If the above relationship between charge and gravity is correct, then it would it explain why stars orbit the centre of galaxies faster than they should (they are highly charged objects) and there would be no need for the dark matter that civilian scientists believe exists but cannot find. It would also mean that we could construct craft that could easily take us to other planets and other stars. Our era of using ludicrously primitive chemical rockets would be over. It would also mean, theoretically, that other races from all those planets around all those stars could easily visit us, once they'd developed this technology.
Many people might think that if gravity is all about positive and negative charge, we'd all have anti-gravity saucer craft by now. There are good reasons why our civilians scientists would not be getting the chance to give us craft that make petrol-guzzling machines obsolete. I'll leave the details of that for now. Nevertheless, if gravity and charge are linked, then a lot of aliens should be visiting our planet. This is a powerful piece of information and since 'knowledge itself is power', to quote the brilliant scientist and diplomat Sir Francis Bacon, it's hardly surprising us ordinary folks are being kept away from it.
When it comes to reports of aliens visiting us, a lot of us will immediately think about stories such as 'the glowing light got me and then I woke up on a laboratory table and these evil looking greys were experimenting on me and they shoved something in my brain and in my eye and left me by the side of the road!' This sort of event may certainly happen; it's certainly the idea promoted in entertainment like the 'X' files, but it can't be the only way humans could interact with aliens. If aliens are visiting our planet, some of them would logically be nice individuals. Any other view smacks of hysterical paranoia.
So, logically, if all the above elements are correct, then there should be accounts of nice alien visits. Fortunately, there are and here's one to watch. Steve Boucher comes across as a genuine, peaceful, honest guy. He might be lying all the way through the interview but his non-verbal behaviour, his speech patterns and his demeanour all point to him being entirely sincere (as far as I can tell). His account is believable, fascinating and at times, very funny. Definitely recommended.
Here's the follow up interview with Q&A:
For example, our zodiac includes two key figures, the Scorpion and the Centaur Archer. The Scorpion’s sting-tail and the end of the Centaur Archer’s arrow stand over the centre of our galaxy. This is a very surprising coincidence considering the centre of our galaxy is invisible to us because of intervening dust clouds. LaViolette uses these facts, along with the geological record, ice core studies and the stories of indigenous peoples, to put forward the idea that, in around 12,000 BC, our planet was hit by such a wave from the centre of our galaxy. This wave of high energy particles pushed a vast amount of interstellar dust into our inner solar system, against the solar-wind which usually keeps out such dust. This vast amount of dust caused chaos on Earth and triggered the catastrophic end of our ice age.
It’s interesting to note that Dr LaViolette uses an idea in his book that I also put forward, years ago. The idea, to put it simply, is that the Book of Revelations is not about our future, as it says in its introduction, but is instead an account of a cataclysm in our ancient past. LaViolette points out that the events described in Revelations match exactly what would occur when a vast incursion of dust and disturbed comets entered our inner solar system and hit Earth.
I definitely recommend ‘Earth on Fire’. It is a bit over-wordy in places and I did skim a few pages here and there but overall, it’s a fascinating, well-researched and compelling theory.
Dr Laviolette is qualified and experienced as a physicist and engineer and shows it with his in-depth descriptions in the book of sub-quantum kinetics, an alternative theoretical description of the fundamental behaviour of reality. On the science direct website, there is an article by Laviolette describing this theory, entitled 'The Cosmic Ether: Introduction to Subquantum Kinetics'. The abstract reads:Read More...
This, I think, is a big problem with people; if you talk to someone about something that's outside their comfort zone, their 'sphere of expectation', more likely than not, they'll think you're mad. Bertrand Russell was wise in saying; “do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” Unfortunately, it won't stop you getting locked up.
2) The Annunaki were on Earth in ancient times for mining purposes.
3) The Annunaki created a hybrid human, a mixture of themselves and Homo Habilis, four-hundred-thousand years ago, so that they had a worker available to do the back-breaking mining activity.
I was very sceptical about those three ideas for rational reasons. Firstly, I concluded that point 1 wasn't true, as there was no evidence at that time of an eccentric, long-orbit planet around our solar system. I was also very sceptical of point 2 and 3, because I felt that a race from another planet would find the mining and transport of raw metals to another planet far too costly in terms of resources for the activity to be worthwhile.
But this scepticism may have been misplaced. Recently, several scientific developments seem to have boosted Sitchin’s theory. There has been the discovery that a planet around our sun may be a reality, thanks to the studies of orbital anomalies in the Kuiper Belt, the large region of comets on the edge of our solar system. There has also been the genetic discovery that the changes in genes required to turn Homo Habilis into Homo Sapiens are so extensive, specialised and mutually dependent that it’s almost impossible that they could have occurred purely through natural selection. Thirdly, just last week, a scientific report was published describing the discovery of Homo Sapiens bones in an ancient mine in Morocco, bones that have been reliably dated to 300,000 BC, two-hundred-thousand years before Homo Sapiens was supposed to have developed in Africa.
All the above three scientific discoveries are ground-breaking and seem strong enough to force the scientific establishment to rewrite their understanding of major subjects. What’s more, all three discoveries support Sitchin’s theories about the Annunaki. If these ‘gods’ did create a hybrid annunaki-habilis person, Homo Sapiens, four-hundred-thousand years ago, then it would explain both the bizarre acceleration of genetic changes from Habilis to Sapiens and the presence of Homo Sapiens in a mine, three-hundred-thousand years ago.
