Saturday, June 30, 2007

I'm moved in and waiting for my Internet connection to go live. (I'm writing this from a glitchy library terminal.) In a way, it's been nice to be Netless . . . but the novelty wears thin. Posting will probably resume within a couple days.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I'm putting this blog on temporary hold while I relocate. See you soon!

Crop Circles - Hoax Or Hex?

He would not elaborate, but suggested that the act of making the circles might be an act bordering on something like evocational magick. In other words, the creation of the intricate patterns in ripe crops all over England over the past 3 decades may have had more than the desired effect of making art and befuddling believers - it may have called up something from the "symbolic realm," as I call it.

Greg Bishop's speculation dovetails with Nick Redfern's proposal that certain ancient sites in England are endowed with thought-forms. Maybe we've unwittingly activated a "psychic Internet" in which our minds are the servers and the planet itself is the monitor.
Cellphone recycling bins at Tokyo convenience stores

Since 1998, Japan's wireless providers have been recycling unwanted phones in their own stores for customers who switch models or cancel their contracts. In recent years, however, more and more customers are waiting to recycle their old handsets, as phones have grown more sophisticated and hold greater amounts of important data that users need to access after switching models.

The question you should be asking yourself: could anyone in, say, 1985 possibly have predicted this?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

'Mile-wide UFO' spotted by British airline pilot

"It was 2,000ft up and stationary. I thought it was about 10 miles away, although I later realised it was approximately 40 miles from us. At first, I thought it was the size of a [Boeing] 737.

"But it must have been much bigger because of how far away it was. It could have been as much as a mile wide."

Continuing his approach to Guernsey, Bowyer then spied a "second identical object further to the west".

He said: "It was exactly the same but looked smaller because it was further away. It was closer to Guernsey. I can't explain it. This was clearly visual for about nine minutes.

"I'm certainly not saying that it was something of another world. All I'm saying is that I have never seen anything like it before in all my years of flying."

This seems to be a solid report from a qualified pilot. Comments welcome.

Friday, June 22, 2007

At last: photographic proof of the Grays' hybridization program!

For the entire photoset, click here.

(Thanks, John!)
The aliens are shambling and Cthulhu-like, adept at telekinesis. Their vehicles -- ominous stationary saucers seen through a haze of pollution and African sunlight -- border on kitschy. But by craftily exploiting genre "power chords" and setting the action in an alternate 1990, "Alive in Joburg" captures a sense of pure, unaffected creepiness. There are some wonderful and haunting images to be found here.

(Found at Table of Malcontents.)

William S. Burroughs claimed that "we're here to go." Chris at Mondolithic Sketchbook mines the same post-ideological vein here.
I think we can safely expect the alleged "drones" to become increasingly complex as new images materialize -- if, of course, the meme doesn't die out first.

The evolution of the drones' construction arguably mirrors the progression of early crop circles from relatively simple glyphs to today's geometrically sophisticated designs. Is a cabal of drone aficionados deliberately starting with minimalist designs and working its way up to the equivalent of a "mothership"? Or are we witnessing a spontaneous trend?

Perhaps in discounting the drone images we deprive ourselves a front-row seat to a meme undergoing the rigors of evolution, a process ufology has yet to fully understand for lack of sheer intellectual and cross-disciplinary flexibility.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I happened across this stop-action sci-fi yarn at YouTube. Whimsical yet monstrous.

Cliff Pickover is at it again with The Women of Wikipedia. Where else can you find Courteney Cox rubbing shoulders with Ada Lovelace?
Paul Kimball: renaissance man.

So you wanna be a cyborg . . .

Here are ten steps to get you going (or at least keep you busy) until the Singularity hits.
Watching this spoof ad (based on an actual proposed product) is disquietingly like taking in a vintage "technology of tomorrow" video circa 1985.

(Tip of the virtual reality visor to Beyond the Beyond.)
This clip is being billed as the funniest five-second video on the Net. (So far it's elicited a laugh every time I've watched it.)

