Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cheech & Chong "light up" for new comedy tour

By Alex Dobuzinskis
July 31, 2008

Two of the most famous pot smokers of the 1970s, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, unveiled plans on Wednesday for their first comedy tour in more than 25 years following their acrimonious split.

"Cheech & Chong: Light Up America ..." will hit 22 cities in the United States starting with Philadelphia on September 12 and ending in Denver, Colorado, on December 20. In between they will play Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C. and other places.

"This is a moment that I've been looking forward to for many, many years because we have such a legacy and history together that we couldn't escape it, even if we tried," Chong told reporters at a news conference to announce the tour.

Cheech and Chong were one of the most successful comedy teams of the 1970s with hit movies and chart-topping records based on their brand of marijuana-influenced humor.

They were potheads who appealed to a youth generation steeped in personal freedom spawned by 1960s-era hippies.

Marin said their humor about doing stupid things while being stoned on marijuana should still appeal to today's youth, as well as Cheech & Chong's older fans.

"We've had the younger audience all along. Every time they get to that certain age, they go through that Cheech & Chong period of watching the movies, listening to the records. So, it's almost like a rite of passage," Marin said.

The comedy duo said the tour will be theatrical and will rely on the sizable budget that Live Nation -- the company behind the tour -- can muster. When they toured early in their careers, the duo's props were a bag of used clothes, but the new tour will have large video screens to flash images on.

As they discussed the tour, Cheech and Chong relied on some props in the form of synthetic marijuana plants to win some laughs, as Chong "watered" the plants with bottled water.

Marin, 62, and Chong, 70, spoke about the tour to reporters at the Troubadour, a fixture on the Southern California club scene. Marin said as budding comedians, he and Chong waited in line outside the club for hours for the chance to perform.

Cheech and Chong gained notoriety in nightclubs in the Los Angeles area in the 1970s and released their first album, "Cheech and Chong," in 1971. "Los Cochinos" in 1973 won the Grammy award that year for best comedy album.

In 1978 their first movie, "Up in Smoke," proved to be a blockbuster, raking in more than $100 million at box offices.

They performed together onstage for the last time in 1981, but continued to make movies and records.

The pair split following the 1985 release of their album "Get Out of My Room." Chong said that their break-up -- which was well-publicized and bitter -- was caused by success.

"What happens if you don't have big problems, like trying to make it -- when that's cured when you've made it -- then your little problems become your big problems," he said. "So you start fighting over stupid things."

Marin carved out a career as a television actor in shows such as "Nash Bridges" and "Judging Amy." Chong also did a lot of TV work, including appearances on "That '70s Show."

Chong has long advocated the legalization of marijuana, and in 2003 was arrested and later imprisoned for selling drug paraphernalia.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Terence McKenna: On UFO's, Aliens, DMT and Magic Mushrooms.

From: The Psychedelic Salon

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[NOTE: All quotations below are by Terence McKenna.]

"I think reason can take us only a certain distance, and then we have to go with the divine imagination."

"There have been many episodes in the history of science where great hope gave way to paranoia."

"The [UFO] hysteria has become more explicit and has wandered in first one direction and then another, but if this is a contact it’s the most peculiarly un-contact-like contact it’s possible to imagine."

"And this is something I’m going to try and convince the UFO community of, what we drug people have that you don’t is repeatability."

"The Stropharia cubensis mushroom is a memory bank of galactic history. Alien, but full of promise, it throws open a potential for understanding that will sweep away the petty concerns of earth and history-bound humanity."

"Reason, but a willingness to explore the edges has been [my] method. … I have never seen a violation of physics that was not connected somehow with a psychedelic experience."

"Not all psychedelics are alike. And this very small family of compounds, called the tryptomine hallucinogens, bear careful examination if we’re seriously interested in this question of exterrestial penetration of the human world."

"Everybody knows this who has to do with this stuff [psilocybin], Gordon Wasson, Richard Shulties, Albert Hofmann, the giants know that this stuff is animate. This is not a drug. It’s something that’s disguising itself as a drug in order not to spread alarm."

"I think that the alien will be so alien that your jaw will hang in the air. And expecting to meet an anthropoid-like alien with an interest in your reproductive machinery and gross industrial capacity is as culture-bound a concept as searching NGC-321 for a good Italian restaurant. It’s absurd on the face of it."

"All of human history is the signifier of the presence of the alien. Human history is what happens to an advance animal species when it is inner-penetrated on a scale of a million years by a mind in another dimension."

"The flying saucer, the alien, the other is what is sculpting us out of animal organization as we move toward it in time. This is what shamanism is all about. This is what the psychedelic people are discovering as they descend into these trances."

"A shaman, and a psychedelic person, and a UFO contactee, is someone who has seen the end. They simply didn’t know what they were looking at, because who knows what the end looks like."

"The world is not what it appears to be."

"Psychedelic drugs are as important to the study of UFOs as the telescope was to the re-defining of astronomy."

"I think that the ‘real other’ need not be guarded by the frail efforts of a cults apologists."

"Now you may have thought telepathy was you hearing somebody else think. Apparently, that’s not what telepathy is. Telepathy is you seeing what somebody else means. It’s the visual acquisition of meaning rather than the audio acquisition of meaning."

