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Coming Soon! The Blather re-launch!
Posted by daev at 7:44 PM on September 14, 2015

It's been a long time coming. But the sweaty hands of the Chief Blatherskites are busy preparing a new Blather, to belatedly. mark our 18th birthday. Stay tuned.

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Posted by barry at 12:04 AM on November 22, 2013


Rosemary Willis, a girl of ten, in a red skirt and a white, hooded top, runs on the grass alongside the limousine, filmed by Abraham Zapruder. At frame 190 of the film (Z-190), she slows down, and as she comes to a stop, she turns her head, slightly, to the Texas School Book Depository. She's heard a loud noise. At Z-202 (each frame is one eighteenth of a second), her father, Phil, takes a photo, in which the 'Black Dog Man' can be seen at the white concrete wall, holding a blurred object. The BDM will be gone by the time Philip takes his next picture. At Z-207, Abraham can no longer see Jack Kennedy in the limo; his view is blocked by the Stemmons Freeway sign. At Z-214, Rosemary suddenly turns her head, fast, away from the Book Depository; by Z-217 she is facing Abraham and the Grassy Knoll. By Z-225, Jack is back fully into view, clutching his wounded throat. Rosemary notices a man opening or closing an umbrella, and also someone behind the concrete wall, between Abraham's right side and the top of the concrete stairway, someone who she sees 'disappear the next instant'. Jack's head explodes in a red splash; a Z-frame from 313 to infinity.

Continue reading "Z-∞"

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JFK and the Unspeakable
Posted by barry at 7:22 PM on November 15, 2013


'Did the U.S. Military Plan a Nuclear First Strike for 1963?' is the title of an article by James Galbraith (son of John Kenneth Galbraith, JFK's ambassador to India), published in American Prospect vol. 5 no. 19, September 1994, and the subject of it is 'that the military presented President Kennedy with a plan for a surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union...'

As the window for opportunity for attacking the Soviets, before their nuclear capability reached parity with that of the US, was before the end of 1963, James W. Douglass in his book JFK and the Unspeakable (2008) ties this in with the assassination, i.e. it gives the military a motive to get rid of JFK, in order to have someone more compliant press the button, and a motive to make Oswald look like a KGB agent (that business down in Mexico), to have an excuse to attack the USSR. (Not that the post-assassination President Lyndon Johnson played along with this shit, but there you go.)

Continue reading "JFK and the Unspeakable"

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Perils of Dominance
Posted by barry at 11:33 PM on November 8, 2013


Many years ago now, the film JFK sparked the debate about whether Kennedy would have sent troops (combat troops) into Vietnam or not. Had he lived, would JFK have refused to do what Johnson did? Did the assassination alter the course of history in this regard? Was the assassination convenient for the military-industrial complex and the national security state, in that they got the war that they wanted? Or would it have happened anyway, but with JFK at the bloody helm?

The best we can do is examine some historical research. Gareth Porter's 2005 book Perils of Dominance - Imbalance of power and the road to war in Vietnam takes a close look at the relevant historical documents. Its fifth chapter, 'Kennedy's Struggle with the National Security Bureaucracy', contains exactly the kind of information that we're looking for.

Continue reading "Perils of Dominance"

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Wilderness of Mirrors
Posted by barry at 2:10 AM on November 1, 2013


There is another backdrop to Oswald's defection and redefection, and the Kennedy assassination, and that's the bleeding edge of the Cold War, with secret agents from Western and Eastern power blocs spying on and deceiving one another, and infiltrating each other's organizations. Oswald and the assassination may even have emerged from this world; they certainly had an effect upon it.

For reading material I suggest the classic Wilderness of Mirrors (1980) by David C. Martin, which includes an account of operations overseen by James Jesus Angleton (1917-1987), the head of Counterintelligence in the CIA from 1954 to '74, a job that involved unearthing Soviet spies in the West.

Continue reading "Wilderness of Mirrors"

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Oswald and the CIA (part three)
Posted by barry at 2:34 AM on October 25, 2013

Photo_hsca_ex_596 oswald fpcc new orleans small.jpg

Once again this blog turns to John Newman's Oswald and the CIA (2008 edition) for evidence from the vast depths of US government files. In this way, pre-assassination documents can throw light on Lee Harvey Oswald.

Oswald in New Orleans, April-September '63

Oswald left Dallas not long after the Walker shooting, and went back to his hometown, New Orleans. Once there, he wrote to Vincent Lee, the national director of the left-wing Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), about setting up a New Orleans branch of the organization. But 'Lee lost interest in Oswald when he violated the bylaws of the FPCC by claiming charter status' for said branch (p.289). Oswald conducted the business of his rogue 'FPCC' under the name 'A. J. Hidell, Chapter President' (p.329), and on some of the literature he handed out (see photo), the address 544 Camp Street was used. This, as Newman says, 'deepens the mystery, for this was the location where Guy Banister and the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) maintained their offices' (p.289).

