Refill Your Wonderment Supply To Make For Better Magic

Refill Your Wonderment Supply To Make For Better Magic

Make Better MagicThe colleague who sat next to me on my last flight home from Hamburg is not a confident air passenger.

If you are in a similar situation the secret is to hide in the numbers rather than resort to personal experience.

The is because, unless you are flying several times a week, your mind considers it an unfamiliar experience. ie you can’t trick yourself into saying “well it was all right the last time I was in a plane so it will be fine this time.”

Instead, you need to tell yourself facts like there are more than a million people in the air at any one time. This number is rising while the number of air fatalities in the developed world is decreasing and so on.

You need to look outward to better effect an inward change.

For me there is a corollary with practical magic here. Obviously you ‘believe’ in the efficacy of enchantment just like my colleague ‘believes’ she will eventually get home safety. However, when you’re in the business of collecting fireflies it helps to hoard firefly food wherever you may find it. It helps to build a picture of a world filled with wonder if you are planning to add to the global supply.

My supply tends to be a lot more varied than mere Forteana. It include scientific discoveries, new historical information, portentious signs of business model collapse. And… uhh… Forteana.

So here you go. Here’s some wonderment from the planet you currently call home.

1. The oldest known astrologer’s board was discovered in Croatia.

2. Here are some photos from Ostia Antica. I went there during a monsoonal storm a couple of years ago. Amazing place. For my money it’s a better experience than that other preserved Roman town near Naples because it was so functional. It was Rome’s port so it had sailors and whores and foreigners and wizards and exotic products and returning soldiers and all that good stuff. The continuity of industry is a source of wonder to me.

Not that I dislike Pompeii. Where else can you read such hilarious bawdy graffiti like Weep, you girls.  My penis has given you up.  Now it penetrates men’s behinds.  Goodbye, wondrous femininity!

3. A common blood pressure medicine prevents lungs from being damaged by smoke.

4. Impossible? It’s probably from space. Like these impossible crystals.

5. Some deep thoughts at Reality Sandwich against ‘you create your own reality’ in a great piece on Dynamic Paradoxicalism. To wit:

You-create-your-own-reality absolutists may invoke quantum mechanics to justify their fundamentalism. Indeed, the wave-particle duality — a photon being a particle or a wave depending on which you expect it to be — does raise questions about reality as observer dependent. Again, I feel that this principle is a potent reality-forming vector; I just don’t think it is the only vector.  There may be other humans collapsing the wave function based on different intentions than ours, and there is also the gigantic inertia and momentum of the collective human psyche affecting our world. There is a New Age tendency to use quantum mechanics as a magic wand, or an endless supply of fairy dust, that can be used to justify any proposition, no matter how fantastic. The abuse of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which was created to have very specific application on the subatomic plane, is used by some relativists and New Agers to mean, “Everything is uncertain,” which for them means, “Anything goes.”

Love it. In a related sphere, here are some thoughts regarding the limitations of Free Will:

The new challenge to free will comes from a different direction: neuroscience’s discovery that people’s brains are a collection of diversely oriented modules, and that our understanding of our own intentionality is to a great degree a legitimating fiction which one module in the left hemisphere of the brain retroactively imposes over the decisions different modules make. The old challenge to free will came from the “free” side. The new challenge comes from the “will” side.

6. Remember that post where we speculated as to when we can legitimately call ourselves cyborgs? Well NPR is thinking along the same lines about how we probably already live on Caprica. (I read recently that one third of US Air Force craft are now drones. Robots, man… Robots.)

7. [Video] Prehistoric bear skulls have been found in underwater caves in Mexico. Near human remains. Limber up those whisky drinking muscles! Here’s a related piece on how long humans have been living in Southwest Florida.

8. Old isn’t necessarily good as shown in these experimental data found at Freakonomics. Definitely makes me think about magic.

9. Checking back in on our apocalypse, it’s now harder for Americans to rise from the lower rungs of the ladder. Here’s a piece from today’s Telegraph on a similar matter (with some great piggy art from Occupy London). For the non-UK readers, the Telegraph is pretty much exclusively read by aged, Tory vampires in their Cotswolds country piles so the piece is rare. Rare like an Iranian newspaper running a Dan Savage column.

10. Rare Mesopotamian script dedicated to the moon god Sin found on Malta. Cue the ridiculous speculations of orthodox historians as to how it got there. Malta has underwater Neolithic structures. It was important for a long time a long time ago. (Pity it’s insanely boring now.)

11. What we learned about our ancestors last year. (Note how they keep pushing back the ‘out of Africa’ date? They’re actually getting closer. And by closer I mean the needle is moving back toward where pseudohistory had it pointed sixty years ago.) Keeping it nice and ye olde, here’s an extremely old obsidian bracelet in case anyone was wondering what kind of stone-making skills we had access to in that part of the world around the end of the ice age.

12. Staying in the same part of the world, here’s a piece on the archaeology of the legendary City of Dan. There are very few places in the world where you get such long continuity of habitation.

13. There are exoplanets around most stars. It seems I’m coming around to the idea we’re being ‘primed’ for an ‘announcement’.

14. Had a bad day at work? Come home and cook a really complicated meal to forget about it. It seems the therapeutic industry is finally letting go of the idea you need to retain and ‘process’ your memories. (This is an ol’ chaos magic trick since at least the 80s. It’s time it got wider pick up.)

15. Here’s an excellent piece on radical gardening. I’ve touched on this topic before but it seems to me the food industry is ripe (sorry) for some de-centralised disruption. We live in a world now where ideas and personal experiences can be transferred instantly to where they are relevant. This is really more of a hope than a prediction but I would like to see more towns like this one attempting to declare complete food independence. Probabilistically we are extremely likely to need it in the next thirty or so years.

If I were more confident in being at this exact address for the next twelve months then I’d give it a shot because now is definitely the time of year to get your radical edible gardening plans laid down. Instead I’ll settle for shopping skint.

16. This is something I shared via Google Plus yesterday but it warrants a re-share. Apple’s plans for its iBooks Author software are appalling. Please read if you’re interested in digital publishing.

Having had a day to digest the news, here are some takeaways:

  • They will change these plans in the medium term as Amazon seeks to exploit their draconian weakness by pushing through a much better deal and a whole host of free publishing tools to compete. (This is a two horse race. Ignore the Nook, ignore Smashwords, ignore everything else.)
  • Until they have changed, there is still some use to be had from Apple’s platform when it expands out to consumers. In particular its huge in-built distribution: Create a free publication that you distribute via both platforms (and everywhere you can) and use that to build a permission asset. Obviously you will need a website to drive people to and a database capture/subscribe mechanism for when they get there. Which means, if the iBooks tool turns out to be helpful and easy to use just as GarageBand is then type away to your little heart’s content.
  • When it comes to selling your digital publishing content do not ever (currently) use iBooks, not even to write it. Don’t forget that iPad and iPhone users can still transact via Amazon. Market to the list you have generated via your free publications.

17. Here are some ‘Deep Thinker’s’ suggestions of science’s most beautiful theories. My particular favourite from that list is Emergent Phenomena.

18. And finally, thanks to the fine website that is the Daily Grail, here’s a documentary on The Hessdalen Lights because, like it says at the top of the post, your wonderful world always needs some Forteana.



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