News Briefs 12-10-2015

Happy Crowleymas to all, and to all a good night...

Quote of the Day:

The most merciful thing in the world... is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.

H. P. Lovecraft

A Pale Blue Dot

The most celebrated monologue on the human existence in a cosmic context has been immortalized yet again, this time by ORDER Productions. In this contributor's opinion it's one of the best, putting Carl Sagan's words into a profound frame of reference. Kick back for a minute or two, it's a darn sight better than what'll shape up as Monday's meme.

Whales Swimming Under The Northern Lights

Photographer Harald Albrigtsen filmed whales swimming under the Northern Lights. It doesn't get more special than this. Personally, I think the whales are swimming *in* the lights. Gaze in wonder at Albrigtsen's other northern lights photography here and here.

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News Briefs 09-10-2015

"Walking through the forest alone, a tree fell right in front of me... and I didn't hear a thing."

Quote of the Day:

“I wish the first word I ever said was the word "quote," so right before I die I could say "unquote."”

Steven Wright

The Above: Retro-Futuristic Tools of Surveillance and Manipulation

The Above is a short film by director Kirsten Johnson, showing a US military surveillance balloon floating above the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. Its capacities are both highly classified and deeply mysterious.

Johnson's film is charged with a disturbing ominosity by the juxtaposition of scenes with Afghan citizens going about their daily lives the best they can on their war-ravaged city, with a foreign object as the background for their ordinary routine.

My mind, polluted with Sci-Fi scenes from TV and Cinema, immediately reminisced the 80's series V, when the first alien mothership is first shown on a Middle Eastern desert. Although perhaps a better comparison would be District 9, since in that movie Neill Blomkamp shows how the citizens of Johannesburg eventually grow used to the sight of the alien artifact imposed into their existence; the same way Londoners grew used with a similar sight to the modern US government surveillance blimp over Kabul --the barrage balloons above their own city during WWII (which BTW were the inspiration for Arthur Clarke's seminal novel Childhood's End).

And if you think the UFO/Sci-Fi comparisons are misplaced, I beg to differ; just consider how the Kabul blimp is a *direct* descendant of the infamous Project Mogul, intended to detect atomic explosions on Soviet soil and proposed as the explanation for the Roswell incident of 1947 by the Air Force.

And, just as the UFO field is filled with all sorts of disinformation minefields and psychological warfare, The Above shows how the main goal of the Kabul blimp is as a crowd-control tool: By reminding the population --both common citizens as well as the Taliban insurgents-- that wherever they are, wherever they go, the Eye in the Sky will always be there.

So memo to Google: If you want your Project Loon to work, you might want to make your balloons a little less conspicuous...

UPDATED: Pluto is Alive... With Blue Skies & Red Ice!


Pluto Blue Skies New Horizons NASA

The new New Horizons images are out and they reveal Pluto has blue skies and red water ice! The blue is caused by a mysterious mix of particles scattering blue light when sun light reaches them, and the layers of haze extend to 100 miles above Pluto's surface. And on the surface? Red-coloured water ice. This might not be exciting to some, but it raises very big questions in the search for Earth-like planets. Pluto was expected to be as barren as our own moon, but everything New Horizons has beamed back to Earth has blown the minds of the NASA scientists studying the data. Dr Stern and his colleagues have every right to hype this up, 2015 is absolutely a year for the science text books. And the quality of the images... this was the stuff of dreams when I was a kid. Just look at that!

Pluto planet solar system extraterrestrial NASA

This world is alive. It has weather, it has hazes in the atmosphere, active geology. Every week I am floored. Nasa won’t let me tell you what we’re going to tell you on Thursday. It’s amazing.

This is what Dr Alan Stern, one of NASA's lead researchers, told a packed lecture hall at the University of Alberta in Canada on Monday. Pluto, once a planet and then demoted to an insignificant dwarf rock at the edge of our Solar System, is proving to be as interesting as Mars. Only 10 percent of the data captured by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has been downloaded, so what has NASA seen that has Dr Stern giddy as a schoolboy?

We'll find out today, when NASA releases new images and data from the New Horizons spacecraft. Or will the news be about Pluto's moon, Charon? After the huge announcement of flowing salt water on Mars, what could have NASA even more excited about a little planet & its moon at the edge of our solar system? Will Matt Damon gear up for The Plutonian?

Read more at The Guardian.

Beautiful image of Pluto & Charon below from NASA's New Horizons page.

Pluto Charon New Horizons NASA

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News Briefs 08-10-2015

Just put me inside a cryo-chamber and wake me up until December already!

Quote of the Day:

“You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

˜Mark Twain, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”

The Bones Go Last: Life and Work of the First Chaos Magician

The Bones Go Last is a short documentary centered around Austin Osman Spare, a British artist and devout practitioner of Occultism, whose esoteric ideas became instrumental for the development of Chaos Magick, and influenced other artist/magicians like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.

Alas, the documentary doesn't really delve much into Spare's occultism, beyond his brief romantic involvement with The Beast himself, Aleister Crowley. Which is why I recommend you head out to Ultraculture and read Jason Louv's article where he does explore Spare's work with sigils, as well as his autumn friendship with Kenneth Grant, who is largely responsible for Spare's popularity in current esoteric circles.

A much enviable talent; though certainly not an enviable life...

News Briefs 07-10-2015

Not the end of the world. Or the end of the week.

Quote of the Day:

The world is not made of atoms. It is made of the stories we tell about atoms.

Damien Walter