News, news and more news. We don't just fill your Xmas stocking, we're here for the duration.

News Briefs 28-03-07

If the Saturn anomaly had been a rectangle of 1:4:9 we’d be building the spaceship to get there, but it is only a hexagon made of air that has persisted for at least 26 years. After taking off the Joo Janta spectacles, we might be inclined to think that solids are much more likely to take hexagon shapes than liquids or gases. And a solid hexagon circling Saturn’s north pole might just pique the curiosity of a few scientists just enough to dare to dream the impossible. Or is that asking too much?

Quote of the Day:


If the Saturn anomaly had been a rectangle of 1:4:9 we’d be building the spaceship to get there, but it is only a hexagon made of air that has persisted for at least 26 years. After taking off the Joo Janta spectacles, we might be inclined to think that solids are much more likely to take hexagon shapes than liquids or gases. And a solid hexagon circling Saturn’s north pole might just pique the curiosity of a few scientists just enough to dare to dream the impossible. Or is that asking too much?

Jameske

News Briefs 27-03-2007

Nielsen (think 'tv ratings') called me up today. They wanted me to install software to track which podcasts I view over the next 3 months. I politely declined their offer.

  • Researchers link human brain size and climate.
  • Modern man's earliest known close ancestor was significantly more apelike than previously believed.
  • Ear bone remains suggest some prehistoric people spent a lot of time in the water.
  • Dinosaurs dug deep, possibly to survive catastrophe. Underground den reveals first evidence that at least one dinosaur species could burrow.
  • Llama dung mites track fall of the Inca.
  • The Ancient Order of Druids.
  • Ancient pollen could lead scientists to the kilns where the figures in China's terracotta army were made.
  • Genomics throws species definition of microbes into question.
  • Why do mitochondrial genes move to the nucleus?
  • Female rats avoid mating with males whose great-grandsires were exposed to a common fungicide.
  • Doctors have identified a third type of twins: semi-identical - somewhere between identical and fraternal.
  • Marmosets swap genes in the womb. More.
  • Antimatter device loses its ride to space.
  • Lines of magnetism may be what makes the sun's corona 100 times hotter than the surface.
  • In 1859, the largest solar flare of the past 500 years may have temporarily shredded Earth's ozone layer.
  • Global warming could re-make the world's climate zones by 2100. Take Arizona's 'sky islands', for instance, where higher temperatures are tearing at a fabric of life that dates to the last ice age.
  • Greenland's mysterious winds tied to global climate.
  • New Orleans: a modern-day Atlantis?
  • Britain is now being watched by a staggering 4.2million CCTV cameras - one for every 14 people, and a fifth of the cameras in the entire world.
  • The secret wills of the royals: a tale of mistresses, jewels and cover-ups.
  • A battle is raging over who sets the rules for treating patients who are in pain: narcotics agents and prosecutors, or doctors and scientists.
  • Whitley's Journal: The UFO elephant is stampeding in the living room.
  • Can you live with the voices in your head? On a related note: Chuck Bonnet and the hallucinations.
  • Importers question genetic purity of U.S. crops. A not-so-distant thunderclap on the GMO horizon?
  • The Farewell Dossier: a mountain of secret Soviet documents detailing the penetration of KGB spies in US industries was revealed by a KGB defector in 1980.
  • Russian military sources warn that the US plans to attack Iran on April 6; Russian general calls for emergency session of the UN Security Council to ward off looming US aggression.
  • Bush's Shadow Army: Jeremy Scahill reports on the Bush Administration's growing dependence on private security forces such as Blackwater USA and efforts in Congress to rein them in. This article is adapted from his new book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army (Amazon US & UK).
  • America's hidden war dead: More than 770 civilians working for US firms have lost their lives supporting the military in Iraq, and some families are now speaking out.
  • Here's the first chapter of Andrew Cockburn's new book, Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy (Amazon US & UK), detailing Rumsfeld's odd behavior on the morning of September 11, 2001.
  • Today's adolescents are the first generation to have grown up less healthy than their parents.

Quote of the Day:

...through childhood games we discovered early in life some of our strengths and weaknesses. I knew beyond doubt after my tiny mushroom farm failed to grow and most of my day-old chicks died that I would never be either an entrepreneur or a farmer. And I thank God for the early disappointment.

Will today's children ever have the unexpected benefits of such disappointments, or enjoy those rehearsals for adult life if their young days are lived only through electronic images on a high definition screen? It will certainly be more difficult.

We can't stop technological progress, and in many ways computer games are preparing the next generation for a different kind of adult world from the one I've known. But, however brilliant, computers are no substitute for real-life adventures.

Ray Connolly in his mailonsunday editorial, Why a real childhood gave us a blueprint for life.

