Wednesday, June 30, 2004


"The MOST team used their tiny but powerful satellite as a stellar stethoscope to take the pulse of one of the best-known stars in the Galaxy, called Procyon (PRO-see-yon), and were shocked to discover their cosmic patient is a 'flat liner'. The star shows none of the pulsations predicted by over 20 years of earlier theory and observations from Earth. The journal Nature will publish these unexpected findings on July 1."

A scientific anomaly! Quick -- who do we make fun of?
Now that I actually stop to think about it, I don't think there are two separate stories about my book by Wireless Flash after all. I think the one posted below is it. That interview was a while ago and I only remember that the guy sounded incredibly bored, apparently peeved that he had to ask me questions about a subject which he must have considered hopelessly outre and embarrassing.

I was aware that this morning's radio hosts were very much intent on making the "spiders" laughable, but at least it was live and I was able to clarify. And considering they were taking their cue from Wireless, who can really blame them?

Tomorrow morning should be interesting; I'm assuming the Irish hosts picked up the story from Wireless as well and will attempt a similar "hit." ("Hey, this moron thinks there are giant, blood-sucking spiders on Mars! And, uh, tumbleweeds! I know what he's smoking!" Of course, you have to imagine this being said in a thick Irish accent.)
New World Disorder was kind enough to locate the complete text of the "Spiders From Mars" article. It's pretty goddamned awful. My comments are in [brackets].

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Wireless Flash) -- There are indeed spiders from Mars -- but David Bowie is nowhere near them.

[Suddenly, that joke isn't funny anymore.]

Kansas City-based UFO expert Max Tonnies says evidence suggests the red planet is inhabited by giant spider-like creatures resembling mold colonies.

["UFO expert?" WTF? "Max"? Spider-like "creatures"? I never said any of this!]

Tonnies also says orbiting probes have photographed large banyan trees and sponge-like creatures similar to tumbleweeds rolling across Mars on a regular basis.

[Totally out-of-context or else completely fabricated. I don't know where in the world those "tumbleweeds" came from. Why did they even bother going through the motions of an "interview" if they knew they were going to write this shit?]

Unfortunately, the only way to prove Mars is inhabited by spiders and sponges is to send a manned mission, but Tonnies doesn't expect NASA to blast off anytime soon.

[Well, they got the last part right.]

He says the space agency is split between the scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab, who are obsessed with building robotic geologists, and engineers at the Johnson Space Center, who have their hands full with the International Space Station.

[More or less. At least they refrained from lobbing anymore incomprehensible "sponge" accusations . . .]

Still, he's holding out hope that another country with a space agency will take up the slack and prove life exists on Mars within ten years.

[Finally -- something I actually said.]

Tonnies discusses life on Mars in a new book, "After The Martian Apocalypse" (Paraview Press).

[Paraview Pocket Books, you meatheads. It's a completely separate entity.]

[And yes, I know exactly what's going on here. Systematic marginalization of anything that doesn't fall into "normal" ontological circuits. To quote The Smiths one more time, "I've seen this happen in other people's lives; now it's happening in mine."]

Pictured above are some of the real Martian "spiders" (NASA's own term, by the way).
Here's a story about the Mars book Wireless Flash News is circulating (apparently one of two). I was called up this morning by a show in California and asked about the anomalous Martian "spider" formations depicted in "After the Martian Apocalypse." (The hosts were under the impression that the "spiders" were literal, potentially astronaut-threatening arachnids . . .)

So far as I can tell, the hosts heard of the book from Flash News . . . and now Flash News has recycled the CA interview. Unfortunately, since I don't subscribe, I can't read the actual article.

Real Spiders From Mars Don't Know Ziggy Stardust
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Wireless Flash) -- There are indeed spiders from Mars -- but David Bowie is nowhere near them.

(The Bowie idea was mine. Or maybe I just dreamed it was mine; I was tired.)

"But you could have walked away, couldn't you?"

Two radio interviews today, the longest being an hour-long spot on the Tony Gill Show, which was a lot of fun. My Wireless Flash News interview has evidently been making the rounds; tomorrow morning I do an interview for a station in Dublin, Ireland.

"Please the press in Belgium."

--The Smiths, "Paint a Vulgar Picture"
Gadget May Help Sleepers Choose Dreams

"Tokyo-based Takara Co. says its 'Dream Workshop' stand - shaped like an oversized cellular phone dock and about 14 inches tall - can be programmed to help sleepers choose what to dream."

It's a start, I suppose.

Then again, do we really want to control the dreaming process?
Deep part of Arctic Ocean holds previously unknown forms of life

"An ice-covered, deep part of the Arctic Ocean, which is believed to hold the world's oldest seawater, is being scoured by scientists taking an inventory of aquatic life in the Arctic, the least-documented ocean on the planet."

We might find a similar environment beneath the ice on Jupiter's moon Europa.
Literary hero/voice of reason John Shirley (bookmark his blog right now if you haven't already) will be at the Bodhi Tree bookstore in Los Angeles (8585 Melrose Ave.) to discuss his new book, "Gurdjieff: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas" (Tarcher/Penguin) this Thursday at 7:30.

I'd catch this personally, but the MTVI Learjet is in the shop at the moment . . .

(Click here for my review of "Gurdjieff.")

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I've added Nietzsche's "Thus Spake Zarathustra" to my tottering pile of books to be "downloaded." You can get the thrift edition (above) for less than four bucks.
In yet another fit of digitally facilitated self-indulgence, I've added "After the Martian Apocalypse" as a discussion topic in the PB Message Boards, linked on the left-hand sidebar. Needless to say, this is the official, authorized venue for discussing the book. Beware of shallow, pretentious wannabes.

Don't have the book? Hey, that's fine. Get your ass to and start clicking!
Level 3 of Consciousness

"In Level 3, we start with a vision of what we want to create. From there we choose our models. Sometimes a chosen model may seem insane to the other inhabitants of the little patch of space-time we happen to occupy. No matter. Men with a vision of goodwill have often looked insane in times of mistrust and scarcity. But in Level 3, we realize that the universe is not a maze to be navigated; it is a baby to be brought up. When we give it love, clarity, and opportunity, we raise a child to be a joyful, giving, successful adult. This is the opportunity we have to farm our little patch of space-time."

