Thursday, December 8, 2011

Recently Read: Angels and Demons - Dan Brown

I know Dan Brown books get quite a bit of stick from the literati, but personally I quite like them. I started reading this one before last Christmas. I got about two-thirds of the way through and then got sidetracked and started reading something else. I only picked it up again a few weeks ago. I know that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but the fact that it took me a year to read it probably says more about my erratic reading habits than it does about the book.

This was the second Dan Brown book I'd read, the first being The Da Vinci Code. Like the first, I quite enjoyed this one. I found it interesting, fast-paced and quite zippy.

Actually, I should probably use this opportunity to stick up for Dan Brown a bit. His writing style and subject matter often come in for criticism, but I think it's a bit unfair. When I hear people, even people I'm a fan of like Stephen Fry, deriding The Da Vinci Code I kind of feel they're missing the point and being a little bit snobbish. Dan Brown's writing style is perfectly apt for the type of books he writes. If you want extraordinary prose you should probably go somewhere else. In fact, part of Dan Brown's success lies in his unpretentious writing style - his books read like James Bond movies, that's part of the appeal.

Another thing which I find a bit silly is the way people take issue with the statements made in the preface of his books - like the one where he states that the Priory of Sion is a real organisation. First of all, his books are works of fiction. How anyone can get worked up about something they've read in a fictional work is beyond me, whether it's been presented as fact or otherwise. And secondly, the statements are clearly literary devices. When Dan Brown writes that the Priory of Sion is a real organisation he's basically saying "listen, I haven't made this stuff up out of thin air." The point being that people in the real world had actually researched and speculated about this stuff before he wrote the book. Anyone reading a Dan Brown novel for the first time needs to know this stuff otherwise it wont make any sense.

Anyway, like I said, I feel the criticism he gets is a bit unfair. This was a good book.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Love Thy Neighbour - The Golden Rule

In my last post I wrote;
The biggest mystery that remains for me is who came up with some of the social and moral philosophy that we find in the New Testament. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, ‘do to others as you would have them do to you,’ ‘love your enemies,’ all pretty profound ideas. If Jesus didn’t exist, who came up with this stuff, and where did it originate?
Since then I've been reading about 'The Golden Rule' - basically the ethic of reciprocity, or rather, the idea that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

It turns out that this idea exists in pretty much all major religions and philosophical traditions. I'll give a few examples.

In Ancient Greece;
"Do not to your neighbor what you would take ill from him."  - Pittacus
"What you do not want to happen to you, do not do it yourself either. " - Sextus the Pythagorean.
In China;
"Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." - Laozi
In Judaism;
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. - Leviticus 19:18
In Islam;
A Bedouin came to the prophet, grabbed the stirrup of his camel and said: O the messenger of God! Teach me something to go to heaven with it. Prophet said: “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don't do to them. Now let the stirrup go! [This maxim is enough for you; go and act in accordance with it!]” - Kitab al-Kafi,
Myriad other examples can be found on the Wikipedia page -

So, far from being a mystery, it turns out that the concept has always been fairly common across all human cultures. In fact, I'm now starting to think that the idea is probably more or less innate to all human beings.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Many Faces of Jesus

I’ve recently been doing a little bit of research on Jesus, mainly because I feel that the timing of his birth is a little suspicious. The Julian calendar was started in 45 BCE by Julius Caesar, then corrected by Augustus (no later than 8 CE), Jesus was then born sometime around 6 CE. Now to me it seems a little odd that the calendar was sorted out just in time for the arrival of the baby Jesus. Of course it could just be a coincidence, and a minor one at that. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if someone at sometime had just pinned the birth of Jesus near the beginning of the Julian calendar. Either because Jesus never existed and the beginning was an obvious place to put the birth of the son of God, or for some other reason altogether.

Anyway, needless to say, I didn’t find a simple answer regarding my suspicions. Instead I was just led into a labyrinth of speculation and synchronicity. Basically, there were so many different theories regarding Jesus that I was left no wiser than when I started.

I’ll give a brief introduction to some of these theories here.

The Gaulish Jesus - Esus

Esus, also know as Hesus, was a Gaulish god. The existence of this god is known from two statues and from a reference in Lucan's Bellum civile. On both statues Esus is portrayed cutting tree branches with his axe. He was apparently associated with human sacrifice and it’s said that his victims were sacrificed by being tied to a tree and flailed. The obvious similarity of the names, Esus, Hesus and Jesus has lead to the god being equated with the biblical Jesus.

Jesus as Iaso

Iaso was a Greek goddess and was associated with healing and recuperation. She’s one of the lesser known Greek gods and her equation with Jesus is even less well known - so much so that I’ve only actually came across it once so far, and that online. Her association with Jesus mainly comes from the similarity of her name to the Greek version of Jesus - Iesous. And, of course, from the fact that she’s associated with healing.

Jesus as Zeus

I’ve came across this one quite a few times on the Internet. Apparently, Iesous, the Greek name for Jesus, translates as “Hail Zeus.” “Ie,” apparently meaning “Hail” and “sous,” “Zeus.” The “Hail” bit in particular sounds a little bit apocryphal to me. However, a lot of Greek names rendered in English seem to have the “sus” ending - Dionysus, etc. So maybe there’s some truth to it.

Jesus as the Sun

People have also equated the worship of Jesus with the worship of the Sun, citing the fact that the holy day of Christianity is Sunday, and also the fact that Jesus is worshipped as the “Son” of God. It’s also said that sun-worship was so prevalent amongst the early Christians that it had to be sermonised against by the likes of Pope Leo the Great (391/400-461). He preached;
“From such a system of teaching proceeds also the ungodly practice of certain foolish folk who worship the sun as it rises at the beginning of daylight from elevated positions: even some Christians think it is so proper to do this that, before entering the blessed Apostle Peter’s basilica, which is dedicated to the One Living and true God, when they have mounted the steps which lead to the raised platform, they turn round and bow themselves towards the rising sun and with bent neck do homage to its brilliant orb”
This theory is obviously quite attractive to me at the moment as it kind of fits in with my suspicions about the Julian calendar and the birth of Christ. The fact that Sol Invictus - The Invincible Sun - was also at one point the official religion of Rome also seems to go hand in hand with this.

Jesus as Horus

It’s said that the story of the Egyptian god Horus also parallels the story of Jesus. The most apparent and symbolic parallel being that of the Virgin Mary and Jesus with the goddess Isis and her son, the infant Horus. Some people have also speculated that the holy trinity (the Father, Son and Holy Ghost) is of Egyptian derivation.

The Mithraic Connection

Mithraism was a religion that flourished in the Roman Empire between the 1st and 4th centuries CE - i.e. in the early days of Christianity and largely before the Christian faith was officially adopted by the Roman Empire. The main connection with Jesus is that the birthday of Mithras was celebrated on the 25th of December (although there’s some contention about this).

