Although it was released way back in 2000, I watched the movie Thirteen Days (DVD, Amazon US & UK) for the first time this weekend. Based on the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, I found it absolutely riveting. But for greater depth and accuracy on the subject, I'm planning to read The Kennedy Tapes (Amazon US & UK) and One Hell of a Gamble (Amazon US & UK). As the movie's tagline says, you'll never believe how close we came.
- Two fossils in Kenya have shaken the human family tree, possibly rearranging major branches thought to be in a straight ancestral line to Homo sapiens.
- Stone Age settlement found in English Channel is being washed away.
- The remains of a massive Neolithic settlement dating back more than 5,000 years have been discovered in Orkney.
- New research says it's the way genes are used that accounts for the striking differences between humans and chimps.
- Timbuktu hopes its ancient texts will spark a revival.
- Foam tile gouges three-and-a-half-inch hole in space shuttle. NASA weighs risky repair.
- China reveals first astronaut's brush with death.
- There's Helium-3 in them thar hills: China to map 'every inch' of the moon.
- Earth to go splat on the sun like a bug on a windshield. From Pravda, but how could I resist such a great headline?
- Dust 'comes alive' in space.
- How did the Universe begin?
- What causes gravity?
- What is it that keeps Earth’s plates oiled and on the move?
- Is glass a solid, or merely an extremely slow moving liquid?
- The race is on to detect dark matter. Shouldn't they be searching for dark energy instead?
- Physicists take a trip to the nuclear 'island of inversion', where the normal rules of physics don't apply to some radioactive elements.
- Pfizer in Nigeria: Drugs, poverty, and ignorance collide.
- Scientists are trying a plumber’s approach to rid the brain of the amyloid buildup that plagues Alzheimer’s patients: Simply drain the toxic protein away.
- Analysts see 'simply incredible' shrinking of floating ice in the Arctic. Canada to turn to military might in Arctic scramble.
- Ancient microorganisms, long frozen in glaciers, may return to life as the glaciers melt.
- After oil and gas, Sahara sunshine?
- Study says sunspots - or the slight brightening of the sun that goes along with them - may be linked to heavy rains, flooding, and even outbreaks of bug-borne disease in East Africa.
- Trees won't fix global warming.
- Resolved: Public corporations shall take us seriously.
- If you've consoled yourself with the thought that there's more to life than being really goodlooking, you're in for a shock from new research.
- Sure, we've all wanted to see a close-up, in-focus UFO video -- but is this one real or fake?
- The dream of time travel. Mallett's Time Traveler: A Scientist's Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality is available at Amazon US & UK.
Quote of the Day:
In Fort Worth on the morning of the day he died, John F. Kennedy and his wife discussed the risks that a President inevitably faces when he makes public appearances. What Kennedy said was mentally recorded by his special assistant, Kenneth O'Donnell, who repeated it to the Warren Commission: "If anybody really wanted to shoot the President of the U.S., it was not a very difficult job—all one had to do was get a high building some day with a telescopic rifle, and there was nothing anybody could do to defend against such an attempt." A few minutes later, Kennedy departed for Dallas.
First paragraph of Time's 'The Warren Commission Report', published Oct. 2, 1964.
Another guest article here on TDG this week, with Colm Kelleher and George Knapp contributing an essay which asks "Skinwalkers: What Are They?". With a number of books, movies and TV shows using the concept of the skinwalker recently, Colm and George give a bit of a rundown on the mythology behind the term: both were intimately involved in the 'Skinwalker Ranch' investigation by Robert Bigelow's National Institute of Discovery Science, and afterwards co-wrote the book Hunt for the Skinwalker (Amazon US and Amazon UK). Just don't read this feature article late at night with no-one else about...
A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...
- Michael Prescott tells "How Martin Gardner Bamboozled His Readers" (a criticism of Gardner's often cited 'debunking' of Leonora Piper). I have added my own comments directly following Michael's excellent blog post.
- Cabinet of Wonders discusses Theosophy's influence on the revival of cremation as a funeral option in the West.
- The latest podcast from the Psychedelic Salon is Susan Blackmore's lecture "Consciousness Isn't What It Seems To Be".
