Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Today's sketch

Update: To view a colorized version (by friend Mike Clelland), click here.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

The art of John Wentz

John Wentz's paintings occupy a realm defined by Big Science, transhuman alienation and jaundiced pop-mythology. Cryptic and cautionary, Wentz's visions of human relationships forged by the parameters of the 21st century compel us to reconcile the zeitgeist with our inner frontiers.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Random sketch of the day

This drawing probably reflects the balmy weather more than it offers any insight into my state of mind. For an almost-abandoned doodle, I kind of like how this came out.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Alien pin

Here's a rambling "interview" with me showing off my new hand-crafted alien pin.

The pin prior to assembly.

(Thanks to Amuck.)

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Raquel Welch greets the New Age.

I couldn't be sure, but I think I glimpsed Daniel Pinchbeck at the end.

More Raquel Welch here.

(Thanks to Electric Children.)

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Some great eye-candy here. Pay attention.

Civilization by Marco Brambilla from CRUSH on Vimeo.

Incidentally, CRUSH is behind two videos from R.E.M.'s latest album.

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My favorite Fortean story of the day

Wallabies get high in poppy fields, make crop circles

Wallabies are breaking into Tasmania's poppy fields and getting high.

The strange occurrence, revealed in a State Government Budget Estimates hearing, has also solved what some growers say has spurred a campfire legend about mysterious crop circles that appear in northern Tasmania's poppy paddocks.

In true X-Files-style, Attorney-General Lara Giddings said the drugged out wallabies had been found hopping around in circles squashing the poppies, creating the formations -- and hence solving the mystery.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flying saucers everywhere!

This record player doesn't actually exist yet, but word is the folks at Area 51 are hard at work making it a reality.

More information and photos here.

The seemingly physics-defying LP puts me in mind of that axle-less concept car (above), which I still contend was inspired by the "drone" fiasco.

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Little green men

I'm always on the lookout for images that might have helped to popularize/disseminate the appearance of the quintessential alien (as depicted in Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and on the cover of Whitley Strieber's "Communion").

This charming cover art, dating from 1959, shows levitating humanoids not unlike the famed Hopkinsville goblins, who made their dramatic appearance just four years earlier.

Note the conspicuously Martian-looking terrain, a staple of 1950s science fiction. Somehow the notion of a desert planet, bereft of recognizably human structures, speaks to our innate sense of the "other."

Related: The Deep Politics of Hollywood: Close Encounters with the Pentagon.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Travel notes

Pointillist memories of San Fransisco, its half-glimpsed streets, the antique neon of Haight-Ashbury as red and liquid as sangria. (Fresh-shaven scalp grudging against worn vinyl cushions as miles dissolve in a polished calligraphy of rivers and serpentine desert roads.)

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Bot of the day

The question: Would you eat sushi fondled by a robot?

Pink Tentacle has more information here.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tabletop barista

(Tip of the hat to Nerdcore.)

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Please return your seats to an upright position.

(Thanks again to @harpersnotes.)

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The art of Christian rex Van Minnen

Christian rex Van Minnen's assemblages fuse human and fungal characteristics with disconcerting results. Terence McKenna would have liked these.

(Hat tip to Bioephemera.)

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This "Matrix"-like image is from "Three-dimensional optical tomography of the premature infant brain," (PDF).

(Thanks to @harpersnotes for the tip.)

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Living in a shell

The Nautilus - Giant Snail-Shaped Home Fit for a Family Gallery

The glittering shell-like paint frames the tongue shaped furniture protrusions that grow from the surrounding walls. Each element has been carefully chosen to coincide with the organic theme of the building, and as Senosiain describes, "This home's social life flows inside The Nautilus without any division, a harmonic area in three dimensions where you can notice the continuous dynamic of the fourth dimension when moving in spiral over the stairs with a feeling of floating over the vegetation."

Also see: Real Life Hobbit House.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Augmented vision

I don't mind wearing glasses; I prefer them to the hassle that accompanies contacts. However, I'd be willing to reconsider if "bionic" lenses ever went commercial.

(Thanks to Grinding.)

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Friday, June 19, 2009

I feel obligated to post this.

