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Lyle Zapato

The Modern Paranoid Home

Lyle Zapato | 2010-03-24.5726 LMT | Aluminum | Mind Control

Padded aluminum room

This Aluminum Shielded Enclosure has all the amenities a modern paranoid would need. More photos below.

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Lyle Zapato

Posters For Haiti

Lyle Zapato | 2010-03-05.5330 LMT | Announcement | Fonts | Art | Entertainment
Lyle Zapato

Lord Kelvin and the Mosquito Effect?

Lyle Zapato | 2010-01-28.1050 LMT | Kelviniana

Back in 2008, I stumbled upon a quote that suggested Lord Kelvin was the originator of the butterfly in the "Butterfly Effect" over fifty years before the supposed source of that name was published.

It now appears that the situation is more convoluted, and that I'm redoing the work of someone who also stumbled upon the quote -- 108 years ago!

In a letter published in Nature (July 3, 1902), Hiram Stevens Maxim -- the inventor of the automatic machine gun, the mousetrap, amusement-park airplane rides, and possibly the lightbulb -- asked the editors about the source of Kelvin's wing-beat-changes-the-Universe quote -- only in the version Maxim read (from William Stanley) it was a mosquito wing doing the Universe-beating:

Mr. William Stanley, an American philosopher and engineer, said a few days ago that the grandest words ever uttered by any man on this planet were spoken by Lord Kelvin when he said that if all the matter in the Universe were reduced to its ultimate atoms and equally divided through all space, the disturbance caused by the beating of the wing of one mosquito would bring about everything that we find in the material Universe to-day. I have written to Lord Kelvin asking him where I can find some account of this, but he denies that he ever said anything of the kind. However, as Mr. Stanley declares that it appeared in Nature, perhaps you can put me in the way of getting a copy of the paper which contains this remarkable utterance, which, by the way, is quite true, and if Lord Kelvin did not say it, I only have to say that he might well have been the author.

Hiram S. Maxim,
18 Queen's Gate Place, London, S.W., June 25.

A Google book search turned up nothing in Nature from Kelvin on this subject, but searching for a quote based on a paraphrase that may include the wrong order of insect isn't exactly a science, so I could be missing it. (Also, if I may gripe, Google treats issues of many older periodicals as if they are different editions of the same book, showing only the newest issue that matches the query, making searches aggravating.)

While this almost certainly excludes Kelvin from being the source of the Butterfly Effect's specific protagonist, and possibly his general insectile contributions to the field of chaos theory if his memory was correct, it still calls into question Ray Bradbury as the ultimate source of the lepidopteran imagery.

But more interestingly, the butterfly seems to have originated out of a paraphrased-quote-based game of telephone -- where the flap of a tongue can turn "tornado" into "Texas" -- making it an example of its own effect.

P.S. If you came here looking for the band called the Mosquito Effect, you are in the wrong place.

Lyle Zapato

Light Has Been Knotted!

Lyle Zapato | 2010-01-17.5140 LMT | Kelviniana | Technology

A team of physicists from the universities of Bristol, Glasgow, and Southampton have succeeded in tying light into knots using holograms, a discovery that will lead to greater control over the flow of light, allowing advances in lasers and other optical technologies.

Diagrams of holograms showing knotted light

They were able to do this by designing the holograms using Knot Theory, a hitherto purely abstract mathematical field that was founded by Lord Kelvin in his quest to enlighten Humanity as to the knotted aetheric vortices that comprise material reality.

As Dr. Mark Dennis, the lead author of the research team, notes "This work opens a new chapter in that history" (of Knot Theory).

Once ridiculed for their strange fascination with tabulating different types of knots and their eccentric shoelace patterns, and only occasionally finding themselves in the news with the discovery of new aesthetic tie knots, Knot Theorists can now claim control over light itself, making their tangly passion key to Humanity's photonic future. What opportunities this creates -- the power, the prestige, the grants, being invited to all the trendy parties once only open to Chaos Theorists and Fractal Geometrists. Never again will a Knot Theorist be ashamed to walk the Halls of Science with the dawning of this, the Decade of the Knot!

