Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Young man killed by exploding lava lamp

"Authorities say Quinn was heating his lava lamp on the stove Sunday afternoon when it blew up. They're not sure why he was doing it."

I'll tell you why he was doing it. Because those fluorescent globs inside lava lamps are sentient alien organisms, that's why. This industrious young man was simply doing his best to thwart the impending invasion.
The E.T. Equation, Recalculated (by SETI co-founder Frank Drake)

"Planets might not even need stars. No one has directly observed a rogue planet, but we know they're out there; astronomers have discovered more than 130 extrasolar planets, and their orbital motion tells us that during the formation of a solar system, extra planets get dumped into the star or kicked out of the system. The castaways wander in the great empty spaces between the stars, the orphans of the Milky Way. In theory, if the rogue's crust contained radioactive elements, their decay could keep the surface warm enough for life."

Who says you even need planets? It's possible a civilization could arise on a protoplanetary body such as an asteroid if conditions were right. Or maybe even on the surfaces of depleted stars. It's weird out there; I'm not quite ready to quarantine hypothetical aliens to planets -- even bleak, sunless ones.
Censored 2005: The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003-2004

And this is just the "mainstream" stuff no one told you . . .

Of mice, men and in-between

"Imagine, said Robert Streiffer, a professor of philosophy and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, a human-chimpanzee chimera endowed with speech and an enhanced potential to learn -- what some have called a 'humanzee.'"

I can see this happening within 20 years. Moreover, I can see nations using armies of specially trained "humanzees" as stand-ins for human soldiers in the many wars to come. (It's almost embarrassing how "Planet of the Apes" all this sounds.)
Cool site of the day: Technovelgy

Monday, November 29, 2004

You Aren't Scary, You're Scared


Probably even scared to see how this quiz came out!

Interesting. I picked up a postcard advertising an art exhibit the other day. The name of the artist is Max Fearing -- which I read as "Mac's Fearing." Which I suppose I am.
Now everyone can spy

"'This is real-time streaming technology. It's like (the online directory) MapQuest or the navigation system in your car, but three-dimensional,' he said in an interview on Monday."

Here's a technology that might possibly make a difference, allowing eco-bloggers to monitor deforestation and chemical dumping as it happens. The implications shouldn't be understated.
Scientific maverick's theory on Earth's core up for a test

"Iconoclastic scientists often have trouble getting their papers published in scientific literature. Herndon 'is no exception,' he acknowledges. 'I live in a strange world where I go against a strong establishment that pretends I don't exist.' NASA has turned down Herndon's applications for research funding, he says."

Herndon's story isn't a new one by any means. Valid or not, his theory -- that there's a massive geological nuclear reactor at the Earth's core -- has a weird gut-level appeal.
Hovering over Titan

"A mosaic of nine processed images recently acquired during Cassini's first very close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on Oct. 26, 2004, constitutes the most detailed full-disc view of the mysterious moon."

Chinese inventor sees money in flying saucers

"He borrowed design theories from cars, airplanes and helicopters. He staged crude experiments to test his ideas, from tossing a homemade saucer as a child to operating a small battery-powered toy saucer that is sort of a miniature of his grand project. Two years ago, he earned a Chinese patent for his flying machine design, which includes horizontal rotors of differing sizes spinning in opposite directions at differing speeds."


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Getting the intergalactic message across is easier said than done

"If humanity wants to correspond with the cosmos, Wright and Rose write, it should send bulk mail: Messages inscribed onto physical matter and then launched toward planets or other celestial bodies deemed most likely to harbor responsive life."

Extraterrestrial artifacts? Uh-oh. Dangerous territory. Because if we're dealing with a highly advanced extraterrestrial intelligence -- equipped with an appropriately advanced technology -- then it's probable interstellar communiques will be rather more interesting than simple "messages inscribed onto physical matter." For example, they could be artificially intelligent, able to respond to their environment and even home in on habitable worlds -- a trait that sounds tantalizingly organic.

Already, machines on Earth are becoming more and more like living things. And experts such as Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec insist this trend will continue. So maybe we shouldn't be terribly surprised if our first message from space takes the form of a sophisticated intelligence of some sort, infinitely richer in information than any plaque or gold-plated record.

Hey, Shostak! You listening?

"Miss Digital World is the first ever virtual beauty contest, strictly for the most beautiful and intriguing virtual models made using the most advanced 3D graphics tools." (Via Chapel Perilous.)

It was inevitable. Gibson's "Idoru" inches ever-closer to reality.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Meteorite 'photographed' hitting Earth

"The meteorite, which could have been as small as a grain of sand, would have been travelling about 30,000km/h." (Via The Anomalist.)

Wouldn't it be weird if you were walking along with a friend, minding your own business, when suddenly -- CRACK! -- a grain-sized meteorite impacted your friend's skull, exiting the forehead and sending a spume of semi-liquefied brain all over the sidewalk?

Maybe if I'm really lucky I'll get to see that someday.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Man, word really gets around.

Here's Phenomena magazine's preface to The Pitch's take on "After the Martian Apocalypse":

"Mac Tonnies is undoubtedly the leading authority on alternative thinking about Mars.* Level headed and highly intelligent, his ideas are certainly 'out there' as far as mainstream science is concerned but within the realms of conspiratorial talk about all manner of past events and activities on the brown planet (yep, it's really brown and not red) this guy is a sensitive conservative.

"He does firmly believe that the face on Mars is artificial.** It was carved and created by another intelligence and is not of natural origin.

"This article is a gentle plea for Tonnies to return to his original vocation of science fiction writing.*** The writer has mixed feelings about Tonnies' recent publication 'After The Martian Apocalypse' and questions his thinking and influences. Nevertheless, it's not really critical and is amusing for the strange references that the writer constantly makes to himself.****"

*Really, I'm not. For my money, image processor Mark Carlotto has done more to bring science to bear on the question of artificiality than anyone else. (But hey, I'll take it.)

**I lean toward the Artificiality Hypothesis as the most likely explanation for the Face (and other peculiarities in the Cydonia region), but I'm not a "believer." I'm attracted to the Cydonia mystery, in part, because -- unlike so many "fringe" ideas -- it's scientifically testable; it doesn't make much sense to "believe" in something if you can be proven wrong.

***For whatever it's worth, I'm at work on a near-future SF novel called "Women and Children First," about life in an ecologically decimated America circa 2040.

****The "meat" references have confused quite a few Web readers unfamiliar with Ortega's weekly column, "Kansas City Strip." I can't say I blame them. Kansas City has an enduring history in the meat industry; outside my window, for example, is a barbecue place called "K.C. Masterpiece." So the obscure references to various pieces of cow meat are a regional thing. And I should add that The Pitch's ubiquitous print edition has a graphic of a sizzling K.C. strip steak next to the column.

Summing up: Ortega writes as an anthropomorphized steak -- who, incidentally, shares page-space with someone calling him- or herself "Jimmy the Fetus."

Who said the Midwest was boring?
Regarding the SETI Institute's Seth Shostak, I commented that while "social anthropologists might bicker with me, [. . .] I think radio-SETI fulfills some of the criteria for cult-hood."

Within a couple days, alert posthuman Carol Maltby brought my attention to an interesting article, Top Leaders See Fatter Paychecks, which includes the following paragraph:

"The organization that spent the greatest proportion of its income on its top two executives was the SETI Institute, in Mountain View, Cal., which spent 2.5 per cent of its fiscal 1998 income of $10.2-million -- or $257,944 -- on paying its top two executives. Coming in at No. 2 was the Heritage Foundation, which spent 2.4 per cent of its $45.6-million income -- or $1.1-million -- on its top two executives."

I, for one, find it fascinating that the very institution that issues endless condescending remarks about the allegedly lucrative "cottage industry" of UFO/alien "believers" has found a way to award its high-priests in such consummately cult-like fashion.
Moon gas may solve Earth's energy crisis

"'By 2050 the whole world will have a major problem. We need to be thinking ahead,' Mr Taylor said."

A geologist informs me that transporting the necessary amounts of lunar fuel to Earth is utterly impractical. But that in no way diminishes the importance of using the Moon as a resource-rich staging base for ventures to Mars and the outer solar system.

