News Briefs 24-03-2017

“One flew east, One flew west, One flew over the cuckoo's nest.”

Quote of the Day:

“I'd rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.”

Ken Kesey

Satan Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas: The Backmasking Panic of the 1980s

Satanic music

Looking at music videos of the past few years, it's difficult to believe that just a few decades ago, Olivia Newton-John's "Let's Get Physical" single and music video were banned for 'sexual content' (ie. people in gym gear). The song was just one of many that, in the early to mid-1980s, were the focus of a strong backlash from Christian fundamentalists against what they saw as the pernicious influence of music on the morality of the nation.

Given the outrage over "Let's Get Physical", you can only imagine how Prince's "Darling Nikki", off the Purple Rain album, went down (pun not intended). The song's lyrics spoke of Nikki, "a sex fiend", who Prince met "in a hotel lobby masturbating in a magazine". (It has been said that Tipper Gore - wife of former vice-president Al Gore - co-founded the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) in 1985 to censor offensive music because she witnessed her then 11-year-old daughter listening to and singing along to the song.)

If that wasn't enough, the outro of the song was a curious a capella of unintelligible lyrics - which when played in reverse revealed the following words:

Hello, how are you?
I'm fine 'cause I know that the Lord is coming soon
Coming, coming soon
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Being in reverse, Fundamentalist preachers were quick to condemn it as 'Satanic' - Prince was obviously referring to the *Dark* Lord, not Christ - based on the 'backmasking' panic that had also arisen around this time. Backmasking began... many things do, with Thomas Edison. After inventing the phonograph in 1877, old Tom noticed that music in reverse sounded “novel and sweet but altogether different.” In the early 1950s, avant-garde musicians began incorporating that difference into their compositions. They ran reel-to-reel tape recorders backwards, and presto - the unsettling sound of a hundred little Hoovers sucking up a melody and lyric.

A decade later, The Beatles pushed backward sounds into the mainstream with such songs as “Rain” and “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Later, their audio reversals came back to haunt them with the Paul Is Dead rumors. But that’s a topic for another day.

The backmasking-Satanism connection can be traced to a 1913 book by mystic Aleister Crowley, who recommended that those interested in black magic would do well to “learn how to think and speak backwards.

It's worth noting that Christian preachers saw two different types of 'backmasking': intentional, and unintentional. Prince's "Darling Nikki" outro was an example of intentional backmasking: he sang it forwards, then put it down on tape backwards, meaning listeners just heard gibberish, unless they played it in reverse to hear the 'secret message'.

But the other type was unintentional backmasking, where the lyrics were recorded forwards, but when played in reverse they also appeared to be intelligible (at least, to Christian preachers desperately searching for occult messages). In this case, it would seem to be far too difficult for anybody to write a song that was intelligible, with different lyrics, when played both forward and reverse. The conclusion many took - such as in the video below - was that demons, or the devil himself, were using rock musicians to communicate with this realm

The only workable explanation is that...outside intelligent forces with supernatural power are occasionally able to 'play' an artist, much like we would play a musical instrument.

Artists from Led Zeppelin to The Eagles, ELO and pretty much every metal band of the 1980s were accused of hiding paeans to Satan on their albums. The panic climaxed in a lawsuit filed against Judas Priest, which accused them of inciting two young men to commit suicide with alleged backmasked lyrics including "Let's be dead" and "Do it". (Amazingly, the case proceeded to trial because, according to a judge, "so-called 'subliminals' don’t constitute actual speech — and are therefore not protected by the First Amendment.")

The case was eventually dismissed, with band manager Bill Curbishley famously noting that if he and the band actually knew how to influence people with subliminals, "I’d be saying, ‘Buy seven copies,’ not telling a couple of screwed-up kids to kill themselves.”

Interestingly, in Prince's case, his studio engineer/technician for much of the 1980s Susan Rogers has noted that the intentional backmasking on "Darling Nikki" - rather than being Satanic - may actually have been an exorcism of a kind:

[Prince] had a complex relationship with sex. He had a father who was a jazz musician, very religious, and his father had very strong anti-sex views. So when Prince would have a strong statement of lust, like the song "Darling Nikki," it's usually followed by some sort of exorcism, like, "Forgive me, get this out of me."...

This is his way of asking for forgiveness for having lust in his heart, and doing it in a way that was artistic. Great art comes from conflict, and he was conflicted, for sure.


News Briefs 23-03-2017

Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls…

Quote of the Day:

"Life is a festival of disruption."

˜Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Paranthropology 8:1


The latest issue (Vol 8, Number 1) of the free PDF journal Paranthropology ("anthropological approaches to the paranormal") is now available to download - here's the complete rundown of features in the latest issue, which was guest-edited by Mark A. Schroll:

