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Lyle Zapato

Bulgarian Fossilized Aluminum Foil

Lyle Zapato | 2014-05-28.0410 LMT | Aluminum | Mind Control | Lost Worlds

Aluminum reacts readily with oxygen. This is beneficial for Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie users since any aluminum surface exposed to air will immediately form a thin layer of aluminum oxide, sealing the inner metal from further rusting (a process called passivation). However, this reactivity means aluminum, although the most common metal in the earth's crust, is never found naturally here in its native metal form. Relatively advanced electrolytic technology is needed to separate the metal from compound, thus aluminum was unknown to the uninitiated public of post-Atlantean, pre-industrial societies.

So how come geologists found a flake of aluminum foil embedded in a 250-million-year-old rock in Bulgaria?


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Lyle Zapato

Cumbrian Rocktopus

Lyle Zapato | 2013-07-04.6870 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature
Lyle Zapato

The Wonderful Electric Elephant vs. Giant Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2013-01-04.9240 LMT | Cephalopods | Elephants | Simulacra | Retro

Happy New Year again! Here's a giant octopus trying to crush an electric elephant:


The elephant in the grasp of an octopus.

It's from The Wonderful Electric Elephant (1903) by Frances T. Montgomery, a children's book about a young man named Harold who encounters and shoots an elephant on a trail at the Grand Canyon, only to discover it's actually an electric-powered mecha-elephant piloted by a mysterious old man who soon dies after spilling his immortality elixir. Harold finds the man's will inside, which states that he now owns the elephant, as well as the gold and other curios and treasures the man had collected. Reading the instruction manual, he learns the elephant is watertight, so decides to cross the Pacific seafloor to Japan. On the way, he frees silky-locked Ione from Native Americans and she becomes his companion, and eventually wife, as they travel the world having adventures and frightening people, as one does when one comes into possession of a wonderful electric elephant.

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Lyle Zapato

Burrowing Mammoths of Siberia

Lyle Zapato | 2013-01-01.6380 LMT | Elephants | Nature | Hollow Earth

Happy New Year! Here's a frozen mammoth stuck in a hillside that's been misidentified as a giant, burrowing rat:

This is from Strange Company: Wonder-Wings, Mullingongs, Colossi, etc. (1888) by Charles Frederick Holder.

Professor Holder was the inventor of big-game fishing and one of the founders of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade (which makes this topical for today, I guess, and gives me an excuse to post it), which he first suggested at a meeting of the Valley Hunt Club as a taunt at New Yorkers: "In New York, people are buried in the snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."

If a float featuring a frozen mammoth stuck in a hillside rendered in flowers hasn't been featured in the parade yet, it should.

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Lyle Zapato

The Mammoth Eye Of Mars

Lyle Zapato | 2012-02-20.7190 LMT | Retro | Paraterrestrials | Nature

Everyone has heard of Percival Lowell's theories of Martian canals, but have you heard the theory of Mars' vast thinking vegetable and its mammoth eye?

The above is an artist's rendition of the eye of Mars. It's not a metaphorical depiction. What you see is exactly what the theory claimed: (from the caption) "A vast eye, upon a tenuous, flexible, transparent neck raises itself high above the surface of Mars and can watch the growth of its vegetable body upon any part of the surface." Its "vegetable body" is a Mars-hugging super-organism of intelligent vegetable life that creeps along the cracks left in the drying Martian surface (Lowell's erstwhile "canals").

The Martian Eye theory was put forward as an explanation for the shifting white patches just perceptible to telescopes, which less paranoid minds ascribed to mere seasonal snow.

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Lyle Zapato

Beating Sprayed-Vesicant-Protection-Bags Into Rain-Covers

Lyle Zapato | 2012-01-03.7880 LMT | Retro | Defensive Techniques | Fashion

Back in 2005 I posted a version of this image from a WWII pin-up calendar/poster:

Protection against SPRAY ATTACK
Miss November, 1944

Perhaps you wondered, "What did the Army do with all those Japanese-microplane-spray-attack-protection covers after the war?" Well, it turns out they sold the surplus to civilians as "Amazing All-Over Rain-Covers". Here's a 1948 ad extolling their (apparently 106) uses:


Click to see the full ad at the Digital Comic Museum...

