), Zimbabwe, showing balancing rocks

This stacked configuration of rocks is a common trail marker for hikers in North America, and, I’d guess, the rest of the world.  Two stones stacked might be a coincidence.  But three stones stacked, or more, isn’t considered natural.  Such stacking is an evidence of intent, and therefore, a signal, or signpost.  And so, such hand stacked stones are commonly used for trail markers in the wilderness.

But these rocks in Zimbabwe are massive. They weigh tons.  For a sense of scale, note in the image, the treetops surrounding the stones.

What giants stacked such stones?

And what sign did they wish to leave for us?  What trail did they intend to mark?

They are signposts of the constructing powers nature.  These stones congealed from molten lavas, as plutonic granites, within massive volcanic flows, just beneath the surface of the earth.  As subsequent ages of erosion by wind and water lowered the surface of the land, and scoured the soils between the stones, these giants of the past were left, revealed.

The travel brochures tell us that the stones symbolize a need for balance between development and ecological preservation.  That’s nice sentiment, and I am sure it is true.  But it’s a sentiment that feels somehow imposed, rather than derived; and more contrived to sell postcards rather than to communicate a wisdom learned.

detail from front of 100 Trillion Dollar banknote (2006) Zimbabwe

Especially considering this simple 3 stone signpost of nature appears beside the number One Hundred Trillion on a Zimbabwe banknote.  “Trillion” is a word that was almost never heard a decade ago.  It was used for measurements in science but almost never for money.  A trillion is a thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand.  It’s a number that we really cannot imagine.  A thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand dollar bills, stacked on top of each other, would reach over 60 miles high.  That number on a banknote indicates something seriously out of balance.

In the 1990s, president Robert Mugabe used monetary policy to rebalance the country’s culture after the serious racial imbalance of the past.  The adjustments created serious imbalances in other ways. and the national economy was impoverished.   The relation between a day’s labor, and the money received, became entirely out of balance. An imbalance of money was printed to offset the other imbalances; and the self-perpetuating cycle of hyperinflation took off, until the dollar was meaningless.  This 100 trillion dollar banknote, in just a short time, became equal to zero.

Imagine placing 100 trillion dollars on one side of a balance scale and nothing on the other side, and the scale showing a perfect balance.

But those three stacked stones remain, balanced, an eternal signpost.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan – The Great Al-Farabi, the Second Master

1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan (1993), featuring Al-Farabi

Al-Farabi shines in world history as one of the brightest stars in the firmament. He commands unqualified respect across religions and political cultures worldwide.

His contributions illuminate our world to this day in Music and Mathematics, Geometry and Logic, Psychology, Politics and Philosophy.

Al-Farabi. detail from front of 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan (1993)

Writing in the early 10th century, Al-Farabi found philosophy dead. He revived the Greek philosophers through extensive translation, commentaries and contributions. Considering Reason to be superior to Revelation, he solved many challenges of the day advancing Islam to a sounder polity.

A worthy summation of his career might be that given by Maimonides, perhaps the greatest of all Jewish philosophers. Writing two hundred years later, Maimonides said of Al-Farabi: “If Aristotle is the first master, the second one is undoubtedly Farabi”. As an indicator of the world-wide respect Maimonides as well as for Al-Farabi, the moniker stuck. Al-Farabi is widely known today as “The Second Master”.

Architectural detail by Al-Farabi. 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan (1993)

His massive tome, The Book of Music, Kitâb al-musiqâ al-kabîr, is considered the single most important medieval manuscript in the Islamic world.

While classifying music under mathematics, he asserts that music must be performed and that the ear is the final judge. The hearing may usurp some fine mathematical principles. He wrote on the therapeutic effects of music upon the soul.

 

 

 

Geometric constructions by Al-Farabi. Back of 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan (1993).

Islamic architecture and craftsmanship has long been characterized by elaborate geometric patterns.

>The artisans of the era had design told consisting of little more than a straight edge and a compass. The craftsman’s task was to construct, with these tools, architectures and patterns and designs that surprise the mind and uplift the spirit.

 

mathematical formulae. detail from back of 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan (1993)

 

 

 

Geometric construct by Al-Farabi. Detail from back of 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan.

Al-Farabi’s text book entitled, “A Book of Spiritual Crafts and Natural Secrets in the Details of Geometrical Figures” advanced the craft considerably.

In it are numerous geometrical constructs with designs and proofs.

 

 

Geometric construct by Al-Farabi. Detail from back of 1 tenge banknote, Kazakhstan,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Syria, Syria, Uncategorized

Syria – The Elba Tablets

Syria, series 2010, 50 pond banknote, front, featuring the Al-Assad National Public Library in Damascus

The Syrian national library in Damascus is a treasure chest of world history.

Damascus is one of the ancient great cities of the world, and considered the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.  A 10th century geographer, Al-Maqaddasi, said Damascus ranked among the four earthly paradise.

Mark Twain, upon his visit to the city in 1867, remarked, “To Damascus, years are only moments, decades are only flitting trifles of time. She measures time not by days and months and years, but by the empires she has seen rise and prosper and crumble to ruin. She is a type of immortality.”  A burgeoning art movement had been developing in Damascus since the 1980s or so until the present civil wars era.  Artists from around the word as well as Syria exhibited regularly in the proliferating galleries throughout the city, as the arts were sponsored by, although also censored to some extent, by the state.

Ebla tablets, back side of Syria 50 pound banknote 2010 series

Known as the Elba tablets, these clay scripts include over 1500 complete tablets and 4500 fragments, written in both Sumerian and an ancient, as yet not assuredly identified, language.  They date from 2500 BC until the destruction of the city of Elba in 2250 BC.

They were discovered in 1975, in situ, on collapsed shelves, just as they were left 4000 years ago.  The palace library containing the tablets was destroyed and burned.  The fire baked the tablets in place, helping to preserve them.

detail of the Elba tablets

They provide the first known references to Lebanon and the Canaanites.  “Damaski” is noted in the tablets, which many understand to be referencing the city Damascus.  The tablets are held today in Syrian museums in Damascus, Aleppo and Idlib.

 

 

 

 

 

statue of Hafez Al-Assad, detail from front of 2010 series, 50 pounds, Syria banknote

Hafez Al-Assad (1930-2000), father of current president Bashar Al-Assad, was president of Syria from 1971 until his death in 2000.