Ursi's Eso Garden
Your Competent Esoteric Guide
Thursday, 07. January 2010
The Real El Dorado?
Satellite technology detects giant mounds over 155 miles, pointing to sophisticated pre-Columbian culture.
It is the legend that drew legions of explorers and adventurers to their deaths: an ancient empire of citadels and treasure hidden deep in the Amazon jungle.
Spanish conquistadores ventured into the rainforest seeking fortune, followed over the centuries by others convinced they would find a lost civilisation to rival the Aztecs and Incas.
Some seekers called it El Dorado, others the City of Z. But the jungle swallowed them and nothing was found, prompting the rest of the world to call it a myth. The Amazon was too inhospitable, said 20th century scholars, to permit large human settlements.
Now, however, the doomed dreamers have been proved right: there was a great civilisation. New satellite imagery and fly-overs have revealed more than 200 huge geometric earthworks carved in the upper Amazon basin near Brazil's border with Bolivia.
An aerial picture of traces of earthworks built by a lost Amazonian civilisation dating to 200AD. Photograph: National Geographic
Spanning 155 miles, the circles, squares and other geometric shapes form a network of avenues, ditches and enclosures built long before Christopher Columbus set foot in the new world. Some date to as early as 200 AD, others to 1283.
Scientists who have mapped the earthworks believe there may be another 2,000 structures beneath the jungle canopy, vestiges of vanished societies.
The structures, many of which have been revealed by the clearance of forest for agriculture, point to a "sophisticated pre-Columbian monument-building society", says the journal Antiquity, which has published the research.
(Direct Link to the pdf. It has photos of different sites, and a number of maps and diagrams.)
The article adds: "This hitherto unknown people constructed earthworks of precise geometric plan connected by straight orthogonal roads. The 'geoglyph culture' stretches over a region more than 250km across, and exploits both the floodplains and the uplands … we have so far seen no more than a tenth of it."
The structures were created by a network of trenches about 36ft (nearly 11 metres) wide and several feet deep, lined by banks up to 3ft high. Some were ringed by low mounds containing ceramics, charcoal and stone tools. It is thought they were used for fortifications, homes and ceremonies, and could have maintained a population of 60,000 – more people than in many medieval European cities.
The discoveries have demolished ideas that soils in the upper Amazon were too poor to support extensive agriculture, says Denise Schaan, a co-author of the study and anthropologist at the Federal University of Pará, in Belém, Brazil. She told National Geographic: "We found this picture is wrong. And there is a lot more to discover in these places, it's never-ending. Every week we find new structures."
Many of the mounds were symmetrical and slanted to the north, prompting theories that they had astronomical significance.
Aerial photograph and plan of the Fazenda Colorada site.
Photograph by Sanna Saunaluoma.
Researchers were especially surprised that earthworks in floodplains and uplands were of a similar style, suggesting they were all built by the same culture.
"In Amazonian archaeology you always have this idea that you find different peoples in different ecosystems," said Schaan. "So it was odd to have a culture that would take advantage of different ecosystems and expand over such a large region." The first geometric shapes were spotted in 1999 but it is only now, as satellite imagery and felling reveal sites, that the scale of the settlements is becoming clear. Some anthropologists say the feat, requiring sophisticated engineering, canals and roads, rivals Egypt's pyramids.
The findings follow separate discoveries further south, in the Xingu region, of interconnected villages known as "garden cities". Dating between 800 and 1600, they included houses, moats and palisades.
"These revelations are exploding our perceptions of what the Americas really looked liked before the arrival of Christopher Columbus," said David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z, a book about an attempt in the 1920s to find signs of Amazonian civilizations. "The discoveries are challenging long-held assumptions about the Amazon as a Hobbesian place where only small primitive tribes could ever have existed, and about the limits the environment placed on the rise of early civilisations."
They are also vindicating, said Grann, Percy Fawcett, the explorer who partly inspired Conan Doyle's book The Lost World. Fawcett led an expedition to find the City of Z but the party vanished, bequeathing a mystery.
Many scientists saw the jungle as too harsh to sustain anything but small nomadic tribes. Now it seems the conquistadores who spoke of "cities that glistened in white" were telling the truth. They, however, probably also introduced the diseases that wiped out the native people, leaving the jungle to claim – and hide – all trace of their civilisation.
• This article was amended on Wednesday 6 January 2010. Percy Fawcett's experiences in the Amazon were said to have partly inspired Arthur Conan Doyle's book The Lost World, but Fawcett's disappearance did not, contrary to a suggestion in the original article - he vanished after the book was published. This has been corrected.
Source: Amazon explorers uncover signs of a real El Dorado by The Guardian
The scene depicted in this ancient artwork, on display at the Gold Museum in Bogota, Colombia, shows the origin of the El Dorado myth. Legend tells of a Muisca king who would cover himself in gold dust during festivals, then dive from a raft into Lake Guatavita. Tales of El Dorado, or the "Golden Man," reached Spanish conquistadors around 1530. As attempts to locate him came up short, the legend blossomed into myths of an entire city made of gold.