"I think that we are on a collision course with a planet-transforming event, and that we have been for a very, very long time. I also believe that it lies below the horizon of rational apprehension at this point in time."

"That’s where the frontier of this hyper-technical fantasy is headed, toward a revivification of knowledge systems that were ancient when the pyramids were not yet even a gleam in the eye."

"I think we’re on the brink of a tremendous evolutionary adventure, and that it will involve physically re-designing ourselves."

Conference on Precession & Ancient Knowledge

Friday, July 25, 2008

NASA Moon walker claims Aliens are real and have made contact with us several times

Edgar Mitchell

Article from: The Daily Telegraph

Complete Radio interview: Mp3 Download

FORMER NASA astronaut and moon-walker Dr Edgar Mitchell - a veteran of the Apollo 14 mission - has stunningly claimed aliens exist.

And he says extra-terrestrials have visited Earth on several occasions - but the alien contact has been repeatedly covered up by governments for six decades.

Dr Mitchell, 77, said during a radio interview that sources at the space agency who had had contact with aliens described the beings as 'little people who look strange to us.'

He said supposedly real-life ET's were similar to the traditional image of a small frame, large eyes and head.

Chillingly, he claimed our technology is "not nearly as sophisticated" as theirs and "had they been hostile", he warned "we would be been gone by now".
Dr Mitchell, along with with Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard, holds the record for the longest ever moon walk, at nine hours and 17 minutes following their 1971 mission.

"I happen to have been privileged enough to be in on the fact that we've been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomena is real," Dr Mitchell said.
"It's been well covered up by all our governments for the last 60 years or so, but slowly it's leaked out and some of us have been privileged to have been briefed on some of it.

"I've been in military and intelligence circles, who know that beneath the surface of what has been public knowledge, yes - we have been visited. Reading the papers recently, it's been happening quite a bit."

Dr Mitchell, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering and a Doctor of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics claimed Roswell was real and similar alien visits continue to be investigated.

He told the astonished Kerrang! radio host Nick Margerrison: "This is really starting to open up. I think we're headed for real disclosure and some serious organizations are moving in that direction."

Mr Margerrison said: "I thought I'd stumbled on some sort of astronaut humor but he was absolutely serious that aliens are definitely out there and there's no debating it."

Officials from NASA, however, were quick to play the comments down.

In a statement, a spokesman said: "NASA does not track UFOs. NASA is not involved in any sort of cover up about alien life on this planet or anywhere in the universe.
'Dr Mitchell is a great American, but we do not share his opinions on this issue.'

Kerrang! Radio interview
BBC News: Vatican says aliens could exist
NASA replies to Radio interview

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

California becomes 11th state to restrict salvia

So it looks like California has followed Maine's legislation to only restrict sales to minors. As of today, my list of U.S. states who have passed Salvia divinorum related legislation include Louisiana, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Delaware, Maine, North Dakota, Illinois, and Kansas. I must admit that out of all of these states. California and Maine's bills are the most sensible. Should other states decide to restrict Salvia divinorum, hopefully they will follow Maine and California's model.

The following is from: The Los Angeles Times

Minors in California will no longer be able to buy the herb salvia legally. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Tuesday [July 22, 2008] that forbids the sale or distribution of salvia to minors. California is the eleventh state to apply some restrictions on use of the drug.

Salvia, or Salvia divinorum, is an herb found in Mexico that was traditionally used by Mazatec Indians for healing. Dried salvia leaves can be smoked or chewed to produce a high that ranges from a minute to a half hour. Users report hallucinating, an out-of-body feeling and losing control over their movements. The fact that the herb can be purchased by anyone at tobacco shops and on the Internet has concerned some law enforcement and health officials who say the substance is dangerous. The Drug Enforcement Administration is studying whether to designate salvia as a controlled substance.

The ban in California will take effect on Jan. 1, 2009. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Anthony Adams (R-Hesperia), who said this morning: "This bill had a tremendous amount of backing, and I'm grateful the governor recognized the wisdom of signing the bill."

Salvia remains legal for adults, although it's not popular and many one-time users say they disliked the effects. The herb is also the subject of research to determine if it has legitimate therapeutic uses for the treatment of substance-abuse disorders, pain or depression.

-- Shari Roan

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rick Strassman: Inner Paths to Outer Space

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From: The Entheogenic Evolution podcast series

In this episode of the Entheogenic Evolution, my friend Martin Ball interviews Dr. Rick Strassman. Who shares his thoughts on DMT, UFO's, aliens, spiritual realities, psychedelic research which have just been published entitled Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys to Alien Worlds through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies by Doctor's Rick Strassman, Slawek Wojtowiez, Luis Eduardo Luna and Ede Frecska. Unfortunately the audio recording of the actual interview has some technical difficulties. So Martin created a transcript which he reads from. I recommend downloading the mp3 file and if listening to it in front of your PC, read along with them. See the Transcript on

Its interesting to hear Dr. Strassman's thought & reflections today, nearly a decade after DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences was published.

