Written in Central Europe at the end of the 15th or during the 16th century, the origin, language, and date of the Voynich Manuscript—named after the Polish-American antiquarian bookseller, Wilfrid M. Voynich, who acquired it in 1912—are still being debated as vigorously as its puzzling drawings and undeciphered text. Described as a magical or scientific text, nearly every page contains botanical, figurative, and scientific drawings of a provincial but lively character, drawn in ink with vibrant washes in various shades of green, brown, yellow, blue, and red.
Based on the subject matter of the drawings, the contents of the manuscript falls into six sections: 1) botanicals containing drawings of 113 unidentified plant species; 2) astronomical and astrological drawings including astral charts with radiating circles, suns and moons, Zodiac symbols such as fish (Pisces), a bull (Taurus), and an archer (Sagittarius), nude females emerging from pipes or chimneys, and courtly figures; 3) a biological section containing a myriad of drawings of miniature female nudes, most with swelled abdomens, immersed or wading in fluids and oddly interacting with interconnecting tubes and capsules; 4) an elaborate array of nine cosmological medallions, many drawn across several folded folios and depicting possible geographical forms; 5) pharmaceutical drawings of over 100 different species of medicinal herbs and roots portrayed with jars or vessels in red, blue, or green, and 6) continuous pages of text, possibly recipes, with star-like flowers marking each entry in the margins.
I normally avoid linking slide-shows deliberately arranged to extort clicks, but this one has an awfully good list including many unsolved mysteries I had never heard of.
Scientists working on NASA’s six-wheeled rover on Mars have a problem. But it’s a good problem.
They have some exciting new results from one of the rover’s instruments. On the one hand, they’d like to tell everybody what they found, but on the other, they have to wait because they want to make sure their results are not just some fluke or error in their instrument.
It’s a bind scientists frequently find themselves in, because by their nature, scientists like to share their results. At the same time, they’re cautious because no one likes to make a big announcement and then have to say “never mind.”
The exciting results are coming from an instrument in the rover called SAM. “We’re getting data from SAM as we sit here and speak, and the data looks really interesting,” John Grotzinger, the principal investigator for the rover mission, says during my visit last week to his office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. That’s where data from SAM first arrive on Earth. “The science team is busily chewing away on it as it comes down,” says Grotzinger.
SAM is a kind of miniature chemistry lab. Put a sample of Martian soil or rock or even air inside SAM, and it will tell you what the sample is made of.
Grotzinger says they recently put a soil sample in SAM, and the analysis shows something earthshaking. “This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good,” he says.
I’m betting on microbial life.
Yahoo quotes a News Agency report of the additional locating by the Mars rover of “a small, bright object.”
NASA officials say the Curiosity rover has made its first scoop of the surface of planet Mars and has detected a bright object on the ground.
Officials said in a news release Monday that they suspect the object might be a part of the six-wheeled rover, but they won’t sample or scoop anymore until they figure out what it is.
The Curiosity has already beamed back pictures of bedrock that suggest a fast-moving stream once flowed on the planet.
The rover landed Aug. 5 and is on a two-year, $2.5 billion mission to study whether microbial life could have existed on Mars in the past.
Is that an immature ostrich? Is it looking over a peculiar fence or the headstones in an oriental graveyard? Who knows? I searched 2.1 Billion images on the web (using Tineye) and did not find a source.
I found several thumbnails of this image on British, Swedish, and Chinese web-sites, but could not get to the original postings. I have no idea how Fred Lapides comes up with certain images.
—————————————— UPDATE, 5/29:
Commenter Sydney Duodenenum refers us to this Russian video:
Doug Ross tracks the changes to the biography Barack Obama provided, in third person form, to his literary agent.
On June 27, 1998, the website read: [Emphasis added] “BARACK OBAMA was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book is DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE.”
The Obama entry remained unmodified (e.g., June 6, 2002) until sometime around December 9, 2004, when it was modified to read: “BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, is a New York Times bestseller.”
On February 10, 2007, Senator Barack Obama formally announced his candidacy for the Presidency.
On April 3, 2007, the website read: “BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long time New York Times bestseller.”
Sometime between April 3rd and April 21st, a member of the Obama campaign staff (or Obama himself) noticed the discrepancy in birthplace that would presumably disqualify the Senator from office.