(Hat tip: Boing Boing.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I finished Bruce Sterling's "Visionary in Residence" and began Ken MacLeod's "Newton's Wake" (a tough decision, as the library also had "Learning the World" available and I'm a sucker for first contact stories).

Meanwhile, in "meatspace," I've been idly packing for next week's move. I'm jonesing for an up-close look at the new addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which will be within easy walking distance. (It's embarrassing to admit, but the thought of being able to walk somewhere -- let alone somewhere as cool as an art museum -- seems almost impossibly exotic to me right now.)
NTT's Tangible-3D display

Researchers at NTT Comware have just made virtual reality a little more real. On June 20, the company unveiled a 3D display system that reproduces the physical feel of three-dimensional video by means of an actuator glove worn on the hand, allowing viewers to literally reach out and touch the person or object on the screen.
Bush vetoes stem-cell funds bill

Mr Bush said advances must be pursued in a way "that respects human dignity and upholds our moral values".

This is, of course, beyond the domain of mere cognitive dissonance -- but at least we can't claim we didn't see it coming.

Just because the world is burning doesn't mean we can't dress nicely.
Giant wind-powered biomechanical centipedes stroll our beaches. Awesome short video.

(Thanks: Reality Carnival.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Charles Stross: bitch-slapped!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Take a look at the incredible packaging for the final cut of Ridley Scott's prescient cult favorite, "Blade Runner." It even comes with a replica "spinner" flying car. My inner nerd is fairly drooling over this.
FBI to Battle Zombie Horde

No, really. Read on.

Some estimates peg the number of email spams sent each day at around 55 billion, the vast majority of which are sent by infected PCs, usually without any knowledge of it by their owner.

It's all part of what's known as a botnet, giant networks of malware-infected PCs that act as slaves to a master controller via the internet. These PCs, called zombies, are perhaps the biggest security threat on the internet today.

(Thanks, Nick.)

Ghost Cities Of 2100

Whether from natural catastrophes, economic collapse or the slow encroachments of sand or water, it seems likely that at least some of today's cities will meet the same fate as Ozymandias, the king of kings who built a monument to himself. As the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote, "Round the decay / Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare / The lone and level sands stretch far away."

(Via Spluch.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Blade Runner" alert!
That Salt Lake Blimp--Mystery Solved . . . or Not?

On June 13, a peculiar object was videotaped moving slowly over Salt Lake City. Despite the fact that the object exhibits significant mechanical detail in a clear videotape, it has been claimed that it was a mylar blimp owned by a man called Daniel Geery. However it's not yet clear that Mr. Geery's blimp has the same configuration as the videotaped object, and a strikingly similar object was videotaped over Liverpool in England in July of 2001.

Both look like unmanned blimps or airships to me. But at least they're more interesting than the "drones."
From Now On, It's All Temperature Anomaly, All the Time

The picture kind of says it all.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Brian Eno discusses "Music for Airports," one of my all-time favorite albums:

(Thanks: Beyond the Beyond.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Good news: in about a week, I'm getting the hell out of Independence, Missouri for the more sanity-conducive climes of the Plaza in Kansas City. My soon-to-be new apartment is light-years beyond what I'm living in now. (With lots of exposed ducts, it's a little like a set from Terry Gilliam's "Brazil.")

No more suburban dilapidation, and none too soon.
No Stars Shine in This Dark Galaxy

An international team of astronomers have conclusive new evidence that a recently discovered "dark galaxy" is, in fact, an object the size of a galaxy, made entirely of dark matter.
Yes Men Strike Oil: Civil Disobedients Make Modest Flesh-to-Fuel Proposal

"Without oil, at least four billion people would starve. This spiral of trouble would make the oil infrastructure utterly useless" -- unless their bodies could be turned into fuel.

