Fortean Times #231

The latest issue of Fortean Times (#231) is out, and anybody interested in the life and times of Aleister Crowley should enjoy this one. In the new issue:

  • "The Life & Times of Aleister Crowley" by Phil Baker.
  • "Crowley Lives!", by Dr Dave Evans, which analyses his impact on modern culture.
  • "Crowley & The Spooks", by Richard McNeff.
  • "The Tregerthen Horror" by Paul Newman.
  • "Who let the greys in?" by Alan Chapman (on supposed parallels between LAM and 'grey' aliens).
  • "The Wickedest Man in the World" by Gary Lachman.
  • "Magick Potions" by Ian Simmons.
  • "The Last Ritual" by Tim Weinberg, which looks at Crowley's death and funeral.

Lots more besides - further details at the Fortean Times website (and some interesting discussion of the contents of the new issue at Cabinet of Wonders too).

Amazon Buys Rowling's Beedle

Amazon supremo Jeff Bezos has announced that his online book retailing company has won the auction for J.K. Rowling's ultra-limited edition The Tales of Beedle the Bard, paying an unbelievable £1,950,000 (for 1 - yes 'one' - book...give me the standard Amazon commission on that one). They have kindly displayed some images from the book, for those interested - and it looks gorgeous:

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is extensively illustrated and handwritten by the bard herself - all 157 pages of it. It's bound in brown Moroccan leather and embellished with five hand-chased hallmarked sterling silver ornaments and mounted moonstones.

Enjoy these first images of the book. We'll be adding reviews of each of the fairytales and more photos of this beautiful object as we can get them up in the coming hours.

Rowling has donated the proceeds of the sale to The Children's Voice campaign, a charity she co-founded to help improve the lives of institutionalized children across Europe. Speaking after the sale, the bestselling author said "I am stunned and ecstatic. This will mean so much to children in desperate need of help. Christmas has come early for me."

Auction house Sotheby's had originally predicted the book to sell for around £50,000. It is one of only seven handmade copies, with the other six being given to Rowling's closest friends. It's worth noting that the sale does not give Amazon the right to publish the book, as Rowling retains the copyright.

News Briefs 14-12-2007

This should be enough news to keep you kids out of trouble for a while:

Thanks Greg.

Quote of the Day:

Today, nothing is more important to the future and credibility of science than liberation from the gravity-driven universe of prior theory. A mistaken supposition has not only prevented intelligent and sincere investigators from seeing what would otherwise be obvious, it has bred indifference to possibilities that could have inspired the sciences for decades.

David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill, from 'Thunderbolts of the Gods'

(Amazon US).

Radio 14-12-2007

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

Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: Whitley Strieber introduces new Dreamland guest host, psychic Marla Frees, who interviews past life regression expert Dick Sutphen about his work as a hypnotist.

Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines. Early show Saturday "Art Bell- Somewhere in Time" returns to 5/29/01, with David Jacobs talking about alien abduction. Afterwards, Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, the authors of The Sion Revelation, will discuss their research on Secret Societies through the ages as well as the role of Mary Magdalene in the story of Jesus. Sunday's guest is attorney and activist Daniel Sheehan, who represented Dr. John Mack during the Harvard Medical School inquiry, discussing his involvement in UFO research.

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.

HAARP Wired

Wired have picked up on a recent FOIA document posted to the Above Top Secret forums regarding the HAARP installation (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) in Alaska. The released document suggests that while HAARP may not be the superweapon envisaged by some, it still does have possible defence applications:

The document points out that "on the higher frequency end (VHF/UHF) transionospheric propagation is a ubiquitous element of numerous civilian and military communication systems, surveillance and remote sensing systems." In other words, messing with the ionosphere means you can shut down VHF radio, TV and radar signals at will. As radio hams know, the reflection and refraction effects of the ionosphere make a huge difference to long-range radio reception, and HAARP provides the only means of influencing that.