On April 21, 2007, the website read: “BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Hawaii to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long time New York Times bestseller.”
On June 14, 2007, the website read: “BARACK OBAMA, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, is currently campaigning to become the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee. He was born in Hawaii to a father who was raised in a small village in Kenya and a mother who grew up in small-town Kansas. Barack’s father eventually returned to Kenya, and Barack grew up with his mother in Hawaii, and for a few years in Indonesia. Later, he moved to New York, where he graduated from Columbia University before moving to Chicago, where he became a community organizer. He went on to earn his law degree from Harvard, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long-time New York Times bestseller.”
Old media’s feeble handling of this issue—parroting the laughable assertion that clerical errors caused Obama’s birthplace to be incorrectly listed, when former clients and the agency’s policy itself states that authors provide the biographical briefs—is pathetic.
Mark Steyn theorizes about the meaning of all the confusion about Obama’s birthplace.
When it comes to conspiracies, I’m an Occam’s Razor man. The more obvious explanation of the variable first line in the eternally shifting sands of Obama’s biography is that, rather than pretending to have been born in Hawaii, he’s spent much of his life pretending to have been born in Kenya. After all, if your first book is an exploration of racial identity and has the working title “Journeys in Black and White,” being born in Hawaii doesn’t really help. It’s entirely irrelevant to the twin pillars of contemporary black grievance — American slavery and European imperialism. To 99.99 percent of people, Hawaii is a luxury-vacation destination and nothing else. Whereas Kenya puts you at the heart of what, in an otherwise notably orderly decolonization process by the British, was a bitter and violent struggle against the white man’s rule. Cool! The composite chicks dig it, and the literary agents.
And where’s the harm in it? Everybody does it — at least in the circles in which Obama hangs. At Harvard Law School, where young Barack was “the first African-American president of The Harvard Law Review,” there’s no end of famous firsts: As The Fordham Law Review reported, “Harvard Law School hired its first woman of color, Elizabeth Warren, in 1995.” ...
In 1984, when “Elizabeth Warren — Cherokee” was cooking up a storm, the young Obama was still trying to figure out his name: He’d been “Barry” up till then. According to his recently discovered New York girlfriend, back when she dated him he was “BAR-ack,” emphasis on the first syllable, as in barracks, which is how his dad was known back in Kenya. Later in the Eighties, he decided “BAR-ack” was too British, and modified it to “Ba-RACK.” Some years ago, on Fox News, Bob Beckel criticized me for mispronouncing Barack Obama’s name. My mistake. All I did was say it the way they’ve always said it back in Kenya. But Obama himself didn’t finally decide what his name was or how to say it until he was pushing 30. In the shifting sands of identity, he picked his crabs carefully.
“I suppose he’d had the name ready for a long time, even then,” says Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people — his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. . . . So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.”
In a postmodern America, the things that Gatsby attempted to fake — an elite schooling — Obama actually had; the things that Gatsby attempted to obscure — the impoverished roots — merely add to Obama’s luster. Gatsby claimed to have gone to Oxford, but nobody knew him there because he never went; Obama had a million bucks’ worth of elite education at Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard Law, and still nobody knew him (“Fox News contacted some 400 of his classmates and found no one who remembered him”). In that sense, Obama out-Gatsbys Gatsby…
The case of an Orange County woman severely burned after rocks collected last weekend from San Onofre State Beach ignited in her pocket has puzzled scientists, who say they’ve never seen anything like it and aren’t quite sure how it happened. ...
The 43-year-old San Clemente woman, who remained hospitalized Thursday with second- and third-degree burns, visited the northern San Diego County beach last Saturday with her family, authorities said. Her name has not been released.
Her children collected rocks, including two that were distinctive — one was large and a marbled gray; the other much smaller and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle green.
Both of the beach stones were streaked and flecked with bright orange.
The mother put the rocks in her right pocket and went home. Then they suddenly ignited.
Witnesses reported seeing flames coming from her shorts. She had second- and third-degree burns from her right knee to her right thigh, with second-degree burns on her hands. Her husband also had burns on his hands from trying to help her.
The Orange County Health Care Agency examined the two rocks, and tests revealed a “phosphorous substance” on the rocks, which now have been sent to a state laboratory for further testing, said Tricia Landquist, an agency spokeswoman.
That discovery, however, has only added to the mystery.