Today is one of the ugliest days of the year. I plan on making myself scarce.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Alien Abductions and Coffee Enemas

"Having an open mind means you don't dismiss claims to truth out of hand. You analyze first. When you analyze a claim, you consider all the relevant evidence and examine all the logic involved, in a fair and unbiased manner, then grant tentative acceptance or rejection. If new arguments or new evidence come up, then you revise your opinion. Being open means that you apply this standard fairly to all claims. Being open-minded does not mean believing every claim, no matter how improbable--that's being gullible, not open."

However, in practice, debunkers seldom apply the same evidential standards to all claims. They may not even look at all if it means tangling with potential baloney (and to be sure, most New Age scientific "mysteries" are just that). Most self-proclaimed "skeptics," I've found, are merely pseudoskeptics, as intellectually porous as the pseudoscientists they attack and burdened with the same gnawing sense of self-righteousness that characterizes vacuous "true believers."
New Project Takes Measure Of Plastic Electronics

"In the future, the phrase smarty pants might be taken quite literally, referring to trousers embedded with electronic 'intelligence' so that they change color, for example, in response to their surroundings."

I already know people who are outsmarted by their own clothes.
Bigelow Space Module Flight Gets Government Okay

"Bigelow Aerospace of North Las Vegas, Nevada has blueprinted a step-by-step program to explore the use of inflatable Earth orbiting modules. Those modules would not only support made-in-microgravity product development, but serve as the technology foundation for eventual space tourist housing and use of similar structures on the Moon and Mars."

Inflate-on-command space stations may be an advantageous alternative to costly piece-by-piece projects like the International Space Station. I'm keeping an eye on this Bigelow guy.
Study Finds Florida 'Ghost' E-Votes

"Broadly speaking, the UC Berkeley team found that Bush received tens of thousands more votes in electronic-voting Democratic counties than past voting patterns would have suggested. No such pattern turned up in counties using optical scanning machines."

While I'm on the subject: Has W hand-delivered a turkey to the troops in Iraq yet?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Any aliens reading this blog? If so, consider replying to this open letter to extra-terrestrials.
A Cemtrail(s) [sic] a Day Keeps the Sunshine Away

"After spending about an hour or so shopping we walked across the parking lot to our car, and were stunned. There were contrails everywhere! Some crossed over other trails leaving at least three large 'X's' in the sky. The trails we saw initially on the way to the store were still there over an hour later but had been joined by several more. I'm a physics teacher and nothing in my experience and education tells me that contrails, or water condensation trails, should last quite that long. I began to question what we were seeing. There were two other people standing in the parking lot looking at the same thing we were with a seeming equal amount of curiosity."

The article goes on to suggest that the controversial contrails might be an attempt at climate modification. Maybe I'm over the edge, but I don't think that sounds at all ludicrous; in light of global warming and ever-growing "urban heat islands," it seems almost inevitable that someone would be experimenting along these lines.

"The Strip can only pray that eventually, whatever sick space travelers have taken away the real Tonnies will some day return him in one piece -- or at least with his frontal lobe restored."

Read all about it!
Some of us read voraciously about the Red Planet and dream of one day treading its mysterious wastes firsthand. Others, of course, claim to have already done so.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Russian Spacecraft Fails to Raise ISS to Designated Orbit

"According to the Russian Mission Control Centre, the ISS fell by almost eight kilometers since the previous orbit adjustment at the end of September. Specialists have said increased solar activity is to blame."

The Looming Death of Hubble

"What will happen during the next three to four years, which is about how long engineers think HST has left, probably will be decided in the next year. The decision will be made in the halls of Congress, in the offices of NASA, and in other scientific institutions. And most important, the decision will be informed by the national outcry from millions of Americans who love astronomy and the space telescope that serves them."

Forgive me for being skeptical about the importance of the outcry of millions of astronomy-loving Americans. In my experience, the outcry of millions of Americans -- indeed, the outcry of millions of people all over the world -- doesn't mean a damned thing. And the dissent I have in mind was about nothing less than the brazenly (and admittedly) illegal military invasion of another country for reasons that proved to be fabrications.

As W himself remarked about the power of civil protest, "It's irrelevant." If human lives matter so little, who's left to care about mind-stumping images from deep-space?

The Hubble's future, I fear, has already been decided. But I'm not ready to give up.
Precocious supermassive black holes challenge theories

"'These two results seem to indicate that the way supermassive black holes produce X-rays has remained essentially the same from a very early date in the Universe,' said Schwartz. 'This implies that the central black hole engine in a massive galaxy was formed very soon after the big bang.'"

Or perhaps not; maybe Big Bang cosmology is a great deal more convoluted that physicists would like to admit.
You've read the blog. Now, hear the music: "A dark, at times aggressive, acousticism, evoking a hybrid of country, blues and rock that the band like to call post-human blues."

(No connection, I swear . . .)

Study: Only 10 percent of big ocean fish remain

"'I think the point is there is nowhere left in the ocean not overfished,' said Ransom Myers, a fisheries biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and lead author of the study."

Scientists agree world faces mass extinction

"Yet most scientists agree that human activity is causing rapid deterioration in biodiversity. Expanding human settlements, logging, mining, agriculture and pollution are destroying ecosystems, upsetting nature's balance and driving many species to extinction."

But wait! There's more!

Vast Extinction Crisis Looms

"The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEW) will publish a report on Wednesday stating that more than 11,000 endangered animal and plant species, including more than 1,000 mammal species, or 1/4 of the world's total, are likely to go extinct over the next few decades. 12% of bird species and over 5,000 different plant species are also likely to die out. In the oceans, the loss is already almost immeasurable, with almost all major species of larger fish at risk, and massive diebacks of plankton in the Antarctic, the North Sea and elsewhere contributing to the destruction of whole ecologies."

Monday, November 22, 2004

Physicists Decry Bush's Mars Mission Plan

"Although space exploration is one of President Bush's top priorities, his plan to send humans to the moon and Mars is being criticized by the American Physical Society, which represents 43,000 physicists."

Fine. But what do the Martians think?
Cool site of the day: Keyhole

Mystery Booms in US and UK

"The boom that was heard across north-east Norfolk in the UK today was not caused by a British aircraft, according to a British Ministry of Defense spokesman. Lt. Col. Stuart Green of the Ministry said that the sound, which rocked the whole region at noon on November 7 was not made by 'one of ours.'"

Could the booms be related to the unusual jets seen leaving unusual contrails in our sky?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Pentagon Plans God-like Internet

"Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet and a Pentagon consultant on the war net, said, 'I want to make sure what we realize is vision and not hallucination. This is sort of like Star Wars, where the policy was, 'Let's go out and build this system,' and technology lagged far behind. There's nothing wrong with having ambitious goals. You just need to temper them with physics and reality.'"

A Pentagon-controlled "god-like" Internet sounds disquietingly like the omniscient "Skynet" defense system from "Terminator 2."

Wait a second -- there's a realistic chance Ah-nold -- who depicted a Skynet-contrived cyborg bent on exterminating humanity -- might be the next US president. Meanwhile, analysts are predicting possible nuclear attacks on American soil . . . I'm not sure I like where this is going.
Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe

"The threat of nuclear terrorism is not limited to New York City or Washington, DC. While New York is widely seen as the most likely target, it is clear that Al Qaeda is not only capable but also interested in mounting attacks on other American cities, where people may be less prepared. Imagine the consequences of a 10-kiloton weapon exploding in San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Charlotte, or any other city Americans call home. From the epicenter of the blast to a distance of approximately one-third mile, every structure will be destroyed and no one would be left alive. A second circle of destruction extending three-quarters of a mile from ground zero would leave buildings looking like the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City. A third circle reaching out 1 mile would be ravaged by fires and radiation."
Cosmic Conundrum

"The proposition that the cosmos is -- against all odds -- perfectly tuned for life is known as the anthropic principle. And while it has been getting a lot of attention lately, there is no consensus on how seriously to take it. Some scientists are confident that there is a law that dictates the values of those key cosmic numbers, and when we find it, the anthropic problem will go away. Others think the answer is even simpler: if the numbers were any different than they are, we wouldn't be around to argue about them -- case closed."

