News Briefs 18-03-2016

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."

Quote of the Day:

“I must find a truth that is true for me.”

S. Kierkegaard

Meet Puppet Alan Watts

When Alan Watts passed away on the 16th of November, 1973 we lost one of the west's great philosophers and speakers. He had a knack for transmuting the esoteric into the familiar, leaving us a legacy of radio shows, lectures, and books on eastern thought.

In the 2013 film her the artificial intelligences, called OSes, were able to resurrect Alan Watts from his writings and lectures as one of their own. Sadly, her remains a fantasy and we'll (probably) never experience what it's like to be in Alan's presence for one of his talks. Fortunately we can come pretty darned close with his puppet incarnation!

Enjoy Myra Stuart and Megan Clifton breathing new life into Alan, blowing the minds of a new generation with Watts's insights on their website and Facebook page.

Gratz to Cat Vincent for sharing this!

You may also enjoy:

News Briefs 17-03-2016

Isn't time Indy finally went to that 'A' place? You know, the one that ends with '-tlantis'??

Quote of the Day:

"The layman always means, when he says "reality" that he is speaking of something self-evidently known; whereas to me it seems the most important and exceedingly difficult task of our time is to work on the construction of a new idea of reality."

~Wolfgang Pauli

Charting the course of Gordon White's Star.Ships - A PreHistory of the Spirits.

The first thing you need to know about Gordon White's Star.Ships: A PreHistory of the Spirits is that you don't have to identify as a Practitioner to find this an extremely valuable resource for understanding not just the world around us, in all its vast strangeness just waiting to be appreciated, but have a sense of humanity's epic journey across time and the stories its told itself along the way.

The second thing you need to know is that if you're looking for just an in-depth discussion of the book, go directly to the end of this post, where you'll find my 90+min talk with its author.

What I'll be attempting in this piece is more than just a synopsis of the book - I'll also situate it amongst both other recent texts and against the current mainstream worldview, to tell you just why you should be reading it.

Scarlet Imprint is a publisher intent on supporting practicing magicians, so it's perfectly natural that this is how they've pitched Star.Ships to their occult audience:

A defining text of the new magical renaissance, Star.Ships addresses the question of who we are now by tracing where we come from, and by drawing out the stories and the spirits that have journeyed and evolved with us. The goal is, as Gordon writes, the restoration of context.

To this end, White applies his globally-recognised data and demographics skills to realise a groundbreaking work of truly interdisciplinary research. Utilising mythological, linguistic and astronomical data to reconstruct palaeolithic magical beliefs, he maps them to the human journey out of Africa; explores which aspects of these beliefs and practices have survived into the Western tradition; and what the implications (and applications) of those survivals may be for us.

Written for a magically literate and operative audience, Star.Ships displays the flair, wit and engagement with evidence that adherents of his runesoup blog have come to expect from Gordon. He deftly handles vast time scales and cosmologies to build his case; avoids the pitfalls of alternative historians with a refreshing absence of dogma or wishful thinking; and, in a masterful deployment of the latest research, simultaneously questions outworn dominant narratives and is not afraid to champion the work of independent researchers and entertain forbidden discourses. It is exactly what chaos magic should be.

Göbekli Tepe, the Pyramids and Sphinx, Nabta Playa, Gunung Padang, Easter Island and Sundaland are some of the points spangled across a work of truly cosmic scope. Star.Ships beckons those who are willing to engage in the adventure to follow the great river of history that flows into and out of an ocean of stars. Minds will be blown.

Nothing in that description is incorrect, and I don't mean to come off here as critical of it; except in the more traditional (vs common) usage of the word. Because, to me, this is an important book deserving of a much wider audience that extends beyond occult circles. Star.Ships to my mind is an ambitious work that succeeds in helping to build something extremely important to - and largely missing from - our contemporary condition: a global narrative of humanity that stretches back thousands upon thousands of years, that breaks down the individual civilisational mythologies of Earth's nation states and helps see us all as one people that splintered and regrouped, repeatedly cross-bred and adapted, and told each other stories under the Moon and the Stars for a hundred thousand years ... Read More »

News Briefs 16-03-2016

Factals:

  • Found: Lovecraft-Houdini manuscript.
  • Son of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood to burn punk memorabilia worth millions in protest of state-backed "40th Anniversary of Punk" celebrations.
  • A new book about Robert Anton Wilson is due in 2017.
  • Isaac Newton was the world's original counterfeiter cop.
  • The spiritual machines: What if artificial intelligence was enlightened?
  • Researcher finds Protestant Reformation secrets hidden in England's oldest print bible.
  • Black hole emitted red flashes with power of 1,000 suns, study reveals.
  • Cybersecurity official warns selfies may be used for 'black magic'.
  • Newly-found species shows Tyrannosaurus Rex had brains before might.
  • Your brain's music circuit has been discovered.
  • Study finds "Seasonal Affective Disorder" doesn't exist. :(
  • Occult collection of Doreen Valiente, the 'mother of modern witchcraft', to go on public display at Brighton's Preston Manor.
  • Life may have started shortly after Earth formed.
  • The Palpa Lines: created 1000 years prior to the Nazca lines.
  • High-power biological wheels and motors imaged for first time.
  • Scientists may have solved the mystery of the desert's 'fairy circles'.
  • No neocortex, Corvex? Why neuroscientists need to study the Crow.
  • The age of the fact, that began with the Magna Carta, is now over.
  • Scientists discover that the breathtaking Ellora Caves have been preserved by Hemp.
  • Tiny, 3,300-year-old metal weapons, possible war god offerings, discovered in Arabia.
  • The London Stone is to be rehoused.

Quote of the Day:

The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.

