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Lyle Zapato

GPM #24: Your Fellow Soldiers, Black Helicopters

Lyle Zapato | 2010-07-13.7750 LMT | Black Helicopters | Government Propaganda Mascots | Simulacra

Comics With Problems -- a site dedicated to comic books tackling serious problems, usually poorly -- has uncovered an official US Army training comic from 2001 titled "Dignity & Respect: A Training Guide On Homosexual Conduct Policy". It's ostensibly about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, but the back cover is where the true propagandistic purpose of the book is revealed:

Heads of diverse soldiers... and miniature Black Helicopters

The modern, diverse US military, made of men and women of all colors and creeds... and miniature Black Helicopters?!

By off-handedly inserting them into this display of soldier unity in diversity, the Army was clearly trying to normalize acceptance of miniature Black Helicopters among the ranks. Deviously, they put this at the end of an otherwise unrelated comic that stresses respecting the dignity of fellow soldiers, causing a subconscious transference of all the social-conformity training from that story onto the subject of Black Helicopters without having to acknowledge they were doing so -- which would have only caused soldiers to ask such existential questions as: Why are there small, nanobiotechnological lifeforms flying around the barracks demanding respect?

When introducing shocking new realities to the uninitiated, it's best to just put it out there and pretend like there's nothing out of the ordinary going on. Most people will be too embarrassed to admit they see something everyone else doesn't and will keep quiet. And for those few who do ask questions, it always helps to have "Just shut up and stop asking questions!" as an official, enforceable policy. Is PFC Choppy a miniature Black Helicopter or is he really just short, hyperactive, and not very talkative? Don't ask! Mind your own business and just respect him as a fellow soldier!

Even more troubling though is the lower part of the image which shows that miniaturization of Simulacra android technology is more advanced than previously thought. If those mesosoldiers were common in the Army nine years ago, how long until the NWO starts introducing microscopic Ken Schrams into our food supply?

Or have they already?!

Lyle Zapato

Pocket Paradigm-Shift Awareness Clock

Lyle Zapato | 2010-07-08.7210 LMT | Technology | Crafts | Mysterious Doodads

Inspired by the Paradigm Shift Awareness Clock pictured on the ZPi Research Labs page, Bob Blick has created a pocket-sized version for on-the-go paradigm shifting. He has graciously sent me one of his two prototypes:

'Days Since Last Paradigm Shift'

Unlike more complicated and expensive paradigm allagimeters you can buy from obscure dealers in esoteritronics, this one is simple enough that any budding revolutionary can use it to monitor their paradigm shifting prowess. Granted it won't let one know in advance of imminent paradigm shifts -- much less shift direction, velocity, or sociocultural mass -- but the point here is not precise paradigmology. As with my original, the point is to motivate shift-inducing activity by making one aware of the lack of them.

No instructions were included, but none were needed. Oscillating dots on the display show it's sensing* the dominant paradigm. If there's no shift within a day, the number will be advanced by one. Any detected shift will reset the number to zero. Simple and to the point.

While indeed pocket-sized, its square shape also makes it a wonderful desk clock for lazy pencil-pushing revolutioneers in need of motivation. I would make one recommendation for improvement, though: the addition of a mount for an optional wrist band can turn it into a stylishly functional Paradigm Shift Awareness Watch:

'Days Since Last Paradigm Shift' wristwatch

No word yet on whether Blick plans to bring this exciting product to market. If he does, I'm ordering one for every Sasquatch in my employ. They've been slacking off lately.

* I only briefly peeked inside the device, so I can't say exactly how it works. I assume its paradigm-sensing abilities are based on paradigm-resonant crystals of some sort. That's what I would use, anyway.

UPDATE 2013-05-10: The Paradigm-Shift Awareness Clock has been updated.

Lyle Zapato

What Really Happened To The Dinosaurs

Lyle Zapato | 2010-05-26.4840 LMT | Cephalopods | Art | Nature

Tree octopus eating a velociraptor
"Ocean Invasion #1: Octopus arborealus" by Daniel D. Brown.
(Posters available.)

Non-aquatic cephalopods are notoriously under-represented, if not completely absent, in the fossil record since they are mostly composed of soft-tissue and, unlike their aquatic counterparts, live in environments without a constant rain of fine sediment and ubiquitous muddy ground necessary for soft-tissue fossilization.

Given this explanation for a lack of fossil evidence, it cannot be ruled out that the scenario depicted above -- predation by giant octopuses newly colonizing an above-water world unprepared for their arrival -- is what really doomed the dinosaurs to extinction. Only those dinosaurs that were able to rise above the now-deadly trees -- birds -- survived the transition to a post-tree-octopus environment.

Lyle Zapato

Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race

Lyle Zapato | 2010-04-29.9520 LMT | Announcement | Cephalopods | Art | Crafts

The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race is an annual event where Kinetinauts race amphibious, human-powered art-vehicles to victory and glory.

This year has a very special entrant (from the Spectator's Guide):

Veke Versa Boat is from the Jemicy School of Baltimore and is dedicated to providing habitat for the endangered, elusive, and apocryphal tree octopus.

(I'm assuming they were forced to add "apocryphal" in the guide description by the shadowy, anti-Cascadian forces pulling the strings of the race -- note the special Belgian waffle breakfast held on a balcony overseeing the opening ceremonies mentioned prominently in the guide and on the official site.)

Jemicy seems to have a cephalopod theme going this year, as their four other entries are named Squid Man, Kraken, Cabrena Octopus, & Calamari. All five are competing for an ACE award, the most challenging, rule-encumbered level of competition in the race.

No photos yet. I'll add some links in an update after the race. Good luck Team Jemicy.

UPDATE 2010-05-03: Jemicy's Veke Versa Boat won the Engineering award! Here's a photo of it without its head cropped off:

Jemicy's Veke Versa Boat

By the color and demeanor of the octopus, it looks as if they modeled it after Thujoctopus pilosa, not O. paxarbolis. Nevertheless, anything that raises awareness of arboreal cephalopods is certainly worthy of note.

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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