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Lyle Zapato

Fae Archaic: A Crime-ridden Fairy Tale

Lyle Zapato | 2019-06-03.4950 LMT | Cephalopods | Art

Fae Archaic is a graphic novel by Kirt Burdick set in a fantasy world where faeries ride toads, bats, and monkeys while engaging in various schemes and political intrigues.

I've only read the samples he's posted, but part of the story seems to follow a crusty old faerie smuggler named the Autumn Sailor whose toad mount has become possessed by the spirit of another faerie named Jocker Blune, who died in some sort of weird ritual at the hands of literally blood-thirsty ruling society faeries. Blune uses his psychic connection through the toad to twist Autumn Sailor's mind into a "bizarre tapestry of paranoia and fear" to some end...

Of particular interest to me, one of the dangers faerie smugglers must deal with in the Fenceland Forest are tree octopuses, or "arborland flesh-webs".

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Lyle Zapato

Possible Tree Ammonite Discovered

Lyle Zapato | 2019-05-14.0220 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature

Researchers have determined that a specimen of amber from Myanmar originally thought to contain a snail shell in fact contains the juvenile shell of an ammonite, a long-extinct group of cephalopods related to squid and octopuses.


Fig. 2 from PNAS paper: Ammonite shell in amber, lateral view under light microscopy. (Scale bars, 2 mm.)

In their paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, "An ammonite trapped in Burmese amber," the researchers use the shell's similarity to a previously known ammonite -- Puzosia (Bhimaites) Matsumoto -- to date the amber as older than the volcanoclastic matrix it was found in, to somewhere within the Albian and Cenomanian ages of the Cretaceous, or around 100 million years ago.

Amber is of course a fossilized form of tree resin which can trap objects and organisms, preserving them (more or less) for millions of years. So how did the shell of an ammonite -- supposedly a strictly aquatic organism -- get trapped in tree resin? The researchers propose three methods:

  1. Resin from a coastal araucarian conifer dripped down, picking up terrestrial arthropods along the way, before plopping onto an empty ammonite shell that had washed up onto the beach below.
  2. A tsunami flooded the forest, washing marine debris inland.
  3. A tropical storm blew the shell inland.

However, they've overlooked two other options: first, and least interesting, a bird might have carried it there (I live within a few miles of the Puget Sound and I've found clam shells on the roof of my house, so this is not unusual); second, and most intriguing, it might be the shell of a tree ammonite!

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Lyle Zapato

Mr. Benyon's Compulsory Aluminum Hats For Women

Lyle Zapato | 2019-04-08.1650 LMT | Aluminum | Fashion | Mind Control | Retro

Article in the Boston Post, 1913-01-20:

ALUMINUM HATS HIGH COST FOE

Benyon Would Have State Supply Them Free.

Aluminum hats as one solution of the high cost of living are advocated by John F. Benyon, a Boston writer and publisher. He says they would save millions of dollars every year and shatter the high cost of living.

Mr. Benyon declares that when he announces his candidacy for Congress or the Legislature he will run on an aluminum hat platform.

WOULD HAVE FREE HATS

He proposes to introduce a bill making compulsory the wearing of aluminum hats, which would be supplied without charge by the State to every young woman when she attains the age of millinery indiscretion.

These hats, says Mr. Benyon, would be durable, artistic and inexpensive. With a simple turn of the wrist they could be bent into the shape prescribed by the latest dictates of fashion. They would be warm and light and would last a lifetime. The statute he proposes would permit the owner to paint her aluminum hat any color she fancied, and to tack on any simple trimming that appealed to her individual taste.

It is estimated that the general adoption of Mr. Benyon's aluminum hat scheme would save more than $400,000,000 per year in this country alone, now expended in promoting milliners into the capitalistic class.

This $400,000,000, applied to the high cost of living, would buy about 67,000,000 barrels of flour, or pay the grocery bills of every family in New England for about a year.

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Lyle Zapato

Apex Legends: The Latest Belgian Scheme

Lyle Zapato | 2019-03-20.5790 LMT | Belgian Conspiracy | Entertainment | Simulacra

Is Apex Legends, the popular new battle royale shooter game, actually part of a scheme by the Belgian Conspiracy for world domination? New developments suggest it is.