Because of these developments, I put aside my earlier misgivings and read Sitchin’s book. I’m very pleased I did because it’s an excellent scholarly study. Sitchin’s decision to learn cuneiform as a way to really find out what the Sumerians were saying is exemplary. The book is also very readable and engaging. His ideas may still sound crazy but at the moment, from a scientific point of view, Sitchin’s theory is actually the most plausible theory for our current state on this planet. An ancient, technically advanced race colonising Earth half a million years ago, then hybridising Homo Habilis to create a worker-slave, is actually the most plausible explanation of why Homo Sapiens is here, how our civilisation arrived, appearing from literally nothing in 4,000BC, and where we need to look for answers and further understanding of ourselves and our past. I therefore heartily recommend the book.
The star of the book is definitely the Mitchell-Hedges quartz, rock-crystal skull. Not only is the skull the most well-known skull, the book includes a report on analysis of the skull by the Hewlett Packard laboratories. The staff there used their skills in fabricating pure quartz crystals for electronic devices to analyse the skull's construction and internal make-up. Their report makes it clear that the skull isn't just a carved piece of rock; its piezo-electric properties, prismatic properties, purity and crystal patterning clearly belong to something created by a very advanced culture. And yet, it was found in an ancient Mayan pyramid. Read More...
Huxley tellingly stated towards the end of the interview that the ideal result for the controllers is that the masses they control don't know they're enslaved or that they even like their servitude and enslavement. This is not such a far-fetched situation. Tragically, many slaves in history have rejected freedom and returned to slavery because slavery guarantees food and lodging; freedom doesn't. For those that contest that we are still free, it's worth noting that even the mainstream press now accept that our emails are read, our internet browsing is collated and examined, we are identified automatically on CCTV, our social networking profiles are psychologically analysed, our smartphones movements are tracked, we can be detained without access to a lawyer for a month, we can be legally watched without evidence being required. The list is long. Some say that this keeps us safe but from what? Fear is a great controller, as Goering himself once pointed out. Read More...
The interview includes an absolute gem of a comment from John:
"If people can't control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people's behaviour."
I very much agree with John's point that a culture of not wishing to upset people becomes a dangerous form of censorship. I talked about free speech in a previous blog post and emphasised how important it is for people to be able to say virtually anything because without that freedom, we are very close to a society with many of the features of 1984.
For those readers that think upsetting someone is always bad, here is a scenario: You find out that your best friend's wife is having an affair. If you tell your best friend, he will be very upset but many people would agree that you should tell him regardless because he will eventually, after gaining a greater understanding of what is going on in his life, appreciate what you've done even though it has brought him a period of misery. Upsetting one or more people because you care about them and that you believe they need to know that news can be applied to many other matters, of greater and lesser importance. It might not make you very popular but if you instead put popularity before moral duty, that places you in the realm of sociopathic narcissists and/or cowards. It's the unpopular, difficult but caring actions that help move us forward as a species. Long may they continue.
Timothy Good has explained in many books, there is an enormous amount of evidence all around our planet of human encounters with UFOs. It's certainly true that many of those encounters have little physical evidence and rely for a large part on eye-witness testimony. Such reports can therefore be dismissed as too thin for serious analysis, but there are also a very large number of reports that have many respectable witnesses and a host of supporting evidence, for example the UFO encounter in Rendlesham Forest. It is also clear that military forces around the world are grabbing as much of the physical evidence as they can and censoring reports before they reach the mainstream media. This is especially true of the United States military who have soldiers in more than 150 countries around the world (considering there are only officially 196 countries in total, this is a huge slice). If we also consider the simple fact that most Western media outlets will not publish anything that is marked classified, for sensible reasons, It is hardly surprising that if the U.S. military decides to put a lid on the UFO phenomena, it would become a fringe and murky subject. Read More...
1) Assume that UFOs are real devices but are not defying the laws of physics, that they are functioning machines, albeit advanced ones.
2) Collate observations on UFOs, especially observations carried out by skilled personnel, such as military observers and engineers.
3) Use the collated information to identify patterns of behaviour by the UFOs, their emissions (radiation etc), their weight (ground imprints) and any and all factual evidence that can be used to deduce the mode of their operation.
By doing this, Paul Hill came up with fascinating and scientifically sound possibilities as to how the UFOs operate and whether or not it is feasible for those craft to have come from planets around other stars. Read More...
Fortunately, there are some people who are interested in the field of UFOs, mind over matter, spirits and other officially 'crank' topics, who do have a solid scientific understanding. One of them is Dr Tom Valone. Below is a talk he gave at the X-Conference a few years back on the subject of advanced propulsion systems, UFOs and what their flight behaviour (as far as can be observed) may be telling us about what is possible in terms of interstellar transportation.
During the talk, Dr Valone touches on a physics matter that has intrigued me for many years. He explains that the perceived ability of some unidentified flying craft to execute high-speed, right-angle turns indicates that their designers have developed technology that reduces or negates inertial mass. Dr Valone points out in his talk that it may be possible to reduce inertial mass by creating a very-high-voltage electromagnetic environment. Traditionally, inertial mass and gravitational mass for an object are assumed to always stay the same - this is known as the Equivalence Principle - but this assumption may be flawed. In certain exotic systems, involving high voltages, the inertial mass, possibly created by the object's interaction with the vacuum energy field, could be reduced.
