December 2011

The First Werewolf: The Beast of Gevaudan

The French werewolf legend to beat all others.

One of the least talked about and most interesting mythical creatures on the planet is the Beast of Gevaudan, a predatory animal that supposedly stalked the woods of Gevaudan in the 18th century, killing and devouring over 100 villagers in the area. The beast recently inspired a French film, Brotherhood of the Wolf, in which ninjitsu master French nobleman and a Native American transplant with cool tribal tattoos hunt down a big spiky pig-dog. The truth behind the Beast is somewhat more interesting and more provocative.

Between 1764 and 1776 in the South of France, a massive beast described as both wolf, panther, boar, and bear (but all agree it was the size of a horse) attacked and killed over 100 people. Nicknamed the Beast of Gevaudan for the Gevaudan Wood around which many of the attacks took place, the French King, King Louis XV (who laid the groundwork for the French Revolution), proclaimed a number of rewards and sent hunters to the forests to catch it. Several elaborate weapons and hunts were concocted, among private citizens as well as King Louis’ own men. One, a dragoon captain, even organized a hunt comprised of 20,000 citizens in the region to find the beast. Although he never did, he managed to incite a panic with his constant communications to local papers.

Aries Commits More Crimes

Sagittarius the fewest - or are they simply caught less often?
Yesterday, a police department in Ontario, Canada released statistics on 2011 crimes committed, broken down by astrological sign. 1,986 people were arrested in the Chatham-Kent Police Service's district in 2011, and out of all of them, people born under Aries were responsible for committing far more crimes.
I ran these numbers through a standard deviation calculator, and was mildly impressed. The average of this set is 165, with a standard deviation of 20. This means that anything between 145 and 185 would be considered normal, random, and essentially a meaningless distinction. 

Neti Pot Can Transmit Brain-Eating Amoebas

Disinfect the pot thoroughly between uses, and always use distilled or boiled water!

I'll be honest with you, even before this story broke, there was no way on this green Earth I was ever going to use a neti pot. Actually I shouldn't say that, because I never like to say "never." So let's just say that "it would take a lot" for me to use a neti pot. Like a gun to my head, or a life-threatening illness that can literally only be cured by pouring warm water into one nostril and letting it run out the other nostril.
The brain-eating amoeba is an interesting creature known as Naeglaria fowleri, which kills several people every year. The typical N. fowleri infection comes from warm, stagnant lake water, which is why it is a particular hazard in the Southern U.S. during the late summer and early fall. 

Rat-Eating Plant Declared New Species

Sadly, thought to already be extinct in the wild
Some time in the 1980s, botanist and adventurer Rob Cantley discovered the "Queen of Hearts" pitcher plant in Borneo. Although most pitcher plants are content to trap and devour small insects like ants and flies, the Queen of Hearts has pitchers which can be over eight feet long. Long enough to ensnare and slowly devour larger mammals, including mice and rats.
Pitcher plants trap their victims using modified leaves or flowers. These are curled into a tube and set upright, then filled with a sweet combination of nectar and trapped rainwater. Many pitcher plants also feature backwards-pointing hairs, which make it easy for their prey to slip into the jug - and difficult for them to climb out. The inside of the jug is slippery and curved in order to make escape impossible.

The Washer at the Ford

And the Goddess of the Battlefield

The Washer at the Ford, or the Washerwoman, is a creepy figure from Gaelic lore. She's usually portrayed as a little old lady, washing out bloody clothes on the night before a battle. If you run into the Washer at the Ford on the night before you go to war, you shouldn't expect to make it home. She has already selected you for her own.

Dual-Wielding Jedi Assaults Customers At Toys R' Us

Some people like Star Wars, and some people really like Star Wars.

I would consider myself a pretty big Star Wars fan. I definitely prefer the first trilogy made (the second according to the Star Wars universe’s timeline). I can name all of the creatures in those films, and what planet they originated from, as well as the names of all of the different fighter craft, including the Empire’s (TIE Quad, bitches!). OK, but I will freely admit that for all of my Star Wars nerd cred, I don’t have an ounce on this guy.

UFO Towed Through Kansas Streets?

Um... probably not, actually.


I haven't written about this yet, because honestly. The first time I heard about it I rolled my eyes and didn't even click through to read the article. The likelihood that people spotted a UFO being trailered through Kansas - and not a military drone - was, in my estimation, approximately zero point zero zero percent.
But seriously, folks, this story will not die! It just popped up on my news feed from a supposedly reputable source. The military has officially announced that no, it wasn't a UFO, it was a military drone.


