News Briefs 07-04-2015

An action figure for Grailers!

Quote of the Day:

It's important to abolish the unconscious dogmatism that makes people think their way of looking at reality is the only sane way of viewing the world.

Robert Anton Wilson

Want to See a UFO? This Handy Map Will Show You Where to Go

Map of UFO sightings by county in the U.S.

Always wanted to have a UFO sighting? To improve your odds, why not consult this new 'UFO map', showing the number of UFO sightings per county in the U.S. (both in total, and per capita). The interactive map, embedded below, allows you to mouse over the United States to find the numbers associated with each county.

Created by California-based technology company FindtheBest, the map's data was culled from over 61,000 reports in the sightings database of the National UFO Reporting Centre (NUFORC). According to Lane Allison, product manager of FindTheBest:

We downloaded UFO sightings from the National UFO Reporting Center and took all of the locations and tried to standardize them. After we got latitude and longitude pairs, we could determine the number of UFO sightings that have been reported in counties. Then, we cross-referenced that with the American Community Survey population estimates of those counties, resulting in UFO reports per capita number.

One fact that is illustrated clearly by the map is the larger number of sightings towards the West Coast of America. Extraterrestrial tourist hotspot, darker skies, more potent swamp gas, greater number of military bases, or better weed? Let us know your theory for the lop-sided UFO sighting distribution in the comments below!

(via Lee Spiegel at The Huffington Post)

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News Briefs 06-04-2015

How image of Carel Struycken popped into my head twice during these news briefs. First person to tell me which two news briefs wins a prize...

Thanks @anomalistnews and @weirdaustralia.

Quote of the Day:

Intelligence is knowing that Frankenstein is not the monster. Wisdom is knowing Frankenstein IS the monster.

Chimpanzee Expert Jane Goodall Tells Why She Believes in Bigfoot

Celebrated primatologist Jane Goodall turned 81 yesterday. Back in 2002, Goodall controversially stated in an interview on NPR - prompted by a question from a caller - that she believed that a Bigfoot-type species did indeed exist, citing reports from Native Americans she has spoken to, as well as a news story at the time about a possible Yeti hair having been discovered.

Edited audio from the original interview can be listened to in the animated clip above - the transcript of the relevant section is below:

Caller: I wanted to know if you believe there are any undiscovered large ape species.

Jane Goodall: You're talking about Yeti, or Bigfoot, or Sasquatch?

Ira Flatow: Is that what he's talking about?

Jane Goodall: Yes, yes he is.

Caller: Ah, pretty much.

Ira Flatow: *laughing* I'm out of the loop.

Jane Goodall: Well now, you'll be amazed, when I tell you that I'm *sure* that they exist. I've talked to so many Native Americans, who've all described the same sounds, two who've seen them. And there was a little tiny snippet in the newspaper just last week, which is that British scientists have found what they believe to be a Yeti hair, and that the scientists in the Natural History Museum of London couldn't identify it as any known animal.

Ira Flatow: Did you always have this belief, that they existed?

Jane Goodall: Well I'm a romantic, so I always wanted them to exist...



News Briefs 02-04-2015

That a Mexican plays the part of Jesus so that he can be crucified seems like overkill by now…

Thanks to the J-Man for granting us a 4-day long weekend. Hang in there, bro!

Quote of the Day:

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary investigations."

~Tim Binnall, host of Binnall of America

Sundays: Waking Up From Reality

Morpheus: "Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?"

The characters inhabiting the world created by Mischa Rozema and PostPanic Pictures for their proof-of-concept short film Sundays, are faced with the same philosophical quandary Morpheus posed to Neo in The Matrix. Sundays is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign which crowdfunded the US$50,000 needed to turn Mexico city into a distorted dystopia which would have made Philip K. Dick proud of --although as a prisoner citizen of Mexico myself, it didn't require that much of an effort...

The end of the world seems like a nightmare to Ben. A memory of a past life that doesn’t belong to him. When Ben starts to remember Isabelle, the only love he’s ever known, he realises she’s missing in his life. An existential descent into confusion and the desperate need to find out the truth begins. This reality depicts a stunning, surprising and dark world. A world that is clearly not his.

