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To Boldly Grow - 2014, Apr 14 / OCCULT
'To Boldly Grow' is the third of five sequences from the film 'There's No Tomorrow' (34m) presented here by itself as a single work.


TBG works as a stand-alone, because it focuses on the central problem raised by TNT: the impossibility of infinite growth on a finite planet (such a statement should not be controversial, but for a great many people today, it is Blasphemy).

Canadian scientist David Suzuki has used the metaphor of the bacteria in the bottle, which you can see in 'TBG/TNT'.

CLICK TO READ MORE


lynda.com online training tutorials



Unexplained Magazine, Issue 2 - 2014, April 09 / OCCULT

Issue 2 of 'The Unexplained'. Contents are black holes, spontaneous human combustion, kirlian auras, past life regression and the New Zealand UFO film:


Here's the full-sized album on imgur, if you can't figure out the widget controls.

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Unexplained Magazine, Issue 1 - 2014, April 04 / OCCULT

A little joy and strangeness came into my childhood around 1980 with the arrival of 'The Unexplained', a publication by Orbis. 165 issues were published; contributors / consultants / editors included Peter Brookesmith, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Professor A. J. Ellison, Brian Innes, Colin Wilson and Rupert Sheldrake. The tone of the magazine, contrary to popular perception, was more agnostic - many phenomena were actually debunked in the magazine, others left open.

I recently re-acquired my collection. This is the scan I made of issue #1. I'd like to make more - but it does take a shocking amount of time. Depends on how badly people squeak for episode #2.


Here's the full-sized album on imgur, if you can't figure out the widget controls.

Notice the absence of adverts (barring the one for the binder on the back cover). Also notice the simplicity of the design/layout. There are rarely more than two fonts per page, the text is spaced out for legibility, and there are no stapled inserts with free samples for mens' cologne.

Does anyone still create magazines like this?

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Utopia and the Illuminati - 2014, Mar 30 / OCCULT
A provocative clip from the UK TV show 'Utopia', in which the audience is left unsure as to which side they should support. This scene may be geo-blocked in some regions, but it's visible in the US:


Note the masonic symbols on the ceiling. Cheeky Illuminati Devils!


The Machine Stops - 2014, Mar 29 / LITERATURE

In the remarkable novella 'The Machine Stops' (1909), E.M. Forster described a system that very closely resembles the internet and modern life.
from THE MACHINE STOPS
by E.M. Forster (1909)

Then she generated the light, and the sight of her room, flooded with radiance and studded with electric buttons, revived her. There were buttons and switches everywhere - buttons to call for food for music, for clothing. There was the hot-bath button, by pressure of which a basin of (imitation) marble rose out of the floor, filled to the brim with a warm deodorized liquid. There was the cold-bath button. There was the button that produced literature. and there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends. The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.

Vashanti"s next move was to turn off the isolation switch, and all the accumulations of the last three minutes burst upon her. The room was filled with the noise of bells, and speaking-tubes. What was the new food like? Could she recommend it? Has she had any ideas lately? Might one tell her one's own ideas? Would she make an engagement to visit the public nurseries at an early date? - say this day month.

To most of these questions she replied with irritation - a growing quality in that accelerated age. She said that the new food was horrible. That she could not visit the public nurseries through press of engagements. That she had no ideas of her own but had just been told one-that four stars and three in the middle were like a man: she doubted there was much in it. Then she switched off her correspondents, for it was time to deliver her lecture on Australian music.
Vashanti's online lecture, which "lasted ten minutes" sounds a bit like TED, though more high-brow:
The clumsy system of public gatherings had been long since abandoned; neither Vashti nor her audience stirred from their rooms. Seated in her armchair she spoke, while they in their armchairs heard her, fairly well, and saw her, fairly well. She opened with a humorous account of music in the pre Mongolian epoch, and went on to describe the great outburst of song that followed the Chinese conquest. Remote and primæval as were the methods of I-San-So and the Brisbane school, she yet felt (she said) that study of them might repay the musicians of today: they had freshness; they had, above all, ideas. Her lecture, which lasted ten minutes, was well received, and at its conclusion she and many of her audience listened to a lecture on the sea; there were ideas to be got from the sea; the speaker had donned a respirator and visited it lately. Then she fed, talked to many friends, had a bath, talked again, and summoned her bed.
Today, these are called 'First-World problems':
The bed was not to her liking. It was too large, and she had a feeling for a small bed. Complaint was useless, for beds were of the same dimension all over the world, and to have had an alternative size would have involved vast alterations in the Machine. Vashti isolated herself-it was necessary, for neither day nor night existed under the ground-and reviewed all that had happened since she had summoned the bed last. Ideas? Scarcely any. Events-was Kuno"s invitation an event?
And just as today, the worship of the machine. Forster's imagination couldn't have run far enough to foresee the 'I f*cking love science' Facebook group, but this is pretty close!
By her side, on the little reading-desk, was a survival from the ages of litter-one book. This was the Book of the Machine. In it were instructions against every possible contingency. If she was hot or cold or dyspeptic or at a loss for a word, she went to the book, and it told her which button to press. The Central Committee published it. In accordance with a growing habit, it was richly bound.

