MonthSeptember 2010

Lost William S. Burroughs and Malcolm McNeil Comic to be Reprinted

Ah Pook Is Here / The Unspeakable Mr. Hart

Oh. My. Fuck:

Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce the acquisition of the only graphic novel written by — and possibly the last unseen work of his to be published — the innovative Beat writer and Naked Lunch author, William S. Burroughs. This lost masterpiece, Ah Pook Is Here, created in collaboration with artist Malcolm McNeill in the 1970s, will be published in the summer of 2011 as a spectacularly packaged two-volume, hinged set, along with Observed While Falling, McNeill’s memoir documenting his collaboration with one of America’s most iconic authors.

Ah Pook Is Here first appeared in 1970 under the title The Unspeakable Mr. Hart as a monthly comic strip written by Burroughs and drawn by the British cartoonist and painter Malcolm McNeil in the English magazine Cyclops. When the publication folded, Burroughs and McNeill decided to develop the project into a full-length, Word/Image novel (the term “graphic novel” had not yet been coined). Burroughs was 56 at the time, McNeill 23. […]

John Stanley Hart is the “Ugly American” or “Instrument of Control” – a billionaire newspaper tycoon obsessed with discovering the means for achieving immortality. Based on the formulae contained in rediscovered Mayan books he attempts to create a Media Control Machine using the images of Fear and Death. By increasing Control, however, he devalues time and invokes an implacable enemy: Ah Pook, the Mayan Death God. Young mutant heroes using the same Mayan formulae travel through time bringing biologic plagues from the remote past to destroy Hart and his Judeo/Christian temporal reality.

Fantagraphics: Fantagraphics to Publish Lost William S. Burroughs Graphic Novel

(Thanks Nolon!)

The official Ah Pook is Here web site is here

Also: Malcolm McNeil’s official web site

Here’s an interview with Malcolm McNeil

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits


The findings can help anyone, from a fourth grader doing long division to a retiree taking on a new language. But they directly contradict much of the common wisdom about good study habits, and they have not caught on.

For instance, instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing.

“We have known these principles for some time, and it’s intriguing that schools don’t pick them up, or that people don’t learn them by trial and error,” said Robert A. Bjork, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Instead, we walk around with all sorts of unexamined beliefs about what works that are mistaken.”

Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.

New York Times: Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits

(via Kyle)

Steampunk Band Releases Single on Wax Cylinder

Cylinder Records

The band The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing will be releasing a single on a wax cylinder:

One track of their next album, called Now That’s What I Call Steampunk – Volume One, will be available on a wax cylinder. The CD album and single wax cylinder track will be available from 1 June.

“As far as we’re aware, it’s the first album to be sold with (at least a partial) wax cylinder release for the best part of a century,” she said.

Anyone buying one of the 40 copies of the track on wax will also get instructions for building a phonograph to play the cylinder.

BBC: Tech Know: A journey into sound

(Thanks Bill!)

Alexander Shulgin on VBS.TV

William Gibson Interview on Zero History in Vice

William Gibson

In your last three books, you’ve developed this world where marketing is treated like espionage. There are agents and double agents and intrigue upon intrigue, but it will be in the service of something like a new denim line. Is this approach intended to be satire? Or is it closer to the truth as you see it?

If something really is satire, I don’t enjoy it. It can’t be satire and be that good. What I like is something that’s closer to a useful, anthropological description that has a really, really sharp satirical edge. Satire, traditionally in our culture, pushes the exaggeration past where the edge really hurts, and you sort of just goof on it. But other cultures, like the British, totally get it. Where you want to be with satire is right on the razor’s edge, where it really hurts and you can’t tell whether you’re being put on or not.

One of the easiest illustrations of the differences between their satire and ours would be the two versions of The Office. The British Office had a genuine humanity to it. It could be totally moving. The American take on it is far more buffoonish, and the attempts at humanity in it are maudlin.

Yeah, absolutely. The original Office is heartbreaking, it’s totally heartbreaking. And it’s not that we can’t do it, but that sort of work doesn’t have the prominent foregrounding in American culture that it does in British culture. And it’s something that can often scare Americans the first time they discover it.

Maybe it’s that most people prefer to know what they’re getting beforehand. They don’t like to feel confused about genre or intent.

I think that I am kind of functionally incapable of staying absolutely true to genre or form. Sometimes I feel sorry for somebody in the Atlanta airport who’s just bought one of my books when what they really want is Ludlum or Clancy. They get on the plane to the other side of the world and all they’ve got to read is this screwy shit about designer blue jeans.