Something that caught my eye was this on Wikipedia;
“The Christian apologist Tertullian wrote that as a prelude to the Mithraic initiation ceremony, the initiate was given a ritual bath and at the end of the ceremony, received a mark on the forehead. Tertullian described these rites as a diabolical counterfeit of the baptism and chrismation of Christians.”
It’s also been suggested that Mithraism was a solar cult, so this maybe connects with the ‘Jesus as the Sun’ theory mentioned earlier.

Jesus as Dionysus

Another god who has been mentioned as a precursor to Jesus is Dionysus, the god of grape harvest, wine and general abandon. It’s mainly the association with wine that has led to the comparison. Although there are other similarities, such as the fact that both are viewed as dying-and-returning gods.

Something which maybe lends itself to the idea of an overlap between Jesus and Dionysus is the fact that Dionysius continued to be a popular name well into the Christian era. Examples include Pope Dionysius (259–268), Dionysius, bishop of Milan (349-355) and Dionysius Exiguus (470–544), the formulator of the Anno Domini era.

The Arian Interpretation of Jesus

Arianism was a branch of Christianity that followed the teachings of Arius (amongst others). It held the view that Jesus was separate from God and was a created being - as opposed to the Roman Catholic view that held that Jesus and God were one and the same. Sadly the main evidence we have for Arianism derives from works written by its detractors as the original writings were deemed heretical and consequently burned.

From what I’ve read so far it’s difficult not to come to the conclusion that the Arians believed that Jesus was simply a man and not a god. However, it’s generally believed that the Arians viewed Jesus as divine and simply saw him as beneath God, but nevertheless still of God, and of divine importance.

Personally, I find it hard not to sympathise with the Arian view, after all Arius was arguing against Trinitarianism - the idea that the ‘Father, Son and Holy Ghost’ are of the same exact substance and are co-equally God. A thoroughly nonsensical doctrine. The Arian viewpoint seems slightly more rational, at least given the scraps of information we have concerning it. In fact, again, it’s difficult not to sense a few glimmers of philosophical light in the fragments.

For example, when reading these fragments it often seems that the Word of God is being confused with the Son of God. So that rather than speaking about Jesus in particular they seem to be speaking of religious concepts generally.  In fact, sometimes it’s hard to tell if they’re speaking about Jesus Christ or about man in general.

The following comes from a poem by Arius called the Thalia;

"In brief, God is inexpressible to the Son.
For He is in himself what He is, that is, indescribable,
So that the Son does not comprehend any of these things or have the understanding to explain them.
For it is impossible for him to fathom the Father, who is by Himself.
For the Son himself does not even know his own essence.
For being Son, his existence is most certainly at the will of the Father."

On the topic of the ‘Father, Son and Holy Ghost,’ I think it would certainly make more sense if it was something more akin to ‘God, Man and the Soul.’ It would certainly be more in keeping with the Greek philosophical tradition which preceded it.

It may also be the case that the Arians were simply arguing that anything of this world, be it man or the utterances of man, or anything else for that matter, are of God but not actually God himself. And thus, that nothing in this universe can be more divine or less divine than anything else in it. And therefore that nothing of this world (be it biblical scripture or Jesus himself) should be elevated to the rank of God. Then again maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part.

[I’ve just read that Origen (184/5–253/4 CE), one of the precursors to Arius, believed that Jesus was the Word of God incarnate. So the above almost certainly is wishful thinking].

In Conclusion

All in all it’s difficult not to see Christianity as a compound religion. A composite and amalgamation of numerous beliefs and traditions, brought together and codified by a single supranational authority - kind of a faith based European Union project. What the actual truth is I’m not sure, and deeply so.

The biggest mystery that remains for me is who came up with some of the social and moral philosophy that we find in the New Testament. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, ‘do to others as you would have them do to you,’ ‘love your enemies,’ all pretty profound ideas. If Jesus didn’t exist, who came up with this stuff, and where did it originate? The various gods, goddesses and sun-gods that inspired the Christian faith don’t really explain this. At least as far as I know anyway.

Either way, I feel like a cat pawing at the cat-flap of history. Pushing at the door, but still on the outside. More research needed!

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 3.3p. 

The scrap metal value of a 2p coin (pre-1992) is now 3.3p, 10.7% less than at this time last year.
And the value of the (cupro-nickel) 5p coin is now 2.0p, 17.5% less.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - Aims/Demands

I’ve been watching the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations with interest over the last few weeks. Particularly our equivalent over here in Britain, Occupy the London Stock Exchange. Their aims seem fairly laudable, although the main criticism levelled at them seems to be their lack of obvious demands. Given this vacuum, and given that it’s also quite fittingly November 5th, I thought I’d try to come up with some myself. Here goes;

We The People Desire…

1) The end of fractional reserve banking.

2) An incremental reduction in the length of the average working week. Clearly given our current level of technological advancement we don’t need everyone working forty hours a week - global unemployment levels are a clear illustration of this.

3) Complete transparency of governments. Including intelligence agencies.

There we go. Clear and concise. Now lets see the politicians get to work achieving this.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Herbal Mythologies

Finished reading ‘A Concise Guide To Herbs’ by Jenny Linford. A few myths and etymologies from it I found interesting;

‘The common name derives from the Old English ‘day’s eye’, referring to both the flower’s appearance and the fact that it opens during daylight hours.’
 Lady’s Smock;
‘In Britain, lady’s smock is a plant with much folklore attached to it, including the belief that it attracted adders. It was also thought that picking the flowers resulted in lightning and thunder.’
‘There is much folklore attached to the herb, including the legend that its blue flowers are the eyes of a girl crying for her sweetheart lost at sea.’
‘White dittany’s common names, ‘burning bush’ and ‘gas plant’, are a reference to the plant’s lemon-scented, volatile oils, which in calm, warm weather form a vapour around it that can be ignited.’
Milk Thistle;
‘Its specific name marianum derives from the legend that the Virgin Mary’s milk ran down its leaves, causing their striking white stains.’

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 3.5p.

The scrap metal value of a 2p coin (pre-1992) is now 3.5p, 2.6% less than at this time last year.
And the value of the (cupro-nickel) 5p coin is now 2.2p, 7.9% less.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Basil and Deadly Nightshade

I’ve just started reading ‘A Concise Guide To Herbs,’ by Jenny Linford. It’s basically an illustrated A-Z of herbs. These two bits of information in the introduction caught my eye, one concerns my favourite herb, basil;
"Basil was said to have grown round Christ’s tomb after the Resurrection and was seen as a herb of love."
"One particularly curious practice during medieval times was the use of the juice of deadly nightshade to dilate the pupils of women’s eyes, making them appear large and lustrous."
Hence the ‘Belladonna’ in Deadly Nightshade’s generic name, Atropa Belladonna, meaning ‘beautiful woman.’

The History of Britain Revealed - M. J. Harper

I've recently read ‘The History of Britain Revealed’ by M. J. Harper.

It was an incredibly thought-provoking read. The basic premise of it is that the English language is far older than is generally credited. In it Mick Harper refutes the idea that English evolved from Anglo-Saxon and criticises academia for its muddled logic and refusal to re-examine fundamental assumptions on the subject. Other academic disciplines also come under fire along the way, including Darwinism. The arguments put forward in the book are logical and concise, and its written in a witty and engaging way. It’s a must read for anyone interested in Britain’s history.

