New Lovecraft Anthology from the Folio Society Is Sumptuously Gothic and Otherworldly

Artwork from New Lovecraft Anthology

The Folio Society has just published a new anthology of stories from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos in two absolutely beautiful editions: a limited (750 copy) edition and a 'standard' (though still sumptuous looking) hardcover. The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories is a collection that spans Lovecraft’s literary career, charting "the development of his ‘cosmicist’ philosophy; the belief that behind the veil of our blinkered everyday lives lies another reality, too terrible for the human mind to comprehend."

The two new editions marry Lovecraft's best-known fiction...

...with two modern masters of the macabre, the acclaimed artist Dan Hillier and author Alan Moore. In his beautifully crafted new preface, Moore finds Lovecraft at once at odds with and integral to the time in which he lived: ‘the improbable embodiment of an estranged world in transition’. Yet, despite his prejudices and parochialisms, he ‘possessed a voice and a perspective both unique in modern literature’.

Hillier’s six mesmerising, portal-like illustrations embrace the alien realities that lurk among the gambrel roofs of Lovecraft’s landscapes. By splicing Victorian portraits and lithographs with cosmic and Lovecraftian symbolism, each piece – like the stories themselves – pulls apart the familiar to reveal what lies beneath.

The edition itself shimmers with Lovecraft’s ‘unknown colours’, bound in purple and greens akin to both the ocean depths and mysteries from outer space. The cover is embossed with a mystical design by Hillier, while a monstrous eye stares blankly from the slipcase.

Here's a promotional video that shows off the artistic work and production values behind this new release:

News Briefs 31-05-2017

Preachin'...

Thanks to Cult of Weird.

Quote of the Day:

I put things in probabilities, not absolutes... My only originality lies in applying this zetetic attitude outside the hardest of the hard sciences, physics, to softer sciences and then to non-sciences like politics, ideology, jury verdicts and, of course, conspiracy theory.

Robert Anton Wilson

Billionaire Robert Bigelow Tells 60 Minutes There is "an Existing Extraterrestrial Presence on Earth"

Robert Bigelow

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In recent years Robert 'Bob' Bigelow has become a major player in the fledgling commercial space industry, most notably through Bigelow Aerospace's development of inflatable space modules that have since been tested at the International Space Station. Bigelow Aerospace was made possibly by Bigelow's extraordinary success as the entrepreneur who created the hotel chain Budget Suites of America. But before Bigelow became big in extraterrestrial accomodation, he was interested in other extraterrestrial matters: namely, the possibility that aliens had visited - and to this day are still present on - Earth.

Back in the day, Bigelow funded the National Institute of Discovery Studies (NIDS), devoted to studying 'out-there' phenomenon in a scientific manner (at one time purchasing the legendary 'Skinwalker Ranch' outright in order to investigate the odd sightings reported there), and later (controversially) provided financial backing to the Mutual UFO network (MUFON) for field investigators, in return for access to the organization's data. (We've mentioned Bigelow many times here over the years, along with NIDS.)

But if anybody thought Bob Bigelow might be leaving UFOs and the paranormal behind in a bid for respectability, think again. In an interview this week with 60 Minutes reporter Lara Logan, Bigelow came right out and nailed his colours to the mast.

Lara Logan: Do you believe in aliens?

Robert Bigelow: I'm absolutely convinced. That's all there is to it.

Lara Logan: Do you also believe that UFOs have come to Earth?

Robert Bigelow: There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence. And I spent millions and millions and millions -- I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject.

Logan, surprised by this up-front revelation, pushed Bigelow, asking him if he thought it was risky for him - as a high-profile businessman, and CEO in the commercial space industry - to say publicly that he believed in aliens. I looooove Bigelow's response: "I don't give a damn. I don't care."

Lara Logan: You don't worry that some people will say, "Did you hear that guy, he sounds like he's crazy"?

Robert Bigelow: I don't care.

Lara Logan: Why not?

Robert Bigelow: It's not gonna make a difference. It's not gonna change reality of what I know.

Lara Logan: Do you imagine that in our space travels we will encounter other forms of intelligent life?

Robert Bigelow: You don't have to go anywhere.

Lara Logan: You can find it here? Where exactly?

Robert Bigelow: It's just like right under people's noses. Oh my gosh. Wow.

Bigelow Aerospace's Alien Logo

Link: Robert Bigelow interviewed by 60 Minutes

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News Briefs 30-05-2017

Seeing double...

Thanks Baldrick.

Quote of the Day:

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Steve Jobs

This Study Uncovered Common Words That Appear to Have Survived from a Mother Language That Existed During the Last Ice Age

Ice Age People

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We are all aware of similarities in words between different languages, and also how much some words vary between cultures separated both in time and location. Often it is the most common words in a language that retain a strong similarity to their origin languages: for instance, the English word brother and the French frère are derived from words in ancient languages: the Sanskrit bhrātr and the Latin frāter. It is obvious, therefore, that the distinctive sound of a word can remain associated with the same meaning for thousands of years. But how far back in time can we go to find common words?

A 2012 PNAS paper, "Ultraconserved words point to deep language ancestry across Eurasia", attempted to answer that question, with surprising results. Researchers noted that these early 'root words'...

