Aug 27, 2012 I Miguel Romero

Red Pills of the Week — August 25th

Greetings, fellow Coppertops! Our journey this week will be an exploration of human accomplishments, both in Science as well as the Arts. We'll investigate destructive forces operating at a global and personal --very personal!-- scales. And as we discover the poetic overlappings between the ancient past and the distant future, we'll show our appreciation for those who helped mankind make giant leaps. We live in a world where everything is possible... if we're willing to follow our dreams.

(10) We'll first travel to the time of the Renaissance, when the concept of 'underachievement' was VERY different to our modern standards --the losers of the day, were the ones who mastered only 3 different disciplines! But among those intellectual luminaries, the one shining the brightest still is without a doubt the great Leonardo. We remain fascinated by both his artistic and scientific accomplishments even as he remain tethered by the constrains of his era, and yet despite how much we know about Leonardo's life, since the Italian polymath left no self-portraits of his youthful years  his actual physical appearance is still a matter of debate.

Well, perhaps not for long anymore. Some researchers have suggested that the answer has been staring on them all along, and are now proposing that Leonardo depicted himself --twice-- on The Last Supper mural, appearing as both the Apostle Thomas and James the Lesser. How poetic indeed, that Leonardo might have chosen to represent himself by the figure of doubting Thomas, an immortal homage to his own questioning nature.

(9) If Leonardo is a rock star among geeks, then Nikola Tesla is the closest thing to our saint patron. Just what is it about the wizard of electricity that appeals to us so much? His unorthodox theories, decades or even centuries ahead of its times? His tragic ending and the fact that his accomplishments have never been fully acknowledged? Or how he was the ultimate loner, and had something of a fetish for pigeons? Coo-coo-could it very well be all of the above!

And yet, completely opposite to Leonardo, there's never been a museum or study center focusing on teaching Tesla's immense legacy. Well, for Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal that just won't do anymore: He wants to buy Tesla's laboratory in New York, so that a proper museum --excuse me, I meant a goddamn Tesla museum-- can be finally built to pay our respects to the Serbian über-geek; and after making a deal with New York city state so they could fork in with half the price of the real estate, Inman went out to call upon the mighty legions across the Internetz to raise the other half.

With $1 million raised on the campaign --$150 k over the amount goal!-- the Tesla museum is no longer a matter of 'If', but 'When' the goddamn museum will see the light. Eat your heart out, Edison!

(8) You know another thing the Internet loves besides Tesla ray guns? Ninjas. Hard shell or soft shell, we just can't get enough of them despite the fact that the shadowy assassins are in incredibly scarce supply. How scarce, you ask? Meet Jinichi Kawakami: a 63-year-old former engineer who claims to be the last surviving Ninja --his favorite throwing weapon? Casio calculators.


Kawakami-san feels Ninjas don't fit in modern society anymore, so when he dies his secrets will be buried with him. I for one think that's inadmissible, so I'm offering an engineering solution in honor of his former career:

(7) Ninjas pride themselves for their stealthiness, but they've got $#!t on Nessie. Countless avid monster hunters have spent decades --and their eye balls-- looking for the elusive creature said to inhabit the murky waters of loch Ness. Maybe sometimes the frustration starts to build up so much with these individuals, that if the beastie doesn't show up on its own accord, there's no choice left but to make it show up.

That seems to be the case with the latest Nessie photograph taken by George Edwards, which we commented upon on the Red Pills of August 4th. Back then I wrote that despite some doubts, I could still concede that the purported 'hump' shown looked interesting; and a similar reaction was experienced by Marcus Atkinson --who last year captured a sonar hit of an allegedly large object which won him the 'the Best Nessie Sighting of The Year' award granted by William Hill-- but in Atkinson's case, the reaction was caused by the fact that the hump in Edwards photo looked eerily familiar: in fact it looked exactly like a prop hump that a friend of his, Steve Feltham, had owned (the prop in question had been used during the filming of a documentary by National Geographic).

Unfazed, Edward's responded to the Mail's inquiries thusly:

"I stand by my picture. It is genuine. I took it in November as as far as I am concerned it constitutes the latest sighting of the Loch Ness Monster."

I think we should close the chapter on this case, don't you think?

(6) From the land of Scots we turn our attention to a particular Scotts: Tony Scott, brother to renowned director Riddley & a celebrated film-maker himself with movies like Top Gun & Crimson Tide under his belt, made the headlines this week after he threw himself from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the San Pedro port district of Los Angeles. Despite early claims that he suffered from an inoperable brain tumor which were later completely dismissed by his surviving family, the cause of his suicide has yet to be determined.

So why mentioning him at all on the Pills? If you've been following me for some time then you'll be already aware that I pay special attention to synchromystic events, and Scott's demise seems to interject with a lot of interesting currents, investigated by my mentor Loren Coleman on his Twilight Language blog:

"Could Tony Scott, being a king of cinema mayhem, have been sacrificed (by his own hand through suicide) to bring balance back into the universe in the wake of what happened in Aurora? Was he thinking about what kind of society his movies had created?"

