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Red Pills of the Week — August 24th

Greetings, fellow Coppertops! For our next mission, Zion has commissioned us to investigate UFO videos filmed aboard the ISS, monster carcasses washing up the beaches of Spain, and current attempts to clone dead rock stars. And as we study Pfc Bradley Manning’s decision to become a woman, we’ll also learn of a new study suggesting psychedelics’ bad rep is due to a radical revision. I should warn you beforehand: I’m in a particularly bad mood this week, on account of a huge dent I just found on the rear end of the Nebuchadnezzar –those f$%&ing squids are the worst traffic offenders! they hit & run –um, fly– and they don’t even bother to wear a license plate!!

10 Speaking of hit-and-runs, astronauts aboard the ISS have to keep on the lookout for any type of debris, micrometeorites or basically any type of unknown object which could pose a threat to the integrity of the space station –it’s only at 230 miles high when you realize how UFOs can constitute a serious threat.

Which is why NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy was so intent in filming a strange domed-like object floating outside the ISS last Monday:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/ObKgzmmUMsc[/youtube]

Afterwards Mission Control determined the UFO (Unidentified Floating Object) was the protective covering of the Zvezda service module’s antenna, which became the perfect excuse for ever major news outlets to make childish jives at the expense of UFO enthusiasts. As if we didn’t understand already that near-Earth orbits are polluted with every kind of conceivable crap.

Laugh away, NASA. But you’ve still got some ‘splaining on some more interesting cases, like the UFO sighting reported by the crew of the Skylab 40 years ago –maybe it was the mothership which brought me to this backwater rock…

9 We get it, k? We understand that 90-95% of all UFO sightings can be explained as hoaxes, misidentifications of common celestial objects –drop dead, Venus!– & even uncommon natural phenomena like Earth lights & ball lightning; the problem with the latter is that only 1 in a million lightning strikes produces the rare plasma effect in Nature, and it’s also proven extremely difficult to reproduce in the lab… until now.

A team in Colorado –how fitting, Tesla would’ve been so proud!– have found a more efficient way to produce a type of ball lightning in the lab, and sustain them for nearly half a second by altering the acidity of the electrolyte solution.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/cwKDg4xZy6U[/youtube]

Dr Mike Lindsay, who led the study published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, said: “Ball lightning is used almost generically to describe phenomena seen in nature that aren’t described by normal lightning, bead lightning or things like ‘St Elmo’s fire’, or aurora. And likely it’s not one thing but several things that have similar observables.”

Very honest of him to admit this, especially when you consider confirmed reports of ball lightning that were able to last for several minutes. And let’s not forget the sightings of ‘orbs’ over crop circles that seemed to display intelligent control.

8 But ball lighting are not as rare as the occasional found body of some mysterious decomposing creature, causing a lot of head-scratching –& the urge to vomit: Another heavily-discussed story this week was a weird 13-foot ‘horned monster’ which washed up on a beach at Villaricos, Spain. A carcass so strange it even managed to stump the biologists working for Spain’s Marine Defense Program.

o-SEA-MONSTER-570

He said: ‘It’s hard to know what we’re dealing with,’ Mr Toledano [spokesman for the Programa en Defensa de la Fauna Marina (PROMAR)] told ideal.es.

‘It is broken up and we can not identify what ii is. Maybe it’s a bull fish’, he joked.

‘Perhaps if we were able to analyse the bones we might know more, but for this specific genetic analysis it is very expensive and who would pay?

‘We’ve certainly never before seen anything like this.’

A spokesman for the Marine Biological Association said: ‘A few people have said it could be the backbone of a shark with the rest of it decaying away.

‘Really we would need a vertebrae to properly identify it. If it was a shark it would have cartilage skeleton as opposed to bone.

‘As for the horns  – it’s pretty inconclusive. No one knows of anything with horns in the sea. From the picture you wonder if it is even part of the creature.’

Even though here at The Pills we think this horned chimera might be the incomplete carcass of an ordinary sea creature, deep down I hope it’s a new species –because having scuba-dive bull-fights would be totally badass.

"Ea, toro!!"

“EA, TORO!!”

7 Having a weird-ass horned dragon washing ashore is one thing, but no one associates chimpanzees with water save those stubborn proponents of the Aquatic Ape theory, who keep being ridiculed by most anthropologists due to the many inconsistencies in their hypothesis. For starters apes can’t swim, right?

WRONG!

swimming_chimpanzee

“Nice going, Caesar. But how ’bout showing us your horse-riding skills, huh?”

