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.