News Briefs 01-08-2016

Only five days left to get in on a chance at winning this signed Alan Moore comic (and help support the Grail at the same time)!

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Nightmares of the Present: Anthrax Outbreak in Russia Came From a 75-Year-Old Frozen Reindeer Carcass Thawed by Heatwave


A horror scenario straight out of a science fiction story appears to have come to life in Russia, with an outbreak of anthrax - which has killed 1500 reindeer and hospitalized a number of humans - being blamed on a frozen 75-year-old reindeer carcass that has been thawed by a recent heatwave:

According to the Siberian Times, officials initially thought that the reindeer deaths and human illnesses were the result of a heat wave, after uncommonly high temperatures of up to 95 degrees F swept through the region. And, in a way, it seems they were: Officials with the Russian Ministry of Agriculture believe the cause of infection is the thawing of the frozen carcass of a reindeer that died 75 years ago. Reindeer, weakened by the heat, may have eaten the carcass, and then passed on the disease to the nomad herders.

Grailers will remember one of Mikey's posts in his "Nightmares of the Future" series touched on the 'climatological horror' scenario depicted in the British TV show Fortitude (if you haven't seen it, spoilers follow). In that case, a thawing mammoth carcass was to blame for bringing back to life an ancient parasite that spreads through the population of a small settlement in Norway.

As our planet continues to warm, and glaciers and other ice packs disappear, hopefully there aren't any greater 'evils' waiting to wake from their slumber...

Related posts:

Nothin' But Net: Skydiver Free-Falls 25,000 Feet Without a Parachute or Wingsuit, Landing in a Net

Here's your dose of crazy for the day: American skydiver Luke Aikins jumped from a plane at 25,000 feet with no parachute or wingsuit, aiming to freefall the entire distance and land in a (relatively) small net held off the ground by four cranes.

Spoiler alert: He's still alive.

News Briefs 29-07-2016

“A frog in a well cannot conceive of the ocean.”

Quote of the Day:

“The wise man looks into space and does not regard the small as too little, nor the great as too big, for he knows that, there is no limit to dimensions.”

Chuang Tse

News Briefs 28-07-2016

Grailers: get in quick to be sure to have a chance at winning this signed Alan Moore comic...

Quote of the Day:

If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.

Malcolm X

Why Does Our Universe Seem to be Fine-Tuned for the Existence of Life?

A continuing bone of contention in modern physics is the strange manner in which our universe seems perfectly tuned to give rise to life. For some, it is evidence that our existence is no accident, while more skeptical thinkers have suggested that the thinking is back to front - and we only see things as perfectly tuned because life was what arose under the conditions of our universe.

The video above is from a recent discussion hosted by the Institute of Art and Ideas titled "A Goldilocks World", featuring philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, M-Theorist and author of Universe or Multiverse? Bernard Carr, and Oxford constructor theorist Chiara Marletto:

Is the universe finely tuned for life? Copernicus and Darwin taught us to be skeptical of feeling we were special. Yet from the size of the electron to the cosmological constant our universe is strangely fine-tuned for life. Is this a spectacularly fortuitous accident? Has the universe been tailored for us or do the theories just make it look that way?

News Briefs 27-07-2016


Quote of the Day:

The multiverse is the last refuge of the die-hard materialist.

Philip Comella

Archaeology Continues to Reinforce the Truth That Human History Has Been One Long Trip

Cannabis leaves

A recent paper on ancient cannabis use has made news this week, with some fascinating insights into its origins and spread through Asia and Europe. You can read a good summary of the research at the New Scientist link, so no need for me to rewrite it here.

What did catch my attention though is the following image from the paper, which maps archaeological sites in Eurasia that have been found to contain cannabis remains that date to more than 3000 years ago (ie. 1000 BCE).

Ancient Eurasian sites containing cannabis remains

What this clearly shows is how widespread the usage of cannabis was in ancient times, with some of the dates stretching back well before the advent of written records. In his wonderful book The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia*, Paul Devereux offers fascinating insights into how not only cannabis, but many other psychoactive plants, have been used the world over for millennia, often for ceremonial and/or religious/mystical reasons. It is one hell of an eye-opening read, especially for those who think 'tripping' was something that started with the counterculture of the 1960s, and I can't recommend it highly enough (no pun intended)!

Understanding this fact makes modern culture's outlawing of many of these plants as even more nonsensical than it already is. Our ancestors across the globe have actively used these plants as both physical and spiritual medicine for at least 10,000 years, but suddenly in the last few decades our governments and law-makers have seen fit to not just ban them from human consumption, but to make them illegal and even imprison people who choose to use them.

It is an absolute joke that such laws continue to exist - persecuting those wishing to explore their own mind - when prominent political leaders (the last three U.S. presidents), scientists (Carl Sagan, Francis Crick, Oliver Sacks etc.), tech leaders (Apple's Steve Jobs etc.) and artists and musicians (too long a list to even begin) have all admitted to using psychoactives, and in some cases have been passionate advocates for their use and benefits.

That is certainly not to dismiss the dangers that such mind-altering substances can sometimes pose. But as long as no-one else is being hurt by a person's decision to explore their own mind with psychoactives, I don't see how it is any business of the government, or law enforcement, to stop people from doing so (let alone imprison them for doing it!).

The laws are a nonsense, and it's far beyond time for us to state that plainly and make the necessary changes. The story of human history is one of exploring and expanding our minds to uncover new ideas and understand ourselves better, and the archaeological record continues to reinforce the fact that psychoactive plants have been an integral part of that entire history.

* Full disclosure: 'The Long Trip' is a release of Daily Grail Publishing.

News Briefs 26-07-2016

Lessons from history...

Quote of the Day:

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.

It works the same in any country.

Hermann Göring