Great article by Mike Dash conclusively demonstrating that the oft-repeated story, of a sea monster blown up during a battle between a German U-boat and a British freighter, was almost certainly invented in response to the original media frenzy over the Loch Ness Monster.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
You may have seen the AP story about a gang in Peru supposedly murdering people to sell their fat on the black market for cosmetics use.
I might be less skeptical if this wasn't directly in line with centuries of folklore in the region, of the fat-sucking pishtaco. Which of course the AP report does not mention.
Google turns up this volume which I have not read, on the subject
Cholas and pishtacos: Stories of race and sex in the Andes
Edit: This Peruvian story notes the mythological connection up-front, and also quotes a doctor who is highly skeptical, as fat is extracted all the time by plastic surgeons but it has no significant value, and the methods reported probably wouldn't work anyway.
Edit2: Unsurprisingly, this turned out to be untrue. The surprising bit is that it may be covering up something bigger. This is reminiscent of various governments using UFO reports to cover up more clandestine activities.
Edit3: Slate has a researched, long, somewhat meandering and in a mainstream media way, mystery mongering take on all of this, placing it in the larger context of the legends of organ-legging and in the reality of transplant tourism.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I wonder what recovered memories a cat could find?
"The regulation of hypnotherapists in the UK is so lax that even a cat can become accredited, the BBC has found.
Chris Jackson, presenter of Inside Out in the North East and Cumbria, registered pet George with three industry bodies.
Each one accepted a certificate from the non-existent Society of Certified Advanced Mind Therapists as proof of George's credentials.
It follows a similar investigation by an American clinical psychologist."
Friday, November 13, 2009
It could be a touch more thorough, but overall is quite good and on the ball.
Friday, October 16, 2009
See Update for additional UFO link
I won't go into the details about the Balloon Boy fiasco, but there are a couple of point worth noting, some of interesting comparison with the infamous H. G. Wells/Orson Welles War of the Worlds radio play 71 years ago this month.
With Balloon Boy, a number of commentators have noted that this story spread via twitter and other new media, with bursts of micro-information keeping people glued to their cable news networks. This story, however, was entirely a creature of those networks, and reflects how they do business. People are making the inevitable "baby down a well" comparisons, and they do apply. But the breathless chase, the child in danger, the constant "breaking news" marks this as being very similar to the "child/white girl in peril" stories that have come to dominate the news landscape, the cable nets in particular. An outlandish story in 1938 could be believed if it conformed to the format of breaking war news. In 2009, such a story is believable if it conforms to a drawn-out and information poor individual peril story.
Update 1 PM 10/16/09: In his 9/11 call, Richard Heene says his balloon is actually more complex, and there is a directional or propulsion system that has 1,000,000 volts coursing over the skin of the balloon. As others have noted and I suspected, this is tied into the fringe-appeal science/engineering/community of electrogravitics. the most high-profile expression of this has been the lifter community (wiki here). Elements of this community are tied into fringe science, ufology, zero point energy, conspiracy theories (Nick Cook's The Hunt for Zero Point: Inside the Classified World of Antigravity Technology is a major expression of this), and the like. Given Heene's interests, this makes a lot of sense. No idea if he actually was electrifying the balloon or not, but that seems to be what he is talking about.
Here's the sort of thing I'm talking about. Tying Adamski into all of this is just icing on the cake.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Cross-post, due to update this year, from my archaeology blog
The discovery of a mummified cat in an early 19th-century Edinburgh building (dead link) reminded me of one of the niftiest things in historical archaeology, magical deposits. Common caches hidden under floorboards or within walls include shoes, cats, or "witch bottles" specially prepared with pins and urine. These were magical charms in British culture, and still hold some power. As noted on Brian Hoggard's page on these charms and other folk magic, cats were often destroyed or otherwise noted by construction teams that discovered them. They can be creepy whether interpreted by the discoverer as an unfortunate accident or as an occult artifact, and in some cases are burned to cleanse the deposit and perhaps help the cat in the afterlife.
Update: First witch bottle still sealed (and presumably containing urine) found in Greenwich.
Update: Article from March 2008 has nice images and discussion (dead link)
Update April 2009: Sealed shoes from Nova Scotia
Update June 2009: The sealed witch bottle has been analyzed
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Friday, February 06, 2009
Artist Alex CF produces intricately detailed impossibilities, including specimens from dragons, gray aliens recovered from Roswell, and scientific equipment for all sorts of Lovecraftian exploits.
These should look familiar. Because they have as an inspiration the vampire hunting kits that were produced starting in the nineteenth century after vampires, and particularly Dracula, became widely popularized. Now of course, many have come to believe such kits were made in seriousness, and not as a luxurious equivalent of geeky replicas and toys today, and some have sold for exorbitant sums in auctions.
I am fascinated by the transition from "real" folklore to fictional folklore going on here. Does the transition help to mark all of it as fiction, or will it increase the credibility of things that started as stated fiction, but have been embraced by later generations?
EDIT (7/31/10): It's amazing how many vampire kits there are out there, and how much people have paid for some of them. Ripley's Entertainment, the company which owns the Ripley's Believe it or not attractions in various tourist spots, brags in this post that they have the world's largest collection.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Someone is ready to ride the 90's nostalgia wave we should be seeing in about 3-7 years, depending on how the whole 2012 thing works out.
Alien Fresh Jerky. Great pictures from a visit to their headquarters in the California desert.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
It really doesn't get better than this: The destruction of a massive windmill that some of the locals blame on ... a phosphorescent cyclopean tentacled anomaly emerging from the sky
'massive ball of light' with 'tentacles going right down to the ground' over Conisholme wind farm.
"It was huge" he said "At first I thought it must have been a hole where the moon was shining through but then I saw the tentacles – it looked just like an octopus.
When I blogged last year about Air Krakens and other flying monsters, I didn't think they'd show up this soon.
EDIT: Fireworks may have been involved. But I don't know of Yog-Sothoth is going to like such slurs on its character.