Incidentally, Harper describes himself as an Applied Epistemologist and he can be found online at the Applied Epistemology Library, a web forum that discusses and challenges everything form Einstein to Fomenko. Genuinely new ideas seem to be its forte. It describes its purpose as thus, “to provide you with something that's been sorely lacking in your life thus far, intellectual excitement.” I’ve been enthralled since I came across the site a few months back. It’s a real treasure trove of interesting ideas. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone of a Fortean mindset.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

King Oswy, Roseberry Topping and the Synod of Whitby

Following on from my last post about Roseberry Topping I've been looking at the historical King Oswy of Northumbria. Interestingly he was the King who presided over the famous Synod of Whitby.

The historical record, at least according to Bede and whoever else, states that King Oswy was the brother of King Oswald of Northumbria, and that he succeeded this Oswald after his death. However, our local tradition concerning Roseberry Topping speaks of an Oswy who is the son of King Oswald. This is a slightly odd disparity.

No doubt most historians would view our local tradition as a garbled folk version of the real story. Still, I can't help but see something of a mystery here.

Roseberry Topping - 'Oswy' Topping?

I've recently been searching Google for information about Roseberry Topping. There's a local legend that states that King Osmund/Oswald's son, Oswy, was drowned in a spring there. It's said that Oswald's Queen then died of grief soon after and was buried, along with her son, at the nearby village of Osmotherley - hence the name.

I also read that OS is the Anglo-Saxon rune for 'God,' specifically the god Odin. I can't help but wonder if the 'os' in Roseberry is an etymological derivation of this. Or if Roseberry is simply of modern rendering of the name Oswy - Oswy Topping.

Apparently Oswy can also be spelt Oswiu or Oswig.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oliver Letwin Caught Throwing Official Documents In Park Waste Bins

I've just read an article in the Mirror about Oliver Letwin, David Cameron's right-hand man, disposing of secret papers in park waste bins - see here.

One of the documents, concerning MI5 and MI6, contained this telling line;
"We know in the past agencies have provided, for whatever reason, incomplete and inaccurate information. This was the case on rendition, but also on the London terrorist attacks."
Conspiracy theorists get your teeth into that. Is this a deliberate leak? Would someone so high up in government really be stupid enough to dispose of documents by dumping them in public waste bins?

Personally, I feel that over the last ten years since 9/11 things have been happening in Britain that shouldn't have been happening in an open, democratic country. Is this leak an indication that the British Government and Parliament are trying to wrestle back control of our foreign policy and intelligence services? Were our intelligence services, our elements within them, working not on our behalf but on the behalf of foreign interests during the years following 9/11?

The recent scandal surrounding Defence Secretary Liam Fox and his 'adviser' Adam Werritty only adds interest to all this. Dr Fox is something of an 'Atlanticist' and is very much of the American opinion when it comes to foreign policy. If he loses his position on the back of this it may very well put a dent in the 'special relationship' we supposedly have with the United States.

If all this moves us towards re-establishing our independence in regard foreign affairs I think it'll be a good thing. Although, I don't hold my breath.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Great Upheaval - Jay Winik

Just read ‘The Great Upheaval’ by Jay Winik, a book covering the period from 1788-1800, particularly with regard to America, France and Russia. I really enjoyed it, especially the bits concerning the fledgling United States. The bloody details of the French Revolution were also quite revealing. In fact, it’s left me wondering why the French Revolution was so much more brutal than the American Revolution and the English Civil War. Was it because France was a Catholic country and the general population were less educated and literate than in Protestant England and America?

It’s hard not to see parallels with today’s Arab Spring and the revolutions now happening throughout the Middle East. Reading about ‘the Terror’ has made me question the logic of starting revolutions in countries where the general population are so poorly educated. I think if I was a western leader I’d think twice about encouraging the overthrow of governments in countries like Libya or Yemen. The older I get the more I realise that democracy without human rights is just mob rule. What use is democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq if one half of the population votes to repress the other half?

I think once human rights are established in a country democracy naturally follows, but establishing democracy in a country doesn’t necessarily bring human rights.

Anyway, needless to say, I enjoyed the book.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 3.2p.

The scrap metal value of a 2p coin (pre-1992) is now 3.2p, 10.4% less than at this time last year.
And the value of the (cupro-nickel) 5p coin is now 2.1p, 15.0% less.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 3.9p.

The scrap metal value of a 2p coin (pre-1992) is now 3.9p, 17.2% more than at this time last year.
And the value of the (cupro-nickel) 5p coin is now 2.5p, 8.1% more.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

All-Seeing Eye - Kirkleatham Chapel

Interesting bit of local esoterica. A carved 'All-Seeing Eye' has been uncovered on the ceiling of a chapel in Kirkleatham, near Redcar. It was found underneath the keystone of the altar arch central window. See the link below for image.

A New History of England - William Blennerhassett

Just finished reading Volume I of ‘A New History of England’ by William Blennerhassett, published 1751. I read this partly out of curiosity and partly with the hope of filling in some of the gaping holes in my knowledge of English history.

I must say, I really enjoyed reading it. It’s written in a really quick-paced and concise way and gives an overview of English history from the earliest times up until the reign of Edward VI. The history it presents comes from earlier documents and manuscripts about English history, so a lot of its information is no doubt spurious, particularly the parts about England’s early history. However, this isn’t the writers fault and overall the work is written in an honest and well-intentioned manner. In fact, Blennerhassett was clearly someone who understood English history and the moral dimensions to it. A consequence of this is that it’s written with a knowing admission that the important figures in our history weren’t necessarily good people.

Sadly Volume I, which I downloaded from Google Books, ends mid-sentence during the chapter about Edward VI. However after 900 odd pages this was maybe something of a blessing. I'm sure the rest of this work can be found somewhere online, but my brief searching hasn't turned it up as yet. Hopefully I'll get my hands on it at some point as it's been a really enjoyable work to read. I just hope he doesn’t deal with Cromwell too harshly in the next installment.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Is A Shorter Working Week The Solution To England’s Divided Society?

The recent riots in London and elsewhere have got me thinking about the great imbalance in our society, the biggest being the imbalance of work - some people work forty plus hours a week, others are completely unemployed. In fact, I think there’s a clear divide of opinion in the country, with those that work feeling a deep resentment towards those that don’t and those that don’t feeling a deep disenfranchisement and frustration. To me, the only realistic solution to all this is to shorten the working week. Clearly it would be better to have everyone working, say, twenty hours a week and have full employment, than to have some doing all the work and others doing nothing.

It’s clear from the current levels of unemployment, both here and around the world, that we don’t need everyone working a forty hour week. This situation is a consequence of our technological advancement, and as our technological capability increases this trend will continue. If we don’t rebalance our social structure accordingly we can only expect more and more division in society, and, no doubt, more and more rioting. I think any government worth its salt should now be pursuing policies that can bring about this change in an incremental way. Offering incentives to companies that hire more workers at fewer hours would be one way of doing this, another way would be to increase the minimum wage.