Vice: William Gibson

5 Worries Parents Should Drop, And 5 They Shouldn’t

don't take candy from strangers

According to a survey conducted by Christie Barnes, author of the top 5 things parents are worried about:

1. Kidnapping
2. School snipers
3. Terrorists
4. Dangerous strangers
5. Drugs

And the top 5 ways kids actually get hurt:

1. Car accidents
2. Homicide (usually committed by a person who knows the child, not a stranger)
3. Abuse
4. Suicide
5. Drowning

NPR: 5 Worries Parents Should Drop, And 5 They Shouldn’t

(via Bruce Schneier)

Accusations of child witchcraft on the rise in Africa

Very sad:

Child witchcraft allegations are increasing in parts of Africa, as thousands of children have been attacked, beaten or killed, according to a new report.

The accused children are mostly boys, ages 8 to 14 — with orphans, street children, albinos, and disabled as the most at risk, said the United Nations Children’s Fund in its report.

The accused children often suffer from extreme physical or psychological violence as a result of being branded a “child witch,” the report said.

CNN: Report: Accusations of child witchcraft on the rise in Africa

(Thanks Bill!)

Why are there no contemporary accounts of Jesus?

Buff Jesus

An essay containing a list the supposed historical Jesus’s contemporaries who likely would have written about him if, as is claimed in Mark, he his public appearances were attracting thousands of people. Good reference material.

While some apologists attempt to wave this problem away by claiming that “Jesus” would not have been a noteworthy figure, this apologetic tactic contradicts what the Gospels say about Jesus. One cannot hold, at the same time, that the Gospels are true eyewitness accounts of actual events, AND that the Jesus figure in those works would not attract the attention of men like Philo, Pliny or Seneca. It’s an absurd contradiction.
Even the relatively sober account of Jesus found in the first gospel, The Gospel of ‘Mark’, presents us with a Jesus who garnered quite a bit of attention. Consider for example, Mark 2:1-12, where the crowd coming to see Jesus is so great, that a paralytic has to be lowered through the roof of a building Jesus is in, in order for Jesus to see him. Elsewhere Mark tells us that the crowds that Jesus drew were so overflowing that he has to lecture from a boat on the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus travels from Bethany to Jerusalem, throngs of people line the roads to welcome him. Mark also tells us of how Jesus performed miracles before thousands: on two different occasions Jesus feeds thousands through miracles.[2]
In short, ‘Mark’ gives us a ‘Jesus’ who is bigger than the Beatles, and I believe the Beatles analogy is a good one: we even have a nice parallel between the story of Jesus’ lecture from a ship at Galilee, and the Beatles famous ‘rooftop’ audition, where they were forced to play an impromptu concert on a rooftop, lest the crowds that would rush to see them cause a riot. In both cases, the crowds had reached, hysterical, historically noteworthy, proportions. Yet, John E. Remsberg, in ‘The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence'[3] makes the curious observation that no one from this era wrote a single word about the Jesus Hysteria. Remsberg notes: “(While) Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library, (no where)… in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged brief passages in the works of a Jewish author (Josephus), and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.”

A Silence That Screams

(Thanks Paul!)

The Buddha in Viking Sweden

Viking Buddha

Experts have now come to a consensus that the statue was made in the sixth century in North-western India, probably in the Swat Valley.

In some way or other then, and over two or perhaps three hundred years, this little Buddha made its way half way across Euro-Asia to end up on the mantelpiece of a Swedish burgher. Doubtless he sometimes called his wife over and they looked together, shaking their heads at the ‘caste-mark of gold’ on this strange doll’s forehead. […]

Presumably the object was traded down the Silk Road to the Black Sea and from there up the Baltic or just possibly from India to the Caspian and up the Volga to Moscow and from there to the ‘Viking Sea’? That it was found with objects from Egypt, Ireland and the Eastern Mediterranean is, any case, a reminder of just how far Scandinavian ‘traders’ – again Beachcombing is trying to be polite – travelled in the early Middle Ages.

Beach Comber: The Buddha in Viking Sweden

(Thanks Paul!)

Ancient Nubians Drank Antibiotic Beer?

ancient brew

A chemical analysis of the bones of ancient Nubians shows that they were regularly consuming tetracycline, most likely in their beer.

A chemical analysis of the bones of ancient Nubians shows that they were regularly consuming tetracycline, most likely in their beer. The finding is the strongest evidence yet that the art of making antibiotics, which officially dates to the discovery of penicillin in 1928, was common practice nearly 2,000 years ago.
The research, led by Emory anthropologist George Armelagos and medicinal chemist Mark Nelson of Paratek Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

“We tend to associate drugs that cure diseases with modern medicine,” Armelagos says. “But it’s becoming increasingly clear that this prehistoric population was using empirical evidence to develop therapeutic agents. I have no doubt that they knew what they were doing.”

PhysOrg: Ancient brew masters tapped drug secrets

(Thanks Paul!)

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