Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 - Taking it out with a Bang! (Metaphorically speaking...) (video restored)

Spy Vs. Spy (found here)

"… Washington, D.C., is rocked by leaked documents showing that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting massive amounts of data on the phone calls, emails and other electronic activities of millions of American citizens. An NSA spokesperson insists that this program is vital to the fight against terrorism, and that Americans “have absolutely no reason to fear that their privacy is being invaded, or that there are tiny government video cameras concealed in every low-flow toilet in America.” The spokesperson adds that “as a totally unrelated side note, you people need to increase your dietary fiber.”

- 2013 - Dave Barry's Year in Review via The Miami Herald*

Ah well, the year is winding down... but, for many of us, not soon enough. Traditionally, the old year is "rung" out, but, as for 2013 - affectionately known in some circles as the Chinese Lunar Year of the Cockroach** - perhaps, extermination is in order. Hmmm... but, how (I pondered)?

And then, what to my wondering mind's eye should appear (or, maybe it was Mac, preternaturally ad libbing), but "Spy vs, Spy"that dialogue-free, darkly humorous cartoon which first appeared in Mad Magazine in the 1960's. Now, there's a cure!

A Plague Doctor via Wiki

Looking like a cartoon version of twin Plague Doctors, the Black Spy and the White Spy - originally drawn and conceived of by Cuban exile, Antonio Prohías - supposedly represented a metaphor for Cold War espionage. Of course, these days the espionage is even colder, and perpetrated by the NSA against American citizens, but, why go there? In the last analysis, the strip is a creative exercise in innovation: inventing a seemingly endless array of unique (and hilarious) methods of annihilation!

So, below is a compilation of Spy Vs. Spy shorts... a sure cure for the end-of the year blues. 

Cheer up... 2013 (via The Independent, and, more humorously, JibJab, and, more Fortean: Red Pills of the Year)*** is about to become history!

* Synchronicity alert: Dana Tonnies has just informed me (12/29/13) via email, that, while going though Mac's books, she and Bob found an autographed book by the one and only Dave Barry!  (I hadn't known he was a fan.)

** Here's a proposal: La Cucaracha as the official dance-tune for 2013 New Year's Eve festivities. Get those feet stomping!

*** In the event that you, the reader, have yet to laugh at any point in this post, you are, indeed a tough nut to crack. But, not so tough that boingboing's David Pescovitz can't crack you! Re: Best News Bloopers 2013


DISCLAIMER(!): Any references or allusions to "explosives" in this post are intended to be (blackly) humorous existentialist metaphors, and are not intended to inspire actual acts of terrorism.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas, 2013

Mac's parents, Dana and Bob Tonnies (and their Christmas tree), 2013

"And so this is Christmas,  and what have you done?"

Well, if you've managed to make it through this year without losing something, breaking something, or throwing yourself off a bridge, then, I say: congratulations on a job well done! We all deserve a holiday... and, regardless of what dogma you adhere to, or what faith you do or do not possess, December's holidays are there for your emotional survival. It's possible to be extravagant, sentimental, indulgent... even cheerful, if you can manage it; all in the name of being Human, with a capital H.

What inspired this Christmas post was the adorable photo Mac's mom, Dana Tonnies, sent me recently (above). The Tonnies' are wonderful people, and have been supportive of myself and this blog. So, it suddenly came to me that Post-Mac Blues was missing something: namely, Mac's mom and dad. I think Mac would want them here. And Dana, being the gracious woman she is, agreed to let me use the photo. I don't think there'd be an Xmas post without them.

So, on behalf of Dana and Bob, myself, (and those who can't corporeally be present): Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!*

And, may 2014 cure all our woes... (specifically those produced by 2013)... meaning: have a happy and healthy New Year!

* (And, for Dana: Judy Garland's lovely orignal.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Virtual Afterlife: Questions You Never Thought You'd Ask

Artifacts - digital (automatic) - 2007, DS
(a gift to Mac, Xmas, 2007 - click on for clearer image)

"And then what? Well, such a technology would change the definition of what it means to be an individual and what it means to be alive. For starters, it seems inevitable that we will tend to treat human life and death much more casually. People will be more willing to put themselves and others in danger. Perhaps they will view the sanctity of life in the same contemptuous way that the modern e-reader crowd views old fogeys who talk about the sanctity of a cloth-bound, hardcover book. Then again, how will we view the sanctity of digital life? Will simulated people, living in an artificial world, have the same human rights as the rest of us? Would it be a crime to pull the plug on a simulated person? Is it ethical to experiment on simulated consciousness? Can a scientist take a try at reproducing Jim, make a bad copy, casually delete the hapless first iteration, and then try again until he gets a satisfactory version? This is just the tip of a nasty philosophical iceberg we seem to be sailing towards."

