September 2012

Is Hoffa's body buried in a Michigan back yard?

Police drill for evidence outside a suburban Detroit home

The disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa is one of the country's great mysteries. The labor union leader was last seen in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Township, about 26 miles from Roseville where the current investigation is happening. Both towns are affluent suburbs of Detroit, where Hoffa was active as a labor leader, as well as tampering with juries, bribery, fraud, and possible embezzlement.

In the latest move, police have drilled for core soil samples, looking for trace evidence of a corpse. The drilling is happening beneath what is now a garden shed with a concrete pad in the back yard of a family which has reportedly been very cooperative with police requests. (Imagine learning that Hoffa might be buried in your own back yard! That's fodder for a lifetime's worth of Thanksgiving dinner conversations.)
Thanks to a new tip, police were led to the scene of an alleged body burial. Could it be Jimmy Hoffa? Is there a body buried in the location at all, much less that of the missing mobster?

Missing finger found inside trout two months later

Quite a catch! Har har har.

Earlier this month, an angler named Nolan Calvin was fishing for trout in Priest Lake in Idaho. While he was cleaning one of the trout he had caught, he discovered a human finger inside the trout's stomach. 

Calvin did the sensible thing: he put the finger on ice and called the Bonner County sheriff's department. Officers collected the finger, took fingerprints from the severed digit, and located the owner: a wake boarder named Haans Galassi, who had lost four fingers in the lake last June. Galassi suffered an accident when his fingers were caught in a tow rope. The fingers obviously were never recovered.
When the Bonner County sheriff's department asked Galassi if he wanted his finger back, Galassi politely declined. 

Fire tornadoes exist. Everybody run!

The world is stranger and more terrifying than you can imagine.

An Australian filmmaker named Chris Tangey recently caught one of the most frightening natural phenomena I can imagine: a tornado of fire, also known as a "fire devil." 

You have most likely heard of "dust devils." Those small localized whirlwinds that pick up dust and carry them along, Tasmanian Devil-style, sometimes for a great distance. These happen because the wind forms a circular eddy, similar to the vortex you might see in a river. You can create one yourself by scooping your hand through a basin of water. 
These vortexes can form anywhere, although they are most common (and most long-lived) in flat desert areas. The flat desert has two features which promote the creation and persistence of dust devils: first, they have the sun-heated soil which can send up a hot plume of air that kicks off the vertex of air currents. Second, they have fewer land forms and objects that can disrupt the air flow and thus "kill" the dust devil.
Turns out? Same thing can happen with fire.

How do tarot cards work?

Even if you don't believe in magic, tarot cards can "work."

Many traditional forms of divination are straightforward. You throw runes that spell an answer, poke a finger at random into a bible, or feel around in a handful of animal guts. A question is asked, and an answer is given. Someone may or may not stare into a crystal ball or bowl of water.

By comparison, the tarot cards are far more than a simple fortune telling tool. Many people use them to find answers about the future, and those answers can be found. But the tarot cards also act as a set of psychological prompts, which ask the questioner to consider things in a broader scope. Tarot cards don't just "tell your fortune," they also ask you to consider what the future means, what forces will shape it, and what part you yourself will play in bringing that future to bear.
There is no single explanation for how the tarot cards work, meaning the mechanism by which you end up drawing the correct (i.e. relevant) cards from the deck. 

New evidence claims Jesus was married

Were he and Mary Magdalene husband and wife?

The new discovery of an ancient sheet of papyrus has thrown the scholarly world into an uproar. This papyrus was written in Coptic during the fourth century. A historian at Harvard Divinity School has translated it as saying (among other things) a quote from Jesus referring to his wife. Jesus is further quoted as saying that his wife "will be able to be my disciple."

The papyrus and the scholar's findings were made public this week in Rome, at a conference of Coptic scholars. The papyrus' owner (a collector of rare Greek and Coptic papyrus fragments) has asked to remain anonymous and the provenance of the scrap of paper (about the size of a business card, according to MSNBC) is unknown. However, experts have concluded that the paper is most likely not a forgery.
Christian scholars have debated for centuries about the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and there have been rumors that Jesus had a female disciple. This tantalizing scrap of historical record adds fuel to both of those fires. 

Who's REALLY behind the anti-Islam movie that incited riots?

Actors were tricked into making it.

Last week, angry mobs attacked the American consulate in Libya, killing four Americans. This outbreak of violence began in outrage over a new movie produced in the west, which rudely depicted the prophet Mohammed. But what is this movie, exactly? Where did it come from, and who produced it? And why?