Scientists wondered: How does a chemical like phosphorus wind up on a Southern California beach? And why did a substance so volatile not burst into flames sooner?
The website WikiLeaks has continued releasing for a fourth day what it says will eventually be 5 million e-mails sent between July 2004 and late December 2011 by the private intelligence company Stratfor. ...
Wikileaks claims that Osama bin Laden’s body was transferred to Dover, Delaware on a CIA plane. An email dated May 2, 2011 states the body will then be moved “…to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda.” Two US Air Force Airlift Wings are based at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware. In another email dated May 2, 2011 a Stratfor staff member expresses doubt that Bin Laden’s corpse was buried at sea and mentions, “We would want to photograph, DNA, fingerprint, etc. His body is a crime scene and I don’t see the FBI nor DOJ letting that happen.”
According to leaked secret files of Statfor, a US security agency, Osama was not buried at sea in an Islamic ceremony but his body was shifted to the military mortuary in Dover, DE, on a CIA plane.
Then it was shifted to the medical institute of US armed forces in Maryland for examination.
At 5:26 a.m. on May 2, the morning after Barack Obama announced the successful raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, Stratfor CEO George Friedman sent an email that said: “Reportedly, we took the body with us. Thank goodness.”
Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice president for intelligence, followed that up at 5:51 a.m. with an email titled “[alpha] Body bound for Dover, DE on CIA plane” that said: “Than [sic] onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda.”
At 1:36 p.m. Burton replied to a thread named “Re: OBL’s corpse” with the message: “Body is Dover bound, should be here by now.”
That contradicts the official story that bin Laden’s body was handled in accordance with Islamic tradition and released into the sea from a U.S. Navy vessel.
If this is true, we need to elect another president from Yale who can see to it that Osama’s skull winds up (along with those of other enemies of the United States like Geronimo) preserved for long-term private appreciation and ridicule inside a certain windowless building on High Street in New Haven, Connecticut.
One of my elementary schoolmates from back in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania posted this today on Facebook. I saved the image and ran a Tineye image search, and all I could find was this photo being used humorously as a user photo on a Russian chat board. I expect that this is some kind of European vole.
Wired wonders aloud what the rulers of Red China can possibly be building in one of the world’s most remote locations.
It is probably not going to be a recreational theme park.
New photos have appeared in Google Maps showing unidentified titanic structures in the middle of the Chinese desert. The first one is an intricate network of what appears to be huge metallic stripes. Is this a military experiment?
They seem to be wide lines drawn with some white material. Or maybe the dust have been dug by machinery.
It’s located in Dunhuang, Jiuquan, Gansu, north of the Shule River, which crosses the Tibetan Plateau to the west into the Kumtag Desert. It covers an area approximately one mile long by more than 3,000 feet wide.
The tracks are perfectly executed, and they seem to be designed to be seen from orbit.
See comments: Reliapundit thinks he knows what it is.
Nov. 15: The Daily Mail has more pictures of more things.
More than700 Erdstall (“Earth Stables”), also known as Schrazelloch (“Toadey = Dwarf Holes”) are known to exist in Bavaria. These underground passage systems are also found in significant numbers in Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Saxony, Moravia, and Hungary.
The tunnels are man-made and have been dated to the Middle Ages, but their use and purpose is unknown.
The chief explanation proposed is that they were the medieval equivalent of fallout shelters, in which people sought refuge from bandits or armed invaders. An alternative viewpoint proposes that they had supernatural or cultic purposes.
The Times of India reports that recent renovations have detected the presence of a sealed chamber.
A mysterious room has been discovered in the 250-year-old building a room that no one knew about and no one can enter because it seems to have no opening of kind, not even trapdoors.
The chamber has lain untouched for over two centuries. Wonder what secrets it holds. The archaeologists who discovered it have no clue either, their theories range from a torture chamber, or a sealed tomb for an unfortunate soul or the most favoured of all a treasure room. Some say they wouldn’t be surprised if both skeletons and jewels tumble out of the secret room.
Belvedere House as the National Library building was known during the Raj was among the many buildings Mir Jafar built in Alipore in the 1760s after he was forced to abdicate his throne in Murshidabad. He gifted it to the first Governor General of India, Lord Warren Hastings. What happened to the house between 1780, when Hastings is said to have sold it, and 1854, when it became the official residence of the Lt Governor of Bengal, is uncertain. But from 1854 to 1911, Belvedere housed a number of Lt Governors till the British capital shifted to Delhi.