The benefits, both economic and social, of having a shorter working week would also be immense. People would be less stressed, which would lead to better health and a reduced bill for the NHS. People would also have more time to spend with their children - clearly beneficial to any society. In fact, the number of hours children spend at school could likewise be reduced to reflect this change in working habits. After all, true education is more about the culture people grow up in than it is about the number of hours spent in a classroom - just look at how obvious the link between educational achievement and home life is. The responsibility for education could be shifted back to the parents somewhat, and at the same time we could maybe even save some of the money we spend on education. A more balanced society would also lead to a reduced crime rate - another massive burden on the public purse.

Clinging to the concept of a forty hour week is, in my opinion, the biggest mistake we’re making as we move into this new era of human history. A reduced working week is the most realistic solution to the problems now facing us. It would make sense, both economically and socially, and it would create a happier, healthier society. It’s the obvious missing link in Cameron’s idea for a big society where people spend more time in socially useful, non-profit activities.

If we’re truly smart about all this, and our technological capability continues to increase, we can maybe even begin to look forward to a point in the future where our average working week starts to approach zero hours.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 4.1p.

The scrap metal value of a 2p coin (pre-1992) is now 4.1p, 29.3% more than at this time last year.
And the value of the (cupro-nickel) 5p coin is now 2.7p, 21.5% more.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Roseberry Topping - The Tomb of Osiris?

Just came across this post on a message board;
American archiologist Dr Josh Bernstein is coming to Teesside in search of King Osiris' tomb. It is to be a the showcase hour long episode of a seven part documentary titled “The Seven Lost Wonders”, to be aired on the Discovery channel Winter 2009. The show came about when Dr Bernstein uncovered within the writings of Alfred Vincent Kidder a detailed description of a 3000-year-old pyramid ruins lay under the area that is now Roseberry Topping.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything else about this topic. Did this documentary ever air? Seems like a really interesting idea. Maybe I'll be able to find the writings of Alfred Vincent Kidder somewhere.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is The Theory That Neanderthals And Humans Interbred Now Fueling Racism

Over the last few years I've been very interested in the idea that humans interbred with neanderthals. I've also been fascinated by the suggestion that some modern humans may carry neanderthal genes - a theory that now seems to have been proved true. However, whilst taking an interest in this, at the same time, at the back of my mind, I've always had a nagging worry that these ideas might fuel racism. This now seems to be the case, as the comments at the bottom of this article show -

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Phantom Time Hypothesis and Christ’s Bloodline

I’ve recently been taking an interest in Phantom Time Hypothesis after reading about it in Fortean Times. This hypothesis basically states that about 300 years of Dark Age history never actually happened - for example, going by this theory our current year would be about 1714, as oppose to 2011. This idea was first propounded by German academics and is said to explain why the Dark Ages are just that - dark.

However, although these academics have put forward a lot of evidence supporting the theory, they’ve so far failed to come up with a plausible explanation as to why 300 years were just suddenly added to the calendar. The main proposal so far being that Otto III added the extra years simply because he liked the idea of reigning as Holy Roman Emperor in the snazzy-sounding year 1000.

However, I remember reading 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail,' and other books of a similar ilk. As I recall one of the biggest flaws in the general theory propounded by these books - namely that Jesus had children with Mary Magdalene and that his bloodline had survived into more recent times - were the huge gaps between Jesus, the Merovingians and the grail literature of the medieval period. Could Phantom Time Hypothesis help explain these gaps? In fact, could the church have fabricated the extra years in order to deliberately obscure the genealogy of Christ’s kingly descendants?

Surely someone’s writing a book about this somewhere.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Any Good Murdoch Phone Hacking Conspiracy Theories Out There?

I've been gripped by the storm currently facing Rupert Murdoch - phone hacking, News of the World termination, falling share price, etc. Personally, I'm quite pleased about all this as I'm not a fan of News Corp. However, I'm still waiting for a really good conspiracy theory about all this. It seems to have the perfect ingredients. Jay Rockefeller leading the charge against Murdoch in the US, Murdoch being a staunch critic of the EU (and therefore something of a bulwark against plans for a one world government, New World Order, and so on). In fact, I also recall reading a few slight digs at Nat Rothschild in Murdoch owned papers. Are we seeing another round of infighting in the world of global, high powered politics?

Or is this just the public finally bringing Murdoch to account?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Melusine and Richard I

I've just been reading about Melusine (or Melusina) - a figure from European legend, usually depicted as a woman from the waist up and a fish or serpent from the waist down - something akin to a mermaid. She's also sometimes depicted with wings and two tails.

When I was reading the Wikipedia entry for Melusine this passage caught my eye;
"The chronicler Giraud le Cambrien reported that Richard I of England was fond of telling a tale according to which he was a descendant of a countess of Anjou who was in fact the fairy Melusine, concluding that his whole family "came from the devil and would return to the devil"."
It reminded me of the tale that Alexander the Great was descended from a serpent.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sea Serpents of Arcadia - The Roseberries

This is the track listing for the second Roseberries album, ‘Sea Serpents of Arcadia.’ It was recorded on a dictaphone in 2009.

The album can be downloaded for free at lastfm.

1. I Don’t Want To Go To School
2. She Came From Somewhere Far Away
3. What She Sees In Him
4. La Vigne du Rose
5. It’s All Going Under
6. Fall To Pieces
7. Arcadia
8. Something in the Way
9. A Thousand Ways
10. And She Won’t Wait For You

The Roseberries - The Roseberries

This is the track listing for the first Roseberries album, ‘The Roseberries.’
The album can be downloaded for free at lastfm.

1. Mary Lucifer’s Dead
2. Fortune Teller
3. The Stars Are Outside
4. Dizzy and Wild
5. Frogs Fall From The Sky
6. Hypatia
7. Strange Stories
8. Satellite of the Moon

Will Our Abandoned High Streets Return To Nature?

I've been watching with fascination the news that all these high street chains are going into administration or downsizing - Thorntons, Habitat, TJ Hughes, etc. I think we're seeing a major shift in the way we live. In fact, I predict that city centers, to some degree, will move away from commerce and more towards agriculture. I think rising populations and environmental issues will make us seriously rethink food production. We're already starting to see well developed ideas regarding vertical farming and things like that. I wouldn't be surprised if in twenty or thirty years time we see town and city centers becoming producers of and markets for food, with most other commerce being taken care of mainly via the Internet.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 4.0p.

The scrap metal value of a 2p coin (pre-1992) is now 4.0p, 32.9% more than at this time last year.
And the value of the (cupro-nickel) 5p coin is now 2.6p, 21.9% more.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

All The Galaxies Are Supernova - The Roseberries

The 4th Roseberries album, 'All The Galaxies Are Supernova.'