Photograph by Mauricio Duenas/AFP/Getty Images
Precolumbian Golden Boat - Famous golden figure based on El Dorado rite (housed in the Gold Museum at Bogotá, Colombia)
El Dorado Legend Snared Sir Walter Raleigh by National Geographic
The Legend of 'El Dorado' by Tairona Heritage Trust
Friday, 31. October 2008
Supernatural Cleaning Methods
A New York Times story today - getting in on the Halloween theme - discussed "Supernatural Cleaning Methods", a tongue-in-cheek look at how to get rid of ghosts in your house.
The chill of autumn has arrived, and it’s time to make your home cozy and snug. Replace those broken shingles, seal the window frames, start the water boiling and throw in some scented nutmegy things, or a rabbit if you’ve been disappointed in love.
But what to do about that ghost that has been making such a racket, scaring the guests and making it impossible to sleep? Sure, you can kid yourself that it’s a squirrel on the roof or a rattling pipe or a fog that comes up from time to time. (On Narragansett Bay? Sure, pal, that’s credible.) But eventually, when guests and family members become truly frightened, something must be done.
Such was the case with Kathleen Whitehurst, an artist in Arnaudville, La., who scoured the countryside to salvage materials with which to build her home and guest house, the picturesque l’Esprit des Chenes. Visitors complained of creaking stairs, sounds in the night. Some fled in terror. Finally, Ms. Whitehurst called in a specialist.
“She came all the way from Arkansas,” Ms. Whitehurst said in a telephone conversation. “She sat on my couch, and within 30 minutes she says, ‘Yes, you do have a ghost in your house.’ She goes into a trance, she came back to her body, and said, ‘He’s a Baptist minister, wearing a white robe, and he’s roaming the house.’ ”
The reason for this problem, incredible as it may seem, was recycling. Ms. Whitehurst had found three Gothic windows in a junk pile at a demolished church, and the ghost had come along with them. The specialist did what is often recommended in these cases, asking Ms. Whitehurst and two friends to make a circle with her around the lost spirit, and tell it, sympathetically but firmly, that it was timeto move along.
“All of a sudden, you could feel the electrical energy moving — it was so intense that all the hair on the back of my neck and hands was standing up,” Ms. Whitehurst said. “And when she said the final words” — Go, go! — “we got that zapped feeling. And he went up, and he’s never been back since.”
You don’t believe in ghosts? Then you are either tragically out of step with the times or possibly a slovenly spiritual housekeeper looking for an excuse to avoid tidying up. A recent Google Internet search for getting rid of ghosts yielded nearly two million hits. By comparison, a search for cleaning rain gutters yielded 191,000.
In a Harris poll last year of 2,000 adults, 41 percent said that they believed in ghosts. Although the National Association of Realtors says that it is not the legal obligation of a real estate agent to tell a prospective buyer about alleged haunting, many agents, like Diane Ragan of Keller Williams Realty in New Orleans, feel that if they hear of something that may distress a buyer, they have the duty to pass it on.
“Just last week I got a call from a past client who was calling for a friend who’d leased a place and wasn’t happy because it was haunted,” she said. “He wanted his deposit back. I told him the best thing his friend could do was plead his case.”
Can These Stubborn Spiritual Stainbuckets Never Be Removed?
Before attempting to cleanse a household of ghostlike sounds and scents, the homeowner must first determine whether such sounds and scents are actually of the other world. Happily, there is no shortage of instruction manuals on the subject. One, an e-book called “Is My House Haunted? A Practical Guide,” was written by Bonnie Vent, the medium who founded the San Diego Paranormal Research Project. Those who dismiss the paranormal may wish to check out her Web site, sdparanormal.com, and read the transcript of her conversation with the comic George Carlin, which occurred after his death. (Few were as skeptical of the afterlife as he.)
Ms. Vent’s guide, which costs $7.97, contains a paranormal activity log in which to record such things as electrical devices going on and off, unexplained noises and cold and hot spots. It lists common misconceptions, including the notion that “paying someone to spread lotions and potion all over the house” will make the spirits go away.
“What does work? Communication!!!” writes Ms. Vent, who is one of those people who is paid; her cleansing services cost $125 an hour. “This does not necessarily mean that they will leave, but you should be able to work out a livable situation.”
She also offered a word of warning: “There are people who will take advantage of others by using holy water, burning sage and spreading salt around the perimeter of the house. Spirit people are people — these things have no effect in the long term. You really have to get to the root cause.”
Also, as His Intimates Knew, Uncle Fred Never Flushed
With ghosts so plentiful, it is reassuring to note that most haunting sites, even those with logos dripping blood, take their responsibilities seriously, reminding homeowners concerned about paranormal activity that they should first seek more mundane reasons for strange activity. The tools may include tape recorders, video equipment and infrared photography.
Saturday, 20. September 2008
Muslim faithful throughout the world are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan. Observant Muslims participate in fasting (sawm), one of the five pillars of their faith, this entire Lunar month (this year it extends from September 1st to the 30th). Eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity is prohibited from dawn until sunset, when the fast is broken with the evening meal called Iftar. Local customs define varying traditions, including differing types of food used to break the daily fast. The fasting is meant to teach a person patience, humility and sacrifice, to set aside time to ask forgiveness, practice self-restraint, and pray for guidance in the future.
News Stories in Photographs: Observing Ramadan (35 photos total) by The Big Picture.
Thursday, 26. June 2008
On the trail of the ‘Indian yeti’
In the US it's known as bigfoot, in Canada as sasquatch, in Brazil as mapinguary, in Australia as a yowie, in Indonesia as sajarang gigi and, most famously of all, in Nepal as a yeti.
