Red Pills of the Week — May 25th
Greetings, fellow Coppertops! On this week’s mission through the Fortean Matrix we’ll explore disgusting medical procedures, hypocritical corporative statements & the passing of a notable musician & counter-culture hero. We’ll also investigate papal exorcisms & the conjunction of different Fortean phenomena on a single location –much to the chagrin of those investigators who stubbornly refuse to seek a more holistic perspective to these mysteries. And after we peek through the fuzziness of the quantum micro-cosmos, we’ll observe different ways in which 3D-printing will radically alter our lives in the years to come. Put on your sunglasses & meet me on the other side!
10 Our first stop is in the state of Oklahoma, where an F-5 tornado ravaged the properties & lives of many families –specially the parents of the 9 children who lost their lives when the monstrous storm destroyed two elementary schools. If you saw the movie Twister you’ll recall that an F-5 tornado –the most powerful in the Fujita scale– is described as ‘the finger of God,’ though tragedies like these will always put even the most stalwart religious convictions to the test…
What’s also been put to the test is my patience with Alex Jones, conspiranoid fear-mongerer extraordinaire, who on May 21st told his audience that the government could have caused the tornado through one of their ultra-secret weather-modifying weapons, a plan so mischievous & machiavellian that only a madman could have come up w– oooooh!
Here’s my alternative theory: the Oklahoma tornado was triggered by all the hot air exhaled by Jones’ mouth. So maybe it’s time to put a lid on it.
But now it’s time to talk about a different kind of crap: one that’s supposed to make you healthier! Believe it or not, fecal transplants ARE a thing, and they are about to become regulated by the FDA. The yucky procedure involves transferring the stool of a healthy person into the gut of a patient with an infection showing resistance to antibiotics, and it seems to be pretty effective:
According to one published study, the process of infusing a the stool of a healthy person into the intestines of another (fecal transplant) was successful in curing 15 out of 16 patients suffering from a recurrent diarrheal infection of the problem microbe Clostridium difficile. This bacterium is one of the so-called problem bacteria, noted for being resistant to many antibiotics.
Given that fecal transplants are being tried more often, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stepped and has declared that the transplants require review and regulation. The FDA has declared that fecal transplants meet the definition of a biologic therapy. This means that researchers who want to perform the procedure will now have to submit an investigational new drug (IND) application, via the FDA.
So it seems the phrase “eat shit & die!” will now be replaced for “eat shit & get well!” –though it doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
One company who is always trying to force their crap into our throats is Monsanto, that Frankenstenian über-corporation that likes to present itself as the savior of mankind. According to Monsanto’s CEO Hugh Grant, the people who oppose genetically-modified foods are guilty of ‘elitism’, and because these well-to-do, latte-sipping hipsters can afford to fork in a few extra bucks to buy organic food at their favorite deli market, they don’t care about the starving masses in the 3rd world who would benefit from GM crops:
“This place is getting busier and more crowded,” Grant said. “As long as you’ve got money in your back pocket and you drive your station wagon to the supermarket on weekends, then it’s out of sight out of mind, so far.”
A Forbes’ list multimillionaire accusing ME of being an elitist! This is Daily Show material, folks.
But the little detail that Mr. Grant chose to leave out in his rant, is the fact that genetic modification has been of little use to increase the yields of crops:
CGIAR – the international consortium of research centres that developed [Scuba Rice, which beats flooding by surviving 17 days underwater and still achieving enhanced yields] (and kicked off the Green Revolution more than half a century ago) – has also used non-GM techniques to produce more than 30 varieties of drought-tolerant maize, which have increased farmers’ yields by 20 to 30 per cent across 13 African countries; climbing beans that have trebled production in Central Africa; and wheats that thrive on salty soils. A host of other successes include blight-resistant potatoes and crops enriched with vitamin A, iron and other essential nutrients.
Genetic modification, by contrast, has so far mainly been confined to developing crops that tolerate herbicides (often manufactured by the same company, thus encouraging their use) and resist pests. They have done little to increase yields per se – though they have helped by controlling weeds and insects – while varieties designed to withstand drought and floods, and improve nutrition, are only now beginning to emerge.
CGIAR is Linux. Monsanto is Microsoft, and what Grant doesn’t want the elitists to tell the rest of the world, is that his company doesn’t give a damn about small farmers in developing countries, who often can’t afford to buy their seeds & pesticides. If opposing a company’s goal to copyright all the crops that are to be planted in the world makes me an elitist, then so be it.
