Year: 2002

4569 views

by Michael Cunningham & Dave Walsh Part I: I See Dead People » Dr. John Harbison My arrival in the Burke Theatre was typically haphazard and considerably late. I missed Dr. Whittaker's talk, stumbling in during the appreciative applause, and found some floor to sit on while the bearded Dr. Harbison fumbled with his slides. Here in Ireland, John Harbison is something of a celebrity. With less than four million inhabitants in the republic, one state pathologist was, for many years, more than enough. Everyone in the country is used to news footage of the tweedy doctor, along with the words '...the State Pathologist, Dr. John Harbison, arrived at the scene to carry out a post- mortem examination...' In recent years, Harbison's workload has doubled. This may be less to do with any sudden increase in murder than an altered definition of a 'suspicious' death. However, Harbison reserved commentary on...

3425 views

by Mick Cunningham & Dave Walsh Professor David Whittaker The twentysomething American woman sitting on my right is convinced that the O.J. Simpson murder trial in the States was the main turning point. I paraphrase, but it pushed the language of criminology into the vernacular, and audiences are now primed to view forensic science in drama form, hence primetime successes such as "CSI". Or maybe it was "Quincy". The thirtysomething woman sitting to my left likes "a good Patricia Cornwell" (novel), though her theory is that Ireland caught the forensics bug after the notorious "Kerry Babies" trial. It's Halloween, it's Trinity College in Dublin, and we're in a packed lecture hall (built in the late 1970s, official attendance 500) for an evening of public lectures entitled "Over Their Dead Bodies... The Secrets That Dead Bodies Tell". And dead bodies speak volumes. The first speaker is David Whittaker, Professor of Forensic...

blather.net
2885 views

The promotional material stated that on the night of 15 October 2002, author and journalist Jon Ronson would give a reading at Belfast’s Linen Hall Library. What actually took place was nearly two-hours of free association, ping-ponging between whether David Icke really believes that the world is run by 12-foot reptiles disguised as human beings (apparently yes) or whether Ian Paisley might ever change his tune (apparently no). Ronson would periodically interrupt his riffs on bizarre cults and conspiracy theorists to peer out at the audience and ask, “Is this OK?” Yes, indeed it was. Except for the naggin of whiskey that stood beside the speaker’s standard-issue bottle of mineral water, the proceedings started off conventionally enough, with the appealingly nebbishy-looking Ronson reading a bit from his book Them: Adventures with Extremists. The chosen section detailed how the tables had been turned on him during his investigation into the shadowy...

blather.net
3316 views

Day Back in London... A city I can appreciate on many levels, but can never quite warm to. My last visit had been in 1999 or 2000, probably for a Fortean Times UnConvention. My lightning-raid incursions tend to happen over weekends of busy intensity, so I'm perhaps unqualified to judge the place. Besides, the denizens seem to be managing quite well with out me. London provides a home to several of my friends. Mark Pilkington, of the Strange Attractor posse, was involved in putting on Megalithomania in conjunction with Third Stone magazine, in Holborn's Conway Hall. A delegations of the Blather Inner Circle decided to attend. So we did. Mr. Kavanagh - Blather.net's Man In London - was up and gone early on Saturday morning, in order to catch John Michell's talk and to help out. The lovely Ms. Maria Behan and myself, after coffees and cake, sailed into Conway...

2700 views

Day Back in London... A city I can appreciate on many levels, but can never quite warm to. My last visit had been in 1999 or 2000, probably for a Fortean Times UnConvention. My lightning-raid incursions tend to happen over weekends of busy intensity, so I'm perhaps unqualified to judge the place. Besides, the denizens seem to be managing quite well with out me. London provides a home to several of my friends. Mark Pilkington, of the Strange Attractor posse, was involved in putting on Megalithomania in conjunction with Third Stone magazine, in Holborn's Conway Hall. A delegations of the Blather Inner Circle decided to attend. So we did. Mr. Kavanagh - Blather.net's Man In London - was up and gone early on Saturday morning, in order to catch John Michell's talk and to help out. The lovely Ms. Maria Behan and myself, after coffees and cake, sailed into Conway...

4158 views

Blather guest writer, Robby Garner, winner of the Loebner prize for two years running, explains how he failed this year's Turing test. Very impressive, as he is a human being. Apparently. The Loebner Prize Contest, founded by a guy named Dr. Hugh Loebner, is an annual "Turing test" based on an idea for a "lying game" that was envisioned in 1950 by the brilliant mathematician Alan Turing. In the lying game, a judge tries to guess whether he is communicating with a man or a woman. Dr. Loebner has created a contest where there can be no winner, only a consolation prize consisting of a bronze medal and USD$2,000. Hugh likes to tell the story of how he himself had tried to write an intelligent computer program in COBOL, or some other dead language, and saw that it couldn't be done. Instead, he put some money he had inherited into...

Ptolemy Ireland
9192 views

Is Roman Ireland nothing more than wishful thinking? Exploring Ireland's forbidden archaeology is a tricky business... A Jaw-dropper On a pleasant Sunday morning early in 1996, I was traveling to work, when my jaw hit the rather grubby floor of the bus on which I was sitting. The reason for my cartoon like gob-flapping was the banner headline from The Sunday Times. I was, at the time, studying in what is now known as NUI Maynooth, (formerly known as just good old 'Maynooth') for a degree in Classics and English, so the newspaper headline was of some interest to me. It claimed that conclusive evidence had been discovered - or at least had been made public - that could lend proof to that most heretical of archaeological whisperings. I refer, of course, to the greatest of Irish historical conspiracies: the theory that at some long forgotten time in our past,...