That was the satirical message delivered by two corporate ethics activists to the Gas and Oil Exposition 2007 in Calgary, Alberta. The activists, part of political trickster collective the Yes Men, used the Exposition to stage their latest theatre of corporate absurdity, with Exxon/Mobil and the Natural Petroleum Council playing the fools.

(Via Boing Boing.)
Stephen Colbert on the ever-present robot menace:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rooftop solar power just got easier.
SETI pundit Seth Shostak's credibility righteously trounced by the Easter Bunny. Read all about it.
Marco Spitoni is destined to go down as one of the seminal fabulists of Web-based cinema. Check out his latest, an action-packed short involving massive, jet-propelled robot lizards:

For "C.O.D.E. Guardian," Spitoni's steampunk retelling of World War Two, click here.

(Big thanks to Table of Malcontents.)

Spooks Infiltrating UFO Community?

So, if I get this right: these spooks don't really believe in UFOs, but they're worried that foreign intelligence agents have infiltrated UFO groups that have military members with classified info. And what sort of classified information do these supposed foreign intelligence types think they're gonna get from the UFO group (other than UFO information)?

At this point, if attending a conference, I'd politely hand the mic to Nick Redfern ("On the Trail of the Saucer Spies"). But it's worth noting that spooks infiltrating UFO groups is hardly new, dating back to the very first formal research organizations.

Hopefully this "new" development will stir up some coherent discussion on an overlooked and multifaceted aspect of ufology.
Populations of 20 U.S. birds declining

The populations of 20 common American birds -- from the fence-sitting meadowlark to the whippoorwill with its haunting call -- are half what they were 40 years ago, according to an analysis released Thursday.

Suburban sprawl, climate change and other invasive species are largely to blame, said the study's author Greg Butcher of the National Audubon Society.

"Most of these we don't expect will go extinct," he said. "We think they reflect other things that are happening in the environment that we should be worried about."

Evidently scientists will stop at nothing to perpetuate their sinister Leftist agenda!
Caffeinated doughnuts to roll out

Dr. Robert Bohannon of Environostics is the man behind the caffeine-laced doughnuts, which he has dubbed Buzz Donuts. His manufacturing process allows the caffeine to be absorbed in the intestine, thus eliminating any off tastes.

Two words: "Nobel Prize."
Remember Kal Korff? He's been plugging away at his blog and the result is nothing short of hilarious. His grandiose claims have become so unapologetically silly that I don't think even Korff buys his schtick anymore -- but I could be wrong. See for yourself.

(For background on "Colonel" Korff, refer to
Pondering an Ocean Beneath Titan

An underground ocean on Titan? The apparent detection of low frequency radio waves makes liquid water beneath the surface of the huge Saturnian moon a possibility, according to research led by Fernando Simoes (Centre d'Etudes Terrestres et Planetaires, Saint Maur, France). Simoes and team have been studying what New Scientist is describing as an 'enigmatic radio signal' that the European Space Agency's Huygens probe detected as it descended to Titan's surface in 2005.

An enigmatic radio signal from deep space? Who can resist that invitation?
Lab-Grown Meat for Ethical Carnivores

"We're trying to make meat without having to kill animals," Bernard Roelen, a veterinary science professor at Utrecht University, said in an interview.

Although it is in its early stages, the idea is to replace harvesting meat from livestock with a process that eliminates the need for animal feed, transport, land use and the methane expelled by animals, which all hurt the environment, he said.

I get the "Why don't you eat meat?" question surprisingly often, considering I rarely mention my vegetarianism. I don't like using the "ethical" rap (even though I do think meat consumption is fraught with some serious ethical problems), so my latest justification is purely environmental: eating cows (or pigs or whatever) simply doesn't make sense in an age threatened by greenhouse emissions and desertification.

Strangely, a lot of people think eating vat-grown meat is way-gross. Maybe so. But it sure as hell beats the alternative.
Now's your chance to listen to the late Edward Gorey read "The Gashleycrumb Tinies"!