Scientists have managed to capture on video (unfindable now due to copyright infringement… or a conspiracy of silence) a chimpanzee swimming & even diving to retrieve rewards from the bottom of a pool; a behavior that was previously considered impossible.

“We were extremely surprised when the chimp, Cooper, dived repeatedly into a swimming pool in Missouri and seemed to feel very comfortable,” Renato Bender, a researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, said in a statement. “It was very surprising behavior for an animal that is thought to be very afraid of water.”

Another ape, an orangutan named Surya living in Myrtle Beach Safari (S. Carolina), utilizes the same type of modified breaststroke to navigate through the pool. Here it is courtesy of New Scientist:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/q2vekGuV8xA[/youtube]

While these two examples will probably not be enough to make the Aquatic Ape theory resurface –see what I did there?– it further highlights the need to further study the interaction of ancient hominids with large bodies of water. Not doing so would be like restricting Michael Phelps to doggy-style swimming –amusing, but wasteful in the long run.

6 So now we’re learning that chimps can do many of the things we thought were exclusive to our species: swimming, make tools & weapons, go to war & do math. One thing they can’t do I reckon, is form a quartet & record songs which would be cherished & admired by millions of fans –the closest we’ve got is The Monkees & well… let’s just move on shall we?

I don’t care how old you are or where you live, there’s no denying that John Lennon was one of the most influential musicians on all time. But is that a good enough reason to bring him back from the dead via cloning? Canadian dentist Dr. Michael Zuk seems to think so, which is why he’s teaming up with American scientists so they can fully sequence the DNA from one of John Lennon’s tooth–a unique piece of molarbilia that cost Zuk $30,000 to acquire.

“I am nervous and excited at the possibility that we will be able to fully sequence John Lennon’s DNA, very soon I hope. With researchers working on ways to clone mammoths, the same technology certainly could make human cloning a reality,” says Dr. Zuk.

Move over, Adolf! Here come the Children from Liverpool

Move over, Adolf! Here come the Children from Liverpool

But even if cloning the Walrus instead of a mammoth is completely unfeasible –you would also have to recreate poor Johnny’s shitty childhood, Zuk!– perhaps some valuable science could be extracted from all this –like detecting the gene responsible for terrible taste in women…

5

meteorite-jewellry

While the idea of resurrecting a Rock god seems kinda creepy to our Western sensibilities, no doubt the ancient Egyptians would have found it perfectly logical. After all, their whole shtick was about preparing oneself in this life in order to attain immortality.

They also had a thing for bling, as we all know; but not just any bling: A necklace first discovered in 1911 that is thought to be 5000 years old, has been confirmed to be made of meteorite ore –COSMIC BLING BITCHES!

Egyptologists from the Open University first scanned beads found in a pre-dynastic cemetery near the village of el-Gerzeh, in Lower Egypt in May, using scanning electron microscopy and computed tomography.

The nickel content of this original metal was found to be high, suggesting that it could have come from a meteorite.

The researcher also observed that the metal had a distinctive crystalline structure called a Widmanstätten pattern.

This structure is found only in iron meteorites that cooled extremely slowly inside their parent asteroids as the solar system was forming.

What’s even cooler is that these meteoric beads preceded Egypt’s Iron Age by thousands of years. Which makes researchers assume that to them the space-born iron was finer & more valuable than any other metal they could find, including gold.

4

butts-brain

If we still value gold to this day it’s not just because it’s the preppers’ favorite commodity, but also because it’s heavily used by the electronics industry, for example in the elaboration of the chips inside the computer you’re using right now. And if we move beyond the silicon age it’s quite likely future computer chips will be made out of diamond.

Yes, computers make our lives easier, but sometimes the way we interact with them leaves much to be desired. Take typing for example: even though, as a blogger, I appreciate the process of transcribing my thoughts via the rhythmic dance of my fingers over the keyboard, there are many instances in which a faster interface would come in handy –following the annoying instructions of an automated phone menu, or even in the modern battlefield.

That’s why researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands are studying the analysis of fMRI scans using a mathematical algorithm, to detect the letters observed by a test subject directly from its brain.

But the question is this: how long has the ‘black world’ possessed this kind of technology? According to the testimony of Robert Emenegger –producer of the legendary documentary UFOs: Past, Present & Future— the Air Force was experimenting with thought-direct interfaces more than 40 years ago.