- Andrew Gough's Arcadia website has a new guest article by Corjan de Raaf, titled "Last Message of the Initiate Jean Cocteau".
- Jeff Wells writes about synchronicities and conspiracies in the latest entry at Rigorous Intuition.
- Erowid.org has Jon Hanna's review of Tripping: An Anthology of True-life Psychedelic Adventures, by Charles Hayes (originally from Entheogen Review). You can find out more about the book at the official website.
- Filip Coppens writes about the Great Pyramid in the latest article on his website.
- The new Skeptico podcast is with Tibetan Buddhism scholar Dr B. Alan Wallace, who discusses consciousness, meditation, and skepticism.
- Anthony North goes "In Search of One" at Beyond the Blog.
- The latest eSkeptic newsletter gets hot and steamy over Bonobo sex.
- UFO Area has a piece on the "Mystery of Arkaim Town".
- The August MAPS news update is now available.
- Filer's Files #32 has the latest ufological roundup.
Happy birthday to our good friend Mark James Foster, currently hard at work on the design of our anthology for us!
- What do people over 50 think about life after death?
- What's with that white light? A look at near death experiences, as part of the feature above.
- Discovery of Middle Asia cities recasts ancient history.
- Hitler's 'Desert Island Discs' turn up in Russian soldier's attic. Or should that be 'Berlin Bunker Discs'?
- Chameleon furniture changes colour to match the cutlery and dishes - or your weight. My furniture would be getting ever darker...
- Physicists discover inorganic dust with life-like qualities.
- Contra Stephen Hawking, time travel may just be possible in the future. And therefore in the past as well?
- Crop circles to be debated at weekend conference.
- Scientists produce functioning neurons from human embryonic stem cells.
- DARPA robots to race in suburbia.
- Caring less could be the best thing you could do to help endangered species. I'm pretty good at the apathy thing, so I guess that makes me a conservationist.
- Also: should we worry about extinctions, or are they just a part of evolution?
- Climate model suggests heat records will be smashed in the next ten years.
- And: NG has a photo essay on the record-breaking weather pounding the planet.
Quote of the Day:
When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers. I will select their good qualities and follow them, their bad qualities and avoid them.
Here's the rundown on the radio schedules for the second half of the week:
Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: This week William Henry interviews Bruce Burgess and Renee Barnett about their new film, Bloodline.
Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines. Early show Saturday is ' Art Bell- Somewhere in Time', featuring an interview with Major Ed Dames from 5/30/96. Afterward, Ian Punnett talks to Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D. about his most recent work on energy healing experiments. Sunday's guest is Bruce Lipton, discussing the molecular basis of consciousness and the future of human evolution.
More details including relevant websites are available at the linked pages above. Remember also that while Coast to Coast is subscription, Dreamland is free. Dreamland also now offers a podcast of the most recent show.
The latest issue of New Dawn Magazine (#103) has now been released, and as usual the ND folk have some free offerings from the latest mag as tasters for the full deal:
- "The Real Secret of The Secret", by Richard Smoley: The inside story of Rhonda Byrne's hugely popular book and DVD The Secret. Richard Smoley uncovers what's really behind The Secret and explains how you can manifest your true will...
- "The Lost Lands of Mu and Lemuria - Was Australia Once Part of a Sunken Continent?", by Brian Haughton: Was there once a lost land located in the southern Pacific or Indian Oceans? Brian Haughton, author of a recent book on hidden history, examines the story of Lemuria and asks, was Australia once part of this sunken ancient continent?
Also newly available from New Dawn is their Special Issue #3, which is packed full of articles on everything from telepathy, to hidden history and reincarnation (see the link for full line-up). Remember that you can order New Dawn on their website, or if you're an Australian, both new issues should be available in your local newsagent.
Editorial note: the New Dawn crew have gone out of their way to support the Daily Grail over the past couple of years (for example, the current banner ad), which we appreciate very much. Worth keeping in mind if you're looking to buy a mag...
Military and Intel news dominates, with subtopics of secrets, murderers, torturers, and Christians. Mix and match as you please...
- Yahoo profiles John Greenewald Jr. in their 'People of the Web' feature, who maintains the website The Black Vault (story has an attached video).
