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Lyle Zapato

Trick-Or-Treat For Tree Octopus!

Lyle Zapato | 2009-10-11.7150 LMT | Cephalopods | Art | Crafts | Food

Box

Now you can help tree octopuses get their favorite Halloween treats: candy corn and shrimp!

Just download and assemble the special box. Then on Halloween say "Trick-or-treat for Tree Octopus!" and ask your neighbors for candy corn or shrimp. When you have filled the box with treats, hang it on a branch in a forest where tree octopuses dwell. Tree octopuses enjoy the challenge of removing treats from the box!

Lyle Zapato

How To Defend Against A Charging Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2009-10-03.5440 LMT | Cephalopods | Defensive Techniques | Retro

An octopus running

The vulnerable portion of the octopus is the neck, and fishermen and others, who know their habits when attacked, always strive if possible to seize them by the throttle-valve, when they are easily killed. This is comparatively easy on land, but nearly impossible in the water. The locomotion of the devil-fish is as easy on land as in the water. They have been known frequently to run up perpendicular cliffs, two hundred feet high, as easily as the fly runs up a wall, the machinery of attachment being very similar. They are said to move on land as fast as a man can run, and frequently pursue their prey out of the sea, though on the land they are far more timid than in their marine haunts. [From World of Wonders (1881).]

Read more...

Lyle Zapato

Tree Octopuses Among The Stars

Lyle Zapato | 2009-09-28.8040 LMT | Cephalopods | Paraterrestrials

Tree-climbing octopus
Fig. 4 An artist's impression of a tree-climbing octopus.

The above illustration is from Life Among the Stars (1974) by V. A. Firsoff. It shows a tree octopus as representative of a hypothetical cephalopodesque lifeform that has the potential to evolve into a spacefaring species.

Firsoff imagines which types of lifeforms are most likely to follow an evolutionary pathway to sapience and eventually into space. Considering various Earth species as hypothetical candidates for proto-spacefarers, he notes that sealife is less constrained than landlife, which must deal with the vagaries of humidity and temperature on dry land, but:

these difficulties have honed the keen edge of perception and the thinking capacity of the land-livers to a general level above that of their marine counterparts, although some of the most intelligent animals are aquatic mammals, who have returned to the mother of all life after a prolonged evolutionary exile on the terra firma. The octopus, too, is a clever fellow.

He proposes that a lineage that begins with a clever octopus, already at an advantage over its marine brethren, venturing out of the sea and being honed by a challenging life in the trees is a very promising one:

[S]omething like an octopus, perhaps tree-climbing, is conceivable on land, especially in humid conditions; and, since this is a highly intelligent animal and equipped with limbs admirably suited for handling things, it could evolve to an industrial civilisation, which would be difficult for the dolphin, despite its large brain and developed language, because flippers are not much use for anything except swimming. Thus a race of pseudo-octopi may yet be piloting space ships!

This theme of certain species having more potential for sapience and spaceship-piloting was famously expanded upon by science fiction writer David Brin in his novels set in the Uplift Universe, where sapient patron species use genetic modification to nudge along other species deemed particularly ripe for sapience. Not surprisingly, Brin's Contacting Aliens describes one of these patrons, the Puber (the grand-patrons of the series' main antagonists, the Soro), as having been uplifted from a species that was "arboreal, a sort of tree-dwelling octopus". How could Brin not include something with such obvious potential?

So what of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, our dear, endangered friend? Does it have the potential to follow the path that Firsoff charts to the stars? And if it does, how can we deny it its potential by refusing to do everything we can to save it from extinction? With the shame of our past crimes against it and the present indifference among many of us to its plight, perhaps we owe the tree octopus to not just save it, but to uplift it, so that one day Paxarbolis ab-Human can take its place in the Community of the Universe where it belongs.

Lyle Zapato

Harlan Ellison Stalks The Tree Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2009-09-25.5670 LMT | Cephalopods | Entertainment

Stalking the Nightmare (1982) is a collection of miscellaneous short works by Harlan Ellison. One of the pieces, "The Hour That Stretches", is sort of a fictionalized transcript of a guest appearance by Ellison on the radio show Hour 25, hosted by Mike Hodel.

At Ellison's suggestion, callers to the show (including some of his writer peers) pitch ideas to him, which he then tries to develop into plot synopses for stories, improv style -- at least when he isn't insulting the callers or saving Humanity from mysterious, outer forces bent on our destruction.

After an idea about racing domesticated Arabian camels with NFL players as jockeys and someone suggesting he write "I'm Looking for Kadak" again, only with the Pope thrown in -- both of which he dispatched without synopsizing -- Ellison gets this call:

Hodel put on another caller. Mayer Alan Brenner.