- excerpt from: The virtual afterlife will transform humanity by Michael Graziano, 12/18/13, Aeon Magazine

Remember Dmitry Itskov... from this post? Well, for all of Mac's fellow transhumanists out there, over at Aeon magazine, Michael Graziano, a neurologist (and a musician) asks a number of intriguing questions about the reality of a "virtual" existence. He isn't providing many answers here, but, personally, I find this is a tremendous relief (!).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Posthuman Blues, Volume II" Now Available!

"There's an itch in my mind, but I can only find it occassionally. It's like rummaging through a box of ancient refuse and incomprehensible knick-knacks and suddenly feeling the two-pronged bite of a snake between your fingers; you recoil. shrinking, but your curiosity is irreversibly piqued. You want to empty the box into the light of day regardless of the danger - or maybe even because of it." 

- Mac Tonnies, via the cover of Posthuman Blues, Volume 2 (2005-2006)

Just in time for Xmas, Redstar Books announces that the second compilation of posts from Mac's Posthuman Blues blog, Posthuman Blues (2005 - 2006) Volume II, is now available, and can be purchased here.

The foreword to this volume is written by Radio Misterioso's own Greg Bishop.


"Posthuman Blues is of a piece with the Lost Generation of the 1920s and the Beat generation of the 1950s. Tonnies spoke for his generation with passion, eloquence, and a rare insight."

Aaron Gulyas, via the cover of  Posthuman Blues, Volume 2 (2005-2006)

Update, January 6, 2014:  I've just received my copy, and I'm happy to report that this volume is illustrated with photos and a number of Mac's drawings!

Aaron Gulyas reviews it in this blog post. And, here's the Amazon link.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Unearthly Beauty of Abandonment

A room in an abandoned military hospital in Beelitz, Germany. (click to enlarge)

It looks like the set from a science fiction flick, of maybe a haunt of Doctor Who, but, don't be deceived, the photo above is the real deal, and just one of many abandoned human habitats and constructions across the globe.

So, if you're in the mood for radioactive ghost towns, submerged cities, abandoned hotels, subways and train stations, and a ship which is now a floating forest - and who isn't (?) - I advise you head over to the home of Bored Panda (.com) for 31 Haunting Images of Abandoned Places That Will Give You Goose Bumps.

I don't know about goose-bumps, but there's nothing quite as oddly satisfying as a good ruin, and Mac, I believe, would've agreed, so, in a sense, this post is a follow-up to the 2010 PMB post, Urban Decay.

And, if your appetite has not, yet, been sated, and you'd like to take it to the next level, here's a scrumptious video of an abandoned Star Wars set!.

(Hat-tip to PMB friend, David Peeples, for the Panda link.)

(BTW, if you're wondering why I've been inspired to randomly post here again, wonder no more: I'm nursing a broken foot and am chained to the computer.)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Death and the Net

Arthur Squared - digital - 2011, Dia Sobin 

"Some people have been searching for ways to fill that silence, by using artificial intelligence to continue to provide content for a dead user’s social media presence. An app called LivesOn, for instance, offers a service that can continue to send tweets after the death of the Twitter account-holder. Developed by a creative agency and Queen Mary, University of London, the app is designed to analyse a user’s existing tweets, learning from their syntax and word usage to construct new tweets that sound like the user. Another company, Virtual Eternity, based in Alabama, has developed animated avatars of the dead, so that their distant descendants can communicate with them."

- Patrick Stokes via Aeon Magazine, November 20, 2013

The inquiry initiated with Rob Walker's New York Time article continues... this time by Patrick Stokes over at Aeon Magazine, in an engaging article entitled The Digital Soul, from which I pulled the above quote.

Very interesting... but, a tad creepy! An app for ghostly tweets? I shudder to think!

For links to past treatments of the same subject, see this post.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Remembering Mac...