I'm prone to fits of laughter when reading Gorey's books; he achieved a singular alchemy with his combination of dour rhymes and faux-Victorian illustrations.
The wrath of 2007: America's great drought

From the mountains and desert of the West, now into an eighth consecutive dry year, to the wheat farms of Alabama, where crops are failing because of rainfall levels 12 inches lower than usual, to the vast soupy expanse of Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida, which has become so dry it actually caught fire a couple of weeks ago, a continent is crying out for water.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

William Gibson has a new book on the way. I'm excited. You should be too.
A frank, blame-free assessment of the potential consequences of anthropogenic climate change:

As Chris notes at Mondolithic Sketchbook, "Everytime someone watches this, an oil industry shill gets carpal tunnel."
Bios 4 - Art Exhibition in Seville, Spain

An exhibition of biotech art, including its relationships with the human body, nano-entities, environmental issues, artificial life and robots.

That's my kind of art exhibition. Take a look at the "Martian rose," a fitting metaphor for doomed romance if there ever was one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Design boost for European rover

The vehicle, expected to land in September 2014, would be equipped with a 16.5kg package of instruments to search for past or present life.

Key term: "present life," which it just might find. (Despite NASA's justification for its Mars program as the "search for life," it hasn't actually looked for any since the 1970s.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Project Pterosaur

The goal of Project Pterosaur is to mount an expedition to locate and bring back to the United States living specimens of pterosaurs or their fertile eggs, which will be displayed in a Pterosaur Rookery that will be the center piece of the planned Fellowship Creation Science Museum and Research Institute (FCSMRI). Furthermore, the rookery facility will establish a breeding colony of pterosaurs in order to produce specimens that could then be put on display by other regional institutions or church groups.

If real (and not a spot-on parody), this is one of the funniest things I've ever seen online. It reads like some sort of fevered collaboration between Jack Chick and Loren Coleman.

For more seriously wacked-out uber-Christian hocus pocus, be sure to take a look at the rest of the "Objective Ministries" site!

(Thanks to John Shirley.)

Greg Bishop reports a puzzling UFO-related dream and asks readers to arrive at their own interpretations.

Here's mine: Nick Redfern is an alien!
A robotic tuatara in New Zealand

The goal is to help conservation managers to the genetically fittest, most productive males. But what will happen if a female tuatara discovers that the robot is an impostor?

Perhaps that's a question best answered by the ghost of Philip K. Dick.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

"HEAVEN'S GATE Is Resurrected With New Followers"

Oooh, this is going to be good!
Today's my lucky day (so far -- and since it's not even 1:00 AM I guess that's not saying much): I just found a site devoted exclusively to David Cronenberg's film version of J.G. Ballard's "Crash."

(Thanks, Ballardian!)
It looks like I'll be "reuniting" with Greg Bishop, Nick Redfern and Paul Kimball for a most interesting DVD venture. Paul's masterminding this one, so check his blog for updates.

Mars rover finds "puddles" on the planet's surface

A new analysis of pictures taken by the exploration rover Opportunity reveals what appear to be small ponds of liquid water on the surface of Mars.

The report identifies specific spots that appear to have contained liquid water two years ago, when Opportunity was exploring a crater called Endurance. It is a highly controversial claim, as many scientists believe that liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars today because of the planet's thin atmosphere.

If confirmed, the existence of such ponds would significantly boost the odds that living organisms could survive on or near the surface of Mars, says physicist Ron Levin, the report's lead author, who works in advanced image processing at the aerospace company Lockheed Martin in Arizona.

This is big. Nevertheless, anyone with an eye toward the anomalous probably saw this one coming at least a few years ago. While the claim will be refuted by some, I predict it will win out in the end.

There's liquid water on Mars -- not just short-lived subsurface "leaks," but almost certainly standing puddles of the stuff. The solar system just keeps getting more interesting.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

As if we needed more evidence that Americans are in dire need of an intellectual upgrade:

Americans believe in both evolution, creationism: poll

Asked their views on whether human life is a result of God's creation or a product of evolution, one quarter of Americans chose both conflicting theories, a poll suggested Friday.