The anthropic "dilemma" is ample turf for philosophical debate. But really -- what's so unreasonable about the idea that if things were any different we wouldn't be here to observe them? This concept has always seemed perfectly lucid to me. I certainly don't discount the possibility of a multiverse in which all permutations of our universe are physically manifested. But that doesn't really change anything; given an infinite number of universes, it's inevitable there will be (at least) one with us observing from within, thinking we're somehow privileged.
Astronomer Predicts Alien Contact By 2025

"Still, Shostak says there is 'no possibility' of us and aliens coming face to face 'a la' 'Mars Attacks' in the near future."

(And hey, even if there is, we already know that Slim Whitman will save us.)

"That's because 'it's so difficult to travel between the stars' in a short amount of time, Shostak says, and no matter what kind of technology we or the aliens ever possess, you still 'can't beat the laws of physics.'"

Seth, you poor bastard. Define "short." Because it seems to me the term is nothing if not relative. Could it (gasp!) be that aliens potentially billions of years more advanced than us might not be as cowed by "long" space voyages as we are right now? And might they not colonize as they explore, expanding throughout the galaxy at an exponential rate?

Seth appears possessed by the kindergarten image of "spaceships" as little more than Apollo-era rockets -- in which case his pessimism is justified. But advanced star-faring aliens, given that they exist, are going to use craft of an altogether different order by virtue of sheer necessity -- craft that may be entire worlds unto themselves. None of this requires "beating the laws of physics," or even cheating them (a "wormhole" is one possible "cheat" -- theoretically viable, but still dismayingly exotic). But Seth rigorously ignores any scenario that infringes on shop-worn SETI dogma.

For all of his proclamations of imminent radio contact, Seth's "cosmic" outlook is so boorishly anthropomorphic is makes me want to gag.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Yes -- these things again.

Top Secret Black Triangles

"Eyewitnesses all over the country are reporting glimpses of something large, dark and mysterious in the skies above big cities and busy highways. The crafts are often described as triangular in shape, silent in their movements, and of unknown origin, and they've been seen here in southern Nevada. It looks like these mystery craft might be a secret military project, but if so, why are they flying around in the open?"
The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

The 20th anniversary edition of William Gibson's "Neuromancer" is out. It seems like last month I was buying the 10th anniversary edition.

I read "Neuromancer" my junior year in high school, before the Internet existed in recognizable form. I wouldn't send an email for two entire years. Experiencing Gibson's world was a jarring experience, a literary epiphany that totally altered my reading habits; although I had encountered Philip K. Dick, I had yet to read Burroughs (or Sterling or Rucker or Delany or Shirley). Although I was very much a science fiction reader, my diet had consisted primarily of classics from an altogether different era -- Clarke's "Childhood's End" comes to mind. I was drunk on the dying promises of the Space Age, virtually unaware that the Information Age was beginning to cast its first portentous shadows.

Gibson changed all that. I even remember the bookstore where I bought my copy of "Neuromancer," a modest store along Florida's Space Coast -- the slowly fossilizing turf so knowingly visited by protocyberpunk J.G. Ballard, a writer I wouldn't encounter for several more years.

I cite Gibson as my single-most important creative influence -- despite the fact that I've only written two books, and of these only one is fiction. This is far from an original claim; Gibson has become a sort of god-king among those aspiring to write "literary" science fiction, a force as omnipresent -- and unremarked -- as today's consumer ecology of software-packed cellphones. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. For better or worse, our world has taken on the texture -- if not the historical trajectory -- of Gibson's prophecy.

I admire a lot of authors, many of them fabulously prescient. But the early 21st century belongs to William Gibson. We are the unwitting offspring of his fictional zeitgeist. We are all cyberpunks.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Now reading: "Experiencing the Next World Now" by Michael Grosso and "In Darkness Waiting" by John Shirley
Cool site of the day: TheocracyWatch

(Via Chapel Perilous.)
Rise of the Robots: Segway Platform Gives Mechanoids Motion

"Segway's self-balancing robot platform takes up about 2 square feet and comes equipped with software and interface electronics necessary to receive, process and execute commands from an onboard robot payload."
They might be giants, or dwarfs

"But their adult size -- comparable to a modern 4-year-old -- had an upside, too, apparently allowing them to survive in isolation for tens of thousands of years. The existence of these little people, reported in the journal Nature last month, provides new scientific fodder for a mysterious evolutionary phenomenon that can radically shrink or balloon a species' size when it becomes isolated on islands."

This piece reiterates my theory that some "aliens" are terrestrial hominids that evolved in seclusion. Some of these dwarfish bipeds are, of course, extinct. But others may have actually surpassed our own technological muster long ago. Still others may be living undetected in our midst. Imagine thousands of scattered individuals of an undiscovered humanoid race eking out a life parallel, but only occasionally intersecting, our own.

World folklore is rich with accounts of strange "little people" existing on the margins of normal human existence. If these accounts are based on fact, then it forces one to wonder how "they" are responding to the current ecological plight. What is their agenda -- if any? Do they desire to communicate? If so, it may commonly take the form of perceived "extraterrestrial" contact, ensuring their true origin is thoroughly muddled and misidentified.
Ozone hole leaves aliens gasping

"The ozone research has implications for space missions set to take off within 10 years in search of evidence for alien life by analysing the atmospheres of extrasolar planets."

A worthwhile article with a stupid headline . . .

Thursday, November 18, 2004

When humans faced extinction

"This means that, for a while, humanity was in a perilous state, vulnerable to disease, environmental disasters and conflict. If any of these factors had turned against us, we would not be here."

Yes, there is strength in numbers . . . but how much safer are we now? A global population of a vanishingly small 2000 definitely puts humans on the endangered species list -- but those 2000 long-gone humans wouldn't have had access to biowarfare factories or nuclear power. They would have been spared the industrial toxins and atmospheric pollution we take for granted.

The world population is now so staggeringly high that scientists realize we can't go on unless we radically minimize our birth-rate or colonize space; one estimate demands that we colonize the equivalent of two new Earths or else Earth's resources will be impoverished in a mere 50 years. If we fail, humans (among countless other species) may find their numbers decimated by food and energy shortages.

Wisely, China is beginning to lurch spaceward, with plans to mine the Moon for energy-rich Helium 3. The Western world will follow, but perhaps only at the last possible moment.

The culture that triumphs over the coming eco-debacle will inherit a new world, perhaps even a newly accessible solar system. But at what cost?

Space Elevator? Build it on the Moon First

"The problem then, and now, is that the material required to support even just the weight of the cable in the Earth's gravity doesn't exist. Only in the last few years, with the advent of carbon nanotubes - with a tensile strength in the ballpark - people have finally moved past the laughing stage, and begun investigating it seriously. And while carbon nanotubes have been manufactured in small quantities in the lab, engineers are still years away from weaving them together into a long cable that could provide the necessary strength."

"Numerous changes have already been observed and these changes have a range of implications for the United States, its ecosystems, and biodiversity. The responses of plants and animals to a changing climate are indicative of their natural ability to adapt, yet future global warming is likely to exceed the ability of many species to migrate or adjust."
The Final Capitalist Frontier

"'The solar system is like a giant grocery store,' said Peter Diamandis, founder and president of the Ansari X Prize Foundation, who as an MIT student in 1980 created the SEDS organization. 'It has everything we could possibly want.'"

The Earth, meanwhile, is beginning to resemble a second-rate mom-and-pop outfit with a big firecone-red "CLOSING" sign across the windows and roaches in the corners.

Hey, is that mold on the produce?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Apparently it's not annoying enough that most of the population can't venture five feet from their ugly suburban homes without whipping out their cellphones; we have to have constant music in all public places as well, lest someone actually has an uninterrupted thought. I'm pretty good at tuning ambient music out, but tuning it out takes a certain learned skill -- and sometimes, for whatever reason, I'm just not up to it.

I can't read in the coffeeshop because they're blaring 80s retro on satellite radio.

The bookstore? Don't even think of it; they're piping the music section's entire stock through a thousand unseen speakers.

Maybe a restaurant? Wrong! Because they've got satellite radio, too, and they want you to know it; some of the places where I live even play music outside, ostensibly for the entertainment of potential patrons.

