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Lyle Zapato

"Sword of Fire": Mind-Controlling Alien Jungle Octopods

Lyle Zapato | 2014-12-14.9600 LMT | Cephalopods | Mind Control | Paraterrestrials | Weyerhaeuser Conspiracy | Entertainment | Retro

Illustration from the novella "Sword of Fire" by Emmett McDowell, published in the Winter 1949 issue of Planet Stories (full scan here, mangled text version here). Spoilery synopsis follows:

Jupiter Jones, advanced explorer for the Galactic Colonization Board and misanthropic loner, is forced by low fuel to land his ship, the Mizar, on the distant jungle planet Yogol after he was accidentally space-warped beyond Alpha Centaurus. There he discovers that the native humanoids are ruled by purple-shelled octopods called the Anolyn, who ages ago shambled from the inland sea of Dra Dur and mind-controlled the humans by attaching their snail-like young to the back of the humans' necks, forcing the humans to carry the octopods around the jungle on litters, engage in blood-sports and inhuman orgies, and service their nameless cities from which the Anolyn lord over the world.

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Lyle Zapato

Hildegard von Bingen's Octopus Visions

Lyle Zapato | 2014-11-11.6090 LMT | Cephalopods | Retro | Art

In 1141, a land octopus living in the spandrels of the convent of Disibodenberg, in Germany, visited Hildegard von Bingen, the new head nun, and gave her visions, most likely via a combination of chromatophoric signals and pressure phosphenes from palpation of her eyeballs.

Being as she was steeped in her religion, and with the obvious cross-species language difficulties, she misinterpreted the octopus' attempt at communication as messages from the "voice of heaven". She recorded her theological interpretations of these visions in her book, Scivias ("know the ways"), which included the above illumination in the frontispiece.

Unlike later illustrations of her receiving the visions, which show divine light-rays from the sky as would suit the presumptions of the time, this original one was either done by her or made from her sketches. In fact, the image shows her sketching on a wax tablet, perhaps recording the event as it happened. So it's the most accurate depiction of the encounter -- one clearly more cephalopodic than theophanic.

(Thanks to reader Rich Thomas for bringing this to my attention.)

Lyle Zapato

Life In Darwin's Universe: Alien Octopuses & Other Earthly Analogues

Lyle Zapato | 2014-10-10.5928 LMT | Cephalopods | Paraterrestrials | Nature


Hypothetical alien octopus by Wayne McLoughlin, from theories of Gene Bylinsky.

I previously blogged about V. A. Firsoff's Life Among the Stars, which, among other things, explained how tree octopuses may one day become a spacefaring species. Life in Darwin's Universe (1981) by Gene Bylinsky, with illustrations by Wayne Mcloughlin, covers similar ground, asking what shape intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe may take under Darwinian constraints using Earth species as analogies. Of course it includes octopuses.

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Lyle Zapato

Pacific NorthWEIRD: Mima Mounds

Lyle Zapato | 2014-08-28.8310 LMT | Field Trips | Cascadia | Nature

There's a new webseries called Pacific NorthWEIRD "chronicling the strange, supernatural, and eccentric happenings of the Pacific Northwest". Their premier episode is about the mysterious Mima Mounds near Olympia, WA (map):

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Lyle Zapato

1974 New Mexico Civil Liberties Union PSA

Lyle Zapato | 2014-08-11.8314 LMT | NWO | Mind Control | General Paranoia

As the first generation of a technological society, we have been acted upon by forces of such power that few, if any, of us can understand: extensive information gathering on every American; human experiments with drugs and psycho-surgery; electronic surveillance; the era of the computer; invasion of privacy; growing government and corporate power over our lives; a people plagued by dehumanization, loneliness, and violence.

Dramatic? Perhaps. But we are losing control of our technology and our lives. Not so long ago, people in a similar situation did not awaken to the forces around them.

Are we so unwise as to do the same?

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Lyle Zapato

Help Fund Bobtail Squid Science

Lyle Zapato | 2014-08-07.8285 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature

Sarah McAnulty and Andrea Suria, two Ph.D. students at the University of Connecticut, are working to understand how the immune system of Hawaiian Bobtail Squid is able to mediate the symbiosis between the squid and its bacterial symbiont, Vibrio fischeri:

The Hawaiian Bobtail squid has a glowing bacterium that lives in a specialized organ on their underside. As the squid swims at night, the bacteria glow, preventing predators from detecting the squid's silhouette against the moonlight. Squid immune cells are able to distinguish beneficial from harmful bacteria and know to kill only harmful bacteria. Our lab researches how the immune system makes this decision.

But the squid are hungry little guys who need lots of shrimp. So they (McAnulty and Suria, not the squid) have taken to crowdfunding site Experiment (like Kickstarter, only for science). Here's their project page, "How do Bobtail Squid choose their glowing bacterial partner?", and their video pitch:

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Lyle Zapato

Hatchan The Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2014-07-28.9260 LMT | Cephalopods | Entertainment | Retro


H8ERS GONNA H8

Hatchan The Octopus (蛸の八ちゃん, "Tako no Hatchan") is a Japanese comic about an octopus, Hatchan, who goes on land to learn about being human and has various misadventures. The author, Suihō Tagawa (田河水泡), is more famous for his Norakuro character, a semi-autobiographical, anthropomorphic dog soldier in a thinly veiled Japanese Imperial Army.

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Lyle Zapato

Octopus-Horde Attack: The Perle, 1906

Lyle Zapato | 2014-07-23.7900 LMT | Cephalopods | Piratical Yarrings | Anarchy | Retro


A SINGULAR BLOW OF THE NET. — Boat attacked by octopus

The attack of the fishing boat Perle by an octopus horde in 1906, from Le Petit Journal's illustrated supplement (click for full image). The article it illustrated:

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Lyle Zapato

Mandatory Weird Al: Foil

Lyle Zapato | 2014-07-16.4665 LMT | Entertainment | Aluminum | Food | NWO | Mind Control | Black Helicopters | General Paranoia
Lyle Zapato

The Lost Continent Of The Arctic

Lyle Zapato | 2014-07-15.6476 LMT | Lost Worlds | Hollow Earth | Elephants | Retro

At the dawn of the twentieth century, explorers had vanquished all the dragons from the map, leaving only the Poles as blanks to be filled. The Arctic, nearer to the majority of humanity than its antipode, had long been the subject of imaginative filling, playing host to paradisiacal lands of legend and rumor.


Mercator's map of the North Pole (1595)

The idea of an undiscovered Arctic continent is an old one. The ancient Greeks believed in Hyperborea, an idyllic land of eternal sunlight beyond the North Wind, populated by long-lived Hyperboreans. William Fairfield Warren in his book Paradise Found: The Cradle of the Human Race at the North Pole (1885) placed Hyperborea -- and Atlantis, Eden, Mount Meru, Yggdrasil, and Avalon -- in the Arctic.

Up to the 1890s, Greenland was widely thought to be the peninsula of a much larger land that covered the Pole. On the periphery, phantom islands like Sannikov Land and Frisland dotted the Arctic of the mind. For centuries, cart­o­graph­ers, most notably Mercator, filled the otherwise empty tops of their maps with various places drawn from mythology and tales of sailors seeking the Northern Passages.

It's no surprise then modern explorers, emboldened by scientific and technological advances, took up the search for lands hidden in the northern ice -- and some claimed to have found them.

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