Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The next four years

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  • WH,

    This is a clip from When We Were Kings, a film that recounts the story of The Rumble in the Jungle – the fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman held in Kinshasa in 1974.

    George Plimpton at 1m38s:

    I was very interested in people called “féticheurs”. They are witches, soothsayers, and in Western Africa almost everybody has one. It’s like a witch doctor and you go to a witch doctor the way we would go to a dentist. Muhammad Ali had been to Mobutu Sese Seko’s féticheur.

    And he had said that the féticheur had said that a woman with trembling hands would somehow get to [the heavily favoured] Foreman. A succubus. And that impressed me enormously.

    Plimpton at 13m47s:

    Ali came off the ropes and hit [Foreman] with a right and you can see the sweat pour off like a fountain from Foreman’s face and you suddenly realised there was design in this madness.

    So I turned to Norman, I remember – he must have been somewhat puzzled, but I said, “The succubus has got him!”, referring to this woman with the trembling hands that the witch doctors had said would touch Foreman and destroy him.

    It’s worth watching the whole film if you haven’t already seen it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    I was just watching a White House Press Conference - with some Trump mouthpiece spruiking up the economy - and he said "...as we are approaching the 21st century" !!!
    That explains a lot...
    (I'm just not sure which century they think they are in)

    I'm also guessing Trump's solution for Church Shootings will be to arm the clergy.

    Personally I think if they want to keep their 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms, they should have an amnesty where everyone has to trade in their military and automatic or assault weapons for single load muskets and flintlock pistols.
    That might make them engage in dialogue before shooting first...

    ...and address their anger problems.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    The other shoe just dropped for me - when I read that Trump's unqualified head of Education - Betsy DeVos, was at one of the public meetings - as Erik "Blackwater' Prince's sister she'll probably suggest private security firms for 'defense of schools' - Prince sold Blackwater a while ago but still seems to be in the security business and is a big Trump supporter - He does love family businesses our Donald....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Given "private security firms" and their "close links" to certain figures in the US govt (not to mention the winking and nodding relationship with US security and intelligence forces), I start to feel the slightest glimmerings of sympathy for the insistence of certain sectors of US society on their 2nd Amendment "rights" (in which, let us not forget, the militia bit was freely interpreted by Scalia et al to pretty much comprise a militia of one person).

    Not that any normal civilian would have any hope of firing back at a team of Blackwater operatives contracted to do roundups on behalf of ICE, as a fanciful example, but I can start to see why they'd want the illusion of being able to do so.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    So… Rex Tillerson has been fired just as Trump prepares to meet Kim Jong-un to discuss the future of the Korean peninsula… I call on Trump to resign the presidency and to thereby end this humiliating farce.

    The Arab Weekly has an interesting article on witchcraft in Iraq:

    The phenomena of magic, superstition and belief in supernatural creatures — jinns — have become widespread and popular amid the lawlessness of post-2003 Iraq. The practitioners of the dark arts prey on people who have family, social or financial troubles with the promise of quick solutions.

    “Oum Aya” claims to be a certified astrologist from a specialised Egyptian institute. She does not hide her activities, practising them at her luxurious home in Baghdad’s posh al-Waziriya neighbourhood. Her clients are from all different socio-economic backgrounds and include politicians and government officials.

    “They (politicians) are mostly interested in preserving their posts and seek (magic) assistance to stay in their (lucrative) functions as much as possible,” she said, noting that she was most solicited during election time with candidates visiting her to increase their chances to win parliamentary seats.

    This is an interesting article about Ne Win, the Burmese dictator who deposed Prime Minister U Nu in 1962 by coup d’etat having decided that “parliamentary democracy was not suitable for Burma”:

    Devoted to numerology, astrology and yadaya – a form of Burmese ritual magic that draws heavily on those two disciplines – Ne Win’s decisions were guided not only by politicians, generals and civil servants, but by soothsayers. […]

    Writing in Perfect Hostage: A Life of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s Prisoner of Conscience, Justin Wintle recalls that when a soothsayer warned the dictator that he risked assassination, Ne Win would stand in front of a mirror and shoot his image with the revolver he kept at his side. When warned of a bloodbath, he was advised stand in front of the mirror and trample on dog entrails or in a bowl of pig’s blood to simulate the carnage.

    The use of dog entrails was no coincidence either, whenever he travelled the country (whether in a fleet of helicopter or vast armoured motorcade of jeeps and limos) he would have all the stray dogs in the location slaughtered by his men prior to his arrival. His soothsayer had told him to steer clear of dogs, especially ones with crooked tails.

    Other stories recounted by visitors to the country include Ne Win ordering a pilot to circle around his birthplace while he sat in the plane on a wooden horse, stepping backwards onto bridges or walking around the streets of Burma’s capital Rangoon at night dressed as a king.

    Perhaps the most bizarre, evocative and downright ghoulish story surrounding the dictator is that he bathed in the blood of dolphins which he believed would keep him young, like some surreal Burmese answer to Countess Bathory.

