Graham Hancock 'Magicians of the Gods' Tour of Australia

Graham Hancock Australian Tour

Good news, Antipodean Grailers: our good friend, 'hidden history' author Graham Hancock, is heading to Australian shores in May for a tour of major cities (and Byron Bay) discussing his 'Magicians of the Gods' research:

Ancient Mysteries, Altered States & The War on Consciousness. This May 2014, Graham Hancock, bestselling British investigative author of Fingerprints of the Gods, Underworld and Supernatural will share his radical theories and philosophy at a series of events across Australia.

Find out more details and book tickets at GrahamHancockTour.com.au.

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News Briefs 21-02-2014

You really don't want H1N1 flu. It's deep misery for 10 days or longer. (What do you think I've been recovering from since New Years?) The CDC says H1N1 is still on a rampage, so, please, get vaccinated.

A big thanks to RickMG and Red Pill Junkie.

Headline & Quote of the Day:

Smartest Kid Ever Sells Girl Scout Cookies Outside a Medical Marijuana Clinic

Duuude. It is a rare magical moment when the invisible hand makes a shaka sign and supply wafts up to mingle with the perfumed plumes of demand.

Slate.

News Briefs 20-02-2014

Am I the only nerd on the Interwebs who is not in the slightest excited about this?

  • Rocket Raccoon fans should consider donating to writer Bill Mantlo's ongoing care.
  • Open Minds Video: Former NASA scientist claims conspiracy about Mars photo.
  • Lisa Romanek responds to his husband Stan's child porn allegations.
  • Brien Foerster talks about the Paracas skulls, Puma Punku & Egypt in Where Did the Road Go?.
  • Ghost caught by CCTV cameras in UK's oldest pub?
  • Facepalming: 1 in 4 Americans don't believe the Earth revolves around the Sun --but you've still got them nukes! dontcha, boys?
  • Obama look-alike who played Satan in 'Son of God' edited out in the final cut.
  • The Process: An inside look into an Apocalypse cult of the 1960's.
  • 84-year-old nun sentenced to 3 years in prison for breaking into nuclear weapons complex.
  • Eyes Wide Open: Crashing into a party of one percenters.
  • Newly elected president of Institute of Medicine is on the PEPSICO board of directors. Conflict of interests, you say? Shut up & have some Cheetos!
  • Smokers rejoice! Researchers have grown human lungs on the lab for the 1st time.
  • British surgeon successfully 3D-prints & implants a pelvis to a bone-cancer patient.
  • An experiment that might let us control events millions of years ago --time to save the dinos!!
  • And so it begins: Watch the trailer for the 1st film made for the Oculus Rift --better than the 1st pron title?
  • Red Pill of the Day: THIS is why men stare at goats.

Thanks to Rick & to Bill Burns, for perfectly conveying what most of us think of Yoko Ono.

Quote of the Day:

"Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance."

~Bertrand Russell

Flying Amongst Galaxies: Your Personal Total Perspective Vortex

In his wonderful fictional series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the late Douglas Adams introduced the ‘Total Perspective Vortex’ – a machine built by inventor Trin Tragula, who after being constantly nagged by his wife to “Have some sense of proportion!” (sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day), decided to build a machine “just to show her”. Into one end, he plugged the whole of reality (in classic Adams fashion, extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake), and into the other he plugged his wife, so that she would be shown in one instant “the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it”. To his horror, Trin Tragula realized that this single, devastating shock had completely annihilated his wife’s brain, but to his satisfaction “he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion”.

I don't have any fairy cake on hand, but the above video is pretty close to being a Total Perspective Vortex: it's an accurate 3-dimensional model and animation created out of data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), showing some 400,000 galaxies in their actual position in the Universe.

High resolution and full-screen recommended! Remember: each of those points of light is a complete galaxy, each with 100 billion stars or more within them. And in case that all doesn't blow your mind enough, it's worth pointing out that this 3D representation only includes all objects out to redshift 0.1 - roughly 1.3 billion light years from Earth, about 1/10 of the distance to the edge of the known Universe. And the perspective given in this video is actually impossible, as to see the Universe in this way would require traveling at many times the speed of light.

(via @UnlikelyWorlds and Lights in the Dark)

Has the Code of the Mysterious Voynich Manuscript Finally Been Cracked?

