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This week we
bring you such beard-pulling stories as:
Bad Things Come From
- In the Sky! A Bird? A Plane? A ... UFO? -
- Ghosts in the Machine -
- Smelly Bigfoot: The Skunk
AND: The Resonance Theory of
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* Is the
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YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT DEPARTMENT -
When Bad Things Come From
These days, shopping in the produce aisle feels like a gamble. If you
don’t pick a winner, the costs could be high.
People in the United States have gotten used to the repulsive fact that
raw chicken, meat and eggs are often contaminated with dangerous
bacteria. Scrub the cutting board, we are warned, don’t nibble the
cookie dough, don’t eat burgers rare. In other words, handle meat like
a biohazard — and then eat it.
But until recently, getting sick from salad was something that most
Americans didn’t even think about unless they were traveling to a poor
country. At home, fruits and vegetables have been regarded as clean and
safe for as long as most people can remember.
Lately, though, produce has caused a disturbing number of disease
outbreaks; just since September, bacteria-tainted tomatoes, spinach and
lettuce have made hundreds of people sick, and killed three. There have
been 20 serious outbreaks in the past decade or so, and many have come
from crops grown in California, not from imports. Fruit juices, alfalfa
sprouts and almonds have also been involved — all of them supposedly
health foods, like salad, the things we feel most virtuous about eating.
The known outbreaks are just the tip of the iceberg, health officials
say; far more illness is never reported. Most people don’t call the
health department about a few days of gut trouble. The government
estimates that over all, food-borne microbes — not just the ones on
produce — make 76 million people a year sick, put 325,000 in the
hospital and kill 5,000.
In a modern country, a rise in disease caused by tainted food seems
like a giant step backward in public health. But there hasn’t been much
public outrage or even disgust at the notion of filth seeping into the
Among the nastiest bacteria is E. coli 0157:H7, which makes a powerful
toxin that can cause severe illness and sometimes even kidney failure.
This is the germ found on spinach a few months ago, and more recently
on iceberg lettuce served at Taco Bell restaurants. It comes from cow
feces and was first identified in 1982. Feeding the animals grain
instead of hay seems to promote its growth.
The strain is harmless to cows, but in people it is so dangerous,
according to the Food and Drug Administration, that swallowing as few
as 10 organisms may be enough to cause an infection. About 73,000
people a year get sick from this type of bacteria, and 61 die, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
“It’s gotten more attention this fall, but we’ve seen these outbreaks
due to lettuce and other leafy greens for a long time,” said Dr.
Christopher Braden, chief of the outbreak response and surveillance
team for enteric diseases at the disease centers. “We are seeing this
on an ongoing basis. That’s not an acceptable outcome. We need to find
ways to interrupt that contamination.”
Last August, the F.D.A. announced a “lettuce safety initiative” in
response to recurring E. coli outbreaks. It began with last fall’s
lettuce harvest and included visits by inspectors to farms and cooling
and packing facilities. But the spinach and Taco Bell outbreaks
There are several ways that bacteria can contaminate lettuce. Water is
an obvious route, whether from unsanitary irrigation or spraying, or
from flooding. Animals can carry bacteria onto farmland, which is
apparently how the spinach outbreak occurred — feral pigs wandered from
cow pastures to spinach fields, taking E. coli with them. Sick workers
who handle produce can also contaminate it, and so can dust blowing off
pastures. One bad batch can spoil others when they are mixed for
chopping and bagging.
Scientists think most contamination lies on the surface of crops, but
studies have shown that it is possible for bacteria to be taken up
through root systems and actually wind up inside the plants, where no
amount of washing could get rid of it. In any case, E. coli 0157:H7
tends to be sticky and is difficult or impossible to wash off, even
when it’s only on the surface of produce.
Over the past 30 years, diseases linked to produce have increased, Dr.
Braden said. Increased ability to detect outbreaks may explain part of
the increase, but not all of it, he added.
“We’re convinced it’s real in large part,” he said. “We’re seeing an
increased number of outbreaks, an increased number of cases in
outbreaks, and an increase in the number of types of produce involved.”
The reason is not known for sure. But, Dr. Braden said: “The way
produce is farmed and processed has changed. It’s become more
centralized, and you have these huge processors and distributors that
produce tens of thousands of pounds of a particular produce in a
particular day. If something goes wrong with that produce you’ve got a
big problem, whereas with small farmers, if there is a problem it’s
much more limited.”