"All told, 25 percent say that both creationism and evolution are definitely or probably true," USA Today said.

At least simple ignorance is fairly easy to understand. But believing in Creationism and evolution simultaneously strains comprehension. My guess is that it's the ontological equivalent to channel-surfing: we want to watch two programs at the same time so we jump back and forth so rapidly that we fail to appreciate either and come away with our heads spinning from an overdose of disparate pixels. And then it's off to McDonalds and the local megaplex.
The Mystery of the Drones (Whitley Strieber)

Regarding the unusual appearance of one of the alleged "drones," Strieber remarks:

In fact, it is so exotic, so strange, its design so 'movie-like,' that, if it is an alien object, then I think it has been intentionally designed to make us think it's a special effect, right down to the writing seen on the object in the Chad photos, with its resemblance to Klingon and some other science fiction movie letterings.

Like most of Whitley's posts, this one if filled with an appealingly paranoid sort of logic. And to a degree I can relate, as my book-in-the-works, "The Cryptoterrestrials," depends to an extent on the reader's willingness to speculate and temporarily dismiss entrenched biases about what the UFO phenomenon is (or isn't).

That Strieber can transform the "drones" into a source of wonder (however tepid) is a testament to his imagination. But the photos in question remain to be authenticated; indeed, we don't even know who took them.

Strieber's essay notwithstanding, the overwhelming odds are that we're witnessing yet another soon-to-be-forgotten online hoax.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Blog of the day: Bit Babble
Bear robot rescues wounded troops

The Battlefield Extraction Assist Robot (BEAR) can scoop up even the heaviest of casualties and transport them over long distances over rough terrain.

New Scientist magazine reports that the "friendly appearance" of the robot is designed to put the wounded at ease.

(Via Beyond the Beyond.)

Let me make sure I understand this. You're a US Marine. A suicide bomber self-detonates and the next thing you know you're lying face-down in a pool of blood somewhere in Iraq. Perhaps your intestines are oozing out. You'd scream, but half your face has been melted by the blast. Suddenly, a chimeric metal beast with the head of a teddy bear emerges from the smoke and billowing sand.

And then you manage a pained smile -- because you know that everything's going to be just fine.
Here's the museum scene from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," a movie that obsessed me in my pre-"Blade Runner" days; I always felt a schizophrenic kinship with both Ferris and Cameron. The music is a gorgeous interpretation of The Smiths' "Please Please Please Let Me Get Want I Want" (below).

William S. Burroughs book covers galore!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

If you've ever spent five minutes in a Starbucks you've probably seen the piles of absurdly overpriced Ethos bottled water. Buying this stuff, you're informed, will significantly help impoverished children. I've always been rather skeptical, personally. According to this spoof site, I'm not the only one.

Of course, one can always justify the obvious profit motive by claiming, truthfully, that five cents from of every bottle sold is better than nothing at all. But for $1.80 a bottle, I think it's fair to expect a bigger percentage.
Chernobyl Area Becomes Wildlife Haven

Many assumed the 1986 meltdown of one reactor, and the release of hundreds of tons of radioactive material, would turn much of the 1,100-square-mile evacuated area around Chernobyl into a nuclear dead zone.

It certainly doesn't look like one today.

Dense forests have reclaimed farm fields and apartment house courtyards. Residents, visitors and some biologists report seeing wildlife - including moose and lynx - rarely sighted in the rest of Europe. Birds even nest inside the cracked concrete sarcophagus shielding the shattered remains of the reactor.

Sometimes I get the feeling Chernobyl is the future in microcosm, a ruinous forbidden zone of abandoned technology and encroaching nature, all conspicuously human-less.

Deep Hole Found on Mars

Why do I keep reading about a single hole? The last I checked there were seven of these things -- and those are just the ones we've discovered . . .

