Field Guide to Crop Circles

This looks interesting. Strange Attractor's Mark Pilkington has joined forces with Jon Lundberg and Rob Irving of The Circlemakers to create The Field Guide: The Art, History and Philosophy of Crop Circle Making:

Three decades ago, two men in their fifties began flattening circles into the fields of Hampshire and Wiltshire. Little did they know that their Friday night antics would seed an international phenomenon that continues to change people's lives to this day.

Now, in the first book of its kind - part history and part how-to guide - the secrets of the crop circle world are revealed, by the people behind the modern era's most astounding artform.

Sure to cause a stir in the crop circle community, so well worth taking a look at. The website has a PDF press release and also samples of the inside of the book, for those interested. As an aside, there is also an article about the Circlemakers on the Greenpeace website which gives some topical background.

Skeptical Inquirer 30:3

The May/June issue of Skeptical Inquirer has been released - this issue's theme is related to SETI (see my commentary from Sub Rosa Issue 5 on the SETI-CSICOP relationship). As usual the SI website has a number of the articles available for free:

See the SI website for complete details of the latest issue.

News Briefs 18-08-2006

After winning 168 games in a row, chess grandmaster José Raúl Capablanca said, 'I see only one move ahead, but it is always the correct one.' That would be a big improvement for me.

  • Scribbles in Rosslyn's stonework may prove (okay, may be evidence) that ancient Celts circumnavigated the globe. Somebody ring Crichton. Update: Several comments have now been posted beneath this article. #8 is a detailed comment by Crichton E M Miller, author of The Golden Thread of Time. (Amazon UK)
  • Now widely acknowledged as having solved the Poincaré conjecture, Grigory 'Grisha' Perelman will probably be awarded the Fields medal next week, but many believe the brilliant mathematician may spurn the greatest accolade his peers can bestow. Why? Well, he turned down a prestigious European award, supposedly saying those who awarded it weren't qualified to evaluate his work, and he hasn't bothered to claim the Clay Institute's million-dollar award either, even though it would likely be his for the asking.
  • Elusive Proof, Elusive Prover: the Poincaré conjecture explained simply enough that you can at least understand what all the fuss is about.
  • The Expert Mind: Studies of the mental processes of chess grandmasters have revealed clues to how people become experts in other fields as well.
  • Irish tech firm throws down 'free energy' gauntlet: Dublin-based Steorn has placed an advert in The Economist seeking 12 top physicists to examine their technology - based on the interaction of magnetic fields - and publish their results.
  • The influence of Vedic philosophy on Tesla's understanding of free energy.
  • Australia was formed 1.6 billion years ago by the collision of three continents.
  • The 2 percent gene difference between humans and chimps represents at least 15 million changes in our genome since the time of our common ancestor roughly 6 million years ago. One of those changes gave us bigger brains.
  • Your brain boots up like a computer. Mine must still be using Windows 95. It's good to know an upgrade may eventually be possible.
  • Hubble captures images of the faintest stars in the galaxy - the burnt-out relics of ancient celestial objects that formed many billions of years ago. Read it now, save it, or pay-per-view later.
  • Compared with the technology used in earlier efforts, SETI's new instrument is like the difference between a Lexus and an oxcart, but what happens if a signal is found?
  • The Key to Atlantis: The Magic Mushroom. And to think, Jake wrote this without ever having visited TDG. No telling what what he'll come up with now that I've invited him to drop by.
  • Microbe being studied in Scotland threatens to overturn current thinking about the production of greenhouse gases.
  • Has Vic Tandy proved that ghosts are created by low frequency sounds?
  • Several airline passengers snap photos of UFOs following their plane to Moscow.
  • Late psychic Dorothy Allison's 1998 sketch of JonBenet's murderer bears a striking resemblance to recently-arrested Karr. Investigators were led to Karr by emails he wrote containing details about the murder that were never made public. Why have so many people believed the Ramsey's killed their daughter?
  • An interview with Bill Katovsky, author of Patriots Act: Voices of Dissent and the Risk of Speaking Out. Amazon US & UK.
  • 9/11 Live - The NORAD Tapes: How did the US Air Force respond on 9/11? Could it have shot down United 93, as conspiracy theorists claim? Obtaining 30 hours of never-before-released tapes from the control room of NORAD's Northeast headquarters, the author reconstructs the chaotic military history of that day - and the Pentagon's apparent attempt to cover it up.

Thanks to Alex at Pravda, and to Greg. How 'bout that - somebody at Pravda reads TDG. Cool.

Quote of the Day:

You're talking about morality. We don't do morality in the CIA.

Former CIA agent Robert Baer, in Telluride for a talk about oil and war in Iraq. Almost forgot... Baer is the author of See no Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, the book the movie Syriana was based on. Amazon US & UK.

Weekend Roundup 18-08-2006

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


Radio 18-08-2006

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

Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: No schedule at time of posting - check the link later for an update.

Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines, while on the 'early show' Saturday Ian Punnett speaks with nutritionist Kaayla Daniel, PhD, who will share information about soy that the soy industry has tried to suppress. Afterwards, Art Bell chats with author Joshua P. Warren about his latest work on non-human apparitions including pets. Sunday's guest is Freddy Silva, discussing how crop circles help reveal where the veil between worlds is thinnest

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.