Photo Credit: Mac Tonnies, Cycloptic (self-portrait), 2008

...& missing him. But, what's four years between friends?

Words seem to fail me on this anniversary of Mac's passing, but Aaron John Gulyas posted a tribute to Mac y'all might want to read: Mac Tonnies: 20 August 1975 – 18 October 2009.

(Thanks for the post, AJG, and the PMB mention!)


"In The Chaos Conundrum, historian Aaron John Gulyas examines how the paranormal has intersected and influenced our culture in myriad ways, from the conspiracy beliefs of William Cooper and Exopolitics to the challenge that the stories of Gray Barker presented to our concept of self and time."

(Update 12/4/13 - Regarding The Chaos Conundrum, the "forthcoming" book Aaron Gulyas mentions on the post linked to above: it can now be found on this (Kimball Media) Redstar Books page. While there, you'll find Posthuman Blues, Volume II (2005-2006)... And, I must say, what a great idea it is to use one of Mac's drawings for the book jacket's cover art!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cryptoterrestrials... The Hardcover!

(Click to enlarge.)

Just in time for what would've been Mac's 38th birthday (yesterday, August 20), Anomalist Books has announced the publication of a limited, laminated hardcover edition of "The Cryptoterrestrials: A Meditation on Indigenous Humanoids and the Aliens Among Us"!

Copies can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Rakuten, and Fishpond.


Added note: Speaking of Crypto's, Nick Redfern embellishes an old UFO story with a "cryptic" twist... see "Roswell: The World Below" on Mysterious Universe.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Meet Kirobo, Son of Astro Boy

"Tokyo on Wednesday was treated to one of the first demonstrations of Kirobo, a talking robot that was jointly developed by the University of Tokyo, Toyota, and Dentsu Inc., and will be heading into outer space later this summer. Named after a combination of the Japanese word kibo, or “hope”, and the word “robot”, the Kirobo project is part of an experiment that will see the first human-robot conversation held in space."

- via an article published today at Japan Daily Press

First there was Roboy, and now meet Kirobo, his space-faring brother, set to be launched, this coming August, from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan to the International Space Station in... well, outer space!

But, watching the various Japanese robots that have come onto the scene in recent years, I get this eery feeling of deja vu - why does none of it seem particularly new to me? Ah, I remember now! If you were born at any time between the 1950's through the early 1970's, you probably already have a singular Japanese robotic boy planted in your psyche - Astro Boy, who can "swim oceans, leap over mountains, even fly into space on his own power"!

Astro Boy was the 1950's brainchild of the "Godfather of Manga", legendary animator and visionary, Osamu Tezaku, and this is long before Americans ever heard of the words anime and manga. And, in a strange sense, you might also say, Tezaku is, essentially, the godfather - or grandfather - of Kirobo.

Posted below, is a vintage video introduction to the 1960's Astro Boy cartoon... but, if you want to see an eye-opening list of topics that continue to metaphorically reverberate in the paranormal meme-field today, check out the titles and the early Astro Boy episodes found on this Manga Entertainment page. Yes, Astro Boy even went to Mars!


News Update 8/4/13:

Kirobo the talking Japanese robot lifts off into space

"JAXA, Japan's equivalent of NASA, said the rocket launch was successful, and the separation of a cargo vehicle, carrying the robot to the space station, was confirmed about 15 minutes after liftoff."

- via this Sunday article from The Independent

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Few Moments from the Summer of 2009...

I wandered over to Mac's Flickr page today and was pleasantly surprised. Flickr changed its format, and it's quite nice. Better even, they've made it possible, let alone easy, to share the photos & whatever videos may be gathering dust in the back corners.

I was a little alarmed when I first saw this video - June 27, 2009 - and thought Mac seemed somewhat weak and exhausted... but, he assured me it was just the weather: "Mid-90s here and humid as hell."

Mac's comment on the video? 

"The "interview" was my idea; maybe next time I'll actually have something to say!"

Mac originally posted this clip on Posthuman Blues under the title "Alien Pin".


UPDATE 6/5/13: Dana Tonnies just filled me in with a little background info. The interviewer in this clip is none other than David Peeples, one of Mac's Latteland compadres, and an occasional Post-Mac Blue's contributor.