Interestingly, I explored this possibility in an article a few years ago but not with regard to UFOs. Instead, I postulated that stars, being high-voltage, high-pressure, high-temperature plasma balls, may have a much lower inertial mass than their gravitational mass. This would explain why stars orbit the centres of their galaxies much faster than they should, a phenomenon that has caused mainstream physics to conclude that the universe is full of dark matter. I'll try and mention this interesting idea to Dr Valone; he may find it fascinating! :-)
Isn't it fascinating? What is that device? I have no idea but it does seem to possess an ability to hover and move through the air without any need for wings or rockets or a jet engine or propellers even a gas bag. In a sense, it's the best UFO I've ever seen footage evidence for because it is completely alien. No one would come up with such a flying device. This sort of encounter I think shows why it's so hard to be a responsible science-fiction writer, because there seems to be advanced stuff out there that makes no sense at all, so how can one write believably about it? I think I'll stick to writing stories about people in metal boxes; it's so much easier.
The progress of the researchers has a familiar ring. As has often been the case when enthusiasts have tried to discover the secrets of the Giza site, one person has almost always obstructed their efforts. Zahi Hawass, the head of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo at that time, first stated categorically that there were no underground chambers at the Giza site, even though the researchers had found and photographed underground chambers. He then barred the entrance to the temple concerned. He followed that up by taking a film crew down those same passages but made no effort to explore further. This tactic of Hawass's, of rubbishing theories and then blocking access to the site so that no one can explore further, has occurred multiple times. For example, after Jean-Pierre Houdin developed a sound theory of an inner ramp within the Great Pyramid, he went to Giza and discovered a collapsed corner of the pyramid wall, high up, exactly where an inner ramp could have weakened the pyramid's outer shell. Houdin had a quick look and then rapidly found the site barred to any access. Since that time, no one has been allowed to explore that collapsed corner. Similar events may happen again. Hawass is currently not the head of Egyptian Antiquities, possibly having been sacked (again), but it is possible he may be reinstated, which has also happened before.
I'll keep plugging away whenever possible. In the meantime, do enjoy the above documentary.
Sadly, the documentary also reports that attempts in New Zealand to highlight this new evidence have been deliberately ignored and suppressed, to the point of authorities banning further excavation and classifying scientific discoveries. Yet again, it would seem that certain white males in power in the Western World are making very sure that a flawed version of our history is enforced. As Orwell once said; 'He who controls the present writes the past'.
It's available from all good bookshops and is a delight. Buy it, read it from cover to cover, laugh and be fascinated. After that, give it to someone you love, while downplaying the fact that you've actually read it first, all the way through, and pretend instead that you always had them in mind when you bought the book [Note: To do this effectively, do not read it in the bath].
Dear Mr Orwell,
It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book. It arrived as I was in the middle of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor eyesight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on ‘Nineteen eight-four’.
I haven't included psychology experiments showing 'psi' effects, such as work done by Daryl Bem, Robert Jahn and others; I think they're better off in their own list. I also haven't included experiments about cognitive bias, although there are lots of interesting ones for that subject (e.g. anchoring bias, halo effect, priming, framing etc). My favourite cognitive bias example at the moment is the 'UP TO 50% OFF' sale signs we see here in Britain all the time. Many people will see these signs and expect items inside to be 30% off or 40%. In fact, the sign does not state this at all. In fact, what the sign says is exactly the same as saying; 'NO MORE THAN 50% OFF.' Imagine what the customer would think if he or she saw a sign like that stuck on the shop window? Read More...
In this youtube video, which I found on the interesting website www.topdocumentaryfilms.com, VICE host Shane Smith interviews Snowden and talks about what can be done to stop someone hacking your smartphone and recording everything you do, including what you say and where you go. Snowden gives some very interesting advice on the matter, along with comments on the broader matter of civil liberties.
I thought I'd add a few thoughts on the 'how not to be monitored by secret groups' topic. As I've got a computer science degree, plus professional experience, I do have some useful knowledge on the matter. Firstly, Snowden is absolutely right that if your smartphone is hacked, you'll have a very hard time discovering the fact. To be honest, if you are concerned about being snooped on, the only safe smartphone is no smartphone. Use random pay-phones if possible. Use old phones that are barely sufficient for calls and messages, as it'll be harder for snoopers to install useful eavesdropping software. These are the only safe-ish options. I've blogged before about the potential power of smartphones to hypnotise people while they sleep (which sounds outlandish but is perfectly feasible) and so I'm a big fan of minimum or no smartphone usage for anyone worried that they are being 'got at'.