The Real Romanian Vampire

When you compare the Hollywood version of a vampire to the Eastern European folklore that ultimately spawned it, the differences stand out more than the similarities. That's probably one reason you won't find many people in Transylvania who will tell you they believe in vampires. What they believe in is called a “strigoi” and it's pretty different.

Apples Fall From The Sky In England

"Sky falls are one of the original Fortean phenomena."
Earlier this week, drivers in Coventry faced an unusual traffic hazard: hundreds of apples fell from the sky. The apples were described as being "small and green," and rained down over the intersection of Keresley Road and Kelmscote Road. It was particularly puzzling since there are no orchards or other sources of apples for quite some distance around.
The weather in England has been described as "unsettled" during this time, and the standard explanation for these sky falls is that a water spout or small tornado sucks up a collection of items and flings them far from their original location. This seems like the most plausible explanation for this phenomena, although it fails to explain why the items in sky falls are typically so uniform. In the case of this particular fall, for example, the apples were all nearly identical. No apples from a neighboring tree? No leaves or branches from that tree? JUST the apples?

A Living Breathing Wooly Mammoth Clone In 5 Years

It'll be the first one in 10,000 years, if they can pull it off.

Michael Crichton’s masterful Jurassic Park series, other than creating piles of cash for him and Universal Studios, brought the idea of cloning extinct creatures into a mainstream fascination. Since researchers recovered intact bone marrow from the thigh bone of a wooly mammoth found partially mummified in the Siberian permafrost, there have been whispers of bringing the extinct back to life through the wonders of genetic cloning. Now, according to a team of Russian and Japanese scientists that will be working on the project, we may have a living, breathing mammoth in five years.

The Wendigo

Cannibal Monster of the North Woods

The wendigo is my candidate for the scariest monster in the entire world. Imagine an emaciated giant as white as snow, with the power to raise up blizzards and storms, and an insatiable desire for human flesh. That's one form of the wendigo, a traditional monster of the Algonquian peoples. The other form is arguably worse, because it's a non-corporeal spirit that can possess a person and turn him into a cannibal.

Speculations About Kepler-22b

Could it have aliens? And what would they be like?
NASA has discovered the most Earth-like planet found to date, some 600 light-years away. Kepler-22b is two and a half times larger than Earth, and orbits a star very much like our own sun. It has an average temperature of 72 degrees, warmer than that of our own planet's, which is about 60 degrees.
Kepler-22b was spotted by the Kepler space telescope, which is not able to tell us whether or not the planet has an atmosphere, or what the planet's mass might be. It is a slight red flag that Kepler-22b is twice the size of Earth. This means that it may turn out to be a gas giant, a planet like Neptune or Jupiter with a small rocky core surrounded by gases. But in the best-case scenario, it could turn out to be a high-gravity ocean planet.

New Exhibition Details The Exploitation of Human Zoos

Human Zoos: The Invention of the Savage, reveals the lives behind the sideshow attractions and human exhibits.

The Quai Branly Museum in Paris, France, a museum opened by Jacques Chirac dedicated to once-colonized cultures, has now come full-circle. Last week, a brand new gallery entitled Human Zoos: The Invention of the Savage opened, detailing the degrading practice of exploitation of colonial cultures for entertainment. The gallery traces the lives of 35,000 individuals that were displayed as freaks, novelties and savages in various sideshows, museums, and zoos around the world. Illustrating the divide between science and voyeurism, the museum highlights a phenomenon in our society that has perpetuated as long as there has been a society.

What Is A Window Area?

And Why?

If you had a huge situation map like in one of those cop dramas, and you used it to map all of the weird phenomena that get reported from time to time, you would find that a lot of the dots were clustered in a few “high strangeness areas,” also known as “window areas”- the Bridgewater Triangle, the Burlington Triangle and others.


A lot of people have presented a lot of different explanations for window areas, but here's the problem. It isn't just that one or two phenomena cluster in a particular place, it's that all manner of weird phenomena cluster in the same places. The Bridgewater Triangle, for instance, gets more than its share of cattle mutilations, UFO sightings, black helicopters, Satanic cults, phantom hitch-hikers, thunderbirds and giant black snakes.

Weird Sounds from the Sky

Unfortunately it's impossible to rule out normal causes before we jump to UFOs or HAARP
Sky noises are one of those persistent topics that crop up around the world without any real answer. These noises are often low, loud roars or hums. The noise seems to come from everywhere, with no apparent single source. And the noises often have an oscillating quality reminiscent of a dubstep bass line.
These noises are clearly frightening to people who don't know what they are. But so far, the noises are just that - noises, and not precursors to some scarier phenomenon.