Archive for May, 2010

The Cat That Talked, Fought For Your Right To Free Speech

Monday, May 17th, 2010

In a list compiling the most famous talking animals, we are introduced to Blackie the Cat, a novelty act in the 1980s in which the titular feline would meow “I love you” and “I want my mama.”

However, after the bright lights of variety shows like “That’s Incredible” faded, the cat and his owners took to the Georgia streets to make a buck. Shortly after, Blackie’s speech became a first amendment flash point.

After some complaints from locals, police informed Carl that he would need to get a business license in order to keep up Blackie’s street show. Carl paid the $50 fee for a license, but something about it rubbed him the wrong way.

So Carl sued the city of Augusta, under the pretense that the city’s business license code mentions many types of occupations that require a license, but a talking cat show was not one of them. But that wasn’t the only issue Carl had –he also claimed the city was infringing on Blackie’s First Amendment Right to Free Speech.

Carl lost his case, but he appealed the ruling until it came before a federal court. The argument was finally closed when three presiding judges declared that the business license ordinance allowed for other, unspecified types of businesses to require a license, which would encompass a talking cat performer.

As for the First Amendment violation, the courts said the law did not apply because Blackie was not human, and therefore not protected under the Bill of Rights.

Yet another soul crushed under the steel wheels of an oppressive judicial system prejudice to talking cats.


No Matter How Gross We Are, We Likely Won’t Contaminate Mars

Friday, May 14th, 2010

There has long been a school of thought that bacteria from Earth could contaminate possible life on Mars should be take a man made trip to the Red Planet. However, a new study out of the University of Central Florida says no matter how many smallpox blankets we bring, it is unlikely to make a difference.

Ultimately it is unlikely such microorganisms will be able to replicate once on the Martian surface, the research suggests.

“Without replication, terrestrial microorganisms are very unlikely to contaminate a landing site,” Andrew Schuerger, one of the study’s researchers, told “Thus, it is unlikely that spacecraft microbes will compromise the search for organics or the search for life on Mars.”

Mars has been one of the primary places that scientists have expanded their quest for extraterrestrial life, and while Curiosity is not intended to be a life-seeking mission, it is still important for a rover to have minimal bacterial impact on the red planet.

Screw it, the first man on Mars should be stained with BBQ sauce and sporting an unseemly running nose while wiping his hands with red rocks.


Sunken Islands Found In The Caribbean

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Scientists find sunken islands in Caribbean - The Local.jpg

Could it be Atlantis? Lost’s mystery island in the sideways universe? Either way, there are some sunken islands at the bottom of the Caribbean Ocean.

During their six weeks in the waters north of Venezuela and west of the Antilles, the experts from the University of Greifswald analysed rock samples from depths of more than 1,000 metres.

The “Meteor” crew then used echo sounding to measure the ocean floor, an exercise which revealed significant differences in depth compared to current marine charts.

In fact, some of the underwater mountains listed on charts did not exist at all, while other areas thought to be flat showed rises of up to 1,000 metres, geologist Martin Meschede said.

The team’s biggest surprise came from the samples they dredged from the ocean floor, which showed stones that could only have come from very shallow depths.

The scientist also believe that the islands were volcanic. No word on if “volcanic” means a nuclear bomb exploded, therefore resetting the timeline.

[The Local]

Who Is Invited To The Ultimate Screening Of Planet Of The Apes?

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

One movie. Five people, living or dead, at the screening. Who and why?

Today’s screening: “Planet of the Apes”

Embraced as an indispensible entry in America’s sci-fi film canon, Franklin Schaffner’s 1968 “Planet of the Apes” told the story of three astronauts who, after embarking on a near-light-speed space expedition in the year 2006, wake up 1,972 years in the future on a strange planet populated by an advanced society of super-intelligent apes, and primitive tribes of feral humans. More than just a zany series of ape-amok misadventures (but certainly not short on them), the movie ultimately reveals that the mystery planet is none other than the post-apocalyptic Earth, ravaged by man’s nuclear follies.