Continue reading "Oswald and the CIA (part three)"

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Marina and Ruth
Posted by barry at 1:03 PM on October 18, 2013

marina oswald.jpg

Today, 18 October, is Lee Harvey Oswald's birthday. He would have been 74 today (JFK would be 96). At the time of his 24th birthday, in 1963, his wife Marina and their 20-month-old daughter June were living outside Dallas in Irving, in the house of Ruth Paine. During weekdays, Lee stayed in the Dallas suburb of Oak Cliff.

His activities in New Orleans and Mexico were behind him now. He had been working in the Texas School Book Depository since the 16th. On the 20th, their second daughter, Rachel, would be born.

On his birthday, Marina and Ruth 'made quite an occasion of it. Ruth brought wine, decorated the table, and baked a cake. When the cake was carried in, glittering with candles, everybody sang, "Happy Birthday, Lee." Lee was visibly moved, and his eyes filled with tears' (Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy, p.282).

In the 3 December 2001 issue of The New Yorker (pp.72-85), on pages in between lame, irrelevant cartoons, Thomas Mallon interviewed Ruth Paine (b.1932) about this time of her life when Marina and her children lived with her, in an article entitled 'Marina and Ruth'. It included the above photo of Marina, taken by Allan Grant of Life 'in Ruth's back yard the day after the assassination'.

Continue reading "Marina and Ruth"

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Oswald and the CIA (part two)
Posted by barry at 12:00 AM on October 16, 2013


Continuing directly from the last entry, we examine more of John Newman's trawl through the declassified files in his book Oswald and the CIA (2008 edition). Government interest in Lee Harvey Oswald began with his defection in October 1959 and continued until '63. It's time to look now at his controversial 'redefection' from the USSR back to the USA in June '62.

Continue reading "Oswald and the CIA (part two)"

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Oswald and the CIA (part one)
Posted by barry at 12:21 PM on October 11, 2013


There are many mysteries about Oswald, beyond the JFK assassination - his defection, redefection, New Orleans, Mexico, etc. - and no-one seems to clear up mysteries like these better than John Newman, a professor of history and a former military intelligence officer. He trawled through the material released by the JFK Records Act 1992 with a real knowledge of how clandestine systems work, the result being the rewarding tome Oswald and the CIA (1995). I examine here the 2008 edition, with its startling 'epilogue, 2008'.

Understandably, as a defector to the USSR in 1959, Oswald was of great official interest to the US authorities from that point onwards. Newman follows 'the trails in Oswald's CIA, FBI, DOD, Navy, Army... American Embassy... State Department... [and] Immigration and Naturalization Service' files (p.xix). His book does 'not address the assassination of President Kennedy. We will not discuss Dealey Plaza. This book is content to explore the subject of Oswald and the CIA without regard to who is right and who is wrong in the larger debate about the Kennedy assassination' (p.xix).

But by avoiding Dealey Plaza, the book unexpectedly reveals that the part of the 'JFK' conundrum we should be arguing about and theorizing upon is actually the mystery of Oswald's week in Mexico, a puzzle I introduced you to in the most recent blog entries in this series.

Continue reading "Oswald and the CIA (part one)"

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Deep Politics II: Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba (part two)
Posted by barry at 12:00 AM on October 8, 2013

LHO25 mystery man crop.jpg
'Mystery Man'

Oswald in Mexico! Directly continuing from the last entry in this series, the reference book to hand is still Deep Politics II The New Revelations in U.S. Government Files 1994-1995 Essays on Oswald, Mexico and Cuba, and all page references are to that, unless otherwise stated.

The reader may recall that Nicaraguan intelligence agent Gilberto Alvarado gave up on his story that (a) Oswald was associated with the Cuban consulate in Mexico City and its official Luisa Calderon, and (b) Oswald was paid by the Cuban consulate to assassinate JFK. Alvarado retracted finally on 5 December '63 (and it is unlikely that the story was true: Calderon shows surprise upon being told of JFK's death in the 'transcripts from Cuban embassy and Cubana Airlines conversations on 22 Nov 1963' p.22). But in the meantime, while the Alvarado story was still in play, there were consequences for Silvia Durán, the only non-Cuban who worked at the consulate.

Continue reading "Deep Politics II: Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba (part two)"

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Deep Politics II: Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba (part one)
Posted by barry at 4:54 AM on October 4, 2013


There are mind-bending Oswald mysteries in Mexico! Peter Dale Scott's Deep Politics II The New Revelations in U.S. Government Files 1994-1995 Essays on Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba (1995) (3rd edn. 2003) is a short book with a narrower focus than Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (aka Deep Politics I - page references will be to Deep Politics II unless otherwise stated). It deals with my 'favourite' mystery of the JFK saga: Oswald in Mexico. By that I mean it's the most likely thing to make me go 'WHAT!?' repeatedly.

