Magic, Myth and Secrecy: W.B. Yeats and the Occult

William Butler Yeats by John Butler Yeats 1900.jpg

William Butler Yeats by John Butler Yeats, 1900.

Did you know that Yeats was fascinated by the occult? He was a member of Madam Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society (eventually expelled) and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. sheds some light on Yeats’s fascination with the dark arts:

The young William Butler Yeats was introduced to the study and practice of the occult while in art college in Dublin – his instant fascination with the occult, metaphysics and paranormal activities was to remain with him throughout his life. His passion for mysticism and the occult sciences was displayed through his poetry and writings.

The path to conventional Christianity had been cut off for Yeats by his father’s religious scepticism, but his need to believe in something and a hunger for the spiritual life led him to seek and devise an alternative system of beliefs, according to official Yeats biographer Roy Foster.

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An animal that could rewrite the family tree: one of the top new species of 2015

Is it a … or a ….? Dengrogramma enigmatica, discovered in deep water off the coast of Victoria, doesn’t quite fit in anywhere in the animal family tree. Jørgen Olesen

Is it a … or a ….? Dengrogramma enigmatica, discovered in deep water off the coast of Victoria, doesn’t quite fit in anywhere in the animal family tree. Jørgen Olesen

Susan Lawler, La Trobe University

It is that time of year again, when the International Institute for Species Exploration based at the State University of New York announces the Top 10 new species.

This year the announcement has been timed to honour the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, the founder of modern taxonomy, who was born on 23 May 1707. Linneaus not only established the system we still use to classify species, he and his students made a heroic start by naming 4,400 animal and 7,700 plant species. Linneaus would be astonished to know that modern scientists named 18,000 new species just last year, and that current estimates are that 10 million species still await discovery.

With that context, it should be clear that the Top 10 species of the year are ambassadors for this massive endeavour and were chosen both to highlight the passion of the scientists involved and to activate the imagination of people who do not usually think about taxonomy.… Read the rest

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The Land Grab In Space

The US has space experts worried about an extra-terrestrial land grab, reports Quartz (and lest you should think that’s a joke, first check out leading property sales firm Knight Frank’s Asteroid Index):

asteroid index

Plans to make money in space are missing one of the fundamental ingredients to any business: property rights.

If you go mine an asteroid, as several companies plan to do, and bring some minerals back to earth, can you sell them? If you build a moonbase, as entrepreneur Robert Bigelow is contemplating, and someone else wants to land a rocket there, what’s to stop them?

Asteroid miners eager to raise funds to raid space rocks—some of which are packed with minerals valued in the trillions of dollars—are faced with a legal code that was never meant to apply to private enterprise in space, since it was written well before it took anything less than the resources of a national government to get to orbit.

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One-Third of American 8th Graders Think Canada is a Dictatorship

There’s clearly some pernicious, ahem, disinformation, being disseminated in US middle schools! CBC (Canada’s government-funded broadcaster, which is I suppose an organ of the state), is reporting in outraged terms that one-third of American 8th graders think Canada is a dictatorship:

The days of politically frustrated Americans declaring “That’s it, I’m moving to Canada!” could soon be coming to an end — at least among teenagers who value freedom and equality.



According to the U.S. government’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 33 per cent of American eight graders currently believe that Canada is a dictatorship.

This finding was one of many revealed by the NCES in its 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress report when it was released late last month.

Alternately called “The Nation’s Report Card,” the publication presents the results of standardized tests given to more than 29,000 eighth-grade students across the U.S. last year.

It was here that reporters learned of how many young Americans may actually think Canada has more in common with North Korea, politically, than with our neighbours to the South.

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Next Jobs Automation Will Kill

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

Barb Darrow via Forbes:

Most of us watched as automation displaced factory workers and other laborers; but now many “skilled” workers are getting anxious as the robot overlords come for us.

When automated factories started erasing jobs at manufacturing companies, most of us shrugged: Great, better products cheaper, was the general line of thinking

But as automation keeps creeping up the stack, taking over more of what most would call “skilled” positions, well that’s getting some folks—who consider themselves skilled professionals—nervous.

Take airplane pilots for example. That’s now a dead-end job according to Mary “Missy” Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL) at Duke University (and a former Naval fighter pilot.) She said that “in all honesty” she could not recommend that anyone become a commercial airline pilot going forward, given the current state of the art.

“Commercial pilots today touch the stick for three to seven minutes per flight—and that’s on a tough day,” she told an audience at the MIT CIO Symposium on Wednesday.

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The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

mike krzeszak (CC BY-ND 2.0)

mike krzeszak (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The Cask of Amontillado

by Edgar Allan Poe
(published 1846)

THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled –but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.… Read the rest

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Shenanigans at the Svalbard Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway is probably the world’s best known doomsday repository of seeds to be used post-apocalype. The Guardian reports that it is mired in controversy “over whether this is the best hope of feeding the world after a catastrophe or just an overpriced deep freeze”:

One Tuesday last winter, in the town nearest to the North Pole, Robert Bjerke turned up for work at his regular hour and looked at the computer monitor on his desk to discover, or so it seemed for a few horrible moments, that the future of human civilisation was in jeopardy.

Svalbard seed vault IMG 8894.JPG

Entrance to the Svalbard seed vault. Photo: Bjoertvedt (CC)


The morning of 16 December 2014 was relatively mild for winter in Svalbard: -7.6C with moderate winds. The archipelago, which lies in the Arctic ocean, is under Norway’s control, but it is nearly twice as far from Oslo as it is from the North Pole.

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Student Resistance: Targeting Individual Educators and Administrators

student resistance“When I say I hate school it doesn’t mean I hate education and knowledge. It means that I hate the selfish and ignorant people there. It means that I hate stress and high expectations. It means that I hate being treated like shit. It fucking means that I hate feeling like a failure all the time.”



Public Information

Each state has a Department of Education that oversees the schools and handles licensing for educators and administrators. The websites contain information on teachers and administrators who have been disciplined and investigated for unprofessional behavior. A shockingly large number have been written up for inappropriate behavior such as theft, sexual contact with students, and public drunkenness.

Some other information that can be obtained includes the school district budget, which includes teachers’ and administrators’ salaries. Acquiring this information will make the environment that much more unpleasant for those who control you.

Information uncovered about faculty who work at your school should be made public via the aforementioned means of distribution.… Read the rest

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Amy Berg’s Hollywood Sex Abuse Documentary ‘An Open Secret’ Finally Lands Distribution, Goes to Cannes

‘An Open Secret’

Ryan Lattanzio writes at Thompson on Hollywood:

When “An Open Secret” premiered at DOC NYC, audiences and critics worried that no distributor would touch it. But the film has finally been picked up, by Rocky Mountain Pictures, for a 20-city US theatrical release beginning June 5. The film will also play exclusively at the Cannes Market in an invite-only screening on May 19.

The documentary, however, is not exactly in the wheelhouse of Rocky Mountain Pictures, which has so far specialized mainly in fundamentalist Christian and right-wing political films, from “Atlas Shrugged: Part One” (2011) to its highest grosser “2016: Obama’s America” (2012), for the middle American demo. How will the Utah-based distributor channel the film’s message to the right audience? This pickup suggests that “An Open Secret,” shut out of most high-profile festival play, didn’t elicit interest from the level of distributors who’ve handled Berg’s past films (including Lionsgate and Sony Pictures Classics).

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