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

News Briefs 20-10-2006

Gootube? I sure hope that's not official.

Thanks Greg.

Quote of the Day:

Harold: What were you fighting for?
Maude: Oh, Big issues. Liberty. Rights. Justice. Kings died, kingdoms fell. I don't regret the kingdoms - what sense in borders and nations and patriotism? But I miss the kings.

An ancient, youthful Maude explaining her radical past to a youthful, ancient Harold in the 1971 movie, Harold and Maude.

News Briefs 19-10-2006

Learner spoon-benders, today has the news you've been waiting for...

  • Readers try to unlock code to 'Da Vinci' sequel. Marvellous how a long and interesting phone interview gets reduced to an extremely bland one sentence. I wonder if Kat will ever speak to me again for speaking to Fox News.
  • The Da Vinci Code provides a boost for Scotland's tourism industry.
  • Spanish scholars look for the real man who 'sailed the ocean blue' in 1492.
  • Another story on Google Earth being used for armchair archaeology.
  • Digging for the Garden of Eden in Turkey. Don't eat any apples!
  • Investigating the truth behind the 'Quamar Ali Dervish stone'.
  • John Keel remains hospitalised - and Loren Coleman provides an address for any get-well cards to be sent to.
  • Enfield poltergeist investigator Maurice Grosse passes away, aged 90.
  • Uri Geller seeks paranormal protege in reality TV show. Call me psychic, but I can already see the topic of next week's newsletter from James Randi. Do I get the million if I'm right?
  • 'Jolted' fish gave early warning of Hawaii quake.
  • BBC News gives plenty of importance to the new US space policy, by making it their topline story this morning. For your convenience, they also provide the policy document as a downloadable PDF.
  • SETI Institute announcement turns out to be about the formation of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. I hope they allowed enough room for copious amounts of arm-waving...
  • Unusual meteorite uncovered in Kansas. Baby found inside answering to the name of Kal-El.
  • Hopes for lunar ice melt away, like...well, not like lunar ice obviously.
  • Google plans largest solar-powered office complex in the United States.
  • Research continues on marijuana-based drug for Alzheimer's treatment. "Researchers are currently trying to develop a similar drug that could control inflammation in the brain without a concomitant high." Damn killjoys. And here I was picturing pharmacists handing over packets of muffins...
  • New Scientist has another interesting article on 'swarmbot' technology, again with video.
  • Swarmbots of the natural kind - have you ever wondered how ants find their way so fast to that food you just put on the kitchen bench?
  • Ancient fish fossil may rewrite the story of human evolution.
  • Russian scientist seeks evidence for tsunami which inspired Biblical flood story.
  • Jordan plans new Temple Mount minaret.
  • Tycoon pulls out of deal to sell his Picasso painting for $139million, after he accidentally put a hole in it with his elbow.
  • Forget the old boy meets girl story. How about cat starts fire, dog saves owner, dog dies while trying to save cat. Perhaps proving that there is no such thing as a just and compassionate god.

Quote of the Day:

Out of all of the sects in the world, we notice an uncanny coincidence: the overwhelming majority just happen to choose the one that their parents belong to. Not the sect that has the best evidence in its favour, the best miracles, the best moral code, the best cathedral, the best stained glass, the best music: when it comes to choosing from the smorgasbord of available religions, their potential virtues seem to count for nothing, compared to the matter of heredity. This is an unmistakable fact; nobody could seriously deny it. Yet people with full knowledge of the arbitrary nature of this heredity, somehow manage to go on believing in their religion, often with such fanaticism that they are prepared to murder people who follow a different one.

Richard Dawkins

News Briefs 18-10-06

Looks like element 118 will last longer than whales.

