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

Fortean Times Sale

Alistair from Fortean Times has sent over a quick note:

I've just put up a book sale on the FT site. The books have been priced ludicrously cheap, and we've thrown in some nice giveaways with it.

Anybody in the UK should have a quick look. If you're in Australia like me, due to the Dollar-Pound conversion I think the cheapest costs $342,999 (okay, I'm exaggerating...just a little).

News Briefs 21-03-07

Perhaps when those pyramid doors are opened there will be more evidence of the pyramids being young.

Quote of the Day:

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.

H.L. Mencken

Opening the Chinese Tombs

Debate has reopened in China as to whether the tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shi Huang should be excavated. Zhang Wuchang, a respected economist, says that "the cultural enlightenment from excavating the tomb of Qin Shi Huang will surpass the pyramids of Egypt," adding that an added benefit would be that tourism revenues to the area would also double.

The burial place of Qin Shi Huang is currently best known as the imperial tomb that accompanies the famed Terracotta Warriors, and which lies beneath one of the 'Chinese Pyramids'. However, there may be far more of note hidden beneath this structure, with historical records from less than a century after the emperor's death telling of a map of the heavens with stars represented by pearls, and on the floor of the tomb a map of China with the rivers and seas represented by flowing mercury. The latter at least may well be true, as surveys have shown high levels of mercury in the area.

As befits a king with his own pyramid, it is said that Qin Shi Huang was obsessed with finding the key to immortality, which led him to embark on numerous quests and 'trials' (including sex with multiple partners - though abstaining from climax, and also the drinking of mercury - before its ill effects were known). Many western archaeologists also think that the lack of excavation of Qin Shi Huang's tomb is based not so much in concerns about preservation, but in Chinese traditions and warnings about disturbing the dead...especially one so powerful in life. Certainly, if it ever happens, this will be one of the great archaeological excavations of this century.

If this topic interests you, I thoroughly recommend the video I've posted today, The First Emperor - a great documentary.

Tuesday Roundup 20-03-2007

A strange assortment to get you through the week...


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.

Power of Prayer Debate Continues

The debate over scientific proof of the 'power of prayer' is set to continue, with recent news that a meta-analysis of all experiments done so far shows a positive effect (ignore the headline of the story...the experiments do not mention anything about a 'God' being involved). David R. Hodge, an assistant professor of social work in the College of Human Services at Arizona State University, analysed the results of 17 major studies on the effects of intercessory prayer on people with psychological or medical problems:

"Some people feel Benson and associates’ study from last year, which is the most recent and showed no positive effects for intercessory prayer, is the final word," said Hodge, referring to a 2006 article by Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School that measured the therapeutic effect of intercessory prayer in cardiac bypass patients. "But, this research suggests otherwise. This study enables us to look at the big picture. When the effects of prayer are averaged across all 17 studies, controlling for differences in sample sizes, a net positive effect for the prayer group is produced."

This debate has been going on for some time (see for example this CNN story, and a Skeptical Inquirer commentary, from seven years ago). Benson's study was quite comprehensive, but no doubt this new meta-analysis will set off more argument and counter-argument. I guess key to its impact is the quality of studies which were part of the analysis.

Radio 20-03-2007

Here's the alternative radio schedule for the first half of the week.

Fate Radio: This week is an encore presentation of Hilly Rose talking to America's most famous witch, Raymond Buckland (Real Audio or mp3).

Coast to Coast AM: First hour Monday, researcher William Warwick shares an update on the Phoenix Lights, then author Whitley Strieber discusses his forthcoming novel, 2012: The War for Souls. Afterwards George talks to Ed Neil, who is an expert on the details, history, and on-going investigation of one of the nation's most notorious cold cases - The Zodiac Killer. On Tuesday, Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, Dr. Geoffrey Simmons, will discuss evolution, and evidence that the complexity of human anatomy could not have developed by chance. Wednesday's guest is Olav Phillips, who will talk about how he is using technology to explore and quantify the sea of information about UFOs and the unexplained. Thursday is still TBA (check the link for updates).

More details including relevant guest links are available at the C2C website.

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

Paul Smith on British MoD Remote Viewing

A new article here on TDG: I've added a commentary from remote viewing expert Paul Smith (current President of the International Remote Viewing Association) titled "They Think They Know", on the recent revelations that the British Ministry of Defense explored intelligence gathering in a similar manner to the US army/CIA/DIA Project Stargate. Smith, a former Major in the US army's intelligence service, and author of the well-known "Co-ordinate Remote Viewing" manual, gives his thoughts on the scientific validity of the experiments, and on the media's coverage of the news.