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Another "tube woman"

@capnmarrrrk brings my attention to this recurrence of the science fiction "women in tubes" meme from "Spacehawk and the Creeping Death from Neptune." I'm reminded of an MRI machine as devised by a sadistic Jules Verne.

For more vintage comics, take a look at the rest of Golden Age Comic Book Stories.

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Have a few moments to spare? Of course you do. And what better way to spend them than constructing your own Eno-esque soundscapes with ToneMatrix?

If images are your thing (and you're on Twitter), try playing with Portwiture, an experimental app that translates your text input into images. (To see my own Twitter stream visualized, click here.)

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Moon people aren't going to like this at all.

NASA to fire a big exploding rocket at the moon

Now this sounds fun: NASA has plans to fire a rocket into the moon to create a six-mile high explosion. Why? To see if there's any water there that we might be able to use if we ever colonize our largest satellite.

Seriously, how awesome will this be?

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Wheels within wheels

See what a real-life warp-driven starship might look like

The physics behind the warpship is purely theoretical: "Dark energy" needs to be understood and harnessed, plus vast amounts of energy need to be generated, meaning the warpship is a technology that could only be conceived in the far future.

That said, Obousy's warpship design uses our current knowledge of spacetime and superstring theory to arrive at this futuristic concept.

Look familiar? I'm reminded of the hyperspace transport featured in "Contact" (shown below).

Meanwhile, scholar William Henry suggests that the hypothetical "warpship" bears a significant resemblance to the enigmatic "wheels" described by Ezekiel in the Bible.

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The "women in tubes" meme is astonishingly prevalent in Golden Age genre fiction. To the best of my knowledge, this album remains the definitive resource, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover additional illustrations. The following are just a few examples I've amassed while editing this blog.

Lastly, here's a contemporary example (designed to mimic its pulp counterparts):

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Care for a cup of Wilkins coffee?"

A rare glimpse of Kermit the Frog in his sociopathic years:

(Thanks to Nerdcore.)

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"Mars Attacks"

The famously violent "Mars Attacks" trading cards are reproduced in high-resolution right here. (Surely someone's thought to make posters of these!)

Card 4 brings the Thomas Mantell controversy to mind . . .

And has Richard Hoagland ever entertained the social engineering implications of card 53?

(Tip of the hat to Forgetomori.)

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Biological printing

Watching this video, I felt a small but perceptible sense of wonder.

(Tip of the hat to Beyond the Beyond.)

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"There Will Come Soft Rains"

When the ruins begin to sing (BLDGBLOG)

Malfunctioning fire alarms going off inside foreclosed homes have become a major distraction for fire departments in suburban Arizona, according to ABC15 News.

Fire fighters, however, cannot legally enter a property unless they see smoke or have obtained the owner's permission. But in an era of bank ownership and rampant foreclosure, even finding the owners can take weeks.

The result is that "neighbors have to listen to the alarm until the battery dies, which can take days."

First we were surrounded by ruins, and then those ruins began to sing.

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High as a kite

High-flying kites could power New York

"For cities that are affected by polar jet streams such as Tokyo, Seoul, and New York, the high-altitude resource is phenomenal," Archer continued. "New York, which has the highest average high-altitude wind power density of any U.S. city, has an average wind power density of up to 16 kilowatts per square meter."

Several technologies have been proposed to harvest these high altitude winds, including tethered, kite-like turbines that would be floated to the altitude of the jet streams at an altitude of 20,000-50,000 feet and transmit up to 40 megawatts of electricity to the ground via the tether.

But don't expect the high altitude wind harvesting to begin right away. Th researchers say that a lot needs to fall into place before the technology is feasible for large-scale electricity generation.

(Via KurzweilAI.net.)

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Heidi Taillefer: redefining "fembots"

Thanks to Sentient Developments for introducing me to the work of Monreal-based artist Heidi Taillefer, whose paintings explore the implications of biotechnology with disquieting visions of chimeric organisms and anatomically precise representations of the human form besieged by machinery.

Like J.G. Ballard, Taillefer offers chilling yet irresistible perspectives on the tenuous barrier between "organic" and "artificial."

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Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm Mac. Who are you?