"I had taken about 1000 pages of notes by the beside of the volunteers – 400 DMT sessions that we gave them over the space of about 5 years – and in reviewing people’s accounts of their experiences, probably half, maybe more, reported having the experience of being in some sort of contact, some sort of relationship, more or less passive, more or less active, with these free standing, discretely demarcated, sentient sort of beings. I ended up calling them "beings" rather than "entities" or "aliens" or any of that sort of thing because it seemed like the most neutral term to use, but they were described in various shapes and forms and guises. Sometimes they were humanoid, sometimes they were insectoid, sometimes they were reptilian, and sometimes plant-like. They were more or less aware of the volunteers. Oftentimes they seemed to be expecting the volunteers and were glad to see them, and then began interacting with them.

Other times they seemed surprised and angry that the volunteers’ consciousness, at the very least, had intruded upon the sphere of activity of that particular being. Sometimes the volunteers were treated or experimented on. Sometimes they experienced some type of sexual intercourse with the beings. Some were told scenarios of the future. Others were marked somehow or another for future reference in a way. Others showered light and love onto them. Others were guides to lead them to some other place, like through a tunnel leading to a typical near death or mystical experience. So it was the whole gamut of what you might expect." Rick Strassman

Rick Strassman homepage
The Entheogenic Evolution
Cottonwood Research Foundation transcript with comments

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge by Jeremy Narby

In 1984 Jeremy Narby travelled to the Amazon to study with the Ashanica. There he met shamans who claimed they received their plant knowledge and healing power from drinking ayahuasca. This began an adventure that lasted over ten years and culminated in Narby's groundbreaking book, The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge, which revealed possible correlations between shamanic technologies, myth, and science. He has also authored the book Intelligence in Nature: An Inquiry into Knowledge and served as co-editor of Shamans Through Time: 500 Years on the Path to Knowledge with Francis Huxley.

The Cosmic Serpent takes a serious look at how neurogenetic consciousness informs awareness, knowledge, symbolism and culture. His comparison of the ancient cosmic serpent myths to the genetic situation in every living cell reveals the immortal biomolecular wizard behind the curtain of everyday life. His anthropological study, ayahuasca experience and scientific speculations weave a tale of shamans who bring their consciousness down to molecular levels with sophisticated neurotransmitter potions in order to perceive information contained in the coherent visible light emitted by DNA.

Some biologists describe DNA as an "ancient high biotechnology," containing "over a hundred trillion times as much information by volume as our most sophisticated information storage devices." Could one still speak of technology in these circumstances? Yes, because there is no other word to qualify this duplicable, information-storing molecule. DNA is only ten atoms wide and as such constitutes a sort of ultimate technology: It is organic and so miniturized that it approaches the limits of material existence.

Shaans, meanwhile, claim that the vital principle that animates all living creatures comes from the cosmos and is minded.

As ayahuasquero Pablo Amaringo says: "A plant may not talk, but there is a spirit in it that is conscious, that sees everything, which is the soul of the plant, its essence, what makes it alive." According to Amaringo these spirits are veritable beings, and humans are also filled with them: "Even the hair, the eyes, the ears are full of beings. You see all this when ayahuasca is strong."

In their visions, shamans take their consciousness down to the molecular level and gain access to information related to DNA, which they call "animate essences" or "spirits." This is where they see double helixes, twisted ladders, and chromosome shapes. This is how shamanic cultures have known for millennia that the vital principle is the same for all living beings, and is shaped like two entwined serpents (or a vine, a rope, ladder...). DNA is the source of their astonishing botanical and medicinal knowledge, which can be attained only in defocalized and "nonrational" states of consciousness, though its results are empirically verifiable. The myths of these cultures are filled with biological imagery, and the shamans metaphoric explanations correspond quite precisely to the descriptions that biologists are starting to provide.

Jeremy Narby on:
2008 World Psychedelic Forum Mp3 or Video

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Paul Stamets: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world

Watch this talk as High-res video (MP4)

Paul Stamets believes that mushrooms can save our lives, restore our ecosystems and transform other worlds.

Mycologist Paul Stamets seeks to rescue the study of mushrooms from forest gourmets and psychedelic warlords. The focus of Stamets' research is the Northwest's native fungal genome, mycelium, but along the way he has filed 22 patents for mushroom-related technologies, including pesticidal fungi that trick insects into eating them, and mushrooms that can break down the neurotoxins used in nerve gas.

There are cosmic implications as well. Stamets believes we could terraform other worlds in our galaxy by sowing a mix of fungal spores and other seeds to create an ecological footprint on a new planet.

1.3 billion years ago, fungi were the first organisms to come on land; plants followed hundreds of millions years later. We have more in common with fungi than other plants. Mycelium breathes oxygen like us.

Mycelium holds 30,000 times its mass. They are soil magicians. Creates a spongy soil. It is earth's natural Internet, a biologically successful model. It's highly branched. If a path gets broken, their are redundant paths. It is sentient, leaping up in aftermath of your footprints, trying to grab debris. They generate humus soils, and provide a multi-directional transfer of nutrients to trees. The sequence of microbes that occur of rotting mushrooms are an important part of natural cycle of the forest. I'm in love with old growth forests and I'm a patriotic American because of them.

Fungi uses radiation as a source of energy, so the possibility of fungi existing on other planets is a "forgone conclusion."

Mushrooms produce strong antibiotics. Work well against flu. We should save the old growth forests as a mater of national defense.