Lyle Zapato

Tree Octopus Videos: Hatch & Attack!

Lyle Zapato | 2010-01-15.6195 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature

The new decade brings two new tree octopus videos. First up is an incredible one from the Save the Tree Octopus! YouTube channel (not associated with ZPi) which purports to show a hatching tree octopus:

The idea that tree octopuses hatch from solid-shelled eggs in trees is just fanciful, the stuff of urban legend. It has never been documented in any species before, although there have been unconfirmed reports from Palau of octopuses giving live birth in trees. However, the breeding habits of O. paxarbolis -- which must return to the Puget Sound to lay soft-shelled eggs that produce dime-sized hatchlings -- are well known among cephalopodologists, both human and sasquatch.

What I believe we are seeing here is a juvenile tree octopus that has found a bird's nest, pecked a hole through one of the eggs with its beak, and then squeezed through the hole to dine on the innards, causing the imbalanced egg to roll over, hiding the small entrance. This sort of behavior is often seen in octopuses, who enjoy tight spaces and free food. Once finished with its meal and heavy with yolk and albumen, it finds it easier to break the shell than squeeze back through the hole, producing the illusion of hatching.

While not showing the next step in tree octopus evolution that it initially appears, the video is still an interesting look into the food-web of the Cascadian forest canopy, and illustrates the tree octopuses' dependence on native bird species.

The other video is a short, self-explanatory action flick in the "octoploitation" genre from Raging Walrus Filmz titled Tree Octopus Attack! Enjoy:

Lyle Zapato

Talking Tree Octopus Of IMPOLEX

Lyle Zapato | 2009-12-08.0878 LMT | Cephalopods | Entertainment

IMPOLEX (2009) is an independent film about a US soldier on a special mission for Operation Paperclip to single-handedly recover the last two remaining V-2 rockets in post-war Germany.

(This is not a review since I haven't seen the film. It's on the film festival circuit, so I probably won't see it for a while. I'm describing it via the trailer, interviews, and PR on the film's site. My apologies if I get something wrong.)

The film follows Tyrone S. (Riley O'Bryan) as he looks for and finds a miniature V-2 rocket, then has to carry it around a forest in search of the second one. Along the way he encounters various unusual characters and eats bananas.

IMPOLEX's writer/director, Max Ross Perry, freely admits in interviews that he was heavily influenced by Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow -- besides thematic similarities, the main character's name is the same in both and the title was obviously inspired by Pynchon's Imipolex G, although Perry's IMPOLEX (short for "Initiative for the Monitoring and Protection of Liquid Energy Explosives") is a US military organization, not a secret Nazi erectile plastic.

What's drawn my interest in this film is that one of the characters Tyrone encounters is a talking tree octopus, of unknown European species, voiced by Eugene Mirman and played by two octopuses -- which I assume is some sort of union thing. One still shows them sitting together in the forest, engaged in a deep discussion:

IMPOLEX

I don't know what they discuss, but apparently they have a falling out. In the trailer at about 1:40, Tyrone shoots at the octopus:

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Lyle Zapato

AFDBs At Walmart

Lyle Zapato | 2009-12-07.5590 LMT | Mind Control | Aluminum | Fashion | Crass Commercialism

Walmart shopper wearing AFDB
A member of Freedom from Covert Harassment & Surveillance,
covertly harassed & surveilled by People of Walmart.

If you must go to Walmart, an AFDB is a necessity. Camouflaging it would probably be a good idea too, especially if you want to avoid the All-Seeing Eye of the Internet Hate Machine.

Seriously, can't a paranoid pick up some Faded Glory tees, a case of Dr. Thunder, and some Great Value aluminum foil without being harassed & surveilled?