HAARP can also "induce precipitation of energetic particles" in the ionosphere, which "could impact the operation and lifespan of satellites." While this is mainly about protecting satellites from particles from solar flares or nuclear explosions, the phrasing suggests that it might be able to have a subtle negative impact on satellites as well...

...All in all, it's a set-up that can do a lot more than just basic research. And while this may not seem much compared to weather modification, remember that these are just the capabilities they're willing to make public...

See the above links for full details.

Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer's

Painful news this morning with the BBC reporting that Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld novels (having sold around 50 million books in his career) has early onset Alzheimer's Disease. Pratchett, whose novels beautifully blend fantasy, sci-fi and oddball humour, announced the news on the website of Discworld artist Paul Kidby, in a news update titled "An Embuggerance":

I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early
onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I
expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet :o)

P.S. I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell. I know it's a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

As someone who has had close personal experience with the disease, I can only wish Pratchett - and those closest to him - the very best.

News Briefs 13-12-2007

We lost a Rick. Please hand him in at administration if you find him.

Quote of the Day:

We are trying to unravel the Mighty Infinite using a language which was designed to tell one another where the fresh fruit was.

Terry Pratchett

Keith Chester's 'Strange Company'

UFO researcher and author Keith Chester is currently getting some nice publicity in various forms of media, for his book Strange Company: Military Encounters with UFOs in WWII (Amazon US and UK). A recent news article profiled Chester, discussing his own early UFO sighting and how he became interested in the topics covered by his book:

In 1999, he began visiting the National Archives once a week to study military records for information about UFO sightings during the war. Throughout almost four years of research, Chester found documents detailing sightings described as objects, lights, flares, strange lights or rockets.

"The sightings that were documented were considered phenomena," he said. "The military thought that they knew what they were observing, but the objects didn't match anything that was known by military intelligence."

The sightings he found include a silver, cigar-shaped object that looked like an airship. He also found a preponderance of information about unexplained objects reported by members of the 415th Night Fighter Squadron, a former Army Air Forces fighter squadron that fought during World War II.

The article comes hot on the heels of Keith Chester's appearance on the Binnall of America Audio podcast, which was so big it had to be split into two parts (Part 1 and Part 2). Well worth checking out - Foo Fighters, possible German UFO technology, and so on...enough weirdness to keep you quiet for a few days that's for sure. And I should mention, it's published by the good folk at Anomalist Books, so you just know it's got to be good.

Randi's Video Collection

Hope the title didn't get your imagination running overtime...Rich Montalvo has posted an update over at the website of the James Randi Educational Foundation letting people know that videos of the 'Amazing Meeting' are being uploaded to Youtube for free viewing:

In an effort to educate the public and reach a younger audience I have begun posting sections of the dvds from our Amaz!ng Meetings. You can view these videos free of charge on our YouTube channel under AmazingMeetingVideos.

The videos are limited to 10 minutes each...Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you will receive the alerts when I post a new video. I try to post new videos each week. Don't forget that you can still purchase all the TAM DVDs in our online store under the DVDs section.

Randi wants everyone to spread these videos as much as possible and by provided them on YouTube it is easier to spread the message of critical thinking. Post these videos everyone, send links to everyone and most importantly watch these videos and learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power!

Featured speakers currently uploaded include Penn and Teller doing a Q&A, Phil Plait, Michael Shermer, and a group panel which includes Randi. Make sure you wear your "I'm a critical thinker" badge, or they'll stop you at the door and probably tazer you.

News Briefs 11-12-2007

Sorry about the lateness. That time of the month.

  • Microsoft's mind reading patent.
  • Mars Rover finds signs of microbial life.
  • Ancient stone circle found in Skane.
  • Rapid acceleration in human evolution described.
  • New dinosaur discovered in Antarctica.
  • Brain scans: the new snake oil.
  • NASA aims to look inside the moon to solve mysteries.
  • Craig Venter's DNA driven world.
  • Energy source of Northern Lights found.
  • How to give credit where credit is due. Or a mark of the pointlessness of some research.
  • To the moon in a minivan.
  • Triton's ice geysers.

Quote of the Day:

Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think.

Ambrose Bierce