Monday, November 30, 2015
Strange, unexplained deaths of animals in large numbers are always a cause for alarm. But what does it mean when entire flocks of birds commit mass suicide by drowning in ponds and birdbaths? That’s what appears to be happening in England and experts are struggling to find a reason why.
The birds are starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), which were once widespread across the UK (as well as much of the world) but have been disappearing at alarming rates in recent years due to loss of nesting areas and food sources. According to a new study by the Zoological Society of London and published in the journal Scientific Reports, the starling population in the UK dropped from 45 million in 1980s to 3.4 million, making them a red-listed or threatened species. Is this depressing loss of fellow feathered friends causing the starlings to commit suicide?
That’s as good of a guess as any. The study found 12 cases between 1993 and 2013 where flocks of starlings numbering from 2 to 80 were found dead by drowning. Drowning is an extremely rare way for birds to die so to find this many in multiple cases is definitely disturbing. Autopsies showed no signs of diseases or wounds from attacks. All signs indicate the deaths were self-inflicted.
Death is inescapable. Why is it we have to put a face to our inevitable end? It can’t be for comfort. Because the personifications humans have made for death are far scarier than a cold, merciless void.
10. The Dullahan
The Dullahan is a headless horseman that moves with purpose through the Irish countryside. His head, which he carries in one hand, has pale glowing skin and a twisted smile that stretches from ear to ear. When the Dullahan holds his head up high, his beady black eyes can spot his target from a great distance. He rides a horse so fast that bushes catch fire as he passes. No matter how firmly a gate is locked, it will blow open to allow the Dullahan to enter. Once his severed head calls out your name, you immediately die.
Even those who aren’t the Dullahan’s targets should avoid him. He throws a pail of blood on passersby or strikes them blind using his whip, which is made of a human spine. This death rider does have a weakness though: He is inexplicably afraid of gold. When traveling the roads, it is best to carry gold in your pocket. Should the Dullahan ever run you down, drop the gold in front of him, and he will disappear with a frightful howl.
9. The Washerwomen
The Bean Nighe is a fairy ghost from Scottish folklore. Legend has it that you can find her at a stream, washing the bloodstained clothes of someone who is about to die. A Bean Nighe is created when a woman dies during childbirth; her spirit becomes a fairy washerwoman until the day she would have normally died. She takes the form of a small woman who dresses in green and has red, webbed feet.
Unlike other death portents, this is one you’d want to find (just hope that it’s not your clothes she’s washing). If you stand between her and the water, she will grant you three wishes and permit you to ask her three questions to which she will answer the truth. But she will also ask you three questions that you must also answer truthfully.
The Bean Nighe has an Irish counterpart called the Bean Sidhe. But unlike their Scottish sisters, these washerwomen will wander away from the riverbanks, gathering around the houses of the doomed. Once they begin wailing, the condemned’s fate is set.
If you can catch a Bean Sidhe, you can get her to reveal the name of the person about to die. Look out for an old woman with eyes bloodshot from crying, long and scraggly hair, and large, pendulous breasts.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
The Cult of Mary: How Supernatural Apparitions and Miracle Healings Led to Veneration of the Mother of Jesus
The cover story for the latest edition of National Geographic. "How the Virgin Mary Became the World's Most Powerful Woman", looks at the rise of the 'cult' of the Virgin Mary, specifically through the lens of the miraculous/supernatural/Fortean apparitions of - and 'healings' by - the mother of Jesus throughout history. Award-winning journalist Maureen Orth looks at how the iconic religious figure has permeated Western culture (as well as Islamic culture to some extent as well), and how alleged miracles in her name provide sustenance to her on-going mythos:
Mary is everywhere: Marigolds are named for her. Hail Mary passes save football games. The image in Mexico of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most reproduced female likenesses ever. Mary draws millions each year to shrines such as Fátima, in Portugal, and Knock, in Ireland, sustaining religious tourism estimated to be worth billions of dollars a year and providing thousands of jobs. She inspired the creation of many great works of art and architecture (Michelangelo’s “Pietà,” Notre Dame Cathedral), as well as poetry, liturgy, and music (Monteverdi’s Vespers for the Blessed Virgin). And she is the spiritual confidante of billions of people, no matter how isolated or forgotten.