The little known Indian version of this legendary ape-like creature is called mande barung - or forest man - and is reputed to live in the remote West Garo hills of the north-eastern state of Meghalaya.
Reports of a yeti or forest man have existed in the north-east Indian state of Meghalaya for centuries. Many people in the Garo hills believe that this is a fossilised footprint of a giant early yeti.
I [Alastair Lawson] was invited by passionate yeti believer Dipu Marak to travel throughout the area to hear for myself what he says is compelling evidence of the existence of a black and grey ape-like animal which stands about 3m (nearly 10ft) tall.
There have been repeated reports of sightings over many years by different witnesses in the West, South and East Garo hills.
Mr Marak estimates the creature weighs about 300kg (660lb) and is herbivorous, surviving on fruit, roots and tree bark.
The Garo hills comprise more than 8,000sq.km of some of the thickest jungle in India.
And as I soon discovered, there is no shortage of people who say they have seen the creature at first hand.
'Yeti witness' James Marak
Take woodcutter Nelbison Sangma, for example, who works on the fringes of the Nokrek national park in the Garo hills.
In November 2003, he says that he saw a yeti three days in a row.
He took me from his village to the spot where he says he made the sighting, a five-hour walk in intense tropical heat from his house.
"I saw the creature quite clearly on the other side of the river. It was breaking branches off trees and eating the sap. Its strength was amazing.
"Obviously I wanted to photograph it, but I knew that if I left the area, it would take at least 10 hours or more to get a camera as I do not own one. By that time the creature would have disappeared."
Mr Sangma says that he told the state forestry department of his sighting, but they did not believe him.
He took me to the spot where he says the yeti destroyed a tree - an exhausting uphill walk through thick jungle infested with blood-sucking leeches.
Mr Sangma showed me where the creature broke the tree's branches and clearly visible scratch marks on its bark.
Are these hairs from Mande Barung?
A 10-hour drive away from Nokrek is the other national park of the Garo hills, Balpakram, which lies amid thick jungle on the border with Bangladesh.
It is an extremely remote area, where the hum of insects clicking in the undergrowth sounds like a series of disconnected power cables.
Balpakram is famous for its vast jungle-filled canyon which spans several miles and is surrounded by spectacular cliffs. Any descent is a treacherous exercise.
If ever there was terrain where a peace-loving yeti could live its life undisturbed by human interference, then this has surely got to be it.
Perhaps the most famous reported sighting was in April 2002, when forestry officer James Marak was among a team of 14 officials carrying out a census of tigers in Balpakram when they saw what they thought was a yeti.
According to the author and environmentalist Llewellyn Marak, such stories cannot be dismissed out hand.
"I saw the footprints for myself last year," he said, and they cannot easily be explained away.
"The prints were different from other animals - and were almost human in appearance - apart from the fact that they were about 18 inches [46cm] long.
"Both my father and grandfather also saw the creature at different times. Each said that it resembled a large gorilla."
Mr Marak argues that the Meghalayan forestry department has not seriously investigated the sightings because they are "uninterested and too lazy".
The western side of the state of the Meghalaya is predominantly made up of Garo tribespeople. They are traditionally a matrilineal community, where property is inherited through the female line.
They are also a community where stories and fables are deeply ingrained culturally, which is why senior politicians and officials are reluctant to discount openly tales of a yeti roaming about.
Meghalaya's Divisional Forestry Officer Shri PR Marak denies suggestions that his officers have not properly investigated alleged yeti sightings - which he argues is an expensive exercise in thick jungle only accessible by foot.
He uses diplomatic language when discussing whether yetis exist in the state.
"I have gone to see the evidence for myself and have even taken a plaster cast of one of the footprints," he says.
"As you know the presence of such a creature is an important part of our culture - passed down to us by our parents and grandparents.
"But we have no concrete evidence it exists, and there may even be a possibility that some of the evidence has been manipulated to create a stir.
Measuring 'yeti' footprints
"Because the area where it is believed to live is thick jungle, it will be very difficult to know the truth."
But Dipu Marak has voluminous correspondence from various eyewitnesses to support his contention that there is something out there.
To critics who say he has no photographs of this mysterious creature, he insists that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".
"We have so many reports of sightings that I sincerely believe there is some sort of huge creature in the Garo hills," he said.
"This is not just a fairy tale, nor is it an effort to woo tourists. It's deeply embedded in our folklore and scientifically it is possible too.
"While I cannot prove conclusively that this creature definitely exists, nobody can say conclusively that it does not exist either."
Such is the impenetrability and extent of jungle in the Garo hills that the legend of mande barung looks likely to live on in the foreseeable future.
"The truth is out there somewhere," says Dipu Marak sincerely.
"But like the Loch Ness monster this creature is obviously not fond of giving too many photo opportunities."
Source: BBC News
You may also like another cool Bigfoot story:
'Bigfoot' was here! by the Borneo Post. (WITH PICS)
They probably resembled those mentioned many times in foreign reports in claims of sightings of the mysterious ‘Bigfoot’. The shocker has been spreading like wildfire in Daro district for the past few days and among those drawn to the phenomenon was local businessman Tan Soon Kuang.