The track listing is as follows;

1. Crystal City
2. Alien Race
3. Marina
4. Amulet
5. Lyran
6. All The Galaxies Are Supernova
7. Itibi Ra
8. Zeus
9. Stargate
10. Rainbow
11. Crystal Suburb
12. Hyper-Space
13. Psychobabble

Monday, June 20, 2011

L’Autre Monde - Cyrano de Bergerac

I’ve just finished reading, ‘The Other World; The Societies and Governments of the Moon’ by Cyrano de Bergerac. It’s often touted as the first science-fiction novel and I must say it’s a fascinating read. Written during the 17th century, it concerns a journey taken by the author to the moon, where he meets all manner of strange people and witnesses many bizarre events and odd conversations. The work is incredibly ahead of its time and contains ideas and inventions that seem out of place for the period it was written - space travel, hot-air balloons, even the light bulb.

The version I read was an English translation made available on the Internet. I’ve linked to it below. The notes and commentaries provided with this version are excellent and really make the novel accessible. I recommend it whole-heartedly.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 3.9p.

The scrap metal value of a 2p coin (pre-1992) is now 3.9p, 16.3% more than at this time last year.
And the value of the (cupro-nickel) 5p coin is now 2.5p, 4.5% more.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eston Nab - As It Once Was

And finally, a description of Eston Nab from 1846:
"After a little pause, we decided on the route, viz. the romantic walks leading to Eston Nab. The scene on all sides is exceedingly picturesque, being variegated with dense groves of oak, ash, and fir; cultivated grounds of wheat, oats, and barley; richly-teeming meadows, and new-cropped fields; whilst merry damsels and sun-burnt swains toiled among the hay, and chanted simple country songs as they proceeded with their labour."
 - 'The History and Antiquities of Cleveland' - John Walker Ord.
How things have changed.

A Buried Alive Woman and a Man From The Sea

The following two stories also come from Ord's 'The History and Antiquities of Cleveland.' One concerns a supposed Merman and the second is a slightly gruesome tale about live burial.

First, the Merman - in a section of the book about the village of Skinningrove.
"The description of this village by Camden argues an amount of credulity scarcely credible: "Upon the shore, Skengrave, a small village, thrives by the great variety of fish which it takes; where it is reported that, seventy years ago (1607), they caught a sea-man, who lived upon raw fish for some days, but at last, taking his opportunity, he made his escape into his own element."
"Of this sea-man we are further told in the Cottonian MS., that "insteade of voice he shreaked, and shewed himself courteous to such as flocked farre and near to visit him: fayre maidens were welcomest guests to his harbour, whome he woulde beholde with a very earnest countenaynce, as if his phlegmatic breast has been touched w[ith] the sparke of love.""
And then in a chapter about the parish of Hutton Rudby, this grisly tale about a woman being buried alive:
"An old gentleman in the village related a curious story of the ghoul-like deeds of a certain parish-clerk, who officiated also as sexton, some years ago. It would appear that a married woman of the village having been given up for dead, was at length removed to the usual place of interment. Whether from some implied wish on her part, or difficulty in releasing it, the wedding-ring was allowed to remain on the finger. This circumstance awakened the cupidity of the parish-clerk, who, at the lone hour of midnight, crept cautiously to the new-made grave. Having removed the earth, and unscrewed the coffin, he proceeded to take off the ring, but from the contracted state of the fingers was unable to effect his purpose. Accordingly with his pocket-knife he set about amputating the finger; but he had scarcely reached the bone, when, O horror! the corpse bolted nearly upright in its coffin, at the same time uttering a loud and dismal scream. The parish-clerk, who, by the by, was a tailor, immediately darted homeward with the utmost speed, his hair bristling on end. Meantime the poor woman, who had been unconsciously buried in a trance, alarmed at her strange and peculiar situation, directed her steps to her husband's residence, and knocked loudly at the door. What was her husband's amazement and consternation to behold his buried wife, in her shroud and grave-clothes, standing at the door, calling for admittance! His first alarm having somewhat abated, he proceeded to make further inquiry, and was at length convinced that his true wife, in flesh and blood, had in reality returned from the tomb. Afterwards, the injured finger and the state of the grave, pointed suspicion to the parish-clerk; but the husband, instead of punishing him for allowing his wife to return from her last resting-place, actually presented him annually with a web of the finest linen (he being a linen manufacturer)."
I really hope both these tales are true, but sadly they both sound rather apocryphal. Still, you never know.

The History and Antiquities of Cleveland - John Walker Ord

I've finally finished reading 'The History and Antiquities of Cleveland' by John Walker Ord. It was published in 1846 and contains some interesting information about the Cleveland area.

One thing that particularly aroused my interest was this description of a possible settlement near Roseberry Topping.
"Our exploration was amply rewarded by the discovery of the remains of a complete BRITISH TOWN, of vast magnitude, extending from the higher part of the farm belonging to George Reade, Esq., of Hutton-Lowcross, near Highcliffe, and stretching upwards of two miles to the base of Rosebury. The remains of these British dwellings are in the form of large oval or circular pits, varying considerably in size, viz. eight to twelve feet deep, and sixty to eighty and a hundred yards in circumference. These pits commence, as we observed, near Highcliffe, stretch across Bold and Venture Gill and the Kildale road, nearly on a line with Haswell's hut, run along the edge of Hutton Moor, below the Haggs (qy. Aggeres?), Hanging-Stone, and White Hills, and terminate in a deep line of circumvallation round the upper part of Rosebury Topping. Of the pits here mentioned there are many hundreds in single or double lines, of a zig-zag, irregular form, and divided from each other by a broad, well-defined ridge or rampart of earth, sufficient for the passage of men, horses, and cattle; in some cases larger pits being connected with smaller by an entrance."
Sadly, I don't really know enough about our local history to know if this claim holds any water or not, but it seems quite interesting. Maybe a better informed person can shed some light on this for me.

Also of interest to me were the various names that Middlesbrough and the river Tees had had over the years. With Middlesbrough at times being labelled 'Middlesborough,' 'Middleburgh' and 'Middleburg' and the Tees having several spelling variations, as this passage shows;
"[C]alled by the Latins Teisis and Teisa; by Polydore, an Italian, Athesis; by Ptolemy, Tuesis; and, at this day, Tees[.]"
It's also been spelt 'Theese,' 'These' and 'Tese.'

A final thing of interest worth mentioning is that vast swathes of land in Cleveland were once held by the de Brus family, of Robert the Bruce fame.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Video: The Last Piece - The Roseberries

I've just made a simple video for the song 'The Last Piece,' from the last Roseberries album, 'Breaking Branch.' I used some of the artwork I did to accompany the album to make it.

I also did a video (if you can call it that) for the track 'Apple on the Carpet,' but this video is just a single image on the screen with the track playing in the background. I've gave this treatment to a couple of other songs ('Mary Lucifer's Dead' and 'Fortune Teller'), not for any real artistic purpose, but more with a view to making more of the Roseberries music available on YouTube. As it seems more and more people (myself included) are searching for music on the site - I think this is because MySpace has went downhill and Facebook isn't that great for bands.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Middlesbrough (1846)

“A brief sketch of the rise, origin, and progress of Middleburgh cannot fail to prove interesting to the student of local history. As the wonderful result of purely English enterprise and sagacity, it will ever be recorded as one of the commercial prodigies of the nineteenth century. To the stranger visiting his native home after an absence of fifteen years, this proud array of ships, docks, warehouses, churches, foundries, wharfs, &c., would seem like some enchanted spectacle, some Arabian Nights’ vision, “such stuff as dreams are made of!””
 - John Walker Ord, ‘The History and Antiquities of Cleveland,’ 1846

Friday, May 6, 2011

Breaking Branch - The Roseberries

I've finally finished recording the third Roseberries album, 'Breaking Branch.'