Oswald supposedly spent 26 Sep. - 3 Oct. '63 in Mexico City, to obtain a visa to visit Cuba (which had severed diplomatic ties with the US in '61). Win Scott, CIA station chief in Mexico, sent a cable to CIA Director John McCone on 8 Oct. (Deep Politics I, p.39; cable reproduced in John Newman, Oswald and the CIA 2008 edn., p.509), alleging a CIA intercept on 1 Oct. of 'a local call to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City' by a 'Lee Oswald' in which he 'talked of his contact with' Valeriy Kostikov (p.3), supposedly a KGB assassination expert. After Dealey Plaza, this information led to the Oswald-international-communist-conspiracy story.

Continue reading "Deep Politics II: Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba (part one)"

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Deep Politics and the Death of JFK
Posted by barry at 12:42 AM on September 27, 2013


'There is no danger of a deep state out of control in some way,' said William Hague, the UK's Foreign Secretary in June 2013, speaking about the Edward Snowden revelations.

'Which must be the first time a British minister has used the expression "deep state" in the House of Commons,' noted Robin Ramsay in Lobster #65. Hague's reference to the deep state points to the political writing of Peter Dale Scott and his concept of deep politics, first promulgated through Scott's 1993 book Deep Politics and the Death of JFK.

'Deep politics' (and you can see Scott introducing the topic in this video) is defined as 'all those political practises and arrangements, deliberate or not, which are usually repressed rather than acknowledged' (p.7).

Continue reading "Deep Politics and the Death of JFK"

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Who's Who in the JFK Assassination
Posted by barry at 1:01 AM on September 20, 2013


This wonderful idea for a book was realized in 1993, for the 30th anniversary: Who's Who in the JFK Assassination, An A-to-Z Encyclopedia, by Michael Benson, with the subtitle Information on More than 1,400 Suspects, Victims, Witnesses, Law Enforcement Officials and Investigators. Benson begins this reference work with an introduction that identifies the appeal of the assassination to be 'the sleazy slice of grotesque Americana, the labyrinth of characters and the deeply layered plot' (p.vii), which I often feel to be the story. He even refers to the case as 'hallucinatory' (p.viii).

Continue reading "Who's Who in the JFK Assassination"

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Reasonable Doubt (part two)
Posted by barry at 12:01 AM on September 13, 2013

hurt-reasonable-doubt halftone.jpg

Last week we were some way into showing how Henry Hurt's Reasonable Doubt shows that Oswald did not commit murder beyond a reasonable doubt. Let doubt be our guide as we proceed...

Continue reading "Reasonable Doubt (part two)"

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Reasonable Doubt (part one)
Posted by barry at 1:49 AM on September 6, 2013


The other great general book about the JFK assassination is Reasonable Doubt by Henry Hurt. First published in 1986, this is the Owl Book Edition of '87. Unfortunately it's never been updated.

It's more aggrieved in tone than The Kennedy Conspiracy, but then, Anthony Summers isn't American.

'Reasonable doubt' is 'the standard of evidence required to validate a criminal conviction in most adversarial legal systems' (Wikipedia). Under this standard, the defence doesn't have to provide an alternate explanation for how the crime happened, it only has to pick holes in the prosecution case. Hurt picks holes in the official (Warren Commission & HSCA) versions of the JFK assassination, and although his book isn't explicit about this, the first 7 chapters are enough to raise reasonable doubt and acquit Oswald of all charges.

A second meaning to the title is that by raising so many questions and pointing out so many flaws in the official investigation(s), it makes it clear why a majority of Americans don't believe the official explanations. They consider themselves to be reasonable . The truth, of course, may be as strange as the official version(s)... but Hurt's job is to raise the doubt.

Continue reading "Reasonable Doubt (part one)"

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The Kennedy Conspiracy
Posted by barry at 12:37 AM on August 30, 2013


This week, I present one of the best general books on the assassination, The Kennedy Conspiracy by Anthony Summers. The title does not 'reflect a set view by the author' (p. ix). It remains open-minded about the lone assassin and about conspiracy theories. It rigorously hunts for the 'true facts' (p.361), and although it produces 'no solutions' (p.378), it is a readable, fascinating and commendable work. Originally published in 1980, in the aftermath of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigation, it has been published under various titles over the years (Conspiracy, Not in Your Lifetime), and this is the 'revised and updated' third edition, published in 1998, the year the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) released its final report. (If you haven't heard of the HSCA investigation and the ARRB trawl for documents, they took place because over the years the US citizenry believed less and less in the Warren Commission's account of the assassination.)

Continue reading "The Kennedy Conspiracy"

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Who Shot JFK?
Posted by barry at 4:18 PM on August 23, 2013


Here at Blather Sub-aqua HQ in the ice-caverns of Crete, we are watchful of the time, and are therefore very much cognisant of the forthcoming 50th anniversary of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy (JFK), which took place in Dallas, Texas, on 22 November 1963. As no-one was ever tried for this violent crime, it's a murder mystery of sorts, and has been a remarkably fertile ground for conspiracy theories for decades. Indeed it was the beginning of the conspiracy culture as we know it today. A culture that Blather has fed off like a starving goat.

From now until 22 November, this blog will prime you for the anniversary, and will be, in the beginning at least, a kind of literature survey of the case.

Continue reading "Who Shot JFK?"

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Actually Listening to Your Record Collection (nearly)
Posted by barry at 2:13 PM on September 28, 2012

Talk Talk.jpg

I decided to appreciate what I own. Or else what's the point of owning anything? So I have listened to almost every album in my record collection, CDs and LPs - over 500 of them, casually working through them in random order during the past 12 months. Now, with no CDs left and only 14 LPs to go, my record player has broken. Will I ever hear the vinyl again?

Continue reading "Actually Listening to Your Record Collection (nearly)"

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Book: The Cold Edge
Posted by daev at 7:30 AM on September 11, 2012

The Cold Edge by Dave Walsh & Duncan Cleary

To celebrate the launch of the Cold Edge exhibition of my polar photography in Dublin, on September 13, I've worked with friend and poet Duncan Cleary to create a 60-page eponymous book, The Cold Edge, via Blurb - print and iPad version. I've brought together some of what I hope are ethereal, emotional photographs of the unforgiving wilderness, wild animals and blue icebergs question our romantic relationship with remote, harsh and pristine environments. Images that resonate with a quiet tension; all may not be right in the Garden of Eden.

Continue reading "Book: The Cold Edge"

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The Cold Edge: Polar Photography by Dave Walsh
Posted by daev at 6:49 AM on September 10, 2012

The Cold Exhibition Dave Walsh

From There comes a time in a photographer's life when (s)he finally gets to announce the Big News; a first major solo exhibition. It's unnerving, exciting, heartening, and reassuring. There's also the sense of achievement, and a feeling of "yes, I was right to hammer away so for many years on something I care passionately about". And so, many, many thanks to Leszek Wolnik, at The Copper House Gallery in Dublin who has invited me to show my work on September 13th, 2012.

Continue reading "The Cold Edge: Polar Photography by Dave Walsh"

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A Book of Migrations by Rebecca Solnit - photography by Dave Walsh
Posted by daev at 9:22 PM on September 28, 2011

The Book of Migrations by Rebecca Solnit

In all my years as a writer, I've written many book reviews. But I've never before reviewed a book that uses one of my photographs as its cover. I'm talking about The Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland, by Rebecca Solnit, which has been a joy to read, and an honour to become connected with. I was unaware of Solnit's work until May 24th of this year, when I read her insightful article the Strauss-Kahn affair, colonisation and the IMF: Worlds Collide in a Luxury Suite. That afternoon, I received an email from Bob Bhamra, of Verso Books, asking me if he could use my image of the Burren for a new editon of The Book of Migrations. Serendipity. We cut a deal.

Read the full story here »

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The Lion and Unicorn Amnesty: A Plea for the Safe Return of England
Posted by blather at 5:46 PM on August 10, 2011


Guest writer Oliver Bayliss, gives us his unique take on the London and UK riots which have engulfed the country for the last four days.

Continue reading "The Lion and Unicorn Amnesty: A Plea for the Safe Return of England"

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Curious Georgia: A Curious Little Funky
Posted by ender at 9:00 AM on May 27, 2011

1-Reinhardt 2.jpg

Archaeological batshttery, mumbo jumbo misinformation and outright lunacy based on fringe interpretations of a couple of websites and five minutes research by ill informed amateur web 'journalists'?

It must be Friday, so.

It takes a quare and rare thing to confound the likes of us here at Blather HQ, but every now and then, we get a right doozie. Like this report of Irish prehistoric art turning up in Georgia, USA.

Continue reading "Curious Georgia: A Curious Little Funky"

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Would you rob my grave as quick?
Posted by ender at 4:36 PM on March 11, 2011


The long held and longer respected Irish nocturnal tradition of body snatching is alive and well in the 21st century, it seems. Sort of. Kinda. We're not exactly sure if it officially counts though, if you leave the body back. Kinda. Sort of.

Reports reaching Blather HQ today indicate a corpse has been mysteriously (and illegally) exhumed and reburied in a separate grave under cover of darkness in Co. Limerick in recent times. Limerick (Old Irish: Liabh mé de féic alóne; take mó bhállet) is no stranger to nefarious after-hours activity, but even by its own standards, this counts as a strange one.

No exhumation order was sought, nor were official graveyard authorities present at the 'removal'. It all just kind of happened by itself.

At night. In the dark. With nobody watching.

According to Irish law, a priest, a guard (Police officer) and an environmental officer must be present at any exhumation.

I wonder which one of them does the digging?

Read More

Image from Flickr Commons, used under a CC Licence

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Report: 97 Minutes in Barentsburg, Svalbard
Posted by daev at 7:26 AM on February 15, 2011

Statue of Lenin in Barentsburg, Svalbard

Blather's Dave journeyed to the Arctic outpost of Barentsburg last year. And he finally got off his arse to write about it.

