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Jul. 21st, 2006

Pavement Chalk

On my way into work this morning, I saw a young man in a rucksack making his way up my road, stopping every 20 metres or so to chalk on the pavement.

I crossed to see what he was writing. In most cases, it was a circle with what looked like "NO" written in the centre. One, however, said "CND".

Baffling. I wish I'd asked him, now.

Is writing CND in chalk on the ground common behaviour?

May. 31st, 2006

Certainly not Dewey Decimal

The Westminster Book Shop has an unorthodox classification system - books on physics, biology and chemistry are shelved right next to The Ultimate Book of Completely Useless Facts. Perhaps the owner is religious and doesn't believe in science..?

May. 2nd, 2006

Paul is Dead

Wikipedia excels at detailed analyses of trivial issues. For example, is Paul McCartney dead?

To save you the trouble of reading all the way to the bottom, the answer is: no.

Apr. 18th, 2006

CIA attempts to contact the dead

According to the authors of Acid Dreams: the complete social history of LSD, in the 1960s the CIA experimented with using spiritualists to make contact with dead agents in the afterlife, to ensure that even being killed in action wouldn't prevent a full and frank debrief (p. 18).

Apr. 15th, 2006

Spooky Bosnian Pyramid

Archaelogists are digging under a hill in Bosnia, where they believe they might have found the first pyramid every discovered in Europe. So far, they've uncovered the entrance to a network of tunnels.

BBC News Online

Apr. 11th, 2006

Red Rain

New Scientist, 4/3/06, reports in detail on the fact that red rain - somewhat like blood - has been falling in Kerala in southern India.

One scientist is publishing a serious scientific paper arguing that the rain contains red alien "cells", which may have come to Earth aboard a meteor.

Others are sceptical, but their explanations seem scarcely less believable:
[Charles] Cockell takes a wild guess that maybe a meteor explosion massacred a flock of bats, splattering their blood in all directions.

More on red rain at Wikipedia.

Apr. 10th, 2006

Macabre Book Discovery

"A 300-year old book bound in human skin has been found in a city centre street in Headrow, Leeds, police said. Officers belive the historic ledger may have been dumped following a burglary. Much of the text is in French, and it was not uncommon around the time of the French Revolution for books to be covered in human skin."
From The Observer, 9/4/06

Apr. 7th, 2006

Los Zetas

A squad of former Mexican special forces officers have turned criminal, and deal drugs with military precision, using armoured vehicles and stolen weapons.


Washinton Times

The Power of the Dog

Don Winslow's The Power of the Dog is pretty much an old fashioned trash pulp thriller, with a few James Ellroy-esque stylistic touches.

Like a lot of pulp trash thrillers, it is deeply compelling - I'm struggling to put it down, which doesn't happen with many books.

I'm enjoying the scenery - Mexico, Texas, New York City - and the grotesquely tacky criminal stereotypes.

What is most powerful, however, is Winslow's evocation of people without conscience, or conventional morals. It's hard for reasonable, non-psychopathic people to conceive of why or how anyone could commit assault, or murder, or torture somebody. And yet, those things happen.

One particularly upsetting chapter takes the form of a romantic love story, concluding in a decapitation of one lover by the other, and the murder of two children. It's horrible - the kind of thing I frown upon in horror stories, where child abuse is a shortcut to affecting the reader - and fictional. Nonetheless, it seems terrifyingly plausible.

Why do rich and powerful criminal even have wives and children?

Apr. 6th, 2006

Sealed Doorway: Phillimore Chambers

My NanoWriMo entry last year was inspired by a rather fine sealed doorway in Great Smith Street.

Phillimore Chambers is not just a bricked up doorway: it's an ornate, pedimented, boldly announced doorway, sealed with blocks of solid stone.

I'm sure that on the other side is nothing but a corridor, but it's hard not to be intrigued.

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