When it comes to laptops, it is still very difficult to spot hacking and eavesdropping but there are ways to check if it's occurring. If you're connected to the internet via a router or switch, watch the packet activity light on the router. If it's chattering away when you've turned everything off to do with the internet, something funny is going on. Unplug the power to the laptop and work off its battery. If the battery is going down surprisingly quickly when all you're doing is typing an article, it's possible the laptop is sending information about you wirelessly while hiding that fact from your desktop status icons. (Clandestine groups may have hacked your laptop but they still need power to run their apps). Shut your laptop down when you're not using it; this shortens the time available to secret groups to hack your computer. You can also check your system logs to see if your computer was booted up when you weren't around. Turn on your firewall and turn off bluetooth, if possible. These acts don't guarantee that you won't be hacked (far from it!) but they do make it harder for anyone who's trying. Ultimately, assume that everything you put on your laptop or smartphone will be monitored. If you end up in a situation where you do need to hide information, store it in your head and pass it on verbally by whispering into someone's ear in a nightclub; that should be relatively safe. :-)
One final note. A lot of people respond to Snowden's revelations with 'I don't care if they're watching us, I've got nothing to hide!' For those people, I would say; 'you have nothing to hide from moral people but what if those people turned into Nazis or get taken over by Nazis?' The French Underground was rightly admired for their work in the Second World War. They'd have had a terrible time doing anything if France had introduced comprehensive surveillance before the War, for any reason. Snowden calls this problem 'turnkey tyranny' and he's right. For anyone not concerned about this threat, I'd check out the latest news from the U.S. Presidential elections…
There are one or two errors in the book. For example, Radin comments that there isn't any solid research on NDE's or Near Death Experiences and that we have to rely on anecdotal stories. This isn't correct; Dr Pim Van Lommel carried out a fascinating study of NDE's in his cardiac ward, which he describes in his book Consciousness Beyond Life, which I've previously reviewed. I'm not criticising Dr Radin, as it's highly likely Dr Van Lommel's book came out after my edition of 'The Noetic Universe', but I thought it was worth mentioning.
At the end of 'The Noetic Universe', Radin talks enthusiastically about the growing interest in psi by ordinary people and is hopeful that its solid scientific basis which eventually cause psi to be accepted by the scientific establishment. He feels that the inertia, cognitive dissonance and an inability of senior scientists to change their mindset has been holding it back up to now. Unfortunately, after studying the subject for many years, I don't think this is the case. Radin wisely describes the huge benefits to human-kind if we develop our latent or semi-latent psi abilities but he misses a key point; any group that has already developed its psi-abilities will have a huge advantage over everyone else, enabling it to generate great power and wealth. That group would be likely to then work very hard to make darn sure that no one else developed such psi abilities, in particular remote viewing (a skill discussed in Radin's book). I've explored this scenario in my psi earth articles. It would be great if Radin is right and I am wrong - I would like very much like that his hopes to come true - but with our current social structures, which I've described in my article 'why psychopaths and secret clans rule us all', I think the latter is more likely to be true. Hey ho.
Overall, I do recommend 'The Noetic Universe' for anyone who wishes to read a thorough, scientific, clear description of the evidence that our minds do affect reality. If you want something that covers that area but is more fun, covers a wider territory and has less graphs, I heartily recommend my book 'How science shows that almost everything important we've been told is wrong.' Yep, it's a blatant plug but give me a break; this is my website. ;-)
The more important the topic, the more erroneous the official explanation.
This trend seems to be true with regard to how reality comes into being, the origins of the humans race, the origins of civilisation, the reason behind our major wars, how our leaders are chosen, major tragedies and others. This doesn't mean that all conspiracy theories are true - some of them are pure fancy - but it does make the old adage knowledge is power ring true. In many ways, it is logically inevitable that ourselves - the masses - are being lied to by at least some of the groups in power. We are clearly on a very violent planet where psychopaths hold great power, enough to obliterate nearly all of us (the events of 2016 would, I think, have made this clear). These groups and individuals, by their very nature, want as much power and control as they can get. It is therefore inevitable that they would do their best to make sure that the people they control have as little empowering information as possible.
A very interesting video documentary on youtube seems to agree with this view. It is called 'Everything is a rich man's trick'. It's three-and-a-half hours long, which is way too long for a youtube documentary and it could definitely have benefitted from being shortened or split into two or three smaller documentaries. I very much enjoyed the first two hours and found some of the material eye-opening, even for someone like me who's read/viewed a lot of material on the subject. I wasn't totally convinced by all the ideas/theories put forward, there are clearly at least a few factual mistakes in the documentary and the last hour becomes quite erratic and polemical but it is still an impressive piece of research.
The documentary focuses on the connection between the Nazis and wealthy industrialists in the U.S. and the JFK assassination. Some of its content reinforces the idea I discussed in my last blog post that top-down hierarchies can inevitably help secret societies gain control of major institutions, companies and the military. Some of the content is simply jaw-dropping.
Unfortunately, the presenter's call for revolution at the end of the documentary is, I think, naive. Revolutions are very risky endeavours, can involve huge bloodshed and often don't bring improvements to a country as they can be hijacked by very shadowy characters. A far better plan is to systematically improve a country's institutions, such as was done in post-war Britain. The demise of that wonderful programme is another story but I'll blog about that later; one (or four) grand conspiracies is probably enough for one day! :-)
Here is a more measured documentary from Europe, exploring strange evidence about our ancient past. It includes well-known writers in the field such as Colin Wilson, Eric Bauval and Christopher Dunn. I very much enjoyed the documentary and was happy with a lot of its content, apart from the last fifteen minutes when it strayed into the theory of crust displacement. Although I don't feel that crust displacement is impossible, I think other, more established natural events can explain what happened at the end of our last ice age. For example, I am particularly convinced that our planet was bombarded by a shower of meteorites, the Younger Dryas Impact event, which itself could have been caused by the strange Planet X or Nibiru entering our inner solar system again as part of its 17,000 year orbit.
If I find more interesting documentaries, I'll post them up here. It can be very tedious, trawling through youtube, looking for decent documentaries, and so I'll try and act as a filter, posting those programmes I find that I think are worth watching.