I am staring at a forest, a painting of a forest. They close the door, then walk away.

The forest, or rather the painting of a forest, is in the Russian coal-mining town of Barentsburg, about 1200km from the North Pole, one of three inhabited settlements in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.

There are no trees in Svalbard. But there are pictures of trees, billboard size, to remind the miners of the forests back home.

My visit to Barentsburg was short, far too short. I only stayed 97 minutes. I am not proud of this. I arrived as a tourist, and didn't want to leave. At least not soon.

I took no time to make new friends, gained no valuable insights into what it is like to live there. I didn't hit the bar, like some of the other visitors, to sample the vodka. I didn't even buy a Putin, Yeltsin, or Gorbachev matryoshka doll.

I did see a metal sunflower, a homemade spaceship, an awful lot of kittiwakes and two men walking out of a painting of a forest.

Continue reading »

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A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy
Posted by ender at 5:42 PM on January 26, 2011


"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio".

And now, we can too.

The 1700 year old skeletal remains of an African male have been found near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, by gravediggers archaeologists excavating a Roman cemetery.

Continue reading "A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy"

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Arizona Shootings Conspiracy Theory Round-Up
Posted by damien at 11:39 AM on January 12, 2011

'Saguaro National Monument', Arizona by Ansel Adams. CC license, via Flickr Commons

Whilst the various screaming heads do their best to make political hay from the shootings carried out by 22-year-old gunman Jared Lee Loughner, others have focused on Loughner's online life - notably his interest in the world of conspiracy theory.

I'll be using this thread to post links to stories about Loughner's online output, looking specifically for the tropes, tricks and syllogisms typical of some recent conspiracist thinking. Check back for updates over the next few days.

Continue reading "Arizona Shootings Conspiracy Theory Round-Up"

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Nights with my Demon Lover
Posted by barry at 4:50 PM on January 10, 2011


By Ann D'Artry Delaroche

My lover and I are face to face, and intimate; kissing, laughing, and joyous. We make love, and pillow-talk nonsense. I open my eyes and stare into the dark. I am alone. I close my eyes; the light and his presence are strong. We are two seas and a thousand kilometres apart. This is my initiation into psychic sex.

The Holy Ghost is the most famous incubus, the male supernatural being who visits slumbering women by night. Catholic pre-marriage guidance teaches that the Holy Ghost is the third presence in the marital bedroom but otherwise warns against contact with such beings, citing health risks, even death. Perhaps this is no more than an attempt to colonise the supernatural and corral the infinity of soul within prescribed boundaries.

Continue reading "Nights with my Demon Lover"

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De Vinci Coloured By Numbers. Dan Brown to Bring Out Christmas Colouring Book
Posted by ender at 4:24 PM on December 13, 2010


Continue reading "De Vinci Coloured By Numbers. Dan Brown to Bring Out Christmas Colouring Book"

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Landslide: Brian Conniffe and Suzanne Walsh
Posted by daev at 12:14 PM on November 23, 2010

Here's some new music from contributor Suzanne Walsh, along with Brian Conniffe and videomaker Michael Higgins.

Landslide - Music Video - Brian Conniffe and Suzanne Walsh from Michael Higgins on Vimeo.

Brian and Suzanne on Myspace Music »

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Obama Joins The Conspiracy Theory Game
Posted by damien at 12:06 PM on August 24, 2010


Repeated reference to unnamed foreign elements who are undermining the country? Check. Nebulous list of leading questions straight out of the GOP playbook? Check. Vague assertions about shadowy organisations lurking in the wings? Check.

Continue reading "Obama Joins The Conspiracy Theory Game"

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The Spirit Photographs Of William Hope
Posted by damien at 9:00 AM on August 20, 2010


A set of William Hope's 'Spirit Photographs', from the National Media Museum, UK.

Continue reading "The Spirit Photographs Of William Hope"

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The Blather University of the Weird
Posted by birdbath at 12:04 PM on August 18, 2010


Ever wanted to take a course on the paranormal? Join a study group of the weird? Delve into a curriculum of conspiracy theory? Well, now you can. Or you'll be able to when you help us create one.

We're using Hootcourse to throw together a twitter-based reading-list, video play-list and blog roll of the best of the best from the world of weirdness - everything from Alien Big Cats to UFOs and cute, whiskered Zoological oddities.

Join us. Go on. You know you want to.

Continue reading "The Blather University of the Weird"

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My Midsummer Mashing up the Mystic
Posted by barry at 10:33 PM on August 17, 2010


By Clare Taylor.

Crouched on top of Knockninny hill in Fermanagh with a beacon of fire roaring above our heads, a young man from Belfast explains the motivations of heroin use. "It's like, yer skint and ya only need a little at first and it gives ya everything, only problem's when yer tolerance goes up..." I offer him whisky, and he accepts, noting that as an alcoholic he really shouldn't drink and it could interfere with his medication. We chat about his diminished prospects, then break off our conversation and rise as a long line of masked figures dressed in sackcloth and straw, carrying flaming torches and led by a piper move towards us up the slope.

