News Briefs 22-05-2006

So very very tired, and I'm running downhill.

  • An Egyptian geologist and pyramid expert says a Bosnian hill is probably a pyramid. If it walks like a pyramid and talks like a pyramid, it's a pyramid.
  • Has the palace of Darius the Great been discovered in Bolaghi Gorge?
  • Murals depicting constellations of exotic animals have been found in a tomb more than 1500 years old in North China's Shanxi Province.
  • Archaeologists in Peru have discovered a mummified female decorated with elaborate tattoos. Read more about the Lady of Cao.
  • Here's a new article on the Temple of the Fox discovered by an astronomer and his best pal in the Peruvian Andes.
  • Cuzco, the ancient capital of the sun-worshipping Inca empire, receives the highest levels of UV light than anywhere else on earth. Coincidence?
  • Possibly explaining soccer hooliganism, a survey of British Neolithic skulls suggests early Britons lived brutal lives.
  • A US-British team of scientists has challenged the idea that Homo Floresiensis is a new human species. Peter Brown hits back, debunking the debunkers. Here's an interview with Peter Brown from the Scientific American.
  • New research shows early humans and chimpanzees continued to have sex with each other and swap genes for 1.2 million years before the two species broke up. Pun intended. From what I saw at the pub last weekend, it's still happening.
  • Bonobo chimpanzees and orangutans plan for the future, making humans not so unique after all. Not this human.
  • Do celebrities have the power to effect change? No, according to U2's Bono (who is not named after a bonobo, but he can do a mean monkey impersonation).
  • The world is a mess, and you are a witness. Bono discusses cynicism, hope, and his dislike of messianic rock stars.
  • An African-based company is making an anti-mosquito product for malaria-ridden Africa that is profitable and is creating jobs.
  • "We need Europe to be a melting-pot. We need to melt," says Eddie Izzard in an interview by Bono.
  • Not to be outdone, U2's guitarist The Edge is in New Orleans helping the city's historical blues and rock roots back on its feet.
  • Brainwaves offer scientists a key to unravelling how optical illusions trick the mind. For me, it's alcohol.
  • A virtual world is about to be switched on, where millions of software agents will socially interact and evolve their own culture.
  • Flashy goggles that simulate a strobe-lighting effect will combat space sickness. I need a pair for life here on Earth.
  • Russia will send Malaysia's first astronaut to the International Space Station next year.
  • A team of Japanese scientists say the hole in the Ozone layer might heal by 2050. And whales will fly.
  • The nuclear fusion plasma problem has been tackled, paving the way for new breakthroughs.
  • Microsoft's Live Anywhere game system will revolutionise the online games industry -- and my social life. Can you get me a press pass to the next E3, Greg? I promise to be good.
  • Want to play a game within a game? Australian programmer has done just that.
  • Former AT&T technician Mark Klein's firsthand account tells how he discovered a secret room routing American internet traffic straight to the NSA -- along with all the documents he says prove his case. Wired Magazine defends its publishing of the AT&T documents.
  • A man dubbed the Dan Brown of Canada has discovered occult symbolism in the Manitoba Legislature. Catching up with him for a drink soon, Paul?

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

Since when has the world of computer software design been about what people want? This is a simple question of evolution. The day is quickly coming when every knee will bow down to a silicon fist, and you will all beg your binary gods for mercy.

Bill Gates

Pyramid Poll

I finally got around to changing the poll over. The results from the previous poll show that the majority of voters believe that Dan Brown was vindicated by the judge in the Da Vinci copyright case. Remember you can access (and vote on) any of our previous polls by going to the (imaginatively titled) Poll page.

The new poll asks for your opinion on the alleged Bosnian Pyramid which has had plenty of publicity through news sources and the Internet. Is it a link to an ancient worldwide pyramid culture, was it a sacred site which was augmented by humans, or is it all a crock and simply a result of Mother Earth pushing up another mountain?

New Dawn #96

New Dawn Magazine #96 has hit the street, and as usual there are some free offerings from the mag on the ND website. "Who Built the Moon?" is an interview with Chris Knight, Herbie Brennan tells of the magic and mysticism of Tibet, and Mitch Horowitz discusses the life and writings of Manly P. Hall. The paper edition has much more including the Gospel of Judas, accessing the afterlife, and Ray Grasse on signs in the sky. Full details of the issue contents are available at the New Dawn website. Keep an eye out for the current 'Da Vinci Code' special issue of New Dawn as well, which has an article by yours truly in it.

News Briefs 19-05-2006

Is a Kaplutis the small-screen equivalent of Newthink? That's the impression I got from the themes of some Kaplutii others have noticed. Also, would one of you nice folks over in Scotland please buy me a copy of Saturday's Scotsman newspaper, and send me the free Rosslyn CD that's inside it? I'll happily reimburse you.