Other people focus on the Christian story; a baby in a manger, along with a big, bright moving star and three kings or Magi who visit the infant, bringing gifts. This whole scene, oddly enough, is strongly connected to Ancient Egyptian beliefs. In Ancient Egypt, the star Sirius, associated with the god Osiris, the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere, was 'born' at the beginning of the Egyptian Summer when it rose above the horizon. Its arrival was always accompanied by the Three Kings stars, a.k.a. Orion's Belt. Also, the word 'Magi' is the root word of 'Magician' and originates with the Zoroastrian religion popular in Persia in the centuries before Christ, a religion from which the cult of Mithra was born.Read More...
I loved the first three Star Wars movies. I've mentioned this before and although I've written critical articles about ‘What on Earth is an underwater monster doing in a trash compacter on a metal space station?' and 'Why is Star Wars an allegory for conception?', I still love those first three films to bits. There are so many good aspects to them. In fact, here's my extensive list of all the things I liked about the first three Star Wars movies:
A tall guy in black who’s powerful in the Dark Side of the Force, wears a mask and striding around corridors with stormtroopers. (Boo!)
A plucky Rebel putting vital data crucial to the Cause into a chirpy, loyal droid. (Drama!)
A plucky rebel who’s captured by Imperial Forces but resists torture designed to extract reveal information. (Laugh in their faces, dude!)
Rebels escaping from a Star Destroyer (Ha ha! Outsmarted those evil goons!)
Rebel fugitives crash-landing on a desert planet. (Dramatic and desolate…)
A vulnerable droid finding a down-at-heel desert town filled with exotic but unfriendly aliens. (it's a Western with Fantasy Characters! Neat…)
That same droid making friends with a young hero who’s a ‘diamond in the rough’; poor but strong in the force. (Yay!)
The young hero zooms around in a Land-speeder (Two-stroke anti-gravity!)
The heroes escaping the Imperial Forces in the Millennium Falcon using their brilliant dog-fight skills.
A young, inexperienced hero fighting off tie-fighters in the Millennium Falcon gun-copula.
Harrison Ford as Han Solo charming the audience by making fun, wise-ass remarks.
Harrison Ford suddenly realising he’s in big trouble and switching to ‘fire-fight’ mode.
Lots of running around darkened corridors.
The heroes hanging out in a bar with lots of ugly or strange aliens while a band plays cool music.
A small but very wise alien explaining the Force to the heroes. (Philosophy!)
A hero experiencing a scary vision as part of understanding the Force. (Creepy…)
A bad character turning out to be actually a good character’s offspring, or vice-versa. (Shock!)
C3PO talking too much when he should really shut up. (What an endearing dork!)
The Rebel Forces preparing for battle on a forested planet, which looks a lot like a World War 2 fighter airfield in Norfolk, England. (Goodness Gracious!)
The Imperial Forces preparing for battle and looking a lot like Nazis. (Double Boo!)
Carrie Fisher bantering acerbically with Harrison Ford. (Isn’t she a peach?)
Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford embracing. (Ahh, it was inevitable..)
The Death Star threatening the forested Rebel planet. (Those poor trees!)
The young heroes avoiding StormTroopers on the Death Star, using their wits and acrobatic skills. (Go Team!)
Han and Chewie walking across on an ice planet and moaning about it being cold. (it’s a Buddy movie too!)
The Dark Side Knight of Blackness suffering conflicting thoughts about being on the Dark Side (Well, who wouldn’t?)
The young heroes fighting stormtroopers in a forest (White really shows up on dark green).
A confrontation on a high gantry. (The Bridge of Kazadhum meets Cloud City)
A hero falling off a high gantry. (Is he a tumbler or a diver?)
A light-sabre fight, especially one where the scenery gets chopped up.
The young hero growing strong in the force, surprising the bad guy. (Ha ha! Gotcha!)
The Rebel base command room pointing out a weak spot in the Death Star. (It’s Bletchley Park all over again!)
X-Wing Fighters attacking the Death Star.
An X-Wing Fighter pilot shouting ‘I’ve got one on my tail!’
Rebel fighters flying through the guts of the Death Star.
X-Wing Fighters fly along a trench on the Death Star.
X-Wing Fighters blowing up the Death Star.
X-Wing Fighter pilots saying; ‘let’s go home’ after they blow up the Death Star.
And finally, most importantly of all, a wise, old, bearded Jedi Master in loose clothing (monks can kick ass!).
It’s a long list, isn’t it? There are so many things to love about the first three movies, with the exception of the Ewoks, who were daft. So, if you like the above list too, you'll be doubly pleased because… the new movie IS THAT LIST!! I’m not joking. You can take a print-out with you into the cinema if you like and tick the items off as you go. They all happen, roughly in that order.
Such a situation sounds brilliant, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it isn’t, because a few things have changed since 1977. For example, in 1977, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were young, sparky and fresh with a point to prove in the first movie and now they’re… not. They do a valiant job in the new film’s scenes but they look like they need a lie down half-way through each one. There’s also the niggly problem that if you bung in all the above elements into a two-and-a-bit-hour movie, there’s no room for a coherent script, or believable changes in characters’ behaviour, or, well, basically anything. In the new film, characters appear out of nowhere for no reason, characters suddenly have skills with no explanation. Characters change allegiance for the briefest of reasons, and then back again, and back again like some sort of moral ping-pong. The new film is basically a cobbled-together derivative fan-movie smorgasbord that's bereft of inspiration, but does have a very big budget.