Very well-said. I can't believe I haven't read Brodie's book. Although I remember looking in the index for any mention of Burroughs' "language-as-virus" concept and being disappointed.
I'm standing in the dark
With my innocent hand on my heart
I've changed my plea
I've changed my plea to guilty
Because freedom is wasted on me
See how your rules spoil the game

Outside there is a pain
Emotional air raids exhausted my heart
And it's safer to be inside
So, I'm changing my plea
And no one can dissuade me
Because freedom was wasted on me
See how your rules spoil the game

Something I have learned
If there is one thing in life I've observed
It's that everybody's got somebody
Oh no, not me
So I've changed my plea to guilty
And reason and freedom is a waste
It's a lot like life

--Morrissey, "I've Changed My Plea to Guilty"

Monday, June 28, 2004

You know, I really don't care to see "Fahrenheit 9/11." I thought I did. Upon reflection, though, I couldn't possibly care less about it. I'm tired of Michael Moore. I'm tired of Bush. Why in hell would I want to spend two whole hours of my life watching the latter's antics and policies lampooned and denigrated? I mean, how hard can that possibly be?

For that matter, no more political/anti-war commentary on this blog. Honestly, I'm sick to death of the subject. Fuck it.

I've got bigger fish to fry.

The Fort formation near the Face on Mars.

I find this image of Acidalia Planitia on Mars quite interesting. The main "knob" has a decided similarity to the "Fort" in nearby Cydonia.

I just got another great button design from SpaceTramp.
I drink lots of espresso. I prefer to drink it out of ceramic; those Dixie-sized paper cups are somehow demeaning. I think $1.80 warrants the classy white porcelain treatment.

The problem is that ceramic drinkware (is that a word?) scarcely keeps the espresso any warmer than the corporate paper substitute.

So I've an idea. Why not run toaster-like electrical filaments through the ceramic to keep the drink hot? Power source, you ask? No problem. I think a lithium-ion battery, similar to those used in the matchbook-sized cellphones you see everywhere, should suffice nicely. The manufacturer could even attach an activation button to the handle so the discerning espresso-drinker could use coveted battery power when s/he needs it most -- which is typically right before you're finished, and there's only a shallow pool of rapidly cooling, inky-dark espresso at the bottom of the cup . . .
Another great fringe news site: The Anomalist, run by editor and friend Patrick Huyghe.
Two reasons to read Wireless Flash News . . .



Sunday, June 27, 2004


"Michael Soper, a spokesman for Contact International, said last night he was sure it was another message from outer space. He said that while many crop formations were clearly done by dedicated crop artists, some contained messages and were unexplainable."

I still think that some crop formations are unexplained. But vanishingly few. The "Tesla glyph" isn't one of them.

Arecibo "response" formation.

Also from the article:

"It is being likened to a design discovered in Hampshire two years ago, which some crop circle enthusiasts claimed was a reply to the famous 1975 [Arecibo] message sent by NASA outlining the genetic make-up of humans, in an attempt to contact other worlds."

I'm pretty confident that one's a fake as well.
Bad news, everyone . . .

"We regret to announce the disturbing passing of Mac Tonnies, who on the 5th of July of this year was carefully perforated by several zombies. This unfortunate incident occurred in a murky swamp on the Island of Tihi. The deceased was reported to have shouted 'Does anyone have a band-aid?' just before expiring. Mac Tonnies is survived by a goldfish. Funeral services will be held the 3rd of next month."

Created by the Random Obituary Generator of Doom.

Snuffy's Suicide Attempts

Poor baby, life is rough for you, huh? No one
seems to see you, no one notices your
pain--except for your friend Big Bird, but he's
always off hanging out with his other friends.
You wish you were him, all happy and curious
and popular and bright yellow. You feel like
his shadow anymore, like the only reason you
exist is to amuse him. It's hard being
somebody's imaginary friend. But stop trying
to kill yourself--imaginary people can't kill
themselves. Sorry. And hey, maybe tomorrow
you'll feel better!
Someday people will see you, I promise.

Which Sesame Street Muppet's Dark Secret Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

"Snuffy" . . . There's some kind of morbid semantic weirdness at work here.

(I discovered both of the preceding items at Chapel Perilous. Where else?)
The reviews are in. One of them, anyway. Here's Publishers Weekly's take on "After the Martian Apocalypse":

"Was there once intelligent life on Mars? Consider the Face, a remarkably human-like image located in the Cydonia Mensae region of the Red Planet. NASA says it's just a natural formation but, as science fiction writer Tonnies points out, it does look spookily human. He describes other findings on Mars that could be the remains of a pre-cataclysmic civilization: grids that recall a 'metropolitan infrastructure'; and the Fort, a seemingly artificial structure located a few miles from the Face. While Tonnies claims scientific objectivity, his breathless tone in considering the magnitude of these discoveries is directed at believers, not skeptics. He rhetorically exploits contemporary fears, citing the possibility of an 'ecological 9/11' in support of the idea that humans must colonize space. He also calls for a manned mission to Mars to examine the Face and other phenomena to determine if they are natural or artificial formations. The value of reviving manned space missions is hotly debated in the scientific community; for those who feel its necessity is a given, Tonnies offers more fuel for the argument."

This really isn't a bad review, but I groaned when I read this part:

"While Tonnies claims scientific objectivity, his breathless tone in considering the magnitude of these discoveries is directed at believers, not skeptics."

In truth, this book is littered with "disclaimers" attempting to eradicate the notion that the subject, as strange as it is, somehow requires "belief." And since when is pointing out very real threats to human existence "rhetoric exploitation"? Publishers Weekly makes me out to be an unconditional fearmonger. Actually, I'm of the opinion that we need rational, informed "fear": specifically, a newfound collective knowledge that our planet is inconsequential in a cosmic perspective, and that yesterday's asteroidal near-miss may be tomorrow's global holocaust.

