Weekend Roundup 19-01-2008

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


Tomb of Jesus Follow-up

Time has a follow-up on last year's news about the alleged discovery of the 'Tomb of Jesus' (with movie director James Cameron backing the expedition). The story takes a look at a recent conference of Biblical scholars, organised by leading New Testament expert Prof. James Charlesworth, who gathered to discuss the finding/theory:

After three days of fierce debate, the experts remained deeply divided. Opinion among a panel of five experts ranged from "no way" to "very possible". Charlesworth told TIME: "I have reservations, but I can't dismiss the possibility that this tomb was related to the Jesus clan." Weighing the evidence, says Charlesworth, "we can tell that this was the tomb of a Jewish family from the time of Jesus. And we know that the names on the ossuaries are expressed the correct way as 'Jesus, son of Joseph.'" But the professor has a few doubts. "The name on Jesus's ossuary was scrawled on, like graffiti. There was no ornamentation. And there should have been. After all, his followers believed he was the Son of God."

There was at least one new revelation to come out of the conference: The widow of Joseph Gat, the chief archeologist of the 1980 excavation, told attendees "My husband believed that this was Jesus's tomb, but because of his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, he was worried about a backlash of anti-Semitism and he didn't think he could say this."

News Briefs 18-01-2008


Thanks Kat and Baldrick.

Quote of the Day:

Lisa: What's Santa's Little Helper doin' to that dog?

Bart: Looks like he's trying to jump over her, but he can't quite make it. (shouting) Go on, boy! You can do it!

The Simpsons ('Two Dozen and One Greyhounds')

Radio 18-01-2008

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

Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: This week Nostradamus expert John Hogue gives his predictions for 2008.

Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines as well as Linda Moulton Howe discussing extinction of Coral Reefs and the ongoing decline of amphibians. Early show Saturday "Art Bell- Somewhere in Time" returns to 4/10/97 for a discussion on reincarnation with Elizabeth Claire Prophet, followed by Glenn Kimball on new information on the history and origins of the Koran and ancient libraries. On Sunday Michael Horn will discuss new evidence to support the authenticity of Billy Meier's claims.

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.

Alien Signal No More

In yesterday's news I reported on a story suggesting that SETI had received an alien message. I also pointed out that Phil Plait (from the Bad Astronomy blog) had talked to SETI's Seth Shostak and clarified that it was all a misunderstanding. To finalise all that, the original story has now been pulled and replaced with a clarification. Seems there was more wrong in the story than right.

News Briefs 17-01-2008

You are getting sleeeepy....

Quote of the Day:

NASA scientist: Maybe we should finally tell them the big secret - that all the chimps we sent into space came back super intelligent.

Chimp in suit on rollerskates: No. I don't think we'll be telling them that.

'The Simpsons' ("Deep Space Homer")

Counterknowledge and Criticism

A new skeptical book by Telegraph writer Damian Thompson titled Counterknowledge (Amazon US and UK) has been getting plenty of publicity in the UK lately, mainly through Thompson's recent articles in the paper in which he rants about various aspects of the alternative genre, from 'hidden history' to conspiracies and alternative medicine.

In "Lies, Damn Lies and 'Counterknowledge'", and "How Da Vinci Code tapped pseudo-fact hunger", Thompson goes on the warpath against us credulous and idiotic people interested in fringe topics, as well as publishers and authors who market and profit these apparent falsehoods. Graham Hancock gets his own mention, as do 9/11 conspiracies and Afrocentrism.

As part of my time as 'Author of the Month' at Graham Hancock's website, I put forth my thoughts on Thompson's views (in which I agree with some of his comments in principle, but take issue with plenty else). Graham himself stopped by as well, to give a response of sorts to his inclusion in one of the Telegraph articles. Graham writes:

Secret History of Space Mission Patches

The Space Review has a pretty cool two-page article up on the decoding the symbolism of mission patches found on spacecraft and satellite launches. Titled "Secrets and Signs", the article avoids Hoaglandesque Masonic conspiracies, but all the same does point out that there is plenty of symbolism to be read into the patches:

These examples demonstrate that for probably three decades or more it has been common for those involved in classified satellite launches to fill their logos and mission patches with all kinds of information, including exactly the kind of information that the NRO will never provide to the press or in response to questions.

Written by aerospace journalist Roger Guillemette and space historian Dwayne Day, it's easy to read but gives a fascinating insight into things that are hidden right before our eyes. Space conspiracy theory skeptics *and* believers can probably take as much out of the article as each other...

News Briefs 16-01-2008

I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, and I might be sitting on something spiky.

Thanks Greg and Kat.

Quote of the Day:

Frank Warren: With the benefit of hindsight, if we could go back . . . what would you have liked to see happen?

Mike Fortson: Well, first of all I would have liked to have seen my ass moving quickly and retrieving a video camera and taping the massive V shaped craft as it passed in front of us. I truly believe this would have ended any speculation that what we and thousands of other Arizonians witnessed that night was something other than flares, planes, blimps or balloons. I really apologize to the world that I did not think clearly and failed to react, as I should have. Instead I just stared and was somewhat paralyzed to the impossible craft I was witnessing.

Other than that, I would like to have seen the media react with a more keen awareness that something spectacular did happen. I would have liked to see them treat our fellow citizens with more respect and accept the fact that “they” (the media) are not the only ones with eyes and a brain.

Interview with Mike Fortson, Phoenix Lights UFO witness

Future Speculations

Many people like to speculate on what will happen in the next decade, or century. How many will put money on it though? Over at the Long Bets Project, you can see exactly who is willing to bet the farm (or at least, a few thousand dollars for charity) that they know what's going to happen:

Long Bets is a public arena for enjoyably competitive predictions, of interest to society, with philanthropic money at stake. The foundation furnishes the continuity to see even the longest bets through to public resolution. This website provides a forum for discussion about what may be learned from the bets and their eventual outcomes.

Personages including Ray Kurzweil, Freeman Dyson, Michio Kaku and Brian Eno have thrown down, and the subjects cover everything from artificial intelligence to extraterrestrial life and the Yeti.