"The time to act is now. Waiting for science and society to wake up to the importance of these ancient Old Growth fungi is perilously slow and narrow in vision. The meager attempts thus far may be too little, too late. Unless we collectively pool our resources, the mushroom genome will become increasingly threatened, and therefore, our very existence may be at stake. The loss of these keystone organisms should be an ecological call-to-arms for all concerned about our children's future and the future of this planet.

"The rainforests of the Pacific Northwest may harbor mushroom species with profound medicinal properties. At the current rates of extinctions, this last refuge of the mushroom genome should be at the top of the list of priorities for mycologists, environmentalists and government. If I can help advance this knowledge, I will have done my part to protect life on this planet. And yet, if it were not for our customer's contributions, with our limited finances, this goal could not be achieved."

Links to online articles by Paul Stamets

Kombucha: My Adventures
with "The Blob"
Mushrooms, Civilization
and History
Mushrooms, the Hwarang
and the Martial Arts
Permaculture with
a Mycological Twist
A Novel Approach to
Farm Waste Management
Helping the Ecosystem
Through Mushroom Cultivation
Mycorestoration of
Abandoned Logging Roads
Novel Antivirals
From Mushrooms

Novel Antimicrobials from Mushrooms,
originally published in HerbalGram

"The Ancient Noble Polypore ( Bridgeoporus
A Mushroom of Many Mysteries",
download for a fee from the Web site of
The International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms
"Fungi to the Rescue", published in the Winter 2007
issue of Forest Magazine, published by
Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics
"How Mushrooms Can Save The World", an interview with Paul
Stamets on the program Living Green from Personal Life Media
"Another Magic of Mushrooms" 
January 2007 radio interview about mycopesticides
on Michael Olson's Food Chain Radio (MP3 format) | Technology:
How Mushrooms will Save the World
"The Wonders of Mushrooms"
An October 2004 radio interview with Paul
on KPFA's Steppin' Out of Babylon (MP3 format)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Psychedelic Salon Podcast: Psychedelic Psychotherapy

From: The Psychedelic Salon Podcast #148
Grand Rounds: Psychedelic Psychotherapy
Guest speaker: Dr. Preet Chopra
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[NOTE: All quotations below are by Dr. Preet Chopra.]

"The ’set’ is talking about what the individual who ingests a psychedelic brings to the table in terms of their life experience, their mood, expectations, family history, their personality structure, significant relationships, and their systems of belief. ‘Setting’ accounts for all the other factors that are not internal to the person, the physical environment, location, all sorts of sensory stimuli that might be present during intoxication, and the other participants, particularly a therapist or facilitator."

"A term that’s out there among recreational psychedelic users is ‘psychonaut’, which really means, from Greek, ’sailor of the mind’, and I think this is kind of the experience those folks are going for."

"In terms of reducing risk, I certainly feel that anybody with certain medical contra indications, and taking prescription drugs, should really avoid taking a psychedelic."

[In response to a question about the fact that there was very little dialogue between the study participant and the attending psychatrists:] "Minimal dialogue during the actual experience. And that is based on the work that Grof did, and Panke saying, hey, let this medicine do its own work."

"There are some people who believe that by putting on eyeshades and listening to music there is less incidence of sensual kinds of phenomena, and that allows for more of a psychological benefit."

The Scientists Who Revived Magic Mushroom Research

Hallucinogen Gives Lasting Spiritual Boost

"Spiritual" effects of mushrooms last a year

Long Trip: Magic Mushrooms’ Transcendent Effect Lingers

Friday, July 11, 2008

Homo Divinus, An Evolutionary Advantage

Psychedelic Salon Podcast 039 - Mind States Sound Bites and Lorenzo in Venice Beach includes a talk by Lorenzo at a salon in Venice Beach, California in 2003, where he recapitulates his "Living Under the Radar" and Homo divinus Mind States IV.
Direct MP3 Download

Homo Divinus, An Evolutionary Advantage
by Lawrence Hagerty, April 25, 2002
[Printer-friendly version] [PDF version of this essay]

     The stand-off at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem boggles the mind. News of this event reads like the work of some deranged writer of fiction. Even the most casual observer of this astonishing event must conclude that a significant part of the human family has gone mad.

     Being social creatures, we humans organized governments to serve our collective needs on the material plane. We organized religions to guide us on our spiritual quests. Most of these collectives of human consciousness were founded upon lofty principles and beliefs, and for a while they served us well. Over time, however, these mega-human institutions took on a will of their own, and in the process they lost much of their original loving spirit. Short on empathy and love, several of these human-created group minds converged in Bethlehem. And so came to be the sad state of affairs where the holiest shrine in Christendom became a sanctuary for suspected Moslem terrorists fleeing from Zionist Jews who were trying to murder them under the banner of "self-defense." Such behavior is nothing short of insanity. Fortunately, all is not lost.

     Like a climber on an infinitely high mountain, human consciousness relentlessly continues its ascent. Occasionally it reaches a broad ledge on which it can take a brief rest. And with each new ledge comes a better view where consciousness becomes more self-reflecting and expands its awareness of the world on which it is focused. The ledge we call Homo sapiens has been well worth the climb, for much has been learned here. However, as is obvious from the siege in Bethlehem, the day has arrived for human consciousness to once again begin its ascent. It is time to continue our evolution to yet a higher level of awareness.

     As we look up, searching for our next hand-hold, we notice that something is different this time. Our climb, our evolution, is no longer shrouded in fog. From here we can continue in the bright light of the sun, for human consciousness has become a partner in the processes of evolution. No longer must we wait for some random mutation or cataclysmic event to trigger the birth of a new species. And so, almost imperceptibly, a new genus of humans has begun to evolve. Most people fail to recognize these new humans, for their physical make-up is much the same as their mother-species, Homo sapiens. But as scientists will tell you, biological changes are not the only determining factor in a speciation event. In fact, eating habits, mating habits, and other life-style factors are enough to distinguish one species of animal from another, even when their genetic make-up is identical.

     As was the case some tens of thousands of years ago, when at least three different human species coexisted on Earth, more than one species of human is now inhabiting this planet. I call the new human species Homo divinus. If you look closely, you will find members of this new species everywhere. Perhaps you are one yourself, for now that consciousness has become evolution's willing partner, self-selection (the willed mutation from one species to another) has replaced chance as the best way to improve life on this planet.

     The first phase in the evolution of Homo sapiens into Homo divinus may take place unconsciously. It might begin with a deepening love of nature and increased concern about its destruction. Or it could come about through an instant awakening to the fact that you are living an exceptionally privileged life. With this increased state of awareness comes a gradual shift in consciousness, which in turn brings about a change in lifestyle. Over time habits change, and new friends with similar states of consciousness and interests enter the picture. Then the day arrives on which you seemingly wake up in place and find yourself to be a stranger in a strange land.

     This moment of awakening brings with it the last phase of your transformation, which comes under the guise of an intense inner quest for the spiritual essence of being. It is on this path that the final metamorphosis takes place because the search for spiritual identity ultimately leads to the only possible conclusion: You are divine. God is all, and you are a part of all that is. There are no boundaries, no dividing lines. There is only oneness, and that oneness is divine in nature.

     At this moment of awareness the new human takes the final step in joining the species I call Homo divinus: You consciously decide to live the remainder of your life in harmony with your own divine nature. In an instant, you are no longer a member of the warring, polluting, selfish species we call Homo sapiens. And in that instant, all of the problems humans have created in this world become less of a burden to you. "Those problems were created by a less enlightened species," you think. "I must join together with others like me and teach the divine (but unaware) Homo sapiens how to evolve." While nothing may have changed in your physical world, at that instant, everything will have changed in your spiritual world.

     Newly awakened members of the species Homo divinus are all around us, yet most remain virtually invisible. Often they are hesitant to reveal themselves for they sense they are in a hostile environment. At times they feel isolated and alone, even when in the company of family and friends. To Homo divinus, the insanity of a significant part of the species Homo sapiens is clearly apparent. To Homo divinus, whose consciousness has expanded far beyond their personal concerns, greed and war are inconceivable. A distinguishing trait of the new humans is that they understand, at the most fundamental level, how intimately everyone and everything is interconnected. And they are aware that they are not destined to be the supreme species on this planet. They see themselves as they truly are, an equal part of all life on Earth.

     As members of this new species awaken in the light of their divine nature, they begin to look for others of their kind. Over the past two decades, small groups of these new humans have made contact with one another. Occasionally they unite at gatherings, both large and small, to celebrate the pure joy of being alive. Already there is at least one permanent community with hundreds of these advanced beings living together in harmony. While they may not have consciously named themselves Homo divinus, they are fully aware of what a precious gift it is to be human. Furthermore, they sense the responsibility that flows from such awareness.

     The world as it has been for the past 2,000 years is about to come to an end. This does not mean that the flame of human consciousness is about to be snuffed out. The chaos in the world today comes not as a prelude to Armageddon, rather it is a reminder that we are in the process of giving birth to a new life-form. Big things are happening and even more significant events lie ahead. Everyone can feel it. Evolution is on the move once again and consciousness is reaching up for its next hand-hold.

     The concept of Homo divinus is not a new idea. It is just an idea whose time has come. Now the choice is yours. Do you want to remain mired in the quicksand of Homo sapiens' history, or do you want to climb in the sun? If you like, you can remain a Homo sapiens. There is no natural law compelling you to see the world through the eyes of a new species. Self-selection means just what it says.

     Should you choose to live as Homo divinus, however, it most certainly will give you the evolutionary advantage of living in harmony with the Earth and with other members of your species. You are divine, why not live that way?

"Homo divinus, An Evolutionary Advantage" Copyright © 2002 by Lawrence Hagerty
Verbatim copying and redistribution are permitted in any medium
provided this notice is preserved.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tech Luminaries Address Singularity


PHOTO: Chris Meyer
Indiana University

Douglas Hofstadter

WHO HE IS Pioneer in computer modeling of mental processes; director of the Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition at Indiana University, Bloomington; winner of the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

SINGULARITY WILL OCCUR Someday in the distant future



THOUGHTS “It might happen someday, but I think life and intelligence are far more complex than the current singularitarians seem to believe, so I doubt it will happen in the next couple of centuries. [The ramifications] will be enormous, since the highest form of sentient beings on the planet will no longer be human. Perhaps these machines—our 'children'—will be vaguely like us and will have culture similar to ours, but most likely not. In that case, we humans may well go the way of the dinosaurs.”

PHOTO: Numenta

Jeff Hawkins

WHO HE IS Cofounder of Numenta, in Menlo Park, Calif., a company developing a computer memory system based on the human neocortex. Also founded Palm Computing, Handspring, and the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. Considered the father of handheld computing.

SINGULARITY WILL OCCUR “If you define the singularity as a point in time when intelligent machines are designing intelligent machines in such a way that machines get extremely intelligent in a short period of time—an exponential increase in intelligence—then it will never happen. Intelligence is largely defined by experience and training, not just by brain size or algorithms. It isn't a matter of writing software. Intelligent machines, like humans, will need to be trained in particular domains of expertise. This takes time and deliberate attention to the kind of knowledge you want the machine to have.”

MACHINE CONSCIOUSNESS WILL OCCUR “Machines will understand the world using the same methods humans do; they will be creative. Some will be self-aware, they will communicate via language, and humans will recognize that machines have these qualities. Machines will not be like humans in all aspects, emotionally, physically. If you think dogs and other mammals are conscious, then you will probably think some machines are conscious. If you think consciousness is a purely human phenomenon, then you won't think machines are conscious.”

THOUGHTS “I don't like the term 'singularity' when applied to technology. A singularity is a state where physical laws no longer apply because some value or metric goes to infinity, such as the curvature of space-time at the center of a black hole. No one can predict what happens at a singularity. There are no examples of singularities in biology or technology that I know of. Even if humans created a new virus, biological or otherwise, that rapidly killed all life on Earth, it wouldn't be a singularity—very unfortunate, yes, but not a singularity.

“The term 'singularity' applied to intelligent machines refers to the idea that when intelligent machines can design intelligent machines smarter than themselves, it will cause an exponential growth in machine intelligence leading to a singularity of infinite (or at least extremely large) intelligence. Belief in this idea is based on a naive understanding of what intelligence is. As an analogy, imagine we had a computer that could design new computers (chips, systems, and software) faster than itself. Would such a computer lead to infinitely fast computers or even computers that were faster than anything humans could ever build? No. It might accelerate the rate of improvements for a while, but in the end there are limits to how big and fast computers can run. We would end up in the same place; we'd just get there a bit faster. There would be no singularity.

“Exponential growth requires the exponential consumption of resources (matter, energy, and time), and there are always limits to this. Why should we think intelligent machines would be different? We will build machines that are more 'intelligent' than humans, and this might happen quickly, but there will be no singularity, no runaway growth in intelligence. There will be no single godlike intelligent machine. Like today's computers, intelligent machines will come in many shapes and sizes and be applied to many different types of problems.

“Intelligent machines need not be anything like humans, emotionally and physically. An extremely intelligent machine need not have any of the emotions a human has, unless we go out of our way to make it so. No intelligent machine will 'wake up' one day and say 'I think I will enslave my creators.' Similar fears were expressed when the steam engine was invented. It won't happen. The age of intelligent machines is starting. Like all previous technical revolutions, it will accelerate as more and more people work on it and as the technology improves. There will be no singularity or point in time where the technology itself runs away from us.”

PHOTO: Juan Esteves

John Casti

WHO HE IS Senior Research Scholar, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, in Laxenburg, Austria and cofounder of the Kenos Circle, a Vienna-based society for exploration of the future. Builds computer simulations of complex human systems, like the stock market, highway traffic, and the insurance industry. Author of popular books about science, both fiction and nonfiction, including The Cambridge Quintet, a fictional account of a dinner-party conversation about the creation of a thinking machine.



MOORE'S LAW WILL CONTINUE FOR 20 more years with current technology

THOUGHTS “I think it's scientifically and philosophically on sound footing. The only real issue for me is the time frame over which the singularity will unfold. [The singularity represents] the end of the supremacy of Homo sapiens as the dominant species on planet Earth. At that point a new species appears, and humans and machines will go their separate ways, not merge one with the other. I do not believe this necessarily implies a malevolent machine takeover; rather, machines will become increasingly uninterested in human affairs just as we are uninterested in the affairs of ants or bees. But it's more likely than not in my view that the two species will comfortably and more or less peacefully coexist—unless human interests start to interfere with those of the machines.”

PHOTO: Cypress Semiconductor

T.J. Rodgers

WHO HE IS Founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, Corp., in San Jose, Calif., known for his brash opinions about the business world and politics. Owner of the Clos de la Tech winery and vineyards, in California, where he's trying to make the best American pinot noir.


THOUGHTS “I don't believe in technological singularities. It's like extraterrestrial life—if it were there, we would have seen it by now (there are actually rigorous papers on that point of view). However, I do believe in something that is more powerful because it is real—namely exponential learning. An exponential function has the property that its slope is proportional to its value. The more we know, the faster we can learn. High school students today quickly learn the mathematical tool of calculus that Newton struggled to invent.