And is it just me, or does the sentence "[Tonnies] also calls for a manned mission to Mars to examine the Face and other phenomena to determine if they are natural or artificial formations" undermine the assertion that Cydonia is the turf of "believers"?

(Interestingly, though, they never accuse me of metaphysics . . .)

Lastly, here again is the scoop on the all-too-rapidly approaching July 10 "debut" discussion/signing:

July 10, 2004, 8:00 PM
Barnes & Noble
420 West 47th Street
Kansas City, MO 64112
(816) 753-1313

I've got big shoes to fill. One of the last authors to do a signing at this particular location was Emeril Lagasse. Fans were huddled in the aisles hours before the event. It was pretty sad.
I was browsing at Barnes & Noble tonight and, lo and behold, there's "After the Martian Apocalypse" on a wall display containing a sheaf of coming events notices.

Here's what they have to say about me:

"Detailing the very latest Mars discoveries, local author Mac Tonnies steps away from his usual science fiction into science fact. Meet him tonight."

What the sheet doesn't say is that you can "meet" me at Barnes & Noble almost every night . . .

They've got "Apocalypse" filed under "Metaphysical." Evidently I am a writer of metaphysics; I was not aware of this. Mis-labeled writers of the world unite!

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Soils and atmosphere intricately linked

"Just as our body is a composite of many different organs, the biosphere is one big, interconnected system of many component parts. Air, water, soil and all living things are parts of it. Major changes to one of these components can have a ripple, or feedback, effect through all of them in the same way that a stroke or heart attack reverberates through the rest of the body."

Local contrast stretch image of Face on Mars (as photographed by Viking). Compare to Northumberland visage.

Rock 'Face' Mystery Baffles Experts

"Archaeologists have found a trio of extraordinary stone carvings while charting the phenomenon of prehistoric rock markings in Northumberland, close to the Scottish border in the United Kingdom."

This sort of reminds me of something . . .
Gov't scientists need approval to help WHO

"Government scientists must now be cleared by a Bush political appointee before they can lend their expertise to the World Health Organization, a change that a Democratic lawmaker said fits a pattern of politicizing science."

My day's off to a great start. How about yours?

Friday, June 25, 2004

Jason, who had "After the Martian Apocalypse" on pre-order at a Borders in Kansas, reports that it's finally arrived.

The next time you're at your bookstore of choice, see if they have it. (It's labeled "Science" but it may very well be in the "New Age," "Speculation" or even "Occult" section.) If they don't have it in stock, ask them to order it for you. And this is the cool part: You don't even have to buy it. What are they going to do? Make you buy it?

If it sits behind the counter long enough stores simply add it to the shelves, where it can be seen. This is a common trick, practiced shamelessly by authors and fans alike. So not only are you helping my career, you're sticking it to The Man.
Hey! I got a letter from the editor of that "erotic" fiction zine that's going to publish my android story.

Here's what he (she?) has to say:

Mac got your story. It was great and funny. Waiting for your next story. Next time please put it in an attachment. Thank you.

"Great and funny." Yes, sir. This is the big time.
Spirit's 'Pot of Gold' Perplexes Researchers

"'This is a fiendishly difficult target to study,' said Steve Squyres, rover principal investigator from Cornell University, during a mission briefing Friday. 'I don't know how these things formed and it's driving me nuts, to be honest.'"

Perhaps some of these findings wouldn't be quite so "fiendish" if JPL would at least consider the possibility of organic activity on Mars.

I just got this new entry from SpaceTramp. Impressive. She's showing up Sauceruney and Bsti. Will I have a three-way tie on my hands?
Is your brain really necessary?

"The student in question was academically bright, had a reported IQ of 126 and was expected to graduate. When he was examined by CAT-scan, however, Lorber discovered that he had virtually no brain at all."

This isn't the only such case on record. Colin Bennett devotes a chapter to the "absent brain" phenomenon -- and its disturbing implications -- in "Politics of the Imagination," a critical study of Charles Fort.
Iraq War Analysis Paints Grim Picture

"As of Jun. 16, it estimates that between 9,436 and 11,317 civilians have been killed as a direct result of the U.S. invasion and ensuing occupation, while an estimated 40,000 Iraqis have been injured. In addition, during 'major combat' operations both during the invasion and after May 1, 2003, the report estimates that between 4,895 and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers and insurgents were killed as of mid-June."

Mandatory Draft Coming-Soon

"There is pending legislation in the House and Senate (twin bills: S 89 and HR 163) which will time the program's initiation so the draft can begin at early as Spring 2005 -- just after the 2004 presidential election. The administration is quietly trying to get these bills passed now, while the public's attention is on the elections, so our action on this is needed immediately."
This just in from Arizona resident/PB online correspondent Bill Dash . . .

Strange Lights Spotted After Power Outage

"Now, some are pointing to strange lights in the skies as a possible link to that massive outage. The disturbance was large enough to shut-down all 3 units at the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant. About the same time as this massive power outage some people in the West Valley spotted something strange hovering in the sky."

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I'm not a hugely materialistic person. But I really, really want one of these chairs. In red. The sooner the better.
UA Scientists Help Create Spacecraft That Think for Themselves

"Researchers at the University of Arizona (UA), Arizona State University (ASU) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are working to solve this problem by developing machine-learning and pattern-recognition software. This smart software can be used on all kinds of spacecraft, including orbiters, landers and rovers."

Wouldn't it be cool if we entrusted our nuclear arsenals to a space-based AI? And the AI started getting angry with us? Didn't they make a movie about that?
Two gems from today's PAG E-News. (Special thanks to Peter A. Gersten.)


"These pictures are transferred from the spacepeople civilisations by a hyperspace wavepattern receiver (Receives signals from a different spectrum that travels mutiple times faster than the speed of light).The pictures are sent from alien spacecrafts who belongs to the galactic civilisation.The pictures shows landshapes,cities and so on from inhabited planets in other solarsystems in our and other galaxies.The pictures are sent to the receiving equipment by a intergalactic network.This network operates on a spectrum that allows a signal to travel 10000 light years in 1 nano second."

