News Briefs 09-03-2015

You get the feeling that Islamic State militants are just attention-seeking brats who have mummy issues?

Thanks to @anomalistnews, @djp1974, and @tobadzistsini.

Quote of the Day:

Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you.

Aldous Huxley

Ancient Meteorite Impacts Recorded in the Oral Folklore of Indigenous Australians

Wolfe Creek Crater

A couple of years ago I mentioned some fascinating research about ancient meteorite impacts being possibly recorded in the oral folklore of indigenous Australians. The researcher who wrote that paper, Duane Hamacher, has a new paper out on the same topic in the journal Archaeoastronomy ("Recorded Accounts of Meteoritic Events in the Oral Traditions of Indigenous Australians" - PDF).

One interesting example covered in the paper is that of the Henbury crater field, located in Central Australia roughly 150km south of Alice Springs, which was the site of a meteor impact around 5000 years ago. There was a vague suggestion that the event may have been commemorated in the name of the place (chindu china waru chingi ya bu - “sun walk fire devil rock”), but it was not until recently that it was realised there was other supporting evidence - evidence which had been around for some 90 years:

When James M. Mitchell visited the site in 1921, he took an Aboriginal guide. His interest was piqued when his guide refused to go
near them, saying that it was a place where a fire “debil-debil” [devil] came out of the sky and killed everything in the vicinity. He visited the craters again in 1934 and took another Aboriginal guide with him. The guide said Aboriginal people would not camp within two miles of the craters or even venture within half a mile of them, describing them as a place where the fire-devil lived. He claimed they did not collect water that filled some of the craters, fearing the fire devil would fill them with a piece of iron. The guide said his grandfather saw the fire devil and it came from the sun. Aboriginal groups to the north of Henbury (including the Kaitish and Warramunga) hold traditions that meteors are fiery “debil-debils” that hurtle from the skies to feast upon the entrails of the recently deceased.

Link: Recorded Accounts of Meteoritic Events in the Oral Traditions of Indigenous Australians (PDF)

(h/t @djp1974)


Zef-Fi: CHAPPiE & Die Antwoord

I have a little confession to make: I don't listen to a lot of modern music anymore. It's not that I've reached some middle-aged phase in which I only tune in to 'adult contemporary' radio stations (which apparently play Nirvana nowadays? WTF); as a matter of fact, most of the time I'm listening to podcasts instead of live broadcasts nowadays, and as a result I'm simply not exposed to current musical trends --with some rare exceptions.

One of those exceptions is Die Antwoord, the controversial South African rap group composed of Ninja, Yo-landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek. Both their music and visual aesthetics are so vibrant and in-your-face that passive indifference is just simply impossible --you either <3 it of h8 it.

But for me Die Antwoord is more than just music, though; It's a glimpse of what the interconnected 'mashup-ness' of the digital global village is going to really look like, beneath the flimsy veneer of corporate uniformity mainstream media is constantly bombarding us with: Chaotic, raw and ethnically eclectic despite of the use of universal symbolism.

It's really no wonder Ninja and Yo-landi are such good friends of Neil Blonkamp, the maverick film-maker who earned a lot of critical and commercial success with his debut film District 9. Neil's fictional worlds look realistic because they're gritty and imperfect --More Mad Max than Star Trek. The Brave New World is going to be just a filthy and full of pornographic graffitti as ours; in such a future Banksy will be regarded as Rembrandt and Die Antwoord as The Beatles --and that's just as delightfully ironic as alien guettos and robots speaking with Afrikaans accent.

Which is why I'm anxiously waiting to watch CHAPPiE once it finally arrives to a multiplex near me. Why, even Wired's Angry Nerd gave it the two thumbs up! (sorta). In the meantime, here's a short featurette showing Ninja and Yo-landi talking about their involvement in the film:

No doubt CHAPPie is going to be the first exposure to Die Antwoord's music for a lot of movie-goers, who are probably not aware they actually paid to watch the biggest movie-length music video since Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. They won't know what fokken hit them, bra!

CHAPPie premieres in theaters around the world (and maybe others) starting March 4.

[More]: Ninja of Die Antwoord talks CHAPPiE: The Boing Boing interview

What is Wrong With Our Culture?

Alan Watts wonders what is wrong with our culture, starting with TV...

You know, for the vast majority of American families, what seems to be the real point of life, what you rush home to get to, is to watch an electronic reproduction of life. But you can't touch it, it doesn't smell, and it has no taste.

You might think that people getting home for the real point of life in a robust material culture would go home to a colossal banquet, or an orgy of love-making, or a riot of music and dancing...but nothing of the kind. It turns out to be this purely passive, contemplation of a flickering screen. You see mile after mile of darkened houses, with that little electronic screen, flickering in the room. Everybody isolated, watching this thing. And thus, in no real communion with each other at all.