Rita J. King of Dancing Ink Productions wants to know how you perceive digital culture. Are we headed toward a solipsistic cul-de-sac or is the Internet a force for creativity and progressive change?

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Oh, the angst!

This is a detail from a full-size doodle.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009


WAHHA GO GO nonsense machine (w/ video) (Pink Tentacle)

To activate the machine -- which looks like a skeletal humanoid with accordion-like lungs and a big toothy grin that takes up half its head -- simply spin the heavy metal disk mounted on its torso. WAHHA GO GO rears back its head, takes a deep breath, and exhales through artificial vocal cords to emit an uncanny laugh that invites you to laugh along with it (or at it).

Yes, we laugh -- but considering WAHHA GO GO's worryingly Gigeresque mug, perhaps out of self-defense.

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They're coming for me!

Are UFO's Buzzing the UMKC Campus?

"He grew up on military bases and couldn't identify it at all," said Margie Kay, Director of KC MUFON.

Kay said sightings like the one at UMKC are on the rise since the start of the year. They used to get one or two sightings a month. Now, it's one or two a day.

"It's keeping us all too busy. Yes. At one point a couple of months ago I received 11 reports on the same day," said Kay.

Considering that the UMKC campus is down the street from my pad, I'm forced to conclude that abduction is inevitable.

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I like mine with a twist.

For sale - pretty girls' saliva

The seller claimed the saliva was a 'tonic' and was asking the equivalent of £2 a small bottle, reports Hunan Online.

Listings for the bottles included pictures of the 18-year-old girls the saliva was supposedly taken from.

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Do you sense a theme here?

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"No one wants to hear the horrible truth!"

It's been years since I last uploaded any drawings to the Web, so here's a recent self-portrait, complete with menacing UFOs. Hopefully more will follow.

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Friday, June 12, 2009


Shrinking star puzzles scientists

"We really don't know," said Nobel Prize-winning physicist Charles Townes. "It's a puzzle."

Betelgeuse, about 600 light-years away according to NASA, has lost in its radius a distance comparable to the orbit of Venus, according to Townes.

[. . .]

Over the past 15 years, Townes said, Betelgeuse has shrunk in diameter more rapidly each year. It is the first time, using a consistent measuring tool, that scientists have noticed a marked change in the size of the red supergiant, said Berkeley physicist Edward Wishnow, who has studied the star with Townes for three years.

I'm struck by the prospect of an ET civilization engaged in some unguessable act of astro-engineering . . .

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High-octane conspiracy fodder

Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified

For 15 years, scientists have benefited from data gleaned by U.S. classified satellites of natural fireball events in Earth's atmosphere -- but no longer.

A recent U.S. military policy decision now explicitly states that observations by hush-hush government spacecraft of incoming bolides and fireballs are classified secret and are not to be released, SPACE.com has learned.

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Saucer groove

What about Music? UFO Drums

Music evolves. So do the instruments. And when they do, some instruments turn into UFO's, probably because designers like to associate futurism with alien vessels.

What was I just saying about everything looking extraterrestrial?

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Mondolithic Studios envisions futuristic nanomachines:

When Neal Stephenson sat down to wrote "The Diamond Age," I'm sure something uncannily like this image was dominating his mind's eye.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

But is it Bluetooth compatible?

Motorola celebrates 25 years of mobile phones with 12 concepts that look nothing like mobile phones

In an effort to build such a mythology, 31 of Motorola's designers, from five different offices around the globe, have been dedicating a portion of their time since late last year to a project called "Motorola 2033." The initiative, under the auspices of the Consumer Experience Design team (CXD), uses the 25th anniversary of the mobile phone as an opportunity to imagine mobile device design 25 years on, resulting in a curious set of research-based blue sky concepts rooted in some fantastical, yet plausible suppositions.

My favorite of the bunch is the Tender, shown above; I think it looks like a UFO. (Then again, sometimes I think everything looks vaguely extraterrestrial.)

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Aliens amuck!

Amuck, a local industrial jeweler, is crafting a fetching alien head for my private collection. Take a look:

For more Amuck, click here.

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Inflatable beanstalk

Inflatable tower could climb to the edge of space

A "traditional" space elevator.