No comment.

U.N. Says Globe Drying Up at Fast Pace

"One-third of the Earth's surface is at risk, driving people into cities and destroying agriculture in vast swaths of Africa. Thirty-one percent of Spain is threatened, while China has lost 36,000 square miles to desert - an area the size of Indiana - since the 1950s."

It appears we are living in a J.G. Ballard novel.
Bigfoot Exposed!

"First of all, I consulted what's called an anthropometric source book, which contains a ridiculous number of measurements on populations of human beings. Even if this thing on the film was as large as Krantz and others were claiming, it was not outside the range of human variation. But as it turns out, you can't measure reliably off of that [Patterson] film--there are too many unknown variables."

Not a bad article about Bigfoot. I, for one, am not ready to write Sasquatch off; I think there are the makings of a genuine zoological debate lurking amidst the claims, counter-claims and drearily predictable urge to "debunk" at all costs.
Taking Life's Final Exit

"Others speculate that the dying may be experiencing visions similar to those in a dream. 'The mind has its own set of analgesics," said sociologist Robert Fulton, a University of Minnesota professor emeritus and a pioneer in the study of death and bereavement in the 1960s. 'The mind is well capable of drugging itself. In a dream, there might be the euphoria of meeting a dead friend and having a conversation . . . . The brain is kind of cleaning itself up, like a computer downloading.'"

The references to terminally ill people "visiting" earthly places are especially fascinating.

My own reactions to the "afterlife" debate have changed significantly over the years. While I've always been agnostic, I've been generally inclined to view death as final and all-encompassing. For example, I was angry at Timothy Leary when he opted not to have his brain cryonically preserved; I interpreted his sentiment that death was "the ultimate trip" as so much pseudo-religious bullshit.

My viewpoint is more flexible now. Perhaps it's possible for some form of consciousness to survive biological death. At this point it wouldn't surprise me. I suspect that aliens, if they're here, have probably refined consciousness into an actual technology -- and that we may be getting closer to the point where communication with the dead (assuming it's possible) is removed from the realm of wishful thinking.

This isn't to say I necessarily buy the concept of individual "souls" (a word, like "spiritual," that I find maddeningly vague). Perhaps awareness is more along the lines of a universal commodity, like mass or energy; it's only natural to try to anthropomorphize it.

On a related note: Is it possible that some of the "places" I routinely visit in my dreams are, in some way, actual locations? Sometimes I experience an overwhelming nostalgia for places I've never been. Not all of these places seem entirely Earth-like; nevertheless they can seem suffocatingly familiar. On one hand, these bizarre locales could be electrochemically derived; on the other, they could represent something beyond our ability to properly define. Nodes on some cosmic Internet?

Supposedly the normal everyday world is "real." I'm not so sure. I have a hunch that "reality" is the ultimate con.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Give this Space Invaders knock-off a try. It's harder than it seems at first.
I Am Unique

"If your parents kept on having children, they'd have to visit the maternity hospital another million billion times to stand a chance of producing another child with your genes."

Of course, this directly implies that my parents would have to have sex at least a million billion times -- and that's a scenario I'm just not equipped to deal with.

This morning I did an interview with Wireless Flash News. (Cool site!) I had rather a lot to say about spineless pseudoskeptics and lame Martian conspiracy theories.

The guy kept wanting me to commit to the word "belief." As in: "So you believe there was an intelligent civilization on Mars?"

"I don't 'believe' anything," I told him, honestly. "There's no need for 'belief'; all of this is scientifically testable."

It didn't stop him, though.

Estella Warren marvels at the architectural triumph that is Ape City. (Posted purely for its ironic, postmodern appeal.)
Note: I'm sorry; I think that last post was actually the 1,001st. I don't know what I was thinking.

Bush Hides Documents About Environmental Policy

"President Bush regularly talks about the need for other countries to display 'transparency' and create an open system that allows citizens to see what their government is doing. But, according to a new report, the Bush administration is hiding thousands of previously public documents to 'undercut the public's right to know about contamination of the environment, transport of hazardous materials, pipeline routes, and more.'"

More: Bush Greenwatch
Folks, this is my 1,000th post on this blog. Let there be dancing in the streets! I christen June 23 "International Mac's Blog Day"!
Virtual reality significantly reduces pain-related brain activity

"Virtual reality appears to dramatically change how the brain physically registers pain, not just how people subjected to pain perceive the incoming signals, according to a new study by a group of University of Washington researchers."

I recently had a cavity filled (sans anesthetic) while wearing wireless headphones and watching scuba-diving footage on a flatscreen a couple feet above my head. While watching a passive DVD is a far cry from virtual reality, I was nonetheless able to transfer my senses to the world on the screen with some success. The familiar meat-based "me" that surfs the Web and reads books was lying in a dentist's chair while some other aspect of my self -- a more synaptic, abstract "me" -- was pursuing schools of brightly colored fish through inviting waters . . .

One of my favorite solutions to the so-called "Fermi Paradox" involves VR. Might a sufficiently capable alien civilization transplant itself into a simulated world, severing its ties with the outside universe in the process? I see increasing numbers of people who seem quite literally addicted to their cellphones and personal digital assistants.

Is this the beginning of a silicon-based collective solipsism? Instead of expanding into space, might we instead choose the frontiers of our boundless information ecology?

In my stereo . . .

1.) 2001: A Space Odyssey (soundtrack)
2.) Galore (The Cure)
3.) Out of Time (R.E.M.)
4.) Naked Lunch (soundtrack)
5.) Kid A (Radiohead)
Metabolic rate may be missing factor that aligns genetic evidence with fossil record

"On a deeper level, the new idea suggests that a single, unseen clock is operating in all forms of life, dictating the rate of genetic change that ultimately produces new species."

It's this apparent "clock" that I'm interested in. Can we change its settings? More pressingly, does it have an alarm?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Bsti's latest PB contest entries . . .

Too "noisy"? Perhaps. But maybe I like "noisy."