And chances are, if you listen carefully, you'll hear the insipid susurration of "adult contemporary" at your place of work. No escape!

What's wrong with turning the music off once in a while? Is there some federal mandate in effect that requires everyone to stumble along in a prerecorded daze day after day?

A side-effect of this deluge of songs is that, occasionally, you'll hear one you actually like -- and it loses some of its subjective value. I love R.E.M., but I don't want to hear "Losing My Religion" when I'm shopping for cat litter. And with the 80s retro trend in full-swing, it's near-impossible to navigate the already-unnerving consumer landscape without having a backlog of classics thrust down your ears. Only "thrust" isn't the right word; the hidden speakers of stores and restaurants don't broadcast music so much as ooze it, leaching it of resonance, craftily stripping it of the very nuance that makes a good song something to be treasured.

I don't want an iPod for Christmas. I want a pair of industrial-grade earplugs.

"Mr Sarmast claims that images taken by deep water sonar scanning 'indicate' man-made structures, including a 3-kilometer-long wall at a depth of 1,500 meter. However, his selective interpretation is nothing more than the blinkered reading of very ambiguous and unconvincing images. Anyone with a critical eye can pick out that these images are far too vague and uncertain to be regarded as compelling evidence for any man-made structures."

Any fool could have seen that coming. The sad thing is that researchers really have found some provocative undersea structures recently. Sarmast's illusory "Atlantis" will almost certainly help discredit an already controversial field of research. Certainly no mainstream outlet will touch the "underwater ruins" meme now.
Alien Abductions and Aleister Crowley

"Be that as it may, at least one such 'intelligence' was brought into physical manifestation via the Magickal Portal they created. (A portal in this context is a 'magickally' created rent in the fabric of time and space.) Crowley maintained the picture is actually a portrait and drawn from real life. This entity either called itself 'Lam,' or was named 'Lam' by Crowley. Either way, he considered it to be of inter-dimensional origin, which was the term then for extraterrestrial."

If, as I suspect, our paranormal visitors have conceived a technology of consciousness, then arguing whether manifestations such as "Lam" are due to technology or "magick" becomes meaningless. Arthur C. Clarke's maxim -- "Any sufficiently advanced technology will appear indistinguishable from magic" -- never seemed more apt.

Lam might represent the trickster archetype at work. Crowley thought he was dealing with something magickal; today's CEIII witnesses think they've seen beings from some other star system. But perhaps the phenomenon is neither (or both).

Weirdly, there's evidence the popular "Gray" alien face is hardwired into our brains for purposes not yet understood. Neurologist Michael Persinger has tested the effects of magnetic fields on the brains of volunteers, and some of them have described seeing elongated humanoid figures, accompanied by the "sense of presence" experienced by abductees. So it's possible the brain itself is responsible for some "extraterrestrial" imagery -- maybe because the stimulus is too bizarre to deal with directly. Or maybe Persinger has inadvertently triggered the same "magick" employed by Crowley using the tools of modern science.
Oddly enough, Don Knotts makes a damned good Dubya.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

UFO Expert: Aliens May Be Preparing Us For Ultimate Encounter

"'What they're doing is engaging in a decades long psychological preparation process whereby slowly but surely people on earth understand this is real, they're here,' he said."

Which may not be far from the truth. But as attractive as it is, the "psychological conditioning" hypothesis is not without its problems. For example, Jacques Vallee's study of the UFO phenomenon demonstrates that it's anything but modern; if UFOs are conditioning us to their presence, their time-scale seems thousands of years too long. Maybe the phenomenon is keeping us on a kind of psychodynamic standby, just in case "they" decide to reveal themselves at any given moment.

Disclosure of alien visitation is eagerly awaited -- even expected -- by many. But folklore advises us not to get too excited. It's always been like this, with Fortean forces hovering at the fringes of our perception. I don't think the UFOs -- whatever they are -- are waiting at all. I think when we observe them flitting across a city skyline, virtually unnoted, we're seeing them in their natural habitat. Somehow, they appear to thrive on remaining essentially liminal, the subject of endless controversy. Vallee thinks we're being manipulated. Even Whitley Strieber, who claims personal contact with apparent ETs, has conceded that we may never meet them openly.

Perhaps their raison d'etre is to challenge us. Early witnesses described fanciful airships and "ghost rockets." Now we hear descriptions of futuristic spacecraft and diminutive occupants who seem to have stepped out of our own speculation on posthuman evolution and genetic engineering. I think the UFO enigma is both trickster and trigger -- indisputably real, but real in a way that transcends conventional use of the word.

Perhaps if we wait and watch, the phenomenon itself will provide us with the psychological vocabulary with which to understand it. Or maybe it won't, remaining content to let us project our own unspoken cosmic desires.
Top scientist asks: is life all just a dream?

"However, many scientists have always been dismissive, saying the universe was far too complex and consistent to be a simulation."

On the other hand, if our universe is a simulation engineered by a superhuman intelligence, how can we realistically expect to be to be able to discern the very inconsistencies that would betray its actual nature? "Too complex"? Sure, the universe is complex. But perhaps only to us -- and of course, according to simulation cosmology, we're enmeshed in the construct.

I'm reminded of a powerfully lucid dream I had a week ago. I was walking up a sidewalk (based loosely on an actual sidewalk up the street from my apartment) reveling in the narcotic realization that everything I was experiencing was "simply" a dream. I actually stopped and looked around, every bit as purposeful and "conscious" as I am while awake, savoring the dream-ness of it all.

Later, I tried the same mental exercise while awake. And for a moment it seemed like everything around me had the same ontological substance as the sidewalk in the dream, threatening to dissolve. Of course, it didn't; that's why I'm here typing this. But who's to say some other mental state couldn't shatter the programming of the "real" world -- assuming that all of this is a clever technological illusion capable of being "hacked"?
US election fraud scandal looms?

"Now a New Zealand political activist has published suspicions, along with supporting evidence, that electronic voting in the US is being manipulated by right-wing politicians with the connivance of several voting machine manufacturers. The story revolves around some highly volatile conjectures and might be explosive, if fully investigated."

I'll be honest: I'm sick to death of the election and planned to cease blogging about it until a friend sent me the item above, which at least demonstrates the disdain and skepticism so achingly lacking in the US mainstream media.
SMART-1 arrives at the Moon

"'We still don't know if the Earth and the Moon came from the same place,' says Manuel Grande, a space scientist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, UK, who is responsible for D-CIXS. Many scientists believe that the Moon was formed after a gigantic collision between a Mars-sized object and the Earth about 4.6 billion years ago. Comparing the ratios of different chemical elements on the Moon and Earth could confirm this theory, says Grande."
"You travel light, but your affectations must give you a hernia." Ouch! Cyberpunk-at-large Bruce Sterling gets slammed by a disgruntled "Beyond the Beyond" reader! It could get bloody!
For a voracious Web-user, I've never been too big on message boards (even though I have one of my own). Too often they meander and stagnate, with "emoticons" taking the place of actual discourse. However, author John Shirley runs a board that's intelligent, succinct and -- most importantly -- jarringly topical. Take a look.

Monday, November 15, 2004

We've definitely found Atlantis, researcher says

"At a news conference in the port city of Limassol, Mr Sarmast provided only animated simulations of the 'hill'."

Only animated simulations? Why no "raw" images? I think this may be the underwater equivalent of armchair exo-archaeologists who flaunt eye-scalding false-color images of overblown pixels as proof that the Face on Mars is lined with nonexistent hieroglyphs.
Dark Side of the Band

"Across the world, high-powered transmitters with global reach are broadcasting seemingly meaningless strings of numbers or letters, along with a lot of buzzing and beeping noises." (Via Chapel Perilous.)

UFO "abductees" and people who claim to have been visited by "Men In Black" commonly describe weird buzzing and beeping on their phonelines. Compounded with mystery airplanes seen leaving strange contrails in the air (described by Colin Bennett in a previous post), the shortwave "numbers stations" make for a bizarre global conspiracy scenario.

Forget tinfoil hats; I'm making a bodysuit.