To be fair, there are some new elements in the film that haven’t been seen before. For example, we now know that good stormtroopers bleed but bad stormtroopers don’t. Also, Death Stars have got bigger, but they’re still stupidly designed. In addition, that red-crayfish-alien rebel general from ‘Return of the Jedi’ hasn’t changed at all, indicating that he’s either immortal or that he’s very old and wrinkly but it’s just very hard to tell when someone’s a crayfish. Oh, and there’s a new stormtrooper outfit that looks like it’s a medieval suit of armour, which I can only guess is there for merchandising reasons, as the character who was wearing it was completely superfluous to the story and seemed to have gatecrashed the set.
That’s pretty much it. I’m a big fan of J.J. Abrams; I think his reboot of Star Trek was inspired but his foray into Star Trek seems to have been shoved through the Disney corporate product mincer and turned into Jedi sausages. Ketchup, anyone?
Hansen’s book is excellent for anyone who wants to be convinced of the depth of research that supports the climate change reports and predictions. Unfortunately, it isn’t the easiest read and I found it sluggish at times. Hansen also, I think, makes the mistake of apportioning blame to different groups. There seems little benefit to this strategy, as one of the biggest problems of the 'humanity and climate change' situation is one shared by nearly everyone; the vast majority of people on Earth who can burn fossil fuels do burn them, and in large amounts. Also, the ecological catastrophe that is approaching will punish everyone. We’re effectively all in this together.
As Darling Schulze-Makuch's book explains, the story of evidence for life on Mars kicked off with Percival Lovell and his claims for Martian 'canals'. In truth, Lovell was simply re-iterating an Italian astronomer's observations of 'canali' on Mars, which is Italian for 'channel', but Lovell's embellishments and conclusion that Mars was inhabited by a civilisation struck a popular chord.
Later on, probably the most important episode of 'life on Mars' evidence came from the Viking lander expedition. Devices on the Viking lander found evidence of life in the Martian soil. This evidence should, at least if NASA had followed its own rules, have been enough for scientists to declare that life does exist on Mars, but certain scientists on the NASA panel had their way and the evidence was eventually dismissed as inconclusive. Read More...
'The man who mistook his wife for a hat' is the book that began my love for Oliver Sacks' writing. In it, he describes several patients that he worked with that had suffered some form of injury to the right hemisphere of their brain. The fact that it was a right hemisphere injury was of critical importance. A left hemisphere injury can cause serious problems to a person's ability to operate in society, but they are of an understandable nature. When the right hemisphere is damaged, the effects are very strange indeed. Read More...
In his book, Corso discusses, at length, the U.S. military's interest and plans in setting up a moon base, a plan hatched in the late fifties and designed to be completed by the mid-sixties. Corso makes it clear that General Trudeau, his commanding officer, was involved in a plan to land on the moon and then establish a base there, with the moon landing being simply one step in a larger process. The reasoning laid out in Corso's book is more extensive than my comments in my article, which not surprisingly for a major U.S. military project, but the essential premise is the same. The moon is the high ground and anyone who establishes a base on it will have a huge military advantage. Corso dedicates an entire chapter to the project and adds an appendix with photocopied briefing documents, detailing what became known as Project Horizon. But, as we all know, there is no moon base. Corso explains why; his answer is logical but it involves UFO's, so its veracity is a matter for debate. Read More...
Let's be logical
Corso' book is certainly official 'kook' territory but, before judging and sentencing it, let’s think rationally about the likelihood of its key assertions. Firstly, it's become clear to all of us in recent years that the intelligence agencies and militaries of the world are definitely hiding things from their citizens. After Edward Snowden’s recent revelations about the N.S.A. and G.C.H.Q.’s email and phone snooping, along with a whole host of recent scandals in which the western military and spy establishments ignored laws, due process, peoples’ lives and other rather important things, it’s pretty much a ‘given’ that our spooks are hiding stuff from us.
'Command and Control' is a thick wedge of a book. Schlosser exhaustively reports on the history of nukes in the U.S. and the cold war. To be honest, there were sections that I skipped, as page after page of descriptions of missiles and strategies can get dull. Fortunately, the book switches between this history and the recounting of a particular event; a disastrous accident that occurred at a Titan II missile silo. Schlosser's account of the accident is riveting. His writing reminded me a lot of Stephen King's 'The Stand', with the same approach of giving each character's back story, before narrating what happened to them during the accident. I wouldn't be surprised if Schlosser starts writing fiction soon, he's certainly prepared the ground.
During his book, Heisenberg stays very much in the middle ground of the philosophical interpretations of quantum physics. He never concludes that the mind is required for matter to appear out of the quantum realm, unlike Wigner and Von Neumann, but neither does he follow the lead of Einstein and doggedly advocate the Classical Physics viewpoint of an external reality that is present and real all the time, whether we observe it or not. Instead, he talks calmly about what he thinks we can reliably conclude from the experimental evidence and the mathematics, and how that is elegant and beautiful and sufficient just by itself. Read More...
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
It's by Sydney Padua and it's based on her web comic that ran for several years. Padua worked in Hollywood as animator for years before writing the webcomic and it shows; her illustrations are effortless, consistent, accurate and full of expression and life, which (take it from me) takes absolutely donkeys years and a bazillion hours to master. I must note that the book isn't a graphic novel; instead, it is a series of short stories about Ada Lovelace (seen by many as the first computer programmer) and Charles Babbage (seen by many as the inventor of the first computer) in an alternative universe created by Padua in which Lovelace doesn't die young and they both get to make the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine. Along with each page of these stories are a big pile of footnotes, showing how much research Padua has done on the subject.