Sitting up in the bed, she took it reverently in her hands. She glanced round the glowing room as if some one might be watching her. Then, half ashamed, half joyful, she murmured "O Machine!" and raised the volume to her lips. Thrice she kissed it, thrice inclined her head, thrice she felt the delirium of acquiescence.
Even more impressive was Forster's prediction of the effect of the internet on human culture - which like own seems incapable of creating much that's original, with the exception of the occasional spiderman or x-men or star wars or star trek reboot prequel sequel.
"Beware of first- hand ideas!" exclaimed one of the most advanced of them. "First-hand ideas do not really exist. They are but the physical impressions produced by life and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element - direct observation. Do not learn anything about this subject of mine - the French Revolution. Learn instead what I think that Enicharmon thought Urizen thought Gutch thought Ho-Yung thought Chi-Bo-Sing thought LafcadioHearn thought Carlyle thought Mirabeau said about the French Revolution. Through the medium of these ten great minds, the blood that was shed at Paris and the windows that were broken at Versailles will be clarified to an idea which you may employ most profitably in your daily lives. But be sure that the intermediates are many and varied, for in history one authority exists to counteract another. Urizen must counteract the scepticism of Ho-Yung and Enicharmon, I must myself counteract the impetuosity of Gutch. You who listen to me are in a better position to judge about the French Revolution than I am. Your descendants will be even in a better position than you, for they will learn what you think I think, and yet another intermediate will be added to the chain. And in time" - his voice rose - "there will come a generation that had got beyond facts, beyond impressions, a generation absolutely colourless, a generation

 seraphically free
 From taint of personality,

 which will see the French Revolution not as it happened, nor as they would like it to have happened, but as it would have happened, had it taken place in the days of the Machine."
And Orwell, a couple of decades later, on the debasement of culture and food that was well underway even at that time (for those who need reminding that historical processes are usually longer than a single human lifespan):
from “The Road to Wigan Pier”
by George Orwell, 1937

To begin with, there is the frightful debauchery of taste that has already been effected by a century of mechanisation. This is almost too obvious and too generally admitted to need pointing out. But as a single instance, take taste in its narrowest sense – the taste for decent food. In the highly mechanical countries, thanks to tinned food, cold storage, synthetic flavouring matters, etc., the palate is almost a dead organ. As you can see by looking at any greengrocer’s shop, what the majority of English people mean by an apple is a lump of highly-coloured cotton wool from America or Australia; they will devour these things, apparently with pleasure, and let the English apples rot under the trees. It is the shiny, standardized, machine-made look of the American apple that appeals to them; the superior taste of the English apple is something they simply do not notice. Or look at the factory-made, foil wrapped cheeses and ‘blended’ butter in an grocer’s; look at the hideous rows of tins which usurp more and more of the space in any food-shop, even a dairy; look at a sixpenny Swiss roll or a twopenny ice-cream; look at the filthy chemical by-product that people will pour down their throats under the name of beer.

Wherever you look you will see some slick machine-made article triumphing over the old-fashioned article that still tastes of something other than sawdust. And what applies to food applies also to furniture, houses, clothes, books, amusements and everything else that makes up our environment. These are now millions of people, and they are increasing every year, to whom the blaring of a radio is not only a more acceptable but a more normal background to their thoughts than the lowing of cattle or the song of birds. The mechanisation of the world could never proceed very far while taste, even the taste-buds of the tongue, remained uncorrupted, because in that case most of the products of the machine would be simply unwanted. In a healthy world there would be no demand for tinned food, aspirins, gramophones, gas-pipe chairs, machine guns, daily newspapers, telephones, motor-cars, etc. etc.; and on the other hand there would be a constant demand for the things the machine cannot produce. But meanwhile the machine is here, and its corrupting effects are almost irresistible. One inveighs against it, but one goes on using it. Even a bare-arse savage, given the change, will learn the vices of civilisation within a few months. Mechanisation leads to the decay of taste, the decay of taste leads to demand for machine-made articles and hence to more mechanisation, and so a vicious circle is established.”