A brief overview for non-gamers: A while back, video game developers came up with the idea of a "loot box", a virtual prize box that when "opened" would have a random chance of giving the player various in-game items. Since the games that employ loot boxes tend to be multiplayer ones, these items usually involve some means to customize a player's appearance or behavior (skins, emotes, voice lines, etc.), allowing players to differentiate themselves from and show off to other players -- a desirable thing in games built around social interactions.

While often these boxes can be earned in game, that usually involves "grinding", i.e. playing the game over time to slowly earn points toward a loot box. The developers, ostensibly out of benevolence, offer players the "freedom" to bypass this grinding by paying for loot boxes with real money. At the same time, developers made their games more "grindy" by intentionally making the loot-box-earning gameplay tedious or by adding lots of unwanted in-game items that lower the chance of players winning desirable ones. All of this not only encourages impatient wealthy players ("whales" in game developer speak) to pay money to skip the grind, but triggers those susceptible to addictive gambling behavior into paying more than they can afford.

That last point has caused controversy outside of the gaming community. Governments have started to look into whether loot boxes are a form of illegal gambling (you pay real money for the chance to win a virtual profit). Some have declared that they are, and have forced game publishers to remove or alter those gambling elements in order to legally sell games in their respective jurisdictions.

At the forefront of this declaration of loot-boxes-as-gambling is Belgium, whose Gaming Commission last year determined that three popular loot-boxed games were "games of chance" and that "publishers could therefore be subject to fines and prison sentences under the country's gaming legislation".

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Lyle Zapato

Tree Octopus Mural In Spokane

Lyle Zapato | 2019-02-25.8530 LMT | Art | Cephalopods | Sasquatch Issues | Cascadia | Nature

Pacific Northwest Legends: A Natural History is a 2015 mural project in Spokane, WA by Justin Gibbens with assistance by Will Bow that includes a panel dedicated to the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (and obviously inspired by the poster I made):

There are 7 other panels, 7 x 17 feet each, that showcase "historical and contemporary cryptids that inhabit the collective imagination of the Pacific Northwest", including: Sasquatch, Thunderbird, Skin-walker, Pacific Merman, Ogopogo, Jakalope, and Ozwald the flying monkey.

The mural is under the BNSF rail tunnel on S. Post Street (Google maps link -- Google's street view doesn't currently show the tree octopus panel very clearly since it's along the lane Google's car didn't go down).

Lyle Zapato

Devon Hedge Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2019-02-24.8500 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature

Earlier this month, the BBC reported on an unusual car accident in Devon, UK:

Crash driver 'swerved to avoid octopus'

A driver who swerved "to avoid an octopus" before crashing has been arrested on suspicion of drug-driving.

Police were called to the A381 between Malborough and South Milton in Devon, where they found a vehicle upside-down in a ditch on Tuesday evening.

The 49-year-old driver was checked over by paramedics before being arrested.

Officers, who tweeted about the incident, said they found no evidence of an octopus on the road.

Octopuses are not unheard of in the seas off the south coast of England, but this particular cephalopod would have had to crawl more than 3 miles (5km) over hills and fields to find itself in the path of a car on the A381.

Although authorities blamed the driver's octopus claim on drugs, I believe this was in fact an actual sighting of the long-thought-extinct Devon hedge octopus (Octopus saepeitineris dumnonii).

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Lyle Zapato

"Drom Lunarius": Tree Octopi, Pyramid Eye, & Camels

Lyle Zapato | 2019-02-23.0700 LMT | Cephalopods | Entertainment | Retro | NWO

"Drom Lunarius" is a short sci-fi/fantasy story by Richard A. Lupoff printed in the Feb. 1979 issue of KPFA Folio, a publication of the eponymous Berkeley, CA radio station.