As a matter of fact, this is not the first time Mexico city is featured as a Dicktopia. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the first to realize the city's Sci-Fi potential for his 1990 movie Total Recall.

Not only did the Empire never end, Spanglish is the official language! Here's hoping PostPanic lets us explore it further.

[H/T io9]

News Briefs 01-04-2015

Scarfolk to host British Science Festival in 2016!

Quote of the Day:

We all have a right to know, and if the government has been suppressing information about other life forms, that's the cruelest hoax of all.

Dwight Schultz

Child Medium? (Part Deux)

Last week I linked to a video uploaded by Jaime Primak Sullivan on her Youtube channel and Facebook account, which apparently showed her little 4-year-old daughter Charlie 'delivering' a message from Jaime's grandmother, who died last November.

A number of members --the big bossman himself included-- expressed an understandable amount of skepticism toward the video, mentioning how it could have been easily scripted; I myself conceded from the beginning how there was really no way of knowing whether little Charlie had already heard the nickname used by her dead great-granny --whom she only met a couple of times-- to call her mom Jamie. I was content to leave it at that, but yesterday my cosmic compadre Micah Hanks on his radio show The Gralien Report mentioned my previous article, and he also pointed out this other video, which is a commentary about a previous one with Charlie recorded right after a family trip to Disneyland; the important part starts at 3:25:

So here again we seem to have a little girl, using a rather peculiar phrase which was deeply characteristic of Jaime's dead grandmother --"the walls (of my house) are crying"-- as a way to express homesickness. Once more, we can't vouch for the veracity of this account --the fact that the video embedded above and the previous one I linked to last week were posted on Youtube with only a day's difference is a bit fishy, although if these are attempts to attain notoriety on the social networks, so far it hasn't succeeded.

But if what Jaime is saying is true, then it would seem to suggest her child is able to 'channel' somehow the 'spirit' of someone who was very important to her mother at the time she was the same age as she is now. Whether that 'spirit' is more metaphorical than literal, is again open to personal interpretation...

[H/T Micah Hanks, a.k.a. 'The Mouth of the South']

News Briefs 31-03-2015

Angels on the sideline, baffled and confused...

Thanks Red-walker.

Quote of the Day:

Silly monkeys give them thumbs.
They make a club.
And beat their brother down.

Tool, 'Right in Two'

A Saucerful of Strange Secrets: Pink Floyd and the Sorcerer Supreme

Dr Strange, in Strange Tales #158

It seems that these days every superhero is getting a movie, so it was no surprise to find out that one of my all-time favourite Marvel characters, Dr Strange, will be coming to the big screen in 2016.

Marvel's master magician has been around for over 50 years now, and during that time he's influenced plenty of people (including myself) - even though most of the general public might not recognise him as easily as the likes of Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk. But, rather fittingly, many people have probably looked at an image of the Sorcerer Supreme on multiple occasions without actually seeing him. In particular, Pink Floyd fans.

Hidden on the cover of Pink Floyd's second album, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), is an image of Dr Strange taken from Marvel's Strange Tales #158, published the year before the album was released, in 1967. Created by the late Storm Thorgerson, legendary designer of many of Pink Floyd's album images, the cover includes a barely visible Dr Strange, as well as the character Living Tribunal, who are facing off over the future of the Earth.

Dr Strange on the cover of A Saucerful of Secrets

Not content with this sly album cover inclusion, a year later the Floyd made another reference to Dr Stephen Strange in their song 'Cymbaline', on the soundtrack to the movie More, with the lyrics "and Doctor Strange is always changing size". Here they are playing it live in 1971 (listen closely and you'll hear a tip of the hat to another famous Doctor near the end):

There was almost yet another reference to the Marvel Universe in Pink Floyd's work just a few years later. Thorgerson confirmed a few years before his passing that a photo version of the Silver Surfer was one of the images he once considered for the cover of Dark Side of the Moon (happily, he settled on the now famous light prism image, one of the most famous album covers in modern music).

Or maybe Thorgerson should have just gone with something like this instead...