"I know you," Ellison said.

"You sure do. And I've got a beauty for you."

"Be still my heart," Ellison said, sinking down on his spine.

"It's an excerpt from NORTHEAST TREE AND STREAM," Mayer said. "A short history of the famous Chesapeake Tree-Climbing Octopus..."

"Why me?" Ellison groaned. "Which God did I offend?"

"All of them," said Hodel.

Mayer went on, undaunted by sounds of pain coming over his radio.

"This retiring and rarely glimpsed creature lives in the many quiet estuaries of the Chesapeake system. Early each morning the octopus leaves the water and crawls up the trunk of a shoreside tree. It makes its way precariously onto a branch overhanging the water, where it waits for its prey to pass underneath." Silence ensued. Dead air hung heavily in the night.

Finally, Ellison said, "And that's it, right? That's the idea, right, Mayer?"

"Uh-huh."

More silence. Then, in a very soft, very tired voice, Ellison said, "These blue-skinned Jewish aliens with wheels come down to Earth and kidnap the Pope so they can have a race on Arabian camels to establish whether Jews or Gentiles are worthiest to live in the universe, and the Pope gets all these NFL players to ride as his team, because they're all Polish or black and not a Jew in the lot, and they have this watercourse raceway and they race for the universe, and as they come under this tree in the Chesapeake system the octopus drops out of a tree and eats every last, fucking one of them, football players, Jewish aliens, the Pope, the camels, Brian Sipe and Terry Bradshaw and Walter Payton and you too Mayer!"

Ok, so it's not "Devilfish with a Glass Tentacle" or "A Boy and his Octopus", but it's still a Harlan Ellison story about a tree octopus. Now if I could just track down that issue of Northeast Tree and Stream that Brenner found...

Lyle Zapato

Black Helicopter Swarm Caught On Video!

Lyle Zapato | 2009-09-24.7270 LMT | Black Helicopters | NWO | Art

Swiss artist Roman Signer stumbled upon 56 Juvenile Black Helicopters in a room, lined up on the floor in military formation.

Dormant black helicopter formation?

He set up his video camera to document the scene, thinking the helicopters either dormant or as yet unactivated -- that is until they all came to life at once!

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Lyle Zapato

Pratchett's Nation

Lyle Zapato | 2009-09-20.1325 LMT | Cephalopods | Entertainment | Piratical Yarrings

This is strange.

First of all, Terry Pratchett published a novel last year, Nation, that features tree-climbing octopuses and no one thinks to notify me, of all people? I'm hurt! If I wasn't already paranoid, this would put me over the edge.

Well, anyway, I'm in the loop now. I only discovered it last night while looking for more things to put on the media subpage on the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus site. (An aside: What was the deal with 2008? Five books -- that I've discovered so far -- were published with tree octopuses in them, not even counting school text books. And only one of the authors thought to let me know. Thank you, again, Eric E. Olson.)

But here's the weird thing: The cover of the UK edition has a tree-climbing octopus on it, hidden in the shadows. Excellent! But then I looked a little closer at it. It seemed strangely familiar. Here's a lightened and contrasted detail (taken from an extra-large image of the cover found here):

Detail of tree-climbing octopus from UK cover of 'Nation' UK cover of 'Nation'
The added white square on the cover is where the tree octopus can be found.

Now where have I seen that tree octopus before? Oh, yeah, here it is:

Original tree octopus image
Tree octopus image that's been on my site for a decade.

I applaud the cover designer's desire for technical accuracy by using an image of an actual tree octopus (albeit not O. arbori, as specified by Pratchett), but is it really the smartest thing, from a legal ass-covering perspective, to take an image off of some website and put it on a very notable commercial product? I mean, you're designing the cover for a freaking Terry Pratchett novel, not doing graphics on some penny-ante website in your spare time; someone's going to eventually notice, no matter how much you darken the image.

I can understand if the cover artist left the octopus out, and your boss told you just before the deadline that there had to be a tree-climbing octopus on there, and Google image search is just a few tempting clicks away... but, really? No one around the office can draw an octopus, not even one that would be mostly in silhouette? What are they teaching you people in design school? Drawing octopuses should be part of the fundamentals!

Just so we're clear, I have absolutely no intention of making any sort of drama about this (not that I rightly could... ahem), and everything's cool as far as I'm concerned. Mostly I'm disappointed that more effort wasn't put into having a proper tree-climbing octopus illustration on the cover (and none at all on the North American version, at least that I can see). But whoever's in charge of the cover-design department at Pratchett Heavy Industries needs to give some stern lectures to their underlings lest they get themselves into trouble in the future.