Lost Keys of Freemasonry

Following on from their great work with Manly P. Hall's..errr..."Great Work" - The Secret Teachings of All Ages - publisher Tarcher-Penguin are now releasing another of Hall's classics, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry:

The twentieth century's great scholar of occult and esoteric ideas, Manly P. Hall was a Mason himself and nurtured a lifelong interest in the secret fraternal order, making it the focus of one of his earliest and best-loved books, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry. In this celebrated work, he examines the ethical training required of a Freemason, and the character traits a Mason must "build" within himself. Hall's 1923 volume is now reset and made available exclusively in this new edition, along with the author's two further classics on Masonry.

The two 'bonus' books in this edition are Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians (1937), which explores the roots of Freemasonry in the initiatory temple rites of Pharaonic Egypt, and Masonic Orders of Fraternity (1950), a "fascinating work of short history that chronicles the reemergence of Freemasonry in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries."

The book goes on sale on today, and next month at Amazon UK. A must for those interested in esoteric history and Freemasonry.

News Briefs 17-08-2006

Short and sweet today, because it's just too nice a day outside...

  • Another review of Deborah Blum's Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death (Amazon US), this one from the New York Times. Good to see some mainstream exposure on this, although there have been plenty of other very knowledgable researchers who have published on these topics previously.
  • The Great Zawi waters down talk of KV64 discovery by Nicholas Reeves: "Mr. Reeves wants publicity more than conducting his work through a scientific approach". I'll just hand the Pot a mirror to check his colour...
  • 2500-year-old figurines may be predecessors to Terracotta Army.
  • Israel-Hezbollah war endangers archaeological sites and ecosystems. People too, apparently.
  • Strangers in our skies - a guide to UFO sightings in Ireland. Chariots of the leprechauns?
  • Astronomers set to vote on 12 planets for our Solar System.
  • Space Shuttle Atlantis set for launch on August 27th.
  • Crew members of new James Bond film say aeroplane set is haunted. Seems to be a reliable way of getting publicity these days, to claim a haunted set.
  • Can you see the ghost in the library?
  • Big cat stalks Sydney's west-sieede. What's a few westies and Uni students...
  • Fastest evolving human gene is linked to brain development. And I thought it would have been the gene linked to idiotic wars and genocide.
  • Frozen mice parent healthy offspring, redefining the word 'frigid'.
  • Whale fossil sports some seriously scary teeth.
  • Neolithic stone carving of Big Dipper discovered in northwest China.
  • Circles cropping up across county fields. Probably a bit out-dated to call them 'circles' these days...
  • David Copperfield says he's found the elixir of youth. Obviously he's found the elixir of money too....wish I could afford to throw down $50 million on a few islands.

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

I do not think this is a door, and there is nothing behind it.

Zahi Hawass (on the 'Gantenbrink Door')

News Briefs 16-08-06

Way to go Mr. Frisky!

  • Cat drags in new theory on cairns.
  • The forger who fooled the world.
  • NASA borrows ideas from Apollo program.
  • Ancient pyramids found in Ukraine.
  • War paint plant tackles cancer.
  • Scientists gene test traces Pictish roots. How did he manage that?
  • The place of the biblical apocalypse is found.
  • The tribes of Britain: a subtle assimilation.
  • No happy ending for tale of Judge and three psychic dwarves.
  • Mesas with moats.
  • Quadrillion space rocks beyond Neptune.
  • Mammoths may roam again after 27000 years. Has it really been that long? How time flies.
  • CBS 60 Minutes Ahmadinejad Interview.
  • One giant blunder for mankind: how NASA lost moon pictures.
  • Scientists crack Martian chemical activity mystery.
  • Reason and emotion duke it out within the mind.
  • The backward sunspot.
  • Ancient whale truly weird.
  • DNA testing, banking and genetic privacy.
  • Our energy future: a message from Harold Aspden.
  • Dead Sea Scrolls theory faces new challenge.
  • Neolithic stone carving of Big Dipper found in NW China.
  • Planets plan boosts tally to twelve.

Quote of the Day:

Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.


Australian UFO Hoax

Many of you may have seen the 'Australian UFO Wave' website over the past month or so, with its "sensational" footage of UFOs and aliens being 'reported' across Australia. After much skepticism from the UFO research community (and I mean researchers, not gullible believers), not least due to the fact that all reports were anonymous, a new and unexpected development has arisen. Apparently, the Australian UFO Wave was "an experimental digital video project" , funded by the Australian Film Commission (we'll be seeing this on the current affairs programs soon):

Between June and mid-August 2006 thirty-one clips of UFOs were created. The UFO videos were distributed over the internet via websites and video podcasts. Writers crafted background stories for the sightings, and answered thousands of e-mails using a fictional persona. The process, reactions and responses were recorded for a forthcoming documentary.

The project was hugely successful, being viewed by many millions of people. Very few people suspected that the clips were manufactured. Gradually, the level of plausibility was reduced, but only when the last two clips were uploaded did a large number of people get suspicious. It's also worth noting that two of the UFO clips we distributed were quite genuine - and no researcher was able to pick which two they were.

The creators state their belief that the project was "not a hoax or deception, but an immersive artwork". I guess that would depend on your sense of humour. I can see their point, but if I was a UFO researcher with limited time and resources, and I had spent some time on this, I'd be pretty ticked off. Not to mention that it just furthers the field of ufology as one that cannot be trusted, despite there being some excellent researchers out there who have fascinating data.

Tuesday Roundup 15-08-2006

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