Independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest gadgets, games, science, technology and research from Apple and more. It’s about the technologies that change the way we live, work, love and behave.
IN the mid 1980s, Apple Computers sent one of their devices to the San Francisco Examiner. The paper’s editors passed the Mac to Thompson. With this amazing new Mac, the tardy Thompson would never miss a deadline.
The story goes that the Mac lost out to Thompson’s electronics-triggered temper. Thompson killed the Mac with a shotgun.
Listen To Aldous Huxley’s Talks On The Visionary Experience’ And Read His Advice To Albert Hofmann On Taking LSD
ON February 29 1962, Aldous Huxley wrote of psychedelic drugs in a letter to Albert Hofmann.
Hofmann had invented LSD, first synthesising lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1938. He experienced the world’s first acid trip” on April 19 1943 as he cycled home from his Swiss laboratory. That was Bicycle Day.
He tells of his discovery in the book LSD, My Problem Child (1979):
Time and again I hear or read that LSD was discovered by accident. This is only partly true. LSD came into being within a systematic research program, and the “accident” did not occur until much later: when LSD was already five years old, I happened to experience its unforeseeable effects in my own body—or rather, in my own mind
Looking back over my professional career to trace the influential events and decisions that eventually steered my work toward the synthesis of LSD, I realize that the most decisive step was my choice of employment upon completion of my chemistry studies. If that decision had been different, then this substance, which has become known the world over, might never have been created.
Hofmann took a measure of the drug and made his way home:
“On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had travelled very rapidly.”
Did the drug have a use? Could LSD have a medicinal purpose? Maybe.
Even after LSD was banned in 1966, Hofmann maintained his belief that it had the power to solve psychological problems induced by “materialism, alienation from nature through industrialisation and increasing urbanisation, lack of satisfaction in professional employment in a mechanised, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in wealthy, saturated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philosophical foundation of life”.
He spoke with Huxley, who had in the 1950s written The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, books dealing with states of mind and body produced by hallucinogenic drugs. Hofmann was impressed, writing:
The alterations of sensory perceptions and consciousness, which the author experienced in a self-experiment with mescaline, are skillfully described in these books. The mescaline experiment was a visionary experience for Huxley. He saw objects in a new light; they disclosed their inherent, deep, timeless existence, which remains hidden from everyday sight
These two books contained fundamental observations on the essence of visionary experience and about the significance of this manner of comprehending the world—in cultural history, in the creation of myths, in the origin of religions, and in the creative process out of which works of art arise. Huxley saw the value of hallucinogenic drugs in that they give people who lack the gift of spontaneous visionary perception belonging to mystics, saints, and great artists, the potential to experience this extraordinary state of consciousness, and thereby to attain insight into the spiritual world of these great creators. Hallucinogens could lead to a deepened understanding of religious and mystical content, and to a new and fresh experience of the great works of art. For Huxley these drugs were keys capable of opening new doors of perception; chemical keys, in addition to other proven but laborious ” door openers” to the visionary world like meditation, isolation, and fasting, or like certain yoga practices…
In The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, Huxley’s newly-published works, I found a meaningful exposition of the experience induced by hallucinogenic drugs, and I thereby gained a deepened insight into my own LSD experiments.
Huxley called. They would meet in Zurich:
He considered experiments under laboratory conditions to be insignificant, since in the extraordinarily intensified susceptibility and sensitivity to external impressions, the surroundings are of decisive importance. He recommended to my wife, when we spoke of her native place in the mountains, that she take LSD in an alpine meadow and then look into the blue cup of a gentian flower, to behold the wonder of creation.
As we parted, Aldous Huxley gave me, as a remembrance of this meeting, a tape recording of his lecture “Visionary Experience,” which he had delivered the week before at an international congress on applied psychology in Copenhagen. In this lecture, Aldous Huxley spoke about the meaning and essence of visionary experience and compared this type of world view to the verbal and intellectual comprehension of reality as its essential complement.
You can hear Visionary Experience here:
In one letter Huxley wrote to Hofmann:
. . . I have good hopes that this and similar work will result in the development of a real Natural History of visionary experience, in all its variations, determined by differences of physique, temperament and profession, and at the same time of a technique of Applied Mysticism—a technique for helping individuals to get the most out of their transcendental experience and to make use of the insights from the “Other World” in the affairs of “This World.” Meister Eckhart wrote that “what is taken in by contemplation must be given out in love.” Essentially this is what must be developed—the art of giving out in love and intelligence what is taken in from vision and the experience of self-transcendence and solidarity with the Universe….
You don’t have to endorse the use of drugs to see that they can be useful to some people.
FLASHBACK to 1982, and the go-ahead new ZX Spectrum is making waves in the Jackie magazine classroom:
TWITTER is, lets face it, a place where people pretend their more exciting or more wealthy or more miserable than they really are. They do it to get attention from people they don’t know and repeat the process week-after-week until someone trolls them, and then they actually are miserable… but no-one takes any notice because they’ve been pretending to hate everything and everyone for so long.