In addition, he said, bagged and prewashed produce didn’t exist 25
years ago, and people today eat more raw vegetables than in the past.
“There’s probably more susceptible people eating those things,” Dr.
Braden said. “We have an aging population, and more people with chronic
medical conditions that might make them more susceptible.”
The F.D.A. is responsible for produce safety, while the Agriculture
Department oversees meat, poultry and eggs. Some politicians have urged
that a single new agency be formed to take charge of all food safety,
but even if that is done, it still may not answer basic questions about
how to clean up produce.
Dr. David W. K. Acheson, chief medical officer at the center for food
safety and applied nutrition at the F.D.A., said the agency was trying
to find ways to prevent outbreaks.
But, Dr. Acheson said, it has nowhere near the resources to inspect the
hundreds of thousands of facilities that handle fresh produce in the
United States. The Agriculture Department has far more inspectors and
is required by law to have one in every major meat processing plant.
One question the drug agency is trying to figure out, he said, is how
close is too close when it comes to cattle and produce.
“We know that 0157 is a natural contaminant of cow feces,” Dr. Acheson
said. “Cow feces, if it gets on fresh produce, is not good. Should
there be some limitation as to how close cattle should be to a
leafy-greens field? Fifty feet, 5 miles, 50 miles? What’s the science?”
Fifty feet may be plenty if the cows are downhill and downstream of the
farm, he said — but if it’s the other way around, five miles may not be
“What’s really going to work?” Dr. Acheson asked. “At this point, there
are a lot of unknowns.”
Another approach, instead of trying to prevent contamination, is to get
rid of it after the fact. Nuts can be heat-treated and juices can be
pasteurized. Some experts have recommended irradiating lettuce.
“People in the agency are looking at the impact of that,” Dr. Acheson
said. “There are two pieces: does it work, and what dose do you need?
Then, what’s the impact of that dose on the quality of the product? You
could irradiate anything and sterilize it, but you may end up with
mush. It’s not quite that easy.”
Dr. Braden said that so far, scientists had not found any way to
“Not that people aren’t working on it hard,” he said, adding that the
food industry itself is under pressure.
“There may be some self-regulation from the industry, the growers
themselves,” he said. “They have to do something themselves, or else
they’re going to lose their market.”
Source: NY Times
- WE KNOW WHAT WE SAW DEPARTMENT -
In the Sky! A Bird? A Plane? A ... UFO?
It sounds like a tired
joke--but a group of airline employees insist they are in earnest, and
they are upset that neither their bosses nor the government will take
A flying saucerlike object hovered low over O'Hare International
Airport for several minutes before bolting through thick clouds with
such intense energy that it left an eerie hole in overcast skies, said
some United Airlines employees who observed the phenomenon.
Was it an alien spaceship? A weather balloon lost in the airspace over
the world's second-busiest airport? A top-secret military craft? Or
simply a reflection from lights that played a trick on the eyes?
Officials at United professed no knowledge of the Nov. 7 event--which
was reported to the airline by as many as a dozen of its own
workers--when the Tribune started asking questions recently. But the
Federal Aviation Administration said its air traffic control tower at
O'Hare did receive a call from a United supervisor asking if
controllers had spotted a mysterious elliptical-shaped craft sitting
motionless over Concourse C of the United terminal.
No controllers saw the object, and a preliminary check of radar found
nothing out of the ordinary, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.
The FAA is not conducting a further investigation, Cory said. The
theory is the sighting was caused by a "weather phenomenon," she said.
The UFO report has sparked some chuckles among controllers in O'Hare
"To fly 7 million light years to O'Hare and then have to turn around
and go home because your gate was occupied is simply unacceptable,"
said O'Hare controller and union official Craig Burzych.
Some of the witnesses, interviewed by the Tribune, said they are upset
that neither the government nor the airline is probing the incident.
Whatever the object was, it could have interfered with O'Hare's radar
and other equipment, and even created a collision risk, they said.
The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (the term that
extraterrestrial-watchers nowadays prefer over Unidentified Flying
Object) was first seen by a United ramp worker who was directing back a
United plane at Gate C17, according to an account the worker provided
to the National UFO Reporting Center.