- Is the CIA responsible for a number of mysterious deaths some 50 years ago, including that of Secretary of the Navy, and possible MJ12 member, James Forrestal? For more background, see Richard Dolan's essay on Forrestal.
- Conspiracy-inclined investigator of Robert Kennedy's death Dr William A. Bailey passes away aged 68.
- Psychologists at centre of military/intel torture allegations.
- Army and Air Force officers face disciplinary action for appearing in Christian fundraising video.
- 'Strong probability' that foot-and-mouth outbreak originated in lab.
- Scientist suggests that Jesus was able to walk on water because freak weather conditions made the Sea of Galilee ice over. This one ranks up there with the explanation of freak wind conditions allowing the Red Sea to part for Moses. So very sad when scientists feel the need to scientifically explain 'miracles' told in folklore and religious stories.
- Were New World settlers annihilated by a comet explosion 13,000 years ago?
- Nefertiti has wrinkles (being around 3400 years old, I'm not particularly surprised).
- China's Terracotta Army is on the move.
- Colossal statue of Roman Emperor Hadrian discovered in Turkey.
- Tara group vows legal action over 'preserve by record' excavation/destruction of historical site. And if that doesn't work, expect a couple of heavy set Sidhe gangsters to drop in for a visit...
- New fossils challenge human origins theory - habilis and erectus may have been 'sister species'.
- Dust storms loosen their grip on Mars rovers.
- NASA takes inspiration from Hollywood's Armageddon for asteroid blasting. Hopefully not the Aerosmith soundtrack part...
- There's an army of galaxy hunters out there, and they look just like you and me.
- Woman has pencil stuck in her head for 55 years. If that story doesn't make you cringe enough, Cabinet of Wonders has plenty more...
- Ukrainian man named world's tallest - at 2.57m (8ft 5in), he beats out the previous title holder, Bao Xishun of China by 22cm (8 inches).
Quote of the Day:
Although the evidence offered by addicts of the marvelous for the reality of the phenomena they accept must be critically examined, it is equally necessary on the other side to scrutinize just as closely and critically the skeptics' allegation of fraud, or of malobservation, or of misinterpretation of what was observed, or of hypnotically induced hallucinations. For there is likely to be just as much wishful thinking, prejudice, emotion, snap judgement, naivete, and intellectual dishonesty on the side of orthodoxy, of skepticism, and of conservatism, as on the side of hunger for and belief in the marvelous.
Just a quick note to offer TDG's support and best wishes to Marcel Cairo, of Afterlife FM, who has endured two separate family-related illnesses/losses in just the past few weeks. Marcel has been doing a great job with AfterlifeFM, bringing humour to some pretty deep topics. Note that due to these recent issues, Marcel has had to postpone his exclusive interview with George Hansen which was scheduled for this week. All the best Marcel, hope to see you back on deck soon.
Despite being penniless all week and having nothing to eat but bread, tzatziki dip, cheese and green tea, I'm managing to survive. Can't wait for payday on Friday though!
- This is what happens when aliens drink and drive.
- Four galaxies have been witnessed crashing into one another in one of the biggest cosmic collisions ever seen. I hope God's insured.
- A rotating silver pyramid and a mother ship with two smaller orbs were among the UFO sightings reported to the UK's Ministry of Defence last year.
- A new report by NARCAP is available about the Chicago O'Hare airport UFO.
- Robert Bigelow says "Hello alien friends" via an orbital billboard. Greg is drooling about the possibility of TDG's logo getting a go.
- Two physicists at Scotland's University of St Andrews have solved the sticky problem with levitation. It doesn't involve changing the test pilot's underwear.
- Banned during the Cultural Revolution, there's now a future for Chinese scifi.
- If you're in China, the 2007 International SF/Fantasy Conference is in Chengdu August 24-27.
- The recent banning of Tibetan Buddhism's tulkus from reincarnating without Chinese government permission is all about controlling future leaders.
- Conservative authorities in the 18th & 19th centuries reacted the same way to hypnotism as they did to hallucinogenic drugs in the 1960s.
