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

News Briefs 23-04-2007

It's back to the future today.

Thanks Kat and Gary.

Quote of the Day:

I share the belief of many of my contemporaries that the spiritual crisis pervading all spheres of Western industrial society can be remedied only by a change in our world view. We shall have to shift from the materialistic, dualistic belief that people and their environment are separate, toward a new conciousness of an all-encompassing reality, which embraces the experiencing ego, a reality in which people feel their oneness with animate nature and all of creation.

Dr Albert Hoffman

News Briefs 20-04-2007

Rust never sleeps...

  • Exploring the Scottish Rite House of the Temple in Washington, D.C. As mentioned in my book (The Guide to Dan Brown's The Solomon Key), the House of the Temple is a likely setting in Dan Brown's next novel.
  • Further to my post yesterday about the Voynich Manuscript - here's a great Flickr gallery of pages from the Voynich (h/t Mark Pilkington).
  • Tourist boat hopes to find Nessie.
  • A sad day for ufology, as Don Ecker calls it quits. Some thoughts worth pondering in there.
  • UFO 'fire rings' seen around the world? I'm hesitant to post this, because it looks like a viral marketing campaign similar to the 'Shadow of the Colossus' thing from last year. Probably about as real as this cow being abducted.
  • The mysterious allure of extra dimensions: a review of Laurence Krauss's Hiding in the Mirror (Amazon US and UK).
  • British scientists developing force-field to protect spacecraft and astronauts.
  • Hubble Space Telescope to reveal the aftermath of 'Star Wars'. George Lucas said to be considering legal action against the HST.
  • Japan set for August launch of a lunar orbiter.
  • Mites re-evolve sexual production. Perhaps they just realised it was more fun this way.
  • Sun's atmosphere sings.
  • Plastic solar cell breaks efficiency record.
  • Scientists create artificial bones using modified inkjet printer. Heck, mine jams all the time and it just uses paper...I can't imagine what a bone jam is like.
  • Does AI need to be constructed like a brain to be more human-like?
  • Robot wars. You really don't need any more text than that for people to click on the link, do you...
  • How do you get around a law prohibiting humans from solicitation? Get a robot to do it. A good lesson to those fiendish robots to make love, not war.
  • Good Friday flagellations lead to Rabies infections. Makes you believe there really is a Dog.
  • Ancient Peruvian metallurgy studied.
  • Archaeologists look for Knights Templar in Bulgaria.
  • Elgin Marbles could be returned to Greece. Reading the fine print in a rapid-fire voice: "Marbles will only be available on loan, on the proviso that Greece acknowledges British Museum ownership of the artifacts".

Quote of the Day:

I’m tired of frauds and clowns in this field that are shown to be frauds and clowns and yet still are treated like they are stars with something important to say. I suppose you could just say I’m tired of all of it.

Don Ecker

News Briefs 19-04-2007

In rod we trust...

  • Buzz Aldrin plans spaceflight raffle so that even the plebs can get a chance at space mirrors art?. Just as long as Aldrin doesn't spill the beans on the super-intelligent monkeys.
  • Toltec find suggests child sacrifice.
  • Mexico likely to ban mass nude photo from Teotihuacan. I think it was the bit about tearing the still-beating hearts out that they balked at. Hey, when in Rome (or Teotihuacan, as the case may be)...
  • Cannabis compound THC slows lung cancer in mice.
  • Mathematician suggests that extra-dimensions are time-like. I believe one of them may be related to the time slips I experience while assembling Daily Grail news.
  • Quantum theory fails reality tests. Depends which reality you're talking about.
  • Forget cyberspace, welcome to the metaverse.
  • Mysterious huge stone eggs discovered in China.
  • The Reds had their own Blue Book.
  • Do ghosts inhabit Alcatraz?
  • The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review has a 60th anniversary feature on the Dead Sea Scrolls (teasers, not full articles).
  • Japanese temple-building business closes its doors after 1400 years.
  • Monk tells of dope smoking, inter-monk sex, and faking tears on a statue of the Virgin Mary.
  • Hurricane strength to be sapped, not strengthened, by global warming?
  • Frog and lizard extinctions caused by global warming, not fungus. Topsy turvy GW news day.
  • Major scientific breakthrough on plant physiology was faked. Funnily enough, in other news...
  • New Tolkien movie planned, to be based on The Silmarillion.
  • Tom Hanks to get record pay cheque for playing Robert Langdon in the film adaptation of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons.

Quote of the Day:

I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

Kent Brockman ('The Simpsons')

News Briefs 18-04-07

Just a perfect day…

  • EU aims to criminalise holocaust denial. If an historical proposition requires legislation in order to silence its critics then perhaps there is something to its falsehood.
  • Chimps lead evolutionary race. Arguably they are descendents of humans.
  • Our earth just doing what it has always done.
  • Manipulated data behind scientific breakthrough.
  • Dreams may reveal traumatic impact of television.
  • Smart dust to explore planets. To boldly go where no speck has gone before.
  • Ancient impact may have bowled the moon over.
  • Libya’s Kebira crater.
  • Hobbit hominids lived the island life.
  • Mysterious huge stone eggs discovered in Hunan province.
  • Peru’s ancient solar observatory.
  • Target for memory enhancing pills identified.
  • Cold fusion back on the menu.
  • The climate engineers.

Quote of the Day:

If an historical proposition requires legislation in order to silence its critics then perhaps there is something to its falsehood.


News Briefs 17-04-2007

As novelist William Gibson observed, 'The future is already here - it's just not evenly distributed'. To whit, approximately 800m people now have access to the internet. (And it's a huge news day for you privaleged few.) Unfortunately, the past also lingers, weighing us down like the proverbial pair of cement boots: half of Earth's 6.6b humans have never used a telephone, and 1b are still illiterate.

  • A royal destruction: Throngs of tourists crowd daily into the priceless tombs in the Valley of the Kings, brushing against walls, and even tracing reliefs with sweaty fingers.
  • After lying almost untouched in the vaults of an Italian university for 500 years, a book on the magic arts written by Leonardo da Vinci's best friend and teacher has been translated into English for the first time.
  • Legend of King Arthur lives on at Tintagel.
  • Quantum secrets of photosynthesis revealed.
  • Sci-Am tells you how to make your own quantum eraser.
  • Chimps are actually more evolved than humans.
  • Was Einstein right? Scientists provide first public peek at Gravity Probe B results.
  • How the internet could go from cyberspace to outer space.
  • Big Brother and 1984 meet at Mount Holly, Berkeley County, South Carolina.
  • Vehicle-to-grid technology: PG&E's prototype Plug-in Electric Hybrid Vehicle, created by adding a lithium ion battery to a traditional Toyota Prius, gets 100 mpg, and would allow owners to sell energy back to their electricity provider.
  • Miniature chain-mail fabric has unique mechanical and electrical properties which promise fully-engineered electronic textiles.
  • Many useful inventions and innovations continue to be buried on college campuses because universities don't think they'd be top-tier money-makers. To bring this wasted research to the marketplace, universities are being urged to try new marketing ideas such as free agency for researchers, and internet-based investment match-makers like ibridge.
  • From beneath Antarctica's Ross Sea, scientists retrieve pristine record of the continent's climate cycles.
  • Report by US Generals and Admirals warns that global warming is a threat to national security.
  • Zeppelin expedition to survey sea ice in the Arctic.
  • Selling off the rainforest - a modern-day scandal: Vast forests with trees each worth £4,000 sold for a few bags of sugar.
  • The (coal) burning issue: Shades of CO2 battles to come.
  • Using CO2 emissions from power plants yields more algae for making Omega-3 food additive and biofuel.
  • An inconvenient truth: Rapa Nui did not commit ecocide.
  • Can a biosphere be selfish?
  • Could digging up the lead-lined coffin of Sir Mark Sykes, the World War I general who carved up the Ottoman Empire, end up saving the world?
  • Cluster of UK cases shows bovine TB can spread from human to human.
  • Persistent organic pesticides in oily fish linked to type 2 diabetes.
  • Transfusions of patients' own stem cells reverses type 1 diabetes.
  • Infection rate of highly antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea explodes in the U.S..
  • Scientists make immature sperm cells from human bone marrow. Humm... Could they make sperm cells from female bone marrow?
  • Dessert recipes printed in major newspapers across the US (such as this recipe for Supernatural Brownies?) may be contributing to obesity in large cities. What about the effects of the rest of what they print?
  • Dream journals being kept by students in a college psychology class have provided researchers with a unique look at how people experienced the events of 9/11.
  • 55-foot section of the Berlin Wall suddenly disappears.
  • Mammoth, meteorite and bezoar for sale at Christie's auction. Just couldn't resist that headline.
  • What is this anomalous object found in Google Maps? Perhaps the world's largest disco ball?
  • 2007 crop circle ahoy!
  • Nick Redfern spoons up the dirt in his new book, Celebrity Secrets: Government Files on the Rich and Famous (Amazon US and UK).
  • Man awarded damages for hospital's accidental overdose of ketamine, and his subsequent meeting with God.
  • Did Woody Harrelson's daddy shoot JFK?
  • After visiting Kentucky's new Creation Museum and Arizona's Grand Canyon, the BBC's Martin Redfern reports on the ongoing battle between science and religion. Includes podcast links.
  • In his new book, Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict takes wealthy nations to task for having 'plundered and sacked' Africa and other poor regions of the world. (Available at Amazon US & UK in mid-May)
  • Temperate fruits such as apples could curb Ugandan poverty. Sounds like Uganda's highland farmers should apply for Kiva loans, where, due to's 100% pay-back rate (so far), you can repeatedly engage in do-it-yourself foreign aid (NYT video). Read more about how you can participate - in this - revolution in couch potato - humanitarianism.
  • The Citizen's Grand Jury, along with its Constitutionally guaranteed power of Presentiments, has been resurrected in response to the crimes of 9/11. (pdf)
  • Update: U.S. women who eat a lot of beef while pregnant give birth to sons who grow up to have low sperm counts. Researchers suspect pesticides, hormones or contaminants in cattle feed may be a factor.

Thanks, Greg and Richard.

Quote of the Day:

The blunting effects of slavery upon the slaveholder's moral perceptions are known and conceded, the world over, and a privileged class, an aristocracy, is but a band of slaveholders under another name.

Mark Twain, in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

News Briefs 16-04-2007

Hello again.

  • Loren Coleman reports on an alarming number of deaths and near-misses among Mothman researchers and museum staff in West Virginia.
  • How Carlos Castaneda fooled the world. Wish I knew that last month when I bought Castaneda's The Teachings of don Juan (Amazon US or UK or for free in the Nagual).
  • Jason Bellows leads an interesting discussion about lucid dreaming. I bet Greg dreams about TDG every night.
  • Michael Prescott ponders reality in his latest blog that may have been written while in the lavatory or shower, locations very conducive to big ideas.
  • Thinking too much about hallucinations and reality is a sure way to dream of electric sheep like a Philip K Dick novel, but Anthony North gives it a go.
  • Paul Kimball calls for balanced, open-minds -- the excluded middle majority -- to reassert themselves in UFOlogy. Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.
  • Take a trip down Nevada's Extraterrestrial Highway with Joerg Arnu, but this is a drive where you don't keep your eyes on the road.
  • A radiant UFO was observed for more than half an hour in western Iran last Wednesday night.
  • The UFO Iconoclast(s) believe the Electronics Technology and Devices Laboratory in New Jersey is a front for the study of UFOs and other esoteric phenomena for military applications.
  • NASA plans to probe mysterious ice clouds that hover around the edge of space in the Earth's polar regions.
  • Forget the Aurora Borealis/Australis, Jupiter has auroras bigger than our entire planet. Mindblowing pic.
  • Excellent analysis of video and photographs capturing twin black triangle UFOs over Pascoe Vale, Melbourne Australia, which isn't very far from where I live, but that's a coincidence ...
  • Forget Roswell, the UFO incident on Maury Island 60 years ago is still a mystery that's no closer to being solved.
  • One man says three red ships can be seen every night patrolling a portal near the Big Dipper constellation.
  • A Malaysian museum has been forced to cancel a popular exhibition on supernatural beings after a fatwa was issued.
  • Like the plot of Takashi Miike's One Missed Call, (Amazon US), residents of Karachi fear receiving a phonecall that damages the central nervous system and splatters your brain. I highly recommend Koji Suzuki's Ringu (Amazon US or UK) for a similar plot.
  • Scientists claim mobile phones are to blame for the alarming disappearance of bees.
  • Birds too are disappearing, with fewer songbirds visiting British gardens.
  • No more birds and the bees? If a new technique to create human sperm cells from bone marrow gets the green light, will I get my wish of death by snu snu?
  • Britain's fight against drugs -- namely cocaine and cannabis -- is a total failure according to a scathing report.
  • Some researchers, with (no surprise) the US government's blessing, want to scrap the internet and start again. That's what I say about human evolution.
  • In a new book, Feast: Why Humans Share Food (Amazon US or UK), Prof Martin Jones says families who eat in front of the televison are a natural consequence of evolution. What about TDG news editors who eat in front of their computer?
  • Exposure to friendly soil bacteria could improve mood by boosting the immune system just as effectively as antidepressant drugs. I wonder if Greg's mood improves when the Taylor kids track dirt into the house?
  • Another article discusses the increasing number of children diagnosed with food allergies.
  • Thank the Gods I'm not allergic to chocolate, but kids continue to slave on cocoa farms in West Africa (where more than half the world's chocolate is produced) despite a pledge by companies to stop the practice.
  • A white cat, nicknamed after TS Elliot's poem Macavity The Mystery Cat, catches the No 331 bus several mornings a week from the same stop, and jumps off near a fish and chip shop. There's a cat in my neighbourhood I've nicknamed David Bowie, because he has one blue eye and one green eye.

Thanks to Loren Coleman, Baldrick (no relation) and Greg.

Quote of the Day:

Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.

Aldous Huxley

News Briefs 13-04-2007

So it goes...

Thanks Kat and Richard.

Quote of the Day:

"You hate America, don't you?" she said. "That would be as silly as loving it," I said. "It's impossible for me to get emotional about it, because real estate doesn't interest me.

Kurt Vonnegut (from 'Mother Night')

News Briefs 12-04-2007

If I'm covering for Greg, who covered for Kat, who covered for me, then who's covering for Jameske?

