Osama bin Laden – Dead

Here’s the full White House announcement:

Does this mean I can bring full sized shampoo on airplanes again?

history inspirational Politics

Tom Brokaw Explains Canada To Americans

I love this:

Tom Brokaw Explains Canada to Americans – YouTube

P.S. Parliament has been prorogued during the Olympics so Harper’s little flag waving speech was actually given at the British Columbia legislature.

history inspirational

Kurt Vonnegut’s Letter Home

As a private with the 106th Infantry Division, Kurt Vonnegut, along with five other battalion scouts, wandered behind enemy lines for several days during the Rhineland Campaign and became cut off from their battalion. They were captured by Wehrmacht troops on December 14, 1944 and imprisoned in Dresden, Germany.

While a prisoner, he witnessed the controversial fire bombing of Dresden in February 1945 which destroyed most of the city. The Germans held Vonnegut in an an ad hoc detention facility that had originally been an underground slaughterhouse meat locker. This experience was the inspiration for his famous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five.

A month later he wrote his family from a repatriation camp informing them of his capture and survival:

Kurt Vonnegut Letter home

See the rest of the letter at Letters of Note – Slaughterhouse Five.

history Music

Jimmy Page in 1957

Jimmy Page on BBC1 in 1957.

When asked by host Huw Wheldon what he wanted to do after schooling, Page says, “I want to do biological research [to find a cure for] cancer, if it isn’t discovered by then”.

Instead he went on to form one of the world’s greatest rock bands, Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin in 1969. From left to right: John Bonham, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones.



Newsweek Presents The Decade In Seven Minutes

Everything you need to know about the first decade of the twenty first century in seven minutes, according to Newsweek:

[Newsweek Presents The Decade In Seven Minutes | Youtube]


The Hippies

I just finished watching “The Hippies”, a made for TV documentary about the Hippie culture of the 60’s and 70’s that aired on the History Channel. Though flawed with its overarching, borderline ridiculous right-wing condemnations of hippie culture, it offers a fascinating glimpse at the drug-fueled, youth-driven counterculture of the era.

Too much time, unfortunately, is wasted on sensationalist, irrelevant side-stories and not enough is spent on the substantive contributions of the hippie aesthetic to the culture at large. There are also a few glaring historical accuracies; for example, one could easily conclude from the film that the Vietnam War ended after 1969 — which would certainly come as a surprise to the soldiers who served there from 1970-1973. But at least the film, at its end, correctly, if only briefly, touches upon some of the many lasting contributions of the hippie ethos to the culture at large; these include the consciousness movement, the environmental movement, and the computer/technological revolution which led to the democratization of information by the Internet.

[The Hippies – YouTube]

The mention of famed “satanist” Aleister Crowley caught my ear, especially when the narrator explained how his image was “featured” on the cover of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Truth be told, Crowley is merely one of the 85 people and objects featured on the cover.

The commentary also claims Sgt. Pepper’s was “the greatest masterpiece of the psychedelic era”. As any Beatles fan will tell you Sgt Pepper’s was Paul’s baby and while Lennon’s Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds* or George’s Within You Without You have that psychedelic sound, Paul didn’t embrace the drug scene in the same way that the others did and while it may truly be a masterpiece of musical genius, I’d venture to say that later albums like Magical Mystery Tour are more psychedelic.

*Fun fact: Lennon always denied Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was about LSD despite rumours to the contrary.


backmasking history

Backmasking Text File

Here’s an interesting little text file from 1983 that Jason Scott has in this vast archive of BBS files, backmask.txt, that delves into the history, technology, and social aspects of backmasking.

From the text file by William Poundstone:

TV programs such as PRAISE THE LORD and THE 700 CLUB have propagated rumors of a satanic plot in the recording industry, no less, in which various albums conceal “backward-masked” demonic murmurings. If THAT sounds too spacey to be taken seriously, consider that it was the fundamentalist groups who were behind House Resolution 6363, a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Robert K. Dornan (R., Calif.) in 1982 to label all suspect records: “WARNING: THIS RECORD CONTAINS BACKWARD MASKING THAT MAKES A VERBAL STATEMENT WHICH IS AUDIBLE WHEN THIS RECORD IS PLAYED BACKWARD AND WHICH MAY BE PERCEPTIBLE AT A SUBLIMINAL LEVEL WHEN THIS RECORD IS PLAYED FORWARD.”

Many of the original rumours I heard about backmasking when I was a kid are in this file. It’s interesting to note that the claims of what exactly each songs says when played backwards has continued to evolve over the years.


Early Easter

According to an email that has been floating around, Easter is coming particularly early this year, and won’t be this early again for another 220 years.

Do you realize how early Easter is this year? As you may know, Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 20). This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar.

Found out a couple of things you might be interested in! Based on the above, Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22) but that is pretty rare.

Here’s the interesting info. This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early (95 years old or above!). And none of us have ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier! Here’s the facts:

1) The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (220 years from now). The last time it was this early was 1913 (so if you’re 95 or older, you are the only ones that were around for that!).

2) The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year!

I took a look at the dates Easter has fallen on over the last few years:

  • Sunday 23rd April 2000
  • Sunday 15th April 2001
  • Sunday 31st March 2002
  • Sunday 20th April 2003
  • Sunday 11th April 2004
  • Sunday 27th March 2005
  • Sunday 16th April 2006
  • Sunday 8th April 2007

So, it’s not insanely early, just a week or so than the earliest Easters we are accustomed.

Remember, even though the holiday is early, there is still time to buy your chocolates, eat them and get more in time for Easter. Happy hunting.


history religion

Misquoting Jesus

In 1707, a biblical theologian named John Mill was the first to collect and combine the text of some 100 extant New Testament manuscripts. After 30 years of study he noted over 30,000 various major to mostly slight errors in the different versions of the New Testament manuscripts. His discovery brought to light the fact that so many different versions of the New Testament exist and that the book many people think of as the immutable word of God has an uncomfortably long history of changes.

The following video lecture is a tremendously interesting look at some of the discrepancies by world renowned bible scholar and author Dr. Bart D. Ehrman.

“There are places where we don’t know what the authors of the New Testament wrote. […]

The problem of not having the originals of the New Testament, though, is a problem for everyone—not simply for those that believe that the bible was inspired by God.

For all of us, I think, the bible is the most important book in Western Civilization. It continues to be cited in public debates over gay rights, abortion, over whether to go to war with foreign countries, over how to organize and run our society. But how do we interpret the New Testament? It’s hard to know what the words of the New Testament mean, if we don’t know what the words were.

And so in this lecture I’ll be talking about not knowing what the words were and what we might know about the originals of the New Testament, how they got lost and how possibly they might be reconstructed.”

[Misquoting Jesus| Youtube]


Maps of War

Though I’ve found the turbulent history of the Middle East to be fascinating, I’ve never before found a resource so eloquent as the Maps of War Imperial History which enables one to see 5000 years of empire building and state history in about 90 seconds.

Imperial History Maps of War

Though a lot of the empires shown here are familiar, I had no idea their respective magnitudes or durations.

(via Coolhunting)