Praying for the Virgin Mary's and being devoted to her are a global phenomenon. The notion of Mary as intercessor with Jesus begins with the miracle of the wine at the wedding at Cana, when, according to the Gospel of John, she tells him, “They have no wine,” thus prompting his first miracle. It was in A.D. 431, at the Third Ecumenical Council, in Ephesus, that she was officially named Theotokos, Bearer of God. Since then no other woman has been as exalted as Mary. As a universal symbol of maternal love, as well as of suffering and sacrifice, Mary is often the touchstone of our longing for meaning, a more accessible link to the supernatural than formal church teachings. Her mantle offers both security and protection. Pope Francis, when once asked what Mary meant to him, answered, “She is my mamá.”
Her reported appearances, visions experienced often by very poor children living in remote or conflict-wracked areas, have intensified her mystery and aura. And when the children can’t be shaken from their stories—especially if the accounts are accompanied by inexplicable “signs” such as spinning suns or gushing springs—her wonder grows.
There are places in the world that are not evil due to any supernatural forces or demonic influences, but rather because of the darkness lying coiled within the human heart. It is these places that are perhaps more terrifying than any paranormal activity, for they stem from something that we know is real and which can be seen all around us; the horrors that lurk within us, and the grotesqueries we as a species are capable of. Lying out over rugged scrubland, nestled out of sight of an interstate among uninhabited oil fields and wasteland, is a place which certainly holds the stain of such human wretchedness. It is here that for decades the dead have appeared, sprawled across the parched earth, their glazed eyes holding the secrets of their last horrifying moments on this planet. It is an isolated patch of nothingness which has nevertheless managed to attract to it body after body, in the process making it a source of one of the largest caches of baffling unsolved murders there is. These are the sinister Texas Killing Fields.
Located about a mile off of Interstate 45, bordering the Calder oil field and League City, between Galveston and Houston, Texas, is a remote, uninhabited patch of land measuring around 40-kilometer (25 mi) long and marked by abandoned oil fields, marshes, and thick, nearly impenetrable tangles of overgrown brush. This forbidding landscape is ominous enough, especially so considering that this particular stretch of the Interstate is often referred to as the “Highway of Hell” due to the inordinate amount of traffic accidents that occur here. Yet, despite its eerie, bleak desolation, and sinister reputation for traffic accidents, at first glance there is little to differentiate this dusty area from the many other such isolated places among the rugged, monotonous scenery of the region. It is an area where one could easily drive past without really giving it a so much as a second thought. However, this remote area has a dark secret that truly makes it stand out as a location to send chills up the spine, for it is here that since the 1970s the bodies of over 30 girls and young women have been found, with most of these murders still unsolved, many of the bodies not even properly identified, and even more who have gone mysteriously missing in the area never to be seen again. It is easy to see why this wasteland has gained its much deserved nickname of “The Killing Fields.”
A new space hotline has been set up between the two countries to help prevent future misunderstandings.
War in space might sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but as offensive and defense space technologies become ever-more sophisticated it might not be long before rival nations start shooting each other's satellites out of the sky.
Now in a renewed bid to stop this from ever happening, China and the United States have set up their own direct communications line through which they aim to share information about their operations in space to prevent accidents or misunderstandings that could lead to war.
|Photo credit: Carniphage|
Everyone loves a good horror movie. As long as we remember the difference between fantasy and reality, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally indulging in a slasher flick or two. And for those more sensitive to scares, they can always reassure themselves that none of it is actually real.
However, some people get so engrossed in horror movies that they decide they want their life to be like one. Other times, that story we thought was just for scares had more truth than we initially thought.
10. The Strangers And The Director’s Childhood
When the horror movie The Strangers was released, it struck a particular chord with many people because it claimed to be based on a true story. In the movie, strange people come up to the door of a couple who are staying in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. After the bizarre encounter at the door, the couple starts to fear for their safety. Before long, several frightening people in masks have invaded their home and begin torturing them.
When the homeowners ask why they were chosen for this seemingly random torment, the strangers answer, “Because you were home.” This iconic tagline left many people particularly disturbed because the story was supposed to be based on true events, leaving some to wonder how true the story actually was.
According to the director of The Strangers, when he was a little kid, someone knocked on the door when he and his sister were home and asked for a person who did not live at the house. Later, he found out that the men knocking on doors had been looking for a vacant house to rob.
This got the future director thinking about what might have happened if they had decided to enter the house. He also claims to have received a fair amount of inspiration from some of the Manson murders. The combination of strange people knocking on doors and the murder of seemingly random people for bizarre motives left a powerful mark on his imagination and inspired a terrifying horror movie.
