Thursday, July 20, 2006

Binnall Reviews Stanton T. Friedman is Real

I was surfing the "dreaded Internet" tonight, and popped by Binnall of America. I wandered into Tim's "Past Columns" section, and lo and behold, there was a review for my first film as a director, Stanton T. Friedman is Real. Who knew?

Anyway, Tim liked the film, so I'm happy to provide a link to the review, which can be found here (you can find negative reviews of my work on your own - hahahaha...).

Here's an excerpt:

If you are familiar with Stanton Friedman's work, but not the man himself, this is a must see film. It is certainly far different from any UFO films I've seen as this one focuses on the man himself and not the "lights in the sky" that have been the subject of films ad nauseum. Worthy of note is that it also makes an
excellent starting point for anyone trying to introduce UFOs to their "noisy negative neighbors" or family. Friedman comes out of the film with high credibility that transfers over to Ufology and, thusly, may help an uneducated doubter to finally muster, "There may be something to this, after all.

Tim Binnall is clearly a perceptive young man, with a bright future ahead of him!

Thanks for the kind words, Tim.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, July 16, 2006

2006 New Frontiers Symposium

Well, we now have a name for the symposium in October...
The 2006 New Frontiers Symposium
Extraterrestrial Life, Space Exploration & The Future
We've also adopted a motto:

The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible

Will Wise and I will have the website finalized sometime this week (he's doing all the hard work - I'm just offering the odd comment). When it's up and running, I'll let you know.
All very exciting.
Paul Kimball

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Posthuman Future, Vol. I

This is pretty amazing.

Paul Kimball

Paralyzed Man Moves Cursor Through Thought


LONDON (Reuters) - A Paralyzed man using a new brain sensor has been able to move a computer cursor, open e-mail and control a robotic device simply by thinking about doing it, a team of scientists said on Wednesday.

They believe the BrainGate sensor, which involves implanting electrodes in the brain, could offer new hope to people Paralyzed by injuries or illnesses.

"This is the first step in an ongoing clinical trial of a device that is encouraging for its potential to help people with paralysis," Dr Leigh Hochberg, of Massachusetts General Hospital, said in an interview.

The 25-year-old man who suffered paralysis of all four limbs three years earlier completed tasks such moving a cursor on a screen and controlling a robotic arm.

He is the first of four patients with spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, stroke or motor neurone disease testing the brain-to-movement system developed by Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems Inc. in Massachusetts.

"This is the dawn of major neurotechnology where the ability to take signals out of the brain has taken a big step forward. We have the ability to put signals into the brain but getting signals out is a real challenge. I think this represents a landmark event," said Professor John Donoghue of Brown University in Rhode Island and the chief scientific officer of Cyberkinetics.

The scientists implanted a tiny silicon chip with 100 electrodes into an area of the brain responsible for movement. The activity of the cells was recorded and sent to a computer which translated the commands and enabled the patient to move and control the external device.

"This part of the brain, the motor cortex, which usually sends its signals down the spinal cord and out to the limbs to control movement, can still be used by this participant to control an external device, even after years had gone by since his spinal cord injury," added Hochberg, a co-author of the study published in the journal Nature.

Although it is not the first time brain activity has been used to control a cursor, Stephen Scott of Queen's University in Ontario, Canada said it advances the technology.

"This research suggests that implanted prosthetics are a viable approach for assisting severely impaired individuals to communicate and interact with the environment," he said in a commentary in the journal.

In a separate study, researchers from Stanford University Schools of Medicine and Engineering described a faster way to process signals from the brain to control a computer or prosthetic device.

"Our research is starting to show that, from a performance perspective, this type of prosthetic system is clinically viable," Stephen Ryu, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Stanford, said in as statement.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"I Fought the Law"... Vol. V

In 1950 Nicholas Mariana filmed what some people still consider to be footage of two unidentified flying objects (this is the famed Great Falls UFO film). Others think he merely filmed a couple of high flying USAF jets. See this article for a synopsis of the story.

