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Red Pills of the Week — November 16th

Greetings, fellow Coppertops! I hope you’ve fastened your seat-belts already, because these week’s Red Pills are full of unexpected surprises: From super-storms hitting planet Earth to computer viruses in outer space; we’ll also study the strange rise of atheist churches –yes, there ARE a thing– and famous comedians rising from the dead. And as we approach the 50th anniversary of the most famous magnicide in modern history, we’ll analyze Robert Bigelow’s ambitions to become the King of the Moon. I hope we can end our session early, ’cause here in Mexico we’re celebrating something called ‘El Buen Fin’ (our knock-off version of Black Friday) & the Nebuchadnezzar sure could use a new stereo!

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haiyan

But perhaps thinking of buying a new stereo is rather shallow, when considering that right now thousands are starving in the Philippines after the aftermath of super-typhoon Haiyan (so please consider donating a bit of money, here you can learn how). Even though the strength of Haiyan was astounding, the most recent climate models predict that even bigger storms are to be expected in the years to come; which are sure to strain international relationships between rich countries & developing nations, since the latter are usually the ones suffering the most from these natural disasters —and blame industrialized nations for the aggravation of Climate Change.

9 If we don’t do something to prepare ourselves for the coming of the super-storms, our civilization might go the way of the Romans Or the Mayas, and children from the future will see the remnants of our culture in some museum exhibit titled “The Folly of the XXIst century.”

Speaking of museums, remember when we were kids & wished we could somehow get our hands on one of those cool objects kept behind the glass display? Well, thanks to the magic of 3D-printing, now you will: Through a partnership with Autodesk, the Smithsonian is releasing several 3D models of some of their most famous artifacts –like the Wright brother’s flyer or a woolly mammoth skeleton– which will allow historians & educators a closer approach to these pieces of history, without endangering the actual relics.

calamita

As for me, what I’d really want is a 3D replica of one of those skeletons of giants the Smithsonian has been keeping hidden inside their vaults all these years. How ’bout it, fellas! Pretty pleeeease?

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neck-tatt

It’s not hard to foresee that in less than 10 years every household in America will have a 3D-printer, following the same trend of personal computers in the 1980s. Perhaps around the same time you’ll see a lot of people exhibiting what could be called e-tatt0os: Body markings serving not as an aesthetic statement, but as a physical interface between the wearer & some electronic device.  Motorola recently filed a patent for a (temporal) neck tattoo that would capture the vibrations from your throat and function as a microphone; but that’s not all! the tattoo could also be used as a lie-detection device:

Optionally, the electronic skin tattoo 200 can further include a galvanic skin response detector to detect skin resistance of a user. It is contemplated that a user that may be nervous or engaging in speaking falsehoods may exhibit different galvanic skin response than a more confident, truth telling individual.

So not only will the NSA know each time you call your wife, they might also figure out whether you’re cheating on her or not. Thank you for our Brave New World, Larry & Sergey!

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100% real computer virus.

100% real computer virus.

But wait: What happens if your e-tattoo gets infected with a virus?? *Shudders*

Well, that prospect is nowhere near as scary as the idea of the computers aboard the ISS getting infected with the infamous Stuxnet virus, which a lot of media outlets were reporting this week. In space, no one can hear you call to Norton support.

Fortunately for our frail little space station, that news was an exaggeration caused by a misunderstanding during a speech given by Eugene Kaspersky, head of Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab, at the National Press Club of Australia on Nov. 7. During the event Kaspersky mentioned an incident that happened in 2008, when a worm designed to steal online-game login credentials was found on laptops aboard the ISS. Technicians think the cause of this incident was an infected USB drive carried by one of the astronauts, but I suspect that maybe some member of the ISS crew was spending his off-duty hours by surfing through LiveJasmin.com –You can only marvel at the curvature of the Earth for so many orbits, you know…

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chris-hadfield

Then again, it’s hard not to envy those lucky few who have given the opportunity to observe our blue planet from such a lofty vantage point. It seems that sooner or later all astronauts suffer a tremendous psychological transformation triggered by that experience –commonly known as the Overview effect. Such was also the case of the recently retired Chris Hadfield, who has just released his 1st book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. On an interview for NPR, Commander Hadfield explained how the act of being physically ‘outside’ the life-nurturing environment of our home planet elicit feelings that can only be described as ‘spiritual’:

I think what everyone would find if they could be [up in space] — if they could see the whole world every 90 minutes and look down on the places where we do things right, and look down where we’re doing stupid, brutal things to each other and the inevitable patience of the world that houses us — I think everybody would be reinforced in their faith, and maybe readdress the real true tenets of what’s good and what gives them strength.

Without going into the specifics of his personal belief system, Hadfield’s message goes beyond the trivial particularities of religion, which are often the cause of pointless division. The core of his words are that of union and interconnectedness between each crew member of the round spacecraft we call ‘Earth’ –the only lifeboat we still possess in the cold ocean of the Cosmos.

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weirdy-beardy

Then again, there are people who looove nothing more than point out those trivial particularities, don’t they? People who actually don’t feel identified with any type of religious or spiritual system, or even flat out deny the possibility of a deity. But even atheist need a sense of community, right?

That’s where British comedians Sanderson Jones & Pippa Evans come in, with their idea that’s possibly the greatest oxymoron in the English language: an atheist church. A place where non-believers can join together in disbelief, & enjoy the many satisfactions of church-going folks without the annoying need to address some imaginary bearded dude in the Sky.