9. Friday The 13th And The Boy Scout Camp
The original Friday the 13th didn’t yet feature the iconic killer we all know now, but it struck such a chord that it spawned a long-running franchise and many similar movies. While the Friday the 13th movies were never particularly popular in a mainstream way, they developed an incredibly strong cult following.
Some of these fans are so obsessed with the movies that they will go on pilgrimages to sites where events from the movies actually took place. The most popular one is the iconic Camp Crystal Lake where Jason Voorhees originally drowned and where the events of the first movie took place.
People who are not hard-core fans of the film franchise may not realize that Camp Crystal Lake was originally a Boy Scout camp that was rented for one month to the film crew. The Boy Scouts never expected the film to become as popular as it did or give them the attention that it did.
The camp is still an active Boy Scout camp which has to deal with a constant flow of trespassing fans touring the area, making it hard for the young Scouts to actually get anything done and likely scaring some of them senseless. The police regularly arrest people for trespassing, but it seems to do little to stop their enthusiasm. Recently, the camp allowed a brief period of guided tours to dissuade people from bothering them the rest of the year. The tickets sold out almost immediately.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
For me, one of the most important aspects of a UFO encounter is the location. And when the location is one of significance and importance, it makes the encounter even more intriguing. A classic example is a series of startling UFO incidents which occurred at the Atomic Energy Commission facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, from the latter part of 1950 to early 1951. The cases are documented in the now-declassified UFO files of the FBI and make for notable reading.
An FBI teletype of October 13, 1950 refers to the detection of a definitive squadron of unknown objects tracked over the Oak Ridge installation at 11:25 p.m. on October 12. The documentation states: “USAF radar installation at Knoxville…picked up indications of eleven objects and perhaps more traveling across controlled area of Atomic Energy installation at Oak Ridge.” The report continued: “Altitude of objects varied from one thousand to five thousand feet…and density from reading made by light aircraft equal in size to C-47, speed from one hundred to one hundred twenty-five miles per hour…”
Then we have the following from the same document: “No reasonable explanation for radar readings yet developed although operators are experienced reliable personnel and radar set is in perfect operating condition. Bureau will advise of further developments.” Four days later, the FBI received the details of yet another alarming incident, this time involving the visual sighting of a UFO over Oak Ridge. The witnesses were a trio of military personnel. In a report of October 16, signed by Troopers Lendelle Clark and Hank N. Briggs, it was reported…
“…at approximately 2:55 p.m. Trooper [John L.] Isabell stopped us at this installation and showed us an object in the north that was traveling toward the northwest. It looked to be about 2,000 feet in the air and a white-silverish looking color, rotating in a counter clockwise manner. It was round in shape and going in a rather fast motion. This object was at a high altitude and seemed to come in sight and then disappear. It looked about the size of a ball and round at every angle we looked at it.”
Trooper Isabell added further details: “This object was slowly circling in a wide circle and spinning very fast, that is, the object was spinning around and around. The object drifted toward the southwest and in just a few minutes it reappeared at a very high altitude going back into the northeast and going very fast…”
Near the end of Christopher Nolan’s 2014 film Interstellar, astronaut “Coop” is able to communicate with his younger self (as well as his daughter) decades in the past using a tesseract, a theoretical multidimensional portal created by our descendents thousands or millions of years in the future. Coop’s messages are oblique—he can’t address his younger self directly but has to send symbolic messages using the books on his bookshelf. His younger self, before his planned mission to a black hole, realizes there something significant occurring but misses the precise meaning of these messages: a warning not to go.
If the brain is a quantum computer, the possibility I discussed in the last post, it could work by creating coherent systems of entangled particles that are isolated enough, for long enough, that they are able to manipulate information in ways far beyond what conventional computers can achieve, including sending coherent information into the past and extracting information arriving from the future. Whether or not the mechanism is precisely the one I proposed, based on Seth Lloyd’s theory of time travel via quantum teleportation, I predict that some form of trading and extracting of coherent information across time may turn out to be a basic function of the cortex, a picture that could provide a radically new understanding not only of psi but also of memory and other basic cognitive functions. The brain may be precisely something like Nolan’s tesseract, an organ that is genuinely a tunnel through time, extending across our whole lifespan.