Morrissey Expands Quarry with Nine Bonus Tracks, DVD

"According to his official website, Morrissey plans to re-release his latest album, 2004's You Are the Quarry, with a host of extra material in December."

And I thought I already had the definitive "Quarry." Nevertheless, I'll happily give Morrissey more of my money for this new offering, especially since I've never heard any of these B-sides. (Thanks to Jason for the tip.)
Scientists try to sort behavior of hoarding pets

"Even with a gas mask on, the strong stench of cat feces and urine made breathing difficult for the police officer as he picked his way through 3-foot-high piles of garbage."

How's that for an opening sentence?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Exploded Star Possibly Affected Human Evolution

"'Our finding shows now for the first time traces from a supernova close to the Earth,' Korschinek said in an email interview. 'It would have been so bright, that it was easy to see during daytime.'"
Dire Al Qaeda Threat Amid CIA Turmoil

"Meanwhile, a small Arabic-language website is reported to have posted what is believed to be a message from Al Qaeda to the effect that the organization possesses at least one nuclear weapon and is poised to detonate it in the center of the US. The report comes from the respected Italian news organization la Reppublica. It has been ignored by US media."

A nuclear attack in the "center of the US" would make a great deal of sense, if any of this report is for real (and, ironically, since the US media has ignored it, I'm inclined to think it might be). A nuclear blast in the Heartland -- say, in Kansas City or Chicago -- would polarize the country against the perceived Al Qaeda menace as no coastal city attack could. It would clearly communicate that the country has been infiltrated, that our geographical borders are transparent and our leaders incompetent to enforce them.

The good news: If I'm vaporized in a nuclear blast, I suppose I can stop worrying about the Greenhouse Effect.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Sorry, folks, but here's some more doom and gloom I can't resist posting . . .

Huge craters confirm meteorite impact on Earth

"Huge craters discovered in the Sahara desert have confirmed that Earth suffered from simultaneous meteor impacts in the recent past."

Now reading: "The Dying Earth" by Jack Vance, first in a sequence of novels contained in the omnibus "Tales of the Dying Earth" (above). Vance's colorful vision of a far-future Earth is something like "Gormenghast" meets "Conan." And I mean that in the best possible way.
Arctic Melting Fast; May Swamp U.S. Coasts by 2099

"Scientists have determined that the ice in Greenland and the Arctic is melting so rapidly that much of it could be gone by the end of the century."

I plan on being alive in 2099. Do you?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Theorists Tackle Astronomer's Mysterious 'Baby' Planet

"'The data suggests there's a young planet out there, but until now none of our theories made sense with the data for a planet so young,' says Adam Frank, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester. 'On the one hand, it's frustrating; but on the other, it's very cool because Mother Nature has just handed us the planet and we've got to figure out how it must have been created.'"

European spacecraft prepares to orbit Moon

"Once the craft has spiralled down to reach its final close orbit in January 2005, scientific investigations will begin. One goal is to survey the Peak of Eternal Light, a mountaintop bathed in permanent sunlight that keeps the temperature at a tolerable -20ÂșC, making it a favoured site for a manned lunar base."
I'm sorry, but I've got to laugh. There. That was quick.
Warming In Antarctica: serious cause for concern

"In Antarctica the ocean food chain is crashing due to the loss of ice shelves around the Antarctic peninsula caused by climate warming. The breakup of the Larsen B ice shelf in 2002 has also released several glaciers, increasing their speed eight fold, and dumping their loads into the Weddell Sea contributing to a rising sea level, according to new research."

If you're not afraid when you read bulletins about food chains crashing, you should be. Not in an abstracted, politically expedient "Terror Alert" way, but afraid nonetheless.

Did you know there are vast "dead zones" in the oceans of this presumably living planet? There are. Because the planet is losing the race to keep up with us. It's tiring; it's near-breathless. But it's not yet powerless. It still holds us in its fierce ecological grip -- a grip that, as conditions inexorably worsen, seems less and less welcome and more like a threatening imposition.

There's a mechanism nature employs when it loses a race against a particularly virulent species. It's called "dieback." It's not a word you hear a lot because, fortunately for us, dieback is a relatively rare occurrence. Typically, the Earth exists in equilibrium -- the hard-won prize of resilience.

Humanity has reached a point in its technological trajectory in which its future naggingly resists even the best efforts at extrapolation. The maps aren't large enough, the calculators too feeble. Mathematicians call this novel post-historical state "nonlinear" -- a deceptively poetic word that smoothly dispenses with entrenched notions of control and dominion. It means that we don't know what comes next, that things have escaped our control -- a position that humans will resist and cunningly refute until they find themselves jarringly translated into the new, nonlinear environment.

Crashing Antarctic food chains and rising waters are nodal points quietly heralding the emergence of a nonlinear world. Like constellations seen by primitive ocean-borne voyagers, they lead us to a new world, a world of terminal uncertainty and potentially catastrophic entropy, a world we may not like or even survive. There are no promises, no certainties. Only the nodal points, dim beneath the taut fabric of our dreams.
"Congress must investigate the integrity of the voting process in the 2004 election."

Mars' largest moon, Phobos, in high-resolution.

Wow. Those parallel grooves have always intrigued me. They're probably natural fractures. But could they be something else?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Just a reminder.
Colin Bennett on so-called "chemtrails":

A New Look at a Mystery of the Skies

"Our collective 'not-seeing' is unusual if only because chemtrails are much more visible and more frequent than UFO visitations. We are forced to consider the idea that levels of conscious acceptance and recognition within a culture have often nothing to do with how much 'evidence' is available. All anomalistic structures have this common peculiarity. Somehow, like a bioelectric switch, as a society we turn most anomalies 'off' as far as social cognition is concerned. This is a most common effect. The phenomenon may be large or small, fantastic or mundane, it makes no difference. We cannot see the kitchen matchbox in front of us, say, because we are have been diverted into thinking about something else. We don't have enough RAM to hold all our files open at the same time!"

Maybe those of you with high-bandwidth connections can enjoy this site more than I can.
Sorry Everybody

From the FAQ:

"Most people who think carefully understand that Americans are not really any more jingoistic or xenophobic than people in other countries, but it never hurts to reinforce, especially considering what happened on November 2nd, 2004. What must it have looked like to the world outside our borders? America proudly re-appointed her reckless, incompetent and corrupt government. How much of America? Fifty-two percent. The rest of us are aghast and dismayed."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

What Kerry Should Have Said

"I concede that I misjudged the power of hate. That's pretty powerful stuff, and I didn't see it. So let me take a moment to congratulate the President's strategists: Putting the gay marriage amendments on the ballot in various swing states like Ohio... well, that was just genius. Genius. It got people, a certain kind of people, to the polls. The unprecedented number of folks who showed up and cited 'moral values' as their biggest issue, those people changed history. The folks who consider same sex marriage a more important issue than war, or terrorism, or the economy... Who'd have thought the election would belong to them? Well, Karl Rove did. Gotta give it up to him for that. Credit where it's due."

I think Kerry really should have said this stuff. No kidding. I heard a few minutes of the actual concession speech on the radio and man, was it ever spineless, predictable crap . . .
Everything is just fine. Global warming? Well, yeah, temperatures are increasing and lots of things are dying. And communities are, ah, relocating. But there's no evidence any of it's our fault. It's just, you know, the way things are. One of those things. It'll blow over. Don't panic. What are you, a fear-monger?

And what's with this crazy Mars talk? Alien structures on Mars? Jesus. First of all, it's impossible. I read this website by actual real scientists and they proved that it would be totally inefficient for beings in another solar system to come here. Because it's really expensive. And, I mean, we haven't done it, have we? If it were possible, they'd be here already.

And no, UFOs don't count as evidence. Don't even think of pulling that one. Because I read this other website by actual scientists and they said all sightings could be explained. Well, they didn't actually explain them, but they said they could be explained if they had all of the evidence.

Jesus. Some people.
Is Guilt Obsolete?

"Before Abu Ghraib, before Fallujah, in fact just weeks before the whole shock and awe campaign was to launch, came news of a preemptive strike -- on memory. The stealth attack was initiated by clever scientists who thought not of a cure for infectious greed, or a vaccine against the plague of moral relativism, but instead prepared to market a pill that will help us forget what we cannot bear to remember."