If the Air Force really does have man-made UFOs, you can bet they’re not controlled with a damn joystick.

3 What is in principle a remarkable achievement –computers reading your thoughts– has an ominous Orwellian overtone in the post-Snowden era…

Edward ~ E

Edward ~ E

There has been a very interesting development in the web, that was hardly noticed by the media: a series of mysterious shutdowns suffered by some of the biggest online companies. It first began with The New York Times  which went offline for 2 hours, but it was attributed to maintenance issues. Then came  Google, whose servers crashed for 5 minutes –causing ALL web traffic to plunge down by 40 percent. Then it was Microsoft’s turn, with both Outlook & SkyDrive collapsing up to three days for some users.  By the time Amazon went down for about half an hour, it was difficult NOT to see a scary pattern –even Nasdaq’s system crashed the very same day I linked to the Amazon news @ The Daily Grail!

Is this a secondary effect of the NSA’s spying programs, or is PRISM turning into Skynet?

2 What little we know of the on-going efforts to monitor electronic communications –and the concerted efforts to conceal these activities from the public– is thanks to whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden & Bradley Manning. Manning has been finally given a sentence of 35 years on a military prison –the government wanted her to serve 60 years– and one day after the sentence, Manning released a public statement announcing her decision to live the remainder of her life as a woman, asking from now on to be referred to as Chelsea Manning.

Over at my blog on TDG I wrote that suddenly Manning’s new name reminded me of Chell, the female character in the videogame series Portal. BTW remember the mysterious shutdowns we discussed on the previous Pill? Well it so happens that TDG *also* suffered a downtime, and after Greg managed to get the site back up the few things that couldn’t be recovered were: the comments made on last Thursday’s News Briefs –the day I write, when I linked to Manning’s full statement after receiving sentence, and the story re. Amazon’s shutdown– along with my blogpost on CHELLsea Manning.

Methinks I made GlaDOS angry…

1

mushies

And I’m sure that with this last post I’m gonna get a few people at the DEA pissed too –don’t shoot the messenger, dudes– because now it’s time to discuss a new scientific study performed by researchers from the Department of Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), who after evaluating the effects of psychedelic use on more than 20,000 respondents have found “no significant associations between lifetime use of any psychedelics, lifetime use of specific psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, peyote), or past year use of LSD and increased rate of any of the mental health outcomes. Rather, in several cases psychedelic use was associated with lower rate of mental health problems.” [emphasis mine]

Here’s what Greg wrote at TDG:

The study notes that links between psychedelic use and mental health problems can arise for several spurious reasons. For instance: both mental illness and psychedelic use are prevalent in the population, likely leading to many chance associations; the typical onset period of both mental illness and psychedelic use occurs in late adolescence and early adulthood, again possibly leading to mistaken causal inferences; because of the striking subjective effects of psychedelics, some people attribute psychiatric symptoms to the use of psychedelics even if the symptoms started months or years later; some health professionals may have a biased view since they meet people with mental health problems and have little or no contact with the majority of psychedelic users.

Furthermore, all responsible proponents of psychedelics –like Dennis McKenna, who was recently interviewed by my buddies the Grimericans– will tell you that “set & settings” are ESSENTIAL to propitiating an optimal trip; you also need to approach these compounds with a proper respect & a clear intention of what you want to achieve –which should be something more meaningful than just “wanting to have a good time & see some crazy shit, bro.”

The evidence is piling: With just 1 ingestion, ibogaine can be incredibly helpful in treating heroine addicts. And marijuana is less toxic than alcohol, no matter what the National Institute on Drug Abuse says to the contrary. Yes: Sid Barrett still went bat-shit crazy, but as explained before the LSD probably only managed to manifest what was already there –unintegrated issues buried deep down his psyche.

20 years ago, if someone had told me I’d become a defender of drug use I would have been horrified. I was raised with very conservative values & studied in Catholic schools. I’ve stated it before & I’ll say it again: I’m not a promoter of the recreational use of psychedelics or other mind-altering drugs *finishes his 3rd coffee of the morning* but demonizing these substances using unscientific arguments, has turned into one of the great follies of modern society. It has cost millions of dollars & countless lives; and what may be even worse: it has deprived many people from the positive health benefits (both mental & spiritual) the responsible use of entheogens could offer.

“LSD is a psychedelic drug which occasionally causes psychotic behavior in people who have NOT taken it.”  ~Timothy Leary

Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out. Remember: when you start conceiving the inconceivable, THAT is when you start thinking in portals.

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