Continue reading "My Midsummer Mashing up the Mystic"

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START Denying the Nuclear Holocaust
Posted by barry at 12:36 AM on April 9, 2010

(picture from this source)

Yesterday in Prague, the U.S. President Barack Obama and the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, signed START, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 each. Sounds great, unless you realize what the figure of 1,550 actually means. Our ignorance of the meaning of numbers of deployed strategic nuclear warheads allows politicians to get away with making worthy speeches and nice fluffy agreements without actually changing anything.

Although no-one could criticize both sides for sitting down together with some flowers on the table, wagging those chins and shaking those hands and reducing the amount of deployed strategic nuclear warheads from about 2,126 American and 2,600 Russian to 1,550 each over the next seven years, this is far from being a 'giant step', or even a 'step'. A nuclear doomsday scenario, wiping out all advanced life on Earth, remains possible. Not only the amount of American and Russian nuclear warheads, but their nuclear weapons policies (or 'postures') do not alter the road map to Armageddon. The new START treaty, in terms of the survival of the human species, is flippant and meaningless, and I will explain why.

Continue reading "START Denying the Nuclear Holocaust"

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Wikileaks: Surveillance, Suspicion and a Mysterious Video
Posted by barry at 1:58 AM on April 5, 2010


(Photo of Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and its logo:

What will be on the video that will be shown in Washington D.C. today?

The website is a non-profit organization that publishes countless classified documents, typically 'from corrupt banks, the US detainee system, the Iraq war, China, the UN' and it gets away with it by being based in more than one jurisdiction. So the last few years they have been publishing globally, made possible because each country on this planet has different laws about what one can and can't publish. This is a truly unique situation. It has proven impossible for governments to clamp down on WikiLeaks.

It seems, then, certain governments are thinking of using other methods to prevent material getting onto that site.

Continue reading "Wikileaks: Surveillance, Suspicion and a Mysterious Video"

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Thieves Like Us
Posted by ender at 2:14 PM on March 26, 2010

633768888725568260-irony copy.jpg

Ever quick on the draw, Paul Barford beat me to it on the news of today's report in the Irish Times concerning the suspended sentencing of individuals involved in the case of the Strokestown Stroke.

Would it be a little smug if I pointed out the irony (beep beep) to metal detecting enthusiasts across the water that a couple of drug addicted thieves, when confronted and informed of what they had inadvertently thrown away, were civic minded and willing enough to show the police where the priceless items had been dumped? Even later, to visit the said items in the museum, where they are held in trust on behalf of all the people of Ireland?

Yes, I rather think it would.

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Historical Photos of Ireland
Posted by blather at 9:01 AM on March 17, 2010


And a fine St. Patrick's Day to you.

The following is a series of images of Ireland in the late 19th century, found at the Commons on Flickr. The photos are predominantly from the Library of Congress and Smithsonian pools. Whilst most of the photos are of Ireland itself, some of the later ones in the slideshow are of locations in the United States - taken by pioneering Irish photographer Timothy O'Sullivan.

Continue reading "Historical Photos of Ireland"

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Raiders of the Lost Farce
Posted by ender at 8:00 AM on February 23, 2010


According to the latest reports, the site for a new deepwater port at Bremore may be moved north to avoid a pesky neolithic passage tomb complex that would most likely be more trouble then its worth to pay a shed load of money the developer probably doesn't have anymore, in order to get rid of the feckin' thing.

A spokesman for Treasury Holdings, which is planning to develop the new facility in partnership with Drogheda Port, confirmed yesterday that one of the options now being considered was to "shift it off Bremore headland" for archaeological reasons.

He said it had become clear at an early stage that the neolithic complex at Bremore was "very significant", and the developers would be anxious to avoid it by examining alternative locations, such as Gormanstown...

More Here

Previous shenanigans here

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"Don't Speak With Your Mouth Full of Shite"
Posted by daev at 10:02 AM on February 18, 2010

Don't Talk with your mouth full of SHITE

"Don't Speak With Your Mouth Full of SHITE" - by photographer lurking in the toilets of the George Bernard Shaw, Dublin, last night. It's not often that we post just a photograph as a main entry, but this just begs to be shared.


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The Worst Irish Accents In Cinema History
Posted by damien at 2:37 PM on February 17, 2010


What's the worst Irish accent you've ever heard? Earlier this week, we asked our Facebook bots to make suggestions for a list of the worst Irish accents ever committed to celluloid. That's every 'begob', 'begorrah' and 'divil alive, musha man' ever uttered by an over-paid, perma-tanned Hollywood twat. The following are some of the findings from our extensive survey.

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Turfs up! Early Medieval Brooch turns up in a Kerry Fireplace
Posted by ender at 9:00 AM on February 6, 2010

In what must be one of the strangest discoveries of an archaeological object in recent times, a fantastic early medieval brooch has turned up, quite unexpectedly, in the range of a north Kerry house.

