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"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. The wonderful find not only emulates the infamous Act 5, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Hamlet, but also "suggests that African immigrants were living and working outside major Romano British settlements as early as the third or fourth century AD". While this may strike some as being unusual, it is in fact a fine example of the widespread multicultural reality of life, death and taxes within the Roman Empire; as well as the varied networks of trade and communications it took to run such a monster entity. Whatever he was, citizen or merchant, soldier or slave, our African Yorick chose to end his life far from the region of his birth. In Stratford. The Horror. Seriously...

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'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. SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATES Youtube The following videos are from Loughner's Youtube channel. Keep an eye out for the references to currency, a noted topic of libertarian conspiracy. There's some references to 'brainwashing': A second video, entitled 'My Final Thoughts': It's been suggested that Loughner has ties to the American Renaissance group, an alleged anti-immigration group. Make sure to read Who...

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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. Yeats and Maud Gonne practised the rituals of the mystical society, the Order of the Golden Dawn, to meet...

blather.net
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"Her enigmatic smile has teased art historians for centuries. But the eyes of the Mona Lisa also hold a secret. Experts are trying to decipher tiny numbers and letters painted into the eyes of the portrait -- a mystery that could have come straight from the pages of 'The Da Vinci Code'." Mr Vincenti said he was put on to the mystery after his fellow committee member, Luigi Borgia, found a musty book in an antique shop. The 50-year-old volume describes how the Mona Lisa's eyes are full of signs and symbols. Hear that? A Musty Book. MUSTY. There musty something in it so. Expect Dan Brown media whoredom in 3, 2, 1... More Here and Here.

Young lad on bike
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Here's some new music from Blather.net 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 »

blather.net
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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. I can't quite decide if this is a stroke of Machiavellian genius or an appeal to the lowest common denominator, but it looks as though President Obama (or one of his speechwriters anyway) has decided to tap into and try to ride the wave of popular conspiracy thinking which is washing across the USA. As you watch, count the number of questions asked which can't be properly answered. Also count the number of references to 'they' or 'them' - the classic signifiers of conspiracist thinking. Related The Republican Party and the Obama Conspiracy Theories The Tea Party: 'The People Who Hate People Party' Blather, Rinse, Repeat: An Ethnography of Conspiracy Theory The Haiti Conspiracy Theories Image...

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A set of William Hope's 'Spirit Photographs', from the National Media Museum, UK. From the National Media Museum Flickr page: 'These photographs of 'spirits' are taken from an album of photographs unearthed in a Lancashire second-hand and antiquarian bookshop by one of the Museum's curators. They were taken by a controversial medium called William Hope (1863-1933).' More on William Hope

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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. To help us in this momentous task, us the 'course' feed below. You'll need to connect with either your Twitter or Facebook account. Your posts will have the hashtag #blatherskool added to them automatically. Image From the Commons pool on Flickr

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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. The only light is from the fire, and from the half moon shining on this clear warm night. You can see for miles around, across Lough Erne and her endless wooded islands, and...

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(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...