Caves on Mars gives rise to thinking about subsurface life on the planet, notes Peter Smith, principal investigator for NASA's next outbound mission to that distant and dusty world, the Phoenix lander. The deeper and deeper you go down on Mars, the warmer and warmer it gets, Smith said, and at some point the conditions are just right where liquid water is stable.

Moreover, could caves be linked to underground fractures allowing water vapor to be trapped inside, Smith speculates, perhaps the sort of comfy environment ideal for biology.

Finally -- a scientist speculates on the potential for subsurface life. The cool part? We won't even have to dig.
Last night, after much screaming and wailing, the police came to my apartment and arrested the cretin across the haul for assault. Perhaps now I can blog in peace.
Mystery over dwindling numbers of local frogs

The ponds at Camley Street Natural Park in King's Cross, Gillespie Park in Highbury and the Hampstead and Highgate ponds are usually teaming with frogs and frogspawn at this time of year.

But Walter Roberts, of Henfield Close, Archway, said: "I've been to lots of ponds and I can't find any frogs anywhere.

(Hat tip: Nick Redfern.)

Abduction is a lamp for Sci-Fi fans of all ages.

A light bulb inside the metal UFO lights up the beam and the windows. The glass of the beam is frosted to distribute light in all directions.

And I thought my tri-finned lava lamp was hip.

(Thanks to Null Spin.)
Halo lighting Lancashire's hills

The first stage in the building of a "flying saucer" sculpture on the Lancashire hills, is complete.

The artwork - called "Halo" - is part of the Panopticons project to create six new sculptures which offer panoramic views across the area.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Carl Sagan muses on the fragile "pale blue dot" that is Earth:

(Thanks to Reality Carnival.)
Digital paper with interactivity and sound

"We combine paper with printed graphic codes and electronically conductive ink that is engineered to be sensitive to pressure. Then digital information is embedded in the paper, and when it is touched, the information comes out via printed speakers," says Mikael Gulliksson, project leader for media technology in the comprehensive research project.
Epilepsy fears over 2012 footage

A segment of animated footage promoting the 2012 Olympics has been removed from the organisers' website after fears it could trigger epileptic seizures.

(Via The Anomalist.)

I swear I didn't make this up.
Support Your Local Reptoid

The concept of reptilian beings on Earth is a surprisingly widespread conspiracy theory, in which the US government and major public companies are complicit in a vast worldwide network of underground bases housing a large population of humanoid reptilian creatures called Reptoids. They speak English and are involved in every major government and corporate decision. They are variously said to either disguise themselves or actually shape-shift into humans, where they have public lives in positions of national importance. Some say the Reptoids are of extraterrestrial origin, and some say they are native to Earth, having developed intelligence before the primates, and have been secretly running things all along.

(Via PAG E-News.)

The real danger with the "reptoid" mythos is that critically impaired people refuse to acknowledge that humans are more than capable of orchestrating atrocities. Never underestimate human short-sightedness and greed.

Lately I've become almost painfully aware of an undercurrent of hostility that seems to have overtaken Independence. Yesterday I encountered two automobile screaming matches at intersections -- not so much unusual as unsettling. Waiting for a light to turn near my apartment, I heard blood-curdling accusatory screams from the shabby house to my left. Whoever was screaming was loud enough to be heard from the road, and I don't think the windows were open.

Later, at home, an argument broke out in the apartment across the hall; I couldn't help but hear it, the walls being little thicker than saltine cracker. As I write, a prolonged and noisy confrontation is burning itself out down the hall.

And then there are the taunts yelled from passing cars, the spontaneous "fuck yous" and omnipresent vandalism that plague what passes for Independence's upscale shopping area (home to Barnes & Noble, my sole remaining haven). I know perfectly well none of this is unique to my hometown, but at the same time I'm startled at how pervasive it's become, as if some psychic flashpoint has been reached. It's almost sinister, like the early stage of some apocalyptic zombie infestation.