I only knew a little about the SpaceShipOne project before I watched the video, and I had no idea how they had got on with their craft, so I found the documentary both exciting, intriguing and a complete nail-biter. I really didn't know what was going to happen at any point in the documentary and because they were doing a lot of the project work on a shoe-string, with an entirely new design of craft, without wind-tunnel testing or advanced simulations or an exhaustive series of tests to cover every possible potential problem, it really felt as if there could be a disaster at any point in the story. Gripping stuff (Note: it's not 1080p and it's actually only an hour-and-a-half long).
I found the documentary both engrossing and bizarre. Throughout the program, the people involved in the project were convinced that it was a viable and brilliant way to send humans into space and the other planets in our solar system. They pointed out, sensibly, that rocket motors did not produce enough power to effectively fling humans to the edges of our solar system, or our nearby astral neighbours. Chemical rockets were good enough to go to the moon, but that's about it.
This all made sense, but at no point in the documentary did anyone say 'wait a second, how on Earth are you going to accurately steer this craft as you explode nuclear weapons under its 'spring plate'? Also, how are you going to safely detonate a whole series of nuclear bombs under this 'spring plate' without them frying the crew with radiation or running the risk of one of them blowing up while it's still inside the bomb bay? The practical problems seem endless, and yet they carried on with idealistic zeal. Fascinating stuff.
To start off with, I'll explain the Influence Idea again, briefly. It's surprisingly simple. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that everything in our physical universe becomes more disordered over time; this is called Entropy, but something strange is going on because Life becomes more ordered over time. Life grows, develops and reproduces, constantly increasing order in the universe. Since Life exists in the universe, and is clearly acting entirely against Entropy, and Entropy governs all physical things in the universe then, logically, Life must be being created and maintained by a non-physical, positive, organising influence originating from outside physical reality.
In 'The New North - the world in 2050', Laurence C. Smith reports on this topic with a wealth of solid evidence and researched information, but in a strangely unfocused way. In places, he approaches the topic from a personal perspective, making it the book a little less dry, but he seems less concerned about the environmental effects of the burst of new mining and oil drilling and more about the economic opportunities. Read More...
Brian Clegg doesn't mention this idea in his book. Instead, he takes the reader on a historical journey, tracking the development of our understanding of light from Ancient Greece all the way to the latest manipulations of light in the laboratory. Read More...
I enjoyed the book. It was pretty clear from early on (in fact, P.D.Smith admitted as much himself) that the author had been writing a biography of Leo Szilard, an admirable and brilliant Hungarian physicist who had to leave his home in Budapest when Nazism and anti-Semitism emerged in central Europe. He ditched up in London and finally emigrated to the United States. Unlike other brilliant Hungarian physicists who ended up playing a major role in the development of atomic power and the atomic bomb (such as Von Neumann and Edward Teller), Szilard was a compassionate and ethical man. Read More...
With respect to the Influence Idea, the presenter, Jim Al-Khalili, does discuss the existence of living things in a Universe ruled by entropy at around the fortieth minute of the programme. He and other contributors make the claim that the universe's random, disordered, chaotic behaviour has thrown up life by some act of chance. Unfortunately, they do not discuss how life, even if it had started in an act of incredible coincidence, continues to increase order in the universe in direct opposition to entropy. Apart from that bit of woolliness, it's a very well made programme and a fascinating exploration of the history of thermodynamics.
'Quantum' is an excellent book and a first-rate chronicler of that tumultuous time in physics. It cleverly combines a thorough biography of quantum physics and the (mostly) men who developed the field, along with a strong human story, that of the ongoing tussle between Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr. Einstein may have developed Relativity and transformed our understanding of light, motion and gravity, but he was never happy with the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Physics. He refused to accept that there was nothing outside of our observation of reality, or that the presence of a fundamental particle could be no more than probability, or that the universe's foundations were impossible to know fully. In the latter part of Einstein's life, he watched the physics community move almost to a man to the Copenhagen Interpretation but he did not budge, making his life in physics both an astounding success and a bitter failure.
Here are eight great graphic novels, in no particular order:
This was a big game-changer of a graphic novel from Alan Moore, the writer of V for Vendetta, when it first came out. It is a story about flawed, real super-heroes. They are dissected, in fact almost vivisected and in the process, they are made both complex and realistic; becoming flawed human vigilantes or cold, distant superheroes that turn out to be entirely alien to the people they try to help. Very much an adult book and a venerable classic of the genre.
This is an example of 'graphic novel as travelogue'. The author, Guy Delisle, spent time in North Korea while working from a French-Canadian animation company. While he was there, he drew this graphic novel diary of his experiences. It paints an entertaining, startling and quite disturbing picture of the North Korean totalitarian state. Since then, Delisle has written/drawn about Shenzhen (in China), Jerusalem and Burma. All those stories are accessible, funny, perceptive, warm and revealing.
Maus may be the most important graphic novel ever written, in terms of its legacy, its impact, its influence on other writers and its ability to make a horrific subject accessible and readable without every diminishing the tragedy of what happened. Maus, originally in two parts, is about the Jewish Holocaust, based on the author's father's memories of surviving those years. Spiegelmann made an inspired decision when drawing the story to make the characters anthropomorphic, to give them human bodies but animal heads. The germans are cats, the poles are pigs and the jews are mice (as far as I can remember). Its a must-read book (a term that's often over-used when reviewing works but is absolutely true in this case).
