News Briefs 28-06-2016

Dogpocalypse now...

Quote of the Day:

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

George Carlin

New Boston Dynamics Robot 'SpotMini' Shows How Our Future Pets Might Help Out Around the House

Looking for a pet who, instead of needing to be cleaned up after, does the cleaning? The future might provide exactly what you want: check out SpotMini, the latest robot to be unveiled by Boston Dynamics.

SpotMini, weighing in at just 55 lbs (65 lbs if you include its arm), is all-electric (no hydraulics) and "runs for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing":

It also has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance. For more information about SpotMini visit our website at

The good news: the first defence against any robot rebellion will, apparently, be banana skins.

The bad news: If you watch the video at the top of the post, it doesn't slow them down for long...

Related stories:

News Briefs 27-06-2016

In case your day isn't turning out exactly as expected: a little perspective...

Quote of the Day:

Everybody's got a little light under the Sun.

P-Funk, 'Flashlight'

Alan Moore Discusses Eternal Time, Virtual Reality Mysticism, and Quitting Comics Soon

Alan Moore

The great Alan Moore (Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta etc.) recently sat down for a chat with our good friend John Higgs (Stranger Than We Can Imagine) at the 2016 Brighton festival. In a wide-ranging discussion (and subsequent Q&A session with the crowd), Alan and John covered topics including virtual reality mysticism, creating a new counterculture, Alan's upcoming 'epic novel' Jerusalem, reinventing magick, and the eternal nature of time.

Fans of the bearded one's comics might be dismayed by one particular reply Alan gave, in response to John asking what he is wanting to do now that Jerusalem is finally done (it's been a work-in-progress for around a decade):

Well one of the things I’d like to do is, I really do want to finish up with comics. I’ve got a lot of other things [I'd like to do]…I came up through the Arts Lab, where we did everything, that was why the Arts Lab was fun. I did some comic strips in the Arts Lab, but I did a lot more performances and poems, and pieces of prose. I’ve always liked doing just about everything…but the comics thing, that paid off unexpectedly well.

…at this point, I thing that probably I’ll be finishing off Cinema Purgatorio…and there’s another series that I’ve got about 48 pages on to do, and then me and [illustrator Kevin O'Neill] want to do a final book of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen that will just tie up all of the loose threads, even the ones that you didn’t know were loose threads from all of the previous books. I reckon that’s about another 250 pages of comics. Then, I should just like to do whatever takes my fancy.

…You have to understand one of the things that’s put me off of comics - and this is probably an admission of kind of immaturity on my behalf - but comics are like really acceptable now. Everybody really likes comics. They’re a good thing to have on your coffee table…I really liked comics when everybody hated them. I thought this is a brilliant medium that is being overlooked, it could be used for some fantastic things. And now, here we are…

…These days, I would rather do things that nobody wants…. That’s what art is about - it’s not about what people want, it’s about what I want.

Be sure to actually watch the video though (embedded below) - the transcript takes the fun and humour out of the discussion, making the above words perhaps sound grumpy or negative, when Alan says he explicitly doesn't want to give that impression ("I'm perhaps a lot less angry than you might suspect...[though] if you hear me talking about corporations I can see where you might get that impression"). Instead, as always, AM is a fantastic raconteur, so worth grabbing your favourite brew and sitting down to listen to him chat with John.

News Briefs 23-06-2016


Quote of the Day:

Science is perhaps the most effective tool that human consciousness has yet developed with which to explore the outer universe, and yet this polished and sophisticated instrument of scrutiny is hindered by one glaring blind-spot in that it cannot examine consciousness itself.

Alan Moore

EdgeScience #26

Issue 26 of the free PDF magazine EdgeScience is now available to download from the website of the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE). In the new issue:EdgeScience 26

  • "Hypnosis, Trance, and Human Evolution", by Adam Crabtree.
  • "The Deep Mystery of the Prime Number", by Owen O'Shea.
  • "The Temporal Architecture of Life: A Survey of Environmental Dynamics in Human Health", by Kenneth Smith.

Grab the free PDF of EdgeScience 26 from the SSE website, or purchase a printed copy from MagCloud for just $4.95. Please consider a small donation to help the EdgeScience team continue with this excellent publication, via the link on the right-side of the webpage. And join the SSE if you want to keep up with the latest academic research into the 'edgier' areas of science.