Yesterday, Tan, 42, e-mailed the images of the mysterious creature’s footprints. He said he personally went to the village (which he refused to name out of respect for the wishes of the locals) to check on the truth of the story. “The truth is in the photographs that I have taken with my camera,” he told The Borneo Post in a telephone interview yesterday. According to him, each footprint measures 47 inches from heel to toe and 17 inches sideways “clearly too gigantic for any normal human being”.
Local community leader Pemanca Tan Poh Kuan is among those who visited the site to take a closer look at the mysterious footprints.
UK Police Helicopter captures ‘UFO’ on film
Another curious story for today:
Raw video: June 08/08: Recently released footage: Welsh police confirmed that one of their helicopter crews had spotted an "unusual aircraft" flying over Cardiff earlier this month.
An investigation into the sighting had been launched, they said.
The police clarification came after tabloid newspaper The Sun reported a UFO had "attacked" a police helicopter, following it for several miles over the Bristol Channel.
"The pilot banked sharply to avoid being hit, then launched into a high-speed pursuit. But he was forced to give up the chase as the helicopter's fuel ran low -- and the UFO escaped," the tabloid reported.
The helicopter crew had described the object as "flying saucer-shaped and circled by flashing lights," it added.
That description was rather more dramatic than the official police version, which said: "South Wales Police can confirm its air support unit sighted an unusual aircraft.
"This was reported to the relevant authorities for their investigation," they added in a brief statement, avoiding the use of the term "UFO", or Unidentified Flying Object.
At the time of the incident, the helicopter with three men on board was waiting to land at the St Athan RAF base near Cardiff. The sighting reportedly took place at 00:40 am (23:40 GMT) on June 8.
South Wales Police denied there was a pursuit and indicated that the helicopter crew was never in any danger.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it had heard nothing about the incident.
"But it is certainly not advisable for police helicopters to go chasing what they think are UFOs," he added.
UK Police Helicopter captures 'UFO' on film
Alien army by the Sun (WITH VIDEO).
A shaken soldier told last night how he saw THIRTEEN UFOs spinning in the skies above his military barracks. Corporal Mark Proctor was among three squaddies who spotted the objects while out on night patrol. He filmed them on his mobile phone and reported the close encounter to Army top brass.
Well, and last but not least: "Nasa film UFO falling to earth and hitting the ground", found yesterday at LiveLeak, posted here to sharpen your mind ...
Looks cool, don't u agree?
But no, it's not an UFO. That is the Genesis probe that had its parachutes fail on reentry. This was in Utah a few years ago.
See the report, and video, by MSNBC and/or the article by Space.com.
So, don't believe online videos for everything! Too often troll people, some of those weird stalker types, try to sensationalize stuff, also in that case.
Thursday, 19. June 2008
Baffling Crop Circle Equal Pi
Is crop circle pi from the sky or just another con? This crop circle, reported June 1, 2008, may cause more controversy in the debate whether crop circles are a result of extraterrestrial activity.
An aerial view of the pi crop circle near Wroughton, Wiltshire, England
When it comes to crop circles, a simple pattern is usually enough to grab attention. But this one has had crop circle enthusiasts and experts stumped.
Carved out in a barley paddock, this 50 metre-wide pattern is said to be a pictorial representation of the first 10 digits of pi, one of the most fundamental symbols in mathematics.
Believers in extra-terrestrials could argue it was made by mathematically minded aliens on a field trip to Earth. Sceptics will think it the work of humans with a fondness for figures and a penchant for puzzles.
But whatever its origins, the experts say it is the most complex crop circle ever seen in Britain.
"The fact that the Pi decimal point is included (in the 2008 Barbury Castle barley pattern) and there is rounding up to 10 decimal places is to me a little mind boggling!" – Michael Reed, Astrophysicist.
First check out Earthfiles:
2008 Barbury Castle Pattern is Pi to 3.14159265358
Michael A. Reed: In looking at the pattern, the thing that struck me was the little dot right near the beginning of the pattern right outside the central circle. I thought, ‘That’s an odd thing to do. Why? There must be some significance to that dot.
See also there:
“Perfectly Clean” in Muddy, Rain-Soaked Field
Lucy Pringle, a researcher of crop formations, said: "What we are dealing with is barley at the moment and I have to say in the 2008 Barbury Castle formation, I’ve never seen such a fragile crop before."
Lucy Pringle, Crop Circle Photographer and Author, took several aerial shots and posted them online.
Is crop circle pi from the sky or just another con? by The Scotsman.
Mr Reed said: "The fact the pi decimal point is included and there is rounding up to ten decimal places is mind-boggling". Lucy Pringle, who has spent decades researching crop circles, said that although she thought some were man-made, she found it hard to believe such an intricate crop circle could have been created by humans. She added: "You can do it on a computer, but you try putting that in a field in the middle of the night and achieving that degree of mathematical accuracy."
Crop circle easy as pi by Daily Mail.
Although it appears complicated at first glance, the puzzle does make perfect sense if approached logically and taken step by step.
The coded image depicts 3.141592654, the first ten digits of Pi. How is it done?
Some dedicated Google Maps revealed the grid coordinates to be 51.488258 degrees north, 1.771964 west, but unfortunately the crop circle doesn't show up online yet.
We stay tuned ...