And who knows? Maybe in a Ballardian sense it is.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I haven't read a short-story collection in a long time, so tonight I started Bruce Sterling's latest, "Visionary in Residence." Next up: John Shirley's "Living Shadows."
A 2007 New Frontiers Symposium? Looks like it.
Geoengineering Comes with Huge Risks

Over the coming decades, we're going to learn what kind of impact global warming is going to have on planet Earth. If the impact is as severe as some scientists are predicting, countries might take drastic action to stabilize temperatures. But scientists from Concordia University and the Carnegie Institution think that tinkering with the Earth on a global scale - or geoengineering - is very bad idea, and could make the problem much worse.
Episode 39: Astrology and UFOs

While Pamela's away at the American Astronomical Society meeting, we brought in a special guest to help debunk some of the pseudoscience that people mistake for astronomy.

(Via Universe Today.)

Come to think of it, the Face on Mars is due for another thrashing . . .

Monday, June 04, 2007

Holocenic hominid self-extinction event

There is an instinctive negative reaction to any idea that the ideal population is less than it is now. Yet the science suggests that we have exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth, and are consuming more resources than the Earth can produce for us each year, ultimately eating up our own future potential. Watson's sketch of sustainable lifestyles, combined with a gradual, voluntary reduction of human numbers, would avoid decimation of the human population by war, disease, and famine. In fact, much of the world (especially by surface area) is already below the replacement fertility rate, giving some hope. A global strategy less coercive and less radical than China's forced one-child policy should be possible.

I finally got to watch "Best Evidence," Paul Kimball's new documentary on the UFO phenomenon. In one hour, Kimball makes a succinct case for the reality of unidentified flying objects and in so doing offers tantalizing evidence that we're dealing with a form of intelligence, whether extraterrestrial or other. He also demonstrates that the phenomenon, whatever its origin or purpose, is taken extremely seriously by the U.S. government.

But "Best Evidence" is especially notable for what it fails to do. Unlike the majority of UFO documentaries, it doesn't confront the viewer with the usual parade of self-professed skeptics whose knowledge of the subject is limited to pop-sociological treatises on the success of "The X-Files." And it doesn't wallow in the usual controversies by invoking Roswell or probing the nature of alien abductions, as interesting as those subjects might be when addressed skillfully.

With welcome commentary by Brad Sparks, Richard Hall and Stanton Friedman, "Best Evidence" rises to the top of the UFO documentary pile by virtue of its eloquence, brevity and innate respect for a phenomenon which, unlike lesser efforts, it doesn't pretend to be able to solve.
Shark Biomimicry Produces Renewable Energy

BioPower Systems Pty Ltd., a renewable energy systems company based in Eveleigh, New South Wales, says that its bioSTREAM technology for converting tidal and marine current energy into electricity is modeled on biological species, such as shark and tuna, that use Thunniform-mode swimming propulsion.
Clinton: Faith got me through troubles

In a rare public discussion of her husband's infidelity, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that she probably could not have gotten through her marital troubles without relying on her faith in God.

Hillary condescendingly -- and oh-so-strategically -- plays the "faith" card. Please remind me not to vote for her.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Learning, Memory, and Progress toward a Living Chip

A new experiment has shown that it's possible to store multiple rudimentary memories in an artificial culture of live neurons. The ability to record information in a manmade network of neurons is a step toward a cyborg-like integration of living material into memory chips. The advance also may help neurologists to understand how our brains learn and store information.

(Via Communist Robot.)
Here's a guide to making one of the "pulse rifles" featured in "Aliens." With goofy-looking "drones" appearing in our skies, I figure it's never too late to be prepared for a xenomorph invasion.

(Thanks: Boing Boing.)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Experts: Katrina death toll still rising

The bodies are no longer being dragged from houses and buildings toppled by Hurricane Katrina, but nearly two years later many in the medical community think the storm is still killing.

Storm survivors are dying from the effects of both psychological and physical stress, from the dust and mold still in dwellings to financial problems to fear of crime, health experts and officials say.