The track listing is as follows:

1. You Used To Be Young
2. Millionaires
3. The Last Piece
4. Rotting Away
5. I Don't Wanna Kill Animals Anymore
6. Apple on the Carpet
7. Devil Come
8. On The River
9. Tendency

The album can be downloaded for free at lastfm.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 3.9p.

The scrap metal value of a 2p coin (pre-1992) is now 3.9p, 17.4% more than at this time last year.
And the value of the (cupro-nickel) 5p coin is now 2.7p, 6.0% more.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

It's the royal wedding today and as an Englishman I feel I have a duty to say that I don't support this sort of thing. In fact, I feel quite embarrassed about the whole affair. To see grown men and women getting in such a tizz over a wedding between two people they don't even know is just depressing. I can only apologise for the behaviour of my fellow country people.

I recently saw a poll showing that 63% of the British population support the royal family. How sad that so many can support an institution that essentially flies in the face of the notion that all people are created equal. I've come to realise that it's now likely that I'll probably live all my years and die under a monarchy. As a child I never realised just how stagnant Britain is. I had hopes, but when there's so much popular support for the status quo it doesn't offer much room for optimism.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thomas Lord Cromwell

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Life and Death of Thomas Lord Cromwell.’ This is a play that was once attributed to William Shakespeare, but has since been judged by experts to be the work of someone else.

I really enjoyed this play and found it quite charming. Although the overall feel is quite unlike most Shakespeare and somewhat stilted, I still detected the odd flourish of greatness in its writing style. To me this suggests that it could possibly be an early Shakespeare work, written before the man had found his true craft and confidence. On the other hand, of course, it could have had nothing whatsoever to do with him.

I should also mention that the play is quite populist and clearly has an anti-Catholic sentiment. So it would be quite interesting if Shakespeare had wrote it, as it would go someway to disproving the theory that he was a Catholic. A theory that’s always seemed a bit odd to me, as I’ve never felt a single droplet of Catholicism in all the Shakespeare that I’ve read thus far. In fact, I find it hard to believe that any intelligent man of learning, living in England at that time, could have chosen to be Catholic. Protestant possibly, atheist maybe, agnostic more likely, but a practising Catholic - a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, regardless of all this, I really liked the play and feel it’s a shame that it isn’t more well known. Whoever wrote it, it serves as a window into an important period of English history. Shakespeare or no Shakespeare.

Addendum (Jan 2012):

I recently came across this when I was reading about ‘The History of Sir John Oldcastle,’ another play from the Shakespeare Apocrypha. It concerns Anthony Munday, an English dramatist who was supposedly in part responsible for writing ‘Sir John.’ He lived quite an interesting life and his Wikipedia entry mentions that he and a companion were robbed ‘on the road from Boulogne to Amiens.’
“By 1578 he was in Rome. In the opening lines of his English Romayne Lyfe (1582) he states that he went abroad solely in order to see strange countries and to learn foreign languages; but he may have been a spy sent to report on the English Jesuit College in Rome, or a journalist who meant to make literary capital out of the designs of the English Catholics resident in France and Italy. He says that he and his companion, Thomas Nowell, were robbed of all they possessed on the road from Boulogne to Amiens, where they were helped by an English priest, who entrusted them with letters to be delivered in Reims.”
This reminded me a little of the passage in ‘Thomas Lord Cromwell’ were he and his serving man Hodge get robbed for all their worth by the Banditti whilst on the continent. I couldn’t help but wonder if this true tale served as some type of inspiration for the fictional story. Mind you, saying that I’m sure thievery of this sort was probably quite a common hazard for travellers in those days. Either way I thought it was something worth keeping behind the ear.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shakespeare Apocrypha

I’ve recently read ‘Pericles, Prince of Tyre’ and ‘The London Prodigal.’ These are both plays that were once attributed to Shakespeare, but are now considered to be the work of other writers. The general opinion is (according to Wikipedia) that ‘Pericles, Prince of Tyre’ was written in part by Shakespeare and in part by someone else and that ‘The London Prodigal’ was entirely the work of another author.

As I’ve now read them I might as well throw in my two cents. To me, ‘Pericles’ feels very much like a Shakespeare play, albeit a poor, unrevised one. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if this was entirely the work of Shakespeare. ‘The London Prodigal’ on the other hand does seem quite odd and out of keeping with what you’d normally expect from Shakespeare. It seems quite earthy and common, a bit like a British sitcom from the 1960’s. Mind you, most of Shakespeare’s stuff reminds of British situation comedies, and I must admit I read his plays in much the same way I watch episodes of ‘Dad’s Army’ or ‘Black Books.’

Anyway, as you can tell, I’m not really qualified to make a judgement about whether Shakespeare wrote these plays or not, but I should say that I worry about experts making this judgement as well. It seems like we’re discrediting these plays based on nothing but stylistic analysis. To me, saying that Shakespeare didn’t write ‘The London Prodigal’ because it isn’t like ‘Hamlet’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a bit like saying that the Beatles didn’t write ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ because it doesn’t sound like ‘Love Me Do.’

Personally, I remain open-minded about who wrote these, as well as the other, contested Shakespeare works. Even in ‘The London Prodigal’ I think there’s enough there to suggest that it could have been Shakespeare who wrote it. Hopefully, when I read some of the other apocryphal works I’ll get a clearer picture. Next up, ‘Thomas Lord Cromwell.’

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 4.04p

The scrap metal value of a 2p coin (pre-1992) is now 4.04p, 13.6% more than at this time last year.
And the value of the (cupro-nickel) 5p coin is now 2.75p, 7.9% more.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Age of Reason

Just finished reading 'The Age of Reason,' Thomas Paine's systematic annihilation of the Bible.
"What is it the Bible teaches us? - rapine, cruelty, and murder. What is it the Testament teaches us? - to believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman, engaged to be married! and the belief of this debauchery is called faith."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Streetlight Interference (SLI)

Just read an article in Fortean Times (April 2011) about SLIders - people who have the ability to turn off street lamps as they walk past them. I mention this because the same thing used to happen to me. When I was in my late teens/early twenties it was quite a frequent occurrence. Sometimes streetlights would turn off as I walked under them, sometimes as I was walking towards them. I even remember the one outside our house turning off as I looked out the window. At first I assumed it was just coincidental, but as it happened more frequently I began to find it a bit spooky. At the time I’d never heard of this happening to anyone else, so I was quite surprised to find that others had experienced it. Anyway, it hasn’t happened to me since then and I can only assume it was either coincidence or some as yet unexplained scientific anomaly.