    Witchcraft is more prevalent and more dangerous than you think it is. Don’t get involved in the occult.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to WH,

    more prevalent and more dangerous than you think

    The same can be said of stupidity

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Attachment

    This is a photo of Albert Einstein, his wife and Gene Dennis – a well known American psychic. The photo was taken in 1932. Einstein told the New Republic that:

    [Dennis] told me things no one possibly could know, things on which I have been working, and she demonstrated to me that she has a power to do things I cannot at this time explain. Now, I must tell some of my colleagues about this. It was miraculous indeed.

    Maybe you’re right Andin. The world’s not a perfect place.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    There shouldn't be a Chinese military base in the South Pacific.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    The near death experience is one of the most famous and compelling lines of evidence for the ongoing existence of the human spirit. Modern interest in the phenomenon was rekindled by Raymond Moody’s 1975 bestseller Life After Life. In the course of collating and summarising around 150 NDEs, Moody writes:

    What has amazed me since the beginning of my interest are the great similarities in the reports despite the fact that they come from people of highly varied religious, social and educational backgrounds. (p.24)

    Corroboration

    The question naturally arises whether any evidence of the reality of near-death experiences be acquired independently of the descriptions of the experiences themselves. Many persons report being out of their bodies for extended periods and witnessing many events in the physical world during the interlude. Can any of these reports be checked out with other witnesses who were known to be present, or with later confirming events, and thus be corroborated?

    In quite a few instances, the somewhat surprising answer to this question is, “yes”. Furthermore, the description of events witnessed while out of the body tend to check out fairly well. (p.64)

    The book is available on digital loan from Auckland Public Libraries if you’re interested.

    An extensive literature has developed around this subject and you can find a range of material in the usual places, but this is an 2016 IANDS conference presentation by Laurin Bellg, an ICU physician who has incorporated this aspect of her patients’ experiences into her practice.

    This isn’t really a joke. Don’t get involved in the occult.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • WH, in reply to ,

    I wouldn’t go as far as calling it scientific evidence though.

    Like many of the researchers in this field, Moody is a doctor, but the questions around how you collate personal experiences to create data are interesting ones. While Moody states that the information he’s collected isn’t offered as proof of a particular interpretation I think he’d say he’s collected important evidence.

    There are some patient accounts of veridical perception provided in the book. NDE patients often report seeing their body from above and have described conversations and events that took place while they were unconscious or clinically dead and have given their doctors detailed accounts of the medical procedures that were used to revive them.

    I’ve had a few near death experiences such as y’do at sea.
    So I’m keeping an open mind about the after life

    I think that’s a pretty sensible stance.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to ,

    time slowing down effect

    N.B. the brain does not process information any faster in moments of stress than otherwise. Rather, our sense of time passing is distorted after the fact by the amount of processing time devoted to the moment afterwards (for obvious reasons, we spend more subsequent processing time on more stressful moments).

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1940 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    delve too far into finding out what being guillotined might feel like

    I’m not sure how to approach that. Have a look at the video if you’re interested in learning about people’s experiences of veridical perception. It indirectly addresses the point I think you’re making.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    I had a friend who used to like to talk about the Kansas City shuffle. The thing you need to remember about this particular instance of the scam is that while Kansas City is in Missouri, Koch Industries is headquartered in Wichita. It’s a joke of a certain sort for a mark of a certain kind.

    http://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/875321478849363968

    http://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/865173176854204416

    http://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/983662953894436864

    Don’t get involved in witchcraft or the occult.

    They’re not planning to keep it a secret forever.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    This is an episode from Disappearing World inspired by Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard’s sociological study Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande (1937). You can access a PDF version of the book here.

    Witchcraft is having a moment. Don’t get involved in the occult.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    This one goes to out to Lee from Huddersfield.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Former Spanish and Barcelona midfielder Xavi has noted the unusual circumstances around Real Madrid’s winning of the 2018 Champions League:

    Real Madrid had everything in their favour: injured [Bayern Munich] players like Neymar, Robben, Boateng [WH: and first choice goalkeeper Neuer], the referees, the most important player in Liverpool who they hurt, the Bayern and Liverpool goalies who messed up. It looks like witchcraft.

    The first goalkeeping error Xavi is referring to came from Bayern Munich’s Sven Ulreich in the second leg of the semi-final:

    The second and third errors came from Liverpool’s Loris Karius in the final:

    Don’t get involved in the occult.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    This is part of a Fox News interview with conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer that describes the 1972 accident that left him paralysed from the neck down.

    The Washington Post recently informed readers that Krauthammer has been diagnosed with cancer and is expected to pass away within the next few weeks. In a short note to readers, Krauthammer wrote:

    Lastly, I thank my colleagues, my readers, and my viewers, who have made my career possible and given consequence to my life’s work. I believe that the pursuit of truth and right ideas through honest debate and rigorous argument is a noble undertaking. I am grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.

    I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.

    May we all be able to say that we lived so well.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to WH,

    Don’t get involved in the occult.

