Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Throughout history, one common maritime tradition has been the phenomenon of what are known as phantom islands, or islands that have at times appeared on maps and been considered to be real places, only to disappear from maps later, or have been seen or even visited by seafarers, only to later vanish without a trace. The reasons offered for this are numerous. Sometimes the reason is as simple as a cartographical error, geographical error, navigational error, misidentification of icebergs or fog banks, or a mistaken placement of an actual island. At other times, the phantom island is merely an optical illusion, deceiving the observer into thinking an island exists where there is none. Phantom islands can also be purely mythical constructs; often magical lands said to be populated by all manner of fantastical creatures. Still others can be islands that once existed, but have since been submerged or destroyed by some catastrophe such as a volcanic eruption, earthquakes, or underwater landslides. Yet at other times it is not so easy to define just what is going on, and the island’s mystique grows over time, accumulating wonder and curiosity until it has reached a legendary status. Such is the case of a mysterious island said to be located somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean west of Ireland, and which has a history so steeped in mystery and strangeness that it has transcended its mere designation as a phantom island to become something more.
The island mostly known as Hy-Brasil, but also variously referred to over the ages as O’Breasail, Hi-Brasil, O’Brazil, Hy Breasail, Hy Breasal, Brazil Rock, Brazir, Insula Fortunatae (Fortunate Island), Mag Mell (Land of Truth), Hy na-Beatha (Isle of Life), and Tir na-m-Buadha (Land of Virtue), among many others, was first documented in 1325, when it appeared on maps made by the Genoese cartographer Angellino de Dalorto, who placed it to the southwest of Ireland. The island was at the time labelled Insula de monotonis siue de brazile, and was described by the cartographer as being almost perfectly round, with a channel or river running down its center. Although this was the island’s first appearance on maps, the Celtic people of Ireland already had a long folkloric tradition of a mythical island off the western coast they called Hy-Brasil, a name derived from the Old Irish hy, which stems from the word for “island,” í, plus brasil, which comes from the root bres, meaning “beautiful” or “mighty.” It has also been suggested that the name could have come from Uí Breasail, which refers to a mighty tribe that once inhabited northeastern Ireland, or perhaps from the name Breasal, the legendary Celtic Immortal King of the World. In spite of the similarity, the name is largely thought to have nothing to do with the country Brazil, which was named after brazilwood, a type of wood used to create dye.
Massacres and mass graves are rarely a surprise in Mexico anymore. The nation’s drug gangs have periodically used them as a public intimidation tactic or to one-up their rivals with escalating displays of large-scale savagery.
But the discovery Saturday of 28 bodies in a charred thicket on the outskirts of Iguala, a town 125 miles south of Mexico City, is a different kind of horror. The corpses turned up about a week after 43 college students vanished in the town while protesting new education laws. Some of the missing were last seen in the custody of local police.
Mexican investigators caution that it may take up to two months to identify the dead because they are burned beyond recognition. In a region of warring crime gangs that one resident called “a land of the wicked,” it is possible — and would be perhaps even more appalling — that the bodies are linked to an unrelated mass killing.
But two suspects in custody have confessed to helping kill 17 of the students at the behest of local police, according to Guerrero state prosecutor Iñaky Blanco.
If that is true, the Iguala deaths would mark a terrifying new low in the convergence of political violence and mafia-style barbarity, human rights observers say, in which civilian protesters who have nothing to do with the drug trade are butchered by cartel henchmen as a favor to local authorities.
We recently covered some of the strange theories of pseudohistory, and it turns out that those fringe historians aren’t alone. From the modern-day Atlantis to nuclear war on Mars, there’s some truly weird stuff out there.
10. Viscount James Bryce And The Discovery Of Noah’s Ark
There are few people who are going to have more credibility than the British Viscount James Bryce. Educated at the University of Glasgow and Oxford, a professor at the latter, and one of the heads of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, he was one of the trial judges that handed down a guilty verdict to Germany after World War I.
Before all that, though, he was climbing mountains and trying to prove the absolute historical accuracy of the Bible.
In 1876, Bryce headed to Mount Ararat hoping to prove, once and for all, that not only was the story of Noah’s ark and the flood real, but that the massive ship could still be found on the slopes of the mountain. When he and his people arrived, he was assured by local authorities that no one had ever really climbed the mountain before. Some claimed to have, but it was still widely doubted how successful they’d been. Struck by the desolate wasteland and definite lack of forests on the mountain, Bryce was understandably thrilled when he came across a piece of hewn timber, about 1.2 meters (4 ft) long, lying on the side of the mountain at an elevation of around 4,000 meters (13,000 ft).