“Technological transitions are required to maintain an exponential rate of learning. The first airplanes were certainly not as good as well-appointed trains in moving masses comfortably, but the transition later proved essential to maintaining our progress in human mobility. Gene splicing is a breakthrough technology, but it has not yet done (or been allowed to do) a lot for mankind. That will change in the future.

“I don't believe in the good old days. We live longer and better than our predecessors did—and that trend will continue in the future. We will also be freer, more well educated and even smarter in the future—but exponentially so, not as a result of some singularity.”

PHOTO: Timothy Archibald

Eric Hahn

WHO HE IS Serial entrepreneur and early-stage investor who founded Collabra Software (sold to Netscape) and Lookout Software (sold to Microsoft) and backed Red Hat, Loudcloud, and Zimbra. CTO of Netscape during the browser wars.


MACHINE CONSCIOUSNESS WILL OCCUR “Yes, in that they eventually pass the Turing Test for 'Is it thinking?' ”


THOUGHTS “I think that machine intelligence is one of the most exciting remaining 'great problems' left in computer science. For all its promise however, it pales compared with the advances we could make in the next few decades in improving the health and education of the existing human intelligences already on the planet. I believe the first thing a tabula rasa intelligence (machine or otherwise) would conclude is that humans are very poor stewards of their own condition.

“[The ramifications will be] less than is often contemplated. I think they will be more along the lines of what happened during the prior 'revolutions' (agricultural, industrial, information age, etc.), that is, incremental, albeit dramatic, changes to humanity. I'm not worried about The Matrix or The Day the Earth Stood Still. But I do hope the new intelligence doesn't run Windows.”

PHOTO: Microsoft

Gordon Bell

WHO HE IS Principal researcher at Microsoft Research, Silicon Valley. Led the development of or helped design a long list of time-share computers and minicomputers at Digital Equipment Corp., including the PDP-6 and the VAX. A founder of Encore Computer; Ardent Computer; the Computer Museum, in Boston; and the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, Calif.

SINGULARITY WILL OCCUR Someday in the distant future



THOUGHTS “Singularity is that point in time when computing is able to know all human and natural-systems knowledge and exceed it in problem-solving capability with the diminished need for humankind as we know it. I basically support the notion, but I have trouble seeing the specific transitions or break points that let the exponential take over and move to the next transition. [If it does occur,] there'll be a hierarchy of machines versus having a separate race. [But] it is unlikely to happen, because the population will destroy itself before the technological singularity.”

PHOTO: Rebecca Goldstein

Steven Pinker

WHO HE IS Professor of psychology at Harvard; previously taught in the department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, with much of his research addressing language development. Writes best sellers about the way the brain works, like The Blank Slate (2002) and The Stuff of Thought (2007).


MACHINE CONSCIOUSNESS WILL OCCUR “In one sense—information routing—they already have. In the other sense—first-person experience—we'll never know.”


THOUGHTS “There is not the slightest reason to believe in a coming singularity. The fact that you can visualize a future in your imagination is not evidence that it is likely or even possible. Look at domed cities, jet-pack commuting, underwater cities, mile-high buildings, and nuclear-powered automobiles—all staples of futuristic fantasies when I was a child that have never arrived. Sheer processing power is not a pixie dust that magically solves all your problems.”

PHOTO: joSon

Gordon E. Moore

WHO HE IS Cofounder and chairman emeritus of Intel Corp., cofounder of Fairchild Semiconductor, winner of the 2008 IEEE Medal of Honor, chairman of the board of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Made the prediction about the increasing number of components on a semiconductor chip that came to be known as Moore's Law.


THOUGHTS “I am a skeptic. I don't believe this kind of thing is likely to happen, at least for a long time. And I don't know why I feel that way. The development of humans, what evolution has come up with, involves a lot more than just the intellectual capability. You can manipulate your fingers and other parts of your body. I don't see how machines are going to overcome that overall gap, to reach that level of complexity, even if we get them so they're intellectually more capable than humans.”

PHOTO: Michael Callopy/The Skoll Foundation

Jim Fruchterman

WHO HE IS Founder and CEO of the Benetech Initiative, in Palo Alto, Calif., one of the first companies to focus on social entrepreneurship. Former rocket scientist and optical-character-recognition pioneer. Winner of a 2006 MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius grant.




THOUGHTS “I believe the singularity theory is plausible in that there will be a major shift in the rate of technology change. I am less convinced by projections of what it will mean to humans and humanity, such as human downloading in our lifetimes.

“Two things that rarely come up are the bug and algorithm questions. As Patrick Ball, Benetech's chief scientist, has pointed out to me, Douglas Hofstadter has more or less proved that perfect programs are not practically possible. And algorithms don't scale as nicely as processing power does: n log(n) is not our friend. As Patrick said: a Linux system that needs rebooting only every three years is a modern technological marvel. But do you want to reboot your brain regularly?”

“I think that futurists are much more successful in projecting simple measures of progress (such as Moore's Law) than they are in projecting changes in human society and experience.”

PHOTO: Rick Smolan

Esther Dyson

WHO SHE IS Commentator and evangelist for emerging technologies, investor and board member for start-ups; currently focused on health care, genetics, private aviation, and commercial space. Ran PC Forum conference until 2007; currently hosts the annual Flight School conference.

