1. NASA to Hold News Conference on “Astrobiology Finding”

    Graffiti on an advertisement spotted this week at Morgan Avenue Subway in Brooklyn suggesting this is the year.

    We’ve covered alien disclosure in November 29, 2009 and UFO disclosure October 13, 2010. Nothing has happened on those days. No, balloons in Chelsea New York does not count as a UFO sighting. The objects were identified. This is damn interesting though. NASA is calling the press to deliver a recent discovery in astrobiology, aka the study of aliens and ETs. Sentient or not.

    Though rumors always circulate, as Google’s spike in “alien disclosure” shows for the end of 2009 and (so far) 2010 nothing results.

    So what is NASA going to say this week?

    From NASA’s Press Release Archive:

    NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.

    Wozers. Before anyone jumps to fantastic conclusions, it’s unlikely they are going to say “Hey, here’s the guys we caught at Roswell. We gave them a shot and they are alright guys once you get pass the whole giant-head-and-giant-black-eye-thing.” Or anything like that.

    There’s been some recent traction that our own galactic backyard might have alien life, life we may have come from. Saturn’s Moon Rhea has an oxygen-rich atmosphere, Mars is mysteriously producing methane, and undiscovered life even in our own stratosphere.

    There may be life out there that we just never noticed. It may not be sentient and calling us, but maybe it’s there. If they announce the recent finding is life at all. It’s easy to invent fantasy, hard to invent banality. Could be something so much as a more efficient way for probes to detect life. Or just a new committee to investigate the possibility of extra terrestrial life. Which is still fantastic.

    Either way, this is one press conference that perked my interest more than any turtleneck wearing CEO’s unveiling of an iProduct.

  2. 9 Eyes: Google As Pathos Reservoir

    I usually try to avoid straight up reblogging off of Dangerous Minds, seeing as how our tastes align so much that I’d be doing it daily.  But today they sent me off towards 9eyes, a tumblog that collects Google Streetview shots, in all their weirdness, pain and moments of sublime pathos.

    Beyond how common it is to spy hooligans flipping the bird, streetwalkers streetwalking and people of all ages hitting the pavement, there’s something great about the selections that suggest a grander story.  Stolen moments that would otherwise dissolve into the ether, now immortalized, hinting at a greater depth.  Someone should do an illustrated edition of short stories with one Streetview shot per.

    Give yourself 10 minutes and browse through it all over at 9eyes.

  3. Kinect Cracked, Hands Wave and Craft Infinite Architecture

    ofxKinect 3D draw 001 from Memo Akten on Vimeo.

    A man stands in a room waving his hands, artfully guiding the movements of gigantic machines on Mars.  Three days ago, they switched on, churning up the red iron-rich soil atop a carefully chosen seam of permafrost. On a six minute lag, the machines translate his motions into building unreal works of architecture, built for no one and only viewed from remote camera, on the ground and orbiting hundreds of miles overhead.

    In a week, when the story breaks and the world has seen the walls and plazas and walkways rising from the alien desert, he’s built a sprawling city that is equal parts Las Vegas and ancient Babylon.

    Again, I ask you to consider the Sci-Fi Now possibilities of linking embryonic technologies to express both the creativity and the darkness in the human soul.  With a bounty, they’ve cracked the Kinect and people like the gentleman above are already drawing in air, creating and manipulating 3-D space.  What happens when we re-translate those motions back into the physical?  When the stroke of the hand through air is replicated by the machine arm?  Or draws a structure that an extruder then pours onto the earth in quick-set concrete?  The mania our species shows for creating monuments is coming to the individual, along with the carbon, scrap and waste that comes with such an activity.

    The supervillian of the future will have his Kinect hooked to Structure Synth, feeding into UAV construction equipment, writing his symphony upon the earth in the shape of algorithmically generated strip malls, linked in chains that choke the shattered landscape.   Or, as I recall the view from the plane’s window as I flew into Chicago-Midway, did that already happen?

  4. City of Seattle’s $5000 Ley Line Map

    Map of Ley Lines in SeattleEver hear of Ley Lines? Alfred Watkins, an amateur archaeologist, noted that several places of interest seemed to follow a straight line. Naturally there’s many reasons for that: paths from flood plains, established routes, and plain pareidolia— or the human interest in seeking patterns at all times. Watkins was convinced ley lines were a genuine force in Britain’s landmarks and the cosmos. A source of energy that, as often happens in psuedoscience, only the ancients knew existed.

    The real success of ley lines as an idea occurred after Watkins death in the budding New Age movement of the 1960’s. Ley lines were the perfect New Age cocktail of middle school level science, mysticism, and reverence for the “noble savages.” The idea of magnetic mystical energy was a powerful and captivating idea to some audiences.

    The idea is not generally accepted. The city of Seattle though through the Seattle Arts Commission– not science mind you– had a map comissioned in 1987. Which can be yours from the artists Geo Group for $5,000 or roughly $9,300 today. It is still housed at the North Service Center of the Seattle City Light company.

    A brief video showing some of the “Power Centers” in Seattle.