“If you think about church, there’s very little that’s bad. It’s singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?”

And here I was thinking that the whole point of being an atheist or an agnostic was freeing yourself from things like the chore of attending church. But perhaps I’m wrong, since Jones & Evans atheist mega-churches are on the rise in the UK & the US. I still think they should come up with a better name for it, though… otherwise it feels as if the appropriation of the language & paraphernalia of the other side is a capitulation of sorts.

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afterlife

Can you still be an atheist if you believe consciousness could survive after death? Possibly, since the main aspect of that philosophy is to deny the existence of a creator running things behind the curtain. So the possibility of an afterlife does not necessarily imply deity; problem is most atheists tend to be inherently materialistic in their worldview…

But what if Science could one day prove the existence of an afterlife? That’s what medical doctor & scientist Robert Lanza is pursuing with his theory of Biocentrism,
which posits that what we call ‘death’ is nothing but an illusion created by our consciousness. Biocentrism is Lanza’s theory of everything which puts life –or rather consciousness– at the center of existence, meaning that the Universe arises from Consciousness and not the other way around –as you can imagine, the theory is not particularly popular among orthodox scientists.

Lanza added that everything which can possibly happen is occurring at some point across these multiverses and this means death can’t exist in ‘any real sense’ either.

Lanza, instead, said that when we die our life becomes a ‘perennial flower that returns to bloom in the multiverse.’

He continued: ‘Life is an adventure that transcends our ordinary linear way of thinking. When we die, we do so not in the random billiard-ball-matrix but in the inescapable-life-matrix.’

Lanza also uses the famous ‘double-slit’ experiment to illustrate how consciousness can determine the behavior of particles. I confess his ideas resonate with me, since I’ve long suspected that the building blocks of reality are Consciousness & Information. Having said that, I know that there’s a long road ahead before Science outgrows its current materialistic paradigm.

3 The problem with the afterlife, most cynics point out, is that nobody has been able to return from it & tells us what is all about.

Nobody… until now?

In what was surely one of the most WTF news of the week, the brother of legendary comedian Andy Kaufman, who died of kidney failure due to a rare form of cancer in 1984, went onstage last Monday in New York claiming he believed Andy had faked his own death! With him was a young woman said to be the comedian’s daughter, who was born after he successfully pulled out the grandiose hoax, in order to live a long & anonymous life. Knowing how fond Kaufman was of elaborate pranks, faking your own death didn’t sound so far-fetched after all.

Sadly it looks as if the Man is still on the Moon: On Thursday Michael Kaufman appeared on CNN’s “The Lead With Jake Tapper,” where he said he was the victim of a hoax. Andy’s ‘daughter’ is actually an actress by the name of Alexandra Tatarsky, but Michael denied to be in cahoots with her.

Well, I’m sure that wherever he is, Andy sure appreciated all the late attention.

2 Conspiring to fake your own death is one thing. Conspiring to cause the death of the most powerful man in the world is whole different game. The 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination is just around the corner, along with a deluge of TV programs aligning with either side of the old conspiracy/lone gunman debate. On the side of the conspiracy you’d expect to find individuals like Oliver Stone or Jim Marrs, but all the tinfoil hat community had a big surprise when they learned none other than US Secretary of State John Kerry decided to join their ranks!

http://youtu.be/UUV1I6LhttQ

Granted, Kerry’s position is what you’d call the decaf version of conspiracy theories –he refused to go all espresso with speculations that Kennedy might have been killed by members of the American intelligence community. Regardless of this, it’s still a pretty huge statement int itself! and he is probably one of the most powerful politicians who is on the record with his disagreement on the Warren commission’s conclusions.

Will we have further bombshells next week? Stay tuned.

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robert-bigelow

How’s this for a bombshell: Eccentric millionaire Robert Bigelow wants to own the Moon!

Ok, so that might not be 100% accurate…

What really happened is that Bigelow held a conference with several members of NASA in Washington, where he laid out a few hard facts: in order for America to maintain its supremacy in outer space, they need the help of private investment, and for private investment to be interested to go into space, they need to have it worth their while –in other words, they need property rights. Which is something of a touchy subject since there are several international treaties preventing any sovereign nation to lay claim on either the Moon or other type of interplanetary real estate, and nobody knows if such treaties also apply to private individuals or transnational companies –something which will give plenty of job opportunities to lawyers in the decades to come.

When asked by CNBC if he believes anyone should own the Moon, Bigelow responded, “No. No one anything should own the moon. But, yes, multiple entities, group, individual, yes. They should have opportunity to own the Moon.” Explaining his reasoning for wanting lunar property rights, Bigelow stated, “Ultimately, permanent lunar bases will have to be anchored to permanent commercial facilities . . . Without property rights there will be no justification for investment and the risk to life.”

For those of us who grew watching movies like 2001: A Space Oddisey, which showed the 1st human settlements on the Moon, it’s kinda depressing to think that the movie Fight Club will turn out to be closer to reality:

When deep space exploration ramps up, it’ll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks.

But leaving capitalist dilemmas aside, is there something Bigelow isn’t telling us? Has his ongoing study of the infamous Skinwalker ranch revealed to him the need to accelerate mankind’s colonization of other worlds? Or is he merely planning to offer discount hotels to the Nazis stranded on the dark side of our natural satellite?

Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out, wishing you safe flights to the Moon & back with ole Blue Eyes as you co-pilot.

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