August 2010

Tanzanian Albino Murders

There are many fascinating mysteries of Tanzania; among them, its surprisingly high level of albinism.  Albinism afflicts roughly 1 in every 3,000 Tanzanians, a far higher rate than in the rest of the world.  (For example, in the United States roughly 1 in every 20,000 people is born with albinism.)

Unfortunately, Tanzania is also the heart of albino murders.  Folk medicine has it that albinos A) are not human, and B) possess magical powers.  This has led to the murder of approximately 25 albino Tanzanians a year.  Their limbs, their bones, their hair, and their organs are sold on the black market for a shockingly high price.

What's Killing Seals With A Corkscrew Wound?

Periodically, batches of seals start washing ashore with strange corkscrew wounds.  No one has ever conclusively proven what causes these wounds, or why, although there are many theories.

The first notable cases of this "corkscrew seal attack" happened at Sable Island, a tiny fingernail clipping of an island in the Atlantic Ocean, 180 miles east of Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The uninhabited island is a wildlife preserve protected by the Canadian government.

MonsterQuest, "Vampires in America"

Although our proud nation is currently being rent asunder by the rift between Team Jacob and Team Edward, America actually has a long history of vampire history. 

In this episode, MonsterQuest investigates vampires in two time periods: modern vampires who also wear too much makeup and a lot of black clothing, and historical vampires who were just hapless sick people surrounded by pre-scientific idiots.

Author, folklorist, and vampire researcher Michael Bell lends a surprising (for MonsterQuest) amount of dignity to this endeavor.  Bell is clearly knowledgeable on the subject, and is able to discuss the topic like a rational human being, without being breathlessly kooky (like most MonsterQuest investigators).

Psychic Power, Or Intuition?

I'm reading a book about psychic powers, and it seems to me that the author frequently blurs the distinction between psychic powers and intuition.  Actually, a lot of so-called psychic events can probably be explained by intuition.

"Intuition" in this sense is defined as "picking up on subliminal, but real, information."  One fascinating aspect of Gavin de Becker's seminal book The Gift of Fear is when he drills down through a victim's experience to pinpoint what they really picked up on.  

David Icke's Reptilians

 David Icke is a fascinating figure.  He began his career as a sports commentator for the BBC, and a Green Party spokesman.  Then after a fateful encounter with a psychic, Icke had a spiritual awakening.

In an interview that was ostensibly to be about something sports-related, Icke announced to the world that "he was the son of God, and predicted that the world would soon be devastated by tidal waves and earthquakes.  From this rapid turnabout, David Icke became one of the most prolific and disturbing futurists in the movement which he dubbed "New Age conspiracism."

Manna, Although Maybe Not From Heaven

I had always heard the phrase "it's like manna from heaven" to denote "a good thing falling into your lap at random."  And "this tastes like manna," meaning "really delicious."  I even (being a good and true atheist) had a vague idea that manna was a thing from the Bible.  

But not until this recent Metafilter post did I learn that manna is a real thing!  In fact, you can buy it online.   No joke.

In Exodus, as the Jews wandered the desert for 40 years, they were sustained by manna which God provided for their food.  "It was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey."