News Briefs 14-04-2014

Part of today's news briefs were inspired by Richard Greene in The Adventures of Robin Hood: The Complete Series (58 hours, 11 DVDs), which has a richly-deserved five-star rating at Amazon US & UK.

A big thanks to Perceval and Greg for loads of links.

Quote of the Day:

We live in a world dominated by greed. We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human beings and our Earth. It is clear [fossil-fuel energy companies] are not simply going to give up; they stand to make too much money.

Desmond Tutu

Near-Death Experience Researcher Melvin Morse Given Three Years Prison for Abusing Child

Melvin Morse Sentenced to Three Years Prison

Well-known near-death experience researcher Melvin Morse, convicted two months ago of 'waterboarding' his step-daughter by holding her head under a faucet, has been sentenced to three years prison by the judge presiding over the case. Shockingly, given the details of the case, Morse was a former pediatrician (his licence was revoked) who had become famous for his research into the near-death experiences of children. This had led some to speculate that the abuse of the child was an attempt at inducing an NDE, though ultimately the judge disagreed on that count:

The judge ordered Melvin Morse, 60, to serve two years on probation after completing the prison term. Morse also received concurrent sentences of probation for other charges of endangering and assault.

...Morse, whose medical license was suspended after his arrest and has since expired, wrote several books and articles on paranormal science and near-death experiences involving children. He has appeared on shows such as "Larry King Live" and the "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to discuss his research, which also has been featured on an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries" and in an article in "Rolling Stone" magazine. Morse denied police claims he may have been experimenting on the girl.

"The idea that the defendant was experimenting on (the girl) is speculative, and I see his actions differently," said the judge, who described Morse as controlling and manipulative in his abuse of a vulnerable child.

Beyond the sad tale of abuse in this case, where does this leave Morse's body of research on the NDE? Should it be disregarded on moral grounds simply because it is the work of a convicted child abuser, or perhaps more cogently because - in a field that leans heavily on personal testimony - this throws doubt on his honesty and integrity? I for one would find it difficult to cite any of his research in future, for the latter reasoning, unless the details could be corroborated via another source.

Jason Silva: What is a God?

We've covered a few of Jason Silva's "Shots of Awe" here on the Grail over the past couple of years. But if you're going to do 'awe', then you've got to go big, and in this latest monologue Jason scales things up to star size, contemplating the light- and life-giving presence that is our Sun. So much awe in fact that you can begin to understand how you might form a religion based on it...

More Jason Silva monologues:

Document Suggesting That Jesus Had a Wife is Proven to be Authentic

'Jesus wife' papyrus

Dating tests performed on a controversial piece of papyrus which suggests that Jesus had a wife have found that, contrary to claims of a hoax, it is indeed an ancient document:

Since Harvard professor of divinity Karen L. King publicized the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” in 2012, scientists and theologians have fiercely debated the authenticity of the fragment — the only known papyrus containing the words “Jesus said to them, my wife.” Biblical scholars have argued that the 1- by 3-inch chunk of papyrus is modern, “oddly written” and a “clumsy forgery.” But results from recent chemical and handwriting analyses say otherwise.

...Scientists used a technique called micro-Raman spectroscopy, which measures the way objects scatter photons from a laser, to determine the chemical composition of the ink used to write the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.” The chemical composition of the ink dated back to between the sixth and ninth centuries, or earlier, and matched other samples from the same time period.

A second study examined the fragment’s handwriting to verify its authenticity. King, at Harvard Divinity School, weighed all the evidence and concluded that the fragment is likely a product of early Christians, not a forgery. The findings were presented in a series of studies published Thursday in the Harvard Theological Review.

Note that this does not necessarily prove that Jesus was married, but it certainly provides additional evidence for those wanting to build such a case (though if you're a fiction writer who think s novel based around that idea could be a bestseller, you're about a decade late...).

News Briefs 11-04-2014

"May your trails be crooked, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view..."

With thanks to Kat for today’s looming robo-pocalypse news.

Quote of the Day:

“May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest...”

