Greetings, fellow Coppertops! For our first mission in May, I’ve collected a batch of Red Pills that will proof a fitting tribute to the pagan gods of Spring: From unmarked ET graves in New Mexico, to the latest couture in space-traveling fashion; we’ll also discuss the new proposed theory of how the great pyramids in Egypt were erected —Spoilers: it didn’t involve levitation– and as we prepare ourselves for a Minority Report dystopia, in which the brains of criminals can be switched on & off at will, we’ll consider the disquieting emergence of super microbes & life in a post-antibiotic age. So go outside, feast & be merry while you still can –is that a maypole in your festival, or are you just happy to see me?
ET Tweet Home?
According to the most stalwart UFO theorists, the hot sands of the New Mexico desert hide many mysteries about alien visitation. We’ve all read & heard ad nauseam the stories of how an extraterrestrial craft crashed near Roswell on 1947, and how the US Air Force quickly moved to secure the debris & bodies, and to make sure not trace of that fateful event was ever found.
Regardless of my growing distaste of the Roswellian lore, there’s no denying that some conspiracy theories do turn out to be true. Last week, a group of filmmakers managed to have the desert give away the location of a fabled unmarked grave –but don’t call Stan Friedman on the phone just yet, for the extraterrestrials buried there were of the 8-bit kind: The secret landfill where video-game company Atari buried the worst game in history, in 1982 –among many other titles, and over 700,000 discarded units.
An odd testament to an era, if there ever was one.
One of those on hand at the landfill Saturday was Howard Scott Warshaw, the game’s designer. When excavators started to retrieve the first of what may be hundreds of thousands of copies of his misbegotten baby, “Everybody went nuts,” Warshaw said.
“I’ve been carrying this thing, the theoretically worst video game of all time, for 30 years now,” he said. “It was a game that was done in five weeks. It was a very brief development. I did the best that I could, and that’s OK.”
But seeing the cartridges emerge from the desert dust was a rush for Warshaw, who’s now a Silicon Valley psychotherapist.
“Something that I did 32 years ago is still creating joy and excitement for people,” he said. “That’s a tremendously satisfying thing for me now.”
The fact that a tech company like Atari, then the leader in its field, somehow decided that the best course of action for dealing with a surplus of unsellable games was to dump them in a landfill, is IMO very telling of its time; it portrays how greed-driven strategies –which where the reason why the ET game was rushed– can not only crumble an economic empire overnight, but also how we’re rapidly filling our planet with plastic junk.
And yet that junk still manages to cause quite a stir just over a period of 30 years. Imagine if the cartridges had been found by an unsuspecting archeologist 300 or 3000 years into the future? What would have been his conclusions over such an odd discovery?
(For the record, I’m old enough to remember having played the game in question. It really was a monumental piece of shit)
To Infinity & Pret-a-Porter!
Yeah, the game sucked donkey balls, but the movie still rocks, and I dare anyone to say otherwise! I still remember that scene when Elliot returns to his home, and is confronted by a white-suited space man. For a few tenths of a second, your child mind wondered: Is this ET’s friend come to take him home?
Alas, the days of feel-good Sci-Fi are over; so too are the days of mono-chromatic space suits, like the ones portrayed in Cuarón’s opus Gravity: NASA has unveiled their newest Z-2 spacesuit, which comes to replace the previous Z-1 model –possibly due to potential lawsuit threats from Disney…
The Z-2’s design was picked after an online poll, and not only will provide the future Right Stuff with enhanced mobility during extra-vehicular missions, but it also comes with light-emitting patches. Since the suits are theoretically envisioned for future planetary expeditions, let’s just hope the hypothetical alien life forms met by the astronauts, don’t find the come-at-me-bro symbol at the front particularly threatening or comely!
I Don’t Know, Therefore Moistened Sand
I admit it: When I was a young red pill junkie, I used the watch the rock paintings of Tassili & go “yeah, that’s totally a space suit!” Nowadays, while I still think we shouldn’t completely discard the possibility of paleo-contact, to assume EVERY ancient megalithic structure under the sun couldn’t be built without alien intervention is naive at best, and racist at worst.
A new study published by a group of Dutch physicists sought to settle that age-old question, just how were the Egypt pyramids built using basically stone-age technology? Their proposed answer is not the wet dream of Ancient Aliens proponents: Moist Sand.
