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Grizzly unseats and kills Montana mountain biker

Near Glacier National Park, a surprised grizzly bear attacked three mountain bikers. Two were able to escape, but the third, Brad Treat, was killed.

Via Alaska Dispatch News:

Treat died Wednesday afternoon after being attacked by a grizzly bear just south of Glacier National Park. Though he had maintained his athleticism — he was riding his mountain bike, after all — Treat, who was just 38 years old and a law enforcement officer with the U.S. Forest Service, couldn't escape his fate.

But his companion did. Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry told the Associated Press that Treat and another man had been biking near Halfmoon Lakes when they came across the bear, surprising it. The other man escaped unscathed and sought help while the bear knocked Treat off his bike.

Help arrived too late, and Treat was declared dead on the scene. The bear has not been found, though authorities are searching for it, and campers were briefed on the incident.

Scientist uses magic (and psychology) to implant thoughts and read minds

In a new scientific study, McGill University researcher Jay Olson combined stage magic with psychology to make people think that an fMRI machine (actually a fake) could read their minds and implant thoughts in their heads. Essentially, Olson and his colleagues used "mentalist" gimmicks to do the ESP and "thought insertion" but convinced the subjects that it was real neuroscience at work. The research could someday help psychologists study and understand why some individuals with mental health problems think they are being controlled by external forces. Vaughan "Mind Hacks" Bell blogged about Olson's research for the British Psychological Society. From Vaughan's post:

(The subjects) reported a range of anomalous effects when they thought numbers were being "inserted" into their minds: A number “popped in” my head, reported one participant. Others described “a voice … dragging me from the number that already exists in my mind”, feeling “some kind of force”, feeling “drawn” to a number, or the sensation of their brain getting “stuck” on one number. All a striking testament to the power of suggestion.

A common finding in psychology is that people can be unaware of what influences their choices. In other words, people can feel control without having it. Here, by using the combined powers of stage magic and a sciency-sounding back story, Olson and his fellow researchers showed the opposite – that people can have control without feeling it.

"Using a cocktail of magic and fMRI, psychologists implanted thoughts in people's minds" (BPS)

"Simulated thought insertion: Influencing the sense of agency using deception and magic" (Consciousness and Cognition)

Illustration by Rob Beschizza

Gun nut mom's rampage was to punish her husband

The recent double murder of her two daughters, by mentally ill gun-enthusiast Christy Sheats was evidently meant to punish her husband for their impending divorce.

Houston Chronicle:

The 45-year-old father told investigators his wife gunned down his two beloved daughters in front of him last week amid tensions that their rocky marriage was headed for divorce.

It was her choice, Jason Sheats said, that he survived the carnage last Friday.

“He felt Christy wanted him to suffer,” Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls said Wednesday, after speaking with the distraught father. “Mr. Sheats stated Christy knew how much he loved Taylor and Madison and how much they loved him.”

Man pointed gun at priest "the whole time" he was giving confession

A priest at St. Christopher Parish in Rocky Hill, Ohio says a man resembling this police sketch reportedly gave confession while pointing a gun at him the entire time. The fellow is still at large.

"He just came in, you know, to go to confession, and before he sat down, he pulled out this gun from behind his back," the priest said in a call to 911 after the incident. "So I did confession at gunpoint."

The question is, what did he confess? Well, that's between him and his priest, and the man of god isn't breaking "the sacred seal of confession."

(ABC News)

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Timur and the Dime Museum's 'Cobalt Blues'

Timur and the Dime Museum one up glam-rock into an incredible theatrical experience. Check out the just released video for Cobalt Blues, a track off their new album COLLAPSE.

I first experienced a performance of Timur's last year, and I was pretty much instantly swept away. He is an incredible tenor, who combines amazing classic operatic skill with glam rock theatrics and style. It is a huge win.

The video was directed, shot and edited by Sandra Powers, muusic and words by Daniel Corral, and was produced by Nick Urata and Nick Tipp.

More info:

Glam-rock theatrical act Timur and the Dime Museum (TDM) release their third album Collapse on June 30th, 2016, produced by Nick Urata of DeVotchKa. Written and composed by TDM member Daniel Corral, Collapse is a glam-rock requiem with sardonic songs about the environmental catastrophes caused by humans with trenchant commentary and arch theatrical flair – by turns grungy, poppy, and apocalyptic. Collapse is available for download on iTunes, Amazon and other outlets.