David, and other members of the Latteland gang - including Andrea Ring, the creator of Mac's alien pin - were interviewed about Mac, in 2011, for a local Kansas City television news spot found here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A "Dizzying Sprawl of Suns and Planets"

"Using NASA's planet hunting Kepler spacecraft. astronomers have discovered 2,740 planet candidates orbiting 2,036 other suns in a search for earth-sized worlds. The search began in 2009. Kepler monitors a rich star field for planetary transits which cause a slight dimming of the starlight when a planet crosses the face of its star..."

"...In this remarkable illustration created by Jason Rowe of NASA's Kepler Science Team, all of Kepler's planet candidates are shown in transit with their parent stars ordered by size from top left to bottom right. Simulated stellar disks and the silhouettes of transiting planets are all shown at the same relative scale, with saturated star colors. Of course, some stars show more than one planet in transit, but you may have to examine the picture at high resolution to spot them all. For reference, the Sun is shown at the same scale, by itself below the top row on the right. In silhouette against the Sun's disk, both Jupiter and Earth are in transit."

- via this Kepler/Nasa page

(Hat-tip to David Darling)


"Each mote of light is a star, as transient in its own magnificent way as the blinking of fireflies. Nothing is permanent, yet billions of the stars embedded in this cosmic swirl have lasted long enough to accrete planets: ponderous, striped gas giants to which Jupiter is but a comma; hot, rocky worlds that mirror Mars, Venus and -- quite probably -- our own Earth.

A "billion" can be a difficult number to truly appreciate, except maybe as an abstract sum of money. Our minds never evolved to deal with such celestial arithmetic. Our rational left-brains, good enough for drafting spreadsheets and tallying the month's bills, are left in embarrassed stupor. I don't know how many stars this galaxy has, but let's say 100 billion. Again: a challenging number. No wonder people made fun of Carl Sagan - speaking of such immensity in merely human language is discomfitingly comical. 

The known universe has over 100 billion galaxies, each hosting its own retinue of stars. Most of these stars have planets; it's statistically inevitable that some of these cradle life. And of these, a fraction almost certainly harbor intelligent life: thinking beings following unguessable agendas. As much as we pretend otherwise, the Earth is not central or even significant in this dizzying sprawl of suns and planets."

- Mac Tonnies, excerpt from a blog entry dated July 16, 2003 from Posthuman Blues, Vol. I, 
2012, Redstar Books

"Even if humanity ultimately takes the dirtnap, the discovery of a living extrasolar planet seems almost inevitable. I wonder what our response will be, gazing at some tantalizing and alien world orbiting another star. What will we have done to ourselves -- and how might our collective predicament color our reception of a confirmed extraterrestrial biosphere?

Although real enough, the new Earth will also play a formative role in our imaginations; it promises to be a liminal frontier as well as an astrobiological focal point -- the locus of new myths, an imaginal haven forged of memes old and new, a distant and beckoning mirror."

- Mac Tonnies, 2006, excerpt from this archived Posthuman Blues blog entry


In the late 1990s, when I first entered cyberspace, one could probably count the number of known exoplanets on one hand. Which is not to say that all the planets on the above chart have been confirmed, but, thanks to Kepler, astronomers have made a quantum leap. That "100 Billion" number that Mac uses in the first quote has now been estimated between 100 - 400 billion... and that estimate refers to exoplanets in the Milky Way galaxy alone!

For those interested, as to the "new Earth" and the "imaginal haven forged of memes old and new" in Mac's second quote, well, not long ago, I was inspired to gather a few mythical memes together regarding a related, and very recent, Kepler discovery. See: When Inner Worlds and Outer Worlds Collide.

(Note: If you click on the RedStar Books link above, you might find a new addition to the roster - hopefully, we'll be hearing about Posthuman Blues, Volume II soon!)

Exoplanet Link List:

Planetary Habitability Laboratory at Arecibo
Exoplanet Orbit Database
European Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia
Planet Hunters
Planet Quest

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Missing LInk

Michael MacDonald, Greg Hemmings, and Mac

"I was saddened to hear that my friend Mac Tonnies, a legend in UFO research, died of natural causes, man he was so young, only 34.

A while back we were shooting a series for Vision TV about the paranormal; one of the episodes was about life on other planets. 