The sighting occurred during daylight, about 4:30 p.m., just before
All the witnesses said the object was dark gray and well defined in the
overcast skies. They said the craft, estimated by different accounts to
be 6 feet to 24 feet in diameter, did not display any lights.
Some said it looked like a rotating Frisbee, while others said it did
not appear to be spinning. All agreed the object made no noise and it
was at a fixed position in the sky, just below the 1,900-foot cloud
deck, until shooting off into the clouds.
Witnesses shaken by sighting
"I tend to be scientific by nature, and I don't understand why aliens
would hover over a busy airport," said a United mechanic who was in the
cockpit of a Boeing 777 that he was taxiing to a maintenance hangar
when he observed the metallic-looking object above Gate C17.
"But I know that what I saw and what a lot of other people saw stood
out very clearly, and it definitely was not an [Earth] aircraft," the
One United employee appeared emotionally shaken by the sighting and
"experienced some religious issues" over it, one co-worker said.
A United manager said he ran outside his office in Concourse B after
hearing the report about the sighting on an internal airline radio
"I stood outside in the gate area not knowing what to think, just
trying to figure out what it was," he said. "I knew no one would make a
false call like that. But if somebody was bouncing a weather balloon or
something else over O'Hare, we had to stop it because it was in very
close proximity to our flight operations."
Some joke, others research
The databases of various UFO-watching groups are full of accounts filed
by pilots about sightings of unknown aircraft and anomalies that
affected navigational equipment onboard planes.
Whether any of the UFO incidents are real or merely the result of
individual perceptions, some experts say the events pose a potential
safety risk to pilots and their passengers.
"There have been documented cases where safety appears to have been
implicated, and more and more we are coming to the point of view that
we are dealing with an intelligent phenomenon," said Richard Haines,
science director at the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous
Phenomena, a private agency.
"We must be proactive before an aircraft goes down," said Haines, a
former chief of the Space Human Factors Office at NASA's Ames Research
Haines is investigating the O'Hare incident. He said he has determined
that no weather balloons were launched in the vicinity of O'Hare on
"It's absurd that the military would be conducting aerial test flights"
near the airport, Haines said.
All the witnesses to the O'Hare event, who included at least several
pilots, said they are certain based on the disc's appearance and flight
characteristics that it was not an airplane, helicopter, weather
balloon or any other craft known to man.
United denies UFO report
They're not sure what was hanging out for several minutes in the
restricted airspace, but they are upset that no one in power has taken
the matter seriously.
A United spokeswoman said there is no record of the UFO report. She
said United officials do not recall discussion of any such incident.
"There's nothing in the duty manager log, which is used to report
unusual incidents," said United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy. "I checked
around. There's no record of anything."
The pilots of the United plane being directed back from Gate C17 also
were notified by United personnel of the sighting, and one of the
pilots reportedly opened a windscreen in the cockpit to get a better
view of the object estimated to be hovering 1,500 feet above the ground.
The object was seen to suddenly accelerate straight up through the
solid overcast skies, which the FAA reported had 1,900-foot cloud
ceilings at the time.
"It was like somebody punched a hole in the sky," said one United
Witnesses said they had a hard time visually tracking the object as it
streaked through the dense clouds.
It left behind an open hole of clear air in the cloud layer, the
witnesses said, adding that the hole disappeared within a few minutes.
The United employees interviewed by the Tribune spoke on condition of
Some said they were interviewed by United officials and instructed to
write reports and draw pictures of what they observed, and that they
were advised by United officials to refrain from speaking about what
Federal agency backtracks
Like United, the FAA originally told the Tribune that it had no
information on the alleged UFO sighting. But the federal agency quickly
reversed its position after the newspaper filed a Freedom of
Information Act request.
An internal FAA review of air-traffic communications tapes, a step
toward complying with the Tribune request, turned up the call by the
United supervisor to an FAA manager in the airport tower, Cory said.
Cory said the weather might have factored into what the witnesses
thought they saw.
"Our theory on this is that it was a weather phenomenon," she said.
"That night was a perfect atmospheric condition in terms of low [cloud]
ceiling and a lot of airport lights. When the lights shine up into the
clouds, sometimes you can see funny things. That's our take on it."
The National UFO Reporting Center has posted on their website
(http://www.nuforc.org/webreports/053/S53541.html) an interview with
one of the witnesses. As stated on their site: "This individual was
interviewed, at length, by one of the investigators involved in the
follow-up investigation. The investigators were highly impressed with
the witness's credentials, and with the accurate description of the
event. We deem this witness to be extremely highly credible.