  • Minding the brain.
  • Iceland begins commercial whaling.
  • Dark mission: data’s head.
  • Is it time for a new Martian chronology?
  • Aztec monolith unearthed in Mexico City.
  • Undeniable evidence of UFOs and lunar atmosphere?
  • The hum is back.
  • Of pith balls and plasma.
  • Signs of technology detected on Mars.
  • What happened on the Moon: part 1 and part 2.
  • How to steal an election with a Diebold machine.
  • Europe moves to kill the internet.
  • Human species may split in two.
  • Finger forecasts.
  • Eleven millennium old building discovered in Syria.
  • The Origin of Europe and the esprit de géométrie: part 1 and part 2.
  • Stonehenge makes list for new seven wonders of the world.
  • Russian-US team claims to have created element 118.
  • TV causes autism?

Quote of the Day:

Happiness is an imaginary condition, formerly attributed by the living to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children, and by children to adults.

Thomas Szasz

News Briefs 17-10-2006

It's raining news, hallelujah...

  • Major announcement scheduled for today by SETI: "for all of you out there who have been waving your arms around and speculating, this is not an announcement about finding a signal from ETs, the face on Mars, or anything else." I don't normally wave my arms around when I speculate, but it does make for an interesting visual (if a little dangerous for bystanders)...
  • Spielberg, Hollywood and the extraterrestrial threat. Caution: stand clear of the waving arms.
  • Richard Dolan gets a gig on Sci-Fi Channel. Richard's book UFOs and the National Security State (Amazon US and UK) is absolutely required reading for anyone interested in ufology.
  • Paul Kimball says he likes mysteries. A news piece just before the New Frontiers Symposium last weekend. Here's a follow-up story reviewing the conference.
  • Cartoon tribute to Pope John Paul to be released on DVD. I hope he's a Transformer, it would be cool to watch the Pope turn into a jet..."pontiffs, in disguise".
  • Pagan graves in the Vatican's basement. Hmmm, Pope in the TV, pagan graves under Vatican...sounds like Poltergeist IV.
  • Mexican archaeologists believe that the recently discovered Aztec monlith may be the largest stone idol ever found, and that it may be a door to a hidden chamber beneath the temple.
  • Author traces journey of "God's gold". Another article about the new book God's Gold: The Quest for the Lost Temple Treasure of Jerusalem by British archaeologist Sean Kingsley (available now from Amazon UK, or pre-order from Amazon US for May 2007 release).
  • Ancient Stonehenge houses unearthed.
  • Iraqi antiquities continue to be pillaged and destroyed.
  • The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review has been released, and the website has the usual teasers for the feature articles.
  • Piltdown's lessons for modern science.
  • Women more likely to dress well near ovulation. Ladies, I'd like to point out that I only report the news...
  • Salon interviews Richard Dawkins (have to watch an ad to view the complete article, though a teaser is available).
  • Biographer claims novelist Agatha Christie's mysterious 11-day disappearance was due to out-of-body amnesia.
  • Top medium quits, saying "I Was Deluded".
  • Boeing begins testing aircraft-mounted combat laser.
  • Future aircraft might morph during flight.
  • Is the US government using LSD for interrogations?
  • Study finds pharmaceutical companies call the shots in leading medical journals.
  • Superheavy element 118 finally created. I propose calling it Jambi.
  • More on targeted electrical brain stimulation being used to revive head-injury victims.
  • Fans of cryonics are too cool for the 21st century.
  • Researchers detect the spread of skin cancer by listening to the blood.
  • Sorting through your computer files using your sense of smell. A lot of today's news would probably smell a little fishy.
  • To what degree do you create reality? Study finds that even black and white bananas look yellow.
  • Museum exhibit explores the gay animal world. Can a museum handle the excitement of two giant whale penises flailing about?
  • Mars Express and the story of water on Mars.
  • Astronomers need you to help find some planets.
  • Forget NASA heading back to the Moon - the Swedes are looking to build a house there by 2011.
  • Reuters opens a news bureau in the virtual world of Second Life. Who's got time for a second life...I can't even fit everything into this one.
  • US population to hit 300 million sometime this morning. Maybe now. Or now. Perhaps now? Now?

Quote of the Day:

You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing — that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.