This one's designed to be seen on a black background. (Yeah, baby!)
Latest Iraq-al Qaeda "Evidence" Proves False

"Just days after the bipartisan 9/11 Commission acknowledged that there was 'no credible evidence' to support the White House's pre-war assertions of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection, the Bush administration is now putting out 'new evidence' that supposedly proves the claim. But as reported by newspapers around the country, senior U.S. intelligence officials say this 'evidence' is false."

But, hey, it's not all bad!

Coalition: Vast Majority of Iraqis Still Alive
New contest entry by SpaceTramp . . .

Kinda "retro." Hmmm.
Going Up

"The ribbon is a piece of carbon-nanotube composite. In as little as 15 years, Edwards says, a version that's three feet wide and thinner than the page you are reading could be anchored to a platform 1,200 miles off the coast of Ecuador and stretch upward 62,000 miles into deep space, kept taut by the centripetal force provided by Earth's rotation. The expensive, dangerous business of rocketing people and cargo into space would become obsolete as elevators climb the ribbon and hoist occupants to any height they fancy: low, for space tourism; geosynchronous, for communications satellites; or high, where Earth's rotation would help fling spacecraft to the moon, Mars, or beyond."

I think the space elevator's time has finally come. On news-stands now, featuring imagery by Kenn Brown, one of my favorite digital artists.
Panel OKs implant to fight depression

"Using a technique known as vagus nerve stimulation, the device uses electrodes implanted in the neck to activate brain regions that are believed to regulate mood." (Via Chapel Perilous.)

I wonder is some enterprising neuronauts will discover how to "beat the machine" and use their implants to induce a state of near-permanent bliss -- shades of laboratory rats who would rather die of starvation than surrender control of their pleasure centers.

Conversely, I can foresee the arbitrarily wealthy paying handsomely for a pill or implant that allows access to various depressive states. Recreational depression: "You know, I really feel like brooding tonight . . ."

In the first chapter of "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" Philip K. Dick introduces a gadget called a "mood organ" that accomplishes much the same thing acoustically.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Bsti has entered the contest with a vengeance with his animated take on Sauceruney's design . . .

It doesn't get much cooler than that.

Or does it?
Blogs Welcome at Dems' Convention

"A handful of scribes publishing in a newer medium will join the thousands of newspaper, magazine and broadcast journalists at this summer's political conventions. They'll be blogging."

Meanwhile, the Republicans are apparently scared stiff at the very concept. Maybe blogs are the work of Satan, or something. Paging Mr. Ashcroft . . .
'Black box' cam for total recall

"'SenseCam has been designed to act like a black box for the human body,' lead researcher Lyndsay Williams told BBC News Online."

Whoa! Forget audioblogging and photoblogging! This is, well, portentous . . .
SpaceShipOne rocket plane climbs above Earth's atmosphere in first private space flight

"SpaceShipOne [. . .] employs a novel design in which its twin tailbooms and the back half of each wing rotate upwards to create drag for a brief time, much like feathers slow and stabilize the flight of a badminton shuttlecock. The tailbooms and wings then return to normal for the glide back to Earth."

This is historic. It might even warrant a mention on the front pages of mainstream newspapers.

Cynicism aside, I'm authentically excited about this. Because I want to go to space, damnit. And efforts like SpaceShipOne are getting me that much closer.
Contest deadline approaching

The Posthuman Blues button contest is rapidly approaching its July 1st deadline. Sauceruney is presently in the lead with his nicely color-coordinated design.
Group to search for killer asteroids with historic telescope

"NASA has given a Topeka-based group of amateur astronomers $56,060 to use optical parts of the so-called Pitt telescope to search for asteroids that could hit the Earth."

It's a start, I guess. But what happens if they find one? Suppose they find a murderous chunk of rock heading our way and astronomers are unanimous that it will extinguish all life as we know it. Further suppose that we have, say, ten years until impact. What changes? What will we do?

For many, a civilization-destroying threat from space would probably be welcomed as justification for religious rhetoric. And although I'm not 100% sure, I think George W. Bush is probably among them. I'm sure "End Times scholar" Tim LaHaye and company could work annihilation from space into their masturbatory apocalyptic forecasts just as Jerry Falwell rationalized the September 11 attacks as evidence of God's displeasure with secular humanists and other liberals.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

I chanced upon an unpublished story on my hard-drive, which I just emailed to the "erotic" e-zine I mentioned not long ago. It's more satire than an authentic attempt to write something "sexy." Nevertheless, it asks not-insignificant questions: Assuming we eventually make convincing sex androids, what might the experience be like? And who, exactly, will be having these experiences?


"Jason ran his fingers possessively through Trisha's lank, braided hair as she kissed at his groin and unrolled the hem of his beer-stained T-shirt with cool, thin fingers. When he removed his hands from her once-famous coif, some of Trisha's hair came away glued to the sweat on his palms. He frowned elaborately and clutched Trisha's shoulders, kneading her skin and relieved to find it warmly human-like, as advertised."

In my story, Jason is a loser living in the "apotheosis of mid-21st century suburbia." And "Trisha" -- a high-tech sex-doll based upon a has-been pop idol -- is decidedly less than state-of-the-art: her lips are disintegrating; her hair is falling out. And she's in urgent need of a sound-card.

"When he'd bought Trisha, she'd been pretty much indistinguishable from the original: slim, curvy, with braided black hair and eyes so soulfully large they resembled Japanese anime. Her flawless olive skin denied attempts to decipher ethnicity.

"Trisha had been expensive -- more than the Hyundai he'd bought when he was seventeen. Four years later, the sedan graced the apartment's lawn like a decrepit shrine, tires shredded, hubcaps stacked nearby like dirty dishes. Trisha was faring better than the car, but not [by] much."
I've gradually become aware of a few words I probably use too much.

One of them is the aforementioned "imminently," which I've been using in place of "eminently." This heinous error even made it into my book. D'oh!

Another is "innocuous." Don't ask me why, but I like this word. It's eminently useful.

Here's another: "portentous." I over-use the hell out of this word. Not because I think it makes me look "smart"; I genuinely like it. If words were condiments, "portentous" and "innocuous" would be like Grey Poupon mustard -- unless I monitor my dosage I tend to go overboard.

