Thursday Odds and Ends: A Blow to the Younger Dryas Comet Hypothesis, Lovecraft among the Alt-Right, and More!
Do you remember back in December when I described the cheap Chinese mechanical watch I bought on eBay? At the time, I had expected that it would last six months before crapping out, but it turns out that I was being overly optimistic. The M. G. Orkina brand mechanical watch died this week. I went to wind it, and the winding stem fell off, followed by several small gears that disengaged from the movement, stopping the watch. The watch lasted just about eight weeks. It was a learning experience. Apparently it is possible to make crap that is so cheap that it fails to meet even my lowest expectations.
Congressman Implies Archaeology Not in the "National Interest"; Plus: James Tabor Defends Talpiot Tomb
I don’t usually bring up political issues, especially not at the granular level of government appropriations, but a piece by anthropology professor Rosemary Joyce at Berkeley is important enough to call attention to. Joyce reports that Republican Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) implied that archaeological research is not in the national interest. The conservative representative issued a press release about HR 3293, a bill that would require the National Science Foundation to justify all of its funding requests by demonstrating how they meet the national interest. In that press release, Smith provided five examples of grants he considered non-essential to America’s national interest. Three of these five were archaeology projects, even though archaeology represents less than 0.12% of NSF research funding. All three archaeology projects, not coincidentally, had implications for how humans adapt to climate change, according to Joyce.
After Rapper Claims Earth Is Flat, Science Writer Says Bad Ideas Are Fine as Long as They Have Good Intentions
Musicians, being the creative type, seem prone to supporting fringe ideas. We’ve had metal bands that sing about ancient astronauts and the Insane Clown Posse considering magnets to be a form of magic. The hip hop community created a stir by causing conspiracy theorists to foam at the mouth over Illuminati imagery in hip hop videos. Now one rapper is taking the fringe beliefs all the way back to before Eratosthenes by denying that the Earth is round.
Graham Hancock has a new book, an edited volume called The Divine Spark (Disinfo, 2015), in which he collects essays advocating the use of hallucinogenic drugs in order to discover true nature of reality. The essays come from some of the usual suspects from both the fringe world and the realm of psychedelics: Robert Schoch, Luis Eduardo Luna, and even English comedian Russell Brand. If the last-mentioned name seems odd, don’t fear: Brand didn’t write a piece for Graham Hancock. Hancock reprints an essay Brand wrote for the New Statesman back in 2011 attacking Richard Dawkins. Anyway, Hancock has posted the introduction to his book in which he muses on the spiritual dimension of reality, which has been the major focus of his “research” into ancient history since he stopped smoking marijuana and took up ayahuasca as his preferred mind-altering substance.
Editor's note: This post has been corrected after I misidentified the authors of a journal article mentioning me.
Today I have several short topics to share.
Yesterday a public radio producer asked to speak with me about pseudoscience and the Kensington Rune Stone for a planned documentary about the artifact. I’m supposed to talk with her later this week, so that will be interesting, I guess. Of course, you know that any documentary on the subject will inevitably collide with Him Who Must Not Be Named…
Today I have two short pieces to discuss. The first is an update on a story I’ve been following for what seems to be years now, and the second… is also very depressing.
This week is yet another Nazi week on the American Heroes Channel. On Sunday night, AHC broadcasted an episode of Myth Hunters on the “Nazi Hunt for Atlantis” (S02E07), which indicated its intention to examine Nazi efforts to seek out the Aryan master race from Atlantis. Then last night they offered up a new special, Hitler’s Jurassic Zoo, which was advertised as a look into Nazi efforts to create a prehistoric game preserve. Neither show was what it seemed to be. I was genuinely surprised, given its ridiculous title, that Hitler’s Jurassic Zoo was by far the superior offering.
Today I have two short topics to discuss: first, a Welsh art project on the search for Welsh Indians in American, and second, a new book that argues that white people are genetically adapted for wealth, dominance, and success because of prehistoric events.
Let’s get this out of the way first: H2’s press release about The Universe: Ancient Mysteries Solved scouring the world for the “megalithic yard” wasn’t just deceptive—I’m happy to say it was completely wrong! Nary a word about the “megalithic yard” was uttered on The Universe, and perhaps the PR officer for the network has drunk the Ancient Aliens and America Unearthed Flavor Aid a bit too deeply and now sees even serious and sober science through the lens of the network’s lunatic fringe offerings. I do wonder, though, what happened. My on-screen cable guide also listed the megalithic yard (“just one unit of measurement”) as the subject for the show. Did someone realize after America Unearthed that the unit was a fiction and erase it from the more “serious” show, thus accounting for all the astronomical repetition? Why was all of PR information wrong?
With the massive snowstorm barreling down on the East Coast, I’m spending today shoveling, hunkering down, and trying to stay out of the snow. This morning I almost got t-boned by car sliding straight through an intersection, and conditions are only getting worse.
Today I have a grab bag of a few newsworthy items to share.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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