Year: 2010

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...

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(Photo of Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and its logo: http://edu.npo.eu/news/) What will be on the video that will be shown in Washington D.C. today? The website Wikileaks.org 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. Surveillance '...the increase in surveillance activities this last month.. excessive,' says a WikiLeaks press release of 26 March (reproduced in full here), 'some...

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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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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. Press play. All images are CC licensed.