Taurus in the Voynich Manuscript

'Tis the month for claimed decodings of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript: a couple of weeks ago we posted about researchers wondering if the strange document was actually written in an extinct Mexican language. But now Stephen Bax, Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Bedfordshire in the U.K., has claimed that he has decoded a few of the words of the manuscript and is calling on other scholars to join him in continuing to decipher the document. His approach took a leaf out of history's most famous decoding:

I hit on the idea of identifying proper names in the text, following historic approaches which successfully deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs and other mystery scripts, and I then used those names to work out part of the script. The manuscript has a lot of illustrations of stars and plants. I was able to identify some of these, with their names, by looking at medieval herbal manuscripts in Arabic and other languages, and I then made a start on a decoding, with some exciting results.

In doing so, Professor Bax says he has likely decoded the word 'Taurus' alongside a picture of seven stars which seem to be the Pleiades, and also the word 'kantairon' alongside a picture of the plant Centaury, a known mediaeval herb.

Although the decipherment is still at the very beginning stages, Professor Bax says his research already "shows conclusively that the manuscript is not a hoax, as some have claimed, and is probably a treatise on nature, perhaps in a Near Eastern or Asian language".

Professor Bax has made the paper available for download on his website, and you can also watch this 47 minute video in which he 'superficially' outlines his research:

We'll have to wait and see if this latest theory (in a very long line) is the one. What do you think?

Link: 600 year old mystery manuscript decoded by University of Bedfordshire professor

Link: Stephen Bax's Website

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News Briefs 19-02-2014

Image

Awesome birthday cake candle for Yoko Ono.

Quote of the Day:

The dogmatic belief that science is the only path to any and all kinds of knowledge has been called "scientism." There's a world of difference between science and scientism. Science is a fine tool, but scientism is a cruel master...

~ Zen priest Michael LaTorra

The Batman: Daniel Kish Perceives the World Around Him Using Echolocation

How much sensory input from the world do we miss each day? Apart from things like sounds outside of the 20Hz to 20,000Hz range (the usual reange of human hearing), and the enormous amount of the electromagnetic spectrum that we can't see, there remains a staggering amount of information that passes us by. Our 'reality' is actually a tiny amount of environment.

Daniel Kish is an individual who has learned, through necessity, to take more notice of the information available through his sense of hearing. Daniel was born totally blind, and both his eyes were removed by 13 months of age. As such, he has no visual memory of the world, and yet he has learned a way to perceive the space around using his hearing. Daniel is 'the Batman':

We teach people how to perceive their environment the same way that a bat perceives its environment. We learn to issue a sound, which could be a tongue click, and that sound goes and it bounces off of everything in the environment, and it comes back.

Watch the video above to get a sense of how much information Daniel Kish can pull from the environment around him simply by clicking with his mouth and listening. Amazing.

News Briefs 18-02-2014

First rule of the internet: if you see an email or social media post that says "circulate this to your address book", you can be pretty sure it's one of the last things on Earth that you should circulate.

Quote of the Day:

I think it's really tragic when people get serious about stuff. It's such an absurdity to take anything really seriously ... I make an honest attempt not to take anything seriously: I worked that attitude out about the time I was eighteen, I mean, what does it all mean when you get right down to it, what's the story here? Being alive is so weird.

Frank Zappa

Movies, Myths & Psycho-Magic: Jodorowsky's Dune

In every generation of movie moguls, there's always one project which is both feared & revered as a sort of cinematic 'white whale': The one story which is considered 'unfilmable'… until someone finally films it.

For this current generation the white whale was The Lord of the Rings, until Peter Jackson & Weta brought Middle Earth to life. But before the Tolkien trilogy there was the futuristic universe conceived by Frank Herbert in his lauded Dune saga. The race to film Dune began as early as 1971, and eventually culminated in the 1984 film directed by David Lynch & produced by Dino De Laurentiis, which received poor reviews & flopped in the US box office.

If there was one person who was happy at Lynch's failure though, that was surely filmmaker/Tarot card reader/psycho-mage Alejandro Jodorowsky; for it was he who struggled with the Dune whale - or should we say worm? - since 1974, when a French consortium led by Jean-Paul Gibon purchased the rights to the movie and chose him as director.