In the article it did associate the phenomenon with a persons emotional and/or mental state. And looking back I guess I was a lot more nervous and intense at that time in my life than I am now, so maybe that has something to do with it. Also, with the number of cameras aimed at England’s streets these days maybe there’s some CCTV footage of it out there. Hopefully there’ll be more discussion of this topic in the pages of Fortean Times in the coming years and months.

Monday, March 7, 2011

God Is A Chemical

I've just read an article about Otto Rahn in this months Fortean Times (April 2011). This quote about him caught my eye.
"He never used the word God. For him, Lucifer was something like a god. God could be anything to anyone. God is a chemical in which we swim..."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lizzy Bennet

This piece is a combination of collage and computer jiggery. I was going through a bit of a 'British' phase at the time so I used a lot of British imagery. I think it was inspired by all the media coverage at the time about Scottish and Welsh devolution. I started wondering if people would begin to romanticise Britain after its demise the same way they now romanticise Scottish, English and Welsh history. When the British flag ceases to represent a political entity will it come to represent something more mythical, more cultural? I wonder.

Rock Star UFOs

I made this collage a few years back. At the time I was quite interested in the relationship between ufology and rock music. In fact, I’m still amazed that so many famous musicians have had UFO experiences. I'll list a few of my favourites here.

John Lennon saw a UFO outside his New York apartment. He referenced this in his song 'Nobody Told Me' - "there's UFOs over New York and I ain't too surprised."

Happy Monday’s front man Shaun Ryder claimed he was abducted by aliens at the age of 15. Commenting on it in an interview with the Guardian newspaper he said "once they see you, they do keep a check on you."

Elvis Presley believed he’d seen UFOs and met otherworldly beings. He also apparently believed that he himself was from another planet, somewhere in the Orion constellation.

In 1968 Mick Jagger saw a cigar-shaped "mothership" whilst camping in Glastonbury with Marianne Faithful. He also had a UFO detector installed in his home - whatever one of them is. Stones guitarist Keith Richards also claimed to have spotted "a few."

And finally, Smiths lead singer Morrissey claimed to have witnessed a fleet of flying saucers travelling across the sky in a hexagonal formation whilst with a friend. He later said, "The whole thing had an astonishing effect on me."

If anyone else knows of any other rock star UFO stories (or UFO stories concerning any celebrity for that matter) please feel free to add to the list.


I must have been going through a Stone Roses/Jackson Pollock phase when I painted this. I painted it a good while back so I can’t really remember what my intentions were with it. Although I do have a vague memory of wanting to paint poppy fields. Anyway, I have a fondness for it and I haven’t thrown it out after all this time, so I‘ll include it here.

Early Roseberries Collage

I made this collage round about the same time I started the Roseberries. It’s basically the artwork for the first record. I think I stole most of the images I used for it from books and copies of Fortean Times that I had lying about my bedroom. I guess it’s more the work of a magpie, than the work of an artist. Still, I was quite pleased with how it turned out. I think it looks quite peculiar.

Mothership/UFO Painting

Sea Serpents of Arcadia

This is a detail from a collage that I made to accompany ‘Sea Serpents of Arcadia,’ the Roseberries second album. I recorded the album in 2009 and I think I made this round about the same time.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Art Archive

I’ve decided to put some of my artwork on this site. Partly as a way of archiving my art online, and partly just to brighten my blog up a bit. This is the first.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Princess of the Illuminati

I’ve just noticed that the words, ‘Princess of the Illuminati,’ are scrawled, tongue in cheek, on a piece of paper in Rihanna’s video for the song ‘S&M.’ I sure I’m not the first to notice this. Anyway, I’ve got to say I really like the way esoteric symbolism is being used in pop videos these days. If this is what music looks like in the 21st century, I’m a fan.

Kanye West’s epic video, ‘Runaway,’ is particularly good. In fact, it’s amazing what’s happened in rap music recently. It used to be just dollar signs, guns and marijuana, now it’s the Eye of Horus and the death and rebirth of the Phoenix. Interesting times.

Jay-Z’s a Freemason, supposedly. Lady Gaga a puppet of the New World Order - the fact that the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables were leaked via an erased Lady Gaga CD seems particularly apt actually.

Personally, I’d be surprised if members of the Illuminati are sitting round watching pop and rap videos - assuming such people even exist. But still, it’s all quite interesting, and the music of our times seems a lot richer for the association. Long may it continue.

A Revolution in the Banking Industry?

Question: Will the rise of the Internet and modern technology revolutionise the banking industry the same way it has the music, newsprint and publishing industries?

I was thinking, when money becomes completely digital and all financial transactions are electronic, it will, firstly, be easier and cheaper to set up new banks, without the need for high street branches, etc, resulting in more competition. And secondly, much harder to keep up this fractional reserve charade - once every financial transaction is recorded electronically, we’ll, theoretically, be able to track the history of every individual pound and penny, from inception to its current location. Any new money created, be it by bank or government, will be readily apparent, assuming the information is freely available, of course.

Is this just wishful thinking, or is it a realistic possibility?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 4.12p.

The scrap metal value of a 2p coin (pre-1992) is now 4.12p, 29.3% more than this time last year.
And the value of the (cupro-nickel) 5p coin is now 2.84p, 28.4% more.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ophiolatreia - Serpent Worship

I’ve just finished reading 'The Worship of the Serpent' by John Bathurst Deane, published 1833. It's a book that traces the history of serpent worship throughout the world, with the basic premise being that serpent worship is a cultural memory of man's fall from paradise. The serpent worshipped being the very same one that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.

The book's quite esoteric and some of its passages are quite interesting - especially given that it was written nearly 180 years ago. I'll reproduce some of them here.

On Atlantis, page 26:
"In the Atlantis of Plato, we may, I think, discover the Eden of Scripture; and in the lapse of the Atlantians from virtue and The Divine Nature, the fall of Adam from purity and The Image Of God. The state of mankind, at the time of the deluge, is, doubtless, blended with the tradition; for we find that the island Atlantis was submerged in the ocean. But the want of authentic records of the period intermediate between the fall and the deluge, left the heathen, in a great measure, ignorant of antediluvian history."
And this description of God on page 56:
"The definition of the Deity by Trismegistus is poetically sublime: "God is a circle whose centre is everywhere, and circumference nowhere.""
Then on page 88, he mentions the Gnostics:
"Epiphanius says, that "the Ophites sprung out of the Nicolaitans and Gnostics, and were so called from the serpent which they worshipped." The Gnostics, he informs us in another place, "taught that the ruler of this world was of a dracontic form.""
Continuing on pages 90/91:
"These opinions of the Gnostic Ophites were blended with the old Magian superstition of Persia by Manes, a celebrated heretic of the third century; who revived ophiolatreia, in his native country, under the name of Christianity. He taught, that "Christ was an incarnation of the great serpent, who glided over the cradle of the Virgin Mary, when she was asleep, at the age of a year and a half.""
I wouldn't be surprised if David Icke had read this book.

