News Briefs 14-03-2006

Something wicked this way comes. Or maybe it’s just the imminent arrival of Sub Rosa Issue 4….

  • Dan Brown takes the witness stand in DVC court case, and scorns copy claim. Also – Richard Leigh admits to ‘hijacking‘.
  • British Rail patented fusion-powered ‘UFO’ craft (well, strictly speaking it wouldn’t be unidentified) in the 1970s. More on the story here.
  • NASA and Google take you to Mars. They can remember it for you, wholesale.
  • Phoenix Lights still debated.
  • Why do we think aliens are made of water? I’m hoping they’re made of chocolate, although it won’t do much for inter-galactic relations.
  • Searching for Civil War spirits. Nothing like the high-tech approach, drawing them out with “little pieces of beef jerky and chewing tobacco”.
  • Contact with the dead can be an aid to healing. Perhaps the beef jerky has medicinal properties?
  • World’s oldest observatory unearthed in Iran.
  • Valley of the Kings find was a mummification chamber, not a tomb.
  • News video of excavation in Egypt unearthing Sekhmet statues.
  • Stolen Afghan artifacts found by the ton in Great Britain.
  • Mass extinctions: A threat from outer space, or just our own planet’s detox? Mom’s comin’ round to put it back the way it ought to be…
  • Doubts cast on the much vaunted return of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker.
  • ’Mental typewriter’ that can read minds goes on display at tech show.
  • Jogging on your own may not be good for your brain.
  • Ecstasy causes depression in pigs. No wonder I never see pigs having fun at raves.
  • Long term marijuana use may…um…fog that thing on top of your head…what’s it called again? Ah, the brain.
  • Researchers identify new form of superior memory syndrome.
  • Optic nerve regrown with nanofibre scaffold.
  • Model of Ice Age ice sheets may preview the next global climate change.
  • Scientists close to breaking the carbon barrier and creating artificial life.
  • Ig Nobel winners go on tour with their whacky science.
  • Satellite sleuth searches for Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat. Exclusive to… Looking for that Fundamentalist demographic…a huge market.
  • Super-Earth discovered orbiting distant sun. I feel so inadequate now.
  • UFO contest wants you to fake it. The photo that is.
  • Conspiracy theories offer people a way to cope. Sure, another mainstream article covering up the truth by explaining away conspiracy theories as a mental construct! You don’t fool me!
  • Internet blows CIA covers. Internet reveals poem sent to it by Scooter Libby (“Online, where you reside, the servers will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their name servers connect them. Come back to work — and life.”).
  • Cate Blanchett to reprise her role as Elizabeth I in a new film looking at the later life of the ‘Virgin Queen’. I’m guessing the name of the sequel won’t be Elizabeth II though. Perhaps another sequel after this concentrating on her relationship with John Dee would be cool?
  • Woman turns on kitchen tap to find beer running into her sink. Now that would get guys to wash up a little more often.

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

Galileo Galilei

  1. Da Vinci Code
    Would it be too cynical to consider the possibility that the authors of HBHG and Dan Brown got together and decided a lawsuit would be a great way to get tons of publicity for all their books?!?

    1. tons of publicity…
      I can’t say the same thought hasn’t passed my mind too. They all are getting tons of publicity – and book sales have skyrocketed accordingly – but not all the publicity is what I would call good. The latest Guardian update certainly isn’t very flattering:

      The day Dan Brown struggled to follow the high court plot

      – Da Vinci Code author is ‘baffled’ on witness stand
      – Wife does my research, he tells QC in plagiarism case

      Tuesday March 14, 2006
      [Kat’s excerpts…]

      The Da Vinci Code runs to 593 pages in paperback, but chapter 27 takes up only one and a half pages. “I have a very short concentration span,” the best-selling novelist of all time said disarmingly yesterday. “That’s why I write in short chapters.”

      The biggest twist in the plot so far was how jaunty he was yesterday; last week he sat in court apparently rooted to the spot, barely seeming to breathe, watching the ferocious cross-examination of Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who accuse him of stealing the research and theories from their book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.

      Yesterday when his turn came, he was positively chirpy, chatting and smiling with his legal team. He bounced on to the witness stand.

      He found much of the questioning baffling, and said so. “I am trying very hard to understand what you are asking me,” he said cheerfully to Baigent and Leigh’s QC, Jonathan Rayner James, “but I just can’t.”

      By his account, Blythe Brown, who is not in court and will not be giving evidence, emerged as a one-woman research factory, digesting books and passing them on to him covered in footnotes, emailing him from her separate office in the same house, and dumping on his desk voluminous printouts of her trawls through the internet, underlined and marked “Dan, read all” – instructions which he might or might not comply with.