...Even in the spectacles one sees on this television, it's perfectly proper to exhibit people slugging and slaying each other, but oh dear no, not people loving each other, except in a rather restrained way. One can only draw the conclusion that expressions of physical love are far more dangerous than expressions of physical hatred. And it seems to me that a culture that has that sort of assumption is basically crazy...

News Briefs 05-03-2015

In light of our recent incidence of collective missing time --how else to explain we're already in March!-- today's news have a little more UFO content than normal. Enjoy.

Thanks to Chuckycabra and a Baby Duck.

Quote of the Day:

"They need magic. That's why. They're taught from the very beginning, when they're taught about Santa Claus, and angels, and devils, and demons out of the earth and into the sky. They're told all this fanciful stuff as small children, and they get to believe that. And they want that to be theirs, that kind of magic to visit them. And they want to—pardon me [ noisily sneezes]. Ah yes, that shows my respect for them, so there."

~James Randi, 'splaining why ignorant people like to believe in paranormal lies [/sarcasm]

News Briefs 04-03-2015

Time for the news, I believe.

Quote of the Day:

With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Cat's Out of the Box: First Ever Photo of Light's Dual Nature

Probably the closest thing we'll ever have to Schrödinger's cat shown both alive and death: A research team has managed to capture light as both a particle and a wave, the dual behavior lying at the foundation of Quantum mechanics --and which also opened that can of wormholes known as "the observer effect" as well as the "spooky action at a distance" Einstein dreaded so much --ironic, considering *he* was the one who first proposed the dual nature of electromagnetic radiation in the photoelectric effect.

"This experiment demonstrates that, for the first time ever, we can film quantum mechanics – and its paradoxical nature – directly," says Fabrizio Carbone [head of the team at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne]. In addition, the importance of this pioneering work can extend beyond fundamental science and to future technologies. As Carbone explains: "Being able to image and control quantum phenomena at the nanometer scale like this opens up a new route towards quantum computing."

Congrats on your future Nobel prize, signore Carbone --now about that UFO detecting machine I requested…

[LINK]: The first ever photograph of light as both a particle and wave

News Briefs 03-03-2015

Learn to swim...

Thanks @mattstaggs.

Quote of the Day:

Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.

Henry Ford

Ciudad Blanca: Mythical Lost City Found in Honduran Rainforest

Over at National Geographic, there's a fascinating article detailing the recent discovery of one of South America's most pervasive mysteries: The fabled 'White City' or 'City of the Monkey God', which was said to have been kept intact during the Spanish conquest due to its remote and inhospitable location in the remote valley of La Mosquitia, deep in the Honduran rainforest. the 'monkey god' is a reference to the tale of a giant buried statue of a monkey god, as was told by natives to American explorer Theodore 'Ted' Morde in 1940; Morde's alleged discovery of the mythical city was never confirmed --he refused to reveal its location, and later committed suicide in 1954.

But now thanks to modern LIDAR technology, an international expedition has managed to pinpoint a highly advanced urban center that is over a thousand years old;

Christopher Fisher, a Mesoamerican archaeologist on the team from Colorado State University, said the pristine, unlooted condition of the site was “incredibly rare.” He speculated that the cache, found at the base of the pyramid, may have been an offering.
“The undisturbed context is unique,” Fisher said. “This is a powerful ritual display, to take wealth objects like this out of circulation.”
The tops of 52 artifacts were peeking from the earth. Many more evidently lie below ground, with possible burials. They include stone ceremonial seats (called metates) and finely carved vessels decorated with snakes, zoomorphic figures, and vultures.

The most striking of the objects found so far was a stone head of a 'were-jaguar', which would seem to indicate that the inhabitants practiced some form of shamanic religion --possibly involving the use of psychedelic substances, which would trigger in the shaman the illusion of shape-shifting into a jaguar.

But more than solving once and for all the legend of the 'White City', the archeologists are now convinced this urban center is in fact part of a previously unknown civilization which thrived in the Mosquitia valley around 1000-1400 AD. Therefore, many more 'lost cities' are bound to be found --that is, if they're not razed first by the illegal deforestation of the forest.

Here's hoping the Honduran government manages to secure this incredible discovery, so that archeologists can continue finding more remnants of this previously unknown civilization. Maybe one day they'll unearth the monkey god statue after all --or at least a couple of crystal skulls...

[LINK] Exclusive: Lost City Discovered in the Honduran Rainforest


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News Briefs 02-03-2015

Live long and prosper...

Thanks @catvincent.

Quote of the Day:

Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business.

Tom Robbins