Lyle Zapato

AFDBs On Fringe

Lyle Zapato | 2009-11-13.2880 LMT | Mind Control | Aluminum | Entertainment | Fashion

The most recent episode of the TV show Fringe, "Of Human Action", was about a kid taking military-grade psychotronic drugs who gains the ability to control minds with only his bare thoughts. Near the end (35:00), Dr. Walter Bishop and his assistant, Astrid, wear AFDBs -- not to block the kid's mind-control, as one might assume, but to keep the sinister corporation Massive Dynamic from reading their thoughts:

Beanied Walter Bishop Beanied Walter Bishop Beanied Astrid

While it's good to see deflector-beanie awareness being propagated to the orthonoid masses, their AFDBs contain some potentially fatal flaws that could undermine the paranoid cause if widely adopted.

First, they're ill-fitting. You can see this especially with Astrid's, which she wears at a dangerously jaunty angle allowing free access to her right temporal lobe, center for the processing of sound and semantic meaning and the formation of long-term memory. The beanies are also not secured with tape or other fasteners and could easily be dislodged. Finally, though the Robin Hood they are sporting is a classic style, it tends to sit higher on the head, leading to suboptimal foil usage compared to the recommended form-fitting squashed configuration.

On their own, these may seem like simple amateur mistakes, but given the show's incongruous appearance on a network aligned with the Forces of Mind Control, they are certainly intentional -- designed to promote just enough paranoid behavior to provide a false sense of mental security, but not enough to withstand attacks targeting these specific weaknesses.

As you may recall, Fringe has also promoted the Handlebrot set and action on the show centers around intradimensional activities in a multidimensional setting -- topics of interest to my readers. Clearly this show has been memetically engineered for no other purpose than to counter my website with subtle misinformation.

I'm on to you, J.J.

Lyle Zapato

Pitch-Chewing Tree Octopuses of British Columbia

Lyle Zapato | 2009-10-29.6120 LMT | Cephalopods | Cascadia | Food

Among the First Nations of Cascadia, tree pitch (more accurately, oleoresin) is harvested, hardened in cold water, then chewed for pleasure like gum. One of the trees traditionally used is the Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), also known as the tidewater spruce since it tolerates being near salt water (according to Wikipedia, its range never extends more than 80 km from the Pacific Ocean and its inlets).

Not surprisingly, octopuses, common in the tidal inlets along the Cascadian coast, have also discovered the joys of chewing pitch, and will come out of the water and enter the nearby Sitka to obtain the tasty treat. This behavior has long been reported by the people of coastal British Columbia, but appears to have gone little noticed by outsiders, judging by the paucity of written records.

Those who have reported pitch harvesting by octopuses include the Nuxalk (also known as the Bella Coola). The Bella Coola Indians (1948) by Thomas Forsyth McIlwraith, tells the story of one man's encounter with a pitch-chewing octopus in the trees:

[The Bella Coola] believe that [the octopus] is fond of gum and frequently comes to land to obtain it. It is said that the gum is never voided, but remains in a suck within the creature's stomach. One informant stated that within his mother's life-time, a man walking near Täl·io heard a smacking sound, like someone chewing noisily. He knew what must be the cause, but idly decided to investigate. It was an octopus. The beast was clambering down from the tree, using two of its arms to help it. Not realizing his danger, the man allowed himself to be seized and carried to the shore. He had thought that it would be easy to free himself, but he found it impossible and was carried under the sea. He bit frantically at the enfolding arms, until he succeeded in freeing his own, with which he pushed up the beak of the octopus, thus killing it. He rose to the surface and returned home none the worse.

This octopus bears little resemblance to the peaceful -- and non-man-carryingly large -- Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (O. paxarbolis). Given the details, it is unlikely that it was a true arboreal species, but merely one willing to make a plunge into the Big Dry to get a snack, much like the olive-loving octopuses of Greece or the ara-eaters of Polynesia. (And as to its misanthropy, stories of octopuses both antagonistic to humans and huge -- some even capable of destroying whole villages -- are not uncommon throughout British Columbia and Alaska. But that's beyond the scope of this post.)