Joe Sacco, like Guy Delisle, has used the graphic novel genre as a tool for investigative journalism, to tell readers about what happened to the author when he or she was in that place, a visual diary that gives immediacy and focus to a time and place in our recent history. Sacco talks about the Bosnian War and the siege of Sarajevo in this book, along with its horrors, tragedies, courage and, sometimes, high farce. It is a powerful story, eloquently told in Sacco's pared-down narration and clear, accessible artwork.
Blacksad is in more traditional territory for a graphic novel. It's a series of hard-boiled. fifties. detective-style stories very much in the mould of Raymond Chandler. The twist in this case is that the characters are anthropomorphic, i.e. human bodies and animal heads, just like Maus or Rupert Bear.
What elevates Blacksad above many run-of-the-mill graphic-novel murder stories is the sheer brilliance of the artwork. Guarnido was trained in fine art and has worked as a key animator for Disney in Europe. All the stories' frames are painted in watercolour. For beauty, dynamism, skill and atmosphere, they are without peer.
Does Shaun Tan do graphic novels? It's hard to say. They're not 200 pages long but they are visual stories, or sequential art. For me, the Red Tree is my favourite. It's a simple story that would appeal to children and adults and it is utterly beguiling. Each page is a large, single picture that creates a single emotion through an image. As the story progresses, the reader becomes lost in the tale, with its minimal but crucial text, until the tale ends with a low-key, resonant, beautiful finish. I get emotional just thinking about it. Highly recommended.
This is a graphic novel for youngsters (I would say 8 to 12 age group). High quality drawings, an engaging, dramatic story and there are five books to collect. The story tells of a family who move to a house in the country belonging to a deceased relative. The kids realise that there was much more to the relative than they expected. The daughter finds an amulet and is transported into a different land where dark forces are after the precious item now bound to her.
Amulet looks lovely, is lots of fun to read and is a great alternative for a parent wanting their child to enjoy graphic novels without, for example, having to deal with the somewhat dated style of Asterix (which I still have a soft spot for, but often deems wordy and tedious when I read it nowadays).
A visually striking, engaging, thoughtful and dramatic story about a young woman's life in Iran and her time in Europe. As in Sacco's work, the graphic novel format is again used to visually show a part of the world and a time in history that we don't hear much about in the west and about which we often have distorted and downright false views. Excellent.
Science fiction and fantasy novels; aren't they lame? Well, not necessarily, although the genre is often seen as the domain of nerds and fans of mediocre literature. In some cases that view's probably understandable. When a novel is a piece of escapism, when the story is purely designed to give the reader fun and thrills with little in the way of thoughtful insight, such literature can be seen as little more than pulp fiction. The problems for sci-fi don't end there. Many readers are reluctant to read any story that has lots of technical references and descriptions and are worried such content will make the novel incomprehensible, confusing or just plain boring. As a result, large sections of the reading public avoid sci-fi and fantasy like the plague with the more high-brow dismissing it as shallow and the rest dismissing it as nerdy tech-fetishistic junk or social-inadequacy-fuelled escapism.
But there are science fiction and fantasy books out there that defy such categorisations. They do this because their purpose is not escapism or a glorification of technology but a piercing and insightful analysis of the human condition and our place in the world. This, essentially is what all great literature is about. The stories that linger in our thoughts, that we treasure, are the ones that give us a moment in time where we look at ourselves with clear eyes; sometime with a heavy heart, sometimes with a spark of joy.
Here's a list of ten science fiction and fantasy novels that, I think, do just that. They are all still clearly science fiction and fantasy novels, containing technology and mythical characters respectively, but those genre elements are vehicles, tools that are used by the author to talk about subjects all great literature is concerned with; love, loss, identity, morality, fear and hope.
Off we go... Read More...
War is a great subject for a movie. You've got danger, heartache, drama, scenes of great intensity; all the emotions you could wish for. There is, though, the tiny problem that war is a horrible, monstrous event that brings nothing but despair, sadness, pain and loss to everyone apart from psychopaths and people in administrative positions.
A lot of war movies skirt over this problem. They also gloss over the fact that people, in every country, behave in unexpected ways in war. Some people who are supposed to be good behave horribly and some people who are supposed to be bad behave nobly. This is the reality of war, alongside the large amounts of weapons, injuries, death, suffering, atrocities, acts of self-sacrifice and flags. Read More...
When I was young, I thought people were much nicer to each other. This, I think, was down to the sci-fi books I read. When things went wrong in them, people pulled together, showed their mettle, overcame the odds like stars in a matinee war movie. It was a glowing, warm idea that was seriously dented when I saw ‘When worlds collide’Read More...
First off, an absolute gem of a French animated movie called 'Belleville Rendezvous'. There's not much dialogue but there doesn't have to be. The expressions and actions tell you everything you need to know. A young french lad is given a bicycle and it transforms his life. With the help of his grandmother, he becomes a professional racer (incredibly skinny apart from HUGE thighs). He takes part in the Tour de France but ends up in the broom wagon. From there, he is kidnapped, taken to New York and made to take part in a 'simulation' Tour De France ran by gambling gangsters. Strange, magical, often hysterically funny. The only criticism I would have is that the middle section about the three old ladies - the Belleville triplets - drags on a little too long. Apart from that, brilliant.