With that, some science people have come up with a thing so they can tell whether you’re lying or not with your Tweets. Bad news for those of you who have convinced us all that your life is all cocktails and new trainers.
IF you can’t sell records anymore, thanks to illegal downloaders and the like, then why not work out another way of making money? That’s what Neil Young has done – instead of pissing around with music sales, he’s launched something you can’t download: something to play your music on.
So say hello to the Pono, which is apparently a high quality device. Young said of the gizmo: “once you hear this, you can’t go back”.
Pono will be a digital music service (PonoMusic) and 128GB portable device (PonoPlayer) and you’ll be able to store 2,000 high resolution songs.
It is described as a “purpose-built, portable, high-resolution digital-music player designed and engineered in a “no-compromise” fashion to allow consumers to experience studio master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible, bringing the true emotion and detail of the music, the way the artist recorded it, to life.”
FLASHBACK to February 1 1967: what better way to illustrate the marvel of a device for checking levels of cancer -inducing radiation than by comparing it to a cigarette?
Cigarette shows the size of a new portable device Ohio State University’s Nuclear Reactor Laboratory developed to warn employees using nuclear devices of potentially dangerous radiation in Columbus, Ohio on Feb. 1, 1967. Ohio State said it is the first such device of this type, which emits sounds to warn of possibly dangerous radiation.
FLASHBACK to October 26, 1965:
Latest Wall Street reports can be made available in seconds with this device which a New York broker installed in his Frankfurt subsidiary, Oct. 26, 1965. The device is linked directly with a New York computer. Client pushes buttons; a two letter combination stands for each important company Wall street deals with. Scale shows figures asked for. For example high and low course, last dividend, last earnings. (AP Photo)
BELIEVE it or not, it was a hard sell in the early 1980s to convince people to buy a computer for the home. The contraptions were insanely expensive, and they simply couldn’t do a whole lot. Something as simple as filing recipes was a tall order for an ’82 PC. Of course, we were happy with terrible graphics because we knew nothing better – yet, as enticing as having Pong in the living room did sound, the expense was simply out of the ballpark for most families.
Subsequently, it was time for advertisers to play hard ball. No longer were they selling you something that would be a nice asset to your home office or entertainment center. Those days were over. Now, it was being sold as a piece of equipment that was quite literally going to gob smack your very soul. This wasn’t a simple piece of hardware like a microwave – this was a trans-dimensional gift from the gods, and you will never – I repeat, NEVER – be the same.
The tactic worked, and the masses lined up to splurge their life savings on computers and games. Here are some of the images and adverts during the height of the digital penetration….
Behold the Answer to All Our Prayers. It’s reminiscent of the apes surrounding the 2001: A Space Odyssey obelisk. And notice the Holy Aura surrounding this gift from the Heavens. Never mind the fact that they haven’t figured out yet that it’s facing the wrong way. No matter. Timmy’s college fund was well spent.
The Guardian Erases Helen Sharman From History In The Race To Praise Tim Peake, The ‘First Brit In Space’
THE Observer salutes Tim Peake, “the First Brit in space”.
Only, he isn’t.
FLASHBACK to May 5th 1943:
Olive McDonald, branding the casing of a 3-inch mortar-bomb, at a factory somewhere in England, on May 4, 1943.
FLASHBACK to August 30, 1960:
Young girls at Japanese radio manufacturing plant in Tokyo, stretch in unison to the beat of a man blowing the whistle. The stretch break takes place twice a day and, according to company officials, raises the efficiency of the girls who assemble the miniature parts of transistor radios. The girls use microscopes to insert needle-like parts into the radios.
POLICE in Delhi did not reply to any of the 667 complaints sent their way because they forgot the password to their computer. One officer said the oversight was “a technical problem”.
So, nothing to do with human stupidity , then?
IN Jan 1942, the Nazis opened an entomological laboratory in the Dachau concentration camp. One aim was to combat the parasites living on soldiers. One other aim was to see if mosquitoes could be trained to attack enemy soldiers and infect them with malaria.
FLASHBACK to February 5 1972: the Stereo Chair.
Jennie Jaconello from Weybridge relaxes in a Stereo Chair on show at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, Feb. 5, 1972. The chair designed by Peter Banks is the theme of the display by Banks Heeley Plastics Ltd., at the furniture show, which opens at London’s Earls Court on February 6. The chair permits a stereo and radio unit to be fitted on to one of its arms. The addition of a pair of headphones enables the occupant of the chair to recline into his on her private world of music-and ignore the television, radio or record-player that may be operating in the same room.
WANT to live forever? One stem cells billionaire claims he is getting younger.
Bahamas resident Peter Nygard says he is receiving stem cell therapy and that a study from the University of Miami suggests he is getting younger, the Bahamas Tribune reports. “They are looking at me, and my markers have shown exactly that I have been actually reversing my ageing and getting younger,” the 70-year-old says.
He adds: “I am taking perhaps more stem cell treatment than anybody else in the world. I have been doing it for four years now, so I am sort of a testimonial that this stem cell really works.”
Bit creepy? Or great news for humanity?