Lyle Zapato

Book Review: Drome

Lyle Zapato | 2009-09-19.0440 LMT | Cephalopods | Cascadia | Hollow Earth | Lost Worlds | Entertainment | Retro
Cover: 'Drome' by John Martin Leahy
But why had they set out on a journey so strange and so hazardous -- through the land of the tree-octopi and the snake-cats, through that horrible, unearthly fungoid forest, and up and up, up into the caves of utter blackness, across that frightful chasm, up to the Tamahnowis Rocks, into the blaze of the sunshine, out onto the snow and ice on Mount Rainier?

Drome, written and illustrated by John Martin Leahy, is a pulp story about a strange underground world, home to a lost civilization that may be the progenitors of ancient Greek culture. It was originally serialized in the Jan.-May, 1927 issues of Weird Tales, and republished as a book in 1952. I'm reviewing the book, which I believe has some differences from the pulp original (a preface, footnotes, and some casual references in the main text to atom-bombs and television that don't seem particularly 1920s-ish.)

The story has two elements of interest to me: 1) it starts in Cascadia (the entrance to the underworld is on Mt. Rainier) with references to regional history and culture and 2) it mentions Cascadian tree octopuses, albeit of an unusual and deadly subterranean variety. So naturally I had to acquire an original copy for the ZPi library and review it.

Read more...

Lyle Zapato

Count Fortsas Does Not Exist!

Lyle Zapato | 2009-08-02.5600 LMT | Belgian Conspiracy

As paranoids are well aware, agents of the Belgian Conspiracy are always on the prowl, trying to entice normal people to "come to Belgium" so they can be waylaid en route, plugged into Citizen Pods, and their brains connected to a computer simulation that makes them believe they are Belgians living in Belgium. While the technology involved -- and Disney corp.'s role in housing the brainwashed pseudo-Belgians -- would suggest that this behavior of tricking people into "traveling to" Belgium started in the mid 20th century, in fact it has its roots almost 170 years ago with the so-called Fortsas Bibliohoax.

In 1840 -- just ten years after the Belgian Conspiracy was initiated-- a Conspirator going by the assumed Belgian identity of "Renier Hubert Ghislain Chalon, historian from the insignificant village of Binche," concocted, with the help of other Conspirators, a devious hoax to lure Europe's foremost book collectors "to Belgium."

Fortsas catalog cover

He invented another fake Belgian named "Jean-Népomucène-Auguste Pichauld, comte de Fortsas," a wealthy nobleman and passionate collector of very rare books. This Count Fortsas, so the story went, would dispose of any book in his collection if he heard someone else had a copy, so that by the time of his death he was left with only 52 books, each absolutely unique. These books were all, of course, nonexistent; their descriptions were psychologically engineered by Chalon to appeal to notable individual bibliophiles of the time, whose specific desires and interests he carefully researched. Chalon then sent the collectors a catalog of these books (a copy of which can be found on Google Books), explaining that Count Fortsas' nonbibliophilic son wished to auction off the collection.

As planned, the collectors were beyond excited about the undiscovered, one-of-a-kind books listed in the catalog and each made the trip to the supposed Belgian village of Binche, where they eventually realized to their chagrin that they'd been had -- there was no rare book collection and no Count Fortsas either.

What they didn't realize was that there was also no Binche; a small village erected by the Conspiracy somewhere on the current French-Dutch border served as Binche for the deception. The Conspiracy was able to pull this off since the well-to-do travelers were reliant on others to see them to their destination: coachmen, ship captains, train engineers, road surveyors -- all were infiltrated by the Conspiracy and could manipulate people's perceptions of distance and place with ease.

Typical Binche citizens
Typical citizens of Binche, Belgium, out for a stroll through their village.
(Not very convincing, are they?)

Not yet having the facilities to house fake Belgians, and with totally immersive virtual-reality technology still decades away, the Conspiracy didn't kidnap these collectors and turn them into brainwashed "Belgian citizens." Instead, they were left to return home believing they were the victims of a simple literary hoax.

The real goal wasn't to trick a handful of bookish obsessives into looking like fools, but rather to create a paper-trail establishing that there existed a Belgian government, with working institutions and representatives. An element of the hoax that helped sell it to the victims was the presence of one "Baron de Reiffenberg," the supposed director of the "Royal Library of Brussels," who showed up seeking to buy almost the entire collection on behalf of the Belgian government. Reiffenberg and the library were works of fiction, but this made it look as if the Belgium government was similarly duped by Chalon's hoax. The sense of shared victimhood this garnered among the influential book collectors made them more likely to believe in, and convince others to believe in, the existence of the Belgium government.