  • The Eternal Value of Privacy.
  • Egyptian geologist backs Bosnian pyramid claim. More.
  • On ancient walls, a new Maya epoch.
  • After the 'Gateway to Hell' blew in 1159 BC, ancient Scotland went without a summer for 20 years, says Alistair Moffat, author of Before Scotland: The Story of Scotland Before History. Amazon US & UK.
  • Scientists say Hobbit was one of us with a diseased brain.
  • The Amazon Trail: Anna Roosevelt's ventures into the jungles of South America have turned up traces of human settlements far older than archaeologists ever suspected.
  • Amazon Stonehenge suggests advanced ancient rainforest culture.
  • Peruvian woman of A.D. 450 seems to have had two careers.
  • Roman myth: "We were ‘barbarians’", says ex-Python Terry Jones, "but early British civilisation outshone the Roman version. We just lost the propaganda war." Terry Jones' Barbarians is available at Amazon US & UK.
  • Cosmic Log takes a look beyond The Da Vinci Code, including a slide show of the real-life art and artifacts. I had to lie on my back to view slide 13.
  • Critic says Ron Howard handles the supposedly provocative material in Dan Brown's best-selling book with kid gloves. Shoot - I guess that means he's not the anti-Christ after all.
  • Michael Baigent describes the Da Vinci Code court case as 'one of the worst experiences of my life'. Meanwhile, almost unbelievably to anyone who has read the judgment, Baigent and Leigh have applied to appeal.
  • Remember all that buzz last August about the Maranatha Puzzle? Maranatha: Et In Arcadia Ego has just been published in Oz, and The Age has an interesting update on the story. Maranatha: Et In Arcadia Ego is available from Amazon UK, and a 300-page companion book is due out in July.
  • Forget Scientology: With visibility, exclusivity and controversy, Opus Dei is the perfect fit for celebrity religious tastes.
  • Hidden history: Voltaire and Emilie du Châtelet, his forgotten muse who played a crucial role in the development of science, together created something of a modern research institute.
  • Archaeologists find candidates for Endeavour, the vessel Captain Cook commanded on his first epic voyage across the Pacific Ocean.
  • New study using 800 times more DNA than earlier efforts shows unusual evolutionary split between humans and chimps. I'm curious what this implies about the two groups' cultural interactions, but nobody's talking about that yet - at least, not beyond the merely physical.
  • Can evolution make things less complicated? We may think of it as a forward progression, but sometimes evolution goes backwards or sideways.
  • Apes shown to be able to plan ahead.
  • New evidence shows mad cow disease threatens everyone in Briton.
  • Ain't no mountain high enough to resist the effects of climate change.
  • Giant slab of Earth's crust found near core.
  • British scientists discover first evidence of seawater deep inside the earth.
  • With time running out, a discovery deep in the crust of the Earth.
  • Study: Exxon Valdez oil lingers, extends farther into Alaska's tidal waters than previously thought and could be causing long-term harm to wildlife. Anybody surprised?
  • Scan This Book: The long-heralded great library of all knowledge may finally be within our grasp.
  • 'A matter of getting history right': Portrait found to be a Titian after all.
  • The Internet changed the world. Politics is now changing it back.
  • If computers could create a society, what kind of world would they make?
  • Media blackout continues against former officials, others, who say 9/11 was an inside job. CNN's taken it a step further by shopping for guests to attack Charlie Sheen.
  • Judith Miller says that, in July, 2001, an anonymous White House source leaked top-secret NSA intelligence to her that Al Qaida was planning a major attack on the US. Sploid and I wonder, Why AlterNet, and why now??
  • Your coffee or your web? As with Jack Benny's delaying tactic when confronted with the threat 'Your money or your life?', hesitant responders say, 'I'm thinking about it!'
  • Pat Robertson says God has informed him that America is in for a lashing - perhaps even a tsunami - this year. Unfortunately, scientists agree that this forecast is not a bad bet.
  • Harry Potter's missing Ford Anglia mysteriously turns up at Carn Brea Castle, which bears a striking resemblance to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Nice to know it still flies.
  • Bicycle riders' dream and solution to high gas prices, all rolled into one: Man reinvents the wheel. Yo David, you can check out the specks of this amazing new engine at

Quote of the Day:

Too many wrongly characterize the debate as "security versus privacy." The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.

Bruce Schneier, author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World. Amazon US & UK.

Ghost Photo Contest

Have you ever captured what may be a unearthly spirit on a photo? The Debris Field, Scifi Channel and Ghost Hunters have teamed up to host the "Ghost Photo contest". To enter you must have a photo of a ghost (or what could be a ghost) and reside in the US (damn, I guess that rules out that photo I took of the ghost of a jolly swagman out near a billabong). Send your entries to this address - the contest runs until May 28th, 2006. The winner will be decided by public votes in the week after the contest entries have closed. Photos will be posted at The Debris Field and Ghost Photo Contest.

Jesus BoneBox Re(re)dux

The Biblical Archaeology Society, which has been a long-time 'supporter' of further investigation into the James Ossuary (also confusingly called the 'Jesus Bonebox'), has posted the results of a new investigation which argues against the current 'hoax' conclusion (you can find a summary of the debate on Wikipedia):

As this is being written, Israeli antiquities collector Oded Golan is being tried in criminal court for forging the now-famous James ossuary inscription ("James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus"). A new report by a leading German scientist, however, may blow the case out of the water.

