November 2011

Alien Skull Found in Peru?

Latest find comes from the same region as the Nazca Lines
An unusual archaeological find recently turned up in Peru. The remains were found near Cusco, a region in Peru which is famous in UFOlogy circles as being the home of the Nazca Lines. Peru seems to be a hot spot for UFO and alien activity, so perhaps it isn't so surprising that an alien's remains would turn up there!
The skull is almost the same length as the tiny body to which it is supposedly attached. It has a large, triangular shape, and very large eye sockets. It features a soft spot on the top, the fontanel, which is normally only present in very young children. But it also has molars which would only be found on an adult.

The Mall Won't Spy On Your Cell Phone - For Now

They will in the future, though.


As every good paranoid conspiracy theorist knows, every cell phone is constantly sending out a location signal. For the owner of the phone, this signal allows you to make calls, because it lets your cell phone constantly attach itself to whichever cell phone tower is closest to hand. But for those with the right equipment, this signal allows your location to be pinpointed with an increasingly high degree of accuracy.
In most science fiction dystopia movies, this would be a set-up for a story about a totalitarian government controlling its populace with jackbooted thugs. But in our world, the real world, it's a set-up for the mall trying to sell you more stuff. 
I'm honestly not sure whether to laugh or cry. 

Do Plants Feel?

More than you might think - but not as much as some people claim


When I was a little kid I stumbled across a book that I read with wide-eyed credulity. It claimed that if you get a monitor that is sensitive enough, and you hook it up to a plant, that you can record the plant's reaction to such diverse activities as being watered, or boiling a pot of shrimp to death in the next room. 
This is an excellent example of the worst kind of bad science: it jumbles up truth with untruth, and you end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The truth lies somewhere in the middle ground, but mixing it up with bunk only discredits everything.


The Folklore Kind

A werewolf is a man who turns into a furry half-wolf, half-man at the full moon after being bitten by another werewolf, right? According to Hollywood, yes. According to any traditional werewolf folklore, no.


In werewolf folklore, a werewolf can be one of a few things. An outlaw or warrior dressed in a wolf's skin, according to the ancient Saxons and Vikings. A serial killer showing “wolfish” qualities- medieval people often interpreted what we would call serial killers as being werewolves. A sorcerer capable of sending his spirit out of his body in the shape of a wolf. A witch who uses an herbal hallucinogenic ointment to induce visions of shapeshifting into wolf form. A sub-type of vampire, according to Eastern European lore. A type of ghoul, feeding on the corpses of the recently dead.

CDC Offers Preparedness Tips For The Zombie Apocalypse

Not mentioned: FIREPOWER.


Over the last week as I awaited the traditional annual family doom that is Thanksgiving, I watched the first season of AMC's "The Walking Dead." (I thought it was pretty good stuff, although I wish it had better roles for women than "screaming and crying.")
The CDC plays a surprisingly big role in the series. First and most obviously because the CDC is America's primary line of defense against any contagious epidemic. Zombies of course are the pinnacle of contagious epidemics: an epidemic so contagious that it literally walks (or runs, or shambles) around and bites you! And second because the CDC is headquartered in the Atlanta area, which is where the show is set.

The Myth of Holiday Suicides

The suicide rate actually peaks at late spring/early summer, not the holidays


The idea that there are more suicides over the holiday season is a belief which is as persistent as it is wrong. I think this is one of those beliefs that persists because we WANT it to be true, rather than because we actually think it is. Anyone who has had to drag themselves through a round of holiday shopping or sat through another tense family meal can find it a credible belief, right? 
(And of course, the idea of holiday suicide was cemented in Frank Capra's holiday classic, "It's A Wonderful Life.')
The truth is that suicide rates increase in the warm weather of summer. And not only do we not understand why, but this has been true for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years. A sociologist named Emile Durkheim studied the rate of suicides in Europe in the 1800s and found that they peaked at the height of summer.

