YOU SHALL NOT PASS The Chance to See the New Hobbit Trailer!

C'mon, watch the 1st official trailer of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and if you don't feel a shudder in your heart, I'll call you a Nazgûl --or something rhyming with that...

Will this be the last cinematic trip to Middle-Earth we'll have? Who knows. The Tolkien universe is vast, and has proven to be a bigger treasure trove than Smaug's lair. For myself, I'm glad Peter Jackson managed to properly close the circle on a journey he began since 1995, when he started planning on how to bring the saga of the Ring to the silver screen.

The battle commences on December 17th. Onward!

'Lost Civilisation' Built Massive Siberian Geoglyph Around 6000 Years Ago

Siberian Moose Geoglyph

A massive 275m-wide geoglyph found in the Ural Mountains predates the famous Nazca Lines by thousands of years, archaeologists have found. The giant moose-shaped structure was 'accidentally' discovered just three years ago by local researcher Alexander Shestakov while looking at satellite images of the area in Google Earth.

Initial fieldwork found simple techniques were used to create the moose, with turf and earth 10-metres-wide dug out to make its shape before being filled with stones. 'The figure would initially have looked white and slightly shiny against the green grass background,' he said.

Different methods were deloyed to make the various parts of the geoglyph; for instance, a mix of clay and crushed stone was used to make the hooves. When part of the hind leg was excavated, archaeologists found the largest stones were on the edges, with the smaller ones inside. While there are similarities to the world famous Nazca Lines, in Peru, and to geoglyphs in England - such as the White Horse in Oxfordshire or the Dorset Giant - the experts believe there are no links.

...Yet archeologists still cannot fathom the identity of their sophisticated social group who worked in the massive operation of constructing structure visible from space.

'Facts say that on this territory in the Neolithic and Eneolithic Ages lived hunters and fishermen. We conducted archaeological works on the site of a settlement nearby, on the lake shore, on the assumption that the builders of the geoglyph might live there. People have lived here since the Neolithic era but there was no sign of large social structures, nor that they did anything other than hunting and fishing', Stanislav Grigoryev said.

'It puzzles me a lot, I keep thinking about the people that built the geoglyph, and their purpose'.

Link: Children from lost civilisation 'helped build' geoglyph some 6,000 years ago

News Briefs 06-11-2014

The ending of V for Vendetta always makes me cry.

  • The big winner of these past elections: Marijuana.
  • What on Earth are those mysterious stone circles (see what I did there?) recently discovered in the Middle East?
  • What if dark matter were actually a vast electric field? --Hmm, kinda sounds like Thunderbolts of the Gods to me!
  • Cracking the neutrino mass mystery.
  • Green fireballs, Interstellar, a Space Odyssey & monoliths: It all comes together under Loren Coleman's microscope.
  • British MoD discovers 18 new UFO files.
  • Lon Strickler believes Boyd Bushman and his Area 51 death-bed confession. Do you?
  • In the spirit of bringing the Sci into SyFy --or whatever-- Arthur C Clarke's 3001 will be turned into a miniseries.
  • The grandson of Jacques Cousteau wants to build an underwater city --or maybe he justs wants a cameo in the Aquaman movie.
  • Why the Man of Steel keeps having cold showers at his Fortress of Solitude. Or you can skip the link and let Mallrats' Brodie Bruce 'splain it to ya.
  • False psychic caught on camera.
  • Pope Francis roots for the Vatican Exorcists --the best football team in my favorite parallel world.
  • Samaritan radar: Noble service or ill-conceived intrusion?
  • Philosophy of Health is a promising new podcast run by Mandy, a brilliant woman who explores the chronic illnesses affecting both her body and our own civilization. Go check it out!
  • There's Adventure Time, and then there's Moving-On Time: Why the creator of the trippiest show on TV quit it in order to retain his sanity.
  • Red Pill of the Day: This (GRAPHIC!) video of a South American lungfish removed from a man's abdomen, is the closest thing to a real-life alien chest-burster scene.

Thanks to V & Nonno.

Quote of the Day:

"How calmly does the olive branch
Observe the sky begin to blanch
Without a cry, without a prayer
With no betrayal of despair

Some time while light obscures the tree
The zenith of its life will be
Gone past forever
And from thence
A second history will commence

A chronicle no longer gold
A bargaining with mist and mold
And finally the broken stem
The plummeting to earth, and then

And intercourse not well designed
For beings of a golden kind
Whose native green must arch above
The earth's obscene corrupting love

And still the ripe fruit and the branch
Observe the sky begin to blanch
Without a cry, without a prayer
With no betrayal of despair

Oh courage! Could you not as well
Select a second place to dwell
Not only in that golden tree
But in the frightened heart of me?"

~Tennessee Williams, from The Night of the Iguana.

Ex Machina Trailer

In keeping with Hollywood's plan to remind us that the Singularity is near, here's the trailer for Ex Machina (2015): A film directed by Alex Garland, which seems to be a rare mix of Sci-Fi and erotic thriller. Sorayama anyone?

Caleb, a 24 year old coder at the world's largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world's first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl.