Don't Frack Our Future - 2013, July 20 / ANIMATION
I’ve spent about 4 months creating the animation for an anti-fracking campaign for “Lush”, a UK company. Done in Flash, composited in After Effects, here it is:


If you want to keep up with future finished projects, I recommend that you subscribe to my ‘Incubate Pictures’ channel on Youtube.

And should you be interested in learning about the techniques I used to create the works above, I’ve taught some courses in Flash animation for Lynda.com. If you’re a customer, and want to learn character animation in Flash, those courses are the best way to do so.



Paranoia - 2013, July 20 / HUMOUR
Massive Spike in Number of Paranoid ‘Patriot’ Groups
Gun control and immigration reform are seen as factors in the rise of conspiracy-minded, right-wing extremist groups.
Very true. This country is full to the brim of paranoid loons.




The Luzumiyat - 2012, Dec 18 / LITERATURE
luzumiyat

A work by an amazing man, Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri – his poem, the Luzumiyat. It consists of just over 100 quatrains. This is the 1920 translation by Ameen Rihani, whose book is posted in full, below. Al Ma’arri was a true skeptic, with a world-view that seems distinctly modern. I’ve pasted the text of the Luzumiyat at the top, then follow with the entire book, which is my corrected version of the doc on google’s site, which was riddled with computer generated typos. I’ve corrected them as best I can. I’ve also moved the quatrains from the middle of the book to the top – a better choice for a blog page.

It should be noted that most of the works of this famed agnostic were destroyed by the Crusaders when they flattened his hometown during one of their weekend excursions. More recently, US/EU backed rebels in Syria decapitated his statue, in their quest for freedom.

Carouse, ye Sovereign Lords, the wheel will roll...
from THE LUZUMIYAT OF ABU’L-ALA

11
Ay, like the circles which the sun doth spin
Of gossamer, we end as we begin;
Our feet are on the heads of those that pass,
But ever their Graves around our Cradles grin.

...

15
With tombs and ruined temples groans the land
In which our forbears in the drifting sand
Arise as dunes upon the track of Time
To mark the cycles of the moving hand

16
Of Fate. Alas! and we shall follow soon
Into the night eternal or the noon;
The wayward daughters of the spheres return
Unto the bosom of their sun or moon.

...

18
Tread lightly, for the mighty that have been
Might now be breathing in the dust unseen;
Lightly, the violets beneath thy feet
Spring from the mole of some Arabian queen.

19
Many a grave embraces friend and foe
Behind the curtain of this sorry show
Of love and hate inscrutable; alas!
The Fates will always reap the while they sow.

...

21
And still we weave, and still we are content
In slaving for the sovereigns who have spent
The savings of the toiling of the mind
Upon the glory of Dismemberment.

22
Nor king nor slave the hungry Days will spare;
Between their fanged Hours alike we fare:
Anon they bound upon us while we play
Unheeding at the threshold of their Lair.

...

26
And like a spider’s house or sparrow’s nest,
The Sultan’s palace, though upon the crest
Of glory’s mountain, soon or late must go:
Ay, all abodes to ruin are addrest.

27
So, too, the creeds of Man: the one prevails
Until the other comes; and this one fails
When that one triumphs; ay, the lonesome world
Will always want the latest fairy-tales.

Complete text here.



Collective Insanity - 2012, Dec 14 / OCCULT/ IDEAS/ QUOTES


CARL JUNG:
“Indeed, it is becoming ever more obvious that it is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer but man himself who is man’s greatest danger to man, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics, which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes. The supreme danger which threatens individuals as well as whole nations is a psychic danger. Reason has proved itself completely powerless, precisely because its arguments have an effect only on the conscious mind and not on the unconscious. The greatest danger of all comes from the masses, in whom the effects of the unconscious pile up cumulatively and the reasonableness of the conscious mind is stifled. Every mass organization is a latent danger just as much as a heap of dynamite is. It lets loose effects which no man wants and no man can stop. It is therefore in the highest degree desirable that a knowledge of psychology should spread so that men can understand the source of the supreme dangers that threaten them. Not by arming to the teeth, each for itself, can the nations defend themselves in the long run from the frightful catastrophes of modern war. The heaping up of arms is itself a call to war. Rather must they recognize those psychic conditions under which the unconscious [tsunami-like] bursts the dykes of consciousness and overwhelms it.”
J.G. BALLARD:
“… We’re not reasonable and rational creatures. Far from it. We resort to reason when it suits us. For most people life is comfortable today, and we have the spare time to be unreasonable if we choose to be. We’re like bored children. We’ve been on holiday for too long, and we’ve been given too many presents. Anyone who’s had children knows that the greatest danger is boredom. Boredom, and a secret pleasure in one’s own malice. Together they can spur a remarkable ingenuity.