Whole Foods, The Paleo Diet And The New-Kosher Vitamineral Earth Are Creationism For Stupid Liberals
ORGANIC food and whole foods are a big marketing con for the gullible who think they know better than the rest of them. Right? Michael Schulson muses on those right-on liberals who “get riled up about creationists and climate-change deniers, but lap up the quasi-religious snake oil at Whole Foods”. Modern science is not a path on the old truths:
At times, the Whole Foods selection slips from the pseudoscientific into the quasi-religious. It’s not just the Ezekiel 4:9 bread (its recipe drawn from the eponymous Bible verse), or Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, or Vitamineral Earth’s “Sacred Healing Food.” It’s also, at least for Jewish shoppers, the taboos thathave grown up around the company’s Organic Integrity effort, all of which sound eerily like kosher law. There’s a sign in the Durham store suggesting that shoppers bag their organic and conventional fruit separately – lest one rub off on the other – and grind their organic coffees at home – because the Whole Foods grinders process conventional coffee, too, and so might transfer some non-organic dust. “This slicer used for cutting both CONVENTIONAL and ORGANIC breads” warns a sign above the Durham location’s bread slicer. Synagogue kitchens are the only other places in which I’ve seen signs implying that level of food-separation purity.
Look, if homeopathic remedies make you feel better, take them. If the Paleo diet helps you eat fewer TV dinners, that’s great – even if the Paleo diet is probably premised more on The Flintstones than it is on any actual evidence about human evolutionary history. If non-organic crumbs bother you, avoid them. And there’s much to praise in Whole Foods’ commitment to sustainability and healthful foods. Still: a significant portion of what Whole Foods sells is based on simple pseudoscience. And sometimes that can spill over into outright anti-science (think What Doctors Don’t Tell You, or Whole Foods’ overblown GMO campaign, which could merit its own article).
Why are so many whole food believers picky eaters..?
FLASHBACK to November 30, 1962:
This mobile communications laboratory designed for demonstrating, checking and testing equipment, is demonstrated by Peter Robins, president of electronics communications, Inc., Mount Vernon, N.Y., which developed the traveling lab, at the International Communications Fair in New York on Nov. 30, 1962, displays of all new electronics communication equipment included mobile two-way radio for road, sky, ship and shore, ham radio, citizen’s band, short wave, intercommunication systems for factories, offices and homes, radio paging devices, Hi-Fi, MM multiplex, automatic telephone systems. Walkie-talkies, and closed circuit television.
File under: what we got from the Cold War.
THERE are indeed things wrong with this world and it behoves us all to pay attention and try to make the world a better place by solving such problems. However, whining about what Google puts in its front page as a doodle may not actually be one of these things.
Activists have accused Google of being racist and sexist in their choice of figures to create the firm’s much loved Google Doodles for.
Spark, which describes itself as a ‘girl-fueled activist movement’, said its analysis found the majority of Google’s doodles were of white males.
It said the accolade was the modern equivalent of being put on a stamp, and said ‘it’s uncommon for Google to celebrate historical women of color.’
ARE you planning to wear Google Glasses? If you are, let it not go unsaid that you have found a way to look even sadder than the knobs smoking electronic cigarettes that light up at the end. You’ve turned your face into a mobile CCTV camera, gathering and accessing data on friends and strangers like a police state snitch.
Google is lobbying officials in at least three U.S. states to stop proposed restrictions on driving with headsets such as Google Glass, marking some of the first clashes over the nascent wearable technology. Some eight U.S. states are considering regulation of Google Glass, a tiny computer screen mounted in the corner of an eyeglass frame. Law enforcement and other groups are concerned that drivers wearing the devices will pay more attention to their email than the road, causing serious accidents.
FLASHBACK to April, 30, 1950: An elderly Bavarian inspects what is said to be the first robot in history, a soldier with an automatic bellows that blows a trumpet, made in 1810 by Friedrich Kauffman of Dresden. The robot is one of the many attractions of the Deutsches Museum in Munich.
THIS is, of course, the moment that all Apple fanboys have been waiting for, the opportunity to get up close and personal with their now departed icon. The ability, even, to give his arse a good licking:
While Steve Jobs probably didn’t send much snail mail in his later years, the US Postal Service intends to honor the late tech icon by putting his visage on a commemorative stamp.
Stamp subjects are normally kept secret until just before printing, but the Washington Post obtained a document outing approved stamps for the next few years. The Apple co-founder’s stamp is already in design development for 2015, alongside stamps for music legends Elvis Presley and James Brown.
THIS will sound a little contrary, but bear with me: the purchase of WhatsApp by Facebook for $19 billion contains the seeds of what’s going to kill Facebook in the end. For it’s a sign that it’s both relatively easy to start a new messaging application and also that Facebook is going to have to keep buying up the new ones as they appear. And that way lies eventual bankruptcy.
The deal in essence is as follows:
The two men have known each other for years, but only began discussing the deal 12 days ago. They settled it for $19bn, including $4bn in cash, $12bn in Facebook shares and $3bn in restricted stock awards for WhatsApp’s founders and employees.