- A 17-year-old French girl who committed suicide after eating psychedelic mushrooms has ignited a campaign to ban the fungi in Amsterdam. I can't help but wonder if poor health care for people with mental illnesses is the problem, but try telling that to the lynch mob.
- Professor David Nichols, one of the world's most experienced hallucinogen researchers, battles the stigma of whoa-dude-faaaaar-out! LSD in the hope of treating cancer patients with depression.
- A device that resembles hairdryers is being hailed as a radical new treatment for depression. The US Military needs them for when soldiers get their buzzcuts.
- A federal judge has barred the US Navy from using underwater sonar blasts in tests off California's Channel Islands. Huzzah!
- Hysteria in European media reporting vultures eating humans. That's the bird kind of vulture, not corporate/political.
- The Yangtze river dolphin has been declared extinct, thanks to Chinese industrialisation. I hope they just left because the Earth is about to be destroyed by Vogons.
- A new analysis of more than 5000 ancient teeth suggests Europe's first people came from Asia, not Africa.
- Vandals have destroyed prehistoric cave paintings in Spain's Cova de la Clau with flourescent yellow paint. The irony hurts.
- A 1300-year-old skeleton buried with gold artifacts in a Bolivian pyramid may have been an elite member of the ancient Tiwanaku culture.
- In Afghanistan, the 900-foot-long Sleeping Buddha eludes archaeologists. He must be sleepwalking.
Thanks Greg, Kat and Neil.
Quote of the Day:
If you drilled from Hopiland through the center of the earth, you would exit in Tibet, another sacred culture situated on a high and dry plateau. Certain words in the Hopi and Tibetan language have reversed meanings – for instance, the Hopi word for day, “Nyma,” is the Tibetan word for night. The word for Moon in Tibetan, “Dawa,” is the Hopi word for Sun.
Richard Dawkins' new television series will go to air next week in the UK - following on from his attack on religion, "The Root of All Evil" (and in book form, The God Delusion), the new series is titled "The Enemies of Reason", and in it he sets his sights "at the whole new age caravanserai, including astrologers, spirit mediums, faith healers and homeopathic medicine.":
Leaning back on a sofa in the faded gothic splendour of Oxford’s 14th century New College he sighs with something approaching despair: "It belittles our universe. To have astrologers demeaning astronomy by tapping into the spine-tingling wonder of the universe is..." he struggles briefly for a word, then finds one and pronounces it with a keen awareness of the irony: "Sacrilegious!"
I actually don't think he has a "keen awareness of the irony", otherwise he would probably take more pause to question his own approach. Yes, there are cheats out there. Yes, there are morons out there. I think most of us know that. But it "belittles our universe", to paraphrase Dawkins himself, to think that sitting down with an individual medium who gets things wrong (most do, actually...even the good ones) shows that mediumship is a crock. Sit down with the SPR records, sit down with modern day researchers, take the time to find the top five you can through the scientific process. Is it worthwhile me going out and asking high school students about microbial evolution, and then laughing at their ignorance? No.
The further thing worth contemplating - and entirely separate to the notion of scientific proof as justification for anything - is whether life should consist of absolute, objective truths only, or whether life is made of more than this. I've always been in search of these objective truths, but the more I search, the less inclined I am to believe that they are really that important. What's important is getting through life to the best of your abilities, being good to others, and enjoying yourself (IMO). Here's a question that I'm not sure has an answer. Who does more damage to a person's life? A fraudulent spirit medium (note I'm not saying they all are) who charges $50 to tell a grieving mother that her murdered son has 'carried on' into an afterlife, giving her respite from her pain, or Richard Dawkins saying that the truth simply is that her son died an agonising, terrifying death, wasting what little life he had, and that she will never have a connection to her child again? Spare me the "the truth is all that matters, no matter how much it hurts" - I've been over that a million times already, and I'm not sure it's the answer. There's a reason for the body producing pain too, but you still take painkillers.
The trouble with Richard Dawkins - who, in most respects, I'm a fan of - is that he thinks he knows far better than everyone else, despite not having walked a step in their shoes. I'm not sure how he expects to educate and 'convert' the masses, when he so regularly sneers down his nose at their stupidity and ignorance. Which is a shame, because he has some wonderful things to say.