News Briefs 26-03-2007

Something for everyone.

Quote of the Day:

Our democracy, our constitutional framework is really a kind of software for harnessing the creativity and political imagination for all of our people. The American democratic system was an early political version of Napster.

Al Gore

News Briefs 23-03-2007

Go fish...

  • Does 16th century map show that the Portugese beat Britain in 'discovering' Australia by 200 years?
  • Rosslyn Chapel receives windfall in restoration grants. What's this "discovering" thing white man?
  • While on-the-ground monitoring becomes too dangerous, satellite imagery shows Iraq's archaeological treasures disappearing.
  • European Space Agency proves that quantum entanglement remains intact over a distance of 144 kilometres.
  • DARPA project aims to have computers that sense what you're thinking, and also what you're not thinking.
  • Astronomers explode a virtual star.
  • Former astronaut none too pleased with NASA's latest strategy for dealing with potential asteroid threats.
  • Seth Shostak labels The American Farmer an American myth, although he likes the 'only in America' aspect (which he applies to SETI). Forgetting those frontier-riding Nazi rocket scientists, and a little piece of metal called Sputnik of course.
  • Predicting the next great earthquake.
  • Doubt cast on definition of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
  • Genetic studies enhance the colour vision of mice. Once again, the mice get the good stuff.
  • Investigation finds much of the money raised by Shriners went to the costs of the fraternity, including keeping liquor cabinets full. I want an audit of the number of goats purchased.
  • 'King of the witches' used to talk to dead. Now he has joined them.
  • Industrial-scale microwave need to defrost colossal squid caught in the Antarctic last month. Don't put it on 'High', or the calamari market could be flooded.
  • Whale fossil found in one of Italy's finest vineyards. Explains why the wine was described as of "a fruity texture, with a high note of krill".

Quote of the Day:

The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.

Jon Stewart

News Briefs 22-03-2007

Sailing the seas of cheese...

  • What would it be like to stand on Mars, and take a good look around? Something like this I'd imagine. So, so cool.
  • Heaven's Gate, ten years on. Wonder if C2C will cover the anniversary?
  • Storm warning! The solar minimum we're currently in is the calm before the storm, with a massive solar maximum expected in (*gasp!*) 2012.
  • Company wins $19million lawsuit against Amway distributors for spreading rumours about its links with Satanism.
  • 'Bleeding' Jesus portraits draw crowds in India.
  • Nature goes on the attack against alternative therapies being taught in universities.
  • UK paper apologises on front page for supporting the legalisation of marijuana, claiming they now believe the drug is dangerous. Numerous stupid comments, such as the one about marijuana being more dangerous than Ecstasy and LSD - the reason it's rated higher is because the other two aren't considered dangerous...the report lists alcohol as being significantly more harmful than marijuana.
  • Need to navigate the current paradigm? Here's a handy map.
  • Scientists create microscopic alphabet soup. I looked for some Voom! in there, but I couldn't find any.
  • Mapping the 248th dimension.
  • Hinode space telescope reveals the impossible on the Sun.
  • Futuristic NASA think tank to be shut down.
  • Anomalous lights seen in conjunction with earthquake.
  • Scientists study sacred sounds.
  • Professor decries 'DaVinci Codification' of culture over the past few years.
  • You don't need sex to evolve. Hell of a good way to kill 40 million years though...
  • Duke University patents mind-controlled weapons.
  • Study details catastrophic impact of nuclear attack on US cities. Scary things, like no American Idol to watch, no McDonalds to get a snack from. Duck and cover!
  • Was Marilyn Monroe tricked into killing herself by the Kennedys?
  • Remember when those scientists did a proof of how vampires could not exist? Seems they forgot the Buffy factor (first thing they teach in 'Maths in Vampirology 101').

Quote of the Day:

Sell a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and you've ruined a wonderful business opportunity.

Karl Marx

News Briefs 20-03-2007

Many a sudden change takes place on a spring day.

Thanks, Rick.

Quote of the Day:

We're taught history under neat subject headings: dates, people, movements that do remarkable things (like end slavery). The assumption is that what's past - in terms of bullying policemen or grisly haircuts - is very much past, fit for nostalgic purpose, potentially relevant only as some BBC classic serial. And the assumption beyond that, 30 or 50 years on, is that human existence automatically involves the "progress" that politicians promise from every platform. Here's a long march towards more of everything desirable: more burgers, more holidays, more medication, more sweet satisfactions.

But real life, when you examine content, not style, isn't like that. Real life features greed, venality and Archie's spiritual emptiness in unchanging quantities. And, even in material ways, "progress" can seem a surprisingly frail concept.