Monday, February 14, 2011

An Online Argument That Amused Me Somewhat

The link below links to an article about evolution. I link to it not for the article itself, but for the argument that breaks out in the comments below. It's between two people named PS3 and Djincs - an Asian and a European - and it amused me somewhat. It begins a few comments in when PS3 states "Human less sophisticated now because they less hairy."

It reminded me of the witty Asian characters you sometimes used to get in American comedy movies.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Racy Language in Shakespeare

I recently read Shakespeare's play, Cymbeline, for the first time. I came across this passage - where the hot-headed Cloten tries to woo the fair Imogen, by having music played outside her bed-chamber:
Cloten. I would this music would come: I am advised to give her music o' mornings, they say it will penetrate.
Enter Musicians.
Come on, tune; if you can penetrate her with your fingering, so; we'll try with tongue too; if none will do, let her remain: but I'll never give o'er.
Surely this doesn't mean what I think it means. No wonder we didn’t do this play at school.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 4.16p.

I should point out that at the beginning of each month I work out the scrap metal value of our British coins. I started doing this about a year ago - partly through curiosity and partly because I felt it would be an interesting way of measuring inflation.

When I first started I was surprised to find out that the 1 and 2 pence pieces (minted pre-1992, many of which are still in circulation) had a face value less than their actual scrap value. The pre-1992 coins being made of 97% copper - as opposed to the copper-plated steel coins minted afterwards.

Anyway, over the last year the value of the metal in our coins has skyrocketed. In fact, the copper in a pre-1992 2p is now worth 38.8% more than it was this time last year. Either the price of metal is going up fast or our currency is devaluing at a rapid rate. I think it’s a combination of the two.

It should also be noted that our 5 and 10p coins, which are made of cupro-nickel (75% copper, 25% nickel), are also rapidly reaching the point where their scrap value outstrips their face value. 5p coins now being worth 2.83p in scrap. However, like the 2 and 1 pence pieces, from this year onward they will now be made of coated steel. No doubt the government saw this problem coming a few years ago.

On this blog I’ll note the scrap value of the 2 and 5 pence pieces each month, sort of as a running measure. Maybe a few other people out there will find it as interesting as I do.


First of all I should say that when I measure the value of the pre-1992 2 pence piece I’m simply measuring the value of the copper content. I’ve discounted the value of the 2.5% zinc and 0.5% tin that make up the other 3% of the coin. However, when valuing the 5 pence I’m measuring both the copper and the nickel content of the coin. 

Also, incidentally, I’m just getting the metal values from the London Metal Exchange, via the BBC’s Teletext service. So these figures are just my own calculations. Please don’t use them as guides for important decision making.

And finally, I should say that I have no idea if melting or scrapping British coins is illegal, but I would imagine that it is. So I wouldn’t advocate it.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Various Names of Roseberry Topping

I recently read a 19th century article titled, ‘On the Danish Element in the Population of Cleveland, Yorkshire.’ It was written by a Reverend named J. C. Atkinson and in it he mentions the various names that have been used for Roseberry Topping over the centuries. He wrote:
"Between the dates 1119 and 1540, I find the name of this conspicuous hill written Otneberch, Ohtnebercg, Othenbruche, Othenesbergh, Ornbach, Ounsbery, Onesbergh, and, more corruptly, Hensberg (1119), Hogtenberg, Thuerbrugh, Thuerbrught, all (expect the last two) manifest corruptions of an original Odinberg (a name which could only have been imposed by the Danes), but never written Roseberry."
I was particularly interested in the last two names, given the book about Thorn Worship that I’d been reading (see previous post). Maybe both these names are corruptions of Thor or Thorn.

Plus, Roseberry Topping does look somewhat thorn-shaped.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Thorn-Tree: A History of Thorn Worship

I recently read an odd book, titled ‘The Thorn-Tree,’ or to give it it’s full title ‘The Thorn-Tree: Being A History of Thorn Worship, of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, But More Especially of the Lost Tribes and House of David.’

The book was printed in 1863 and appears to be a pretty esoteric work. For a start, on one of the opening pages appears this quasi-Masonic symbol:

Intriguing. To add to this, the author of the work simply gives his name as Theta. Although on the PDF copy I was reading someone has scrawled in pen ‘William Thorn’ and ‘Pseud’ next to this name.

Anyway, the book basically states that the original name for God was thorn, and that people venerated thorns and thorny plants as a consequence. In particular the rose and the pomegranate, but also other prickly plants like the thistle and the bramble bush. In fact, the author states that the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden was actually a pomegranate tree. He even links the pomegranate to the rose:
“Thus, then, we find that the pomegranate is thorny, and was called in ancient days the rose.”
I only really came across this book by accident, as I was researching the area where I live - an estate in the English town of Middlesbrough called Thorntree. The area was originally called Thorntree Farm until a housing estate was built on the land, but other than that I don’t really know much else about it. However, the adjacent estate is called Brambles Farm, so thorns seem to be a common theme in the area. The book seemed strangely apt given what I was searching for.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Druid Hell Was Cold

I recently read this:
“The Druids likewise believed in a hell, or a place of future torments, - a dreary, gloomy region, frozen with perpetual cold[.]”
- The History and Antiquities of Cleveland.
I don’t know whether this statement is accurate or not, but it seems like an interesting thing to make note of.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Red Hair in the Caucasus

I read this quote about red hair in a book called, ‘Russia: or, A Compleat Historical Account of All The Nations Which Compose That Empire.’ Printed in 1780.
“In the provinces of Caucasus red hair is thought so great a beauty in the women, that such as have not received that advantage from nature use red pomatum”
NOTE: I should probably mention at this point that red hair is a bit of a theme for me. Over the years I’ve developed an interest in it, mainly owing to the fact that I have red hair and freckles myself. I’m particularly interested in the myths and history associated with it, and any curious titbit I come across in regards the colour I’m liable to make note of. My apologies to anyone who isn’t likewise inclined.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why Not To Choose A Red-Haired Wet Nurse

Whilst searching Google Books I came across this book from the 18th century, titled 'The Diseases of Women with Child, And in Child-Bed.' It's a treatise on childbirth and new born babies, and the section about choosing a wet nurse contains some interesting views in regards red hair. For example, page 371 states that a wet nurse "must not be red-hair'd, nor marked with Spots[.]"

It then goes on to say:
"She ought to have a sweet Voice to please and rejoice the Child, and likewise ought to have a clear and free Pronunciation, that the child may not learn an ill Accent from her, as usually red-hair'd have[.]"
Then, on page 372, when talking of the quality of a nurse’s milk, it says:
"It must be of a sweet and pleasant Smell, which is Testimony of a good Temperament, as may be seen in red hair'd Women, whose Milk hath a sour, stinking and bad Scent[.]"
However, my favourite line comes on page 338, where it states:
"Very frequently the Milk of a Nurse, who is Red-hair'd, given to Wine, or very Amorous, may by its Heat and Acrimony cause small Ulcers in an Infant's Mouth[.]"


Hi, I've started this blog to collect and catalogue the various things that pique my interest. No doubt there'll be a great deal of personal opinion mixed in as well. Hopefully not too much, though.