We express our sincere gratitude to this witness for his having shared
the information about his sighting with NUFORC, and with his fellow
American Citizens. PD))"
"Ok I have been hesitant about talking about this, but after hearing
the report on Coast to Coast AM with Mr. Norey I can not be silent. I
work for a major airline at OHare, I am a taxi mechanic. I have the job
responsibility of moving aircraft under there own power from gate to
gate or the hangar complex for maintenance. We also accomplish the
engine run-up testing needed. So I hope that does something for
establishing a little of credibility for my report. I am still in
absolute wonder and amazement at what I saw that afternoon.
"Around 1630 a pilot made a comment on the radio about a circle or disc
shaped object hovering over gate C-17 at the C concourse in Chicago. At
first we laughed to each other and then the same pilot said again on
the radio that is was about 700feet agl (above ground level). The day
was overcast with the ceiling being reported at 1600 feet if I remember
correctly. I was taxing a Boeing 777 from the Intl Terminal to the
Company Hanger on the North side of the Airport. As we passed the C
Terminal on the Alpha taxiway we observed a dark gray hazy round object
hovering over OHare Intl Airport. Is was definitely over the C
Terminal. It was holding very steady and appeared to be trying to stay
close to the cloud cover. The radio erupted with chatter about the
object and the ATC controller that was handling ground traffic made a
few smart comments about the alleged UFO siting above the C terminal.
"We had to continue moving the aircraft to the hangar. After parking I
noticed the craft of no longer there but there was an almost perfect
circle in the cloud layer were the craft had been. The hole disappeared
a few minutes later.
"For the rest of the night there were jokes made on the radio about the
Special Thanks to Peter Davenport and the National UFO Reporting
Center for taking the time and effort to do follow up investigations
and interviews concerning this fascinating UFO sighting. http://www.nuforc.org/
Source: Chicago Tribune
A WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN' GOING ON DEPARTMENT -
Whispers from the Earth
I spent a significant portion of my reading time the past year
researching the latest ideas about earthquake prediction. I’ve always
been fascinated by reports of earthquake lights and animal behavior
foreshadowing a quake. One of my favorite books is “When the Snakes
Awake” by Helmut Tributsch. I recently reread it and it prompted me to
look into the recent state of earthquake prediction.
My journey took me back to the oldest ideas about earthquake
prediction. In the face of the failure to develop a reliable prediction
strategy in the U.S., (with a corresponding emphasis on preparedness,
instead) other countries have taken a different path – a path nearer to
the fringes of science. Lately, those fundamental earthquake prediction
ideas are back in the news out of China with a technological twist.
Reuters news article
Snake behavior is now being used as an indicator of a coming quake in
southern China. Video cameras transmitting across a broadband Internet
connection film captive snakes while experts watch for unusual
behavior, such as frenzied attempts to escape.
The more I looked into these “primitive” forms of earthquake sensing,
the more reasonable it seemed. Animals are not the only environmental
channels we have available to tune in to oncoming quakes. Here are some
of my findings over multiple posts.
Scientists have struggled to understand how earthquakes occur.
Precisely where? Exactly when? How strong? We know that an earthquake
is a movement of the earth’s surface caused by the dislocation of the
plates that make up the crust or a release of energy from underground
stresses. Today, seismologists know far more about earthquake processes
than ever before but still they fail to predict earthquakes with
certainty in workable time frames and thousand of people die.
In the 1970’s, scientists were optimistic that earthquake prediction
was possible through the warnings from precursors. They thought that
foreshocks occurred in a predictable way to be able to tell when the
main shock was close. They observed some earthquakes occur when there
was a gap in time or space along a fault. Measurements of how fast
certain vibration waves passed through the ground seemed to suggest a
predictable change occurs prior to an earthquake. When research showed
that these techniques only worked sometimes, not nearly all the time,
the attitude of seismologists soured on earthquake prediction
especially in the U.S.
An article from the journal Science in 1996 was titled “Earthquakes
Cannot Be Predicted”. This punctured the balloon of any who thought
that earth movements were knowable. The expert consensus was that the
faulted areas were so different, with individual stresses and physical
conditions, and reacted so uniquely, it was not possible to be
successful at wholesale prediction.