Some Related Entries:
Crop Circle Collection
Crop Circle Controversy
Crop Circle Science
Confessions of a Crop-Circle Maker
Wednesday, 11. June 2008
News & Stories
Hints of 'time before Big Bang' by BBC.
A team of physicists has claimed that our view of the early Universe may contain the signature of a time before the Big Bang. The discovery comes from studying the cosmic microwave background (CMB), light emitted when the Universe was just 400,000 years old. Their model may help explain why we experience time moving in a straight line from yesterday into tomorrow.
Thai Politics are still in the grip of the spirits and the stars by The Nation.
The ex-premier tours 99 temples to improve his fortune. Generals gather in Chiang Mai to channel the spirit of a Himalayan rishi. Ritualists vandalise an ancient monument. Thai politics have long been subject to the stars and the spirits.
Aliens get a new switchboard: a SETI radio telescope in Northern California by Los Angeles Times.
They're not alone: Ghost appearances keep life interesting for local family by Salisbury Post.
Five people live in Kim and Steve Etters' house on Kerr Street — and, they believe — at least that many ghosts. Three have made their presence known enough times to earn names: Princess, Sweaty Boy and Mr. Atwell, the name of the man who built the house. ... Sweaty Boy, according to several eyewitness accounts, has eyes, but his neck and head appear to be wet. He's usually seen wearing overalls and a red shirt.
The Betrayal of Judas by The Chronicle Review.
Did a 'dream team' of biblical scholars mislead millions? ... Meyer found himself locked in an office in Washington, with a desk, a pile of dictionaries and lexicons, and one of the most sought-after religious texts in recent history, the Gospel of Judas. For a week he worked almost nonstop on the 26-page text, translating the Coptic, an ancient Egyptian language written with Greek letters, into English. As he translated, a startling portrait of Judas Iscariot emerged. This was not the reviled traitor who betrayed Jesus with a kiss. This was the trusted disciple, the close confidant, the friend. This was a revelation.
Satellites Or UFOS Over San Jose? by KRXI-TV.
The appearance of at least two fast-moving shining objects in the weekend daytime sky over San Jose has local residents wondering if they were UFOs.
Bob Lochridge, a local resident who recorded the objects, said they streaked across the skies. "They appeared to be triangular pieces of metal," he said. "They were up very, very high. I couldn't see them without the camera." The objects were first reported above the Oakland Hills at 3 p.m. Sunday and quickly moved southward through the Bay Area skies. The FAA Air Traffic Control Center in Fremont did not report any unusual air traffic. Officials said the objects were probably satellites with the sunlight reflecting off their solar panels.
UFO seen over Woodford Green by Enfield Independent.
London UFO studies group chairman Roy Lake said north-east London was notorious for UFO activity. He added: "A lot of times these are Chinese lanterns which float up very high but from the description that must be ruled out so it's definitely an unexplained sighting. But there's nothing much to go on and we need more information."
Alien video man Jeff Peckman asks Barack Obama to back UFO plan
by The Telegraph.
A man who has shown a video of what he claims is an alien visitor to earth to bolster his case for greater public scrutiny of UFOs is to take his campaign to the Democratic Party convention in August, where Barack Obama will formally win the presidential nomination.
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Friday, 30. May 2008
News & Stories
Exorcists are summoned from abroad to drive the demons away
by Times Online.
Hundreds of Germans, tortured by inner voices, are on the search for priests who can free them from what they believe to be the grip of the Devil, according to an extraordinary radio documentary that has stirred an awkward debate about exorcism in the Catholic Church. “Over the past year alone I have received requests from around 350 people who think they are possessed by an evil spirit,” says Father Joerg Mueller, who heads a group of priests, doctors and therapists to deal with the problem. “Therapy hasn't worked for them; they want exorcism — a prayer that can free them.”
Who's the Brain Behind 'Aztec' Crystal Skulls? by NPR.
Some of the skulls are in museums; others are held by private collectors. The largest known specimen can be found at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. But you won't see it on display. You have to wend your way down a long hallway lined with ceiling-high cabinets filled with human bones. In a back office, inside a locked filing cabinet, the skull is in the care of anthropologist Jane Walsh. "This is actually called milky quartz," Walsh explains as she gingerly lifts the carved quartz skull out of a drawer. It's the size of a bowling ball, smooth as ice, with hollow eye sockets. "It weighs 31 pounds," she says. "I know because I carried it to London."
Religion is a product of evolution, software suggests by NewScientist.
God may work in mysterious ways, but a simple computer program may explain how religion evolved. By distilling religious belief into a genetic predisposition to pass along unverifiable information, the program predicts that religion will flourish. However, religion only takes hold if non-believers help believers out – perhaps because they are impressed by their devotion.
Stonehenge Was Cemetery First and Foremost, Study Says by National Geographic News.
The site appears to have been intended as a cemetery from the very start, around 5,000 years ago—centuries before the giant sandstone blocks were erected—the new study says. "This is really exciting, because it shows that Stonehenge, from its beginning to its zenith, is being used as a place to physically put the remains of the dead," said Mike Parker Pearson of England's University of Sheffield.
Stonehenge may have been royal cemetery by Reuters.
Stonehenge was a royal family's burial site, researchers say by Los Angeles Times.