  • Editor’s Introduction: Revisiting Cultural Evolution and Technological Evolution in Consciousness Studies - Mark A. Schroll
  • A Quest for a Temple to Sleep In - Sarah Janes
  • The Big Dream and Archaeo-Geo-Neuro-Pharmaco-Parapsychological Theories - David Luke
  • Odin: Wandering Shaman Seeking Truth - Mark A. Schroll
  • Commentary: Dreams, Drugs and the Engines of Creativity - Ryan Hurd
  • Nature Awareness and Psychedelics: Report and Commentary on a Presentation by Ralph Metzner and Kathleen Harrison - Heather Walker
  • REVIEW: Dr. Strange: A Cinematic Journey into the Multiverse and Otherworldly Realities - Mark A. Schroll
  • REVIEW: Cultural Perspectives on Mental Wellbeing: Spiritual Interpretations of Symptoms in Medical Practices by Natalie Tobert - Teresa McLaren
  • Revisiting the Meaning of Chief Seattle’s Speech - Mark A. Schroll
  • The Meaning of the Cover Design: Envisioning a Cosmic Archetypal Model of Personality - Mark A. Schroll
  • The Meaning of the Hourglass Symbol - Regina U. Hess
  • The Archetypal Cauldron: A Clinical Application of the Anti-Hero in Transpersonal Art Therapy and the Hebraic Lore of the Golem - Claire Polansky
  • Catalysts that Initiate Embodied Knowing: Reflection on Individuation, Synchronicity and Ritual Space - Tanya Hurst
  • Reply to Tanya Hurst & Wendy E. Cousins - Claire Polansky
  • Commentary: Reflections on the Supernatural and its Relation to Spiritual Emergency/Emergence - Claire Polansky
  • Escaping the Night of the Living Dead: Toward a Transpersonal Ecosophy - Mark A. Schroll

In case you haven't read this great resource before, all of the previous issues remain available to download from the site as well. I know from experience the work that goes into doing something like this, so if you get something out of the journal make it your mission to throw some money their way with a PayPal donation. Even small amounts help!

Link: Download the latest issue of Paranthropology

News Briefs 22-03-2017

Identified swimming object?

Thanks to @AnomalistNews and @MattStaggs.

Quote of the Day:

I don’t want to really scare you, but it was alarming how many people I talked to who are highly placed people in AI who have retreats that are sort of 'bug out' houses, to which they could flee if it all hits the fan.

James Barrat

Fly Above the Surface of Mars in this Stunning Video

What would it be like to float above the surface of the Red Planet in a dirigible (because that's how H.G. Wells would have wanted it dammit)? Something like the video above I'm guessing, painstakingly constructed frame-by-frame by Finnish engineer and photographer Jan Fröjdman from still anaglyph images taken by the HIRISE camera:

The anaglyph images of Mars taken by the HiRISE camera holds information about the topography of Mars surface. There are hundreds of high-resolution images of this type. This gives the opportunity to create different studies in 3D. In this film I have chosen some locations and processed the images into panning video clips. There is a feeling that you are flying above Mars looking down watching interesting locations on the planet. And there are really great places on Mars! I would love to see images taken by a landscape photographer on Mars, especially from the polar regions. But I'm afraid I won't see that kind of images during my lifetime.

It has really been time-consuming making these panning clips. In my 3D-process I have manually hand-picked reference points on the anaglyph image pairs. For this film I have chosen more than 33.000 reference points! It took me 3 months of calendar time working with the project every now and then.

The colors in this film are false because the anaglyph images are based on grayscale images. I have therefore color graded the clips. But I have tried to be moderate doing this. The light regions in the clips are yellowish and the dark regions bluish. The clips from the polar regions (the last clips in the film) have a white-blue tone.There are a lot of opinions and studies of what the natural colors on Mars might be. But the dark regions of dust often seems to have a bluish tone. Please study this issue on e.g sites by NASA.

This film is not scientific. As a space enthusiast I have just tried to visualize the planet my way.

Be sure to HD and fullscreen that baby, it's so beautiful.

News Briefs 21-03-2017

Current status...

Thanks to @MattStaggs.

Quote of the Day:

Reality has one advantage over fiction - it does not have to be plausible.

Joe Carroll

Parapsychology Study Seeks People Who Are Totally Not Psychic

Dream Telepathy

If, like me, you have no apparent psychic ability or susceptibility to paranormal experiences, then finally there is a parapsychology study you can take part in. In fact, non-psi people are the *only* people they want:

You have been invited to be in this research study because you have expressed interest in contributing information about the genetics of extended human capacities. The purpose of this study is to discover if extended human capacities run in families, suggesting a genetic component. You have also shared that you or your family members DO NOT have psychic abilities. We are collecting information from people who DO NOT have abilities so we can compare those characteristics to people who do. Please do not continue with this survey if you believe you or your family members have psychic abilities.

Head on over to the IONS website to learn more, and take part if you're totally mundane.

News Briefs 20-03-2017

Johnny B. Interplanetary...

Thanks to @MattStaggs and @m1k3y.

Quote of the Day:

If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.

John Lennon

Previously Unseen Nuclear Test Footage Released on YouTube

In the post-World War II era the United States conducted hundreds of atmospheric nuclear tests, with multiple cameras capturing each event at around 2,400 frames per second. Like the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, however, these treasures have largely been forgotten as they languished in high-security vaults around the country.

With time running out to archive this material (film decomposes over time), the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory undertook a mammoth operation to capture these tests for posterity:

For the past five years, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) weapon physicist Greg Spriggs and a crack team of film experts, archivists and software developers have been on a mission to hunt down, scan, reanalyze and declassify these decomposing films. The goals are to preserve the films’ content before it’s lost forever, and provide better data to the post-testing-era scientists who use computer codes to help certify that the aging U.S. nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective.

And now they have shared some of this material with us all, by posting a bunch of the videos they've scanned to YouTube.

At the top of this post is the 'Turk' blast of 7 March 1955, conducted as part of 'Operation Teapot'. The terrifying video shows the blast effect of a 40 kiloton nuke, which is about twice the yield of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, though it pales into insignificance compared to the megaton devices now in the arsenals of a number of countries around the world.

But at least there's sane people in charge of those nuclear arsenals, amirite?

Link: Nuclear test videos uploaded by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory