Aaron Cael

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Footnotes to Author Talk: Mind Wars by Jonathan Moreno, Brooklyn, July 23, 2013


From the Meetup Page for the talk:

“In conjunction with the Brooklyn Futurist Society the Volumetric Society is sponsoring a timely and relevant presentation by Jonathan D. Moreno, Author of Mind Wars who explores DARPA and the role of the intelligence community and university science departments in preparing the military and intelligence services for the 21st century. Super soldiers, drugs that erase fear and the need to sleep, neuroscience, advanced prosthetics and other initiatives are changing the course of modern warfare with many ethical concerns.

Jonathan covers these issues in his recent book, Mind Wars. He is also the author of The Body Politic: The Battle Over Science in America, Is There An Ethicist in the House, Undue Risk: Secret State Science Experiments on Humans and Deciding Together: Bioethics and Moral Consensus.


Here’s what I wrote down…

Look up: White House Brain Initiative  Fact Sheet

UPenn: Neuroscience Boot Camp

Define term: Cognitive Neuroscience (“the branch of neuroscience that studies the biological foundations of mental phenomena.”)

Church Commission on MKUltra

LSD + Thorazine

WWI and Stanford-Binet test: used for assigning draftees (infantry or not)

Modafinil/Provigil… 60-70 hours of alertness (can also make you sort of an asshole after the first 20… experience)

Oxytocin… used to increase compliance

– used in delivery rooms

– what methods exist for delivery of Oxytocin? aerosol? injection? patch? water-soluble?

Visual cortex is well-studied and physically large. Hence: over-represented in neuroscience.

Deep brain stimulation for treating Parkinson’s Disease.

– for depression? reset switch for emotions? would you take it if it existed?

– story idea: self-constructing brain implants, introduced orally, for the purposes of intelligence gathering and manipulation. data retrieved via sewage system (peed out)

Look up RoboRat video: training with pleasure center e-stim


Trancranial Magnetic Stim

– TMS DIY/DIY tDCS (direct current stimulation) video  consumer product

– Can change attitudes, perceptions, learning, reaction time, mood, downregulate stress hormones.

Ethics: Cognitive liberty. Reversability.

Quote from a defense contractor: “stupid people are really hard to interrogate.”

Mental disease/delusions of grandeur are common among terrorist operatives… makes them hard to interrogate, delusions interfere with accuracy.

Look up: neuroskeptic




Cutting Room Floor: Make Bad Bread


So this first issue of TITLE was originally going to be about bread. The staff of life. Gluten-free or otherwise. Still is, in some ways. Bread being a metaphor for the means of surviving in a very nitty-gritty, dat-to-day basis. The money behind the art. The things you do to keep the lights on.

Part of this was my mother’s recipe for pita bread. I was on a bread-baking kick for awhile there and I still advocate it to anyone who hasn’t made a loaf or some flatbread. It’s an experience of demystifying some of the basics, getting a feel for the intersection of art and science in any act of creation. What’s great about bread is that it’s very much an artifact of it’s inputs, craft, and setting. The yeast, the flour, and water interact with the kneading the humidity and the heat to produce something that is unique to that time and place. It’s a food and a photograph.

At any rate, here’s the missing recipe. It’s not an ideal recipe it’s just the bare minimum of something functional that will make an edible product. The idea is to cross that line and make something Not That Great but to Make Something. The perfect is the enemy of the good and all that.

So here’s a recipe for some reasonably edible pitas:

Pita Recipe

3 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
1.5 cups water

combine. knead.

put in bowl.

Let it rise.

45 minutes

Punch it down, knead it out. Wrap it up and put it in the fridge.


Go directly to dividing it into 5 pieces. Make pieces into flat circles. Think pizzas or pitas. Flatbread. Spritz with water if you have that ability.  Let that rise in a warm space. Should take about as long as it takes to preheat your 500 degree oven. Bake 5 minutes, check it at 3 min. (Your oven temp is probably wrong, no matter what. Whatever)

Pull them out, put them on a cooling rack if you have one or just some place that is not an oven. There you go, you’ve got bread. Dip it something, slather it in butter, or just eat it in miserable poverty.

Tonight’s Rabbit Hole: New Chronology

fomenko_worldFirst, forget everything before 1100 A.D. It’s a void, a black hole of prehistory. Nothing happened much beyond a few men got smart enough to climb on horses and make trouble for the people the next town over. Local empires, crude jewelry, casual bloodshed. Forget it. Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, Arab chronologies were all the work of Jesuit scholars in the 1600’s. Inventions like paper, gunpowder, transoceanic travel? All from Europe in the 10th-16th centuries. Oh and Jesus? That’s just a garbled story about the failed reforms of the Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos of the Byzantine Empire’s.

And… that just scratches the surface. It’s hard to know where to start. Russian mathematician Anatoly T. Fomenko has published a seven volume reworking of world history that basically crams all of antiquity into the Middle Ages and makes the prime driver of most pre-17th century world events a Turko-Slavic empire that doesn’t appear in any other system of chronology. The crux of this idea–and the part that intrigues me as a writer–is that commonly-accepted world history is a distorted, stretched out narrative that cyclically plagiarizes actual events. Fomenko links various world events in far-flung places, claiming that despite the distance and time between them, they are the same story, repeated and displaced. This strikes me as a reverse application of the idea of archetypes. Not just are all narratives a repetition of some basic structural form but history is too.

In short: it’s not history repeating itself, it’s the historians.

Fomenko works this all out mathematically, drawing on zodiacs and certain astronomical observations, rejecting others as inaccurate or flat out forgeries. The exciting part of this is that it suggests an underlying formula for generating historical narrative. My question is: could you develop Fomenko’s formulas used to detect these allegedly forged repetitions of historical events to create an iterative process that generates completely new ones?

Stretch the timeline back further; start three million years ago. Add in libraries that account for a greater diversity of hominids, sketching out warring empires of distantly related Neanderthals and Homo Ergaster. Generate the wars of succession in the Cro Magnon Rome. Or go in the other direction and generate future repetitions through the cycles of history: crusades to recapture Neo-Catholic shrines in geosynchronous orbit. The globally observed Crucifixion of an entirely synthetic Messiah, spontaneously generated from the NSA archives of collected human communications.

The New Chronology Wikipedia page is a good start. Just barely scratched the surface of this English-language extrapolation of History: Fiction or Science?



TITLE #1 is Done and I’m Filthy and Sweaty


Some reflections on finally getting the print issue of TITLE done…

  • Holy sweet tapdancing Batman is the devil in the details. The little things that can be obsessed on. Conforming fonts, margins, bleeds, getting the goddamn thing to actually print out in the proper folded booklet format… wow, I better do this a lot so I get permanently good at it and can actually set things up in advance. I would love to have a basic fluency in InDesign and not have to stop, Google up an answer, then try to regroup.


  • When in doubt, make a game. I had two pages I was not in love with so I nuked them and started over. confronted with two blank pages facing each other, I asked myself: what’s missing? Something to interact with. Some kind of tool or experience or instruction or activity. So I made a board game.  Game design has long been something I’ve been interested in. Purely megalomaniacal reasons. For however long the game takes, you have people following your rules, thinking, moving, interacting in ways that you designed. Bwahahahaha! But like any dictator, your rule only has worth as long as you get people to do what you say so the game rules are shaped by a need to create a pleasurable, interesting experience. For this one, the main restriction was that all I had to work with was ink on a page. Any other equipment or setting had to be easily obtained by the player. So no spinners, cards, complex physical interaction or blindfolds. So… a board game. With trivia elements. Dice? Might be too much to ask. I suggested throwing four coins and counting how many turned up as heads.


  • Collaborating on design is hard for me. I have about a half dozen close friends who are better/more professional than me at graphic design, layout, InDesign, etc. I tried working with a few of them but… can’t. It became three times the work arguing over fonts and minutia, in different professional languages. Better to crash course it or strictly define what areas are handled by whom. I can’t do design as a jam session.

Most of all, I’m excited to finally print this and start sneaking it into strangers’ hands. Should entail some kind of rethink of titleofmagazine.com as well. What the hell should that be if not a blog?