Biggest variety of uses of anything you ever owned! Impress your date by picnicking and canoeing in the rain! Awkwardly shuffle through the rain-drenched masses like cocooned vermin! Never again suffer the embarrassment to your male ego of having your gal use a newspaper to keep her party dress unruined! Any rain-avoidance-based thing is possible with the Amazing All-Over Rain-Cover!

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Lyle Zapato

Don't Say You Weren't Warned

Lyle Zapato | 2009-03-05.8940 LMT | General Paranoia

The world's only reliable newspaper, Weekly World News -- which Google Books now has online in its entirety -- has been warning you about the current economic crisis for over a decade:

Weekly World News, 1998-01-20

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Lyle Zapato

Jiu-Jitsu Lessons From Roosevelt's Instructor

Lyle Zapato | 2008-08-06.1890 LMT | Defensive Techniques | Retro

Lesson A.

Lesson A.

This lesson shows how a weak person could stop an opponent who is about to clinch, by putting the first and index fingers to the eyes.* This method was used by the Japanese at Port Authur in the hand-to-hand battle with the Russians.

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Lyle Zapato

Lord Kelvin and the "Butterfly Effect"

Lyle Zapato | 2008-07-13.6760 LMT | Kelviniana

While further researching Lord Kelvin, I came across an interesting quote. The Universe a Vast Electric Organism (George Woodward Warder, 1903) quotes Prof. Garrett P. Serviss -- the author of Edison's Conquest of Mars, which co-stars Lord Kelvin -- in the New York American, May 16, 1903 (bold mine):

"The undulatory theory of energy is carrying everything before it. It is not saying too much to aver that wave motion is concerned in nearly all the phenomena of physical life . . . Think for a moment of what is included in the science of waves. In the air all sounds, all musical harmonies are waves; in the solid globe, all earthquakes are waves; in the ether light, electricity and heat are waves. It is waves that make the stars visible, and yet more mysterious oscillations picture for us on photographic plates marvelous nebulous objects. Lord Kelvin has been credited with the statement that the fluttering of a butterfly's wing sets up vibrations that shake the universe." (p.288)

I've searched for the original quote by Kelvin but have come up empty. The only references to it I can find on the Internet are in Warder and a mention in passing in Science of the New Thought (Erastus Whitford Hopkins, 1904). If anyone can find what statement of Kelvin's Serviss was referring to, please contact me, as this would add chaos theory to the multitude of scientific fields that Kelvin influenced in some way.

According to the Wikipedia article on the "butterfly effect", the connection of butterflies to the idea of sensitive dependence on initial conditions came from Ray Bradbury's 1952 short story "A Sound of Thunder". Granted it's Wikipedia, so it might as well say John Seigenthaler Sr. first came up with the idea, but if that's the accepted wisdom on the metaphor's origin, what shall we make of Kelvin's use of it half a century earlier? Time travel?

[UPDATE 2010-01-28: Looks like it was originally a mosquito, and Kelvin didn't recall saying it.]

Since I don't have Kelvin's original quote, I'll leave you instead with some entertaining figures from Hopkins' book above:

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Lyle Zapato

Tree Octopus Comic

Lyle Zapato | 2007-10-22.6050 LMT | Cephalopods | Art
Tree octopus comic, first panel

Above is the first panel of a one-page comic titled "Strange Tales of the Pacific Northwest. Episode 34: 20,000 Legs Under the Trees", drawn by Lukas Ketner and written by Ryan Brown. The rest of the comic is an exciting, action-packed tale of peaceful tree octopuses forced to roll up their tentacles to defend themselves from a hungry cougar.

It was published inside the cover of an Oregonian magazine or some sort of periodical. I'm still trying to track down the details. The email address I have for Ketner returned a "no such user" error, so if you know him or Brown, please let them know I'm looking for them. In the meantime, if someone knows more about exactly where and when this was published (or would like to get me a physical copy), please email me. I'll update this post if I learn more.

Update 2007-10-30: The publication is The Bear Deluxe Magazine, issue #25, published by Orlo, a "nonprofit organization using the creative arts to explore environmental issues" based in Oregon.