Fantastic. Nothing less than a pharmaceutical shock-and-awe attack against our collective conscience. Now we can slaughter whole cities of brown people with unfeigned neurological impunity.

Pangs of regret? Bring 'em on!
Cool site of the day: The Virtual Solar System

(Thanks to Chapel Perilous.)
Putting a face to 'Big Brother'

"This might sound like a scary vision of an Orwellian future. But it might all depend on the face that is watching you."

This piece is a cousin of the "virtual astronaut" article I posted not long ago, in which a spacecraft's dizzying array of controls is interfaced through an artificial "personality" not unlike HAL 9000.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Cool site of the day: 10x10

"10x10 runs with no human intervention, autonomously observing what a handful of leading international news sources are saying and showing. 10x10 makes no comment on news media bias, or lack thereof. It has no politics, nor any secret agenda; it simply shows what it finds."
Chilling Mystery Hits Kent

"'She was frightened last night,' her mom Rachel said. 'She didn't want to come and get her pajamas out of her dresser and she slept in her brother's room (Thursday) night and then she came into our room last night scared that it might happen again.'"

Yet another "Donnie Darko" moment. Mad world, isn't it?
Everything Is Green at This Fair

"HP was just one of 350 exhibitors on hand for Green Festival at San Francisco's Concourse Exhibition Center. Also hawking all manner of pro-environment goods and services were a slew of solar energy, telecommunications, hemp food, fair trade clothing, animal rights and ecotourism companies."
Venice Sinks Under High Waters

"Flooding is a constant enemy of the fragile art city, with every new incursion damaging its medieval and Renaissance palaces. Officials on Sunday railed against decades of delay to a plan to build underwater barriers against the sea. 'My feeling is rage and recrimination for those who have wasted years and years before starting the work,' Giancarlo Galan, chairman of the Veneto region, told Ansa newsagency."

Rage and recrimination! We'll be experiencing a lot of that when U.S. coastal cities start taking the plunge. I think Giancarlo Galan's words should be emblazoned on a giant plaque and personally hauled to the doorstep of every American citizen. Because, beneath its fading allure, Venice is an alarming microcosm of the entire planet.

On another environmental note, I've become exasperated by people who take great pride in reminding us that "Our children are the future." No they're not. We are. Our children just get saddled with it, and by the time they take the reigns it's conceivable it might be too damned late to make an appreciable difference. Equating the next generation with the future is a thinly veiled attempt to escape the sheer fucking immediacy of the problems that haunt us now.

Bush's dubious election is indeed a huge step backward that may well be looked back on with an exceptionally fierce breed of Galan's "rage and recrimination." But what too many of miss is the fact that we're living the "good old days." Right now. The life we experience, as dystopian and threatening as it is, will seem acutely idyllic in 30 years. Of course, that makes it all-too-easy to slack off, to wait serenely for the last possible moment.

The biosphere is running through our fingers like fine sand. It's becoming clear that politics are not the answer, as we become increasingly mired in the solipsism that is the lifeblood of the New World Disorder.

These are the days of stagnation; these are Giancarlo Galan's "wasted years."

Monday, November 08, 2004

Radio Free Cydonia

I've just been alerted that I have a new audio interview online. This was conducted by host Hilly Rose a few weeks ago. Although I'm having technical problems actually downloading the file, you can reach it by clicking "Fate Radio" on this page.
Suspicious movements

"The object has also triggered speculations whether it was a device for covert surveillance. At IIT, Bombay, Dr Hemandra Arya says cutting-edge technology today makes it possible to build small electric-powered autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles. A simple explanation is that it was a runaway balloon cluster; a sophisticated one is that it was an unmanned aerial vehicle powered by electric motors which would also explain the lack of sound, said Arya. 'We certainly don't need to invoke ET for this,' he said."
It was only a matter of time . . .

Hobbit folk 'were just sick humans'

"All life is a blur of Republicans and meat."

"Jacob said the tiny floresiensis skull is really that of a relatively recently deceased human who suffered from microcephaly, a congenital condition in which a person is born with a very small brain."

In other words, an island of pinheads. There are myriad reasons this "explanation" is untenable. Read the article above for just a few.
Man, Christmas is just around the corner, huh? I bet you're wondering what to give.

You probably don't want to spend that much, but you want your gift to be thoughtful and heart-felt.

And heaven knows you don't want to brave the crushing masses of holiday shoppers. Wouldn't it be great if you could find something online that you could order from the comfort of your home?
Run for your lives! An inexplicable meteorological malignancy has descended on our nation's capitol!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Fish fossil confirms origin of nostrils

"'It's as if we were to have a nostril located on the upper jaw margin between the canine and the adjacent incisor,' says Per Ahlberg of Uppsala University in Sweden, who did the study with Min Zhu of the Chinese Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing."

Occasionally you hear of a scientific finding, such as the one above, that will supposedly make Creationists think again. Get real. "Creation Science" has nothing to do with science, name notwithstanding. The belief virus will trump rationality every time, given half a chance -- and Creation Scientists are in the business of giving it all possible chances.

Now reading: "Tower of Glass" by Robert Silverberg. I have yet to read a book by Silverberg I haven't really liked, with the exception of the over-long and meandering "The Alien Years." And even "The Alien Years" wasn't without a certain appeal.

Click here to read my review of UFO researcher Kevin Randle's fictional "Operation Roswell."
Man Living in Cave on Los Alamos Lab Land

"Authorities have evicted a man from a cave on Los Alamos National Laboratory land where they say he apparently lived for years with the comforts of home - a wood-burning stove, solar panels connected to car batteries for electricity and a satellite radio."

I envy this dude. Talk about "off the grid" -- he's sort of like the urban castaway of J.G. Ballard's "Concrete Island." And I bet he's got some cool UFO stories.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Evidence Mounts That The Vote Was Hacked

"While the heavily scrutinized touch-screen voting machines seemed to produce results in which the registered Democrat/Republican ratios largely matched the Kerry/Bush vote, in Florida's counties using results from optically scanned paper ballots -- fed into a central tabulator PC and thus vulnerable to hacking -- the results seem to contain substantial anomalies."

I'm actually less troubled by the possibility of electronic vote-fraud than the fact that Bush received so many irrefutable votes.
Thanks to everyone who's been using the Comment/Trackback feature. It definitely makes maintaining this blog more fun. If you have an idea for an extended discussion topic, feel free to click "Discuss!" (see sidebar, right below the genetically modified uber-chicken) and post your thoughts on the message board, where your comments will linger indefinitely*.

*Or until ProBoards pulls one of those unasked-for service "upgrades" that demands payment.
Hell, maybe I could be the next James Bond. I'd be the perfect spy; no one ever notices me. Just the other day I walked up to the Starbucks cafe counter at Barnes & Noble and the teenage baristas just kept on talking. Like I was invisible. I could have looted the cash drawer and no one would have seen me.

I'd be an exceptionally useful James Bond if the mission required infiltrating a complex of beautiful women. Women, especially, never notice me . . .

You know, something's telling me this just isn't box-office material.
P Diddy wants to be Bond

"The man formerly known as Puff Daddy said: 'The world is ready for a black James Bond.'" (Via CP.)

No doubt. But "Puff Daddy"? First of all, the Bond they've got now is doing just fine. My pick for a replacement would have to be Jude Law. Or Morrissey -- I can actually see that.

I suppose the upshot of "P Diddy" as Bond is that you could do away with the whole "007" thing; he changes his name so often it's little more than a code-name anyway. And even less comprehensible.

"Posthuman Blues: Your P Diddy News-Source"
Cosmic doomsday delayed

"Physicists are still divided about the fate of the Universe. Some say it will keep expanding forever, whereas others believe that at some point in the future it will begin to contract and ultimately collapse in a big crunch. 'All bets are off in terms of predicting the fate of the Universe,' says Caldwell, who has previously suggested that the Universe could ultimately end in a 'big rip' as it expands into infinity."

Either way makes the universe seem tantalizingly organic. The "big rip" scenario makes the cosmos seem like some vast living entity engaged in a literally endless quest to expand its domain -- shades of the alien "blob" battled by Steve McQueen. The "big crunch" is more earthy and accessible, in tune with the flux of seasons and the life cycles of more immediately comprehensible creatures -- and a little more along the lines of "The Incredible Shrinking Man."