...can be predicted from information independent of their sounds. We showed in a sample of Indo-European languages that the frequency with which a word is used in everyday speech, along with its part of speech, can predict how rapidly words evolve, with frequently used words on average retained for longer periods of time

We have recently extended this result to include speakers from the Uralic, Sino-Tibetan, Niger-Congo, Altaic, and Austronesian families, in addition to Indo-European, plus the isolate Basque and the Creole Tok Pisin. Even in languages as widely divergent as these, we found that a measure of the average frequency of use predicted rates of lexical replacement as estimated in the Indo-European languages.

The study uncovered 23 "ultraconserved words" that "point to deep language ancestry across Eurasia". How deep? This subset of words, the researchers believe, "have remained associated with their particular meanings independently in separate branches of this superfamily since the end of the last ice age."

The 23 words identified by researchers included obvious ones (in terms of common usage) - “I,” “we.” “who,” “not,” “that,” “mother,” "man" - but also less commonly used words today which nevertheless were likely very important some 15,000 years ago, such as "fire," "ashes,", “bark,” and "worm".

Researchers noted that their unique approach in predicting these words independently of their sound correspondences "dilutes the usual criticisms leveled at such long-range linguistic reconstructions, that proto-words are unreliable or inaccurate, or that apparent phonetic similarities among them reflect chance sound resemblances."

So if you're planning on time travel back to the end of the last Ice Age any time soon, it might be worth brushing up on those 23 words...

Link: "Ultraconserved words point to deep language ancestry across Eurasia"

(h/t @m1k3y)

News Briefs 29-05-2017

Free your mind, and your ass will follow...

Quote of the Day:

There's a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state. The other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.

William Adama, "Battlestar Galactica"

News Briefs 26-05-2017

"All beings are by nature are Buddhas, as ice by nature is water. Apart from water there is no ice; apart from beings, no Buddhas...”

Quote of the Day:

“How sad that people ignore the near and search the truth afar: like someone in the midst of water crying out in thirst.”

Hakuin Ekaku

News Briefs 25-05-2017

Death of 007 coinciding with worst attack on British soil in the last decade? Synchromysticism at its best worst…

Thanks to Moneypenny.

Quote of the Day:

"Who does not understand should either learn, or be silent."

˜John Dee

Jewel Wasps are Neurosurgeons Who Zombify Cockroaches So Their Babies Can Eat Them From the Inside Out

Jewel wasp

"It's not brain surgery you know". That phrase (along with "it's not rocket science") is often used to denote a simple act, as compared to the recognised difficulty of surgery on the human brain, one of the most complex objects known. Neurosurgery is one of those things that shows how humans are very different from other living things, with our knowledge of the various functions of different parts of the brain, and our extremely advanced 'tool use' when performing surgery on it. So much so that we are often surprised when we hear about early attempts at neurosurgery in ancient times - "wow, they were more advanced than we thought".

The only trouble with this type of thinking is that humans are not the only animal to perform 'brain surgery'. Take the Jewel Wasp, for example, which literally performs neurosurgery on captured cockroaches so that they can zombify them and feed their young. The process is astoundingly intricate, as well as just plain horrific:

The wasp, which is often just a fraction of the size of her victim, begins her attack from above, swooping down and grabbing the roach with her mouth as she aims her “stinger”—a modified egg-laying body part called an ovipositor—at the middle of the body, the thorax, in between the first pair of legs. The quick jab takes only a few seconds, and venom compounds work fast, paralyzing the cockroach temporarily so the wasp can aim her next sting with more accuracy. With her long stinger, she targets her mind-altering venom into two areas of the ganglia, the insect equivalent of a brain.

The wasp's stinger is so well tuned to its victim that it can sense where it is inside the cockroach's dome to inject venom directly into subsections of its brain. The stinger is capable of feeling around in the roach's head, relying on mechanical and chemical cues to find its way past the ganglionic sheath (the insect's version of a blood-brain barrier) and inject venom exactly where it needs to go. The two areas of the roach brain that she targets are very important to her; scientists have artificially clipped them from cockroaches to see how the wasp reacts, and when they are removed, the wasp tries to find them, taking a long time with her stinger embedded in search of the missing brain regions.

Then the mind control begins...

Oh, not nightmarish enough for you yet? Read on...

With her prey calm and quiescent, the wasp can replenish her energy by breaking the roach's antennae and drinking some sweet, nutritious insect blood. Then she leads her victim to its final resting place, using what remains of an antenna as an equestrian uses the reins on a bridle. Once inside her burrow, she attaches one egg to the cockroach's leg, then seals her offspring and the roach in.

As if the mind manipulation wasn't bad enough, the wasp's venom has one final trick. While the roach awaits its inevitable doom, the venom slows down the roach's metabolism to ensure it lives long enough to be devoured still fresh.

For the morbidly fascinated, here's video of the jewel wasp doing its thing:

What does this mean for our understanding of intelligence, and/or 'blind' evolution? I'm not sure, but it does seem to tip a lot of our assumptions upside down.

The excerpted text above is taken from a recent Scientific American article (click through to learn more fascinating details about the jewel wasp-cockroach interaction) - and for those who want even more information, the article is itself excerpted from the book Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry.

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