  5. Free Land: Land Rush Continues, Minus the Rush

    Sick of paying rent?  Of course you are.  Every time I write that stupid monthly check I take a moment to reflect on how it seems that every square inch of this earth is owned and occupied by someone or something that had the luck to show up years before I ever got around to trying to live somewhere.  Rare is the place where you can lay down without paying a toll, and…

    OK, I’ll skip the hobo monologue and get to the juicy bit:

    FREE FRIGGIN’ LAND!  You heard me.  There are still places in the US that have land for the asking.  Vurbly did a nice little roundup of six places in the U.S.–in Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, and Maine–that are offering free land to people and companies interested in relocating to their town.  While in the back of my mind, I’m thinking that these must be economically struggling areas, battling the inevitable flight of human capital when local industry goes bust, these communities sure do paint a rosy picture.

    Marquette, Kansas woos you like:

    The community of Marquette, Kansas is offering free building lots to interested families who are looking for an extraordinary small town, in the heart of America, to call home. The building lots are located in the Westridge Addition development on the west edge of town with beautiful, open views of the evening sunset and wide-open rolling fields. The Westridge addition has become home to both retired people and young families from right here in Kansas and across the United States. They have all come together to enjoy the friendly, affordable, relaxed, safe and peaceful lifestyle that this small, centrally-located Kansas town offers. A lifestyle where neighbors know neighbors and parents feel comfortable letting kids play outside, take a bike ride and walk to school. We offer you not only a free building lot, but the chance to join these residents in enjoying this exceptional lifestyle.

    Don’t get it twisted, though.  Each and every one of these offers comes with a catch.  Some want you to bring a business to town that will employ locals, others just want you to build on your free lot along a set of building guidelines.  Abandon your dreams of stringing up barbed wire and digging up sod for a prairie homestead.  Or at least find a different venue.

    If rules aren’t your thing, may I suggest the perennially popular option of squatting?  Living in abandoned structures has its charms and adventures as well as a history dating back to the very dawn of raising structures to live in.  Here’s a nice and thorough UK-centric primer for the prospective squatter.  For those of us in the States, the San Francisco Tenant’s Union has a bit of a primer here.

    image by Flickr user davedehetre

  6. Andy Weir’s Short Story “The Egg”

    Briliant short story by Andy Weir: “The Egg“. Highly worth checking out.

    I’ve always been opposed to the Cartesian fueled afterlife that dominates Western society. The Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno once asked a peasant if he believed it was possible there is a God– but no afterlife. The peasant responded “Then wherefore God?” It’s comforting feeling I suppose that there is somewhere else to go when the engines power down, but a dangerous one. A comforting feeling that brings out the most vile aspects of humanity in fear, war, violence, and domination.

    So when a story about the afterlife doesn’t leave a bitter taste in my mouth, it has to be good. I’m damn impressed.

    The Egg” by Andy Weir is just that. I would say its better than any of the short stories in the recent cult-classic Sum: Forty Tales of the Afterlife by David Eagleman.

    Also worth noting is “The Martian” his ongoing saga of an astronaut stranded on Mars and (so far) cleverly survives.

  7. Serendipity Generates Your Fantasies

    “The hale enchantress poses ‘pon husky columns, her placid covering violet of tincture… crimson oculars flashing with innocence and auditories pricked atop her powerful physique.”

    You think I could have written that?  Ha, fat chance.  No poet of magic-dealing furry slash fiction am I.  In fact, I don’t even know what that last sentence means.

    Posing dashingly on the ruined sludge fields of the internet, Serendipity’s text generators kick holes in your writer’s block with multiple genres of automatic gibberish.  Need a fantasy story plot?  How about: “In this story, witches and merfolk clash with a retired elf stuck in the middle.”  Bam! It’s the next Harry Potter I tell ya.

    Or say you find yourself working a dead-end job as M. Night Shamalon’s assistant and he wants three plot twists by 5 pm.  No problem:

    At this juncture a hungover police officer arrives and serves dinner.
    Suddenly a mysterious boy requests a lift from your protagonist’s mother.
    Suddenly a zookeeper arrives and throws a tantrum.

    And yes, like I said, you can use whatever comes spewing out of this internet idea hole.  As proprietor Mr Manon says:

    Yes, you may use the output of these generators to create your fiction, RPG, etc. That’s what they’re for. If you want to give me credit with a note and/or link, that’s very nice of you and is appreciated, but it’s not required. (N.B.: If the fiction, RPG, etc. in question is based on someone else’s fictional works, the accompanying copyright issues are your own lookout.)

    There’s only so many times your readers will accept a character named Lorem Ipsum. Spend no more time wracking your brains over medieval names, villianesses, online handles and descriptions of magicians.  It’s all ready made at the click of a link at Serendipity.

  8. Master on the Horror of Insanity writer HP Lovecraft on Republicans (Remember to Vote)

    Tomorrow is election day in the United States and yesterday was Halloween. Coincidence? Here’s some political advice from master of cosmic horror and insanity, HP Lovecraft, on Republicans from 1936:

    As for the Republicans — how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.
    — HP Lovecraft, 1936
    Letter to C.L. Moore (August 1936), quoted in “H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by S.T. Joshi, p. 574