  • Locks of 3200-year-old hair from Ramses II were unveiled at the Egyptian Museum, stolen 30 years ago in France. So that's why Zahi Hawass wears the hat.
  • The decorated tombs of the Valley of the Kings are deteriorating faster than they can be preserved.
  • The tomb of Djehuty, overseer of works at Thebes during Queen Hatshepsut's reign, amazed Egyptologists not only because of its unique architecture, but the artifacts inside.
  • Clothing ornaments thought to confer supernatural powers were all the rage among important people in England 4000 years ago. Probably because those considered unimportant were cursing them.
  • A mountain village in Umbria wants a 2600-year-old Etruscan chariot restored and displayed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC returned or else. I wonder if they'll drive it back.
  • Like an ancient Chinese number puzzle, archaeologists have unearthed more than 5000 items dating back 2000 years from a complex of 385 tombs discovered in Mongolia.
  • The 3000-year-old city of Jinsha, including a palace and 800 tombs, is being excavated in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.
  • Restoration work has begun on the tomb of Takamatsuzuka in Japan, its murals damaged by fungus.
  • Anthropologist discovers new evidence suggesting ancient farmers in Mexico cultivated maize almost 1200 years earlier than previously thought.
  • The Aztec kidnapped sacrificial victims from as far away as Mayan, Pacific and Atlantic coastal communities, according to DNA analysis of over 50 skeletons discovered at Teotihuacan's Pyramid of the Moon.
  • The Sun is more active now than it has been at anytime in the previous 1000 years. Before that, it was the Dark Ages.
  • Danny Boyle and Alex Garland's film Sunshine couldn't be better timed. Except maybe a 2012 release.
  • Astronomers have detected water in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system for the first time.
  • The Pentagon's National Security Space Office (NSSO) is considering the possibility of using satellites to collect solar energy for use on Earth.
  • Researchers report that the Earth's magnetic field was at least half as strong 3.2 billion years ago as it is today.
  • NASA scientists have discovered that a mysterious red glow, seen throughout the Milky Way and other galaxies but never on Earth, radiates from extremely fine dust.
  • Space tourist Charles Simonyi is all smiles about the International Space Station. I'd be smiling too if I were him.
  • A former American astronaut is accused of intending to kidnap an ex-lover, wearing nappies and possessing X-rated bondage images. The Astronaut's Wife starring Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron might be worth watching again.
  • Do blogs need classifications for coarse language and some nudity, and do some bloggers use freedom of speech as an excuse?
  • The amount of spam originating from China dropped dramatically in the first three months of 2007, according to a US IT security firm. What happened to you, China? You used to be cool.
  • An international science journal has deleted a South Korean paper on wolf cloning from its website pending an investigation into incorrect data. Does that make Dolly a wolf in sheep's clothing?
  • Research has found that children who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet are 30% less likely to develop hayfever and asthma. I'm going to a traditional Greek wedding on Saturday, so I'll pig out.
  • Participants in an experiment exploring egalitarian impulses in human nature consistently robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, suggesting there's a Robin Hood in all of us. There's a Sheriff of Nottingham in political and religious leaders too.
  • Archaeologists are excavating a house they think may have belonged to legendary Scottish outlaw Rob Roy.
  • A British man who dreamed a phone number then called it out of curiosity has married the woman whom it belonged to. *Sigh* I only dream of 0055 numbers with hot, sexy female voice-overs.
  • A book review of How to Predict Your Future: Secrets of Eastern and Western Astrology by James Braha (Amazon US or UK).
  • Nick "UFO Mystic" Redfern discusses the British Ministry of Defense's chilling report that paints a strange and bleak view of our future 30 years from now. The Guardian has an article about the MoD's report which is worth reading.
  • As Hillary's presidential campaign gears up, researchers, journalists and the curious are finding it difficult to access the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library, including UFO files.
  • RIP Kurt Vonnegut, 1922 - 2007. So it goes.

Quote of the Day:

A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.

Aldous Huxley

News Briefs 10-04-2007

I'm covering for Kat who covered for Rick, who's going to cover for me, because I'm covering for Kat, who's covering for...I guess you get the idea.

Quote of the Day:

Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come.

Rabindranath Tagore

News Briefs 09-04-2007

Rico claims he's still delivering Easter eggs.
Some of you may remember that, in the past, Paul Collins and dashour have posted about Kriya yoga. Today, there's welcome news of a particularly positive effect of Kriya yoga.