After Independence, the National Library (which was then in Esplanade) was shifted to Belvedere House. Since the Belvedere House is of great architectural and heritage value, the treasure of books has been shifted to a new building on the 30-acre campus while the old building is getting restored.
The ministry of culture that owns the National Library decided to get the magnificent building restored by the Archaeological Survey of India since it is heavily damaged. Work has already started. It was while taking stock of the interior and exterior of the building that ASI conservation engineers stumbled upon a blind enclosure’ on the ground floor, about 1000 square feet in size.
A lot of effort has been made to locate an opening so that experts can find out exactly what it was built for or what it contains. But there is not a single crack to show.
“We’ve searched every inch of the first floor area that forms the ceiling of this enclosure for a possible trap door. But found nothing. Restoration of the building will remain incomplete if we are not able to assess what lies inside this enclosure,” said deputy superintending archaeologist of ASI, Tapan Bhattacharya. “We’ve come across an arch on one side of the enclosure that had been walled up. Naturally speculations are rife,” said another archaeologist.
Was it used as a punishment room by Hastings or one of the Lt Governors who succeeded him? It was common practice among the British to “wall up” offenders in “death chambers”. Some sources say this enclosure has exactly the same look and feel. The British were also known to hide riches in blind chambers as this.
“It could be just about anything. Skeletons and treasure chests are the two things that top our speculations because it is not natural for a building to have such a huge enclosure that has no opening. We cannot break down a wall, considering the importance of the building. So we have decided to bore a hole through the wall to peer inside with a searchlight,” said D V Sharma, regional director, ASI.
National Library authorities have written to the ministry of culture seeking permission for this. “The ASI cannot drill into a building of such great historical significance as this without permission.
Several books I was in the middle of, or planning to read next, temporarily vanished in the course of the great migration southward to our new home in Fauquier County, so I was obliged to forage.
I happened to pick up The Mortdecai Trilogy, which I purchased a couple of years ago, doubtless as the result of a recommendation from one of those “lists of mysteries you need to read” sort of articles.
The author, who write under the name Kyril Bonfiglioli, was one of those more-English-than-most-English semi-exotics (like Benjamin Disraeli or Louis Mazzini in Kind Hearts and Coronets). Just like the fictional tenth Duke of Chalfont, Bonfiglioli had an Italian-named father and an English mother. His father, however, was actually a Slovenian émigré antiquarian bookdealer.
Bonfiglioli served in the ranks of the British Army in West Africa in the 1950s before matriculating at Oxford (Balliol College). During his time at university, he was a widower with two young children. After graduating, he became an art dealer in London.
He had been a sabre champion in the Army, and once purchased a Tintoretto at a country auction for forty pounds. Bonfiglioli was evidently himself a marvellous example of the superbly-well-educated English roué and (inevitably) succumbed to cirrhosis at 59.
His detective hero, the Honorable Charlie Strafford Van Cleef Mortdecai obviously represents a more fortunate and affluent version of the author. Charlie Mortdecai is, more or less, what you might have gotten had Bertie Wooster been crossed with one of the more louche members of the Brideshead circle. I don’t suppose many of my readers know Simon Raven, but he and Bonfiglioli were indubitably kindred spirits, reactionary connoisseurs of the pleasures of art, snobbery, and the pleasures of the flesh (including those associated with the wrong element at British public schools). Not the sort of people you’d want to lend money to, or have marry your sister, but wonderfully amusing raconteurs over a drink at the club bar.
Charlie Mortdecai contrives, in Don’t Point That Thing at Me, to extort a Queen’s Messenger appointment conferring diplomatic immunity and allowing him to smuggle whatever he pleases into the United States in a classic Rolls Silver Ghost. Upon his arrival in Washington, he makes a courtesy call at the British Embassy:
Now, for practical purposes the ordinary consumer can divide Ambassadors into two classes: the thin ones who tend to be suave, well-bred, affable; and the fleshier chaps who are none of these things. His present Excellency definitely fell into the latter grade: his ample mush was pleated with fat, wormed with the great pox and so bresprent with whelks, bubukles and burst capillaries that it seemed like a contour map of the Trossachs. His great plum-coloured gobbler hung slack and he sprayed one when he spoke. I couldn’t find it in my heart to love him but, poor chap, he was probably a Labour appointment: his corridors of power led only to the Gents.