What is it they say in addiction-recovery groups? "Awareness is the first step to recovery?"
Alongside Rick Strassman's book on DMT research, I'm reading Colin Wilson's "The Outsider" -- an astute and fascinating book that tells it like it is. Camus, Kafka, Nietzsche, H.G. Wells, existential nausea -- Wilson's got the territory covered.

Wilson penned "The Outsider" when he was 24, helping him to become something of a literary superstar in England. The edition I'm reading has a cool first-person introduction about Wilson's short-lived fame, the trappings of publishing success and the critical establishment's intellectual snobbery (especially pronounced in 1950s England).

I'm making less progress in the fiction arena. Just today I found two science fiction books that look like they might be worthwhile, but I refrained from actually buying them on the spot. I have a large pile of "to-reads" collecting on my refrigerator and others scattered about less conspicuously.

My apologies to those who've sent me review copies of their books -- I'll get there. Eventually.

"Tonight, June 20, 2004, was a record setter here in the UFO capital of the Northwest. My friends, we have visitors. We have LOTS of visitors. I don't know where they are, or what they may look like, but...They are here."

Man, why can't I see this stuff?

'Blazar' illuminates era when stars and galaxies formed

"Astrophysicists at Stanford report spotting a black hole so massive that it's more than 10 billion times the mass of our sun. More important, this heavyweight is so far away that the scientists think it formed when the universe first began to light up with stars and galaxies, so it may provide a window into our cosmological origins."

I'm not sure I like the term "blazar." Sounds like an SUV. Which, after reading about this monster's cosmic fuel requirements, actually makes a great deal of sense.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Personals beamed out into the universe

"Through the use of radio waves that carry voice messages to outer space, a Pennsylvania company is enabling people to launch belated goodbyes to lost loved ones, words of comfort to missing pets or birthday wishes to a family member."

As one who has tinkered with Internet classified ads, I think I'm qualified to express my deep conviction that this is just as likely to attract the person of your dreams (if not more so).

I'm in a really maudlin mood at the moment. Can you tell?
The Cosmos as pure sentience. Is matter simply a convenient metaphor provided by our senses? What do you "see" when you strip away the veil?

Anonymous smile outside the museum. The distant glow of traffic; the endless susurration of fountains; consciousness like an odorless smoke hanging in the cool evening air.

The aftertaste of strange endorphins.

There is something I wanted to tell you
It's so funny you'll kill yourself laughing
But then I look around
And I remember that I am alone.

--Morrissey, "Come Back to Camden"
Blind River's ahead -- by 10 minutes

"This may read like an X Files story, but something in the Blind River area is moving electrically powered clocks ahead by 10 minutes. Hydro One is not only surprised but stumped."

Doesn't the Book of Revelations specifically mention malfunctioning electric clocks?

Perhaps the laws of physics have begun to decay in the Blind River area. Soon the entire planet will be consumed in irreparable quantum entropy. Bring it on.

Friday, June 18, 2004

The building to the direct lower-left of the red thumbtack is my place.

Look up your own place of residence here.

Experiment finds puzzling new particle

"Scientists at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will announce on Friday, June 18 the observation of an unexpected new member of a family of subatomic particles called 'heavy-light' mesons. The new meson, a combination of a strange quark and a charm antiquark, is the heaviest ever observed in this family, and it behaves in surprising ways -- it apparently breaks the rules on decaying into other particles."

I love it when physics doesn't play by the rules.

Long-Destroyed Fifth Planet May Have Caused Lunar Cataclysm, Researchers Say

"Our solar system may have had a fifth terrestrial planet, one that was swallowed up by the Sun. But before it was destroyed, the now missing-in-action world made a mess of things."

And we're supposed to accept that the astronomers in this article have never heard of Tom Van Flandern's Exploded Planet Hypothesis?

(Thanks to the ever-vigilant Bill Dash for the heads-up.)
Shell Boss Tells Newspaper Future Is Grim

"A chairman of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Cos. said in comments published Thursday that he sees 'very little hope for the world' unless there is a reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions."

This is news? Of course the future is grim. The present is grim, for god's sake.

But don't mind me.
Memorable scene today at Starbucks: Some young corporate type was demonstrating the voice-recognition feature on a new slate-style laptop.

The damned thing wouldn't work. "Start Menu," he kept saying, tersely. His clients watched impassively. "Start Menu. Start Menu . . ."

Finally the computer managed to display the Start Menu, upon which the salesman repeated the same routine, this time with "All Programs" . . .

"Voice recognition isn't perfect," I heard him say in a reasonable voice. "But it's getting better."

I sipped my coffee and smiled.

I did a fun interview about my book with England's UFO Review this morning. Watch this space!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Ike and the Alien Ambassadors

"These aliens -- nicknamed 'Nordics' in UFO circles because they resemble Scandinavian humans -- traveled to Edwards from another solar system in a flying saucer and, Salla says, they spoke to Eisenhower."

I actually posted an inferior article regarding Salla's "research" a while back, but thought this one was worth a look.
Is The Moon An Artificial Orbiter?

"The Moon acts suspiciously like an artificial machine rather than a natural body of space rock. It circles the Earth in a perfect circular orbit, always keeping one face turned toward the Earth, something the planets and other moons around them rarely do. Only Lapetus, one of the moons circling Saturn, shows similar characteristics." (Via Post-atomic.)

There are two possibilities that come to mind -- one immediate and other less so. The Moon could be an artificially emplaced mechanism designed to hasten the development of intelligent life on Earth; or its seemingly deliberate nature can be explained by a version of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle: If the universe didn't exist as we observe it, we simply wouldn't be here to observe it. We are an outgrowth of the Cosmos, intricately woven into its fabric. In light of the Anthropic Principle, the fact that the Moon exhibits some "uncanny" traits indicating artificiality isn't necessarily that surprising.