Peter Preston, Guardian columnist, in People like us.

News Briefs 19-03-2007

What happened to January, February and most of March?

  • The former Governor of Arizona, famous for ridiculing the Phoenix Lights by having a member of his staff dress up as an alien at a press conference, has done a 180-degree turn and now claims to have seen them. Funny how attitudes change when political reputations are no longer a concern.
  • Even more bizarre is news that Sheik Khalid Mohammad has hired KPMG to begin an immediate forensic audit and investigation of UFO researcher Kevin Randle's numerous claims about the 1947 Roswell UFO crash. He's not the Al-Qaeda mastermind by the way.
  • The Apache have legends of tunnels beneath the land made by people who live near the stars; could they be connected to Tiahuanaco?
  • If you're interested in the above kind of story, I highly recommend Gary David's book The Orion Zone (Amazon US or UK), a fascinating journey through Native American and Ancient Egyptian culture, landscape, and myth.
  • Myths and legends exist that tell of a time when the Earth had no moon.
  • Are flying saucers the results of secret American research projects from World War II?
  • Reports of UFOs spotted above the Prime Minister of India's home in Delhi.
  • Rotorua in New Zealand is a hive of UFO sightings.
  • Pictures taken by NASA's Odyssey spacecraft reveal what may be seven caves on the surface of Mars. If they're thinking about landing there, I hope NASA has seen Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
  • The Inuit hope science can explain why the sun is acting strangely in the Arctic. Something this mind-blowing should be on the front pages of all newspapers.
  • The northern hemisphere recorded its warmest winter on record and El Nino is to blame.
  • Scientists are at a loss to explain why some of the largest glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland are losing ice at an alarming rate.
  • It shouldn't be that hard to work out, especially if they watch An Inconvenient Truth (Amazon US or UK).
  • Two leading UK climate researchers say some of their peers are overplaying the global warming message.
  • Two left-wing film-makers disillusioned with Michael Moore's hypocrisy give him a taste of his own medicine in a new documentary, Manufacturing Dissent.
  • The President of Gambia claims the cure for AIDS was revealed to him in a dream by his ancestors.
  • South African Credo Mutwa says the Suderlandia Fructosate plant can cure HIV, which is more credible than the Gambian President's secret herbs and spices.
  • The tomb of China's first emperor could rival that of Tutankhamen, but a heated debate among Chinese archaeologists and Party officials question whether to excavate it at all. Maybe the Chinese can borrow Zahi Hawass's pyramid-shaft robot, he doesn't appear to be using it.
  • A respected Chinese economist says the "cultural enlightenment from excavating the tomb of Qinshi Huang will surpass the pyramids of Egypt"; but his reasons could be considered a wee bit biased. My novel depends on the tomb remaining a mystery.
  • No such hesitation in Mexico, where archaeologists have recently excavated more than 29 different tombs dating back about 2000 years.
  • Delaware County workers stumbled onto what scientists believe to be a well-preserved earthwork built by pre-historic Woodland Native Americans.
  • About dot com has an interesting article detailing encounters with the elusive little people.
  • Everyone can be a psychic clairvoyant to an extent because we all possess an intuitive part of our soul.
  • Are psychic abilities inherited traits passed on by parents with the right genes, or can they be developed by anyone?
  • A cryptographer has solved Randi's Psychic Challenge, but has politely (and wisely) declined the prize money of $1million in worthless bonds. The gentleman is Matt Blaze, and he explains the solution on his blog.
  • And because it's an excellent read, I highly recommend Paul Smith's commentary on the MoD's remote viewing efforts. I hope linking to TDG doesn't cause a hole in the time-space continuum.

Quote of the Day:

The pyramids of Dashur have always been the odd ones out. Evidence has convinced Egyptologists that the two Dashur pyramids, as well as that at Meydum further south, belonged to the pharaoh Snefru, founder of the 4th dynasty and father of Khufu. But three pyramids for one king is a serious “weakness” to the tomb theory of Egyptology.

Robert Bauval, from an interview by Greg Taylor in Sub Rosa Issue 6

News Briefs 16-03-2007

Information overload is defined for me when I lose the ability to create intelligent metaphors. I need to unplug...

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

If there is only one Creator who made the tiger and the lamb, the cheetah and the gazelle, what is He playing at? Is he a sadist who enjoys spectator blood sports? ... Is He manoeuvring to maximise David Attenborough's television ratings?

Richard Dawkins

News Briefs 15-03-2007

Apologies for the lack of news yesterday, Jameske was off sick, and I was away from the computer. You can now officially call us the 'not-so-Daily Grail'...

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

With 300 million people in America, you can fail to impress 299 million of them and still go platinum.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

News Briefs 13-03-2007

Back to those disappearing honeybees we've been hearing about recently... Imidacloprid, an active ingredient in the class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, was banned in some European countries because it was suspected of 'damaging pollinators.' Neonicotinoid insecticides are still widely used in the US, both on crops, and to (intentionally) kill termites. Like the bees, the termites go out to feed, and can't remember their way back home. Of course, unlike termites, honeybees aren't being sprayed directly. But neonicotinoid insecticides are systemic, working their way through the entire plant, including the flowers, nectar, and pollen. The amount that ends up in the pollen isn't enough to kill the bees outright, but apparently, chronic ingestion of low doses year-round is what's destroying both the bees' immune systems and their memories of home. And that makes me wonder... Could a diet rich in neonicotinoid-laced plants explain why I've had such a hard time remembering my phone number lately?

  • Evolution: Why children never leave home.
  • Short-legged Australopiths were good fighters.
  • Epic of human migration is carved in parasites' DNA.
  • Ancient pig remains from the hobbit cave on Flores are helping researchers piece together how humans moved from Southeast Asia to the Pacific thousands of years ago.
  • New survey reveals more than a thousand supermassive black holes in one region of the sky, calling into question popular model of how the gravity monsters behave.
  • Science team shows light is made of particles and waves. I've been telling physicists that ever since I experienced it in a meditation, in 1978.
  • Geologists can now read the history of rocks with unprecendented precision.
  • New research opens a window on the minds of plants.
  • Honeybee's social life may be guided by a single gene.
  • Volatile anaesthetics, a class of inhaled drugs, have been found to increase production of amyloid beta, the brain protein thought to cause Alzheimer's disease. Each year, some 60 million people worldwide are given volatile anaesthetics, which cause many people to develop a 'post-operative cognitive decline' that lasts days, weeks, or years.
  • Drug wipes out one specific memory while leaving others intact.
  • Be more than you can be: Inside DARPA's human enhancement project.
  • Rose-scented sleep improves memory.
  • An excerpt from Chapter 1 of Spagyrics: The Alchemical Preparation of Medicinal Essences, Tinctures, and Elixirs.
  • Tests of a fatty acid supplement, VegEPA, in four overweight youngsters, showed improvement in reading, concentration, and memory. Brain scans of the children showed three years worth of development in just three months.
  • Thinking about thinking: The rodent who knew too much.
  • Traumatic brain injury is a 'silent epidemic'. ...And the initial brain injury sets processes in motion that continue throughout a person's life. Reminds me of the old question, 'Would you rather keep company with the Devil, or with no one at all?'
  • Newsweek says, 'Unlock your unexplored psychic powers': A review of Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind by Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer. Amazon US & UK.
  • Enviro-cateclysm of the week: Global warming report paints bleak future.
  • Satellite data shows melting polar ice and rises in sea level may be worse than earlier thought.
  • A Lag Before Dying: Mass extinctions may take longer than previously believed.
  • A maverick prospector is preparing to scoop untold riches - gold, silver, copper - from the ocean floor.
  • Research shows we humans are really bad at putting ourselves in other peoples' shoes, especially when it comes to 'hot-button' issues.
  • The grim truth about Iraq: 'Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together again.'
  • Has the ghost of Hunter S Thompson possessed a former Marine Corp Sgt. Maj.? 'I'm pretty sure that I've been given a choice: You can have this bottle, or you can have everything else.' Plus, A Bleighty Ho for Baghdad.
  • Newly unearthed footage exposes further 9/11 media scripting.
  • Former Air Traffic Controller Robin Hordon speaks out on 9/11, NORAD, and what should have happened on 9/11.
  • A review of David Sirota's Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government -- and How We Take It Back. Amazon US (which includes info-packed customer reviews) & UK.
  • Historically deemed life unworthy of life, they go where the spirit takes them.
  • In a nutshell - urgent, intellectual, compelling, honest, and scathing: A review - make that two - of Making Globalization Work (Amazon US & UK) by Joseph Stiglitz, 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics.

Thanks, Rick.

Quote of the Day:

Listening to nature is what shamanism is about. The planet yearns to communicate, and all nature is in fact language. We are somewhat anesthetized to this by our very introspective cultural style. Our whole focus of attention is inward, and so the natural world has fallen silent for most of us. Jean Paul Sartre said: “Nature is mute.” That, sadly, captures perfectly modernity’s relationship to nature, but still -- if that isn’t the lamest statement made by a twentieth-century philosopher, I don’t know what is.

Terence McKenna, in Visionary Plant Consciousness: The Shamanic Teachings of the Plant World, soon to be published by Inner Traditions. Here's an excerpt.