Richard Feynman

News Briefs 16-10-2006


  • Sardinia is Atlantis, according to Italian journalist Sergio Frau, and UNESCO supports him. Support Robert Bauval, I say!
  • A UK team has proposed a new location for the mythical Ithaca.
  • A joint American-Iranian archaeological team will begin excavating the Susan Plain in southwestern Iran for the first time since 1973.
  • Obelisks belonging to the Neolithic period have been found in southeastern Turkey, and are decorated with human and animal figures.
  • Bronze idols of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati dating to the 12th century AD were unearthed at a temple in Tamil Nadu.
  • Nine Neolithic-era buildings have been excavated near Stonehenge, the first house-like structures discovered there.
  • A self-described hobby physicist challenges the skeptics.
  • A non-profit US group has reached an agreement with Libya to provide each of its 1.2 million schoolchildren with an inexpensive laptop by 2008.
  • It was exactly ten years ago when 176 world leaders at the World Food Summit pledged to halve the number of undernourished people by 2015. Things have gotten worse.
  • Bono enlists Oprah to preach charity where people will listen -- in the shopping mall.
  • New software will give computer-generated characters more soul. Does anyone remember Max Headroom?
  • This old house is haunted.
  • A prophetess says Russia will face a series of large-scale catastrophes in 2014 because the mummy of princess Ochy-Bala was recently unearthed. Egypt's in a wee bit of trouble then ...
  • A new biography (Amazon UK) of crime-writer Agatha Christie claim's her two-week disappearance was a case of out-of-body amnesia.
  • A new book investigates sightings of deceased pets and tells you how to contact your own departed furry friends. Pet Ghosts: Animal Encounters From Beyond The Grave by Joseph P. Warren (Amazon US or UK).
  • Is this a photo of a UFO over Tel Aviv, or just a plane's exhaust painted orange by the sunset?
  • Here's video of UFOs filmed on a flight somewhere over Europe en route to England.
  • More than 700 UFO sightings have been reported to the UK's Ministry of Defence, but only 12 of them are worth investigating according to MOD officials.
  • An article discussing the problems of UFO hoaxes.
  • A shadowy sack-like being was encountered by a Polish resident. I see plastic-bag-like beings on windy nights all the time.
  • A teenage boy in eastern India married a hill to appease its goddess who had put a curse on his mother.
  • No explanation needed -- Crying, while eating.

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just keeps on trying other things.

Pablo Picasso.

News Briefs 13-10-2006

It's been quite a while since I last found a parrot article for Shadows.