Since then, the Conspiracy has used this hoax as a template for their attempts to propagate the lie that is Belgium, continuing the tradition of tricking people into visiting their non-existent country. Like with the book collectors, some of these "visitors" return home to tell tales of the brain-implanted sights they saw. But more and more often, they are kept and converted into Belgians -- serving first as props in the Conspiracy's illusion, and eventually as fodder for the ravenous black mold that is steadily eating through Belgium's pod-bound population, putting pressure on the Conspiracy to find replacements.

Whatever incredible tales of rare books, delectable foods, opportunities to hobnob with kings, etc. they may tell you, don't be tricked by fake Belgians into going to Belgium. It could be the last place you ever go.

(Via the dilettantes at Boing Boing, who again miss the most important part of the story.)

Lyle Zapato

How The Mind-Control Lasers Work

Lyle Zapato | 2009-07-30.1160 LMT | Aluminum | Mind Control

There is a misconception among novice paranoids that the so-called "mind-control lasers" control minds directly from their locations in orbit. In reality, these lasers only facilitate conventional psychotronic mind-control coming from either orbiting psychotrons or ground-based stations. But how do the lasers do this?

A recent experiment leaked to the public via Nature Physics -- presumably as part of the continuing strategy of conditioning orthonoids to accept a more conspicuous New World Order, as well as morale-disrupting propaganda aimed at paranoids -- revealed the shocking truth about how these lasers work -- they turn aluminum foil transparent:

[R]esearchers at the FLASH facility in Hamburg, Germany, took a thin piece of aluminium foil and blasted it with an X-ray laser that generated about 10 million gigawatts of power per square centimetre. At standard temperature and pressure, solid aluminium is a lattice of ions surrounded by a sea of free electrons. Each photon in the FLASH beam had enough energy to knock an electron away from an ion, while the photon got absorbed in the process.

Normally in a solid metal, another electron will instantly take the place of the missing one. But FLASH is so powerful that it can rip out one electron from every ion in the foil before other electrons can replace them.

With one electron removed, the remaining electrons around each ion settle into a different configuration, becoming too tightly bound for the laser to remove them. That means the X-ray photons can no longer be easily absorbed, and they fly straight through the material, making the previously opaque aluminium transparent to X-rays

This x-ray transparency allows for a piggy-back psychotronic signal to pass right through a layer of aluminum foil, potentially obsolescing the passive mind-control deflection technology on which the Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie is based. At least that's what the NWO wants paranoids to fear in the hope we'll abandon our beanies and surrender our minds to them in despair. Fortunately, the transparifying process has three major drawbacks that keep it from coming to that:

First, the extreme energy requirements (roughly 9 exawatts per beanie layer) make it difficult for more than a handful of paranoids to be targeted at a time without creating noticeable atmospheric effects -- the sight of which would only increase orthonoid-to-paranoid conversions in the public. In turn, as our numbers increase, the percentage of paranoids affected by beanie transparency will decrease, making the situation even less advantageous for the NWO.

Second, the process creates in foil an unstable state of matter that lasts less than a nanosecond, leaving a narrow window of opportunity for mind controlling. That may be enough time to induce fleeting physio-emotive responses (FEAR, PAIN, ENNUI, etc.), but not enough for complicated behavioral programming, like "GO TO DALLAS; STATION YOURSELF ON THE GRASSY KNOLL; AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS". Much less damage can be done with the former than the latter.

Finally, because of this state-of-matter's instability, as one of the researchers behind the leaked information admitted, "As soon as you make it, the stuff blows up". Of course, this last flaw could be used to the NWO's advantage as a way of neutralizing paranoids through remote beanie detonation, but, since they still have to find you to target the lasers, general improvements in camouflaging techniques can mitigate this risk, which really isn't any more worrying than the many other ways the NWO could neutralize a paranoid once identified and located.

At worst, this revelation merely reaffirms the importance of multiple layers when creating AFDBs. Those paranoids still using single-layer configurations are risking transparification and are advised to update their beanies ASAP.

Lyle Zapato

La Pieuvre Des Arbres

Lyle Zapato | 2009-07-22.9780 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature | Art | Entertainment

Below is some rare footage of a tree octopus from 1928:

The scenes were shot by the French experimental filmmaker Jean Painlevé and originally appeared in his surrealist nature film about octopuses, La Pieuvre (The Octopus). The silent short with the scenes in their original context can be found in the recently released Criterion Collection of Painlevé's work, "Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé".

(Thanks to Joshua for bringing this to my attention.)