Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Sphinx, Cleopatra’s Needle and the Psychogeography of London

The ancient Egyptian empire came to a close so long ago that it can be difficult to get a sense of just how long-lived it was. When Thutmose IV excavated the Great Sphinx of Giza from the sands that buried … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , ,

Angels of Death and Babyfarming

In the popular imagination, serial killers come in two distinct flavours: 1. The socially isolated weirdo who breeds moths for a hobby and won’t let anyone look in his freezer. 2. The charming businessman/politician/doctor of high standing in the community … Continue reading

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Trunko, Elephant Birds and the Panama Creature

For cryptozoologists, the ocean depths are the most promising potential source of unknown creatures. The high pressures, absence of light and virtual inaccessibility to humans from the bathyal zone (1000 m) down make these environments much like another planet inhabited … Continue reading

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Lost Templars, Missing Soldiers and the Nazi Spy of Labrador

In 1340, German pilgrim Ludolph of Sudheim met two elderly men on the shores of the Dead Sea. He was surprised to hear them speaking fluent French since Europe had withdrawn from the Holy Land half a century earlier. The … Continue reading

Posted in War | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Graham Greene, Edward Lansdale and Audie Murphy

In Graham Greene’s 1955 novel, The Quiet American, the attempts of the idealistic Alden Pyle to clandestinely influence the course of the First Indochina War are viewed with increasing horror by the book’s main character, the cynical, older English journalist, … Continue reading

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Feral Hippos, Wandering Wallabies and Peripatetic Penguins

Some animals are so iconic of their homeland that they seem bizarrely out of place when transplanted to a new environment. Populations of wallabies inhabit Britain. In the 1930’s, Colonel Courtney Brocklehurst, a former Chief Game Warden in the Sudan, … Continue reading

Posted in Nature | Tagged , , , ,

The Language of Birds

In Hergé’s Red Rackham’s Treasure, Tintin and Captain Haddock follow a lead to an uninhabited island where they come across a population of parrots with the unnerving ability to squawk Haddockian insults. Tintin hypothesises that an earlier generation of parrots … Continue reading

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