June 2012

What is Monarch Mind Control? (And are they controlling you right now?)

One of the more fascinating - if dubious - conspiracy theories out there revolves around Monarch Mind Control. This is a "puppetmaster" technique which is said to have been used by the Nazi party, and adopted by the U.S. Military under project MK-ULTRA.

I have to stop right here and say: it is straight up wish fulfillment to believe that the Nazis used mind control to propagate their beliefs and commit their crimes against humanity. The dismal truth is that in Nazi Germany, people did terrible things to other people of their own free will.
But I would say that, wouldn't I? Because one of the primary goals of Monarch Mind Control is to program the American population to believe that there is no Monarch Mind Control. 

Stonehenge mystery solved?

Stonehenge is one of the world's greatest unsolved mysteries, and one of its most fascinating sites. This collection of colossal stacked stones is a testimony to the human spirit: whatever they meant Stonehenge to be, the creators of it must have really wanted it, to go to all that trouble.

One of the most popular theories has long been the idea that Stonehenge is a kind of astronomical clock or calendar. This is partly due to the site's location, in an area which nicely silhouettes both the sunrise of midsummer and the sunset of midwinter. But a new team of researchers says that this was not meant as a literal tool of the seasons, but as an artistic paean to the unification of Stone Age Great Britain.
Five British universities contributed a crack team of archaeologists to solve the mystery of Stonehenge. After thousands of hours of research, putting the monument in its historical context, the team has decided that Stonehenge was meant as a monument to unite the various peoples of England. A symbol, in other words, of the cultural unity which Stonehenge's creation was to mark.

Walking the Moai

Researchers have successfully tested a method for moving one of these huge statues

The Moai, those iconic giant stone human figures of Easter Island, have long been a rich source of mystery and theories. One of the many mysteries is how the heck they got to their final locations, given their size, heft, and distance from the quarries where they were cut. 

Two researchers, Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo, came up with a theory. They tested it to surprising effect: their teams of assistants were able to successfully "walk" a replica along a path. The replica was ten feet tall and weighed five tons, and required three teams of about ten people each.
The process was not too dissimilar from when you "walk" a dresser or bookshelf that is too heavy to carry or drag. The key is to shift the weight from one side to the other, without letting it tip over, and to pivot the item slightly with each shift. This method takes advantage of some basic principles of physics, particularly leverage.

Fascinating new data in Baltic UFO case

New dive team uncovers more questions than answers

The so-called "Baltic UFO" originally began last February as an unusual sonar image from the floor of the Baltic Sea. The large object was found by a deep-sea salvage company, and the images they released looked uncannily like the Millennium Falcon.
This expedition has returned to the Baltic Sea with a dive team, and so far everything they have found only deepens the mystery further. The dive teams first reported that the shape is not a flat disc, as it appears on the initial image. Instead, it is more of a mushroom shape with an egg-shaped hole in the center. It is about 10-15 feet high, and about 200 feet in diameter. 

Germany's "Forest Boy" a hoax

No one is shocked.

In a revelation that shocked almost no one, Germany's "Forest Boy" has been shown to be a hoax. German police finally released a photo of the Forest Boy last week, and a woman in the Netherlands recognized him as a 20-year-old man who was declared missing in the Netherlands last September.
Several months ago, a young man who called himself "Ray" showed up at Berlin City Hall with a wild story. He claimed that he had been living in the woods of Germany with his father for the past five years, and that he decided to leave the woods after his father died.
Ray claimed that he could only remember his first name, his birth date, and the first name of his mother and father. He said that his mother had died in a car accident when he was 12, and that he and his father had been living in the woods ever since. 

Corpse medicine: dead people keepin' us living

Although almost entirely out of practice now, many people in history depended on remedies for the living, made from the dead.

So here’s one for well after dinnertime: corpse medicine. Yes, in our less educated and far-more violence-tolerant past, we often used body parts as a salve or remedy for every kind of affliction one could imagine. Almost all of these ancient cures were pure superstition (i.e. desperation), but people no doubt believed in them because they were, suffice it to say, plentiful. Our past is full of violence and depravation (there were some good things too), and a human body, even a long dead one, was often not very hard to come by.

Mummies in Egypt are as archetypal to our thinking of that area of the world as castles and Europe, samurais in Japan, or overalls and America. According to io9, from the 12th century to the 17th century, mummy powder was considered a valuable remedy for everything from stomach ulcers and headaches. Plaster casts of ground up ancient Egyptian were thought to cure skin ailments and broken bones. They were even given to sick hawks, which were popular for hunting in the Middle Ages.

Also hailing from the ancient times, ancient Rome to be exact, were the restorative powers of gladiator blood. Widely considered a cure for epilepsy, blood and liver would be harvested from fallen gladiators, and would even be administered directly from the fallen warrior’s arm. In fact, the gore was even sold at stands outside the coloseums directly after a fatal fight.