  • 3.2 billion-year-old surprise: The theory that Earth once underwent a prolonged time of extreme global freezing has been dealt a blow by new evidence that periods of warmth occurred during this so-called 'Snowball Earth' era.
  • Fifth space tourist goes into orbit. Despite space tourism, Russians worry about lagging in the space race.
  • Why your car's 'sat nav' doesn't like the sun.
  • Researchers have demonstrated a prototype nanometer-scale generator that produces continuous direct-current electricity by harvesting mechanical energy from such environmental sources as ultrasonic waves, mechanical vibration or blood flow.
  • Chemistry professor developes 'fuel-latent plastic' that can easily be turned into a substitute diesel fuel.
  • Climbers become reluctant witnesses to global warming.
  • Scientists, governments clash over climate report.
  • To find out if the world can share the burden of climate change, scientists are swiping a few ideas from Asimov's Foundation series.
  • The recent 8.0-magnitude earthquake in the Pacific lifted the entire island of Ranongga, pushing its shoreline out by up to 70 metres and exposing the surrounding coral reefs, which used to attract scuba divers from around the world.
  • Imagine having a discussion with Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein on the nature of the universe, where their life-sized, 3-D representation looked you in the eye, examined your body language, considered voice nuances and phraseology of your questions, then answered you in a way that's so real, you'd swear the images were alive.
  • Los Angeles turns to wastewater sludge for electricity -- by a process that's a bit more complicated than you might suspect.
  • Big Bang at atomic lab after scientists get their maths wrong.
  • Extreme genetic engineering: An Introduction to synthetic biology - the design and construction of new biological parts, devices and systems that do not exist in the natural world, and the redesign of existing biological systems to perform specific tasks. Hefty pdf.
  • Efforts to catalogue living species tops 1 million.
  • Over the centuries, many big ideas have struggled to dominate the planet - fascism, communism, democracy, religion - but only one has achieved total supremacy.
  • An overview of prophets and prophecies, including St. Malachy's unnerving prophecy of the popes, and the poem, Omen of the Dragon -- perhaps included in light of recent news on climate change?
  • The Puranas, ancient Hindu texts, are not merely mythological, sectarian, or religious stories but contain much genuine historical evidence, and have also, on occasion, proven to be prophetic.
  • Ritual sacrifice: A test of purity of intentions via charity to the poor.
  • In Vidarbha, India, statistics show that every 8 hours, a farmer commits suicide; but in 151 villages, not a single farmer has committed suicide since Art of Living volunteers began teaching Sudarshan kriya, a breathing technique that relieves stress, along with courses in organic farming, zero-budget farming, and rainwater harvesting. India's farmer suicides are a result of profit-driven free market reforms.
  • A group in India is on a mission to stamp out corruption -- with a zero-rupee note.
  • The 9/11 mystery plane.
  • Airman burned in DoD microwave beam weapon test.
  • Millions of Brits set to rebel against Blair's controversial ID card.
  • British MoD report outlines nightmare future society in which the population are forced to accept brain chips, immigration and urbanization ravages communities, class warfare ensues, and biological and neutron weapons are used to combat overpopulation.
  • When was Chinese civilization born?
  • Goodbye Magna Carta: Author Dan Kieran is so fed up with the loss of traditional British freedoms that he's turned criminal to shake Brits out of their apathy. Here's an excerpt from his book I Fought the Law, to be published on May 7 (preorder at Amazon US & UK).
  • Historical mysteries & occult personalities, Part 1: Comte de St. Germain (scroll way down).
  • Strange Relics from the Depths of the Earth.
  • Podcast: Jan Irvin, author of Astrotheology & Shamanism: Unveiling the Law of Duality in Christianity and Other Religions (Amazon US & UK), discusses Jack Herer, hemp, astrotheology, shamanism, archeoastronomy, psychedelics and entheogens, suppression of plant-based medicines, the nativity story, the symbolism of the caduceus, the New Age and 2012. Reminds me of that MASH episode in which Klinger asks Hawkeye, How do you keep all that stuff in your head?, and Hawkeye matter-of-factly replies, I wear earplugs.

Quote of the Day:

Being rapt in secret studies
Now does my project gather to a head
My charms crack not; my spirits obey

I have bedimm'd the noontide sun
Call'd forth the mutinous winds
Graves at my command have waked their sleepers, by my so potent art

These our actors were all spirits and are melted into air
And like the baseless fabric of this vision
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself
We are such stuff as dreams are made on

Prospero, in Shakespeare's The Tempest.