Gods on Drugs – Dope found in Botticelli painting

May 27, 2010

Botticelli's Venus and Mars. Copyright 1483 © Botticelli.

One of the National Gallery’s best-known paintings, Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, far from depicting the all-conquering power of pastoral love, may be an illustration of the potency of hallucinogenic drugs.

Following enquiries by David Bellingham, a programme director at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Kew Gardens have identified a plant held by a satyr in the painting as Datura stramonium, a plant with a history of sending people mad and making them want to strip off their clothes. Its hallucinogenic properties were recorded in ancient texts and it has since been used as an aphrodisiac and a poison.

The drug-dealing satyr caught red-handed.

The fruit of the plant is also known as thorn apple and Devil’s trumpet. The plant, known as the ‘poor man’s acid’ in the States,  is highly poisonous. Guy Barter, of the Royal Horticultural Society, said that Datura became notorious in the late 17th century when it was eaten by British soldiers visiting Jamestown in Virginia. “They went off their heads for a few days,” he said.

Now that the blatent drug reference has been discovered, the painting makes much more sense to your humble Godcheckers. Mars is clearly on a heavy trip, while Venus looks on disapprovingly… and somewhat disappointedly.

Full story at the Times Online.

Thanks to @ForteanTimes for the heads-up.


Don’t Panic – Towel Day 2010

May 25, 2010

Peter A watches the skies in hopes of flagging down a passing spacecraft. Click for gallery.

Today, May 25th, is Towel Day – the annual celebration of the life, works and bathsheets of Douglas Adams.

We at Godchecker have much to thank Douglas for. His writing has always inspired us with its invigorating mix of jokes, robots, intellect, tea, no tea, pocket fluff and philosophical headscratching. He also created several interesting Gods, discovered the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything and, many moons ago, was kind enough to give us a publicity blurb for use in a creative project.

Douglas predicted many things and in some ways the planet is still catching up. Take the iPhone. He not only wrote about such a device in the 1970s, he even predicted the ‘i’ part – the internet – without even trying.

Douglas gave the world more wise sayings and literary catchphrases than perhaps any other writer of the late 20th century. He even invented the number 42. How on earth did we manage without it?

So to remember his achievements – the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide series, the Dirk Gently books, the chapter about the kakapo and the anecdote about the broken nose – we joined in with International Towel Day and carried our towels with us at all times. Click here for photos of Peter A and his towel!

We will soon be adding a section of Modern Gods to the Holy Database, including several by Douglas Adams. The Great Green Arkleseizure, Zarquon, and so forth. If you have any more suggestions for literary/fictional deities please let know.


Pagan or Jewish bones? Altar discovery causes grave concern

May 22, 2010

Outraged Orthodox Jews protesting at the desecration of ancient Jewish graves as part of a hospital building project in the southern city of Ashkelon may have been wasting their time.

A two thousand year old pagan altar has just been discovered on the site, convincing authorities that the graves are pagan, not Jewish. The ‘magnificent’ altar is Roman in style, depicting a bull’s head decorated with laurel leaves.

Pagan or not, the mortal remains from the graves have already been given to undertakers to be reburied in Jewish cemetaries.

Heads-up via religionnewsblog.

Full story at Yahoo


Special Offer: FREE Steak Dinner for all Atheists!

May 19, 2010

Fancy a fine steak dinner tonight – absolutely free? Maine-based minister Daniel Shunk is generously offering a free steak meal to anyone who considers themselves to be an atheist.There’s no catch. All you need to do is not believe in any kind of God and that juicy steak is yours!

This delicious steak dinner can be yours absolutely FREE.

Oh, there is a condition or two. Dinner must be partaken in the company of Mr Shunk, and the conversation will largely consist of the pros and cons of evolutionary theory. (If you are of the female persuasion, an additional dinner guest in the form of Mrs Shunk will also be present.) We trust the conversation will be stimulating and the steaks not too well-done.

Another condition: you must be someone who teaches (or has taught) evolution. (We’re not sure if that applies solely to teaching formally in an academic setting. Presumably a parent innocently telling the scientific facts of life to their daughter might qualify, for example.)

If you’re such a hungry atheist, head over to the special steak offer page at Evidently It’s True, Mr Shunk’s Christian ministry – which according to its website evidently has a few issues with science, and evolution in particular.

The ministry is already championing BOOK TRUTH DAYS, at which children and adults are encouraged to collect and bring along books full of LIES.  “It is our goal to rid our community of all books that would LIE to our kids, particularly evolutionary LIES. ”

Examples of LIES include Cavemen, Gill Slits in Human Embryos or any book which includes the phrase ‘millions of years ago…’

If you know of any such books, please hand them over to the Book Truth organisation where they can be safely disposed of. Not only will you save children from LIES, you can also WIN GRAND PRIZES! Evidently, this is also true.

Update: Mr Shunk kindly pointed out a couple of errors in the above article which we hope are now fixed.

Thanks to @PhillisDorris for the heads-up. Ahem.


KludgeFlash: Godchecker 2010 site upgrades

May 19, 2010

We are planning to brush away some of the site’s cobwebs and apply a little paint here and there in order to tug Godchecker into this dazzling new decade. With gleaming twitters and shiny facebooks springing up everywhere, we feel the Gods are looking a little dusty.

Our team of dedicated boffins have been working behind the scenery to bring you a cleaner, better, juicier Godchecker.com.  With much head-scratching and scrutinising of the Mysterious Clay Tablets of KLUDGE, their tireless labors have crept a tiny distance closer to the utter perfection of HTML NIRVANA and CSS HEAVEN.

While this spring cleaning session continues, we crave your patience and humbly ask that any glitches or issues you may discover while cruising the Godchecker site are reported to us via twitter or email.


St Neil Gaiman: Twitter is not a God

May 18, 2010

Just tabbed across in our browser to type up a quick report on the One Book One Twitter (#1b1t) chatroom session held today with author and extremely good-looking  SF colossus Neil Gaiman.

The brainchild of Wired writer and Crowdsourcing author Jeff Howe, #1b1t is a global bookclub whose members meet discuss, critique and share thoughts entirely via the medium of Twitter. A simple yet, it turns out, extraordinarily powerful forum.

The first book to be chosen for the #1b1t group is American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and today the man himself held an hour-long Q+A session with fans, readers and even the occasional befuddled gatecrasher. Simply by following the hashtag #1bitNG, anyone could join in as hundreds of questions and answers flew back and forth. A fun and enlightening time was had by all, and we hope he returns for a rematch soon.

Of course, your faithful Godchecker Team was there taking notes for our forthcoming white paper (Comparative Geosymmetrical Literary Mythology in the Modern World). Of particular interest was Neil’s comment that Twitter is not a God, it is the Messenger of the Gods. As another participant, @jackalibis, pointed out, where does that leave Google?

We offered to add Neil to our upcoming Modern Mythology section as a new Literary God. He is certainly worshipped by a great many readers. “I would rather be defied than deified”, he said. But we feel he will sit very nicely next to Cthulu, Gandalf and the Great Green Arkleseizure.

We look foward to the next Q+A. For more info about the Twitter Global Book Club, check out @Crowdsourcing.


Huge Thoth statue discovered

May 17, 2010

Image copyright the Supreme Council of Antiquities - Click to zoom

A colossal statue of the ancient Egyptian deity THOTH, the God of wisdom, is the latest artefact to be discovered near the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III during archaeological works aimed at controlling the subterranean water level on Luxor’s west bank.

Story via Archeology Magazine

Read the full story at the Independent website.