Perhaps that conclusion was correct for that moment in time. But,
should they have given up? New and innovative ideas about earthquake
prediction were developing in other countries like China, Japan and
Russia. We can look back to ancient times for the root of these new
ideas. Long ago, farmers, peasants and early naturalists noticed the
clues the earth was revealing that meant the stress was building deep
underground, about to give way.
Animals Gone Crazy
Of all the scientific anomalies that are related to earthquakes and
earthquake prediction, none is more curious or mystifying than the
heaps of reports on strange animal behavior prior to earthquakes.
From the time ancient people recorded their thoughts about the shaking
earth, they have remarked upon the behavior of their animals. The best
known story comes from Japan, where a huge catfish living under the
ground was thought to cause the earth to heave whenever it wiggled.
Catfish have been observed to jump and twist violently right before a
quake. It is very likely that the observations helped craft the myth.
Along with fish, both domestic and wild, a wide variety of animals have
been described in anecdotal reports as sensing a coming earthquake.
Their actions greatly differ.
Some animals eat more.
Birds change their songs or sounds; they refuse to land or preen their
Underground animals come to the surface.
Caged or penned animals become highly agitated, aggressive, fearful or
try to escape.
Wild animals will leave an area.
Domestic animals, such as cats, will remove their young from buildings,
clean themselves frequently or be especially attentive to their owner,
crying or acting nervous.
Dogs notoriously howl or bark and become preoccupied with sniffing the
Insects may suddenly disappear or appear in swarms.
Aquatic animals leave the water or head far out to sea.
Animals may act confused and appear in unlikely areas.
The strange behavior may be exhibited seconds before a quake or up to a
Recently, minutes before Hawaii’s 6.7 magnitude quake this past
October, a local television reporter noticed fish jumping out of a
lagoon. Even for a small tremor, estimated at 2.4 magnitude in
mid-December in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania, locals reported that
their dogs were subdued or nervous in the hours before the quake. Also
in mid-December, the obituary for Max the pig, beloved pet of actor
George Clooney, gives the animal credit for waking George minutes prior
to the onset of a California quake years ago.
In China, changes in animal behavior is so accepted as a precursor to a
quake that they printed informational booklets to give to the public.
In 1974-5, in Haicheng, a strong earthquake was preceded by a long list
of animal anomalies that were recorded by the population with the data
fed back to scientists. Along with other precursors, the animal
behaviors were credited with helping to predict the quake and save many
With the huge variety of animals reacting to some signals from the
earth, they can’t all be responding to the same signs. Different
animals are sensitive to different things.
People are probably the least sensitive animals since we see, hear,
smell and perceive far less of the natural environment than animals do.
However, even people occasionally react to earth signs. Data collected
before the Kobe, China quake in 1995 revealed that children in the
fault area awoke before the quake and people reported unusual feelings
of fatigue, dizziness or illness.
The American seismology community flatly denies any suggestion of
animals as earthquake predictors. Their valid reasons include the range
of behaviors as mentioned above, the inability to measure animal
behavior, and the frequent lack of animal anomalies before quakes. What
do animals react to? Can we ever measure what they feel?
To add more weirdness to this picture, we must include plants as
potentially being responsive to earth signals. Some species grow
vigorously, other bloom early, rebloom or wilt. Others close their
leaves or tremble in still air. With roots reaching into the ground, do
they detect signals that we miss?
Does the earth moan and groan before a rupture? How about howl and
Howling and whistling noises have been described associated with
tremors. Explosive, echoing, or rumbling sounds (earthquake sounds or
EQSs) were heard by local people in earthquake prone areas around the
world minutes, hours or days before quakes. These sounds are rare but
where they do occur, they are reported again in quakes that follow.
Sounds like these have not been recorded by scientists who have no
explanation for what causes them.
A ghostly new phenomena, not mentioned in the ancient reports, is the
response of electronic devices to unseen signals before a quake.
Clocks stop or the hands rotate quickly. Appliances suddenly turn on.
Cell phones ring without callers. TVs flicker and display distortion.
Intercoms buzz. Florescent lamps dim.
In the days of telegraph wires, signals and static were transmitted out
Magnets holding nails suddenly lose the attraction and the nails drop.
Candle flames bend and distort without a breeze. Fires do not get hot
enough to cook food.