According to the book that he wrote on the discovery, his guides smiled and nodded enthusiastically when he asked if the piece, which had clearly been worked by some sort of tool, was a part of the ark. He figured that its location made sense since the ark had run aground on the top of the mountain and pieces of it would have splintered and rolled downhill.
Conveniently overlooked by Bryce, though, is the fact that the mountain had in fact been climbed on several other occasions prior to his expedition. On at least three of those cases, wooden crosses were erected at the summit. The largest of these—planted at a high elevation on the same side of the mountain as Bryce was climbing—was also said to have fallen down.
Monday, March 30, 2015
Ordinarily the bus ride would have seemed long and boring but I had my two girl friends by my side. Mary Louise would be in my high school senior class that fall at St Agnes Academy and her friend Donna lived down the street from her. Mary Louise was my age (16) and Donna a little younger. We were on an adventure. My grandmother lived in Victoria, 120 miles south of our homes in Houston. We were on summer break and were going to spend a week visiting her. It was June and the year was 1962.
On the bus ride south I prepared them for my grandmother’s house. This house was childhood fantasies come true. It was a Victorian mansion built at the end of the nineteenth century by my great grandfather, a wealthy banker in Victoria. The house had fallen into disrepair in the century since it was built. It had never been repainted, shutters hung precariously from their hinges on the upstairs windows. But still the house was imposing and fabulous. And it was huge. Upstairs there were 6 bedrooms and 2 baths; downstairs were 2 more bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, breakfast room, dining room, sitting room and very large foyer that served as another sitting room. The elegance that once was surely there was still in evidence; tooled leather, although cracked and dried, on the banister going upstairs, the front door was cut leaded glass, the family name “Buhler” spelled out in tiles in the entryway. Three of the six bedrooms upstairs had their own private screened balconies overlooking the ample yard. Most of the bedrooms had fireplaces to provide heat. The mantles gracing each fireplace were ornate with scroll work and tile. Because of the heat in summer, the ceilings were 12 feet high, making for a comfortable house in the summer, but impossibly cold when the occasional winter storm came.
With access through one of the upstairs bathrooms was the attic. Large and spacious it contained a centuries worth of clothes, toys, books, magazines, leather tooled steamer trunk, even an antique baby carriage. Over the years my siblings and I spent many long hours perusing the attic for its wealth of treasures.
I always imagined there to be secret rooms and chambers in the house. It was a magical space to me and still appears weekly in my dreams.
Although not on a hill, but in a grand old neighborhood, Grandma’s house had that ghostly image of the haunted house on the hill with lightening striking around it. Its façade was ornate with turrets and bric-a-brac. The house was surrounded on two sides by a large sitting porch. In the evenings in the summer when I was a child we used to sit outside and watch the bats fly out of all the chimneys (which were no longer used for fear of burning down the house), thus adding to the sense of spookiness.
We took a taxi from the bus station, and as we approached the house Mary Louise and Donna both sat silent staring in disbelief. It was even more impressive looking than I had been able to describe. On the way to Victoria I had told them that I knew for certain that my grandfather had died in the house, not sure if any of the other relatives that had inhabited the old house had expired there as well. We were going to have a séance, and for some reason death in the house seemed an important criterion.
We had an inordinate fascination with the paranormal. We were always playing mind games. Once, out of boredom we decided to see if we could get a card table to levitate. It was rainy and unpleasant outside so this seemed a fun parlor game to play. Donna dragged out the card table and we set it up in the living room of her parent’s house. The three of us set around the table and told jokes and giggled like the school girls we were. We decided that we’d each lightly place our finger tips on the table top and start making our demands of the table. We commanded the table to lift off the floor. Within seconds the table started to quiver and 3 of its legs levitated. We were not shocked or spooked. We thought that some tiny involuntary muscles in our fingers were tugging at the table and causing it to rise so startlingly. We could get that table 18 inches off the ground with 3 legs, but never could make it levitate completely. After that afternoon, we played this game often, secretly fascinated at our power. We also played mind reading games. One day Mary Louise was thinking of a movie and it was Donna’s turn to guess. Mary Louise later described her visualization. She pictured in her mind a black board and was writing the name Gone with the Wind out on the smooth black slate surface. As she moved from letter to letter Donna said the letters as Mary Louise wrote them. G-O-N-E ... Mary Louise was shocked as Donna spelled out the movie title in time with Mary Louise’s visualization.
