MonthJanuary 2007

Robert Anton Wilson, RIP

RAW died at 4:50 AM this morning. He will be sorely missed.

Burning Man Founders Mired in Dispute

A co-founder of Burning Man, the annual six-day festival of self-expression that culminates in the torching of a 40-foot effigy on the salt flats of northern Nevada, has sued his ex-partners to strip them of ownership of the event’s name and logo and to place the rights to their trademarks in the public domain.

John Law, who helped transform a series of small bonfire parties on a San Francisco beach into a phenomenon that drew more than 39,000 last year, sued Burning Man board members Larry Harvey and Michael Mikel in federal court Tuesday.

Full Story: AP.

Inside a secret society: A gay African American Freemason’s story

As a gay African American man, how do you feel about allegations that the Masons have a history of racial and homophobic policies or practices?

Things vary from lodge to lodge. The city I live in has a few dozen lodges. I know that in the past, and speaking on a global level, there are lodges that have not allowed blacks, lodges that have barred Jews and lodges that have kept out Catholics.

What about gays?

I have not heard of any lodge that has a policy that does not allow gay men in.

You believe that in the past or present, there have never been lodges that discriminated against homosexuals?

I’m not saying that. But I will say that I have not heard, before or after my induction, of a lodge that openly discriminates against gays. However, my friend who is a Mason is gay, but he is not out, and feels that if did come out, that it would be a problem in his lodge. There are people being inducted in my lodge who are surprised that I am allowed in as an openly gay man.

None of that bothers you?

American society does not accept gay people or black people. But I don’t wake up every day and walk out of my home thinking about that. I don’t live my life that way.

Full Story: The Advocate.

(thanks Trevor).

Now that’s some Wal-Mart effect!

Michael Barbaro breaks down the various advantages, issues, and resistances to the great Compact Fluorescent light bulb conversion, with attention to the might that Wal-Mart is bringing to the table.

Light-bulb manufacturers, who sell millions of incandescent lights at Wal-Mart, immediately expressed reservations. In a December 2005 meeting with executives from General Electric, Wal-Mart’s largest bulb supplier, ‘the message from G.E. was, ?Don’t go too fast. We have all these plants that produce traditional bulbs,’ ‘ said one person involved with the issue, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of an agreement not to speak publicly about the negotiations.

The response from the Wal-Mart buyer was blunt, this person said. ‘We are going there,’ the buyer said. ‘You decide if you are coming with us.’

Now that’s some Wal-Mart Effect. [Link]

Just to follow up… If you read the Times’ piece last week and can’t get enough of this Compact Fluorescent chit-chat, prepare to return back down to earth with yesterday’s more sobering assessment from William Hamilton:

When I found out last week that Wal-Mart, America’s biggest company, was putting a push on compact fluorescent light bulbs, hoping to make them a new lighting standard at home because they use 75 percent less energy, last 10 times longer and would save me $30 over the life of each bulb, I thought to myself, what’s not to like?

Well, fluorescent light’s not to like, many people might say.

[Read more here.]

via the Core77 Monday Morning Must Read newsletter

Exploring the Mind-Body Orgasm

Komisaruk: Orgasms have been described as being elicitable from any part of the body — the mouth, the nipples, the anus, the hand. It leads us to think that there is a general orgasmic principle of building up excitation from different parts of the body leading to a climax and a resolution — not necessarily ending in ejaculation, but a feeling of an orgasmic experience.

Whipple: We have documented in our laboratory that women can have orgasms from imagery alone without touching their body. The point is that women can experience orgasms and sexual pleasure from many forms of stimuli. It does have not have to be through genital stimulation.

WN: What are we learning about these non-genital orgasms?

Whipple: That they’re real. We may have to reconsider what people define as orgasms, and not just have it defined in the genitals. We find that certain of the same brain areas are activated during orgasms experienced by imagery only (as during genital orgasms).

Full Story: Wired News.

(plus: Sex Research Devices).

Simpsons as anime characters

simpsons as anime characters

Full sized pic.

(via Robot Wisdom).

Out of place artifacts

In response to the 10 most puzzling ancient artifacts post, Bill Whitcomb says:

OOPARTS (out of place artifacts) happens to be one of my favorite areas of pointless speculation. Some of them, like the Greek calculator and the stone sphere are what they seem to be. That is, the Antikythera device was the product of someone brilliant, but was totally within the abilities of period craftsmen, providing someone could design it.

Others, such as the Dropa stones are more cryptic.

The problem with many of these reports, such as various things found in coal, is that they were found in the 19th century and were not documented in any verifiable way. Someone CLAIMS they saw the thing fall out of a lump of coal and, often as not, the artifact itself has been misplaced.

There’s tons of this stuff in the book, Forbidden Archeology:

Here are also a few related OOPART sites:

Private space travel news

Amazon boss shows off spacecraft:

The billionaire founder of has released the first images of the launch of a private spacecraft that could bring space travel to the masses.

A video of the cone-shaped Goddard vehicle shows it climbing to about 85m (285ft) before returning back to Earth.

The test launch took place in November 2006 in a remote part of Texas, but details have only now been released.

(reminded by Nerdshit).

Stephen Hawking plans to go into space in 2009:

World renowned British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking wants to go to a place he has only theorized about in his long career: space.

“This year I’m planning a zero-gravity flight and to go into space in 2009,” he was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Hawking, 65, has said he hopes to travel on British businessman Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic service, which is scheduled to launch in 2009. The service will charge space tourists about $200,000 US for a two-hour, suborbital trip some 140 kilometres above the Earth.

(via Monkey Filter).

An introduction to DMT and Extraterrestrial Communication

Do people meet alien entities on DMT because they expect to meet alien entities? It’s not an idle question, it’s grounds for a fun experiment, too. From the Rodruigez paper:

To validate or falsify this hypothesis, the experimenter should perform a single blind study in which human subjects are used who have never heard of DMT and its extraordinary effects on the human psyche. These subjects are told that DMT inebriation will provide them solely a visual and auditory hallucination. By simply defining the experience as that experienced in front of the veil, the ill-informed subject will have no preconception as to what is possible given the right conditions for entering into the DMT-induced alternate reality. If subjects continually return only to describe the world in font of the veil, then it can be concluded that the DMT experience can be influenced by biasing the subject. In this sense, the hallucination is driven by preconceptions and therefore may be understood solely as an inconsistent subjective hallucination. On the other hand, if the inexperienced human subjects return with testimonies of encounters with alien beings, then DMT is responsible for alien entity experiences. It is noted that this experiment has already been implemented with positive results. Dr. Strassman’s work used unassuming human subjects that did, in fact, return from DMT inebriation with entity experiences (Strassman 2001).

Full Story: Brainsturbator

Stem Cells Discovered in Amniotic Fluid

Stem Cells Discovered in Amniotic Fluid.

Meanwhile, medical tourism accelerates.

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