Friday, November 05, 2004

Good news. John Shirley hasn't gone away; he still maintains a blog, of sorts, but it will be updated weekly instead of daily. I sympathize. And he's graciously added a link to Posthuman Blues. (You know, it's kind of cool seeing my name sandwiched between G.I. Gurdjieff and Bruce Sterling.)
I find it troubling that the mainstream press studiously avoids mentioning George W. Bush and John Kerry's documented involvement with a self-stated "secret society" -- Yale's Skull and Bones. A presidential candidate is judged, we're told, by his honesty and openness; witness the positively obsessive efforts to excavate Bush's exact military history or the nature of Kerry's performance in the Vietnam War.

So one might naturally assume a politician's loyalty to a "secret society" would preclude any politically meaningful form of trust. Yet Bush and Kerry's membership in what is, at the very least, an influential cabal of leaders and industrialists (that, for reasons unknown, chooses to keep its actions cloaked in secrecy) goes forever unremarked. Nothing to see here. Move on. Punch those chads.

The laughter curtain assembled by incompetent conspiracy theorists has apparently scared the mainstream off from investigating and exposing known breaches of public accountability. Most voters don't even know that Skull and Bones exists, let alone have an inkling of what its motives might be.

Unlike so many self-professed political mavens, I hesitate to claim I can fairly assess either of the candidate's motives. Not being a privileged member of the club, I can't tell you what agendas Skull and Bones supports and what issues it chooses to dismiss. But I bet Bush and Kerry might have an idea.

So why haven't they been asked?
Kerry Won. Here are the Facts.

"The election in Ohio was not decided by the voters but by something called 'spoilage.' Typically in the United States, about 3 percent of the vote is voided, just thrown away, not recorded. When the bobble-head boobs on the tube tell you Ohio or any state was won by 51 percent to 49 percent, don't you believe it ... it has never happened in the United States, because the total never reaches a neat 100 percent. The television totals simply subtract out the spoiled vote."

This is oh-so-creepily plausible . . .

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on the patio at Starbucks (but sticking it to The Man by actually drinking a coffee brewed at the indie place up the street) and noticed a guy who looked quite a bit like Hugo Weaving ("The Matrix's" "Agent Smith") sitting nearby, inscrutable behind dark sunglasses. Whoa. Maybe I should have stuck with Starbucks.
Notes from the future

I've become transfixed by images from an imagined future forty or fifty years from now -- maybe less. Most of the "creative process" has been purely subliminal; I'm piecing it together from images harvested from dreams. Only occasionally do I indulge in wide-awake extrapolation.

I'm surprised how old the future looks, but perhaps I shouldn't be. Right now we're in the midst of a continent-wide suburban boom. New stripmalls, entertainment complexes and stand-alone stores crop up in endless profusion, sterile and oddly welcoming, only to be razed and supplanted by their Darwinian successors. Consequently, everything looks new, with an almost CGI luster.

This phase won't last. The present riot of consumer sprawl will wind down as resources become scarcer. Very soon, the available real-estate will be consumed and the fervor that fueled expansion will be forced to find new channels; the present obsession with prefab architecture will become a near-maniacal need to retrofit -- fulfilling William Gibson's sly prophecy that "the street finds its own use for things." The commercial sheen of today's store and restaurant interiors will become dingy by comparison with our own -- age-scuffed and time-battered utilitarianism seeking to subvert its millennial origins.

This reinvented world is hushed, stagnant; the excesses of today's fast-forward commercial ecology keep the population in virtual submission. It's not necessarily that there are fewer people; it's simply that humans will find themselves dwarfed by structures whose function seems to balance on the razor's edge of obsolescence. Ever seen a deserted shopping mall slated for demolition? Imagine a whole country with that same sad, desiccated atmosphere; a world thrown rudely upon the concrete shores of its own past.

A man sits on the jetee, bracketed by clammy concrete walls, and sips rice tea. He watches the tide -- warm and strangely odorless -- rush in, crashing against the fortified seawall with a peculiarly electric sound. Lukewarm spray beads the asphalt between his feet.

I am watching.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Science's latest frontier -- headless humans

"With Californians voting overwhelmingly to borrow $3 billion to begin cloning for stem-cell research, it's just a short leap to the suggestions of an Indian scientist who proposes breeding headless humans to be used for harvesting organs and other forms of commercial exploitation."

If this becomes medical reality -- and I hope it does -- imagine the dissent from the radical religious right, who simply won't get it no matter how many times it's explained to them that the bodies are simply life-saving tissue cultures in anthropomorphic form. There will be rioting and bombings. Geneticists will be killed. Fundamentalists will line up at the gates of biomedical clinics wielding inane placards and those sloppy wheeled crosses that are becoming more and more a part of the post-W cultural landscape.

Meanwhile, those of us actually wearing new custom-tailored bodies will glance furtively at each other and wonder how long till the stoning begins . . .

(For an excellent forecast of the potential abuses of cloning technology, I recommend Michael Marshall Smith's "Spares.")

Thinking Machine 4 explores the invisible, elusive nature of thought. Play chess against a transparent intelligence, its evolving thought process visible on the board before you.
The George W. Bush Book Club

Current featured titles:

1.) The Sheep Look Up (John Brunner)
2.) The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
3.) Walk to the End of the World (Suzy McKee Charnas)
4.) 1984 (George Orwell)
5.) Eclipse (John Shirley)
6.) Ghost of Chance (William S. Burroughs)
7.) Radio Free Albemuth (Philip K. Dick)
8.) Random Acts of Senseless Violence (Jack Womack)
9.) On the Beach (Nevil Shute)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Colorful UFO reports have been emanating from India recently. Unknown Country summarizes the latest:

Is Contact Under Way in India?

"Sumit Chatterjee reports that despite the military's usual tight lipped response on account of national security, some officials have responded bluntly and confirmed the presence of UFOs in the area. Indian ufologists suspect that the flurry of activity is related to the local rumor that beings from Sirius will land in the area within the next seven years, though not reveal themselves until 2012."
"My sister just got back from a vacation in Missouri. While down there, she visited a casino. She had to present identification to the bouncer to be let in. He looked at her ID, made a confused face and said, 'Canada. What state is that?'"

--The ShanMonster, "Trick or Treat" (Sunday, October 31, 2004)

I hereby take back all my anti-Kansas comments.
The making of the terror myth

"Since September 11 Britain has been warned of the 'inevitability' of catastrophic terrorist attack. But has the danger been exaggerated? A major new TV documentary claims that the perceived threat is a politically driven fantasy - and al-Qaida a dark illusion."

Contrary to the above article, a radiological "dirty bomb" could be quite deadly, if competently made. Then again, making one in secret might prove exceptionally difficult, and the "evil-doer" mastermind could run the risk of radiation poisoning before he had a chance to detonate it.
Obligatory thoughts on the election

George W. Bush is a particularly obstinate turd in the increasingly stressed bowels of the American zeitgeist. But don't take my word for it . . .


"If you voted for George Bush then it's your own fault if you don't have health care; it's your own fault global warming continues unabated, wrecking the world for your grandchildren; it's your own fault your job will be outsourced; it's your own fault that terrorism will only get worse, because Bush will feed those fires; it's your fault that a fanatic religious cult will finish taking over the White House; it's your own fault that you're going to lose your civil liberties."

Four More Years (Dan Gillmor)

"Our civil liberties will shrink drastically. This president and his top allies in Congress fully support just one amendment in the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. Say goodbye to abortion rights in most states. Roe v. Wade will fall after this president pushes three or four Scalia and Thomas legal clones onto the Supreme Court. Say hello, meanwhile, to a much more intrusive blending of church and state."

Disclaimer: Appearances aside, Posthuman Blues is not becoming a political blog. Frankly, I think all that can be said about Bush and his cronies has already been said, or will be said, and I'm perfectly happy to abandon this sad fuck and his destructive antics for the foreseeable future.

