“During a summer of superhero blockbusters, Dallas psychiatrist Colin A. Ross, M.D. ( www.rossinst.com), is perfecting a superpower of his own. Dr. Ross’ application to the $1 Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge has been received by the James Randi Educational Foundation ( www.randi.org). Dr. Ross can make a tone sound out of a speaker using nothing but an energy beam he sends out through his eyes.
The $1 million prize serves as a challenge to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The James Randi Educational Foundation states in its Challenge rules that he is only interested in a demonstration of the claim. He does not want theories about how the paranormal claim works. Therefore, Dr. Ross is not required to explain how his demonstration of the human eyebeam works — only that it does work.”
“I once knew a partner at a large firm who told me this: “I can stand what I’m doing right now, because I’m going to retire at 55.” “And then what?” I asked. “I’m going to live my own life for a change.” Her eyes glistened for a moment on her otherwise exhausted face. “And how many years away is that?” “Eighteen,” she said, her voice sinking. “And when you are living your own life, what will you do?” She looked at me with a mixture of bewilderment and sadness before she finally said in a low voice, “I don’t really know, but I’m sure it will come to me.” “When you were a freshman in college, what did you want to grow up to be?” I asked. Immediately, she said, “I was an English major. I wanted to be a fiction writer.” “Do you write fiction now?” I already knew the answer that would come. “I don’t have time,” she said.
I once knew an executive who checked his portfolios and balances daily, constantly calculating and re-calculating the value of his house, the reserves he would need in the coming years to sustain his lifestyle, how much longer he had to “earn an income,” and on and on. I asked him what he wanted to talk about with me. He said, “I hate my life.” “Why?” I asked. “I am so busy worrying about retirement — I can’t relax.” “Is there anything about your life the way it is right now that you like — that feels rewarding? What are your passions?” He stared at me for a long moment before saying, “No … nothing comes to mind.”
I am sure the reader knows individuals who are caught in this bind, or perhaps the reader knows she is in this bind. It is a common condition, causing great amounts of suffering, depression, anxiety and medication. I call it Preparing to Live Syndrome (PtLS).”
The world’s first known scientific instrument plotted the positions of celestial bodies nineteen years into the future — and as an added bonus, it kept track of upcoming Olympics.
“The maker took information about astronomical theories, and made a machine that could predict the future,” said Tony Freeth, co-author of a study to be published in Nature this week. “And it would tell you, as a bit of an add-on, what Olympic games would be in progress at the time.”
Last week I linked to the results of a Disinfo readers poll on their favorite books. A few people commented that they’d like to see what Technoccult reader’s favorite books are. I wasn’t as disappointed with the results of the Disinfo survey as some people were, but my curiosity is sufficiently piqued.
This will be an informal survey, vote by commenting here. Vote for ONE fiction and ONE non-fiction.
Here are my favorites:
Let me preface by saying these are my favorites, not necessarily the books I think are actually “the best.”
Fiction: Dance, Dance, Dance by Haruki Murakami. It wasn’t hard to decide that my favorite novel was something by Murakami. The hard part was deciding which one. I keep changing my mind, but I’m going to go with Dance, Dance, Dance for now. It was the last Murakami novel that I read (I’ve read them all, including Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973), which seems fitting as it is the final in the quadrilogy of the Rat (though many consider it to be a separate novel from the trilogy of the rat). It feels like a fitting “end” point. I wouldn’t recommend anyone read it without at least reading Wild Sheep Chase first, so this isn’t exactly a recommendation. It’s just, y’know, my favorite.
Non-fiction: Everything is Under Control by Robert Anton Wilson. This was the first Wilson book I read, when I was 18 and just starting to get into “this stuff.” I’m pretty sure I read every word of it, but it’s non-linear, hypertextual structure makes it hard to be sure. In this book Wilson introduces Discordia, Hakim Bey and the TAZ, the Church of the Subgenius, Crowley, chaos magic, and more conspiracy theories than I can name and ties them all together through his obsessive cross-referencing. It was absolutely essential to my “initiation.”
My friend and co-conspirator Johnny Brainwash has been running an excellent blog called Dysnomia (named for the Greek goddess of lawlessness and daughter of Eris). According to the about page, he’s covering “Piracy, space and post-Soviet conflicts. Also treehugging, mayhem and high weirdness. Outbreaks of old-fashioned politics may occur.” And to be clear, he’s not talking about data piracy or cute Disney pirates. He’s talking about real life cut-throat pirates who actually rob ships today.
It’s a great place to get some international perspective and find stuff that might otherwise slip through the cracks.
Brainsturbator is back, and first up on the brainfood menu is the mind of Tony Smith:
The first website I ever got lost in belonged to a rambling genius named Tony Smith, a cowboy from Georgia who’s physics theories were too radical for Cornell. That kind of resume will definitely get a high school kid’s attention, and years later, one of the first Brainsturbator articles was a bunch of links to Tony’s site. This is an expanded version, which quotes a lot of the material since the site has disappeared completely several times now.
When players walk into Army sponsored tournaments, the government knows more about them then they may suppose. The game records players’ data and statistics in a massive database called Andromeda, which records every move a player makes and links the information to their screen name. With this information tracking system, gameplay serves as a military aptitude tester, tracking overall kills, kills per hour, a player’s virtual career path, and other statistics. According to Colonel Wardynski, players who play for a long time and do extremely well may “just get an e-mail seeing if [they’d] like any additional information on the Army.” The “America’s Army” web site, however, is quick to point out that the Army respects players’ privacy. The Army claims that player information is not linked to a person’s real world identity unless that person volunteers their identity to a recruiter. But it is not clear that recruiters have to give any sort of discloser that a voluntary relinquishing of one’s name is also an invitation to a player’s statistical information. Answering seemingly innocent questions from recruiters in “America’s Army” chat rooms or at state fairs about one’s screen name may divulge personal information without intending to.