So why do I bother to include this news on the Pills? Well, for starters I happen to be a gamer –and it’s my column, so tough luck!– but also because some of the console’s characteristics raises a lot of red flags involving the issue of privacy –if the box is supposed to be always connected to the Internet, and its camera is always going to be listening & watching to everything you do, then how are we to prevent Xbox ONE to turn into Big Brother?
But the other reason I chose to mention the Xbox, is because I feel this is one of the last digital territories to be conquered by us Forteans. With the advent of social media the consumption & dissemination of ‘fringe topics’ has sky-rocketed: We have plenty of Fortean blogs, podcasts, e-books & videos; but what about Fortean games, designed by Forteans to Forteans? those are painfully absent, with a few honorary exceptions –& those exceptions are almost exclusive to PCs.
Granted: developing a videogame is still a very difficult & time-consuming endeavor, which demands not only a great deal of expertise but also a healthy amount of financial investment. But the same used to be the case with Music, radio shows & Film, and now virtually anyone with only a computer & relatively inexpensive software, can produce & share original content to the entire planet. Who’s to say games won’t follow the same path as video-editing or webpage creation?
So if Microsoft is really serious about shifting their gaming industry to the Cloud, perhaps they should consider opening their platform to independent game developers. If that happens, then the Xbox ONE might become another interesting venue for the consumption of Fortean-related content.
6 Back in the days when Music distribution was monopolized by the record labels & TV networks, only a few brave souls dared to tread off the beaten path. One of those brave souls was Ray Manzarek, co-founder of the legendary group The Doors, who broke on through to the other side on May 20th at the age of 74.
Psychedelic exploration, provocative lyrics & an anti-establishment attitude were the signature of this music band, whose name was taken from Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception. If Timothy Leary wanted the American people to turn on, tune in & drop out, Jim & his band members were on a mission to light the inner fire of anyone willing to hear their shamanic incantations –it shouldn’t surprise us then, that during their beginnings the group performed in a club known as… The Matrix.
Descanse en Paz, Ray. Here’s a song to remember this talented musician, who dedicated his career to us –the strange:
5 Music can be a way to exorcise your inner demons, in a metaphorical way. But what about real demons? A recent image of Pope Francis placing his hands over a young man on a wheelchair has prompted the global media to ask: was the pope performing an exorcism?
The young man heaved deeply a half-dozen times, shook, then slumped in his wheelchair as Francis prayed over him.
The television station of the Italian bishops’ conference reported that it had surveyed exorcists, who agreed there was “no doubt” that Francis either performed an exorcism or a prayer to free the man from the devil.
The Vatican however, denies the pontiff had carried out any demonic expulsion on the boy, and that Francis “simply intended to pray for someone who was suffering who was presented to him.” This wouldn’t certainly be the 1st time the head of the Catholic church had performed an exorcism, though. It is said that John Paul II attempted one on a young ‘drooling & screaming’ woman, but the rite proved unsuccessful.
Whether pope Francis likes to engage in the occasional devil-expelling business or not, we can’t say for certain. What’s certain is that he seems to be determined to cast away many antiquated concepts in the Catholic church, like the idea that atheists are not welcome in the heavenly kingdom. Putting an emphasis in good deeds over ideologies is a breath of fresh air, and doesn’t require the sprinkling of holy water & yelling “the power of Christ compels you!!”.
4 If you don’t have your local exorcist’s number on speed dial, but suspect paranormal activity in your residence nonetheless, what do you do? For a Tasmanian man, the answer was obvious: rig a video-camera to try to capture evidence of incorporeal beings–unfortunately for him, what he obtained was LITERALLY the opposite:
Instead of capturing ghosts on camera, the father, from Tasmania, Australia, was horrified to find footage of his lover and 16-year-old son kissing and cuddling.
The 28-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to five counts of sex with a minor at the Supreme Court on Monday.
She said she was “ashamed and embarrassed” by her actions and claimed she thought the age of consent was 16, when it is in fact 17.
As our friend Greg Newkirk of Who Forted? wrote, maybe the woman should plead she was under the influence of demonic possession!
Capturing spirits on film is almost as difficult as observing the quantum properties of atoms –the equivalent of peering inside Schrödinger’s box & observing the proverbial cat both alive & dead– but that’s exactly what Aneta Stodolna of the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics (AMOLF) in the Netherlands & her colleagues did, using a ‘quantum microscope’ to observe the electron orbital –the space region around the nucleus where the electron is more likely to be– of a single hydrogen atom, the first time this has ever been accomplished. Start planning your trip to Stockholm, Aneta!