News Briefs 22-06-2016

First we feel then we fall

  • Hundreds of genes seen sparking to life two days after death.
  • The Great Pyramid of Giza is lopsided, new investigation reveals.
  • Dan Brown is paying a lot of money to digitize a library devoted to mysticism.
  • Researchers map the most common coincidences.
  • Graham Hancock and humanity’s true origins.
  • Archaeologist claims to have found a fragment from the throne of the Kings of Mycenae.
  • New life found that lives off electricity.
  • The woman with hyper-sensitive eyes.
  • Humans: the hyperkeystone species.
  • The atmosphere of Venus is more terrifying than we imagined.
  • Night vision: UFO spotting in Sedona, Arizona.
  • Caribbean Sea acts like a whistle and can be 'heard' from space.
  • Confused snake gets caught in a loop while trying to shed its skin.

Thanks to Kat

Quote of the Day:

The meandertale, aloss and again,
of our old Heidenburgh in the days when Head-in-Clouds walked the earth.

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

News Briefs 21-06-2016

Patreon supporters: I've posted a sneak peak of the cover of the upcoming Darklore 9 for you all. Thanks for your help in keeping this site running!

Quote of the Day:

I see no wisdom in the eagerness to be found and approached by any intelligence with the ability to accomplish it from any sector of space. In the meetings between 'discoverers' and 'discoverees,' history has always given the advantage to the finders... My point is, who will come a-knocking - the trader or the tiger?

Jack Kirby

The 5th Young One: Pay No Attention to the Girl Behind the Sofa


Read more fascinating articles like this one by liking The Daily Grail on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, ignoring the blare of children's television, I muzzily and reflexively poked at the Twitter icon on the battered screen of my knackered phone. Down I scrolled through the dozens and dozens of updates I'd missed during my five or so hours of child-interrupted sleep until I came upon one by comic artist Jamie Smart. It read

Oh my god. There was a fifth housemate in The Young Ones and she was terrifying.

Huh? I blinked, took a big swig of my bitter, luke-warm, instant coffee, and clicked the link Jamie had posted.

On Business Insider Australia I read the headline REVEALED: There really was a creepy fifth housemate lurking in cult British TV show The Young Ones. The article had been posted that very morning (18th June, 2016). What the...?

For those of you who don't already know, The Young Ones was a seminal, anarchic comedy series that ran on the BBC for two series between 1982 and 1984. Much like Monty Python, but in the era of VHS, The Young Ones became a show that many of us who were born in the 1970s ended up watching again and again and again. Business Insider news editor Peter Farquhar had, it turns out, quite recently watched a video on YouTube entitled The Young Ones ~ The 5th Roommate, which had been posted back in July 2012. This video had been inspired by a 1999 posting on The Easter Egg Archive website, which took its cue from a page last updated the previous year on a now defunct site called The British Comedy Library (still, thankfully, available via The Internet Archive's wonderful WayBack Machine). The strange person at the back of the house is the title of the page. It contains a few quotes from viewers who have emailed in to the site about something they've spotted re-watching the original 1982 series of the BBC comedy show The Young Ones. Things like

Has anyone else noticed the strange person who appears to share the flat with the guys. If you look carefully in the first five episodes you can see a mysterious person with long black hair who appears sitting against walls in the background of quite a few scenes.

And yes, the 2012 YouTube video shows it: a fifth housemate appearing at least once in every episode of the entire first series. She never moves, she never speaks, you never see her face, and her presence is never acknowledged by any of the other characters, but she's there.

This, apparently, blew Peter Farquhar's mind so much that he ended up contacting some of the people involved with the series including one of the writers, Ben Elton. Elton's prompt and short response was he had no idea what he was on about. A few days later however, Farquhar received a response from another member of the Young Ones team - Geoff Posner, who was one of the three directors on the series.

In his reply Posner said that he and fellow director Paul Jackson

thought it would be funny to have some ghostly figure in the background of some scenes that was never explained or talked about. Hair all over the face so you shouldn't be able to decipher the gender, either. The fact that we forgot to do it consistently shows what a bunch of amateurs we were in them days.

In his article Farquhar goes on to write

So maybe the fifth housemate idea wasn’t such a big deal to the cast and crew back then. Often what artists think of their own work is only half of the story. The other is what impact it has on the audience and its legacy and in this regard, “The Young Ones” still stands up incredibly well 34 years after it first aired. The appearance of the running “fifth housemate” gag is a great example.

Posner's short email explanation was, happily, enough to allay Farquhar's worries, and general sense of unease about the mysterious fifth housemate. Not mine though. No, not mine. Because you see, to me, Posner's explanation doesn't quite make sense. The fifth housemate - or the ghost as we should probably more accurately call her - isn't ... Read More »