The host of this episode was UFO researcher and respected blogger Mac Tonnies. Man we had some great times on the road, he awkwardly fit in with the film crew just perfectly as us filmmakers are just as up in the stars as the UFO community are! Mac Tonnies introduced me to Twitter, I remember driving up to an astrological observatory atop a mountain outside Laramie Wyoming, he was leaning out the window taking a picture of me filming him, he told me this was for his twitter. I had no idea what he was talking about, but as the man was far more in the future and ahead of the times as I ever am, Mac introduced me to social media phenomenon that wouldn’t take real grip for another 12 months! Unreal!"

- excerpt from a memorial blog post, "RIP, Mac Tonnies" Greg Hemmings, 
October 22nd, 2009

I've just added a missing link to the "Other Mac Tonnies Memorial Page/Post Links" on the sidebar of this blog, to a memorial post by Greg Hemmings, which somehow fell outside the radar up till very recently.

Back in the summer of 2008, Mac was guest host on a Canadian television series "The Supernatural Investigators", specifically the episode entitled "Life on Other Planets" (Note: I previously mentioned it here. Unfortunately, not even the trailer can be found online presently). The upshot of this was that Mac got to travel around the country interviewing people like astronomer, Maggie Turnbull, and psychologist, Leo Sprinkle, while enjoying the company of Canadian filmmaker, Hemmings, Halifax-based writer, producer and director, Michael McDonald, and director, Jennifer Adcock.

Mac chronicled his journey extensively on his Twitter page, mentioning it only briefly on PHB - specifically here, and here (with a brief excerpt from a post by Greg Hemmings, which seems to be no longer online).  Michael MacDonald, on the other hand, did a write-up on his blog, which can be found here.

(Hat-tip to Dana Tonnies, for bringing this memorial post to my attention.)


UPDATE (5/9/13) - Mike Clelland uploaded Mac's "Supernatural Investigator" episode, "Life on Other Planets", here, and on his own blog Hidden Experience this past week. Thanks, Mike!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Compressorhead, The All-Robot Rock Band

"Fingers" via Kruger Media

"Along with Bones, 'the highest precision bass player in known existence,' and drummer Stickboy, who plays a 14-piece kit, these robots make up the German all-robot heavy metal band Compressorhead. According to the band's website, which pokes fun at its human readers as 'meatbags,' the drummer, like the guitarist, 'was created to exacting specifications. 4 arms, 2 legs, 1 head, no brain.'

Compressorhead's performance is controlled by MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and electro-pneumatic valves that are synchronized with 
the robots' head-banging movements."

- excerpt from: Raging Machines: Compressorhead, the First Robot Rock Band by Daniel Honan, April 16, 2013, Big Think

Well, you knew it had to happen sooner or later... I'm only surprised it took so long.

Of course, nothing apart from a kitchen appliance would prefer Compressorhead's cover of Blitzkrieg Bop to the Ramone's original "meatbag" version... however, not bad, not bad. And if you like this sort of thing, here's the raging machines covering "Bullet in the Head" by... um, those other guys.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Underground Cities of... Kansas City, MO...?

A tunnel beneath Kansas City - The Kansas City Star

"Kansas City policeman Jason Cooley told the paper that officers found a series of winding underground tunnels and were directed there because of a recent crime spree.

‘One of the tunnels probably went 20 to 25 feet underground towards the back and veered off in another direction about six feet or so,’ he told the Kansas City Star, adding that they discovered candles and bedding as well in some of the cavern’s alcoves.

It is unclear who exactly the homeless people are, or how they dug such
deep entrenchments."

Hmmm... kind of looks like Cappadocia

Allegedly, however, the tunnels beneath Kansas City, Missouri, were made by a group of homeless people. Well, we don't actually see the homeless people... though at the end of the KMBC newscast video found here, a scruffy fellow named Scott ambles into the frame and then walks away pushing his bicycle... ?

Crypto-strange-o to me... And Mac, whose last home was in Kansas City, just might've agreed. ;-)

Welcome to 2045

"We believe that it is possible and necessary to eliminate aging and even death, and to overcome the fundamental limits of the physical and mental capabilities currently set by the restrictions of the physical body.

Scientists from various countries in the world are already developing technology that ensures the creation of an artificial human body prototype within the next decade. We believe the biggest technological project of our times will become the creation of such artificial human body and a subsequent transfer of individual human consciousness
 to such a body."