By the way, isn't it weird how the Moon (which is tiny but really close) and the Sun (which is huge but really far away) just happen to appear the same size to ground-based observers? This illusion is dramatically illustrated during solar eclipses. If the Moon is indeed an artifact constructed by some ancient alien intelligence, this might be a tip-off . . .
Cities set for stickier summers because of climate change

"CO2 concentrations stand at 379 parts per million (ppm), according to measurements taken in March at a US observatory on Hawaii, which put the year-on-year increase at three ppm. This compares with the yardstick of 280 ppm of pre-industrial times."
Daylight Triangular UFO Caught On Video

"The triangular craft could not be seen, just the lights! Recorded the sighting on my camcorder for about 4 minutes. Video clearly shows these lights flying BEHIND a pine tree just in front of my position. And again, after the sighting, I became ill. My brain felt as if it was pushing itself out from my skull and my stomach became upset. This lasted about five minutes."

It seems to me that the three lights visible in the clips must have been quite bright to be seen at all. This can probably be measured scientifically. The biological effects are interesting, too. Was the witness subjected to gravity displacement or EM radiation?

"Fuck the Vote is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, founded in 2004 in response to a wave of attacks on voter apathy and general laziness. FTV immobilizes young people and prevents them from creating positive social and political change in their lives and communities. The goal of FTV's media campaigns and street team activities is to decrease youth voter turnout. With a few minutes of piss-poor Photoshopping, I was even able to create a logo for my organization. So let your lack of a voice be heard, and Fuck the Vote."

Unless, of course, you're voting for me.
TransVision 2004: "Art and Life in the Posthuman Era"

I really, really need to enter this.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Barnes & Noble has a poster for my July 10 discussion/signing posted. A friend told me he'd seen it so I wandered around the store looking for it. Turns out it's on the 3rd floor -- probably so perusers of science and science fiction are more likely to see it.

Needless to say, it features eWarrior's hallucinatory "Singularity" portrait alongside a picture of the cover.

Will they think I'm a complete pompous ass if I ask if I can keep it after the signing?
Bush Misleads On Separation of Church and State

"President Bush said at a press conference yesterday, 'I think it is very important for people who are serving to make sure there is a separation of church and state.' The comments, however, stand in stark contrast to new legislation that the White House is pushing that would give religious institutions taxpayer funding and allow religious charities to become directly involved in political campaigns."
The Son of Patriot Act Also Rises

"Under the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II provisions passed in the Intelligence Authorization Act last year, the FBI doesn't need a court order or probable cause to obtain the transaction records for patrons of libraries, Internet service providers, telephone companies, casinos, travel agents, jewelers, car dealers or other businesses."

Yeah, yeah -- but it's for your own good, you see.
Caught on film - five UFOs in the skies above Emley

"'We usually have planes flying past but not in such a regular formation,' she said. 'It was very strange.'"

The English moors have a rich "paranormal" history. The UFO literature is littered with references to "window areas" -- places where, for whatever reasons, nonhuman intelligences can more easily interact with "normal" reality . . .
So Where the Hell is Hyperspace?

"What if instead of bending space itself we could somehow bend the perceptual boundaries that limit our view of reality? What if there was some switch we could throw to blow open our default data-gathering settings so we could start receiving information on broadband instead of narrow-spectrum? Would you want to throw that switch? Would you want to take a look into hyperspace?"

Well, would you?
Richard Dolan ("UFOs and the National Security State") is one of my very favorite speculators on the UFO problem. In his essay "Of Astronauts and Aliens," he recounts puzzling "test screenings" of footage depicting presumed aliens.

"Say that your job is to 'manage' this [ET/UFO] information," he writes. "You know that certain individuals in the military are more likely than others to encounter the reality of UFOs or non-human beings in the course of their career. Showing such a movie could be one method by which to screen potential candidates for special ET-related assignments. How do they deal with the information? Do they handle it professionally, or do they crack?"

Makes sense to me. And since the military appears to be taking extraterrestrials seriously, it's quite possible the mysterious footage shown to military personnel is authentic -- thus the justifiable concern. And why bother fabricating an autopsy (or similar scenario) when the actual event is already committed to film? Who will believe it if leaked?

All of which raises questions about the eponymous "alien autopsy" footage. I'm inclined to think the AA depicts an actual event. The problem is the alleged "alien's" very human-like anatomy -- hardly the sort expected of visitors from another star. The autopsy alien, if real, seems to be a biologically manufactured being, perhaps some sort of expendable drone custom-made by the "real" aliens. If true, then maybe we have a partial answer for the myriad distressing accounts of alien embryo harvesting that have surfaced over the last 50 years -- the "alien" in the infamous footage may be predominantly human, but brought to maturation under nonhuman supervision.

Whitley Strieber hit on a creepily similar answer in his Roswell crash-inspired novel "Majestic"; the UFO/alien oversight committee of the book's title discovers two distinct types of beings in the wreckage of a downed craft: a truly bizarre and decidedly unearthly "Gray" with only superficial human characteristics, and a modified human -- both dead. (The latter is so human-like, in fact, that the mortician who sees it accuses the Air Force of unethical human experimentation.)

Maybe the being in the autopsy footage is the equivalent of the biologically tailored human depicted by Strieber. Interestingly, when I emailed Strieber shortly after the AA's release in 1995, he replied that he'd seen beings just like the cadaver -- presumably alive.

Is David Jacobs close to the truth with his theory of an impending takeover by human-alien hybrids?

I wonder.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Image by Mondolithic Studios.

This Is Not A Hoax, Dammit!

"Oh my God how we love doomsday scenarios. Nothing raises the hair on the back of our species' necks and generates chat-room rants and sells movie tickets faster than massive global self-immolation, than piecing together all the proofs of just how screwed our gorgeous planet is and what would happen if we were all suddenly wiped out by a massive conflation of war and disease and angry space rocks."

Not to mention malevolent sentient machines, supernovae, melting ice caps, and invading aliens!
Yahoo voluntarily upgraded my email account -- great news, because along with extra disk-space, I no longer have to contend with tacky animated ads for car insurance and forthcoming movies. I think Yahoo's sudden altruism has more than a little to do with the imminent mainstreaming of Google's "G-mail" -- but I'm not complaining.
Inventor plans 'invisible walls'

"The inventor of an 'invisibility' cloak has said that his next project will be to develop the technology to allow people to see through walls."