In a study in the journal Physical Review Letters, researchers from the University of Amsterdam and FOM (the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter) recreated a laboratory version of the sledge on which workers hauled heavy stone, and tested how it fared in sand. They found that pulling the sledge across damp sand requires only half the force of hauling it in dry sand. Because the water droplets bind the grains of sand together, wet sand is twice as stiff as dry sand, and doesn’t pile up in front of the sledge as it moves along. (A good tip for sandcastle construction, too.)
The researchers bolstered their theory with a wall painting from around 1880 B.C. found in the tomb of a 12th-dynasty administrator named Djehutihotep, which shows what looks to be a worker pouring water in front of a sledge carrying a large statue.
Granted, the study is focusing ONLY on one part of the problem –hauling those big-ass rocks over an horizontal ramp– whereas there’s still the itty-bitty issue of PILING the rocks one on top of the other, until you’re left with a perfect geometrical shape that also happens to align with major astronomical events. No pressure!
And although I happen to think the Great Pyramid of Giza is waaaay older than 1880 BC, I still don’t have a problem with the fact that our ancestors were just as smart as we are, and circumvented their technological deficiencies with ingenious creativity.
No, my main problem is that –once again– we’re focusing on the wrong questions. I’m not that interested in HOW the Great Pyramid was built; what I really want to know… is WHY.
Shut Your Brain!
If aliens have indeed visited our planet, and are also behind the abductions suffered by thousands –if not millions– of hapless humans, then one of the most impressive powers is the capacity to completely over-power their victims using those torch-like tubes frequently reported in close encounter accounts. Controlling the brain using nothing but light, how crazy is that?
Well, not so crazy after all, considering how our own scientists are on the brink of creating such technology. The British newspaper The Independent has recently reported on the work of Stanford scientist Karl Deisseroth, who since 2005 has been tweaking & toying with light in order to activate & deactivate individual brain cells, a technique he calls ‘optogenetics‘ –I call it spooky, but more on that later…
This technique could help scientists develop treatments for patients with some brain diseases as it could allow problematic parts of the brain to be switched off with light and tackled with minimal intrusion.
Merab Kokaia, PhD, a professor at Lund University Hospital in Sweden who has used optogenetics to study epilepsy and other conditions praised the research.
“These features could be much more useful for behavioral studies in animals but could also become an effective treatment alternative for neurological conditions where drugs do not work, such as some cases of severe epilepsy and other hyper-excitability disorders,” he said.
I said it again & again: Technology is not inherently good or bad; even the tools with the greatest potential for beneficial use can be twisted to a nefarious end. Am I so crazy in dreading a Minority Report future in which undesirable individuals could be ‘switched off’ by the push of a button?
Still, perhaps the possibility of an Orwellian nightmare should be the least of our concerns. A new report released by the World Health Organization, is warning that the golden age brought by penicillin & all the chemicals we used –and abused!– to keep microscopic pathogens at bay is about to be over. Forget about the War on Drugs! We lost the War on Bugs & we didn’t know it.
In many parts of the world antimicrobial resistance “has reached alarming levels,” the report says. But it outlines an array of threats that underscore the vulnerability of all nations, both rich and poor. To wit:
—A growing number of people with HIV are finding that some antiretroviral drugs don’t work for them. In the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan an estimated 10% to 17% of patients who are just starting drug treatment are infected with a virus that’s resistant to at least one drug.
—Health experts know that strains of tuberculosis resistant to multiple drugs are on the rise, with roughly 20% of recurrent cases falling into this category. But a lack of reliable data on the spread of these strains hampers efforts to get a handle on the problem.
—A handful of countries have identified strains of malaria that are resistant to the drug artemisinin, which is usually a powerful weapon against the parasite that causes the potentially fatal disease. If those drug-resistant strains spread, recent gains in malaria control could be wiped out.
Unless the WHO and its 194 member states get serious about tracking these drug-resistant pathogens, health officials will have no chance to contain their spread, the report says. To that end, the organization will take a lead role in developing surveillance systems to track these bugs in both people and livestock.
Could some of these tracking systems involve periodical clandestine biopsies of cattle, unbeknownst of their owners –i.e. cattle mutilations?; that’s what Christopher O’Brien proposed in his recent book Stalking the Herd.
Meanwhile we have news that the first case of MERS-CoV –short for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome– in the United States has been reported in Indiana. MERS-CoV originally affected camels but it has jumped to humans. Somewhere there’s a biblical parable waiting to be written…
Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out. The worst kind of infection spreading through the world, is APATHY.