Cactuar: The Other Walking Cactus

Let's just be thankful that the Cactuar exists strictly in the world of fantasy

A while back, after watching Rango, I was moved to do some research and write an article about whether or not there really is such a thing as a "walking cactus" or "Spanish dagger," as mentioned in the movie. At the time, I was able to find:
1. A prehistoric arthropod discovered in China, a species of Diania dubbed "walking cactus"
2. Two species of yucca called "Spanish dagger." Yucca gloriosa, which is not native to the Mojave desert (which I discovered in researching the article), and Yucca schidigera which is native to the Mojave (which a commenter later turned up).
3. A true cactus, Stenocereus eruca, known as the "walking cactus" or "creeping devil," capable of moving across the desert floor at  a blistering top speed of two feet per year.
But in the months since that article was posted, another commenter pointed out a fourth walking cactus. And like the walking cactus in Rango, these ones move like humans, talk and hatch evil schemes. It is none other than the Cactuar of the Final Fantasy video game franchise.

The Death of Lincoln: Conspiracy Central

Lincoln conspiracy theories run deep, but here's an overview.

Five days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln was shot by an actor who reportedly was trying to restart the Civil War. The real Abraham Lincoln may not have fought vampires in his spare time as a new movie (based on a successful novel) alleges. But he was a formative presence in the early history of our country. 
What might Lincoln have accomplished, if he hadn't been assassinated at the relatively young age of 56? More to the point, what was he killed to prevent? Lincoln conspiracy theories run deep, but here's an overview.

Micronations: DIY Statehood

Always a sub-culture, micronations have blossomed in the internet era

I first learned about micronations back in the late 1990s, while reading Neal Stephenson's runaway science fiction bestseller Cryptonomicon. The novel introduces the concept of stateless data haven, one of which was coincidentally created on Sealand the year after Cryptonomicon was released. It seemed like the book was coming to life! 
Sealand is one of many micronations, part of a long history of secession from the rest of the world. Sealand is based on an abandoned off-shore WWII anti-aircraft platform in international waters in the North Sea. For a nation of five people, Sealand has a surprisingly engrossing history which includes not only the aforementioned data haven but also currency scares, international weapons infractions, and an international scandal involving Sealand passports being involved in high-profile crimes.

Is a town in India being overrun with poisonous spiders?

This story is starting to look like just a case of panic.

Sometimes those "news of the weird" stories that sound too weird to be true really ARE too weird to be true. It's a case of dueling journalists at this point: I have seen armies of articles that make a plausible case both for and against the report that a small town in rural India is being flooded with killer poisonous spiders.
This CNN article is one of the most skeptical. It makes the point that one of the people who was bitten was probably actually bitten by a poisonous snake. It also adds that the man was not taken to a Western hospital for treatment, but instead was brought to a local healer or shaman for assistance. (There are a lot of illnesses where faith healing can be useful - the placebo effect is surprisingly strong. But I don't think "snake bite" is one of them.)
The article also cites a reporter who believes the second person wasn't bitten by anything.

Amelia Earhart: Evidence found?

Earhart may have survived for a time on tiny Nikumaroro Island

The mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance has enthralled people for almost 75 years. As glamorous as she was pioneering and innovative, Earhart's legacy ended too soon when she and her navigator disappeared over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937. But a series of tantalizing clues indicates that either she or her navigator (or both) may have survived for a time, stranded and desperate on the tiny island now known as Nikumaroro.
Nikumaroro (formerly called Gardner Island) is part of the Phoenix Islands in the western Pacific. It is a small, comma-shaped ring of land with a large central marine lagoon taking up most of the middle of the island. The lagoon is connected to the Pacific via a bridge that floods at high tide, and is dry during low tide. The island features only a tiny strip of beach a few feet wide, and is surrounded by a rugged coral field which drops off sharply to the surrounding deep ocean floor.

Transgenic Sting Ray Shoes

Best case scenario, it's shoes made of fake leather. Worst case scenario, a con.

Update, 12/22/12: Yep, I called it! It's a hoax. 

So here is a thing which is - I would estimate - at least 93 percent fake. 

Rayfish Shoes is a company based in Thailand which lets you choose the crazy-pants color and pattern you want, then injects the necessary genes into a stingray fetus. When the stingray grows up to shoe size, Rayfish harvests the stingray's leather and boom: transgenic shoes with the wacky pattern grown right into the skin!
The claims of being able to custom design skin color patterns (like fuchsia leopard print, or acid yellow zebra stripes) is patently false. Not only is this not possible with today's technology, it's probably not possible at all, ever. 

CDC insists there is no Zombie Apocalypse

But they WOULD say that, wouldn't they?

The Zombie Apocalypse has weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of Americans in the last week. It all started with one crazy-ass story, and quickly spiraled out of control as every single zombie-related news story got pushed to the top of the heap. This is clearly just a case of selection bias run amok, but it looks like it will take a little while longer to burn itself out.
In the mean time, the CDC has been pushed to the point of making a public statement to the effect that it isn't possible for corpses to reanimate themselves, and that there is no zombie disease. Sure, easy for them to say! If you have watched the first season of "The Walking Dead," then you know that CDC headquarters in Atlanta apparently includes a vast and surprisingly effete collection of wines. I don't know where their wine cellar is, but judging from what we see in the show, it must be huge.