Ten Most Fascinating Tombs

Neatorama has a great feature up on the "Ten Most Fascinating Tombs in the World". In there you'll find images and text about places such as Newgrange, Giza (okay, I know what you're going to say about that one), the Capuchin Catacombs, Sedlec Ossuary and the 'City of the Dead' in Russia. The Valley of the Kings is in there as well, and on the basis of my earlier story about Tutankhamun its stocks probably have risen even further. Any other candidates that you think have been overlooked? Post them here, or at Neatorama.

Weekend Roundup 05-10-2007

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


Harris on "Atheism"

In today's news I've posted a link to an opinion piece by Sam Harris in the Washington Post's 'On Faith' section, titled "The Problem with Atheism". As things sometimes get lost in the mass news avalanche that is the TDG news briefs, I thought it worth singling out as being worth a read (and discussion). While I don't agree with all that Sam Harris says, there are a load of great points made in this essay. Harris is still confrontational (when it comes to things he thinks are just plain stupid), but he advocates a less combative approach to strange beliefs, and more an emphasis on promoting the value of "intellectual honesty".

While parts of the essay are largely focused towards removing the stigma attached to (and arguments against) atheism as a philosophy, Harris does touch on another issue which has seen him fall foul of materialist hard-liners such as James Randi:

The last problem with atheism I’d like to talk about relates to the some of the experiences that lie at the core of many religious traditions, though perhaps not all, and which are testified to, with greater or lesser clarity in the world’s “spiritual” and “mystical” literature.

Those of you who have read 'The End of Faith', know that I don’t entirely line up with Dan, Richard, and Christopher in my treatment of these things. So I think I should take a little time to discuss this. While I always use terms like “spiritual” and “mystical” in scare quotes, and take some pains to denude them of metaphysics, the email I receive from my brothers and sisters in arms suggests that many of you find my interest in these topics problematic...

...Leaving aside all the metaphysics and mythology and mumbo jumbo, what contemplatives and mystics over the millennia claim to have discovered is that there is an alternative to merely living at the mercy of the next neurotic thought that comes careening into consciousness. There is an alternative to being continuously spellbound by the conversation we are having with ourselves.

As such, the essay ends up as somewhat of a dichotomy on rationalist thought. Harris begins the essay by extolling the virtue of promoting rational, logical thought, and ends by saying we (and specifically mentioning scientists) should sometimes try and quiet this aspect of our mind, and just 'be', for our 'spiritual' well-being. It's an important thing to note though, as most debates on this question either advocate one or the other, when perhaps it's balance that is needed more than anything. I would casually note as well that Harris's essay brings up another often neglected facet of this debate, in that there is a difference between religious faith, and religious experience.

All in all though, very nice to see someone like Harris exploring these issues, rather than spouting the usual dogmatic utterances against the evils/delusion of religion.

News Briefs 05-10-2007

Tomorrow never comes...

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

It seems to me that intellectual honesty is now, and will always be, deeper and more durable, and more easily spread, than “atheism.”

Sam Harris

Tut, Tut and More Tut

Stories about Tutankhamun abound today, so I thought it would warrant a mention in a standalone news post. Perhaps the biggest news is that Egypt have announced plans to put Tut's mummy (that is, his semi-preserved body - not his mother) on display in his tomb at the Valley of the Kings:

Zahi Hawass, head of the High Council for Antiquities, said he would place the mummy in a climate-controlled glass showcase in the tomb and cover the body with linen. Tutankhamun's bare face would be visible.

"You will enter the tomb and see for the first time the face of Tutankhamun ... This is the first time in history that anyone will see the mummy (in public). This will continue the magic of Tutankhamun."

Also in the news is Zahi's insistence that Tutankhamun "was not black", and also a new discovery of fruit-filled baskets and sealed jars in a chamber next to the boy-king's tomb.

Radio 05-10-2007

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

Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: This week Whitley Strieber interviews William Henry about his new DVD, the Light Body Effect. .

Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines with George Noory. Early show Saturday, "Art Bell- Somewhere in Time" returns to 2/20/02 for a discussion on OBEs and psychic self-defense with Robert Bruce. Afterward, journalist and filmmaker Jon Jefferson discusses murders, mysteries, and forensic science. Sunday's guest is Dianne Arcangel, who will share what people have witnessed in regards to life after death.

More details including relevant websites are available at the linked pages above. You can listen to C2C live, or to recent archived shows, at CJOB.com. Dreamland is freely available at their website, and also now offers a podcast of the most recent show.

Skeptical Inquirer 31:4

The July/August 2007 issue of Skeptical Inquirer has been released, and as usual there is an assortment of articles from the print mag available freely online:

More free content besides, check out the full contents list of the print mag at the Skeptical Inquirer website.

C2C Online Listening

A quick tip: if you're only occasionally interested in Coast to Coast AM programs (ie. you're not interested in listening to Richard Hoagland, Ed Dames and others ad nauseum), you can listen online to the program via CJOB.com. Not only live, but the site also has programs archived on the site as well - in hourly instalments - which makes it easy to pick out the parts of the program you want to listen to.

Just remember that CJOB broadcasts C2C from 12am, so if you want to listen to a Friday night broadcast, you'll have to select Saturday as the date (eg. to listen to the Graham Hancock interview from last Friday night, select 1am, Saturday the 29th (Graham turns up around 10mins in).

News Briefs 04-10-2007

Should be able to give you a sneak peek at the upcoming Daily Grail anthology tomorrow (and a name)...

Thanks Rick.

Quote of the Day:

I hope that nations can at last see better reasons for exploring space, and that future decisions would be informed by intelligence and reason, not the macho-nationalism that fuelled the early Space Race.

Arthur C. Clarke

CPAK This Weekend

Just a heads-up that CPAK 2007 is on this weekend in San Diego - if you're in the vicinity, make sure you get down there to check out the stellar line-up (Hancock, Bauval, West, Schoch etc):

The mission of CPAK 2007 is to investigate the myth, folklore, archaeology and astronomy of ancient cultures with the goal of better understanding our true history. Research shows many ancient societies lived much closer to nature than we do and they had a deep understanding of geometry, astronomy and reverence for the heavens. New evidence indicates that celestially aligned megalithic structures may have a profound agricultural purpose. We should try to understand all we can about these nature based cultures as it appears there might be lost knowledge important to civilization today.

Tickets and additional information are available at the website. Unfortunately, the costs of travel were just too high for me to justify making it over there - I was real keen to do the CPAK/IRVA conference double (which feature a host of my favourite writer/researchers between them). There's always next year I guess...