Scott throws himself to drown at the sea. In the first scene of his brother's latest film, an Engineer sacrifices himself so that his DNA can seed the seas of planet Earth. Like Coleman himself says, all these 'coincides' could mean something, or they could mean nothing. I for one think it's interesting how Scott's cinematic career started with The Hunger, a film based on a novel written by a certain Whitley Strieber --perhaps you've heard of him?

(5) They say drowning is amongst the most terrible deaths a human can experience. But what about death by spontaneous combustion? Last year an Irish coroner ruled SHC as the cause of death of 76-year-old Michael Faherty, which prompted research biologist & author Professor Brian J. Ford to find an answer to this age-old mystery. His proposed theory is that SHC all suffer from a metabolic disorder (ketosis) favoring the storing of ketone (a family of incredibly flammable organic compounds, like acetone) which is also collected in gaseous form under their clothes. According to Ford, this would make these people potential human candles vulnerable to the slightest spark of static electricity.

So now Ford has moved from theory to practice, utilizing the closest thing to human tissue --you guessed it: PORK-- and marinating it with acetone, which then were used to fashion human models dressed with clothes and all. Voodoo Science, or Worst BBQ Ever?

The models burned to ash within half an hour, leaving only the limbs fairly intact, which is pretty consistent with known reports of human combustion. But I still think there are a few key things left unanswered with Ford's theory. For starters, the amount of ketone needed to be stored in the victim's body would be fatally toxic --as explained by commentator Dr. Emilio Lizardo @ io9. Also, let's not forget that one of the strangest aspects of SHC is how the combustion is so localized and contained within the victim, without spreading to its surrounding environment.

I think we need to roast moar pigs, professor!

(4) While spontaneous human combustion might not be at the top of most folk's list of things to worry about, a rising concern nowadays is Autism. Dubbed sensationalistically as 'the modern plague of the XXIst century' by some, Science has tried to search for answers concerning this neural disorder. And now a new study published online in the journal Nature is showing there's a higher risk of fathering a child with autism or schizophrenia among men over 40, due to the random mutations that increase naturally in our DNA as we get older.

For years the risk of Down Syndrome has been a factor weighing on women living in developed countries, trying to find a proper balance between their personal lives and their professional careers. Now it seems men are not out of the hook as we thought --Nature tends to be fair in that bitchy kind of way.

(3) But the risk of autism shouldn't weigh so much on us, the same way the risk on an alien invasion doesn't keep Air Traffic controllers awake at night. Not even despite the fact that, as Head of UK Air Traffic Control Richard Deakin candidly admitted for BBC radio recently, they get about 1 unidentified traffic per month.

We obviously need to remind ourselves that these unidentified traffics DO NOT mean England receives periodic visits from the Galactic Federation. Nevertheless, since the MoD plans to no longer be investigating UFOs, one wonders with all the concerned citizens who may wish to inform of their sightings.Then again, Life has a way of making fun of our plans, hasn't it?

(2) So, if UFO buffs can no longer pester office desks with their reports, what are they to do to pass the time? A good suggestion would be to follow Ray Stanford's example, and dedicate themselves to find dinosaur tracks. The former Contactee has successfully rewritten himself many times over, and his latest interest has gained him a lot of deserved recognition.

His latest find is the tracks of a plant-eating Nodosaur, and what makes this discovery particularly endearing is the fact that it was made in the grounds of Goddard Space Flight Center, in Maryland:


Some credit Stanford's paleontological findings on his uncanny visual acuity. While others think he might actually rely on some other... special types of abilities. Whatever the truth behind it, and despite the fact that Ray is a bit grouchy during interviews --ask Walter Bosley if you don't believe me!-- here at the Pills we appreciate his many contributions.

(1) Ray Stanford's findings remind us that what we humans pride ourselves for amount to little more than a Cosmic eye blink. Yet in that infinitesimal time span we have accomplished a great deal: We went from horse-drawn carts to airplanes in just one single generation, and 43 years ago the entire world witnessed enthralled the fulfilling of a dream shared by countless generations: the sight of men walking on the surface of the Moon.

It was with great shock and sadness that I received the news of the passing of Commander Neil Armstrong, the first among our entire species --that we know of-- who ever set foot into another world. I wish I was talented enough to convey my sense of utmost gratitude to him and his companions, for how they were able to inspire the illusions of an entire generation, and let us all imagine we were worthy to venture into space.

We have lagged behind since those wondrous days of yore, when mortal men trod on the trail of the gods but for a fleeting instant. We owe it to Armstrong and to all the great explorers that came before, to carry up and regain our taste for exploration. To quicken our step once again to make up for the time lost in useless apathy. To commit ourselves fully to the many challenges the Universe sets up before us, so that the light of his memory be preserved long after the warmth of our cradle is lost, in the ballet of ice and fire that has been played out in Cosmic cadence since Time itself commenced.

The stars beckon to us. What are we waiting for?

Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out. Always remember: as frustrating and tortuous our paths may seem at times, it is the question that drives us, but ALSO shapes us without even noticing it.

Miguel Romero
Miguel Romero a.k.a. Red Pill Junkie is a cartoonist and fortean blogger who writes at Mysterious Universe

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