It's about an intelligent camel named Sopwith, a carefully-bred, nearly albino racing camel who one night looks up at the moon from some dunes near the Mediterranean. Because of the "aeroplanar half of his ancestry", Sopwith also has great snowy wings, and so he flies up into sky to escape to the moon, which is not quite as NASA would have us believe:

The camel strolled across the pale plain, sniffing the fragrant lunar atmosphere. Soon he found himself in a garden. Tall trees grew on all sides, their trunks rising toward the ball of earth far above. Bushes grew with flowers in dazzling colors. Bunches of berries hung temptingly. High overhead in the vines the camel could hear the songs of tree octopi and the scuttle of feathered airworms.

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Lyle Zapato

Gerald Heard & Plan 9 From Outer Space

Lyle Zapato | 2018-09-23.8000 LMT | Paraterrestrials | Entertainment | Retro

Did Gerald Heard's The Riddle Of The Flying Saucers influence Ed Wood's infamous 1959 movie Plan 9 From Outer Space?

In Plan 9 (viewable on YouTube), after watching stupid, stupid humanity progress from firecrackers to hydrogen bombs, aliens come to Earth to stop our inevitable discovery and use of "solaronite", a substance that would cause a chain-reaction, detonating the Sun and hence the entire universe. (Wood was a bit mistaken about the scale of the universe, but never mind.)

This is, more or less, one of the theories Heard puts forward in his book for the earthly visitation of flying saucers. In Heard's theory, our dalliances with atomic weapons -- which he argues affect sunspot activity -- could be a trigger action, causing the sun to irradiate all life in the solar system. The inhabitants of Mars, who have been observing us, are trying to either stop us -- by messing with missile tests -- or at least warn us of the danger we pose to both them and ourselves.

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Lyle Zapato

NASA's Marsbee Proposal

Lyle Zapato | 2018-04-07.6120 LMT | Technology | Paraterrestrials | Simulacra

In his 1950 book, The Riddle Of The Flying Saucers (previously blogged here), Gerald Heard argued, using an inexorable chain of logic based on the available evidence, that the then-newly-reported phenomena of "flying saucers" were actually vehicles from Mars piloted by super-intelligent Martian bees, come to Earth to observe Humanity and possibly warn us of our impending doom.


Marsbees observing Earth (from Brisbane Telegraph serialization of Riddle).

Most at the time scoffed at this idea. Little green men were one thing, but Marsbees? Nonsense! Even today, Heard's theories are given little credence, or even note, by mainstream Ufologists.

However, Heard may have the last laugh, as NASA has recently announced a new Mars exploration proposal using robotic Marsbees:

The objective of the proposed work is to increase the set of possible exploration and science missions on Mars by investigating thefeasibility of flapping wing aerospace architectures in a Martian environment. The proposed architecture consists of a Mars rover that serves as a mobile base and a swarm of Marsbees. Marsbees are robotic flapping wing flyers of a bumblebee size with cicada sized wings. The Marsbees are integrated with sensors and wireless communication devices. The mobile base can act as a recharging station and main communication center. The swarm of Marsbee can significantly enhance the Mars exploration mission with the following benefits: i) Facilitating reconfigurable sensor networks; ii) Creation of resilient systems; iii) Sample or data collection using single or collaborative Marsbees.

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Lyle Zapato

Archie McPhee, Dactyl Fractal Consciousness, & Novelty Tin Foil Hats

Lyle Zapato | 2018-03-28.4528 LMT | Polydactylism | Aluminum | Mind Control | Fashion | Crass Commercialism

Archie McPhee, beloved outfitter for ironists, has recently added two new sets of products that are curiously within my wheelhouse...

Firstly, almost four years after they introduced their second-order dactyl fractal aspirational prosthesis, Finger Hands, they have finally released the next iteration, Finger Hands for Finger Hands:

IT'S A FRACTAL FINGER HAND FIESTA

We were staring at our Finger Hands, as we often do, and had a thought. What if Finger Hands had Finger Hands of their own? That's when Finger Hands for Finger Hands were born. Not only do these fit on Finger Hands, they'll fit on pencils, pens and even chopsticks! Like an ever-extending fractal.

They also now have both light and dark skin-tone versions of both iterations so even more first-order people can train to visualize themselves manifesting the Handlebrot. Hopefully we won't have to wait another four years for the forth-order iteration to come out and really kick off the Transphalangal Epoch.

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