1. Charles Darwin (1809-1882), Naturalist

Dealing with everything from orchids to apes, Darwin published a variety of theories relating to common ancestry, sexual selection, evolution and the transmutation of species. Given that he didn’t live long enough to see the advent of motion pictures, it would be delightful to watch the old limey’s beard frizz as he observes a city full of chatty, sentient apes running a hierarchal society that has reached the tentative acme of near-human cultural development that exists between the domestication of livestock and the ability to mass produce scratch-and-win games. “What debased natural process wrought such insanity? How did humans revert back to such a state of barbarism and wild nudeness. What’s an astronaut?” On the upside, the rolling should be a lot more comfortable now that he’s out of his grave.

2. John Glenn (1921- ), Astronaut

The first American ever smushed inside a capsule and launched into orbit around the Earth, John Glenn made two space flights: one pre-Apes in 1962, and one post-Apes in 1997. Aboard the Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7, as he made three complete circuits around the planet, Glenn’s biggest fears were probably hull breaches, incinerating upon re-entry and space madness. But that was way back in the days before anyone had imagined that a group of well-meaning astronauts could end up wrangled into medical research by sinister apes who hijacked the future of man. On his second mission, a nine-day jaunt aboard the space shuttle Discovery, I bet all he was thinking about was apes, space and the transience of human love as it applies to apes. I don’t know if re-watching the movie will help to further quiet these fears or simply re-awaken them, but if he gets so freaked out that he has to step outside, I think we can all agree not to let him back in until he picks up some snacks.

3. Jane Goodall (1934- ), Primatologist
Best known for parlaying her obsessive ape gazing into a successful career as an observer and scholar of social and familial relations among chimps, Goodall is the perfect person to explain the inner-workings of Ape City’s social class system. Gorillas are the warriors, enforcers and hunters. Orangutans are the bureaucrats and litigators. Chimps are the scientists and philosophers. Why, Jane Goodall, why? Are chimps actually smarter than the other two species, or merely more motivated to pursue upper level educational degrees? Are orangutans preternaturally adept at administrative tasks, or has their natural understanding of macroeconomics pigeon-holed them into paper pushing and officious drudgery? Are most gorillas police officers because of their strength or because they failed the FBI eligibility exam? I can’t possibly see how this falls outside your scientific expertise.

4. Frederic Bartholdi (1834-1904), Sculptor
Famous for designing “Liberty Enlightening the World,” or, as it’s known in our typically moronified American parlance, “The Statue of Liberty,” Bartholdi personally selected New York Harbor as the site for his creation, and supposedly modeled the statue’s face after the face of his mother and the body after the body of his wife (resulting in a bizarre oedipal fever dream of a figure that’s high screwability factor exists only in relation to the opposite combination of features). Obviously, watching “Planet of the Apes” would be a bitter-sweet victory lap for the French sculptor, who would get see his art portrayed as a singular icon representing all of modern human civilization, but also three-quarters buried, relegated to the Forbidden Zone and used in the service of an out-sized twist ending that’s as ridiculously awesome as it is awesomely ridiculous. Also, we’ll show him art work from “Escape From New York” and scenes from “Cloverfield” and “Ghostbusters II.” Let’s see a smile, Bartholdi! Harold Ramis never used a remixed Jackie Wilson tune to drive any of da Vinci’s sculptures into a haunted art museum.

5. M. Night Shyamalan (1970- ), Filmmaker

See, M.? This is how it’s done – smart enough to take seriously, exaggerated enough to be entertaining and used to cap off a story a whole hell of a lot more satisfying than, “once, a long time ago, there was this village… Psyche! It was now that the village was. I mean is. Whoops. I’m late for my cameo. Keep on swinging!”

Primate’s Janky Teeth Defy Classification

Thursday, May 13th, 2010


A newly discovered African primate who lived 37 million years ago, is baffling researchers who can’t seem to classify it among any known family tree. The biggest mystery? The primate’s weird teeth.

“It comes as a bit of a shock to find a primate that defies classification,” said study researcher Erik Seiffert of New York’s Stony Brook University.

The 12 fossil teeth, the only remnants the paleontologists have of this primate so far, were found in northern Egypt. The new species is called Nosmips aenigmaticus.

