In 1938 Nicholas Winton Took a Holiday in Prague, and Saved the Lives of 669 Children

Today marks the 106th birthday of the remarkable Sir Nicholas Winton. In 1938, Winton took it upon himself to go on a 'holiday' to Prague, and through forgery, blackmail and bribes managed to send 669 children - mostly Jewish Czechs - to England before the Nazis moved in to enact their 'Final Solution'.

As an example of how many extraordinary historical stories we remain oblivious to on a daily basis, Winton's story was unknown for the best part of 50 years - not least because he himself didn't bother telling anyone about it. Even his wife, who only learned of what he had done after finding an odd scrapbook in their attic with information about the operation.

After learning of the story, in 1988 the BBC lured 'Nicky' to a taping of their show That's Life "under false pretences", and surprised him by reuniting him with a number of the children whose lives he had saved. Below you can find video of that moment.

Happy 106th good sir. A living example of how one person's actions can make an extraordinary difference - we can but only try to emulate his good works.

News Briefs 18-05-2014

Hope they were wearing brown underwear...

Thanks @CristobalMusic.

Quote of the Day:

Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

Dr. Seuss

Crowdfunder: The Ghetto Tarot

The Ghetto Tarot

Anyone familiar with the tarot knows there are now a vast number of interpretations of the famous esoteric card deck. But a new crowdfunding campaign has a fascinating angle on it, recreating tarot imagery via photographs of people living in a Haitian ghetto:

What is the Ghetto Tarot?

The Ghetto Tarot is a photographic interpretation of the traditional tarot deck in the ghetto. The scenes are inspired by the Rider Waite Tarot deck (originally designed in 1909 by artist Pamela Colman Smith) and are replicated together with a group of Haitian artists called Atis Rezistans (resistant artists) in the Haitian slums using only material we were able to find or create locally. On several cards we used the artists art, that includes symbolism from the Voodoo religion to embody the important meaning of the cards original symbols.

While the cards were designed many years ago with the situations of the time when the world was very different, they resonate today with timeless symbols that can be applied to our busy modern world. And not just our modern, western world, but also to any other continent, country or culture, including the Haitian Ghetto. So here comes a temporary, provocative and vivid tarot deck!

The campaign is already a success (at the time of writing, it already has four times its funding goal!), but if you'd like to contribute and get your own Ghetto Tarot, you've still got a week to get in before it comes to an end.

Link: The Ghetto Tarot

Review: Mad Max - Fury Road

This is a review of the reboot of Mad Max, Fury Road. You're reading this and you want to know exactly two things.

First of all, is this a film that holds up against the original series? Is it the action packed, fuel injected, chromed out post-apocalyptic vehicular mayhem tale worthy of bearing the name? Yes. Unquestionably, unequivocally: YES. This is a film that never stops. From the very beginning until the end there's no pause, just a shifting of gears. It's an unrelenting, frenetic action piece. Gloriously shot and edited. Full of incredible set pieces and props and character design. Like, did you see that guy with the guitar providing a soundtrack for us from within the universe? Just, whoa! There's details like that throughout the whole film. And it was probably made all the better for its relocation to Namibia and long production time. This isn't a film for the Fast & Furious generation, it's a reminder that Max was the first road warrior, and they've just been keeping the signal fire burning. He's back now to carry the torch and light the way.

The second question then, if you're still reading this, if you need to know anything else: is there any more to it than that? YES! Yes, there is. And this is the focus of the rest of my review. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

George Miller could have just delivered something resembling an elaborate cut scene from the Borderlands video game and been done with it. There's definitely an audience out there for that kind of material. But he didn't stop there, no; he imbued the entire thing with a rich mythology and an important message.

While this is a story very much situated in what we immediately recognise to be Mad Max's universe, the tale it tells is all about Furiosa's journey. Max is in fact barely present in the story. He's on the screen a lot, he's just not... ... Read More »

News Briefs 15-05-2015

“The great cycle of periods is born anew.”

Quote of the Day:

“Blessed is he who has been able to win knowledge of the causes of things.”

Virgil

News Briefs 14-05-2015

...Does this mean I get a refund?

Thanks to Paul Revans, Chuckycabra and the Roswell Slides Research Group (RSRG)

Quote of the Day:

"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact"

~Arthur Conan Doyle

News Briefs 13-05-2015

You cannot step twice into the same news stream...

Quote of the Day:

I only answer to two people, myself and God.

M. C. Escher

Graham Hancock's Magicians of the Gods

Magicians of the Gods

The release date has been set for Magicians of the Gods, the much-anticipated sequel to Graham Hancock's 1995 'alternative history' bestseller Fingerprints of the Gods - September 10 this year - and the book is now available for pre-order from Amazon US and
Amazon UK.

In a statement published at The Bookseller, Graham says:

When I published Fingerprints of the Gods in 1995 I didn’t expect the immensely enthusiastic public response to the book or the furious academic backlash that followed. Twenty years on, however, Fingerprints has weathered all attempts to ‘debunk’ it and powerful scientific evidence has emerged to support the case it makes for a great lost civilization destroyed by a global cataclysm at the end of the last Ice Age. It’s because this evidence is so compelling, and so new, with such revolutionary implications for our understanding of history, that I’ve written Magicians of the Gods.

Get in!

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Skeptical Thoughts on the Atheist & Skeptic Movements

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Richard Dawkins hasn't sent a Christmas Festivus card to fellow skeptic & atheist Massimo Pigliucci for years now. The Professor of Philosophy & editor-in-chief of Scientia Salon isn't afraid to turn the blowtorch of skepticism on itself, and call out the double standards of those who lead and the blind faith of those who follow. Pigliucci recently published this op-ed piece, and it's well worth a read.

"Here's what I find unpleasant about SAM [skeptic and atheist movements]: a community who worships celebrities who are often intellectual dilettantes, or at the very least have a tendency to talk about things of which they manifestly know very little; an ugly undertone of in-your-face confrontation and I’m-smarter-than-you-because-I-agree-with [insert your favorite New Atheist or equivalent]; loud proclamations about following reason and evidence wherever they may lead, accompanied by a degree of groupthink and unwillingness to change one’s mind that is trumped only by religious fundamentalists; and, lately, a willingness to engage in public shaming and other vicious social networking practices any time someone says something that doesn’t fit our own opinions, all the while of course claiming to protect “free speech” at all costs."

Pigliucci might not be winning many friends in the skeptic movements; but I'm sure he's not losing any sleep over it because importantly, he's winning minds. With Dawkins embarrassing himself in recent years, PZ Myers getting sex wrong, and James Randi pooh-poohing actual science, it's little wonder many are tiring of their boorishness and hypocrisy.

Tip o' the hat to Rob Brezsny.

And to Greg who posted this in Tuesday's news briefs.