Edward Abbey

For Your Dream Travel List: Kailashnath Temple

Kailashnath Temple

I was blown away by this photo of Kailashnath Temple taken by Santha Faiia, and posted by her partner Graham Hancock to his Facebook account. The world is filled with a mind-boggling array of amazing ancient sites which I'd one day love to visit. Here's what Graham posted about it:

One of the most mysterious and most beautiful sites I visited on my recent trip to India was the in the Ellora Caves complex of Maharashtra state. From a quick glance of the attached photo you do not immediately realise the scale, but look closer, find the people in the shot, and then you will begin to get the idea. The temple, which is intended to symbolize Mount Kailash in the Himalayas, mystical abode of the god Shiva, was not “built” but is rather sculpted in one piece out of the solid basalt bedrock of the area. It is estimated that close to half a million tons of this very hard igneous rock had to be removed, cutting downwards from the top to isolate the core body of what would become the temple before the mass of intricate relief carvings were begun. So far as I am aware none of the tools used to create this stunning monument have ever been found and it beggars belief how the work was done with the rather simple technology that archaeologists tell us was available in India in the 26-year reign (757-783 AD) of King Krishna I of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty. Either there is something wrong with archaeological undertstanding of the technology of that epoch – very likely in my view – or with the time-frame attributed to the temple, or both. But however it was done it is undoubtedly a tribute to ancient Indian craftsmanship and aesthetics on an exceptionally grand and breathtaking scale. Though smaller I have visited similar temples, also hewn from solid rock, at Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu in south India. It is noteworthy that the Mahabalipuram shore temples overlook extensive submerged ruins which may date back to the last Ice Age when sea level was 100 metres lower. I dived on the underwater ruins at Mahabalipuram in April 2002 as described in my book Underworld.

To keep up with Graham's travels while researching his new book and see more amazing photos from Santha, be sure to follow the official Graham Hancock Facebook account.

Link: Photo of the Kailashnath Temple at Ellora by Santha Faiia

News Briefs 10-04-2014

Beware of his coming…

Thanks to Susan.

Quote of the Day:

“Their mouths, which mere minutes before had been employed in the process of demolishing and ingesting various foodstuffs, were now jammed up damply against one another while still being used for breathing, which must have been more than a little uncomfortable.”
“Bits of one jammed into bits of the other, dangerously close to some of the weakest and most important internal organs.”
“With absolutely no regard for personal space, the two of them created an unnecessary amount of friction, generating sweat in the process.”
“Some sort of gel emerged.”
“One sat upon the other, like furniture that sneaks inside of your body.”

Erotica Written By An Alien Pretending Not To Be Horrified By The Human Body (excerpt), by Mallory Ortberg.

News Briefs 09-04-2014

Happy birthday, Daz!

Thanks Gidon.

Quote of the Day:

“I’m all for mystery. I think it’s going to be a very dull world when there’s no more mystery at all.”

~ Peter Matthiessen

Rare Video of Oarfish Beaching Themselves

17 Foot Long Oarfish

Late last year we mentioned an oarfish - an incredibly long, rarely-seen deep ocean species sometimes mistaken for a sea serpent (see image above) - coming ashore on the Californian coast. Now, some six months later, two oarfish have been sighted - and captured on film - beaching themselves at Isla San Francisco, by guests on a cruise boat:

The guests were enjoying a beach party in the afternoon sun, complete with a chest of ice cold Mexican beer. All of sudden, a cry went up from the folks who had elected to saunter down the beach and explore a bit.

“THERE'S A GIANT FISH OVER HERE!”

The guests had spotted something special in the lagoon, a pair of oarfish, each greater than twelve feet in length!

...The two guides manning the beach, Lia Stamatiou and Hannah Hindley, quickly realized what the guests had spotted, and they excitedly called it in to the vessel via radio. In a matter of minutes, guests and crew alike swarmed ashore to catch a view of these near-mythical leviathans. The two fish swam in the shallows of the lagoon, obviously dazed or ill, but still wondrous and beautiful. Guests in kayaks filmed videos of the fish swimming beneath them, and this writer was able get some video of one of them making its way along the bottom under its own power, thanks to a GoPro underwater camera.

Kind of sad to watch these incredible creatures swimming ashore, while being gawked at by humans. One can only wonder at what prompted the beaching. Hopefully not, as I mentioned in my previous post, a harbinger of an impending great earthquake - in Japan, oarfish are known as the 'Messenger from the Sea God's Palace', whose appearance in shallow coastal waters foretells impending earthquakes.

Link: Mysteries of the Deep

Related: 17-Foot Long 'Sea Serpent' Dragged From the Ocean Off Los Angeles