Neighbors remembered the rows of men laboring on the Glenroy sugarcane farm, wearing sacks that had been converted into clothing. They were, locals recalled, prisoners who had been brought to the farm to work in the fields that belonged to a shrewd and well-known local farmer.
That was decades ago, during apartheid in South Africa. Those stories had become something like local lore — until this week, when authorities announced that nearly 100 long-dead bodies had been discovered on the land. Officials believe that the dead are some of those same prisoners who were brought to the farm to work during the 1960s and 1970s.
The details are piecemeal, but neighbors told local media that prisoners were known to have died there — perhaps from old age, illness, exhaustion, or worse, after they had been beaten or shot, according to the Mercury, a South African newspaper.
The mass grave “is huge,” said Thabane Dube, mayor of the town of Vulamehlo, according to the Herald. “Several hundred square meters, filled with trees and bushes. You can see the mounds. Lots of them.”
Science is drowning in studies, and it took a study to expose it.
In a paper entitled 'Attention decay in science', professors from universities in Finland and California conclude that "the exponential growth in the number of scientific papers makes it increasingly difficult for researchers to keep track of all the publications relevant to their work.
"Consequently," the say, "the attention that can be devoted to individual papers, measured by their citation counts, is bound to decay rapidly."
The number 13 is famously considered unlucky, but it’s not alone. Many numbers are avoided, unwanted, and deemed unlucky due to superstitions, pronunciations, or even events or accidents involving them.
Due to the supposed “curse of 39,” the number 39 is avoided in Afghanistan, mostly in its capital of Kabul. According to the belief, some pimp once owned a car with 39 in the license plate number and lived in a house with 39 in the address. There are also speculations that the hatred of the number is due to an old form of calculation called abjad. No one has firm details on the origin, but it’s enough to give the number a seedy reputation.
Afghans avoid the number on their vehicle plate, phone number, and house addresses. A car that would normally sell for $12,000, for instance, could sell for a mere $7,000 because it has 39 on its number plate. People with a “39″ plate number go as far as paying calligraphers to manipulate the 9 so it looks like 8. People with a 39 phone number also hide their number when making calls. Some also get calls from people asking them if they have prostitutes. People who are aged 39 also avoid saying they are 39. Instead, they say they are one year to 40.
Sunday, March 29, 2015
It's official. Our society is obsessed with vampires, paranormal activity and the supernatural. The blockbuster movie series Twilight, current television hits like Vampire Diaries and The Walking Dead, and a surge of new vampire and zombie-based games illustrate our society's utter fascination with paranormal characters, stories and overall entertainment.
Here are a few reasons why vampires, paranormal activity and supernatural stories continue to intrigue and entertain our society.
We are scared of the paranormal
Fear of the unknown is one of the most powerful human emotions.
From an evolutionary perspective, the emotion of fear protected humans from predators and other threats to the survival of the species. Today, paranormal and supernatural entertainment facilitates a fear of the unknown triggering a unique and evolutionary emotion.
In fact, the human nervous system, like any other muscle in our body, actually requires a good workout every once in a while. This accounts for demand and desire to experience stimulation and excitement through entertainment based on fear. Movies, TV shows and games that explore the paranormal can actually provide a cathartic effect, offering an emotional release that we don't get in day-to-day life.
So it is no surprise that evoking fear is, in fact, functional and even necessary.
Posted by Paranormal Searchers at 4:30 PM
Two longtime friends and paranormal investigators are pairing up to bring the history of the former Taylor Elementary School in Lindenwald to life.
Hamilton High School graduates Brady Crank (‘06) and Ashley Ingle (‘07) are creating a documentary of the currently vacant school building, which Ingle used to see across the street from her home in Lindenwald, Crank said.
“Since we’re unsure of the future of the Taylor school, we figured we would take this opportunity to learn what we can about it,” he said.
Assassinations of presidents and kings aren’t the only killings that change our world. The victims in these 10 murders didn’t wield national power and most were quickly forgotten. Even so, their murders led to changes in the justice system, education, national affairs, society, and culture. Some of these cases were easy for authorities to solve; others remain a puzzle. All of them made history.