  • Stonehenge update (link now fixed): After more than 20 years of argument over what to do about disgraceful surrounding conditions, a leading expert has proposed a 'radical solution' - do nothing. Meanwhile, when Geoff Wainwright and Tim Darvill proposed that bronze-age builders believed bluestone had healing powers, and suggested that Stonehenge should be seen as a prehistoric Lourdes, archaeologists attending their lecture reacted with dropped jaws and outright laughter.
  • Scholars gather in Rome to discuss the theory that Sardinia is the lost island of Atlantis.
  • Fossil remains show the merging of Neandertals and modern humans.
  • If humanity were to suddenly vanish from the face of the Earth, it would only take 200,000 years for all traces of human existence to be wiped away.
  • For the first time, astronomers have measured the day and night temperatures of a planet outside our solar system.
  • First detailed images of a binary asteroid system reveal a bizarre world.
  • Rising ocean temperatures and pollution have put oysters in hot water.
  • Chemists reinvent the making of plastics. These guys should be nominated for a Nobel.
  • Scientists find molecular signature which protects cells from viruses, opening up completely new perspectives for the treatment of viral infections and cancer.
  • David Grinspoon, author of the excellent book Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life (Amazon US & UK), has won the Sagan Medal for 2006.
  • Citing concerns about possible damage to the ancient site, Yahoo cancels 'time capsule ceremony' at Mexican pyramid. Actually, it wasn't Yahoo that was concerned...
  • Mexican officials to Yahoo: Get off our pyramid.
  • Pregnant women infected by cat parasite more likely to give birth to boys.
  • Cellular organism with only 182 genes could revise ideas about what's needed for a cell to work.
  • Neuroscientist claims he can unleash creativity by boosting low-frequency brainwaves.
  • Neurofeedback training (pdf) may correct abnormal brain wave patterns associated with several medical conditions. The technical aspects are way over my head, but the essence is understandable.
  • Sophisticated Toy Robot to Get Mind-Altering Software.
  • Teenager plays video games just by thinking.
  • The longest-living rodents, naked mole-rats, are unfazed by oxidative stress, which flies in the face of the oxidative stress theory of aging. Love that photo.
  • Human brain relies on eye movements to identify partially obscured or moving objects.
  • The future isn't what it used to be: A review of Eric and Jonathan Dregni's new book Follies of Science: 20th Century Visions of Our Fantastic Future. Amazon US & UK.
  • 'A living fossil': Mighty mouse discovered in mountainous area of Cyprus.
  • Mouse-eating carnivorous plant in Lyon's Botanical Gardens is the first to actually prove that plants can indeed eat small mammals.
  • 500-billion-year-old embryos give up their secrets. The text gets it right, but Greg points out that, for the article's title to be correct, these embryos would have to be 30 times older than the Universe itself.
  • Results reported from double-blind test of the effects of 'distant intention' on water crystal formation.
  • Hiding secrets in optical noise: CDMA encoder will allow secret messages to be sent over existing public fiber-optic networks.
  • Worth repeating: New research highlights what classical economic theory fails to take into account - emotion is nature’s way of letting people know that if you’re treated badly you’ll do something about it.
  • Happy 25th Birthday, PC.
  • IM Misconduct: Foley may be the current poster boy for IM bad judgement, but with 60% of US corporations saying it's a problem for them, this article is actually about the clash between generations in the workplace.
  • Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy - impenetrable forests of marijuana plants 10 feet tall.
  • Tempting Faith: Former White House official David Kuo, whose 'conservative Christian credentials are impeccable', has written a scathing account of how the Bush administration used evangelical Christians for their votes - while consistently giving them nothing in return. Amazon US & UK.

Big thanks to Greg!

Quote of the Day:

It is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world's most influential nation was itself a democracy.

George W. Bush, 2003

News Briefs 12-10-2006

If you can't find something of interest in this lot, I give up...

Quote of the Day:

Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.

Thomas Paine

News Briefs 11-10-06

I’ve known farts to cause time to stand still.

  • Why say no to free money? It’s neuro-economics, stupid.
  • Theory in particle physics: theological speculation versus practical knowledge.
  • Ancient nuclear blasts and levitating stones.
  • World oil exports: a comprehensive projection.
  • Abolish schizophrenia!
  • Planet enters ecological debt.
  • The deep mystery of melted steel.
  • Geocatastrophe and mass extinction.
  • Future shocks.
  • The eclipse that saved Columbus.
  • When engineers genes collide.
  • Psilocybin and spirituality.
  • Galaxy gardening more than a hobby for future Moon and Mars residents.
  • String theory: is it science’s ultimate dead end?
  • Ball lightning: great and small balls of fire.
  • What happened to Uranus?
  • When you smell sulphur is something else going on?
  • Generating power from kites.

Quote of the Day:

The joy of a spirit is the measure of its power.

Ninon de Lenclos

News Briefs 10-10-2006

Forget fossil fuels - I think if we plugged Chris Cornell's mic into the grid we could power a few small countries...

