Dusting Off Your Tinfoil Hat (or There Is a Time For Conspiracy)

Tragedies are like the most delicious chocolate cake to conspiracy theorists.

Late last week, Malaysian flight MH370 disappeared over the South-asian Sea.  It was only a few minutes before you heard reflections on the supposed Bermuda Triangle.  So far no wreckage has been found and no black box recording to give us their last thoughts before the passengers left the skies, one way or the other.  Our only physical evidence, as of this writing, is oil trails found in the ocean.  But then again, the ocean has so much lost fuel on the surface that one could probably fuel a hundred cars for a hundred years.

You will see this video in the next weeks, months, even years. 

 It was supposed taken on a Malaysian flight years ago, but it could easily be used for proof of unknown aircraft being attracted to the airline even back then - possibly biding their time.  But more realistically, someone is going to post this as being a film by one of the passengers aboard the fateful flight to try and drum up attention.  We could have easily done that, but my cohort and I are as smugly tactful as we are handsome and goateed.

Knee-jerk reactionary declarations are the difference between those who take the study of the unknown seriously and those who are wearing tin foil hats.

At this time, we can only give our thoughts (or prayers if you're that type) to the crew and passengers aboard and we will dissect the "truth" that's being hidden from us once we start collecting evidence.

Are There Giant Birds in our Skies? or "What the Roc is Cooking (People)"

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To Native Americans from the Great Lakes to the Southwest, the skies offered the greatest mystery.  It brought the cleansing rain that gave life, a gift from the Great Spirit.  But also it brought the destructive lightening that tormented the flat, tree-less lands and the ice and snow that could mean death to an entire tribe. They watched the skies for danger, but up there the skies were looking down at them.  With a great dark shadow and a shriek, the thunderbird roamed these lands and it was her that brought the storms.  When white men colonized the lands and the Natives dwindled, the thunderbird stories dwindled.  Until the modern age that is, but with a new twist.

While the giant predatory birds live only in the legends, they have found time and again to visit the modern day occasionally.  But these stories seem to be more in the line of cryptozoology or mistaken identity than thunder clashing gods.

It's 1977 and two great shadows fall over the lawns where three children are playing hide and seek.  Looking up, they see two giant birds swooping down.  One boy runs and jumps into the nearby swimming pool as he's chased by a great black form.  While this is occurring, the second bird descends on 10-year-old Marlon Lowe, gripping him in its talons and raising up with it's prey.  Marlon's mother watches in horror as the boy fights the creature off.  She runs to him as the two large shapes fly away into the trees.  This would be one of the only reported instances in America of a bird of prey attacking a human being.

They would not be the only ones to report the creatures, either before or after.  Several witnesses saw the birds flying among the trees or landing on fences, "man sized" one person reported, staring with cold eyes at the people observing them back. 

It's the most famous story of "giant birds" in modern history, but many doubt it was some new, undiscovered species of child-snatching bird.  Many witnesses, after researching the bird, claim it was a California or Andean Condor or an African/Eurasian vulture, possibly an exotic pet or zoo escapee.  Even Marlon's mother, a witness, claims the creature matched the description of a Californian condor.  Some researchers even believe the bird wasn't meaning any harm at all, but had escaped from a raptor show, where it was attempting a "shoulder landing".

So if we disregard this as a case of mistaken identity, what about the other great bird stories of North America?

In 1890, two Arizona cowboys shot what they claimed to be a giant bird.  They dragged it back to town and showed it off.  Only this bird was different than anything they had seen.  It's skin had no feathers and it had the head "of an alligator".  Was this a case of a modern day pterodactyl sighting or a hoax?  The pterodactyl had in fact been discovered in the west already in fossil form, so the cowboys could have had knowledge of the prehistoric beast.  And besides, as any modern day dinosaur researcher knows, flying reptiles likely had feathers.

Since then, however, there is rarely a year that goes by without someone claiming to see a pterosaur or giant bird in the southwest United States or across the border in Mexico.  It seems to be the hotspot.  An old story I heard passed around told of a man on the Texas/Mexico border who went outside to use his outhouse and saw a large, "man sized" black shape land in the yard near him, folding great wings near its body.  And even in 2008, several Texans spotted an "army brigade" of giant birds flying alongside commercial craft.

As for attacks on people, there is no evidence of birds taking away children in America, but several in Europe and other countries.  Several stories from Norway and the Alps have been verified.  But despite this video, which is a fake, we are likely not in danger from birds from the sky.

But are they real?  Did the Native Americans draw their stories from real encounters with giant flying birds?  Or were they simply exaggerating the size of common animals?  Or was it a combination of both, maybe a primal memory of the great teratorns that likely would have easily preyed on the children of nomadic Pleistocene hunters?  Or the hunters themselves?

I say keep watching the skies.