[. . .]

"People with pre-existing conditions that are made worse by the stress of living here after the storm. Old people who are just giving up. People who are killing themselves because they feel they can't go on," Minyard said.

Forget that Epcot Center vacation. If you want a taste of the real future, a trip to New Orleans is definitely in order.
CB2 baby humanoid robot (with videos)

On June 1, researchers from Osaka University's Graduate School of Engineering unveiled a robot that acts like a human infant, which they hope may one day help scientists better understand the child development process.

The researchers have named the baby robot "CB2," and for now, it is designed to function as a 1- to 2-year-old child, gazing intently at its surroundings, squirming about on the floor and lighting up the room with child-like charm.

I've never liked human kids; apparently I don't like robot kids either.
I'm posting this embarrassingly after-the-fact, but it's worth contemplating.

Mayday 23: World Population Becomes More Urban Than Rural

There's no big countdown billboard or sign in Times Square to denote it, but Wednesday, May 23, 2007, represents a major demographic shift, according to scientists from North Carolina State University and the University of Georgia: For the first time in human history, the earth’s population will be more urban than rural.

Experts 'pessimistic' about aliens

Baart said most experts were "generally pessimistic" about finding extraterrestrial intelligence.

"I'm not optimistic. We might be alone in the universe," Baart said.

And even worse, he said, "We are in imminent danger of extinction."
Flying Saucer Music #18

I'm sure many of you have heard this one. It creeps me out, but my girlfriend thinks it's cute and feels sorry for the heartsick ultraterrestrial.

You can have your Christina Aguilera and Beyonce. I'll take Greg Bishop's playlist anytime.
Rudy Rucker YouTubes the gnarl.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Behold my new Yahoo avatar!

In time it might replace the much-beloved "laptop and skyline" image in my Blogger user profile.
Best Evidence - Big Screen Premiere

One hundred and eleven Haligonians, according to the official count by the Oxford Theatre staff, came out this evening to catch the screening of Best Evidence and Famous Monster at the historic Oxford, the last remaining non-big box, "cookie cutter" cinema in Halifax. That's roughly twice what the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation usually gets to these free screenings of local films.

Damn. I'm in in the film and I still haven't seen it. Fortunately the DVD's in the mail.

Just for fun, here's my view of Paul Kimball and photography director Findlay Muir filming me back in May of last year.

Paul appears to be beating his chest. Considering my scattered monologue on all things ufological and otherworldly, I can't say I blame him.

NASA Administrator Isn't Sure Global Warming is a Problem

It's not exactly that NASA administrator Mike Griffin denies that it's a problem, you see -- it's that he denies that it's our problem.

According to Mike, "I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."

Regarding our potential ability to restore the planet's climate by curbing greenhouse emissions (which won't, by itself, be nearly enough), Griffin offers us this bit of delerium: "I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."

I'll have to remember that the next time I'm crossing a busy street. Who am I to want to get out of the way of that truck? How unspeakably arrogant of me.
Fabled monster caught on video

An amateur scientist has captured what Loch Ness Monster watchers say is among the finest footage ever taken of the elusive mythical creature reputed to swim beneath the waters of Scotland's most mysterious lake. (Watch the 'monster' footage Video)

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this jet black thing, about 45-feet (15 meters) long, moving fairly fast in the water," said Gordon Holmes, the 55-year-old a lab technician from Shipley, Yorkshire, who took the video this past Saturday.

He said it moved at about 6 mph (10 kph) and kept a fairly straight course.

"My initial thought is it could be a very big eel, they have serpent-like features and they may explain all the sightings in Loch Ness over the years."

Whatever the "Loch Ness Monster" is, I've never had any substantial problem entertaining the idea that it could belong to an undiscovered marine species. I guess I'm a "Nessie sympathizer." And for whatever it's worth, I predict we'll eventually discover that "Bigfoot" has a basis in zoological fact.