So at the risk of sounding like a reductive materialist bad-guy (which, honest, I’m not), I do think the answer to psi (not necessarily consciousness) is going to be found in neuroscience. All the evidence points to this. No energy transmission or reception has ever been found to account for psi. The physics of information that governs psi and synchronicity has nothing to do with “thoughts through space,” the airy mental image most of us probably have when we think of psychic phenomena. We need to get rid of that mental model of waves radiating from or toward a head. The brain may not create consciousness, but it certainly gives shape to our conscious experience, in the form of memory, thoughts, symbol use, sense of self, and so on. Our experience is processed and shaped by the brain, so our future experiences are mediated by our brain in the future.
BALTIMORE — Microscopic vampires may have prowled ancient seas some 750 million years ago. Scientists have found the fossilized remains of their punctured victims. Those fossils may be the oldest direct evidence of predators hunting eukaryotes. This domain of complex life includes both plants and animals.
The monstrous microbes probably didn’t look like tiny Count Draculas. But, “they’re just as terrifying, at least if you’re a single-celled organism,” said Susannah Porter. She is a paleontologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She spoke here November 1 at the Geological Society of America's annual meeting.
The predators poked holes in their prey. Afterward, they slurped the victim’s juicy innards, Porter proposes. This predation helped drive single- and multicelled eukaryotes to evolve innovations, she suggests. The new developments might have included skeletons and the ability to burrow.
The early emergence of predation makes sense, says Paul Falkowski. He is an Earth systems scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. “Once you make an organism, somebody else will figure out a way to utilize its juices.”
They look strange, they look painful and most of all, they look alien. They’re elongated skulls and a new discovery in Patagonia may shed light on why parents subjected their children to this gruesome practice. Not only that, researchers may have hinted at who taught them the technique. Aliens?
According to a recent paper in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, anthropologists from Kansas State University found 60 skulls belonging to hunter-gatherers who lived in Southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego some 2,000 years ago. Eighteen of the skulls shows evidence of elongation, the first ever to be found in Patagonia.
While most cultures used skull modification as a way to differentiate themselves from others, hunter-gatherers move around and are forced to meet and even fit in with other people. Why would they make themselves look scary or alien?
Friday, November 27, 2015
Via financialprospect.com by Jeevana Mounika
A girl named Joey Verwey proves that reincarnation exists and is not a myth:
Joey Verwey had 10 past lives. Resurrection is really a generally held faith in the world. But this young lady cases to have recalled that her past ten lives.Might someone be able to really review the previous ten lives that they had? Do you believe that reincarnation exists for real?
From the time Joey Verwey was only three years of age, she was advising her family astonishing stories that she could recall from her past ten resurrections proving that reincarnation exists for real. Stories that were so surprising and itemized, there was no chance that she could have learned them all alone. When she was five, she was meeting consistently with parapsychology educators, resurrection masters, backward subliminal specialists, and investigative writers, who all inferred that this blameless youngster offered the most persuading, current confirmation that rebirth truly exists.
Her first life was a cavern tenant around 200 million years prior. She was pursued by a dinosaur, and leaving stone and bone apparatuses behind in a hole. Today, she could lead examiners to a progression of collapses South Africa that she had never seen. These were precisely the same where Royal Society Fellow, Robert Bloom, found the missing connection in the middle of primates and people, Australopithecus Africanus.
Throughout the last few years of his presidency, Barack Obama has likely said more about UFOs than any other U.S. commander in chief, at least as far as public statements go.
In equal measure, it has been during the years of Obama’s tenure in office that former President Bill Clinton has been most vocal on the subject, famously having been asked about it in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2014. Kimmel addressed the same issue again earlier this year when Obama appeared on his program, to which Obama expressed, “I can’t reveal anything,” humorously chiding the talk show host that he would never be president, since looking for UFO files would be “the first thing that you would do.” Obama further joked that, “The aliens won’t let it happen. You’d reveal all their secrets, and they exercise strict control over us.”
No doubt, someone out there was listening during this exchange (perhaps several, in fact), actually read into this statement, despite the obvious humor being espoused. But among the many mentions of the UFO subject made by Obama, perhaps a more serious — if not particularly revelatory or interesting one — was made during an interview with HBO’s Bill Simmons for GQ, in which Obama called inquiries into the subject “disappointing.”
When asked about conspiracies, and whether Obama had inquired into these subjects, this was his response to Simmons:
“I gotta tell you, it’s a little disappointing. People always ask me about Roswell and the aliens and UFOs, and it turns out the stuff going on that’s top secret isn’t nearly as exciting as you expect. In this day and age, it’s not as top secret as you’d think.Throughout the last few years of his presidency, Barack Obama has likely said more about UFOs than any other U.S. commander in chief, at least as far as public statements go.”