Dark History of Santa Claus

 Greeting card that says "Greetings from Krampus"

Greeting card that says "Greetings from Krampus"

 

 

As Christmas approaches, most of us will conjure images of a portly and jolly Santa Claus with his reindeer. delivering presents to all the good boys and girls. That is a pretty friendly images of a man who rewards good boys and girls and give coal to the bad ones. In looking into Santa Claus type figures from around the world and through history it is apparent to me that the lump of coal is a pretty light punishment.

Take Belsnickel, for instance. Belsnickel is a grumpy Santa alternative who hails from the Germanic region. He arrives at homes a few weeks before Christmas and would inspire terror among children because, like Santa, he always knew who was good and who had misbehaved. He wears torn, ragged, and filthy clothing and he would carry a switch in his hand and would beat the bad children. Aside from his short stature, he looked very much like a normal human. Belsnickel served as a reminder that there was still time for the beaten kids to straighten up before Christmas day.

Then there is Krampus, a beast-like creature hailing from the Alpine countries. Krampus was a companion to Saint Nicholas who was the malevolent counterpart to the kind gift giving Saint Nick. If you were particularly naughty, Krampus might even kidnap you and take you away. Traditionally, young men would dress up as Krampus during the first week of December and roam the streets to frighten children. Krampus is described as being a hairy, demonic-like creature with cloven hooves and goat horns. 

I think our kids get it easy compared to these traditions. I would take coal any day.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belsnickel

Mark Twain - Author From the Afterlife

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Mark Twain is justifiably lauded as one of America’s great authors and humorists. He also died before he was able to finish all the works that he wanted to put down on paper. At least this is the story according to Emily Grant Hutchings.

In the mid 1800s to early 1900’s spiritualism was in it’s heyday and the Ouija board was used to attempt communication with the spirit world. People would try to conjure up the thoughts of famous people of the day. Mark Twain was no exception. Twain, who died in 1910, was a worldwide celebrity as his novels, short stories, and essays were wildly popular.  

Enter Emily Grant Hutchings. Emily was into spiritualism and in her exploration of it she had been invited to join a small psychic research society meeting in St. Louis. This was in March of 1915 and it was at these meetings that she met Mrs. Lola Hays. Mrs. Hays claimed to be highly proficient with the Ouija board and the two began contacting the supposed spirit of Mark Twain.

The spirit of Mark Twain began spelling out several sentences through Mrs. Hays, and a relationship developed between Emily and Lola where Emily would dictate the letters Lola spelled out on the board. Lola claimed that she never looked at the board because she didn’t want to influence things with her own desire.

According to Emily’s own writing of how the story was written “As far as possible, we sat twice a week on Mondays and Fridays… We usually worked uninterrupted for two hours with no sound save that of my voice as I pronounced the letters and punctuation marks over which the pointer of the planchette paused in its swift race across the board.”.  Emily stated that, “Three evenings in succession we had had trouble with the planchette.  It had seemed to me that Mrs. Hays was trying to pull it from beneath my fingers.  Meanwhile she had mentally accused me of digital heaviness.”  Emily said that Mark Twain wanted Lola to be passive and that it is up to the ‘Hannibal girl’ to receive the transmissions. The town of Hannibal, where Emily was from and where Mark Twain grew up, seemed to be the connection that allowed Emily to be the conduit for Mark Twain’s afterlife novel.

Emily maintained that though both of them were seasoned writers, that  “Neither Mrs. Hays nor I could have written the fiction that has come across our transmission board.  .  .  .  Our literary output is well known, and not even the severest psychological skeptic could assert that it bears any resemblance to the literary style ofJap Herron’ “ .

Jap Herron was published by Mitchell Kennerley in 1917 as “Jap Herron - a novel written from the Ouija board – Mark Twain via Emily Grant Hutchings.” Twain’s daughter, Clara Clemens and the owners of the copyright on the pen name Mark Twain - Harper and Brothers - sued Kennerley in 1918. An agreement was made to stop distribution of the book and all known copies were destroyed. Harper and Brothers dropped the suit.

So was the book written by Mark Twain? I feel that Emily’s credibility begins to crumble when you look into her history before she met Mrs. Hays. See, this wasn’t her first spiritual book writing experience. Prior to this, she had worked with a woman named Pearl Lenore Curran and together they contacted a spirit by the name of Patience Worth. It was actually Emily who, in 1912, had purchased an ouija board after an experience of contacting the spirit of a relative. Emily coaxed Pearl Curran to use the ouija board with her and on June 22, 1913, the first communication of a “Pat-C” came through. Shortly thereafter, they began to communicate with Patience Worth who supposedly lived in the mid 1600s.

This first spiritual writing experience ended because Emily wanted to rewrite the dictated story that came through from Patience Worth but Pearl didn’t want to alter the story. The two parted ways and Emily went on to search for other spiritual writing experiences. Emily seems to have great fortune in contacting spirits who want their stories written.