Joining the Billionaire-Boys-With-Big-Ideas-Club in 2011 (along with the likes of Elon Musk - the man who wants to die on Mars - and Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg) was Russian media mogul, Dmitry Itskov, 32. Whereas, Futurist Ray Kurzweil may have predicted a technological Singularity for 2045, Itskov launched his own political party in Russia last year- Evolution 2045 - to orchestrate Kurzweil's ideas into official reality. And, apparently, he means business... Big Business, involving his fellow billionaires, and/or, at least, their bucks, with the formal launching of his 2045 Strategic Social Initiative.

In June of this year, Itskov will host the second annual International Global Future 2045 Congress at the Lincoln Center in New York. The goal is to create a "suitable environment for the creative synthesis of scientific theories and spiritual traditions and practices". Two speakers at the congress will be Hiroshi Ishiguro, who is widely known for his robot doppelgangers, and David Hanson, famous for creating robot versions of Albert Einstein and Phillip K. Dick.

Itskov's agenda, and one of which he has no doubts about? To eventually produce the ways and means of uploading human consciousness into holographic "Avatars", thereby attaining human immortality.

I think Mac Tonnies would've found Itskov's enthusiasm exhilarating... up to and including Itskov's "synthesis" of science and the spiritual. For a few Posthuman Blues essays on the subject, try here, here, and here. One the other hand, here's a post regarding Mac's "transhumanist misgivings".

Monday, April 1, 2013

Death in Cyberspace

"As we lead more of our lives online, we leave behind an ever bigger digital footprint when we go. There are the public parts - the blogs, the tweets, the forum posts - but also the private things such as the emails stored on servers owned by companies like Google. Sorting out the digital legacy is becoming as onerous as being a traditional executor."

The conundrum continues.

If you've followed this blog for several years, you're probably already aware of several treatments of this topic - death in cyberspace - all of which mention Mac Tonnies, and, all of which I've posted about in the past. There was a 2009 German television spot, the 2011 New York Times article, a 2011 Kansas City NBC television spot, and the VOA radio broadcast from last year.

The quote above is from BBC Radio 4, which, in today's broadcast, treats the subject from a more legal standpoint. No, Mac isn't mentioned this time around - though I was approached initially, but had to decline due to a schedule conflict -  but, you can listen to Out of the Ordinary (Part 3) now on the BBC's RadioPlayer. It'll be available throughout the week.

UPDATE - 4/8/13: To listen to the BBC Radio 4 broadcast now and in the future, here's the dedicated link: Out of the Ordinary (Part 3).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Strangely New "Gray Mars"

Mars, 2013 - Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

"We have characterized a very ancient, but strangely new 'gray Mars' where conditions once were favorable for life," said John Grotzinger, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. 

NASA announced today the results of rock samples gathered last month, and the verdict is in: yes, ancient Mars could've supported life! Of course, by "life" NASA scientists are referring to the microbial... to which the Martians among us say "ho hum"... and, of course, the verdict may be overturned at some point - like the great Martian water debate... which I'm not sure has been really settled yet - but, we may as well play along. Hell, what have we got to lose... except time? ;-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Atomic Tom...

... recently abducted from the Art Shaman's workshop. The best part? It's functional!

(Sorry, Bob, but I just had to have it!)

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Vision of the Apocalypse - Now!

Normally, this blog is not a news site, but I just caught this bit of breaking news a few minutes ago from the Guardian: Meteorite explosion over Chelyabinsk injures hundreds,
and this video is so riveting, I was compelled to post it.  More can be found in the article.

The number of people injured varies, from 500 to 1000, but, apparently the meteorite broke up above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. Hopefully there were no fatalities. Pretty scary stuff. And, although explanations vary, this isn't the first time Russia was in the cosmic line of fire... see the Tunguska event.  Mac's posts about Tunguska can be found here.

Wired: Table Of Malcontents

"Post-Human Blues: Mac Tonnies is undeniably a bit of a weirdo. Perhaps that’s why I like him so much, though I agree with nearly nothing that he writes. His subject is largely the future of humanity: he enthusiastically imagines a future, sometimes hopefully, sometimes apocalyptically, where the transhuman is real."

- John Brownlee - via this post from the 2007 Wired blog: Table of Malcontents 

More Mac trivia... an excerpt of this quote is blurbed on the PHB side-bar, but Mac also posted about it here (with comments from Brownlee and himself).

Table of Malcontents seems to have been a fine blog, but, unfortunately, only lasted 9 months.