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Wednesday, 21. May 2008
News & Stories
Astrologers predict next President by CW2. (WITH VIDEO)
So, who will it be? John McCain, Barack Obama or does Hillary Clinton still have a chance at the presidency? Astrologers say it depends on the alignment of the planets. At the United Astrology Conference in Denver, celestial bodies play politics. Shelley Ackerman has been following the charts of the leading candidates. "Obama animates and activates the dream and soul of this country again," said Ackerman. "McCain's moon is in Capricorn and the moon in Capricorn is also a fighter."
Mysterious giants inhabit Eurasian lakes Part 1
Mysterious giants inhabit Eurasian lakes Part 2
Did animals predict China's earthquake? by MSNBC.
First, the water level in a pond inexplicably plunged. Then, thousands of toads appeared on streets in a nearby province. Finally, just hours before China's worst earthquake in three decades, animals at a local zoo began acting strangely. Several countries, including China, have sought to use changes in nature — mostly animal behavior — as an early warning sign. But so far, no reliable way has been found to use animals to predict earthquakes, said Roger Musson, a seismologist with the British Geological Survey.
Curse of the crystal skulls: The real life story of the new Indiana Jones movie by Daily Mail.
He seeks a route through time by The Boston Globe.
Time travel, of course, has been a favorite topic for science-fiction writers for more than a century, from Wells's pioneering novel to the campy "Back to the Future" movie trilogy. But the scientific urge to investigate time travel is about more than sci-fi fantasies. Contemplating time travel is forcing scientists to confront some of the most profound issues in physics, from the nature of the universe's ultimate laws to fundamental questions about the nature of space and time.
How to crack a case from the UFO files by MSNBC.
The highly publicized releases of "UFO files" from France and Britain provide more puzzling tales about anomalous aerial objects over the years. But the stories behind some of the most spectacular sightings in UFO history will come to light only when the Russian Ministry of Defense opens up its files.
UFOs do exist - we've seen them by Daily Mail.
Five Britons reveal their bizarre close encounters.
Holder of the White Lotus: The Lives of the Dalai Lama by Times Online.
The Dalai Lama is the most influential person in the world, according to Time magazine. He draws crowds that no other spiritual leader or politician could hope to match, and sits there laughing, exuding an infectious joy, despite the suffering that he and the Tibetan people have known. Unique, celibate, idealistic, compassionate, exotic - he seems to look at life in a different way to everyone else. What is his secret?
Unlock Your Imagination to Reach Your Goals by OhmyNews.
Melissa Zollo is an imagist, speaker, self-motivation specialist, and author of various CD audio programs: Discover the Power of Imagination, The Art of Intentional Creation, and How to Unleash the Power With and Attract Money. In this interview, she talks about why people often lock their minds to success and the common reasons why this happens. She also talks about her programs and techniques.
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Wednesday, 30. April 2008
News & Stories
Father of LSD Albert Hofmann dies at age of 102 by Times Online.
Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered the mind-altering drug LSD seventy years ago, has died at his home at the age of 102. Hofmann died yesterday in Burg im Leimental, the village near Basel where he moved following his retirement in 1971, said Doris Stuker, a municipal clerk. The hallucinogen inspired, and arguably corrupted, millions in the 1960s hippie generation. For decades after it was banned in the late 1960s, Hofmann defended his invention. “I produced the substance as a medicine. ... It’s not my fault if people abused it,” he once said.
What a great find: "The Bicycle Ride" is a whimsical video of Dr. Albert Hofmann's discovery of LSD by David Normal.
on the occasion of his 100th birthday,
Januar 11th 2006.
Britain's biggest banks use astrology to play the markets by NewsMonster.
Christeen Skinner blinks at the screen of her computer and takes another slurp of coffee. It’s half past seven in the morning and she’s preparing for a crucial meeting with the chief executive of the High and Mighty fashion chain. Apart from the black cat dozing on her lap, the only clue to Christeen’s occupation as a 21st century astrologer is a copy of an Ephemeris that lies open at a page marked “Mercury March 25th”. “The financial crisis has ensured that I’m busier than ever,” says Christeen. “People in the City need to know what is just around the corner. I can help with that.”
The Man Who Invented Mars by The Boston Globe.
We are not alone in the universe.
The man who created the Fortean Times by the Telegraph.
The supernatural frogs falling from the sky, mysterious airships, spontaneous human combustion... it all fascinated Charles Fort, whose appetite for the paranormal lives on today in sci-fi, conspiracy theories and that quirky chronicle of the unknown, the Fortean Times.
'I died in Jerusalem in 1276', says doctor who underwent hypnosis to reveal a former life by Daily Mail.
The last time I 'died' was in Jerusalem in 1276. Pope Gregory X's Crusade against Islam had collapsed and the city's Christians would soon be abandoned to their fate. My final hours were filled with fear. I was besieged in a beautiful vaulted church along with 100 knights. Smoky candlelight glinted off their armour. Some knights were praying, others resting.
‘We are not a cosmic accident’ by Bucks Free Press.
Have you ever been alone in a room, but somehow have the feeling someone - or something - is there with you? According to psychic medium Shaun Dennis, who arrives in High Wycombe next week, you might just be experiencing "contact with the other side". Shaun, who has just embarked on his first UK tour, claims more and more people over the past few years are reporting seeing apparitions and the spirit world is actually "drawing closer".
Thursday, 24. April 2008
Robbie’s UFOs, First Crop Circle 08 & Telepathic Dog
Today I have some cool stories for you!