Man Mysteriously Bursts Into Flames At Swedish Train Station

Spontaneous human combustion or massive case of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Sweden is the land of incredible thrillers The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Series, the birthplace of famously well-endowed beautiful blonde women, and…fjords? It’s also the land of the midnight sun, and some serious Seasonal Effective Disorder. Perhaps that’s why, over the weekend, a Swedish man suddenly caught fire standing in front of a shop at the train station in Gothenburg, Sweden. The man, as yet unidentified, mysteriously caught fire while bystanders watched.

What Is A Ghost?

It's Not Such A Simple Question

What exactly is a ghost? That might seem like an easy question to answer- that is, if you believe in ghosts at all. A ghost is the spirit of a dead person, right? But if a ghost is just the spirit of a dead person, then what about ghost trains, ghost cars, ghost ships and other ghostly inanimate objects?

The Mystery of the Umbrella Man

Sometimes a guy with an umbrella is just a guy with an umbrella.


Today marks the 48th anniversary of the JFK assassination, and the Umbrella Man is in the news again. The Umbrella Man was the topic of a short film by JFK assassination researcher Errol Morris, who will no doubt frustrate conspiracy theorists by pointing out that the real world is a lot more complicated, interesting, and bizarre than it seems. His main contention is that if you look closely enough at any event, you will start noticing a lot of "really weird" stuff, but that most things have a perfectly rational explanation if you listen.

The Mystery of the Poisonous Quail

The real mystery is why people keep eating quail on the toxic migratory routes


Coturnix quail are pretty adorable little creatures. Tasty, too. Except that sometimes they can poison and kill you. In fact, this problem is so common that it has been given a name: coturnism. I expect it to show up on an episode of "House M.D." any day now.
Coturnism only happens with wild quail, and only those in the Old World. There are several species of Coturnix quail which migrate between Africa and Europe every year. They travel north to Europe in the spring, and south to Africa in the fall. These days their migrations are greatly reduced in numbers, due to habitat loss and overhunting. But hundreds of years ago, the coturnix migration was truly astounding, massive flocks moving past. Who could resist hunting and eating a few of the round, plump little birds?

Mysterious Shapes in the Gobi Desert

Chinese government remains silent on the topic


How did conspiracies ever thrive before Google Maps? The latest global oddity spotted by Google's all-seeing eye is a series of shapes in the Gobi Desert of China. Most people agree that the shapes were created by scraping off a layer of topsoil, thus providing visual contrast between the surface soil and the layer below. (Note: this is also how the Nazca Lines are formed. Just putting that out there.)
But what the shapes mean and who put them there is still up for debate. Their location is considered significant. The shapes are in the remote northwestern quadrant of China which is dedicated to military and space technology. It's essentially China's Area 51.

The Spear of Destiny

Part of the Holy Grail tradition


It's a bit of an understatement to say that a lot of mythology surrounds the death of Christ. But aside from forming the basis of a whole entire global religion, it has also created a sort of aftermarket in the ephemera surrounding the event. These relics include things like the famous Shroud of Turin (in which Christ had supposedly been wrapped), the nails which held him to the Cross, splinters of the Cross, and the lance which was used to pierce his side.
Unlike many other relics of Christ's death, the lance actually came into direct contact with Christ's blood. According to the Gospel of John, the Romans were planning to break Christ's legs so that he would die faster on the cross (a practice called "crucifragium"). But when they showed up, Christ was already dead. Just to make sure, one of the soldiers stabbed Christ with his lance. Blood and water poured out, which was considered a miracle.
According to some traditions, being bathed in the blood and water of Christ caused this soldier (whose name is sometimes given as Longinus) to become immortal, doomed to wander the Earth until Christ returned.

Pranksters Harass Couple in NYC For Two Years With 911 Calls

Prank callers victimize a couple in NYC, faking 911 calls 155 times in two years.

It might have been funny the first couple of times, but unidentified 911 emergency prank-callers have allegedly prank-called a Muslim couple in New York City 155 times over the course of two years. For those of you trying to figure the math in your head, that’s one fake emergency call to the Fire Department or Police Department about every five days for two years. Aside from frustration and headaches suffered by both the victims of these prank calls and for the FDNY and the NYPD, that’s a lot of wasted tax-funded manpower over the course of two years that could have been potentially responding to real emergencies.