During the last 30 years or so, three major primate groups have been established as being present in Africa some 55 million to 34 million years ago: early monkeys, lemur-like primates, and an extinct group called adapiforms, Seiffert said.

Nosmips’ teeth place this primate in Africa at the same time. What’s more, its teeth suggest it could be an evolutionary oddity that is not closely related to any of these groups.

Good luck on the Molar Mystery!

[Live Science]

Magnetically Induced Hallucinations, And You

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

skitched-20100513-131607.jpgWhat is Transcranial magnetic stimulation?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an extraordinary technique pioneered by neuroscientists to explore the workings of the brain. The idea is to place a human in a rapidly changing magnetic field that is powerful enough to induce currents in neurons in the brain. Then sit back and see what happens.

Since TMS was invented in the 1980s, it has become a powerful way of investigating how the brain works. Because the fields can be tightly focused, it is possible to generate currents in very specific areas of the brain to see what they do.

Focus the field in the visual cortex, for example, and the induced eddys cause the subject to ‘see’ lights that appear as discs and lines. Move the the field within the cortex and the subject sees the lights move too.

This has led some researchers to think about taking the technology from the lab and into the field where it could have all sorts of uses from the heat of battle to office Christmas party shenanigans.

[Technology Review]

Dan Aykroyd Explains Why 9/11 Ruined Our Relationship With Law Breaking Aliens

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Larry King’s ratings are in the toilet and he’s going through a very public divorce in which his child’s baseball coach has admitted to spending time in King’s estranged wife’s dugout.

So how does he keep it together?

Invite on Dan Aykroyd and let him ramble on about aliens breaking the law and being disgusted by 9/11.


The Center Of The Earth Is Crystal

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Science may now confirm what the dude screaming on Venice Beach has theorized for years. The center of the Earth is made of crystal.

The outer core is composed mostly of liquid iron. The inner core is solid ball about 750 miles in diameter, or a little less than the maximum width of the state of Texas, which formed as the Earth cooled over geologic time, said David Stephenson, a geologist at CalTech.

“The center of the earth is literally a crystal,” said Stephenson. Over time, it grew and now is no longer a single crystal but an aggregate of them.

In the mid-1990s, geologists began to notice an interesting thing. Seismic waves traveling north-south were reaching their destinations about 3 percent faster than waves moving along east-west paths.

“It’s one of these things that’s been detected for some time but kind of why it occurs has been somewhat of a puzzle,” Sleep said. They didn’t know why, but then again, the middle of the globe is perhaps the most difficult place to gather data on Earth.

At least we’ve now locked in on the new status symbol soon to be draped around the neck’s of rappers and heiresses.


Russian Man Claims He Rescued Yeti From Freezing River

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010


So awesome.

KEMEROVO, April 29 (Itar-Tass) ? A resident of the village Senzaskie Kichi, Kemerovo Region, hunter Afanasy Kiskorov, claims that he rescued a Yeti during a spring flood on the mountainous river of Kabyrza. His actions were witnessed by local residents, Itar-Tass learnt at the administration of the Tashtagol district of the Kemerovo Region, a supposed habitation place of a hominid.

While fishing, Kiskorov and other local hunters heard strong ice crushing and shrill howling. Rushing to the piercing shriek, the huntsmen saw “a creature, covered with dark-brown fur,” in the river some ten metres from the bank.

“The strange creature, looking like a huge man, tried several times to get out of water and to stand up on both feet, but dropped into the water each time and was howling. The hunters stood frozen, and only Kiskorov hurried to offer help: he threw the creature the dry trunk of a young aspen tree, the creature clutched to it and crawled to the bank,” the district administration said.

This, of course, means the Yeti owes him a life debt. One only repaid through faithful servitude in a multitude of space adventures.


Scottish Police Believed In Loch Ness Monster, Conspired To Protect It

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010


Newly released government documents confirm that Scottish police believed there was a strange, beautiful creature in the Highlands lake of Loch Ness, and no one was going to kill it on their watch.

The files from the National Archive of Scotland show that local officials asked Britain’s Parliament to investigate the issue and confirm the monster’s existence — in the interests of science.

“That there is some strange creature in Loch Ness now seems beyond doubt,” wrote William Fraser, a senior police officer, “but that the police have any power to protect it is very doubtful.”

…Fraser’s letter to officials in London warned that he feared hunters Peter Kent and Marion Stirling were “determined to catch the monster dead or alive” and planned to use a “special harpoon gun.”

Kent was preparing a major operation including 20 experienced hunters and Fraser said he warned of the “desirability of having the creature left alone.”

Why wasn’t this a Saturday morning cartoon show when I was growing up?


Penn State Using Acoustic Scientists To Optimize Drunken Screaming For Their Benefit

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Penn State_s Audible Assault | Research - ISNS.jpg

College football is a loud sport and in a game as verbally-dependent as football if a visiting team can’t relay their plays effectively or make last minute adjustments, it can be huge advantage for a home team. So it is no surprise that Penn State has not only done scientific research to determine the veracity, direction and variability of you and your hammered dorm friends screaming obscenities at the opposing quarterback and his dumb face… they plan to make it louder.

Next season, the university’s athletic department will put into play a new strategy to make its field even louder thanks to a team of acoustic scientists. The goal is to send a deafening wall of sound at the opposing team’s offensive line.

“We’re not going to let visiting teams get comfortable, and if you can’t get comfortable, you’re probably not going to perform as well,” said Guido D’Elia, director for communications and branding for Penn State football.

Working with D’Elia in 2007-08, Penn State graduate student Andrew Barnard recorded crowd noise during three home games. Using 11 sound meters strategically placed around the field, he compared volume levels when each team had the ball.

When the Penn State’s Nittany Lions were on the offense the noise levels inside 107,282-seat Beaver Stadium reached 75 decibels on the field. That’s about as loud as a car radio playing at a reasonable volume.

But the noise skyrocketed to 110 decibels — 50 times as loud — when visiting teams were on offense, drowning out the calls of the quarterback and making last-minute adjustments at the line of scrimmage very difficult.

We are guessing the exact strategy for amplifying the sound in the direction of the quarterback and offensive line is something they are going to keep close to the vest. However, if an Ohio State left guard passes out on the field whilst blood spills from his ears, you’ll know it’s working.

[Inside Science from Improbable Research]

Chilean Earthquakes Create Massive Influx Of Ghost Sightings

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010


The string of earthquake in Chile not only inspired an outpouring of foreign aide and worldwide attention, it’s also been the impetus for a ton of recently-minted ghosts to rattle around the areas in which they died.

Shadows cross the Cardenal Raul Silva Henriquez Bridge in Constitucion; Cell phone screens light up suddenly, as if trying to receive phone calls. The moans and tears of children and their mothers resonate throughout the wooded Curanipe camping grounds, where thirty people lost their lives on February 27th.

Situations such as these are being reported by residents of Region de Maule, who claim that they repeat over and over in the early morning hours. “It’s the people who died here. They’re asking to be found and be given a burial,” says Juan Morales Morales, who works nights doing repairs on the Constitución Bridge. Dozens of people died in this area while camping at Isla Orrego, at the mouth of the Maule River.

We’re guessing a regular morning ghost symphony of screams and cell phone rings won’t bolster the camping tourism in this area.


Pentagon Releases Details On LSD, Mind Control Experiments

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010


Not exactly Men Who Stare At Goats, but here is some recently FOIA’d info about how the Pentagon oversaw experiments into forced narcotics dosing and mind control, all in an effort to get an edge on the godless communists in the Cold War.

Initially funded by the Navy, the project set out to study the effects of brain concussion. Soon after, scientists noted that a blow to the head prompted amnesia, leading to the pursuit of a drug-based technique to “induce brain concussion…without physical trauma.” Shortly thereafter, the project was transferred entirely to the CIA, because it involved “human experiments…not easily justifiable on medical-therapeutic grounds.”

Other programs, described briefly focused on mind-control. MK-NAOMI was after “severely incapacitating and lethal materials… [and] gadgetry for their dissemination,” and MK-CHICKWIT was designed to “identify new drug developments in Europe and Asia,” and then “obtain samples.”