1224263734175_2 zoo brooch - kerry - range - 2010 - Copy.jpg

Continue reading "Turfs up! Early Medieval Brooch turns up in a Kerry Fireplace "

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Barah Pal: 12 Castes of Gypsy Artists from New Delhi, India
Posted by damien at 9:00 AM on February 5, 2010

A 30-minute ethnographic documentary about a colony of gypsy artists in New Delhi, India by Jennifer Rosen.

Continue reading "Barah Pal: 12 Castes of Gypsy Artists from New Delhi, India"

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The Republican Party And The Obama Conspiracy Theories
Posted by damien at 8:20 AM on February 4, 2010

(image by David Basanta, used under a CC license)

Little Green Footballs, the American site which tracks (amongst other things) what seems like the increasingly more moonbat trajectory of the American right's thinking, has posted results of a poll of Republicans voters on everything from Obama's motives to the inclusion of Creationism in schools. The results are... well, you can see for yourself. But should we be surprised? Is there anything new here? Or is this just the latest manifestation of a narrative which has been growing and replicating this last sixty years or so, only now brought to a head by the presence of an African-American in the West Wing?

Continue reading "The Republican Party And The Obama Conspiracy Theories"

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The Tea Party: 'The People Who Hate People Party'
Posted by damien at 8:51 AM on February 2, 2010

(image by ragesoss, used under a Creative Commons license)

There's an old joke about Irish politics: that the second item on the agenda of any new political movement's first meeting is the split. The Tea Party, the notional emerging third party of American politics, already seems to be heading in the same direction.

Continue reading "The Tea Party: 'The People Who Hate People Party'"

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The Map Is Not The Territory
Posted by damien at 10:32 AM on January 27, 2010

(image by Thristian, used under a CC license)

If the internet were a town on a map, what would it look like? Alfred Korzybski said that 'the map is not the territory'. That said, sometimes a 'notional map' might help us visualise that which defies classification.

Continue reading "The Map Is Not The Territory"

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The Haiti Conspiracy Theories
Posted by damien at 12:38 PM on January 20, 2010

(image from the UN Development Programme, used under a CC license)

Would-be ethnographers of the web such as ourselves are often advised to try to take a neutral stance on conspiracy theories, seeking to take a position of 'negative capability', resulting in the publication of posts which take a reasonable, balanced and calm approach to the issue at hand.

This is not one of those posts.

Continue reading "The Haiti Conspiracy Theories"

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Fata Morgana: Mirage
Posted by daev at 12:34 AM on January 18, 2010 Fata Morgana, orb above iceberg Nares Straight, north west Greenland

.... with photographs by Dave Walsh, music by Dacianos.

There is something unnerving about watching reality bend before one's eyes. There is what one "knows" to be true, and that which one can see through a telephoto lens or binoculars - with Fata Morgana, the two are difficult to reconcile. Something is happening on the horizon. Icebergs twist and change shape, move, disappear, elongate. Islands rise from the sea. The earth warps.

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For Sale: Old Fashioned Skullduggery
Posted by ender at 12:00 PM on January 12, 2010

S&C - Copy.jpg

Secret societies, alleged grave robbing, little black books, Thor, the possible skull of Geronimo, grizzly human remains, shadowy establishment figures, ex-Presidents, conspiracies, the CIA and supreme court judges.

While these may certainly sound like the frustrated ramblings of DeCount O'Blather on a wet-wristed Wednesday wankathon (TM) [don't think we haven't heard those rusty bed springs late at night in Blather HQ, mister], they also happen to be involved in an upcoming lot for sale at Christies which has quite a few people in a bit of a tizzy.

Continue reading "For Sale: Old Fashioned Skullduggery"

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Depeche Mode in the 02 Dublin
Posted by damien at 10:24 AM on January 8, 2010


My favourite band, captured by one of my favourite photographers, Bob Dixon.

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Tracking the Protocols of the Elders of Zion
Posted by damien at 1:59 PM on January 5, 2010 Henry-Ford.gif (Henry Ford - one of the Protocols most ardent supporters and publishers) 

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion has often been called the 'original conspiracy theory' - a known anti-semitic forgery which, despite an abundance of research showing that it is a fake, continues to replicate and spread. The following map is part of a project (for a course at the University of Edinburgh) which attempts to understand how poor research, multi-located narratives and the 'will of the web' can ensure that dangerous, patently false ideas can continue to thrive and thrive.

Continue reading "Tracking the Protocols of the Elders of Zion"

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2000s Jukebox (Part Three)
Posted by barry at 4:49 PM on December 19, 2009

jukebox3 pic2_448.jpg
By Barry Kavanagh and Countess Maia Elena, with Horatius.

'Die 2000s, die!'

Okay, keep your hair on. This is the third and final part of a personal trawl through the music of the 2000s.