A more mythic story from the Comox of Vancouver Island suggests that it was the octopus that gave humans the idea to chew pitch. The details of the story aren't relevant here, and apparently there are regional variations that vary greatly, but in this version a son of Aie'len (the Sun) goes into the sky and encounters a pitch-chewing octopus in a scene oddly reminiscent of Alice and the Caterpillar (machine-translated from German with corrections by me):

When he had reached into the sky, he found a road that led through a beautiful, flat land. In the distance he saw smoke rising. He walked toward it and found an octopus lying comfortably, chewing resin. The young man asked him: "Oh, give me some pitch." The octopus replied: "What do you mean? But you can not use the resin for your teeth!" But the man asked again: "Oh, give me some pitch and your coat." And the octopus gave him both.

The coat is magical; it transforms the man into an octopus, under which guise he tricks the daughters of someone named Tla'ik into bringing him home as part of an elaborate scheme to woo the youngest one. He later punishes her father for disapproving of their marriage by spitting the pitch into the sea to create the thing that most scares Tla'ik: whales!

The story was first recorded in 1895 by the German-speaking anthropologist Franz Boas in his Indianische Sagen von der Nord-Pacifischen Küste Amerikas (in German, obviously -- "harzkauenden Tintenfische" = "resin-chewing octopus"). An English translation of Boas' work -- Indian Myths & Legends from the North Pacific Coast of America: A Translation, translated by Deitrich Bertz and edited by Randy Bouchard and Dorothy Kennedy -- states in a footnote that "it is a common Coast Salish belief that octopuses chew pitch".

The nearby Sliammon (or Tla A'min) also tell a variation of the story that includes the pitch-chewing octopus. Sliammon Life, Sliammon Lands (1983), by Dorothy Kennedy and Randy Bouchard, has a version as told by Rose Mitchell, this time with the main protagonist described merely as a "small person" named Thens (Wren):

Soon [Thens] heard the sound of chewing as he walked through a meadow, and when he went to investigate, he came across Octopus, who was chewing pitch. This pitch was Octopus' power.

Thens asked Octopus for a piece of this magic pitch, but Octopus only replied, "Oh, your mouth must be like mine." Three times Thens asked for the magic pitch and three times Octopus gave him this same answer, but the fourth time Thens asked, he was given some. "You can use this pitch for anything," Octopus told him. Octopus also gave Thens a robe with special power.

That's pretty much all I've been able to uncover so far on pitch-chewing and pitch-foraging among BC octopuses. Although I did find this interesting picture and description posted by "Dru!" on Flickr in 2007:

I was lucky enough today to catch a glimpse of an elusive Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (Octopus paxarbolis). I have been trying to see one of these rare creatures for several years and with great patience managed to sight one migrating from tree to tree that was unaware of my presence and had not camouflaged itself.

There is some info about these creatures at zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/ but it is somewhat inaccurate. The PTO (Pacific Tree Octopus) is not only found near Puget Sound (as alleged on Zapatopi) but is also found along the western coast of BC as far north as Bella Coola. The Canadian population has not been critically endangered in the same way the American one has, although the PTO is red-listed in BC because of its dependence on undisturbed pathways from its aquatic spawning grounds and its forested habitat.

The range (north to Bella Coola, BC) matches the area where pitch-chewing octopuses have been reported, and that tree does look like a spruce. I'm going to have to disagree with Dru!; this isn't O. paxarbolis, but some other semi-arboreal or normally non-arboreal species -- possibly a juvenile Enteroctopus dofleini -- caught in the act of foraging for spruce pitch. (Also, the eyes don't look like those of O. paxarbolis. Perhaps Sitka has the same effect on octopuses as Spice has on the Fremen of Arrakis.)

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!