Saturday, 11 May 2013

You cannot be Sirius: a review of the Sirius documentary


Image found here.

Last month I blogged about the Atacama humanoid.  I find this hoax fascinating and judging by the number of page hits you guys do too.  Well, you're in luck: there's more!  A guy called Dr Stephen Greer has just released a documentary (I use that term loosely in this context) titled Sirius, in which he claims to analyse the specimen.  So this weekend I put on my tinfoil hat, made some popcorn, and settled down to watch Sirius so that you don't have to.  Here is my review:

I honestly can't recommend this film.  I certainly don't recommend that you pay money to watch it.  Although the hype for the film revolves around the "extraterrestrial" specimen, the film barely mentions it at all.  This, I suspect, is because there really isn't a lot to say about the specimen.  It's a clever little hoax, but it won't be revealing the secrets of life on other worlds anytime soon.

X-ray image of the specimen.  You can see that, whatever it is, it certainly has skeletal tissue.

Sirius is mostly just two hours of rambling self-aggrandizement from Dr Greer.  It's pretty standard stuff - "they" have managed to back-engineer free energy technology from alien spacecraft, but "they" don't want you to know about it.  "They" are poorly defined and could involve the military industrial complex, the Milk Marketing Board*, the New World Order or the Reptilians according to your preference and/or level of disconnection from reality.

Sirius does its best to imply that the specimen could be a human/alien hybrid, but we're not given any information about how that could be possible, or even how the specimen relates to anything else Greer talks about in the film.

When Sirius finally gets around to discussing the Atacama humanoid it does not provide any new information.  The specimen has been tested for DNA by one Dr Garry Nolan, who is a reputable geneticist at Stanford University.  Why he agreed to appear in this film is a mystery to me.  Dr Nolan says that the specimen appears to contain DNA that is similar to human DNA, but that at this stage the results are inconclusive.  This apparent similarity between DNA found in the specimen and human DNA does not actually get me overly excited.  Lots of people have been handling that thing for years without wearing gloves.  How do we know their DNA hasn't contaminated the specimen?

While the analysis was inconclusive, it does suggest the very interesting possibility that the specimen may be at least partially made from human tissue.  Dr Nolan is pretty clear that he doesn't think it's a monkey, though he doesn't tell us why.  Based on the epiphyseal plates, he thinks it lived to be about 6 or 8 years old.  But there is no medical explanation for how a child could have survived like this for several years or even what might cause a child to look like this in the first place.  I think Dr Nolan has made a mistake somewhere along the way, or what he said has been taken out of context.  Either the thing is made from animal parts, or it's a fetus.  It may possibly be a mixture of both, with some human parts and some parts from other animals.  Dr Nolan says he plans to write a paper on the specimen, and I can't wait to read it.

With all due respect to Dr Nolan, I'll need to see some peer review before I take his 6 year old hypothesis seriously.  A composite specimen made from small animal bones with some human DNA that got in there via contamination would explain the epiphysial plates in a much more believable way.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm having a tough time believing this could be the remains of a 6 year old child.

Sirius completely avoids the most important question: if this specimen really is something so extraordinary, why hasn't it been all over the news before now?  Remember, this thing has been around for ten years.  If it really was a previously unknown medical condition or an unknown species, we'd have heard about it before now.  Instead, it looks like Dr Greer has recently gotten hold of the thing and decided to make money off it, P. T. Barnum style.  A quick browse around some of the truthseeker forums tells me that many of the folks who post there don't rate Dr Greer highly and think he's a charlatan out to make a quick buck.  In other words, even people who tend to be receptive to these sorts of concepts think Dr Greer is full of it.

Basically, Sirius is a transparent attempt to separate fools from their money.  Dr Greer is using the Atacama specimen to get people interested in his film, which is really just a rehash of a tired old conspiracy theory trope and has nothing to do with the specimen itself.  I guess at least Greer isn't selling quack cancer remedies or stealing credit card details, but still, my advice is don't waste your money. 


*I enjoy Tom Holt novels and believe me, this film really does remind me of Danny Bennett.


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Zibellino

One of the things I do when I'm not occupied with this blog is the Historical Sew Fortnightly, which involves making a historical sewing project every fortnight (I get up to all kinds of things when you guys aren't looking).  I don't tend to blog about sewing because this is a sculpture blog and I figure if you're coming here, you're coming here to see sculpture.  If you wanted sewing you'd be reading a sewing blog; this stands to reason.  In this case, however, I think the project qualifies for inclusion here at Seditiosus.  It's three dimensional, check; it's weird, check; it's somewhat disturbing, check.  Yes, it ticks all the Seditiosus boxes.  Here it is, folks!



A zibellino (sometimes called a flea fur) was a fashion statement from 16th century Europe.  It was made from the pelt of an animal like a marten or sable, and often featured a decorative head and/or feet made of gold or some other precious material.  It usually hung from a lady's belt and was worn over her arm or shoulder.



Mine is not an animal pelt, as I didn't have one available at the time.  Instead, it's made from parts of a knackered old fur collar, cunningly stitched together a la Frankenstein to resemble a pelt with a tail.  The seams are concealed with a wool satin lining.  I consider this to be entirely in keeping with period methods.  People were thrifty back then.  They didn't waste anything, and piecing garments together out of scraps was standard practice even for comparatively wealthy people.  I like to think my construction methods show how someone at the time might have recreated the zibellino fashion on a limited budget.

My zibellino's head is made out of a rectangle of velvet.  I used darts to give it a nice head shape, gave it eyes made from jet beads, and added some decorative embroidery in gold thread, to simulate the metal filigree work usually found on zibellino heads.  I don't know if this was done in period, but I'm very happy with the result.

File:Portrait of Bianca Ponzoni Anguissola, by Sofonisba Anguissola.jpg
My inspiration image

All the details about the challenge and what I used to make the zibellino can be found after the jump.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Now how in the world did that happen?

Usually when I ask myself that question, the answer is likely to be one or more of the following:
  • I was drunk
  • I didn't bother to read the instructions
  • It seemed like a good idea at the time

But on this occasion none of those alternatives apply.  What you're looking at here is India ink on a piece of glass.  It's just regular India ink - no additives or anything else, but for some reason it's made this strange crystalline effect when it dried.




I have no idea what caused the ink to dry like this, but I suspect it's related to the glass cleaner I used to get all the crap off the glass prior to painting it. Somehow the residue from the glass cleaner has reacted with the India ink.  If anyone knows the chemistry behind this, please enlighten me in the comments section.

In the meantime, I'm sure I can use this phenomenon to make some really cool paint effects.