It's easy to see why movie studios are all jumping into the robot bandwagon (e.g. Automata, Chappie, etc) since the emergence of A.I. would suppose a tremendous change for mankind which is as promising as it is scary; scary because it's surrounded by a mist of uncertainty --will the androids free us from our daily chores? will they enslave us instead? even worse, will they find us totally irrelevant?

Even though I'm still personally skeptical of the promulgated promises of Ray Kurzweil and his acolytes, what I do know is that a good rule of thumb to find out whether the Singularity is here or not, is when Hollywood starts to portray robots as nonchalantly as how computers and cell phones are shown in today's films --ubiquitous and self-explanatory.

News Briefs 05-11-2014

The haunting sound of the Yaybahar.

Quote of the Day:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

Graham Hancock at Horizons 2014: “Psychedelics and Civilisation, Light and Darkness”

In this 48 minute appearance at the Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics forum in New York last month, Graham Hancock contemplates the history of how humans have dealt with psychedelics:

Graham Hancock investigates the possibility that by demonising and criminalising the use of psychedelics, rather than seeking out ways to harness their power for altering consciousness in safe and nurturing spaces, our society may have set itself on a profoundly negative path — a path that might even deny us the next step in our own evolution as a species.

First Trailer for Neill Blomkamp's Latest Movie: CHAPPIE

CHAPPIE poster

Zef Yeah! The first trailer is out for the new Neill Blomkamp [District 9, Elysium] movie CHAPPIE, co-starring Ninja and Yo-landi Vi$$er from Die Antwoord:

Every child comes into the world full of promise, and none more so than Chappie: he is gifted, special, a prodigy. Like any child, Chappie will come under the influence of his surroundings - some good, some bad - and he will rely on his heart and soul to find his way in the world and become his own man. But there's one thing that makes Chappie different from anyone else: he is a robot. The first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. His life, his story, will change the way the world looks at robots and humans forever.

The journey from machine to man (or man to alien) is a subject Neill has been exploring through much of his work. Here's two short films of his from the 2000s that are part of that:

Tetra Vaal

Yellow

News Briefs 04-11-2014

Bonjour!

Thanks David and @tobadzistsini.

Quote of the Day:

We may disagree with James Randi on certain points, but we ignore him at our peril.

Carl Sagan

Rare Rainbow Cloud Graces Gippsland

fallstreak hole punch cloud rainbow atmosphere weather gippsland

Well that'll teach me for going to work on Monday instead of calling in sick. I missed this spectacular cloud formation appear above my neck of the woods in Gippsland, Australia. The cat was home at the time though, and I bet she had something to do with it. Or God decided at the last second not to crush that house beneath His foot. However, the rare atmospheric phenomena has a more earthly explanation. Known as a Fallstreak Hole, or more commonly a hole punch cloud, it's formed by ice crystals that concentrate in one part of a cloud. ABC news has more photos of this stunning Gippsland hole in the clouds. And for all sorts of castles in the sky, check out the Cloud Appreciation Society's website.

I missed this beauty, but my luck was with me last year.

Via ABC news. Photo submitted by David Barton.

Paranthropology 5:4

4

The latest issue (Vol 5, Number 4) of the free PDF journal Paranthropology ("anthropological approaches to the paranormal") is now available to download (or you can read it online via Scribd). Here's the complete rundown of features in the latest issue:

  • "Differentiating Experiences from Events, and Validity from Authenticity in the Anthropology of Consciousness", by Stanley Krippner & Mark A. Schroll
  • "Reflections on Methodological Concerns in the Anthropology of Consciousness: A Response to Krippner & Schroll", by Hillary S. Webb
  • "Interplay of Perspectives in the Anthropology of Consciousness: A Commentary on Krippner & Schroll", by Susan Greenwood
  • "Experiencing Dream Telepathy (Or Non-Local Memory): A Fifty Year Retrospective Autobiographical Analysis", by Mark A. Schroll
  • "Psychic Dreams: Evidence, Transformational Process and Magical Thinking", by David Luke
  • "Whose Dream Is It Anyway? A Commentary on Experiencing Dream Telepathy (or Non-local Memory): A 50 Year Retrospective Autobiographical Analysis", by Zelda Hall
  • "Sacred Places and Home Dream Reports: Methodological Reassessments and Reflections on Paul Devereux’s Experiment in Wales and England", by Stanley Krippner & Mark A. Schroll
  • "Geomantic Earthmind: Practicing Earth Yoga: A Response to Krippner & Schroll", by Bethe Hagens
  • "Commentary: Barometers for the Anomalous? Dreams and Transpersonal Archaeology", by Ryan Hurd
  • "Bohm’s Influence on Ullman’s Theory of the Origin of Dreams: Reflections and Insights from Montague Ullman’s Last Interview", by Mark A. Schroll
  • "Dreaming, Ullman, and Bohm: A Commentary", by Daniel Deslauries
  • "Epilogue: Toward a New Paradigm of the Varieties of Transformative Experience", by Mark A. Schroll & Darlene Viggiano.
  • "Review: ‘Seeing Fairies: From the Lost Archives of the Fairy Investigation Society, Authentic Reports of Fairies in Modern Times’
    by Marjorie T. Johnson", reviewed by James McClenon

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!