The album Collapse is based on Collapse: A Post-Ecological Requiem, a staged production that premiered in 2015 at REDCAT, Los Angeles, with performances at Miami Light Project, Operadagen Rotterdam Festival, and BAM 2015 Next Wave Festival. The show garnered wide critical praise, including LA Times (“nastily seductive, dangerous...Timur embodies centuries' worth of musical styles”), Miami Herald (“full of intensity and dark humour”), Artinfo Magazine (“upbeat hooks, slamming power chords, a Mercurian falsetto”) and LA Weekly (“a haunting and hyperbolic song cycle”).

Collapse is conceptualized as a theatrical Requiem, where different stories are refracted through the hauntingly eclectic sound of the four-member band – keys, bass, guitar and drums and the vibrant voice of the Kazakh-American tenor Timur, playing the role of Moloch, a God of human sacrifice, lamenting the environmental degradation of the past, present and future.

Congrats to the whole band, and crew, 'Cobalt Blues' is beautiful!

Great 1950s horror sci-fi novel, The Mind Thing, now on Kindle

When I was in junior high school, I joined the Science Fiction Book Club. One of the books I got from the club was an anthology that included several stories by Fredric Brown (who was primarily a mystery writer but occasionally delved into science fiction). Some of Brown's stories in the anthology were a mere page or two, and I loved their humor and surprise endings. As soon as I could, I went to the Boulder Public Library to load up on as much Brown as I could find. It turned out the library had just two of his science fiction novels: Martians, Go Home (1955), and What Mad Universe (1949). They were both terrific.

In Martians, Go Home a race of cartoonish little green men invade Earth for the sole purpose of being hideously bothersome pests, behaving very much like Internet trolls and Second Life griefers. (Artist Kelly Freas perfectly captured the personality of the martians in his cover painting for Astounding Science Fiction.) In What Mad Universe a man gets thrown into a parallel universe and has to figure out how to get back home. Both books are semi-parodies of science fiction novels (the protagonists in each novel are science fiction writers), with plenty of Brown's signature wry humor. If you've not read these novels, I highly recommend them both.

It wasn't until I was in high school that I scored a copy of The Mind Thing (1961), which is probably my favorite Brown novel, even though it is not as well-known as the other two novels, and could be arguably be classified a horror novel. The Mind Thing is an alien being (which looks like a turtle shell) that has been banished to Earth for committing crimes on its home planet. It is unable to move on its own, but can hijack the nervous system of any sleeping animal within range and take control of its mind and body. To leave the body, it forces the host to commit suicide. The alien goes on a spree, hopping into people's bodies and killing them, as it moves forward with a plan to make the Earth ripe for takeover (in the hope that its fellow creatures will forgive its past crimes and hail it a hero). Eventually, a smart fellow (an MIT professor on vacation) figures out what's going on and takes it upon himself to save the planet from the evil space alien.

Long of of print, The Mind Thing, Martians, Go Home, and What Mad Universe are available in Kindle editions. (I don't recommend Rogue in Space or The Lights in the Sky are Stars because they both stink, unfortunately.)

Dispute over salsa and chips erupts into chair throwing brawl at Texas restaurant

My San Antonio reports of a fight that took place in a North Dallas restaurant:

In the early morning hours of June 25, Facebook user Isael Rojas shared a 5-minute video of the brawl starting when one woman hurled an object at an opposing party at El Paisano Restaurant Y Taquería at 2911 Lombardy Lane in North Dallas. The offense prompted a flare up of hair-pulling and men attempting to diffuse the situation by separating the women.


"One of the main proponents of the bashing is seen in the video fleeing the restaurant in a souped-up sports car moments before authorities arrive."

Japanese porn industry says it's 'very sorry' that actress was coerced to have sex on camera

The Intellectual Property Promotion Association, which represents 80% of Japan’s adult film industry, says it's very sorry for "coercing" (aka raping) women to have sex in pornographic videos.

From the LA Times:

Police announced Monday that they had arrested the president of Marks Japan and two others on suspicion that they forced a woman into appearing in adult films by threatening to punish her financially. They also threatened to force her parents to pay for “contract violations” if necessary, police said.

The woman, described as being in her 20s, reportedly signed with the company in 2009 as a fashion model and was forced to have sex on camera in more than 100 videos before being able to cancel her contract in 2014, according to police.

The three men arrested, including company President Takashi Kozasu, were charged with breaking laws that regulate temporary employment agencies – specifically, rules that prevent the agencies from sending workers into assignments that violate public morals. The assignment that led to the charges was a film shoot in September 2013.