The potential for technologies like this makes me giddy. If we can make things like this now, what could a civilization a few million years ahead of us be capable of? "They" could be here and we'd never know. Unless they wanted us to; I suspect the theatric behavior exhibited by UFOs is a deliberate ploy to get our attention without overloading us.

I'm reasonably certain we're being visited by an intelligence so thoroughly mated with its technology that we lack the syntax to accurately describe it.

(I hope to write a book along these lines . . .)

Monday, June 14, 2004

Demo: Wearable Robots

"Over the course of his career, the prolific inventor has developed standout devices that include the world's leading powered prosthetic arm and the dancing fountains of the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas -- all using the most advanced robotics technologies available. And while it may take years to make exoskeletons practical for widespread use, Jacobsen says, 'before you do it right, you have to do it at all.'"

I can foresee sleek, ultra-compact versions of these becoming commonplace within 30 years. The trend will start in the industrial sector and quickly branch out; pretty soon, yuppies will be using them for an urban transportation alternative. (Talk about power-walking.)

Ultimately, though, it will boil down to fashion. People will be "molting" their augmented exoskeletons every few months like bipedal insects . . .
Some band has produced a misguided and frighteningly bad remake of The Cure's "Lovesong." Why? What were they thinking? "Lovesong" is a perfect pop song; you can't hope to improve on it.

And I don't buy the notion that the remake is a "tribute" to The Cure for a moment. I think the band that recorded it is secretly hoping its audience won't be that familiar with the original. They're hoping some of The Cure's brilliance will somehow inflect their own songs by some act of musical osmosis.

Dream on.
Take "After the Martian Apocalypse" for a test drive: read the introduction.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Texas GOP says U.S. is Christian nation

"The statement said: 'Our nation was founded on fundamental Judeo-Christian principles based on the Holy Bible. The party affirms freedom of religion, and rejects efforts of courts and secular activists who seek to remove and deny such a rich heritage from our public lives.'"

What . . . utter . . . shit.

You know, why don't we just get it over with? Let's get Armageddon underway, already. I'm tired of waiting. Get out those nukes, paint little crosses on them, and fire away. Stone "secular activists" in the streets. We're succumbing to Arthur C. Clarke's "disease of infancy." Please -- end this barbaric pageant. Maybe after the ashes have cooled something new and better will take our place.

Sauceruney takes the lead in the PB design contest. The genetic/binary motif just screams "click me!"

He did the banner for my Mars site, too.

Ronald Reagan's legacy goes well beyond this world

"None of the Carter presidential scholars on the talk-show carousel will say anything about the former Georgia governor's UFO encounter, which was so impressive he filed a formal report. The incident even elicited a 1976 campaign promise to 'make every piece of information this country has about UFO sightings available to the public and scientists.' Which, as we know, blew a sprocket when the rubber hit the road."

Hey, cool -- the ever-lovely Natasha Vita-More's Primo Posthuman "New Human Genre design concept" has been upgraded for 2005!

"Unlike the classical human form, Primo takes the ideal of 'man' and incorporates it in its transhumanist values of improving the human condition. Unlike the cyborg, Primo's unfolding nature is based on expanding choices. Unlike the transcendent, Primo is driven by the rational rather than the mystical."
Human touch needed to repair Hubble

"Ever since a human servicing mission fixed its initial blurry vision, the Hubble Space Telescope has been one of the most remarkable facilities in the history of science and, with the now-canceled equipment upgrades, would continue its breakthrough scientific observations into the next decade. NASA says the Webb Telescope will replace the Hubble in 2011. The Webb should be a wonderful instrument if its highly experimental design works, but its infrared capability would be complementary to the Hubble's visual and ultraviolet range, not a replacement for it. At this stage, the Webb is still just a design, not a proven observatory, and it will be doing well to reach orbit by 2015."

Finally -- someone with the guts to state the obvious.
B&N has a fresh stock of titles by Aleister Crowley, which I've had my eye on. On the way to the bookstore today I passed a guy with a "Crowley Furniture" shopping bag. I consider this a nominal synchronicity -- certainly nothing spectacular.

I'm intrigued by the synchronicities that accompany "high strangeness" UFO/entity reports. Trying to fathom reality's "deep structure" with normal human consciousness is like trying to study nanobacteria with a pair of reading glasses.

I half-wonder if the acronym of my Mars book's title, ATMA, is a "meaningful coincidence":

"The Spirit (Atma) is neither born nor does it die at any time. It does not come into being, or cease to exist. It is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval. The Spirit is not destroyed when the body is destroyed."

--The Bhagavad-Gita

Observer and observed glued together in an existential pact; cold rain beating against concrete.

Cryptic cerebral whispers of imminent doom.

The May, 2004 issue of MOJO magazine contains what might be the best-ever post-Smiths interview with Morrissey. He conveys his love-hate relationship with the record industry and social contact -- both of which he regards as necessary evils -- with self-deprecating sincerity. I'm fascinated by this guy; he reminds me alarmingly of myself.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Wow. Good catch, Sauceruney.
Legendary Creature in Alien Photo

"UFO researcher Erick Martinez, who spread the word about the alien photo taken in Chile, has received phone calls about it from all over the world. The most amazing was from a Japanese journalist who says it resembles a dangerous creature from an ancient Japanese legend."

Friday, June 11, 2004

Today was a special day. "After the Martian Apocalypse" has been printed, and I got an express-mail envelope stuffed with some of the first copies to be seen by human eyes. The cover looks really good.

Michael Stipe has commented on the feeling of relief that accompanies the release of a new album. Getting "ATMA" out of the "vaporware" stage and into the hands of readers -- actually seeing it in meatspace as opposed to text on a computer screen -- is similarly satisfying. "ATMA" is no longer "my" book in the same sense as it's been for the last year or so . . .

Have I mentioned you can order it from Amazon?