Welcome to idiocracy.
Stealth Now Old Hat - USAF Looks Into Teleportation

"Lest you think that our friends at DARPA are the only ones interested in science-fictional possibilities, the USAF recently took delivery of a new study regarding the military potential of teleportation."
23 UFOs Over Veracruz, Mexico - Police, Residents Watch

"Ricardo Antonio Lopez Morales, a resident of the port of Veracruz, describes the sighting of a UFO flotilla around 11:30 a.m. and with an approximate duration of 45 minutes."

Twenty-three of them! Why am I not surprised? The UFO literature is crammed with the number 23. Synchronicity? A message from beyond? Or are both simply different ways of addressing the same phenomenon?
Iraq: the crowning glory of George W. Bush

"Bush's Freedom and Democracy campaign, winning hearts and minds through shock and awe tactics is a stunning reminder of how jingoistic and xenophobic beliefs held by simpletons, applied as crisis management policies by the organisms of a nation such as the USA, can step over the line containing the lunacy which has only been seen before in cases such as Hitler's Nazi Germany."

You know you're in trouble when even Pravda manages to make a reasonably lucid stab at the Bush administration.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

This is weird. The Girl Down the Hall just knocked on my door to see what I wanted. I apologized and told her I thought she'd be up, as we work a similar schedule, and that I felt like an idiot for waking her. Amazingly, she wasn't mad. And it turns out the "boyfriend" is an ex-boyfriend who leaves for New York tomorrow. Insert sensitive, self-deprecating Smiths lyric here.
Travelling to Mars and hibernating like a brown bear

"The research could also lead to far-reaching applications in the medical field such as prolonging the useful life of a transplant organ or even heart-transplant operations while patients are in a state of hypo-metabolism."

As the ESA article admits, hibernation is not a serious consideration for the first manned mission to Mars. I'm more intrigued by the biomedical applications. This is a step in the right direction for cryonics research, which seeks to freeze patients without destroying vital cell structures.

One of the biggest hurdles to cryonics at present is that the patient must be declared legally dead before cryonicists can set to work reducing cell damage; this invariably results in destruction that could be prevented if cryonicists were allowed access to a terminal patient before clinical death.

Long-term biostasis might bridge the schism between mainstream medicine and the cryonics community because it eliminates actual death ("deanimation"). A person suffering from an incurable disease might choose to have himself put into hibernation until such time as a cure is developed. It's the same gamble made by cryonics patients, of course, but cryonics must deal not only with curing present-day maladies, but "reanimating" patient's "dead" bodies -- presumably with the help of nanotechnology of the sort described in K. Eric Drexler's "Engines of Creation." Hibernation -- if we can achieve it -- does away with the need for quasi-exotic cell-repair technologies.

In college, I spoke at length with former CryoCare president Charles Platt (author of "The Silicon Man") about my prospects as a cryonaut. Truthfully, I imagined that I'd be signed up by now. So why aren't I?

Good question.
I just did something incredibly, titanically stupid. I knocked on the door of the Girl Down the Hall. I was going to see if she wanted to have a cup of coffee. Her boyfriend answered the door: "We're sleeping." And heaven knows I'm miserable now.
The Long Way Home

"The report demurely suggests this: 'Alternative fuels, greenhouse gas emissions controls and conservation efforts are worthy endeavors.' It concludes by posing the alternative: 'Abrupt climate change is likely to stretch [the Earth's] carrying capacity well beyond its already precarious limits. Disruption and conflict may well be endemic features of life ... Every time there is a choice between starving and raiding, humans raid.'"

Brain Scans May Unlock Candidates' Appeal

"Already, the scientists are predicting that brain scanning known as functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI will be a campaign staple four years from now, despite ethical concerns about 'neuromarketing.'"

Monday, November 01, 2004

Oh, yeah -- new stuff at The Deoxyribonucleic Hyperdimension.

And I've updated the sidebar with several blogs that definitely deserve a look. Have fun.
China aims for five days in orbit

Watch 'em go!

"'The spacecraft will make new breakthroughs in China's manned space technology,' said a spokesperson for China Aerospace Science and Technology (Cast)."
Peter A. Gersten has given me permission to post the following essay. Enjoy!


PAG ADVISORY: 11-01-04

Along with my conviction that our reality is a cosmic computer program is my belief that within our program are messages, signs, and clues to the nature of our reality. Sometimes a message takes the form of a warning.

Thus I am particularly attracted to coincidences since I have found that certain synchronistic ones provide useful information - especially when they involve specific numbers. As readers of my commentaries already know, I have a particular attraction to numerical palindromes and anything related to 11:11 and 2012. So when, within a short period of time, a certain numerical sequence taps me on the shoulder not once, not twice, but three times, I start to notice.

For the past few weeks we have been continuously hearing that the last time the Boston Red Sox won the World Series (before their present success) was in 1918. Until last Thursday night I hadn't thought twice about the significance of that year even though earlier that day I had written a commentary for an article that appeared in Friday's E-NEWS about an influenza pandemic that had also occurred in 1918 - and even though in that commentary I referred to the numerical coincidence and stated: "Things do tend to repeat themselves over time, now don't they?" But sooner or later the Universe does ensure that you get the "message" - one way or another, right?

Thursday evening I decided to rent a video for later that night. Searching the shelves for the latest releases at the Movie Gallery in Holbrook proved disappointing. The only two that looked interesting (of the newest horror movies I hadn't yet seen) - "Frankenfish" and some foreign Dracula flick - left me feeling unsatisfied - so I decided to check out the older videos. After a few minutes I found one that I had seen there on numerous occasions but had never given it a second thought - until then. Funny how certain things can only be appreciated at certain times. I picked up the box and saw that Naomi Watts was in a starring role. That was good enough for me - so even though the plot resembled every other "technology gone wild" theme I decided to rent - "The Shaft."

"The Shaft" is a 1999 horror film (released in 2003) about a group of high-speed elevators in a skyscraper in New York City (Millennium Building) that become malevolently self-aware and start killing people. Naomi Watts appears approximately 15 minutes into the plot as a reporter for a New York City newspaper. She is first seen at her desk experiencing a computer problem when the newsroom geek offers to help her. After the typical sexual banter he informs her that her computer has a virus. Naomi's boss then tells her that he wants her to cover a story about several pregnant women giving birth while in an elevator at the Millennium Building (the most unique aspect of the movie). She tells her boss that she needs to finish her current assignment about voting rights for women and when her boss asks her the year of that story she answers - 1918.

While hearing "1918" in conjunction with both the Red Sox and Flu dramas didn't get my attention, hearing it for a third time, and in the context of such irrelevant dialogue, rang a very loud bell - a warning bell to be exact. It was now time to see what other interesting things I could find about 1918.

A search on Google of "1918 events" led me to the fascinating article
"Venus Transit: Biohazard?"

The thrust of the article is that "outbreaks of new strains of influenza and influenza related illnesses" occur shortly after Venus inferior conjunctions. The reasoning behind this theory is quite intriguing and worth the time to read the article even if my "message" proves to be a false alarm. Interestingly there was a Venus transit in 1918 - and coincidentally, one on June 8th of this year. Ironically, there also will be another one in 2012 - but that's a story for a future advisory.

The Red Sox won the World Series in 1918 and they won it again in 2004. There was a Venus transit in 1918 and another in 2004. There was an influenza pandemic in 1918. Will there be another one in the winter of 2004? Are there any other clues?

As I related above, the first scene with Naomi Watts included not only a reference to 1918 but also a reference to a virus, albeit a computer virus. Later in this 1999 movie there is a scene where FBI personnel take over the Millennium Building believing that the murders are due to a terrorist attack. The next scene is of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center.

Could there be a terrorist attack involving a bio-weapon this winter? Sure - but will there be one? I don't know! Could there be a major viral pandemic this winter? Sure - but will there be one? I don't know! But isn't it better to be safe than sorry? The above-referenced URL also suggests a few preventative measures one can take - just in case.

Another coincidence and probably the most significant one for me as to the legitimacy of the "warning" is that 1918 is also the year that World War I ended - on the 11th hour of 11th day of 11th Month.

Things do tend to repeat themselves over time, now don't they?


(Makes you wonder what would have happened if he'd rented "Frankenfish," huh? --Mac)