Note: this post replaces the 2011 video, Robots of Brixton by Kibwe Tavares and Factory Fifteen. It lost too much in a small format, but, if you haven't caught it in the past, it can be seen in its full glory here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

From The Other Side

Jim Harold's Paranormal Plus Club

Brought to you from the Other Side (no, not that other side), Jim Harold's radio show... where Paul Kimball discusses his friend, Mac Tonnies, at some length. Topics include Post Human Blues; Volume I, the 2006 New Frontiers Symposium, and those enigmatic Crypto's. The Other Side is subscription-only listening, but Paul has graciously provided a direct link to the MP3. Thanks, Paul!

Note: Just in case you missed it, Paul chatted with George Noory on Coast to Coast AM last month...  notice (& link) can be found here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Moth & The Machine

"Lead author of the research, Dr Noriyasu Ando, said: "The simple and robust odour tracking behaviour of the silkmoth allows us to analyse its neural mechanisms from the level of a single neuron to the moth's overall behaviour. By creating an 'artificial brain' based on the knowledge of the silkmoth's individual neurons and tracking behaviour, we hope to implement it into a mobile robot that will be equal to the insect-controlled robot developed in this study...

The best way to elicit adaptive behaviours of insects is to put them into extraordinary situations. The turning bias in our study is analogous to a situation in which we try to ride unbalanced bicycles. We need training to ride such bicycles smoothly but the silkmoth overcomes the situation with only simple and fast sensory-motor feedbacks," said Dr Ando."

- Excerpt from a 2/5/13 article: Insect drives robot to track down smells 


Life imitating art again... specifically my art... blogged about previously here and finally, here. Whatdaya mean you can't make this sh*t up? ;-)

By the way, it took 14 silkmoths to complete this study. I say no more.

(Hat tip to Perceval at the Daily Grail.)

(Detail) Worm's Last Memory - Digital - 2009, Dia Sobin

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mind Meld: Science Fiction and Science Fact

Screen shot from the 2002 Sy-Fi miniseries Taken

"Turns out two heads really are better than one. Two people have successfully steered a virtual spacecraft by combining the power of their thoughts - and their efforts were far more accurate than one person acting alone. One day groups of people hooked up to brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) might work together to control complex robotic and telepresence systems, maybe even in space."

- Excerpt from a New Scientist article, Mind-meld brain power is best for steering spaceships by Paul Marks, February 1, 2013

From the life-imitates-art file: I was taking my daily stroll through Graham Hancock's news page today, when I came across the link to the (above) New Scientist article about brain-computer interfacing. I'd heard of instances where brain signals can now be used to control computer operated devices - such as prosthetic limbs - but the idea of more than one brain controlling complex systems "in space" immediately rang a bell.

And then I remembered why. If you ever saw that Sy-Fi miniseries Taken (from way back when in 2002) - directed by Stephen Spielberg, and one of my personal favorites - you probably have this scene embedded in your head: a pair of middle-aged psychic twins who unwittingly become (doomed) participants in a secret government experiment to test-fly a captured alien spacecraft using human "mind power". It was ultimately pretty horrifying... the twins suffering cerebral hemorrhages as they sat, completely unprotected - in the strange alien cockpit. (see screen-shot above).

The film's premise for the alien craft was that it was powered by the alien brains... although instead of two in a virtual spacecraft, as in the article, it took 5 brains for intergalactic space travel.

Below is a clip from Taken - the first 4 minutes describing the craft's power source. As for the fate of the psychic twins - that can be found 7 minutes into this clip.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hungry for Mars?

I guess I must be!

 Found a listing for Curiosity rover weekly reports and thought I'd share. It's about as close to a walk on Mars that one can get presently...

For past & future reports, try here.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blade Runner Revisited

"We may not literally have built Replicants yet, but the thrust of Dick's ideas, brought to life in Blade Runner, was not really about that. The point was that the Replicants could be anyone. The robots-becoming more-human-than-human trope was only a metaphor for collective dissociation, brought on by exponential progress. In that dissociative societal process, who can say who the arbiters of rationality, normality and morality are?"

- excerpt from Retro-futurism: 1968 On the Way to 2019 via Histories  of Things To Come

For all you Blade Runner fanatics out there - and Mac was surely one - check out the latest post over at Histories of Things to Come... it just might make your day.