The Bennington Triangle

And Fayville Ghost Town

The Bennington Triangle is a window area located in Vermont, centered around Glastenbury Mountain and the ghost town of Fayville. According to local legend, the Indians of the region avoided Glastenbury Mountain because there was supposed to be a mysterious stone on it that would swallow people up.


Of course, that didn't stop settlers from building a town on it, but that didn't work out so well. Fayville went into decline in the 19th century, there was the usual “cursed town” descent into madness and murder, and eventually the town was completely abandoned. Now it's just a bunch of old stone foundations scattered around the forest on Glastenbury Mountain.


The Spanish-language leprechaun


It's interesting that just about every culture on Earth has a tradition of small mischievous creatures. In England and Ireland you have pixies, sprites, and leprechauns. In Hispanic countries, you are more likely to encounter one of the Duende.
"Duende" is a big category which encompasses a wide variety of creatures across many countries and cultures. The one that I find mentioned most often is the Pombero, which is found in South American cultures from Argentina down to Paraguay and Brazil.

CCTV Ghosts

Most of them are not what they seem


If you spend much time browsing around on YouTube, eventually you will fall down the rabbit hole of CCTV footage of ghosts. Or maybe I should say "ghosts," because most of these things are obviously anything but.
It seems like every day, a little bit more of the world is covered by CCTV security cameras. These systems monitor our public and private spaces 24/7, which means there is a lot of potential for catching paranormal phenomena. (Assuming that whoever is monitoring the cameras bothers to look, of course!) Unfortunately, several weaknesses inherent in the system make it also likely that a lot of false positives will be filmed… and it seems like they all end up on YouTube at one point or another.
1. Pranksters
This is an obvious problem. Let's say you're bored, creative, and have access to someone else's security camera. Maybe it's pointing at a neighbor's driveway, maybe it's filming the parking lot across the street. Maybe it's at your workplace, either current or former.

Poltergeists and Epilepsy

An interesting correlation


The poltergeist phenomena is unusual in the paranormal realm, in that everyone pretty much agrees on its source. Poltergeist activity is almost universally (among paranormal buffs and investigators) understood to be tied (in ways we don't understand) to a particular person in the household. Remove the person, and the poltergeist stops… but it starts up again in that person's new location.
The current theory is that poltergeist activity is actually a manifestation of latent telekinetic ability. Most people are familiar with this from Stephen King's novel and hit movie, "Carrie."
Poltergeist activity is similar to ghostly phenomena, in that it involves a lot of unusual and inexplicable noises. But in addition, it includes a big component of objects being moved around. Proper ghosts rarely move things very far or very often, but a poltergeist will rearrange the entire contents of a room in a flash, smash an entire china cabinet, or stack every single book in the house into one big pile.

The Sourtoe: Cocktail Made With A Dead Toe

Yep, really!


Could the "Sourtoe" be the world's worst cocktail? You would think that it wouldn't be a very popular option. And then you learn that it is served to "as many as a dozen people a night," and your understanding of humanity is a little bit shaken.
There is only one place in the entire world where you can order a Sourtoe Cocktail: the Sourdough Saloon in Dawson City. High in the Canadian Arctic they serve a drink that includes as garnish a mummified toe. And in order to count, the toe has to touch your lips as you drink the cocktail.

Warrant-less GPS Tracking

It won't affect you... until it does.


You know the old saying, "It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you?" This is one conspiracy that is proven to be 100% true: due to a loophole in the current laws, the feds can attach a GPS tracking device to your car and track all your movements any time they want, without needing to get one of those pesky warrants first.
The principle underlying their ability to do this is the good old "expectation of privacy." It's the same reason that an undercover private investigator is legally allowed to follow you around all day taking pictures. When you are in public going about your business, because you don't expect to be private (not the way you would in your living room with your drapes drawn) so legally, you don't.