Singer Robbie Williams has become obsessed
with UFOs and extraterrestrials:
On December 18 2006, Robbie Williams played the last of 59 stadium shows in a row, announced he was going to spend Christmas at his home in Los Angeles, and then basically disappeared. He was hardly seen at all in 2007. He briefly checked into rehab. He spent quite a bit of time hiking and playing football (he owns a football pitch on Mulholland Drive). Then he stopped hiking and playing football. His record company, EMI, announced he had no plans to release an album in 2008. Today he unexpectedly calls me to ask if I want to go with him to the desert in Nevada to meet UFO abductees.
I'm loving aliens instead by The Guardian.
A radio documentary of their trip, Robbie Williams And Jon Ronson Journey To The Other Side, will be on Radio 4, May 6, at 6.30pm.
First Crop Circle of 2008 discovered in England.
This crop formation was first reported to the Silent Circle by local residents during the morning of April 19 2008.
The circle is approximately 180 feet diameter and is positioned high on the North facing flank of Waden Hill, and can be seen from the A361 when approaching Avebury from the Beckhampton roundabout.
More pictures and info at Crop Circle Connector and Silent Circle.
You would like to be informed about the Crop Circle season? Check regularly CropCircleScience (English and German) and the Crop Circle Archive.
Best viewed with your own eyes ...
About six months ago I decided to work on trying to replicate a science experiment that skeptics frequently pick on: namely, the experiment done by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake to see if some dogs can form a telepathic link with their owners that lets them know when they’re coming home. Here is the first video from this epxeriment:
Alex Tsakiris by Skeptiko presents also a second video supporting Dr Rupert Sheldrake's telepathic dog theory.
and/or read the transcript.
Friday, 18. April 2008
World Population to Hit 6,666,666,666 in May 08
To many people, this means nothing. But of course 666 refers to the Beast in the Bible. Heaven knows what ten sixes means.
I don’t know who first noticed this looming numerical curiosity, but it was mentioned today on the Drudge report. To see the projection, go to the U.S. Census Bureau’s World POPClock Projection page [link]. There you’ll find these projections among others:
So sometime in between May 1 and June 1, the gaggle-of-sixes milestone will be passed. (I say gaggle rather than googol, which is a 1 followed by 100 zeros. I could also have used a gazillion or a jillion or a bazillion, all of which are just figures of speech meaning “a lot.” Clearly, the number of people on Earth is a lot more than umpteen.)
The Census Bureau of course never knows exactly how many people are on the planet, or even in the United States for that matter. It’s all estimates. Just fun.
The last big “six scare” was 06/06/06 (June 6, 2006). We survived that, so I imagine we’ll get through this one.
(For the record, 07/07/07 came and went last year without any documented cases of extreme luck directly attributed to the date, and coming up later this year: 08/08/08.)
Wednesday, 16. April 2008
News & Stories
Can we really transplant a human soul? by The Dailymail.
So it has proved with heart transplants, which have become almost routine in hospitals around the world. Yet every once in a while a story emerges which should cause us all to sit up and take note that there is nothing "routine" or "commonplace" about such complex operations. The suggestion, highlighted again this week, that donor patients could not only be acquiring the organs but also the memories - or even the soul - of the donor is surely one such story.
Santo Daime: the drug-fuelled religion by The Times.
Researchers put ghosts under microscope by Whitehaven News. (WITH VIDEO)
Whatever ghosts are – spirits of the deceased, ‘tape recordings’ of past tragedies or just a hyperimagination – we can all be agreed on one thing: they’re scary! That’s surely the whole point of them, their reason for living – or not living. So why are we all so keen to see them?
In the reign of the Black Pharaohs by Al-Ahram Weekly. (WITH PHOTOS)
Rome’s Exorcist Gives Inside Look at the Devil by The Zenit.
Some of the mystery surrounding the devil and exorcism is being unveiled in a television and Internet report series, detailing the work of the exorcist of the Diocese of Rome. Society of St. Paul Father Gabriele Amorth, Rome's exorcist for the past 21 years and a specialist in the figure of Mary, explained in the first edition of the series how he performs exorcisms.
Before the Big Bang: A Twin Universe? by PhysOrg.
Haunted Dolls - Ghosts & Spirits Who Attatch Themesleves To Dolls
by American Chronicle.
Here is a story about a haunted porcelain doll that was shared with me by Stephany. It was my little sisters tenth birthday and we were having a gathering with all of our family. One of her uncles had seen this beautiful porcelain doll and said "I have to get this for Jazmine" (my little sister). As soon as she got it she loved it but what she didn't know was that it was evil. Pure evil!
Beachgoers find 'ghost forest' along Oregon Coast by kgw.
(WITH VIDEO & PHOTO SLIDE SHOW)
Richard Dawkins' secular army must be stopped by The Guardian.
It's a great tribute to our age that a scientist can still be greeted with more adulation than a pop princess. But I can't help noting the irony of the imagery that Dawkins' reception has conjured up. Falling at his feet? Worshipping? It all seems oddly reminiscent of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the days before his Passion; a strange resonance for the scientist who has declared himself the champion of secularism in a world where, he claims, the delusions of faith are gaining an increasing stranglehold.
Some news-links do not last long. In this case please send me a note.
Wednesday, 09. April 2008
News & Stories
A few things to keep you busy today ...
Just what on earth is numerology? by BBC News.
New head of voodoo brings on the charm by IHT.
The goat tethered to a tree outside of Max Beauvoir's home is doomed. Beauvoir, tall and majestic with closely cropped white hair, is a voodoo priest who was just named the religion's supreme master, a newly created position that is aimed at reviving voodoo. His grand residence on the outskirts of the Haitian capital serves as a voodoo temple for practitioners and a late-night hangout for those paying customers eager to take in an exotic evening of spiritual awakening.
Angkor Wat: Hope for a better future by Merinews.
Ball lightning plot thickens by ABC News.
What appears to be the first eyewitness report of static electricity triggering ball lightning boosts one theory of what causes this mysterious phenomenon. The report, based on an incident involving a US Air Force crew several decades ago, seems to support the 'electrical discharge' theory of ball lightning. The report is just now being made public, says Emeritus Professor Robert Crompton of the Australian National University.
See also: Great balls of fire! by The Financial Express.
That fireball was what is now known as ball-lightning—a phenomenon as perplexing as it is spectacular. Thousands of people claim to have seen ball-lightning—glowing, roughly spherical balls of light, usually produced around the time of a thunderstorm.
Amazing Aztecs Were Math Whizzes Too by LiveScience.
The mystical experience of shamanism by New Statesman.
One of the best things for me in practising contemporary shamanism is the experience it provides daily of the oneness and sacredness of all things. “Everything that is, is alive.” When Michael Harner, an American professor of anthropology, began teaching shamanism and shamanic healing in the early 1970s to Westerners, it was largely unknown outside of academia. Now modern-day shamans, typically referred to as “shamanic practitioners,” can be found throughout the US and Europe.
Psychic crackdown on the cards by The Observer.
For the past half-century, 'genuine' mediums have been protected by the 1951 Fraudulent Mediums Act, under which prosecutors had to prove fraud and dishonest intent to secure a criminal conviction, which was difficult. There have been fewer than 10 convictions in the past 20 years. With that protection gone, there will now be nothing between the medium and the trading standards officer - and no need to prove fraud. Instead it will be up to the trader, in this case the medium, to prove they did not mislead, coerce or take advantage of any 'vulnerable' consumers.
Thought Exorcism was Dead? Think Again by News Monster.
By the time consultant psychiatrist Dr Alan Sanderson began treating Peter for ‘demonic possession' his life had already fallen apart. Peter Johnson, a 50-year-old career civil servant, had once been a model citizen. He lived a quiet middle-class life in South East England. He worked hard, loved gardening and adored his wife Joan. There was nothing unusual in his life in any way. But then came Askinra - a ‘demon' that ate into his soul and took over his life.
See also: 'Be gone, Satan' by Ottawa Citizen.
Ottawa's former exorcist, a 78-year-old priest, is interviewed.
Some news-links do not last long. In this case please send me a note.
Tuesday, 01. April 2008
News & Stories
Children in voodoo's power by The Observer.
Benin is unique in recognising voodoo as an official religion, followed by two-thirds of its 7.6 million people. It involves a pantheon of gods and spirits whose intercession is sought through animal blood sacrifice. But to survive, voodoo needs a new generation to pass on sacred mysteries, so thousands of children are initiated by its priests every year. But the price of the ceremonies can be unbearable and some parents are selling their children to repay voodoo debts.
Nessie and me by The Guardian.
Steve Feltham gave up his girlfriend, his house and his job to search for the Loch Ness monster. Seventeen years on, does he have any regrets?
" To say that I am a patient man would be an understatement. Seventeen years sat watching and waiting on the shores of Loch Ness for one decent sighting of the monster has to be considered dedication in anybody's eyes. To me, however, it is more a dream come true: this subject has fascinated me since a family holiday in 1970, when I was seven ..."
An 'Astounding Time' for Planetary Discoveries by The Washington Post.
Since astronomers identified the first planet outside our solar system 13 years ago, however, that idea has become downright quaint. Because now, according to the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia, there are 277 confirmed "extrasolar" planets, and quite a few more on the list of those suspected but not yet confirmed. This explosion in planetary discoveries is taking place at such warp speed that even those most intimately involved are often amazed -- especially because their ultimate goal is nothing less than finding life elsewhere in the universe.
Author says evidence proves Bigfoot exists by The Utah Statesman.
"Its very difficult in 45 minutes to give you a comprehensive package of the evidence that has motivated me to persist in this investigation. That is what this is, an investigation. It's not me trying to convince you that Bigfoot exists," said Meldrum, who works in the Department of Biological Science at Idaho State University. Meldrum said folklore, prehistoric evidence and aspects of history convey the intrigue of the possibility of an unknown animal such as Bigfoot.
The Stone Box And Jesus' Brother's Bones by CBS News. (With Video)
Days may have 25 hours in near future due to Earth’s decelerating rotation
Days are gradually growing longer. To the layman this means that in the northern hemisphere days are longer in summer than they are in winter. But geoscientists interpret this phrase as follows: they found that days grow longer not only in spring time. The reason for that is the Moon, first and foremost. Its gravity creates permanent waves in oceans and in Earth’s depths. Thus our planet seems to waver, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung wrote.
Some news-links do not last long. In this case please send me a note.