      The [witness] statement finally confirms that the character Sir Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code is indeed an anagram of Baigent and Leigh – “a playful tribute” is how he describes it. But as for their book, he said he found it “extremely detailed and hard to read”, and insisted that he still hasn’t managed to read it in full.

      I can’t decide whether the article’s author is merely being as cynical as we are, is jealous of how much money he’s made, or just thinks Brown’s a moron. I don’t know about you, but I’d be mortified if something like this were written about me – and my excerpt leaves out some of the author’s less flattering observations. Then again, maybe I’d be happily embarrassed all the way to the bank. As the old Hollywood cliche says, any publicity is good publicity.

      If the suit was a joint decision, I can’t say I blame them – this trial certainly makes me wish I’d hung on to my first edition copy of HBHG instead of donating it to Goodwill many years ago.


      1. Is Brown a liar?
        Why create the character Leigh Teabing as a playful tribute to Baigent and Leigh if HBHG wasn’t an important part of Brown’s research, and he didn’t even finish the book? That just doesn’t make sense. If, as Brown claims, other books formed bigger parts of TDVC, then why aren’t there “playful” anagrams of other author names? Hrmmm.

        I also clearly remember Brown stating in a television interview that he created Leigh Teabing as a tribute to Baigent and Leigh because their book HBHG was such an important influence. And now he’s saying he didn’t even finish reading HBHG!

        And is Brown claiming the theories in TDVC are his own, the result of research conducted by he and his wife? That’s how Brown’s comments come across to me. In which case, Leigh Teabing do have a case.

        I don’t trust Brown, I don’t trust Leigh Teabing, and I certainly don’t trust Random House. This is a kangaroo court, and alarm bells are going off in my gut.

  2. Tunguska Event cause of global warming
    Earlier today, I tried to send this article to Greg for today’s news, but first, the link wouldn’t work, and then for some unknown reason, they suddenly pulled the story entirely – though not before I’d sent them an email about the broken link. Just now, I received an email from, with a new link, so here it is for you lot. 😉

    Greenhouse theory smashed by biggest stone: Tunguska Event to blame for global warming.

    Bill, you’re gonna love it!


    1. Tunguska Event / Global Warming
      Hi Kat,

      You’re right, I do love it. Global Warming with CO2 as a cause is modern mythology.

      Something may be causing the Earth to warm, but it’s not carbon dioxide. Ice core evidence indicates that warming is a cyclical event; increased solar activity may be part of that yet-to-be understood cycle.The Tunguska Event could also be a contributor.

      Why didn’t the Russians listen to Vladimir Shaidurov of the Russian Academy of Sciences but instead signed the silly Kyoto Treaty?


          1. Global Cooling
            The problem with Global Warming not being caused by humankind is thus — it makes people think that it’s okay to burn fossil fuels, to pollute the air and water and earth with cars and factories and toxic waste.

            Mark my words, Bill — people aren’t motivated enough to clean up their acts just so we’ll have clean water and air supplies. They’ll only be motivated if there’s a definite connection between human activities and Global Warming that threatens their lives. If their lives aren’t in danger from extreme climate change, then they’ll just shrug their shoulders and ignore the real problems of pollution.

            Anyways, I hope you get some rain soon, but not the acid type! I’d send you some, but we need rain down here desperately.


          2. Global control
            Hi Rick,

            Using a lie (GW and CO2) to manipulate people only works if people are uninformed or if they remain that way. These days there are too many channels for the truth to remain hidden. Then the credibility of those that perpetuate the lie (like Greanpeace) goes down the proverbial toilet. Even the stuff that they say about real pollution gets ignored.

            Pass pollution laws and enforce them. Most folks don’t want to drink dirty water or breath foul air. But linking real pollution to GW fairy tales is counter-productive when the truth surfaces.

            Chicken Little and the Boy That Cried Wolf can offer you some sage advice here.


          3. global warming, peak oil, and more
            A serious problem with a lot of the Green movement is that they often tie the recognition of real environmental problems to politically motivated attempts at solitions, when those solutions will not work.

            There are real environmental problems. These are all technical problems. All of them.

            Some of these problems are due to industrial pollution. Water and air and soil are not safe in many places. These are technical problems. We will not solve them by, for example, moving from market oriented economies to socialist planned economies.

            We will not solve any of these problems by using less technology. Our only hope is better technology.

            So let us start.

        1. No One Is Shilling For The Oil Companies!

          Solid academic research has raised serious questions about the CO2 Theory! Findings seem to debunk the CO2 Theory which wasn’t researched well enough to begin with. But, with more research, we will be able to gain a better understanding of Global Warming!

          Oh, for the record, if I was shilling for anyone, it would be the Tobbaco Companies! I’d hike a kilometer for a _________! (Disclaimer:Any resembalance to a Tobbaco Advert is purely coincidental!) Why am I thinking of Dan Brown?

          What do you think?


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