Category Archives: Music

The Great American Right to Complain

For 30+ years as a news hound and reporter of weird stuff, I, Xeno, have believed it is the duty of Americans to speak up truthfully about what they like and dislike.

We have the right to complain, to make things better. This was true in the past. Is it still?

I like peace, non-violence, transparency in government and privacy and fair voting for the public. I oppose violence and support peaceful plans.

I try to read a broad spectrum of news and ideas, but don’t agree with everyone or everything I read or see. Reading is not approving, obviously.

Long ago, I found and interviewed a man when researching “reptilian aliens” (they are just metaphorical, in my view) who advocated over email “storming Area 51”. I disagreed with his plan because the real Area 51 is on a US military base, it is still run by the CIA as far as I know and I also thought he might be an agent of a foreign government. You never know. I’m not into anything subversive, I follow laws and believe in peaceful change.

One thing I read about Area 51 that was reinforced by real voices of government employees in the news, was that people working within agencies don’t always agree with policies they are supposed to follow. It is the duty of workers to follow the direction set by leadership, but there were differences of opinion within, just as within the FBI, and also between agencies. I’m no insider, this is just what I gleaned over the years.

I like the idea of humans getting organized as a species, but not under fascism. I don’t like Nazis or any other violent war-promoting control freaks. The idea of people writing about Reptilian Aliens, as I have understood it, is that there are factions of “cold blooded” ideological Nazis in the US government. Some were imported from Germany after the war in Operation Paperclip and these scientists grew in power in the Shadow Government. They are opposed by other groups that take seriously their oath to uphold the Constitution and to protect citizen’s rights to complain.

Until the mainstream news started talking about the Shadow Government after the attacks of 9/11/2001, I didn’t think there really was such a thing. After learning there is, I still placed my faith in the good side of the inner US government, writing articles on xenophilia.com such as 10 Proven Conspiracies and Why I Still Trust the Government. (The upshot was that “the Government” is not a single thing, it is different groups with different goals and ideals, many competing.) Conspiracy is a real thing; we have laws against it in the USA and people, including members of Congress, have gone to prison for it. Not every conspiracy theory is true, but some are, investigators have to look at the facts, the real facts, when available.

I keep repeating that I support peaceful change because it is true and because, on the spooky side, I fear that vocal people who complain peacefully, may one day be attacked, framed as radicals or turned into criminals in political theater by Nazi factions in the Shadow Government using dirty tricks, digital and otherwise. Let’s hope not.

I pray the good and honest people and groups win this epic battle.

Being interested in the culture of oddities, I have driven to Nevada and stayed at the Little Ale’Inn near Area 51 a few times. I enjoy the ET alien thing, the interesting people you can meet, and the science fiction fun aspect of it. I liked the movie Independence Day and enjoyed driving on the ET highway. I also personally like the idea of a US Space Force, although people laugh at it and some strongly oppose it.

How can we fix corruption and undue influence of big business in government if not by “storming Area 51?”

I like capitalism and competition generally, but support an idea by the Yang campaign to reasonably rein in the influence of super wealthy individuals and lobby groups:

Democracy Dollars. The easiest way to minimize the influence of super-rich individuals and SuperPACs in our politics is to drown that money out with contributions by normal Americans. Under my Democracy Dollars plan, every American would receive $100 per election cycle to donate to candidates of their choosing.

Via AndrewYang

I don’t endorse him as a presidential candidate, but I like this idea.

Representative Democracy, allowing the majority of the people (instead of a cabal) to pick the best leaders works well only if we have well informed voters. To make Democracy Dollars work, we first need truth in advertising and truth in news reporting.

Simultaneous with Democracy Dollars, we need laws that provide stiff fines for lies, and even stiffer fines for lies about lies–in other words, an American realist movement.

Candidate Joe Biden made a slip I heard yesterday while he was campaigning. He said, we need to support “truth not facts”. I do not support non-factual “truths” as facts are the basis of truth.

I support accurate and fearless fact checking as the basis for an effective peaceful democracy. We must protect the rights of reporters to investigate and report the truth.

I support local police, the FBI and the CIA and the NSA which I believe to be composed mostly of individuals of strong moral character who sometimes have to fight within their organizations for what is right, for what is truly American, for our rightful way of life.

Please save a copy of this on your computer, in the cloud, etc. and republish the bejeebies out of it if it ever gets “disappeared” by anyone who tries to put other words or ideas into my mouth! 😉

Peace, love and music,

Xeno of True Strange News

Blogging at xenophilia.com & truestrange.com

Xeno is a songwriter who has written over 100 songs, a reporter and blogger for 30+ years and nephew of a member of the band Steppenwolf. He was engaged to the personal chef of a California billionaire and has traveled to all 48 lower US states interviewing people for an eventual book on happiness. He opposes violence and promotes peaceful positive change.

TrueStrange.com

Spice Girls Van Converted to AirBnB

Looking for a fun unusual get away vacation? If you’ve ever enjoyed music by the Spice Girls, you might like this: the hit band’s tour van has been renovated into an AirBnB rental. They say can now book a night in the heart of Wembley Park in London, a place with lots of restaurants, bars and shops nearby.

The interior of the bus has been completely renovated and converted into a rolling hotel room fit for three guests at a time, according to the Airbnb posting.

Suzanne Godley, who, along with her boss, completed the bus overhaul, said the Spice Girls were her childhood “obsession.”

Read more UPI

There other interesting and strange places you can rent on the AirBnB site; a castle, a gypsy wagon, a windmill, a gingerbread house, a private island, even a restored 200 year-old church in one January 2016 review of strange listings.

TrueStrange.com

Solar Art Installation to Play “Africa” Song Forever

When writing or producing a hit song, there are many gold standards to consider. Is it good enough, for example, that someone will play it forever, on an infinite loop in a solar-powered art exhibit? Toto’s “Africa” recently passed this test.

Max Siedentopf, 27, a German-Namibian artist currently based in London, set up a sound installation titled “Toto Forever” to play the 1982 song on a loop at an undisclosed location in the 1,200-mile-long Namib Desert.

Siedentopf said solar batteries power the installation’s MP3 player and six speakers.

He said the desert is around 55 million years old, making it the “perfect spot” for the installation.

“Hopefully the song will play just as long,” he told CNN.

“Even though ‘Africa’ by Toto was released 1982 it is still very much present in today’s pop culture and frequently used for memes and even entire Reddit pages are dedicated to the song,” Siedentopf said.

“I was very intrigued by this and wanted to pay the song the ultimate homage and physically exhibit ‘Africa’ in Africa,” he said.

The artist said he will not reveal the exact location of the installation.

He said it is “like a treasure that only the most loyal of Toto fans can find.”

Via UPI

It has been years since I heard that song, but somehow I am able to press play in my mind and hear it again from start to finish in my mind’s ear. You too? How do we do that? Perhaps with our medial pre-frontal cortex just behind the forehead.

For me the Toto song isn’t recalled with autobiographical relevance. I’ve never had much to do with Africa. I’ve never learned or played this song as a musician, never owned the song or had it on a play list that I played regularly. I have no particular memory connected with it, yet it is still in there, stored in great detail. Odd.

Anyway, long may Africa play in Africa, surviving wild dogs that cry out in the night, sand quakes and sand storms, intense temperatures, curious camels and perhaps pesty perching pecking vultures for eons.

TrueStrange.com

Happy Elvis/Bowie/Xeno Birthday

Once again it is, today, my shared birthday with Elvis Presley and David Bowie. This year I’m spending my birth anniversary in a snowy cabin in the woods alone in the shadow of a massive volcano, working on my 100 original songs project and daydreaming a bit.

They say the first step is knowing what you want. My current wishes: long years of good health, peace, good friends, love and music, to help and entertain people, to grow, to forgive and to heal from the past. Same wishes I’ve had most years.

If you enjoy this blog/web site and want to send me a little birthday gift, share TrueStrange.com with someone who might like the strange news awards articles and added notes I post here.

My traffic is around 200 visitors per day these days, pretty low compared to the 3,000 to 5,000 per day I was seeing before Facebook ate the Internet, but there are some occasional spikes and this notice from WordPress is fun to see:

Thanks again for enjoying the daily odd news of the world with me, and to those of you with blogs of your own that I enjoy reading, for all the likes, help, words of wisdom, poetry, music, art, humor, intel, adventures, entertainment and other great things you share.

Regards,

Xeno

TrueStrange.com

Xeno’s 100 Songs Project Update

I was asked to share my music with the world and have thus been working on this music project for years. I have sketches of 100 originals in a music studio computer. I do a little work whenever I can, sometimes all day.

My style is American Helifino which blends instruments and moods from Classical, Pop, Rock, Indie, Jazz, Punk, Dance, Folk and other styles.

Has anyone written and released 100 songs at once before?

Many other artists have written 100 songs. Collections of the top 100 songs by one artist seems to be a thing in India, for example.

… but if I succeed I will be the only one to release 100 songs by me.

Tonight I transferred the sketches to a phone so I can listen to them all as a group and work on improving them. I do like parts, but I want to like every part of every song I release and so there is much still to be done.

How long does it take to play 100 songs? The current run time for the project is under 6 hours of music.

Meanwhile my body is breaking down, joints cracking and popping, muscles cramping, loud ringing in my ears, persistent eye and other twitching, feet burning and prickling, joint pains … all of which wears me down mentally as well.

My prayer to the god of this simulation is that I may keep my health and positive focus to see this dream through.

TrueStrange.com

Brain Study: Creativity is Supressing the Obvious

Very creative people can be oddly oblivious to the obvious. New brain research suggests that suppression of our most common pathways (thoughts) is the underlying mechanism for creativity.

Remember as you read that brain waves are only patterns resulting from groups of brain cells sending signals. Brain waves are the electrical sums of brain cell activity.

Here’s the article. You might find this useful in your own explorations of creativity.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that brainwaves play a crucial role in inhibiting habitual thinking modes to pave the way to access more remote ideas.

The researchers found that these brainwaves, or alpha oscillations in the right temporal area of the brain, increase when individuals need to suppress misleading associations in creative tasks.

These obvious associations are present in both convergent thinking and also in divergent thinking (when individuals have to come up with several creative ideas).

Higher levels of alpha brainwaves enable people to come up with ideas which are further away from the obvious or well-known uses.

The researchers show that stimulating the right temporal part of the brain in the alpha frequency increases the capability of inhibiting obvious links in both types of creative thinking.

This was demonstrated by applying an electrical current to the brain through a non-invasive technique called transcranial alternating current brain stimulation (tACS) which causes minimal to no side effects or sensations.

The findings have implications for how we understand creativity and opens up potential ways of affecting the creative process including by using tACS.

Lead researcher Dr Caroline Di Bernardi Luft, from Queen Mary University of London, said: “If we need to generate alternative uses of a glass, first we must inhibit our past experience which leads us to think of a glass as a container. Our study’s novelty is to demonstrate that right temporal alpha oscillations is a key neural mechanism for overriding these obvious associations.

“In order to understand the processes underlying the production of novel and adequate ideas, we need to break down its constituent processes, dissecting creativity as much as possible at first, and then analysing them in context, before putting them back together to understand the process as a whole.”

The researchers demonstrated the neural mechanism responsible for creativity by monitoring the brain’s electrical activity through an electroencephalogram (EEG) which picks up electrical signals through small sensors placed on the head. Using tACS also enabled them to probe the waves’ causal role.

The experiments they conducted looked at how the brain tackles a series of creative tasks such as finding words that link to one another. For example, every time we search for concepts associated with a word we start from stronger associations to move progressively towards weaker or more remote ones (e.g. cat > dog > animal > pet > human > people > family).

Previous studies show that some people are more creative than others because they are able to avoid strong associations in order to reach more remote ones and this study demonstrates that the alpha brainwaves are crucially involved in this process.

Goldsmiths, University of London’s Professor Joydeep Bhattacharya, a co-author of this study, added: “Two roads diverged in a wood, I took the one less travelled by. And that has made all the difference,’ wrote Robert Frost in his famous poem.”

“Taking a less travelled route is needed for thinking creatively, and our findings provide some evidence on how this is done in our brain.” …

Via SciDaily

Neat, isn’t it? Intriguing, simple and only obvious after you’ve heard it. Does it ring true for you?

TrueStrange.com

Pinkish “Farout”, New (Minor?) Planet in our Solar System

Our most distant solar system object is now a pink hued object (minor planet) nicknamed “Farout,” the discovery of which was recently announced. Scientists searching for Planet X, a proposed hidden planet assumed to be responsible for years of observed gravitational anomalies, found another minor planet in our solar system and it is quite far out. One AU is the distance of from our earth to our sun. Pluto is at ~34 AU, while a more distant “Goblin” is at ~80 AU and an object named “Eris” is at ~96 AU. Farout, by contrast, is currently ~120 AU from the sun and early estimates put its orbit around 1,000 years, compared to our one year.

SIDE NOTE: A tilde “~” is shorthand
for “about” or “approximately”, very
useful when taking notes in classes.

Below are some Farout details including an illustration. Note: This illustration can’t be to scale in terms of the size of Farout, of course, because the amount of mass it would take to make something that big would implode and become a sun itself.

“Both theory and observations concur in defining a minimum protostellar mass for the ignition of the hydrogen fusion to be around 0.08 solar mass. (Jupiter and Saturn for comparison with this limit, are only 0.001 and 0.0003 solar masses).” – Ref

Illustration of distance to Farout.

181217120054_1_900x600

… The new object was announced on Monday, December 17, 2018, by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center and has been given the provisional designation 2018 VG18. The discovery was made by Carnegie’s Scott S. Sheppard, the University of Hawaii’s David Tholen, and Northern Arizona University’s Chad Trujillo.

2018 VG18, nicknamed “Farout” by the discovery team for its extremely distant location, is at about 120 astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU is defined as the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The second-most-distant observed Solar System object is Eris, at about 96 AU. Pluto is currently at about 34 AU, making 2018 VG18 more than three-and-a-half times more distant than the Solar System’s most-famous dwarf planet.

2018 VG18 was discovered as part of the team’s continuing search for extremely distant Solar System objects, including the suspected Planet X, which is sometimes also called Planet 9. In October, the same group of researchers announced the discovery of another distant Solar System object, called 2015 TG387 and nicknamed “The Goblin,” because it was first seen near Halloween. The Goblin was discovered at about 80 AU and has an orbit that is consistent with it being influenced by an unseen Super-Earth-sized Planet X on the Solar System’s very distant fringes.

The existence of a ninth major planet at the fringes of the Solar System was first proposed by this same research team in 2014 when they discovered 2012 VP113, nicknamed Biden, which is currently near 84 AU.

2018_VG18_discovery-300x474

2015 TG387 and 2012 VP113 never get close enough to the Solar System’s giant planets, like Neptune and Jupiter, to have significant gravitational interactions with them. This means that these extremely distant objects can be probes of what is happening in the Solar System’s outer reaches. The team doesn’t know 2018 VG18’s orbit very well yet, so they have not been able to determine if it shows signs of being shaped by Planet X.

“2018 VG18 is much more distant and slower moving than any other observed Solar System object, so it will take a few years to fully determine its orbit,” said Sheppard. “But it was found in a similar location on the sky to the other known extreme Solar System objects, suggesting it might have the same type of orbit that most of them do. The orbital similarities shown by many of the known small, distant Solar System bodies was the catalyst for our original assertion that there is a distant, massive planet at several hundred AU shepherding these smaller objects.”

“All that we currently know about 2018 VG18 is its extreme distance from the Sun, its approximate diameter, and its color,” added Tholen “Because 2018 VG18 is so distant, it orbits very slowly, likely taking more than 1,000 years to take one trip around the Sun.”

Yes, so one Farout year is more than 1,000 earth years. If you lived to be 25 Farout years old, you’d be over 25,000 earth years old. Cool.

… The discovery images of 2018 VG18 were taken at the Japanese Subaru 8-meter telescope located atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii on November 10, 2018.

Once 2018 VG18 was found, it needed to be re-observed to confirm its very distant nature. (It takes multiple nights of observing to accurately determine an object’s distance.) 2018 VG18 was seen for the second time in early December at the Magellan telescope at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. These recovery observations were performed by the team with the addition of graduate student Will Oldroyd of Northern Arizona University. Over the next week, they monitored 2018 VG18 with the Magellan telescope to secure its path across the sky and obtain its basic physical properties such as brightness and color.

The Magellan observations confirmed that 2018 VG18 is around 120 AU, making it the first Solar System object observed beyond 100 AU. Its brightness suggests that it is about 500 km in diameter, likely making it spherical in shape and a dwarf planet. It has a pinkish hue, a color generally associated with ice-rich objects.

“This discovery is truly an international achievement in research using telescopes located in Hawaii and Chile, operated by Japan, as well as by a consortium of research institutions and universities in the United States,” concluded Trujillo. “With new wide-field digital cameras on some of the world’s largest telescopes, we are finally exploring our Solar System’s fringes, far beyond Pluto.”

via EurekaAlert

To the people/aliens/beings of Farout, I hope I’m among the first earthlings to wish you well. Long may your pinkish ice world orbit in peace.

TrueStrange.com

835 Tubas Playing at Once Win World Record

Here’s is a first: A record largest number of tuba players played the same song together in Kansas City recently. Hear a few seconds of audio with the story about this new world record:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DmJC58JAOU8

A massive tuba ensemble has smashed a Guinness World Record in Kansas City and spread some Christmas cheer.

KSHB-TV reports that 835 tuba players performed “Silent Night” on Friday at a downtown arena, setting a new Guinness World Records. The previous record of 502 tuba players in California in 2007.

A Guinness official was on hand to verify the feat. The concert was part of the annual TubaChristmas event organized by the Kansas City Symphony.

Symphony executive director Frank Byrne says the musicians ranged in age from 11 to 86.

A few performed on a tenor version of the tuba, called a euphonium.

Via FMT

If I had a band of 835 tuba players, I’d teach them to play a funky version of Bohemian Rapsody.

TrueStrange.com