Either way, most people within ufology know about Mariana's film. Fewer people know that a year later he sued Cosmopolitan Magazine for libel as a result of an article it ran on UFOs that mentioned him.

He lost, which was the proper decision. Note, however, that the impugned language was clearly considered libellous by the Court.

Paul Kimball

Case Name: Mariana v. Hearst Magazines, Inc.

MARIANA v. HEARST MAGAZINES, Inc., et al. 122 F. Supp. 506; 1954 U.S. Dist.


Parker, Duryee, Benjamin, Zunino & Malone, New York City, for plaintiff.
McCauley & Henry, New York City, for defendants.

Opinion by:


In an action for libel, defendants move for dismissal on the ground that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The publication complained of appeared in the 'Cosmopolitan' magazine of the defendant Hearst Magazines, Inc., and was entitled 'The Disgraceful Flying Saucer Hoax.' The article treated of the fraudulent character of reports of 'flying saucers' and attributed to 'pranksters, half-wits, cranks, publicity hounds and fanatics' the creation of public fears and the cause of great public expenditures in the investigation of reports of 'purely idiotic and wholly nonexistent' craft. But in the middle of the piece it was stated that 'There can, of course, be honest mistakes.' Following is an account of an innocent mistake. Immediately after that three-paragraph account, there appear three paragraphs describing an incident involving the plaintiff, who is named. In the paragraphs relating to him he is not characterized and on its face that material is not defamatory.

The defendants address themselves to the three paragraphs specifically discussing the plaintiff, in isolation from the remainder of the text, and argue that a defamatory meaning is imputed to the language by an innuendo which connects these paragraphs with other unrelated portions of the article; thus, the plaintiff is attempting, improperly by innuendo, to distort and amplify into libel language in itself devoid of actionable meaning. And since the plain obvious meaning of the language cannot be altered by innuendo, Fleischmann v. Bennett, 87 N.Y. 231, the complaint must fall.

But the plaintiff does not rely on innuendo. He alleges that, considering the article as a whole, as it must be considered, Kloor v. New York Herald Co., 200 App.Div. 90, 192 N.Y.S. 465; Klaw v. New York Press Co., 137 App.Div. 686, 122 N.Y.S. 437; those portions treating of persons derogatorily characterized may be fairly read as applying to him, thus constituting the libel. There can be no doubt that if such portions do apply to the plaintiff, the language is libelous on its face and no innuendo is required to explain the defamatory meaning.

The problem, then, is whether the article can be fairly read as applying the force of its barb to the plaintiff. '[The] language is to be construed fairly and naturally. It is not enough that a critic or a malignant may torture the expressions into a charge of criminal or disgraceful act. Nor is it enough, on the other hand, that a possible and far-fetched construction may find an inoffensive meaning in the language. The test is whether, to the mind of an intelligent man, the tenor of the article and the language used naturally import a criminal or disgraceful charge.' More v. Bennett, 48 N.Y. 472, 476. By this test, I have no doubt that even the casual reader could come to no other conclusion than that the article classes the plaintiff as one who was the victim of an honest and quite reasonable mistake to which no opprobrium could be attached. The treatment of the plaintiff is in stark contrast to the treatment of those who are alleged to be motivated by fraudulent and improper intentions, and any confusion between the two may be accomplished only by torturing the language.

The motion will be granted.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

My Alma Mater... On Mars?

Well, not yet... but soon, my alma mater (law school), Dalhousie University here in Halifax, will have a presence on Mars, through their participation in the Phoenix Mars Scout.

The Mars Scout is a joint project between the Canadian Space Agency and NASA to investigate the water cycle on Mars. The Canadian contribution to the mission will be an automated weather station, including a small lidar system. The spacecraft will launch in August 2007 and land in May 2008.

You can get more information on the mission, and Dalhousie's role, here.

Pretty cool stuff.

Paul Kimball