You’ve seen the people around here. Their lives are empty. Install a new kitchen, buy another car, take a trip to some beach hotel.

People are bored, even though they don’t realize it … There’s one thing left that can put some energy into their lives, give them a sense of direction … Madness … A willed insanity, the sort that we higher primates thrive on.”

”Elective insanity is waiting inside us, waiting inside us to come out when we need it. We’re talking primate behaviour at its most extreme. Witch-hunts, auto-da-fes, heretic burnings, the hot poker shoved up the enemy’s rear, gibbets along the skyline. Willed madness can infect a housing estate or a whole nation.



There's No Tomorrow - 2012, Feb 13 / ANIMATION
This was a long term project - begun in 2005, completed early in 2012.




The Snafu Principle - 2011, Feb 2 / IDEAS/ QUOTES
This may go some way to explaining some of the shock and apparent lack of unpreparedness of the world’s nations to the various events that blindside them: “The SNAFU Principle”, explained by Robert Anton Wilson:
It’s what I call the “snafu principle.” Communication only occurs between equals–real communication, that is–because when you are dealing with people above you in a hierarchy, you learn not to tell them anything they don’t want to hear. If you tell them anything they don’t want to hear, the response is, “One more word Bumstead and I’ll fire you!” Or in the military, “One more word and you’re court-martialed.” It’s throughout the whole system.

So the higher up in the hierarchy you go, the more lies are being told to flatter those above them. So those at the top have no idea what is going on at all. Those at the bottom have to adjust to the rules made by those at the top who don’t know what’s going on. Those at the top can write rules about this, that and the other, while those at the bottom have got to adjust reality to fit the rules as much as they can.
More:
So I call this the burden of omniscience: those on the top are supposed to be doing the seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and all the sensing, apprehending and conceptualizing for the whole society and those at the bottom have to adjust to what those at the top think based on all the misinformation flowing up in a hierarchy where any speaking of the truth can get you punished.



Digital Orrery - 2011, Feb 2 / OCCULT
A digital orrery. It has two settings: Earth centered (Tychonian), and Sun centered (Copernican). You can select any time to see the positions of the planets, by clicking on the outer ring at the zodiac:

 



Rebel Songs! - 2011, Jan 29 / HUMOUR
A skit from Irish sketch comedy show “The Savage Eye”:




To We or not to We - 2010, Dec 8 / IDEAS
This is about the abuse of the first-person plural, or WE-Syndrome. WS is nicely demonstrated by the British Comedy duo, Mitchell and Webb, using the example of a typical sports looper:



Gary Brecher:
“Most people are not rational, they are TRIBAL: “my gang yay, your gang boo!” It really is that simple. The rest is cosmetics.”
If only WE-syndrome was limited to sports fans! When reading sites like theoildrum.com for analysis of Peak Oil and resource news, WE-syndrome is there as sure as herpes. Comments such as these are common:
“WE need to build x amount of solar panels…”; “All WE need to do is switch to Geothermal…”; “Once WE make breakthroughs in thin-film solar panels…” etc. etc. etc
Who is this “WE”?

We-people write as if they were part of a collective, sharing mutual influence and power (having a "national conversation", as in that awful PR cliche). In thread after thread, various individuals will propose the solution. It always involved “US”…and “OUR” options…things that “WE” would do to solve the problem. The delusion of 'having a say' serves to distract these people from the fact that they're impotent.

Systemic problems do have systemic solutions - but sadly, any attempts at collective action are soon hampered by the inability of the participants to engage in any real, meaningful action (the sort that requires real-world we-ness).

On the SF website io9.com, this abuse of “WE” can reach comical proportions, where writing in the first person plural is the 'house style'. At the announcement of a new scientific breakthrough, the headline will almost invariably be a variant of “WE may have made an amazing breakthrough in materials…”, or “WE have found an amazing new planet”. Correction! WE did no such thing. Scientists and engineers, after years of rigorous study, hard work and sacrifice have made the discovery or breakthrough. WE did diddly squat, other than READ about it on the internet – and fund it through a very small percentage of total taxation.

Whenever there’s a dark story on the above mentioned io9.com, there’s an abrupt difference in emphasis. A recent example being the accidental destruction of a rare beach ecosystem caused by the filming of the TV show “Game of Thrones”. The article read:
“…one environmentalist is calling HBO real-life (bad guys): They covered a protected beach in Malta with fake sand, resulting in “total elimination” of the ecosystem.”.
It did not read:
“WE may have destroyed a rare ecosystem”.
Why is it “WE” when something good happens, but “THEY” when something bad happens? This is the "I didn't do it" mentality of Bart Simpson.