The tower does a similar job to the much-vaunted space elevator. But while the elevator envisages using ribbons woven from superstrong nanotubes - a material that is as yet non-existent - the tower would use materials that are already available. And should something go wrong with the tower, failure of a few modules would not cause the whole structure to collapse.

This idea appeals to me very much, so I'm all-but-certain that I'm overlooking some fatal flaw. Pros? Cons? Feel free to comment.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

I have seen the future, and it is soft.

Universal 'Rubik's Cube' Could Become Pentagon Shapeshifter

One day, that could lead to "morphing aircraft and ground vehicles, uniforms that can alter themselves to be comfortable in any climate, and 'soft' robots that flow like mercury through small openings to enter caves and bunker complexes." A soldier could even reach into a can of unformed goop, and order up a custom-made tool or a "universal spare part."

If this puts you in mind of a certain ongoing ufological controversy, you're forgiven.

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Let's roll!

(Thanks: Dvice.)

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Stunning Japanese Moon imagery

Low-altitude video of lunar surface (in HD) (Pink Tentacle)

In its final days before crashing into the surface of the moon on June 11, Japan's KAGUYA explorer has been shooting high-definition footage of the lunar terrain from low altitude.

[. . .]

The KAGUYA probe will end its scientific exploration of the moon with a controlled impact on the lunar surface. The crash, scheduled for 3:30 AM (Japan standard time) on June 11, 2009 (6:30 PM GMT on June 10, 2009), will occur in the shadow on the near side of the moon, at 63 degrees south latitude and 80 degrees east longitude.

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No vantage point

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Lamentably, "Blade Runner" didn't see this one coming.

Hell, even William Gibson missed the boat.

(Thanks: Boing Boing.)

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Indistinguishable from magic?

SETA: Finding a 'Graveyard Civilization' (Centauri Dreams)

What we don't know is how representative we are. Nor do we know the limits of exponential growth, for they may lie not at the planetary but the solar system level, assuming they’re not fully surmountable in the first place (by some future civilization if no one has done it in the past). A success at finding some kind of artifact here in our own system would at least tell us that an interstellar crossing is not out of the question, but how much further do we want to take these conclusions? The authors raise the question themselves, and point out that " . . . we cannot rule out the possibility that ETI civilization may follow a development pattern sufficiently different that we wouldn't recognize it even if we detected its signal."

Italics mine.

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I suppose it was only a matter of time.

I've finally been "outed" as an alien. (Just take a look at the caption for the photo accompanying this, er, "revealing" article.)

(Thanks to Greg Bishop for helping to blow my cover.)

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"The Age of Stupid"

"The question I've been been asking is 'Why didn't we save ourselves when we had the chance?'"

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Abducted by space Amazons!

Semi-random pulp science fiction cover illustration of the day:

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You can run, but you can't hide.

Estrogen in Waterways Worse Than Thought

The report, published in the current issue of Fish & Shellfish Immunology, adds to a growing body of research pointing to problems with estrogen in the nation's waterways.

Other research has found evidence of estrogen exposure in freshwater and some marine fish populations. In a previous report, USGS scientists found widespread occurrences of fish in the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers with "intersex" characteristics -- male fish carrying immature female egg cells in their testes. Other scientists observed similar problems in fish in Southern California and in labs in Canada and the United States.

Scientists have not targeted the source of estrogen, but many suspect it stems from certain pollutants and drugs in waterways.

(Via The Keyhoe Report.)

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

"Sandman Slim"

A pivotal text of my pre-Internet years was Richard Kadrey's "Covert Culture Sourcebook," a lyrical guide to emerging authors, zines, fringe technology, and music. Only much later did I discover Kadrey's fiction; "Metrophage" and "Kamikaze "L'Amour" are among my favorite cyberpunk novels.

Kadrey's forthcoming "Sandman Slim," needless to say, is on my to-read list.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Does the government want you to believe in crashed UFOs?

According to Nick Redfern, the disquieting answer is "yes."

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Household pests of the apocalypse

I'm tempted to write a short-story based on the cover illustration above just to say I did it.

More far-out Spanish genre covers here.

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