At first, some people thought that the movie didn't exist at all, that it was a plant or conspiracy, a thinly veiled excuse to attack American institutions in Libya. But it turns out that the truth is stranger still. 
"Innocence of Muslims" is a low-budget film described as "amateurish." It depicts the prophet Mohammed - which is in itself a grave offense to Islam. Worse still, Mohammed is depicted "as a womanizer, buffoon, ruthless killer and child molester." The violence began when clips of this movie were played by an outraged local news station.

It's snowing dry ice on Mars

Mars may look just like Arizona, but the Red Planet's weather is even more extreme.

On Earth, snowfall happens when water in the air drops below the freezing point of water (32F) and falls to the ground in flakes. But on Mars, it snows dry ice: frozen carbon dioxide. When the CO2 in the Martian atmosphere falls below the freezing point of CO2 (-193F)  flakes of frozen CO2 fall to the ground in what scientists believe is the only example of carbon dioxide snow in our solar system.

Every year in winter, Mars experiences a massive cloud that gathers over the south pole. This persistent cloud can be as much as 310 miles across. It is a huge seasonal blizzard that can dump inches - even feet - of fluffy white CO2 snow on the planet's surface. 
Mars may look just like Arizona, but the Red Planet's weather is even more extreme. Of all the planets in our solar system, Mars has the most Earth-like set of seasons, due to the planet's tilt and the similarity to our proximity to the sun. Mars has observable seasons, polar ice caps, and Earth-like storms. 

Woman finds ex-boyfriend hiding out in her attic

Creepy felon was spying on her.

If you hear noises in your attic, there are a lot of things that might spring to mind. Squirrels, rats, or possums, for the literal-minded. Or resident ghosts, for the paranormally inclined. But here is one thing you might not suspect as the cause of the noise: your creepy ex-boyfriend.

But that is exactly what happened to a South Carolina mother of five named Tracy. Twelve years after she and her boyfriend broke up, "she heard a thump from up above and saw nails start popping out from her bedroom ceiling." Upon investigation she discovered that her ex-boyfriend had been living up there for the last two weeks, ever since being released from prison. 
Earlier this year, the man (who is unnamed, as he is still at large) was convicted of stealing her truck. While serving his sentence, he had sent Tracy numerous letters from jail in which he professed his love for her, and swore that he had changed.

West Seattle Hum: made by a fish?

Could the mating call of the Midshipman fish be the culprit?
UPDATE: The West Seattle Hum has been identified as coming from an industrial operation that vacuums dry goods (like wheat) out of ships' holds. Just as everyone suspected, it's not aliens or fish: it's industrial noise.
Last week, several West Seattle residents reported being bothered by a loud droning low-frequency hum that could be heard at night. One resident even managed to catch some great audio of the sound, which you can here archived here on the West Seattle Blog. Her recording starts with some typical street noises, but the hum kicks in around :30.
This hum has been heard off and on throughout the years. I remember hearing it when I lived on Alki, it was something that echoed through the air in the wee hours of the late summer nights, when the city was sleeping. I worked night shift, so I was awake when most people were not. I always wrote it off to the multitude of light and heavy industry sites within a few miles, from cargo containers being loaded at the shipyards, to the steel mill right beside the West Seattle bridge.
But this time, residents complained, and all the businesses in the area claimed it wasn't them. So what, then, could be the cause? 
Some people think they have found the answer. But frankly, I have my doubts. Just because you see something on the evening news, that doesn't make it true! Even Jim Forman seems skeptical about this one.
The culprit, so some claim, is the Midshipman fish. This small bottom-dwelling fish produces a very loud mating call. It is a droning hum at about the same frequency range as the West Seattle hum. The Midshipman fish mates in late summer, and at night, which matches the time that the noise is being reported.

Buying, cleansing and storing a Tarot deck

It's not as complicated as some might make it sound.

If you have ever been curious about the Tarot, you may have done a bit of reading up, but been put off by all the seeming rules. Do this! Don't do that! Always do it this way! Never ever ever do this! 

The truth is, handling the Tarot is very much up to interpretation. The only real rule is, "Do what feels right." Unfortunately a lot of people take that rule and run with it, and mistake "what feels right for me" with "what everyone should do all the time, lest DISASTER BEFALL THEM."
As with so many things in life, your intentions matter more than the specifics of your actions. Treat your cards with respect, approach them with an open mind and an open heart, and you will do fine.