  • Spaghetti, dung beetles and blink-free photos - all subject matter that helped win this year's Ignobel Prizes.
  • iPod Voodoo - bad software, telepathy, or just simple statistics?
  • Barry Mason, founder of the Psychedelic Shamanistic Institute, has passed on. Here's an obituary from Michael Carmichael.
  • The virtual world of 'Second Life' continues to grow, with land sales on the up and big money being made. More at Wired. Here's the official website.
  • Another story from the DARPA files: grabbing water from thin air.
  • Maggot juice: cures what ails ya. Mmmm, maggot juice.
  • Google buys YouTube. Now why didn't I invest some money in that early last year?
  • Britannia may have ruled the waves, but Dubya wants the U.S. to rule space. Sorry, but Bootsy is the King.
  • Forget market about Mars gardening?
  • But the Mars dream may become a nightmare with unpredictable space weather.
  • Mars Reconaissance Orbiter snaps alien droid on Mars! Oh, that's right...we're the aliens on Mars. Nice images.
  • Here's what you're looking for David: Black Holes are the ultimate sub-woofer.
  • Scientists to push ahead with rabbit-human hybrid embryo.
  • Harry, Ron and Hermione - Satan's recruitment team!
  • The Pope may be about to set the unbaptised infants free, if he goes ahead and abolishes limbo. Is it possible to put limbo in limbo?
  • 'Monster' fossil found in Jurassic graveyard.
  • Compelling evidence that the 'Hobbit' is not a new species? More at New Scientist.
  • American offers $50,000 for Johor 'Bigfoot' cast. Another Golden Palace casino item perhaps?
  • The Scotsman investigates the mystery of Spring-Heeled Jack.
  • Crop circles continue to fascinate.
  • Irish exorcists call for better understanding of the paranormal.
  • Has King David's spa been found?
  • Apply a magnetic field to your head, and you lose your business sense. Maybe we need more magnetic fields around the place...

Quote of the Day:

Most animals, including most domesticated primates (humans) show a truly staggering ability to "ignore" certain kinds of information – that which does not "fit" their imprinted/conditioned reality-tunnel. We generally call this "conservatism" or "stupidity", but it appears in all parts of the political spectrum, and in learned societies as well as in the Ku Klux Klan.

Robert Anton Wilson

News Briefs 09-10-2006

So very tired ...

  • North Korea sends shockwaves across the world with its first-ever nuclear weapons test.
  • Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist who exposed the Kremlin's war crimes in Chechnya, has been murdered.
  • Orange Orb questions why politicians can believe in baby Jesus, but laugh at UFOs.
  • The Book of THoTH has an interview with Stanton Friedman, one of the speakers at the Symposium Conference.
  • Paul Kimball wonders how anyone who looks at images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope can think there's no other life out there.
  • A cigar-shaped, coal-black UFO was spotted over Minnesota.
  • In a field outside of Invermere last month, witnesses observed numerous oval-shaped discs darting about in the sky above them.
  • Did former US President Jimmy Carter withold information on a 1956 UFO incident?
  • Even if we manage to send people to Mars, how will they survive the radiation?
  • Spectacular images of the Martian surface have been taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
  • The discovery of 16 potential planets has one scientist stating with confidence that there are billions of planets in our galaxy.
  • China has chosen 30 songs to be broadcast to Earth next year from its first lunar probing satellite. No Tool, Greg.
  • Scientists have unveiled the first complete census of black hole activity in the local universe, and our neighbourhood is flush with the supermassive variety.
  • Heralding a new age of computers, researchers have teleported the information stored in a beam of light into a cloud of atoms.
  • The PC is dead, welcome to the Internet Cloud, where massive facilities across the globe store all the data you'll ever use. I hope we don't get a drought.
  • Will we see a literary version of the iPod revolution, or are ink-and-paper publishers safe for now?
  • Are independent bookstores fighting back against the online ordering giants? That'd make a nice topic in Greg's free Publish Yourself resource.
  • A new study shows two-thirds of online gamers in America are female. No wonder I don't have a girlfriend, I won't let women play with my Wii.
  • The tropics may be the cradle of much of the world's biodiversity, and where most species arise before they spread elsewhere, according to a new study.
  • Archaeologists in Peru have made a stunning discovery of five mummies buried deep in a cave, belonging to the mysterious Chachapoyas; the 'Cloud People'.
  • Swiss researchers have found the 100'000-year-old remains of a previously unknown species of giant camel in Syra, and it's as big as an elephant.
  • All across Africa, India and parts of Southeast Asia, Elephant rage is on the rise, with the giant beasts destroying villages, crops, and even attacking people.
  • A real-life Twilight Zone may exist in southeastern Arizona, close to the Mexican border, where time is altered at random.

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day

Most scientists never look at UFO evidence, which leads to their conclusion that there is no evidence.

Bernard Haisch, Physicist.