2 Some researchers have suggested that UFOs behave like quantum particles on a macroscopic level, and that when they are observed by witnesses is because their ‘wave function’ has collapsed, allowing these objects to fully manifest inside our everyday reality. Unfortunately since no one has ever figured out how to ‘manifest’ a UFO inside one of our labs, such ideas remain strictly theoretical.
Yet UFOs still appear in our skies, and they keep being photographed by ordinary individuals, even if that wasn’t their intention; which is what happened to Ellen Henry of San Diego on May 7th, when she was taking photographs of the Edgemoor barn, a building of historical significance –and paranormal too, as will be revealed later on…
“I was at the Edgemoor property, in the middle of the day, to take pics of the barn to update the SHS barn logo. I was constantly looking up and around the area, including the sky’s background, so I can get it just right, and not at anytime did I see anything in the sky or heard a sound of an aircraft,” she said.
It wasn’t until after she took the picture that Henry realized her camera had captured something else that she hadn’t previously seen.
“I noticed a ‘speck’ on my LCD screen after I took the shot to check for clarity, and only realized it wasn’t a speck when I downloaded it on my computer.”
The object seems to have a cigar shape, and reflects the light of the sun. But what’s more interesting about this particular photograph, is that the Edgemoor barn is said to be a haunted place. Not only that, but Mrs. Henry claims her camera malfunctioned just after she snapped that picture.
This is the kind of case than both ghost hunters & UFOlogists dread, because they don’t want their different fields to ever intersect. But IMO those are exactly the kind of weird events we should pay closer attention to. As the late Karla Turner used to say, it’s behind those high-strangeness events –the ones where witness report strange lights coupled with poltergeist activity & even the sighting of hairy creatures– that we’re likely to find the key to all these (seemingly) disparate mysteries –something John Keel would have probably agreed with.
Our interpretation of the UFO phenomenon is heavily influenced by our own technological achievements. In the 1950s as the world was starting to familiarize with rockets & satellites orbiting the Earth, the most logical conclusion was that UFOs represented the vanguard of interplanetary explorers. Now with our current familiarity of computers, some researchers are now suggesting UFOs are evidence that we all live inside a giant simulation.
In the end, those ideas tell us more about ourselves than about the phenomenon itself. But that’s not to say they are entirely useless. Perhaps, encouraging us to consider all these varied scenarios is one of the main goals behind UFOs.
Consider for example a topic we like to discuss often in this column: 3d printing. The capacity to generate a wide variety of objects –from artificial to biological, to anything in between– using only a base template of instructions & raw materials, suggests to me that for a technologically advanced civilization, the more sensible way to explore faraway worlds would be to make as most use of these distant planets’ resources as possible. Instead of carrying with all the gear & food your crew would need once they reach their destination, it would be best to just arm your expedition with a versatile 3d-printer that would replicate all the equipment needed using raw materials. Perhaps UFOnauts don’t even pack their own bodies when they travel to another star system –which might explain their constant need for biological tissue & reproductive cells extracted from abductees.
Then again, I might be completely wrong. But it’s fun to speculate anyway.
And since we touched on the topic of 3d printing, it’s time to close this edition of the Red Pills with two radically different news: On May 11th we mentioned the Liberator, the 3d-printed gun designed by a group of Texan libertarians who intended to freely distribute their files online, but have since been blocked by the US State Department –not before the files were downloaded 100,000 times. Now Forbes report a second plastic gun has been created, this one capable of firing 9 rounds & composed of a much cheaper type of plastic than the Liberator. Furthermore, the original Liberator was created using a $8,000 second-hand printer the size of a rerigerator, whereas this new prototype can be printed with a more affordable $1,725 Lulzbot A0-101 consumer-grade 3D printer –which is the reason this gun was dubbed the Lulz Liberator.
The second news comes from Michigan, where a group of specialists managed to save the life of a six-week old baby by creating a 3d-printed ‘vacuum cleaner’ for his windpipe:
These 2 separate news help to highlight how technology is not inherently evil or benevolent in itself –it’s how we choose to apply said technology that really matters.
Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out, reminding you that it’s not the machines the ones seeking to imprison us –but that aspect of ourselves which is terrified by the prospect of Freedom.