Collections of miscellaneous strange writings from around the web

Mothman: Ambassador to Aliens?

Both Charles Fort and John Keel would have loved this one. Last weekend there were plenty of news headlines about the UN appointing an Earthly ambassador to alien civilisations:

Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist, is set to be tasked with co-ordinating humanity’s response if and when extraterrestrials make contact. Aliens who landed on earth and asked: “Take me to your leader” would be directed to Mrs Othman.

She will set out the details of her proposed new role at a Royal Society conference in Buckinghamshire next week. The 58-year-old is expected to tell delegates that the proposal has been prompted by the recent discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other starts, which is thought to make the discovery of extraterrestrial life more probable than ever before.

Mrs Othman is currently head of the UN’s little known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa).

However, it seems someone got their wires crossed, as official bodies knew nothing about it when queried, and Mrs. Othman herself said that though the idea "sounds really cool...I have to deny it." Besides which, there already is a group, headed by a leading scientist, dedicated to this role.

Buy why would Keel and Fort have loved this story so much? Mazlan Othman. M.Othman. That would only be topped by someone named Indrid Cold taking on the job....

UnCon 2010

If you're in the UK, make sure you get along to the 2010 Fortean Times UnConvention, which is being held at the University of Westminster, London, on the weekend of the 23/24 October:

After a year off, we're back - and we'd like to invite you to join us for two weirdness-packed days of talks, workshops, experiments, music, comedy and lively discussion...

We'll be ranging far and wide across the world of strange phenomena - from conspiracy theory to cryptozoology, from magic to monsters, from religion to rocket science...

We'll be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Rendlesham UFO encounter, going in search of the Blue Dogs of Texas and exploring the fortean themes of Doctor Who - not to mention enjoying bawdy ballads from the 17th century and investigating ghostly encounters of the sexual kind!

There will be fortean shopping opportunities galore with a wide range of dealers, full cafe facilities and (watch this space!) some surprise extra events!

Speakers include Dr David Clarke, discussing the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident, and our good friend Paul Devereux on the 'magical mindscapes' of ancient people. For a full run-down of the speakers and topics on the agenda, head over to the FT website.

Hidden Realms, Lost Civilizations

This book is currently on my 'want' list: Hidden Realms, Lost Civilizations, and Beings from Other Worlds (Amazon US and UK), by influential Fortean writer/researcher Jerome Clark.

Claims of supernatural realms, parallel worlds, and lost civilizations are put to the test in this well-researched guide to the unexplained. Hidden RealmsFirsthand accounts and historical documents are explored, and in-depth coverage is provided on the mysteries of imagination, culture, perception, consciousness, being, and more. Included in this collection are Richard S. Shaver's personal experience of hell—replete with demons and ghouls—modern and ancient accounts of fairyland, life on Mars, alien worlds, parallel universes, and mystery airships. Also examined are the supernatural myths surrounding Mount Shasta, which include accounts of telepathic Lemurians living on its slopes, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. More than 40 beliefs, doctrines, experiences, and places are described and explored in this truly comprehensive guide to the wacky, weird, and otherworldly.

Not sure the description does it justice - make sure you click on the 'Search Inside this Book' link at Amazon and peruse the contents, and read the opening pages. Jerry has said the that book is about "the relationship of imagination to experience and brings, I hope, some fresh ideas to the discussion." Seems to me like a must for any writer or researcher, purely as a reference book, let alone for the enjoyment value. Definitely worth taking a look at.

Pesco's Cabinet of Wonders

Boing Boing co-editor David Pescovitz is a kindred soul - a lover of science, Forteana, and the wonderful resurgence of 'Maker' culture. Pesco's not in the media spotlight as often as his co-editors Mark Fraunfelder and Cory Doctorow, but last month he spoke at TEDxSoMa, covering all of the above topics in a very cool talk titled "The World as a Wunderkammer: Curiosity, Citizen Science, and the Maker Culture":

You can also hear more on David's thoughts about science and the occult via his interview with Technoccult which I included in yesterday's news briefs.

Agatha Opens Way to Agartha

Posting just because it offered such a whack headline, and image to boot. Tropical Storm Agatha batters Guatemala, and opens a sinkhole to hell:

Guatemala Sinkhole

Larger versions here.

In case you're not familiar with the reference: Agartha. Fortean black humour aside, our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected.

Anomalist 14: Electricity of the Mind

Due to both financial and time constraints, the next release of Darklore (Issue 5) won't be until later in the year. However, in a happy coincidence, the good folk at Anomalist Books have just released their latest Fortean anthology collection, Electricity of the Mind (Anomalist #14). For all you Darklore addicts waiting for a fix, this should tide you over nicely:

Theo Paijmans mines the rich seam of digital newspaper archives to look at anomalies in a whole new way. Ulrich Magin ventures into a previously neglected corner of Earth Mysteries, taking us on a tour of out-of-place volcanoes across Europe. Dwight Whalen explores a forgotten tale of bizarre visions that brought vivid omens of World War I to the skies of Pennsylvania in 1914. Cameron Blount examines the implications of archaeological relics of Peru’s mysterious Moche culture and what they might tell us about the neighboring Nazca culture. Mike Jay discusses Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s lasting and deep interest in the supernatural. Bryan Williams, Annalisa Ventola, and Mike Wilson provide a basic primer for exploring temperature and magnetic fields in cases of haunting. Patrick Gyger uses the “Black Books” of Fribourg to understand the mindset behind witch trials in the late 15th Century. Aeolus Kephas looks at the similarities between two of the 20th Century’s most popular and charismatic “literary shamen”: Carlos Castaneda and Whitley Strieber. John Caddy seeks a common root behind the various biological energies not known to science on which many esoteric knowledge systems rely. Chris Payne takes a new mathematical approach in trying to determine whether there are still Thylacines out there. Mark Pilkington takes a look back into the prehistory of crop art and reveals a thought-provoking precursor from the movies. Gary Lachman shares his previously unpublished notes from his book Politics and the Occult. Richard Wiseman, Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology, recounts his discovery of the first ever film of a magic trick. And last but not least, Tim Cridland, whose stage name is Zamora the Torture King, takes a long, hard look at the career of leading skeptic James Randi.

You can pick up a copy of Electricity of the Mind from Amazon US and Amazon UK. You also might like to browse the Anomalist Books website for other books of interest.

Fortean Blogscan 06-09-2009

A strange assortment to get you through the week...


Fortean Blogscan 20-06-2009

A few odd items to keep you busy over the weekend...


Fortean Blogscan 15-06-2009

A strange assortment to get you through the week...


Fortean Blogscan 09-06-2009

A strange assortment to get you through the week...