If you've ever seen one of Jodorowsky's films - El Topo, Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre - then you're more than aware that his is not exactly the most conventional approach to movie-making. The Chilean artist could very well be referred as one of the last surrealists, and for his version of Dune he was clearly seeking something more than a typical Sci-Fi blockbuster - back in the pre-Lucas days when there wasn't even such a thing!

Rather than an adaptation, his re-imagination of Dune would be nothing short of a complete psychedelic & mystical journey.

For starters, Jodorowsky intended to seriously deviate from Herbert's original story, since in his eyes all artists are nothing but 'conduits' by which the artistic piece chooses to manifest into this world:

There is an artist, only one in the medium of a million other artists, which only once in his life, by a species of divine grace, receives an immortal topic, a MYTH... I say "receives" and not "creates" because the works of art its received in a state of mediumnity directly of the unconscious collective. Work exceeds the artist and to some extent, it kills it because humanity, by receiving the impact of the Myth, has a major need to erase the individual who received it and transmitted: its individual personality obstructs, stains the purity of the message which, of its base, requires to be anonymous... We know whom created the cathedral of Notre-Dame, neither the Aztec solar calendar, neither the tarot of Marseilles, nor the myth of Don Juan, etc.

Jodorowsky wanted Pink Floyd to compose the soundtrack(!) and he intended the movie to last 10 hours(!!); he also sought the help of high-caliber illustrators & designers to help him concrete his vision: He hired French artist Jean Giraud - better known among comics fans as Moebius - who was in charge of character design, British sci-Fi illustrator Chris Foss for the design of the various space-ships, and an obscure Swiss painter, sculptor and designer by the name of H.R. Giger, who was asked to create the backgrounds and settings for the Harkonnen world of Geidi Prime.

Lastly, Jodorowsky wanted a truly unique cast to give life to the characters. And who better to play the part of the Emperor of the Universe than the Emperor of the Art World himself, Salvador Dalí? Dali accepted, on the condition that he'd be paid the obscene sum of US$100,000 per hour - it's not that he was that desperate for money, the 'maestro' simply wanted to go into history as the most expensive actor of all time.

Alas, after 2 years of intense conceptualization - and some intense fights with Dali! - the whole thing fell apart faster than the fall of the House Atreides. The movie rights were sold, and the world was devoid of the chance to see Dali taking a dump on a throne/toilet made up of two intersected dolphins.

Dune's loss was somehow a strange blessing, as several of the artists involved went on to take part in other equally important projects: After De Laurentiis secured the movie rights for Dune, he initially hired Ridley Scott as director; however, after 7 months Scott abandoned the project, but not before taking an eye on Giger's work though... which would prove instrumental for the movie he's perhaps most famous for: Alien.

I personally think Jodorowsky made a grave mistake in conceiving Dune as a live action motion picture. If he had made an animation film instead, making Moebius's gorgeous illustrations come to life, then perhaps the project would have been completed - somehow I suspect Jodorowsky realized this as well, which is perhaps why he later decided to partner with Moebius for the creation of their critically acclaimed graphic novels The Incal.

So, is that it? Are Alien and The Incal the only glimpse we'll ever have of Alejandro's white whale? Not quite: A new documentary titled Jodorowsky's Dune, directed by Frank Pavich, will give us a rare glimpse into one of cinema's greatest "what ifs": The vision, the drive & the madness behind the movie that never was.

Link: Jodorowsky's Dune

Link: Dune Screen Adaptations.

Link: The Film You Will Never See, by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Music from the Butt: Recreating Music Hidden in a 500-Year-Old Painting

Bosch's Music on the Bum

The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych painted around the year 1500 by the Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch, and its three panels - taking up almost four meters in width - are crammed full of tiny details ranging from the Garden of Eden to a Hellish landscape in which its inhabitants are being tortured. So many details are present, in fact, that if you were to look very closely at the painting you might find some interesting things. Amelia, a music and information systems double major at Oklahoma Christian University, sure did:

Luke and I were looking at Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights and discovered, much to our amusement, music written upon the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens of the rightmost panel of the painting which is intended to represent Hell. I decided to transcribe it into modern notation, assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants of this era.

So yes this is LITERALLY the 600-year-old butt song from hell.

Click through to listen to Hieronymous Bosch's butt-music from hell. Also: a choral version.