1984 by George Orwell

SETI Should Consider Black Holes As Potential Targets

Image

Contrary to Disney's vision, entering a black hole will not make you Satan 2.0, reigning over legions of the damned. Instead, the inside of a black hole is really dark and meaningless. Still it's not the destination but the journey. TopTrending posted a great little video on YouTube illustrating the increasingly bizarre effects from approaching a singularity.

As the video illustrates, the greatest phenomenon experienced is the time dilation as one approaches the point of no return, or event horizon. Outsiders will see the craft's descent slow 'til it stops, getting stuck like a fly in amber. Those travellers are effectively outside the universe's subjective timeline. For every one of their minutes, decades, centuries or millennia pass on the outside. This phenomenon has implications for the search for extraterrestrial life.

"Where is everybody?" is the central question of the Fermi Paradox. When we point our eyes and ears heavenwards, we are met with a profound silence. For half a century humanity has been combing the heavens for a signal affirming we aren't alone in the universe. The radio band holding the most promise for detecting life similar to our own lay between 1,420 and 1,666 megahertz. Also known as the "water hole", these frequencies correspond with the wavelengths of hydroxyl radicals (OH, 18cm) and hydrogen (H, 21cm) making up H20, a.k.a water. This part of the radio spectrum is relatively quiet, making it perfect for extraterrestrial eavesdropping and inspiring Dr. Bernard Oliver's quote "Where shall we meet our neighbors? At the water-hole, where species have always gathered."

Frustratingly this band, and others, has been too quiet. According to data from the Kepler observatory, there could be as many as 40 billion habitable worlds in our galaxy. Back in 2012 Thomas Hair and Andrew Hedman modelled the expansion of interstellar civilizations, concluding a civilization travelling at ¼ of 1% the speed of light could colonize the galaxy in 50 million years. [1] Based on this data, the skies should be alive with chatter.

Since faster-than-light travel isn't a theoretical possibility, yet, civilizations are stuck with slower-than-light ships. As they hop between star systems, those beings would be more likely to encounter empty tombworlds or planets full of primitives, rather than spacefaring peers. Bringing us back to black holes. Rather than wasting valuable time and resources hunting down other civilizations, most likely rising and falling during the journey; a species could wait for the rest of the universe to catch up inside a black hole.

The search for extraterrestrial life around black holes raises many questions. Where do we look? What do we look for? In 2014, NASA's the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and Swift space observatory may have spotted a clue. Black holes are surrounded by coronas, made up of energetic particles moving at a fraction of the speed of light and emitting x-rays. NuSTAR and Swift observed the supermassive black hole Markarian 335's corona collapse inwards before being ejected, emitting an x-ray flare. [2] There is the outside possibility an event like this is intended as beacon to pique the curiosity of others to take a closer look at potential alien hideouts.

If that's the case, with apologies to Dr. Oliver, "Where shall we meet our neighbors? At a black hole, where species will gather in the far future."

You may also enjoy:

  1. Spatial dispersion of interstellar civilizations: a probabilistic site percolation model in three dimensions - http://www.fgcu.edu/CAS/Math/files/Spatial-Dispersion.pdf
  2. Black Hole Has Major Flare - http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2015-331

News Briefs 15-03-2016

And I for one welcome our new AI overlords...

Quote of the Day:

Since, in the long run, every planetary society will be endangered by impacts from space, every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring — not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive.

Carl Sagan

The First Martian: A Short Film Inspired by Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot

Delivery from Earth is a sweet little science fiction short film that takes its inspiration from Carl Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. The film...

...was the winning entry of the Lockheed Martin / NM Film Foundation filmmaker grant. A science-fiction short film about the first human born on Mars, told from the perspective of a Navajo family living in Gallup, New Mexico.

(h/t @elakdawala)

News Briefs 14-03-2016

Today is 14-3 for most of us - but for the Americans out there...

Quote of the Day:

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

Charles R. Swindoll

I CAN HAZ ACCENT? Cats Might Have Dialects

Image
Maybe it's the Toxoplasmosis gondii talking, but humans love cats. The feeling is mutual since, according to Carlos Driscoll of the University of Oxford, cats domesticated themselves 12,000 years ago in hopes of mooching off unsuspecting Homo sapiens. [1] Charmed by their inscrutible personalities, we talk back to our feline companions by imitating their vocalisations. Arabs greet kitties with "mawa", the Japanese famously intone "nyan", French and Germans say "miaou" and "miau" respectively. Are these different onomatopoeias representative of human dialects, or are cats of faraway lands influenced by their humans's language?

Cat language is not such a silly prospect to consider. Last year scientists claimed a group of chimpanzees altered their vocalizations after being moved from a Dutch safari park to the Edinburgh Zoo, suggesting they have accents. [2] Less contentious are the accents of whales, evinced by a study published in the Royal Society Open Science illustrating how whalesong differs between populations of these magnificent beasts. [3] So why not cats?

Susanne Schötz from Lund University in Sweden is spearheading this maverick study. She told Josh Hrala at Science Alert, "We know that cats vary the melody of their sounds extensively, but we do not know how to interpret this variation. We will record vocalisations of about 30 to 50 cats in different situations - e.g. when they want access to desired locations, when they are content, friendly, happy, hungry, annoyed or even angry - and try to identify any differences in their phonetic patterns. We want to find out to what extent domestic cats are influenced by the language and dialect that humans use to speak to them, because it seems that cats use slightly different dialects in the sounds they produce".

It's going to be a long five years 'til the results are published.

You may also enjoy:

  1. Why Do Cats Hang Around Us? (Hint: They Can't Open Cans) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con...
  2. Debate over chimpanzee 'accent' study - http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environm...
  3. Individual, unit and vocal clan level identity cues in sperm whale codas - http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/c...