Month: October 2005

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County by county, site by site, monument by monument, Megalithomania is an ever-expanding archive of Ireland's prehistoric treasures. This, ladies and Gents, is what the web was designed for... All too often here on Blather, we focus our attentions on complaining about the grim statistics and hideous bile that the web serves up. Plagues, war and celebrity babies swarm all over us like a cheap blog. So we've decided to do something a bit different. We've decided to start a new series of articles which highlight imaginative, creative and wonderful uses of the web. And we begin with one of the most wonderful sites that we've ever seen: Megalithomania. Updated on a weekly basis, Megalithomania is the brainchild of Tom 'FourWinds' who originally set out to document his personal visits to megalithic sites in Ireland, giving information and photos on each site. It has slowly expanded to become the web's...

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Guest writer Kat Bolstad tells us about the recent photographing of a giant squid... You've probably been catching snitches of the buzz about the first live giant squid ever to be caught on film... and since Steve O'Shea and I have been working on this indirectly over the past few years, I thought you might like a quick rundown on what has happened. For several years now, some Japanese colleagues of Steve's - Drs Kubodera and Mori - have been sending down baited cameras in an attempt to film the giant squid. They chose the Ogasawara Islands off Japan based on its topography - a steep submarine canyon - and the fact that sperm whales are known to feed there. Finally, the filming - which was kept secret while the publication was in preparation has paid off! Last year they got about 550 photographs (the camera takes a still shot...

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I walked out of A History of Violence a little confused. Was that a Cronenbergian take on a straightforward 'family under siege from baddies' drama, or something very different? Maybe it was both. If any other director had gotten their hands on it, it might have been something like Goodfellas meets Die Hard meets some anodyne Costner shlockfest. Let us be thankful for David Cronenberg. The farther I got from the cinema, the more I realised that the director had packed layer up on layer of subtle subtext and manipulation into his movie. Which isn't to say it's didactic in any way. A History of Violence starts with a couple of psychopathic killers doing their daily chores - murdering people. We're shocked by their violence, and I'm reminded of the 'Collectors (Serial Killers) Convention' in Neil Gaiman's Sandman. As A History of Violence is based on a graphic novel, this...

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The latest in the ongoing seasonal, pre-Samhain Halloween Necroblog. Last weekend, a crack Blather team descended upon the sprawling Necropolis of London's Highgate Cemetery. No Vampires were injured in the process... I visited Highgate Cemetery in London last weekend - was dismayed at first by the restrictions on photography, but was able to take quite a few images while I was. I was hindered by a lack of light, but made the most of it. The whole post-gothic Victorian necropolis is under siege by nature - when entering the Circle of Lebanon (a huge neo-Egyptian mausoleum complex) we even saw a fox. The tour was lead by a stout elderly gentlemen with a walking stick, who puffed and panted his way through the tour. I wondered if he himself would expire before the downhill section started. On a poignant note, it seems that his wife is buried in the cemetery......

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The Resurrection Men have long been the subject of literary flights of fancy, most of their depictions being simple stage nonsense. But one piece of literature stands out above all others: The Surgeons' Warning by Robert Southey. The Fear of the Knife Previously on Waking the Dead, we had spoken a little of the Resurection Men and the mechanics of stealing a dead body. We had also mentioned how the (official) supply of study material for anatomical schools came from executed criminals and in other cases from unidentified vagrants whose bodies were found in the streets. Although many of us today are enlightened enough to donate our bodies to medical science after we croak, during the time of the Sack-em-ups and the early anatomical schools, the majority were not. And with good cause. So great was the mistrust of the anatomists and so great the fear of dissection, that many...