10. A New York First
On the evening of December 22, 1799, Gulielma “Elma” Sands left her home in a Manhattan boarding house after confiding to her cousin that she was marrying her fellow boarder, Levi Weeks. She wasn’t seen again until January 2, 1800, when her body was discovered in the Manhattan Well.
Elma’s demise produced a list of “firsts” in US history. For starters, it was New York’s first scandalous murder mystery. According to their fellow boarders, Levi and Elma were lovers, which was quite shocking in 1799. Handbills and newspapers proclaimed that Levi had promised Elma marriage, then murdered her. Fascinated New Yorkers read that, on the night of the murder, residents heard Elma and Levi leaving the house at the same time. Only half an hour later, witnesses heard screams near the well. That was also the area where people claimed they’d seen a horse-drawn sleigh carrying two men and a woman. Both horse and sleigh resembled those owned by Levi’s brother, Ezra. By the time Levi went to trial on March 31, crowds were yelling, “Crucify him!”
Fortunately for Levi, his brother had something that still figures prominently in American justice: money. Ezra hired three famous defense attorneys, including two founding fathers: former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and future Vice President Aaron Burr. He also hired future Supreme Court Justice Harry Livingston. Over a century before the notorious trial of O.J. Simpson made the term famous, Levi was defended by the first legal “dream team.”
Levi’s savvy lawyers devised a strategy for creating reasonable doubt in jurors’ minds that’s still in use today. They presented alternative murder theories by casting suspicion on another boarder, Richard Croucher, and even plausibly demonstrated that Elma could have jumped into the well to commit suicide. They attacked Elma’s character by claiming that she’d slept with her married landlord, and they established alibis for Levi with their own witnesses while planting doubts about the prosecution’s witnesses.
In 1800, trials could run into the wee hours, and Levi’s sensational trial ended at 2:00 A.M. after two days of proceedings. A possibly tired and cranky judge announced that the prosecution hadn’t proved its case and made it clear that Levi should be declared “not guilty.” Within 10 minutes, the exhausted jurors complied. Somehow, the court clerk stayed awake to transcribe everything, making this America’s first recorded criminal trial.
Most New Yorkers remained convinced of Levi’s guilt (though some changed their minds months later when Richard Croucher was convicted of rape). Legend has it that Elma’s death affected American history in one last way: Elma’s angry cousin supposedly put a curse on Hamilton, who was shot to death in a famous duel. The disgraced shooter was Burr—whose life and career were never the same.
Police have received a whopping 152 calls about paranormal encounters - including UFO sightings and reports of ghosts, witches and zombies.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed there are plenty of people who believe in things that go bump in the night, the Birmingham Mail reported.
West Midlands Police received 29 calls from members of the public who endured a Close Encounter of the Third Kind with aliens.
No fewer than 43 folk were spooked by ghosts, and 73 were the victims of witchcraft.
Other incidents are simply labelled “paranormal” because they were unexplainable.
Most of the paranormal claims, stretching from 2009 to 2014, were filed under “no further police action required” or “advice given”.
But officers took a February 2010 report of a witch a little more seriously, which led to an arrest.
The supernatural stampede has moved the force to issue advice if you see lights in the sky or a headless horseman.
A West Midlands Police spokeswoman said: “While the figures can seem amusing, behind some of these ‘supernatural’ calls may be a deeply troubled individual or a person wasting valuable police time, which would be better spent preventing real crimes.
“West Midlands Police always take action against those found to be knowingly making false and malicious calls to the emergency services.”
In the three years up to 2014, the emergency line was used to report 15 ghosts, 55 witches and two zombies.
It seems to have played out like a scene from a movie.
Sometime during the night of March 7, Lynn Jennifer Groesbeck, 25, lost control of her car, hit a concrete barrier and careened off of a small bridge over Spanish Fork River in Utah.
The car landed on its roof in 40-degree water.
Approximately 14 hours later, a fisherman spotted the vehicle and called for help.
When police arrived, they found a mid-sized car overturned in the water.
There were no signs of life until the officers heard a voice.
"I felt like I could hear somebody telling me they needed help," said one responding officer. "It was very surreal."
But that officer wasn't the only one to hear the voice - later described as that of a woman, not a child.
All the men said they heard the same distinct voice asking for help.