Edgewood Laboratories, where many of the programs were carried out, is also identified as having tested an incapacitating chemical on prisoners and military personnel without the agency’s approval. The drug, EA#3167, was “appl[ied] to the skin” of subjects using an adhesive tape.

Read way more at the Danger Room blog.


New Study Classifies Colossal Squid As Pretty Lazy

Monday, May 10th, 2010


The myth of the colossal squid as a fearsome aggressive predator has been sunk…

Measuring longer than a school bus and sporting tentacles covered in razor-sharp hooks, the colossal squid is the stuff of nightmares. However, new research suggests the enormous sea creature may not be the fierce hunter of legend.

This finding not only upends science’s understanding of the squid itself, but forces a reevaluation of its role in the entire ecosystem where it lives some 3,000 to 6,000 feet (914 to 1,830 meters) beneath the Antarctic sea.

This new view of the colossal squid comes from data analysis made by marine biologists Rui Rosa, of the University of Lisboa, Portugal, and Brad Seibel, of the University of Rhode Island. Rosa and Seibel looked at the relationship between metabolism (how the body’s cells turn food into energy) and body size for smaller squids in the same family and used the information to predict the metabolism of the colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni).

(The so-called giant squid belongs to the genus Architeuthis, a different group of animals from the colossal squid.)

They found, the squid would’ve had a slower metabolism and so moved slower than expected, waiting for prey, rather than running it down. “Everyone thought it was an aggressive predator, but the data suggests otherwise,” Rosa told LiveScience. “It’s a squid that weights half a ton with hooks in its tentacles, but our findings show it’s more like just a big blob.”

And lo, the reconfiguring of the Giant Squid’s reputation begins. Out with the “menacing death machine”, in with the “lovable fatso”. The Hurley of the sea.

[Live Science]

A Quick Summation Of Timothy Leary’s Stance On UFOs

Monday, May 10th, 2010


UFOs? Horse apples! At least according to Timothy Leary. In case you are unaware of the outspoke academic and LSD poster boy’s theory on contact with alien life, here it is:

Leary felt that intelligent life exists throughout infinite space. But he felt that it was less “literal” and “nuts and bolts” than Ufologists believed, and that it was more of a mental, spiritual and interdimensional phenomena. He did not believe that spacecraft were the only thing that ET used to travel space. He said that it was unlikely that “ET packaged alien beings in spaceships and sent them hundreds of light-years through space so that they could land in farm pastures and rape little old ladies in Iowa.” He believed that mind, matter and space were far more complex than that simplistic model. Leary, though, was a bit contradicted on this though. When he passed, his own ashes were shot into space in a rocket.

So now you know.

[UFO Digest]

Did 80s Interdimensional Visitors Use The Classifieds To Communicate With Each Other?

Monday, May 10th, 2010


Let’s assume we live a universe of infinite dimensions. Let’s also assume that in one of those dimensions, we are aware of the this fact and have found a way to burrow a path another, concurrent dimension. Finally, let us assume it is 1985 and you need to communicate with other travelers from your point of origin.

How do you get in touch? How do you do it under the radar?

The alt weekly personals… duh.

In the fall of 1985, the Washington, D.C. City Paper featured a small ad in its “Personals” column which read: “O.T.O, A.A.: where are you, brothers and sisters?”

Readers of this section of the free paper state that the bulk of the messages in the personals are communications between members of the gay community, drug dealers, illegal immigrants, etc. dealers. The aforementioned ad, however, hailed the attention of anyone able to recognize the initials for the Ordo Templo Orientalis and Argentinium Astrum–occult lodges of the early 20th century, which might perhaps be experiencing a rebirth toward the latter decades of the same century. On the subject of these hidden messages in our cities’ newspapers and journals, Jacques Bergier, the prolific French author and scientist, commented: “I’ve often wondered if certain strange classified ads in the newspapers are in fact messages between superintelligent beings.” Bergier, coauthor of The Morning of the Magicians, dedicated a great deal of study to the problem of cryptology as a branch of paranormal research, and he also believed that even more detailed secret messages could be conveyed under the guise of specialized works, novels or even philosophical tracts.

Much more on this in the full article.