Continue reading "2000s Jukebox (Part Three)"

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Nicking the Bones of St. Nick
Posted by ender at 12:00 PM on December 16, 2009

DeadSanta - Copy.jpg

It seems a Norman Family, relocating to Kilkenny brought more then just their suitcases of French perfumes, fine wines and strings of garlic. Apparently the French penchant for durty, cheating, va va vooom, thievery has a long historical precedent, as evidenced by their alleged translation of the relics of St. Nicholas to Ireland sometime during the 12th century after having nicked them from the 'Holy Land'.

As previously reported here at Blather

Continue reading "Nicking the Bones of St. Nick"

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2000s Jukebox (Part Two)
Posted by barry at 6:42 PM on December 13, 2009

jukebox 2 pic01.JPG
By Barry Kavanagh and Countess Maia Elena

A personal journey through the music of the 2000s continues. Presenting part two of the informative, whimsical playlist that temporarily turns back the clock and turns on the sound. Something to listen to before commencing that long-planned retirement from hearing anything at all ever again. Silence will rule in 2010 - and the concept of decades will be gone by 2019.

Continue reading "2000s Jukebox (Part Two)"

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2000s Jukebox (Part One)
Posted by barry at 2:47 PM on December 9, 2009

2000s jukebox blather1.jpg
By Barry Kavanagh and Countess Maia Elena.

As usual at the end of a decade we are slightly taken aback by the retrospectives of the music of the previous ten years. 'Was it really like that?' we think to ourselves, pondering the crappy early gig by the crappy Libertines one of us had the misfortune to attend. But let us not dwell on the negative. Let us be more thoughtful. Here is a personal playlist covering the last ten years, based on music experienced first hand (first ear?). For each part of this three-part series 20 songs will be selected. Forgive us in advance. Barry being involved with a band (Dacianos) and a music venue (Sound of Mu) and other violations of normal life have obviously given us access to certain musical worlds, most particularly Norwegian stuff, so there are some obscure offerings and about a third of the musical selections will be Norwegian, but you can always ignore them if you're allergic. But don't ignore good stuff when it's good.

Continue reading "2000s Jukebox (Part One)"

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2012 And The New Wave Of Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theory
Posted by damien at 3:02 PM on November 26, 2009

(image by spike55151, used under a Creative Commons license)

The Birthers, Truthers and Teabaggers may be getting the headlines, but for pure unadulterated lunacy they don't hold a candle to the new wave of anti-semitic conspiracy theorists. Don't believe us? Take a gander at this...

Continue reading "2012 And The New Wave Of Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theory"

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Blather, Rinse, Repeat: An Ethnography of Conspiracy Theory
Posted by damien at 10:11 AM on November 12, 2009

(image by Aaron Escobar, used under a Creative Commons license)

This is the video of the talk I did at the Dublin Paracon 2009 on the subject of 9/11 and conspiracy theories. This talk resulted from a course called Digital Cultures, part of the MsC. in e-learning at the University of Edinburgh, where we were encouraged to carry out a 'virtual ethnography' on a community of our choice. I chose, for reasons passing understanding, the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, choosing some of the recent 9/11 films as a field site.

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| Comments (10) at Dublin Paracon 2009
Posted by damien at 4:23 PM on October 21, 2009


The 2nd Dublin Paracon will take place at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8 on Saturday November the 7th 2009. I'll be there giving a talk entitled 'Blather, Rinse, Repeat: An Ethnography of Conspiracy Theory'.

Update: online scrapbook from the talk added.

Continue reading " at Dublin Paracon 2009"

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Climate change in Ireland: The need to move beyond skepticism
Posted by Marie-Catherine at 1:59 PM on October 15, 2009

Climate change: Photographer Dave Walsh, Solar Power vs. Fossil fuels, Environmental photographer of the year 2009
Photo: Dave Walsh. More about this image here...

Suffering from global warming fatigue? Considering the 30 percent drop in attendance rate at the Irish Skeptics talk on climate change in April, some might. Understandably so. Not only because of this feeling of having heard it all before... but also, living in Ireland even if you're one of the most environmentally concerned citizens, you might still find it hard to be really upset about the temperatures getting warmer. Rightly so? Well, this was actually the question addressed by Professor John Sweeney from the Department of Geography, NUI Maynooth in his talk "Climate change in Ireland: The need to move beyond skepticism".

Continue reading "Climate change in Ireland: The need to move beyond skepticism"

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What do the Bremore Passage Tomb Complex (A National Treasure), National Treasury Management Agency and Treasury Holdings, all have in common?
Posted by ender at 8:00 AM on September 3, 2009



The Irish Times had an enlightening article yesterday which illustrates the wonderful shitehawk shenanigans, smoke and mirror style hoop jumping, and outright obfuscation involved in modern Irish planning applications.

Continue reading "What do the Bremore Passage Tomb Complex (A National Treasure), National Treasury Management Agency and Treasury Holdings, all have in common?"

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