    Meanwhile in Chchch NASA is flying high to observe a unique occultation!
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/science/104710132/from-christchurch-nasas-flying-telescope-to-record-eclipselike-event

    Mind boggling really – they are flying at 12km above the surface to spend maybe two minutes in the earthbound penumbra of a single star’s light behind Titan (a moon of Saturn with an unusually thick atmosphere) – some pretty involved calculations going on there – almost magic!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • WH, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment

    I've been thinking about a similar kind of problem. But back to your thing - do you have any ideas as to what's causing the occultation?

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to WH,

    do you have any ideas as to what’s causing the occultation?

    Mexico scoring a goal?

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    RC/DC

    Mexico scoring a goal?

    That nice Mr Trump assures me that they are all 'criminals and papists'

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to WH,

    do you have any ideas as to what’s causing the occultation?

    It's the physics of the affair...
    ...and galactic and intra-solar system alignments
    Saturn is in opposition to Earth and the Sun, and is lined up with the constellation Sagittarius - one of the 'bright stars' there will pass behind the moon Titan (well technically Titan will pass in front) so the plane flies in two 'shadows' the shadow of the Earth from the Sun and the shadow created by the 'unnamed' (and no star catalog number given) star created by Titan. They will observe the thick atmosphere of Titan for two minutes.

    I wrote to NASA asking which particular star was being 'eclipsed' - and they replied:

    Typically the stars that are occulted only have catalog names, which are meaningless to the general public.

    to which I replied:

    thanks for your reply - but to be frank I found it dismissive and patronising.
    If you want to excite the 'general public' about things beyond our thin layer of atmosphere why not give them something to work with - even a mere 'catalog number' gives one a hint as to the enormity of the endeavour - and in this case why not mention that Saturn and Titan have a backdrop of the constellation Sagittarius at the moment, a constellation that has many bright, named stars (and possibly a central galactic black hole!) - It would be interesting to know if you were using one of the binary stars that make Sagittarius (which I'd have thought may cause possible 'ghosting' - but what do I know.)
    Even the fact that you are doing this flight while Saturn is in opposition gives us mere mortals a glimpse into the mechanics of our solar system - I'm assuming saturn will also be in the shadow of the Earth at this point - so many photons, so little time, win win!
    Sorry to appear rude, but I tire of bad or lacklustre science and missed opportunities to enable people to feel the awe and wonder of such an endeavour, to suddenly realise the applications of the principles of math and mechanics - it's the physics of the affair!

    I await their response...

    I think I am now officially a 'curmudgeon'!
    albeit one made from stardust...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • WH, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    It just so happens that I know a little about Titan and went so far as to name my personal services company after it in a moment of levity. Unfortunately, the company had to be wound up following a series of events that have inspired and informed my participation in this discussion.

    The turning point in my own approach to the occult came in the aftermath of a dinner with an old friend and his fiancee, a young broadcaster who had taken a job with a large Californian internet company. Shortly after our catch-up dinner I was poisoned and assaulted by a mutual friend as we dined following our attendance at a lecture on human rights in London. I then had what I’ll describe here as an overpowering premonition of the fact and cause of my friend’s fiancee’s impending death.

    Not then believing such a thing to be a reliable guide to the future, I thought no more about it until I was sent a link to an article in the New Zealand Herald that described my friend’s fiancee’s sudden death. My friend’s fiancee had developed a rare form of cancer at age 29 and had died within a month of diagnosis. It might go without saying given the circumstances, but the premonition had been completely accurate.

    It’s something I’ll remember and regret for the rest of my life.

    Don’t get involved in the occult.

    I’m not in any way joking about the real cause of the injuries suffered by Charles Krauthammer and Christopher Reeve. While I understand that such a claim can only be met with scepticism, if not outright incredulity, the force I am trying to describe to you is completely malevolent.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Charles Krauthammer passed away today; the Washington Post carried a column from his friend and colleague George Will.

    Will’s column mentions Krauthammer’s 2007 column about the career of Rick Ankiel, an MLB pitcher who suddenly and unaccountably lost the ability to find the plate during the 2000 postseason.

    Wikipedia states:

    In game one [of the NLDS], Ankiel did not allow a run through the first two innings. His performance suddenly deteriorated in the third. He allowed four runs on two hits, four walks and throwing five wild pitches before being removed with two outs. Despite Ankiel facing eight batters and throwing 35 pitches, the Cardinals won the game. Ankiel shrugged off the event, joking that he was the first pitcher to throw five wild pitches in an inning since Bert Cunningham of the Players’ League in 1890.

    In his next start, Game Two of the National League Championship Series against the New York Mets, Ankiel was removed in the first inning after throwing 20 pitches, five of which went past catcher Eli Marrero (only two were official wild pitches, as no runners were on base for the others), and the first of which sailed over the head of Mets’ hitter Timo Perez. Ankiel appeared again in the seventh inning of Game Five facing four hitters, walking two and throwing two more wild pitches. The Cardinals lost the series four games to one.

    After a lengthy hiatus in the lower leagues, Ankiel eventually returned to the majors as a midfielder.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

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