THOUGHTS “The singularity I'm interested in will come from biology rather than machines. We won't be building things; we'll be growing and cultivating them, and then they will grow on their own.”

For more articles, videos, and special features, go to The Singularity Special Report

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Prohibition: Its Roots and Bitter Fruit

By: Peter Webster
Download: mp3 audio
Download: text file - PDF file

Peter Webster's lecture presented at
ENCOD's Drug Peace Conference
a counter-event to the annual meeting of the
UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs
Vienna, 7-9 March 2008

"According to recent findings by a few intrepid researchers including Carl Ruck of Boston University, the Catholic Church was, however, no stranger to the use of psychoactive plants for attaining religious ecstasy. A long tradition of such use by the Church elite now appears to be the case, but the practices were reserved for only the highest echelons within the church, and completely prohibited for the general masses of Christians. The inner sanctum of the Catholic Church realized, of course, that if Christians were able to attain religious ecstasy and insight on their own with the aid of psychoactive plants, then the authority of the Church would be severely undermined, and their political quest for world domination damaged if not destroyed.

A main purpose of the Holy Inquisition was therefore to stamp out uses of psychoactive plants wherever they were to be found. And that included branding as heretics those European outsiders such as the medieval practitioners of the ancient traditions of witchcraft and alchemy, the pursuits of whom we now know were concerned with the use of psychoactive plants such as mandrake, belladonna, and other native European drug-plants. The doctrine of the Church therefore became one of public repudiation of drug use as a form of Gnostic heresy, while at the same time secretly preserving the knowledge of that use for the Church elite."

By: Peter Webster

Listen to the complete presentation: mp3 audio 
Read the complete presentation: text file - PDF file

Related videos from

Psychedelics in Eden
The First Supper - by Peter Webster

A lecture first presented to the SISSC, Perinaldo, Italy, 2004.
Presented at the Albert Hofmann Celebration, Basel, 2006
RealVideo format, 1/4 resolution - 1 hour duration - filesize: 105MB

Heretical Visionary Sacraments Amongst the Ecclesiastical Elite
by Carl A.P. Ruck & Blaise Daniel Staples
A video slideshow narrated by Carl A.P. Ruck
RealVideo format, 1/4 resolution - 1 hour duration - filesize: 88MB

Melusina of Plaincourault
by Carl A.P. Ruck, Blaise Daniel Staples, and José Alfredo González Celdrán
A video slideshow narrated by Carl A.P. Ruck
RealVideo format, 1/4 resolution - 1 hour duration - filesize: 88MB 

The above RealVideo's are available as a full-frame DVD (720x576 PAL) info:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Susan Blackmore: Memes and "temes"

Susan Blackmore: Memes and "temes"
Don't think intelligence - think replicators!

Watch this talk as High-res video (MP4)

Susan Blackmore from TED 2008, where she presented some ideas on "Memes in the Cosmos". Getting a new replicator is always dangerous for any planet because it means a new evolutionary process is let loose. We humans are earth's "Pandoran species" who let the second replicator - memes - out of the box. We then became meme machines, protecting, copying and working for memes.

Susan says, "Earth now has three replicators - genes (the basis of life), memes (the basis of human culture) and temes (the basis of technology). I argued that the information copied by books, phones, computers and the Internet is the beginning of this third replicator and consequent new evolutionary process. We already have plenty of temes. We are on the verge of having true teme machines, that is machines that carry out all three processes of copying, varying and selecting information without us. This new teme evolution is fast, and powerful and we would do well to try to understand it.

At the moment temes still need us, but if teme machines became self-replicating then we humans would be redundant and they could carry on without us. The two talks before mine, by Craig Venter and Paul Rothemund, suggested that this step is closer than I had thought. This is important because temes currently use us to propagate themselves. In the process they are sucking up the planet's resources and threatening to make it uninhabitable. If anything of our civilisation is to survive then either we have to ensure that climate change and environmental degradation do not kill us off, or self-replicating teme machines must appear before this happens.

When thinking about civilisations on other planets we should not concentrate on intelligence (as in
SETI) but on replicators. In 1961 Frank Drake proposed his famous equation to estimate the number of civilisations in our galaxy capable of communicating with us. Instead I proposed a new equation - the number of planets times the fraction that acquire a first replicator, times the fraction that acquire a second replicator, times the fraction that acquire a third replicator. For it is only with temes that a planet can send out information into the cosmos and hence communicate with anyone else out there.

Every new replicator brings its dangers, which might explain why we have not yet heard from any other teme creatures. Life here on earth pulled through the first step, we humans pulled through the appearance of memes and hence culture. Will we pull through the third step? I don't know.

Within hours these ideas were already out on the web. See, for example,
Boingboing, the TEDblog, or a Q and A in Wired.

Within a couple of days the word "teme" brought up several hundred relevant Google entries. So the teme meme seems to be spreading. But help please!!!

I don't think "teme" is a very good word. I wanted a word that would describe information that is copied outside of human brains by some kind of technology. These are technological memes, or techno-memes, or .... an obvious abbreviation is "teme" but it's so easily confused with "team" (indeed Wired mis-spelt it this way). What about artemes (artificial memes - but really they are no more artificial than we are). Or ... If you can think of a better name for the third replicator then
please let me know."