If a new Pixar movie comes out, would the headline read:
“WE have just made another animated classic”?
The idea is absurd and insulting to the animators who toiled for years on the project - but it’s no less silly to take credit for scientific breakthroughs that belong to others, surely?

Doug Stanhope gets comedy out of the Xenophopic/Chickenhawk/Jingo abuse of We:
And deep ecologist Derrick Jensen (who, ironically, over-uses the first person frequently) does a funny takedown of “WE”, and exposes the psychological process of “Identification” that underlies it.



Orson Welles and Chartres - 2010, Nov 24 / ARTS
Orson Welles provides 2m30s of insight. From “F For Fake” (1974):



And this has been standing here for centuries. The premier work of man perhaps in the whole western world, and it’s without a signature: Chartres.

A celebration to God’s glory and to the dignity of man. All that’s left most artists seem to feel these days, is man. Naked, poor, forked, radish. There aren’t any celebrations.

Ours, the scientists keep telling us, is a universe which is disposable. You know, it might be just this one anonymous glory of all things, this rich stone forest, this epic chant, this gaiety, this grand choiring shout of affirmation, which we choose when all our cities are dust, to stand intact, to mark where we have been, to testify to what we had it in us, to accomplish.

Our works in stone, in paint, in print are spared, some of them for a few decades, or a millennium or two, but everything must finally fall in war or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash. The triumphs and the frauds, the treasures and the fakes.

A fact of life. We’re going to die.

“Be of good heart,” cry the dead artists out of the living past. Our songs will all be silenced — but what of it?

Go on singing.

Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much.



Saturn: it's all Gravy - 2010, Nov 11 / IDEAS
Two-mile high mountains of ice …on Saturn’s rings!



Without skipping a beat, one of the special snowflakes on Earth managed to come up with this immortal comment:
I guess I’m more interested in the practical application of scientific discovery than the discovery itself. Great that this can inform our understanding the shape of distant galaxies, but what does that mean for me today?
Yeah like knowing about planets n'things is cool and like totally awesome, but I really only care about what flavours of soda pop we can get out of it. Have you seen that Facebook group 'I f*cking love science?' yo man it's like so dope, got neil degas tyson n stuff.



Card Calendar - 2010, Oct 27 / OCCULT
cezanne

Prepare for bogglement:
http://hilgemeier.gmxhome.de/calendrix/cardmath.htm

A typical card deck has 52 cards – like the 52 weeks of the year. In the four symbol groups we may, with some right, recognize the four seasons (spring = Hearts, summer = Clubs, autumn = Spades, winter = Diamonds). Or order the classic four elements to the warm (red) and cold (black) seasons (fire = Hearts = spring, air = Diamonds = summer, water = Clubs = fall, earth = Spades = winter).

Fifty-two weeks times seven make 364 days – a year. Add the Joker and we get even closer to the solar year of about 365.25 days. The cipher sum of 364 is 3+6+4 = 13, the number of moon phases in a year, just like number of cards in each suit (4 * 13 = 52).

Now add the values of the cards, ace = 1, two = 2, three = 3, …, nine = 9, ten = 10, Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13. Surprise: the sum is 364 = 4 * ( (13) * (13+1) / 2 ) = 4 * 91.

It goes on: Divide the number of values of a single suit (91) by the holy number seven and we get 13 again! The cipher sum of the 52 cards is also 5 + 2 = 7.

To get even more astonished, now count the letters of the names of each card

English:Ace(3), Two(3), Three(5), Four(4), Five(4), Six(3), Seven(5), Eight(5), Nine(4), Ten(3), Jack(4), Queen(5), King(4).
There are 52 cards and the letter sum of one suit is
3 + 3 + 5 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 5 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 4 = 52.

This also holds for French: As(2), Deux(4), Trois(5), Quatre(6), Cinq(4), Six(3), Sept(4), Huit(4), Neuf(4), Dix(3), Valet(5), Reine(5), Roi(3).
2 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 5 + 5 + 3 = 52 (Reine = Dame)

And German:As(2), zwo(3), drei(4), vier(4), fünf(4), sechs(5), sieben(6), acht(4), neun(4), zehn(4), Bub’(3), Dame(4), König(5).
2 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 5 = 52 (zwo = zwei, Bub’ = Bube) Don’t force it – use a bigger hammer

The sum of the “people” (Jack, Queen, King) is always 13, in these three languages. It follows that the sum of the rest of the cards must be 39, because 52 = 13 * 4 (the four seasons again!)