According to Professor Wolfgang E. Krumbein, of Oldenburg University, Germany, a well-known expert in geology, geochemistry and microbiology, "We can state with certainty that a period of 50-100 years, at least, was necessary for the formation of the specific composition of patina whose traces were identified inside the ossuary inscription."

The report is also available as separate text and image PDFs.

Weekend Roundup 19-05-2006

A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...


Radio 19-05-2006

Here's the rundown on the radio schedules for the second half of the week:

Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: This is part two of William Henry in Egypt, who is currently working on a feature with National Geographic Channel on possible links between Egypt and the Atlantis story.

Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines, the rest is TBA at the time of posting. Check the link for updates.

More details including relevant websites are available at the linked pages above. Remember also that while Coast to Coast is subscription, it can be listened to through KOGO, while Dreamland is free. Dreamland also now offers a podcast of the most recent show.

News Briefs 18-05-2006

Jameske encountered unforeseen circumstances, and my Internet connection suddenly fell back into the Stone Age. I think TDG may need an exorcism...

  • King Tut comparisons for discovery of mummy of tattooed woman in Peruvian pyramid. More here.
  • Also, more on the ancient Peruvian observatory.
  • Egypt demands return of stolen artifact.
  • Was Jack the Ripper really Jill the Ripper?
  • First reviews of The Da Vinci Code from Cannes are not good. Would it be sensible to trust the opinion of snobbish movie critics attending Cannes on a junket though?
  • U.S releases 9/11 Pentagon video to "debunk" all those conspiracy theories. The videos are available on the Judicial Watch website. Little hard to see anything at all really...OMG it's a conspiracy to cover up the conspiracy!
  • Even the New York Times agrees: TOOL's 10,000 Days "is the goods."
  • SETI's Seth Shostak says it might be worth checking on the Moon for alien artifacts. Perhaps we should look for an Italian restaurant while we're there...
  • Aliens from outer space confirmed as cooling gel. They'll have to work on their shape-shifting abilities a bit harder...
  • Nick Pope gives his take on the Ministry of Defence UFO report...he should know, as he used to work for them.
  • British pop star Robbie Williams plans his own alien cult.
  • Astronomers find distant solar system with three Neptune-like planets - one of which could have water on its surface.
  • Shadows must have been throwing sparklers about the other night, because everyone in Brisbane has been reporting lights over the city.
  • The dark side of future technology.
  • The final chapter is written in humanity's "Book of Life."
  • Humans and chimps may have mated. Research scientists do get lonely at times...
  • Neanderthal gives up his DNA.
  • Telecoms deny they handed over call records to spy agency.
  • The rules of migration seem to be the same for many different species of animals.
  • Baby under constant surveillance for two years, in study aimed at finding how infants develop. You'd have to call the baby Truman wouldn't you?
  • Man torches porn store for religious reasons. So much melted plastic...
  • Exorcism: Ancient art or just hocus pocus?
  • New twist on origin of human species.
  • Uri Geller buys Elvis Presley’s old house on eBay. "Love me, me spoon."
  • Piano found near the summit of Britain’s highest mountain. Sisyphian artefact, or just Pianolas of the Gods?

Quote of the Day:

The question of contact with extraterrestrials is a kind of red herring premised upon a number of assumptions that a moment's reflection will show are completely false. To search expectantly for a radio signal from an extraterrestrial source is probably as culture bound a presumption as to search the galaxy for a good Italian restaurant. And yet, this has been chosen as the avenue by which it is assumed contact is likely to occur. Meanwhile, there are people all over the world - psychics, shamans, mystics, schizophrenics - whose heads are filled with information, but it has been ruled a priori irrelevant, incoherent, or mad. Only that which is validated through consensus via certain sanctioned instrumentalities will be accepted as a signal. The problem is that we are so inundated by these signals - these other dimensions - that there is a great deal of noise in the circuit.

Terence McKenna

Da Vinci Movie Easter Egg

For those who'll be heading on out to see the movie version of The Da Vinci Code, here's something to keep an eye out for (besides Rosslyn Chapel etc). Apparently Clive Prince and Lynn Picknett, authors of The Templar Revelation, make a cameo appearance during one of the London scenes - though Clive tells me it's a "blink and you'll miss it" appearance:

The place to look out for is when you see Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou on the top deck of a London bus - we're the passengers immediately behind them. If the plot's the same as the book it'll be towards the end of the movie, getting from Temple Church to the climax at Westminster Abbey. They filmed some close-ups and reaction shots but who knows whether they'll use them - you might end up just seeing our elbows.

The question that begs to be asked, is why Ron Howard and Dan Brown thought Clive and Lynn being in a scene would be a good "in-joke" to have in the film? Perusing the recent London copyright case judgement (PDF) to see the big influences on Brown's research for TDVC probably provides the answer. Clive and Lynn's new book The Sion Revelation is out now (Amazon US and UK), and continues their research on the Priory of Sion and the Rennes-le-Chateau mystery - we'll be featuring some of this in the next issue of Sub Rosa.