‘I won’t beat around the bush, Mortdecai,’ he honked, ‘you are clearly an awful man. Here we are, trying to establish an image of a white-hot technological Britain, ready to compete on modern terms with any jet-age country in the world and here you are, walking about Washington in a sort of Bertie Wooster outfit as though you were something the Tourist Board had dreamed up to advertise Ye Olde Brytysshe Raylewayes.’
‘I say,’ I said, ‘you pronounced that last bit marvellously.’
‘Moreover,’ he ground on ‘your ridiculous bowler is dented, your absurd umbrella bent, your shirt covered in blood and you have a black eye.’
‘You should see the other feller?’ I chirrupped brightly, but it did not go down a bit well. He was in his stride now.
‘The fact that you are quote evidently as drunk as a fiddler’s bitch in no way excuses a man your age’—a nasty one, that—‘looking and behaving like a fugitive from a home for alcoholic music-hall artistes. I know little of why you are here and I wish to know nothing. I have been asked to assist you if possible, but I have not been instructed to do so: you may assume that I shall not. The only advice I offer is that you do not apply to this Embassy for help when you outrage the laws of the United States, for I shall unhesitatingly disown you and recommend imprisonment and deportation. If you turn right when you leave this room you will see the Chancery, where you will be given a receipt for your Silver Greyhound [the insignia of a Queen’s Messenger – JDZ] and a temporary civil passport in exchange for your Diplomatic one, which should never have been issued. Good day, Mr. Mortdecai.’
With that, he started signing letters grimly or whatever it is that Ambassadors grimly sign when they want you to leave. I considered being horribly sick on his desk but feared he might declare me a Distressed British Subject there and then, so I simply left the room in a marked manner and stayed not on the order of my going. But I turned left as I went out of the room, which took me into a typists’ pool, through which I strolled debonairely, twirling my brolly and whistling a few staves of ‘Show Us Your Knickers, Elsie.’
The Escapist describes the mysterious sign that appeared in the Norwegian skies, appropriately timed to mark Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Astronomers and Norwegian citizens alike have been baffled by the appearance of a strange blue spiral light in the sky above the Scandinavian country last night: Was it aliens, evil Russians, or just a Dante’s Inferno marketing stunt? ...
Witnesses in the north of the country reported an unusual atmospheric phenomenon that began when “what appeared to be a blue light seemed to soar up from behind a mountain. It stopped mid-air, then began to circulate … Within seconds a giant spiral had covered the entire sky. Then a green-blue beam of light shot out from its centre – lasting for ten to twelve minutes before disappearing completely.”
The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was hammered by a flood of telephone calls after the light show had concluded, though astronomers say that the startling display was not connected to the Aurora Borealis.
Daily Tech reports that Russian news sources have identified the source of the phenomenon, and it had nothing to do with peace.
on Thursday the Russian newspaper Vedomosti cited a military source as saying the phenomenon was caused by a failed test launch of a intercontinental missile, dubbed Bulava. Past launches had failed on the first stage, but this launch reportedly went off without a hitch, before experiencing the strange failure on the third stage.
The Russia armed forces initially denied these reports. However, another source, stationed in Severodvinsk, told newspaper Kommersant that the Russian nuclear sub “Dmitri Donskoy” launched Monday for a program of test launches at sea. The “Dmitri Donskoy” is reportedly the only sub capable of launching the Bulava missile.
On Thursday, more than 24 hours after the incident Russia decided to take responsibility for the incident. The Ministry of Defense’s press service told ITAR-TSS that the strange show was indeed generated by a third stage failure of the missile.
There are still unexplained details about the event that are sure to excite conspiracy theorists. First of all the blue-green light would suggest the presence of copper(II) chloride in the rocket flame. However, copper chloride, while commonly used in pyrotechnics, isn’t hasn’t traditionally been used in rocket fuel (though it has been reportedly investigated as a catalyst in propellant reactions). Also strange is that a similar spiral and explosion occurred over China last year, according to the Daily Mail. If it was indeed the third stage that caused the scene over Norway, and no previous launch had made it past the first stage, it’s unclear what might have caused the similar scene in China.