There are also reports of corked wine turning cloudy or milk spoiling
It is common to note water levels in wells and on the surface suddenly
drop prior to a quake. Groundwater becomes cloudy or muddy and may
change in taste or odor. The sea may become still as glass. Ponds may
become murky. Incidentally, groundwater levels in Pennsylvania were
affected subtly, but noticeably, by the Alaska earthquakes of 1964 and
2002 and Virginia water levels jumped then dropped in response to the
2005 giant Asian quake (that spawned the deadly tsunami) so we know
that the mechanisms are widespread as a result of the quake.
What other clues can be found if we only pay attention? Not only are
they on the ground but they are in the air.
Of all the natural disasters we experience regularly here on Earth, the
most violent and destructive are earthquakes. Thousands are killed each
year, especially in poorer countries where buildings are not designed
to withstand the violent shaking and rolling of the ground.
I’ll continue my discussion of currently unexplainable or poorly
explained phenomena that have been consistently, reliably reported (and
now even recorded) prior to strong earthquakes.
“Something’s coming, sky is purple
Dogs are howling to themselves
Days are changing with the weather
Like a rip tide could rip us away” - Beck Hansen,
“Earthquake Weather” from the album Guero (2005)
If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, you might know the stories
about earthquake weather. Earthquake weather is said to be a dry, hot,
oppressive calmness. It leaves one with the miserable feeling that
something bad is about to occur. People feel weak, nauseous and uneasy.
There are also reports of the atmosphere being thick with smoke, dust,
fog or vapors. Thunderstorms were associated with earthquakes. The moon
or sun were red, were surrounded by a halo or elongated in shape. The
stars appeared closer. Short-arc vertical or horizontal rainbows have
been seen. Early observers, like Aristotle, noted these unusual weather
There are numerous instances of bizarre-shaped clouds (earthquake
clouds or EQCs) appearing in the sky days before an earthquake. Prior
to the 1995 quake in Kobe, Japan, several were captured in photographs.
Proverbs tell of dragon or snake-like clouds foretelling the coming of
the earthquake. A large cloud also appeared suddenly in a blue sky
moments before a quake in Tokyo, Japan in 1923.
EQCs are stationary and do not drift away like normal clouds. Diffuse,
low clouds settle into a fog. Earthquake fogs (EQFs) are commonly
associated with a coming quake and were described in historic
documents. Fogs and clouds were so connected with the strong tremors
that it was once thought that they were the cause of the quakes that
followed soon after. Aristotle called it “pneuma” meaning breath of the
earth. There are historic and current reports of this “breath” having a
sulfur odor or a smell of decay. Mainstream science does not correlate
these atmospheric changes with seismic activity and does not consider
these as precursors that can predict a coming quake.
Glows, balls and curtains of lights
Gaining more credibility as an earthquake precursor are luminous
phenomena that occur before or during a strong quake. The high quality
evidence for these events comes from historical writings especially
from Japan where earthquakes are very common.
Earthquake lights (EQLs) come in a great variety of shapes and colors
and can appear out of the ground or from the sky. They can be seen
moments before a quake as a glowing dome or as flashes, curtains,
sheets, funnels, arcs or balls that may even travel along the fault
line in blue, red, green, yellow, orange, purple or white. Link to USGS
EQLThe dozens of good EQL photographs helped bring EQLs out of folklore
and into the realm of scientific investigation. However, there is still
no good explanation available mainly because a way to objectively
measure these lights does not exist.
There is an even stranger account of balls of lights that comes from
fishermen in Turkey before a 1999 quake. They described fire balls
(ball lightning?) in the sky and undersea explosions with bright
balloons of light ascending through the water. Their fishing nets were
burned. What does one make of this?
Modern science rejects reports such as this. As in the other prequake
anomalous occurrences, without data - collected in an objective way -
the idea of EQLs cannot be seriously evaluated.
What in the world is happening?
Unusual animal behavior, anomalous atmospherics, light displays,
sounds, spooky happenings around the house. Is the earth sending
signals to which we fail to listen? It all sounds bizarre. How can all
these things seemingly occur before earthquakes and we can’t explain it?
The first question that must be asked is: “Are these things really
happening as people have described?” Can this be a case of mistake
observations, observations after the fact (where we attribute every
little thing as associated with the quake), or hoaxes?
As noted above, precursors of earthquakes have been reported in ancient
times. They described phenomenon that is generally the same as that
experienced today. Now, there are instances where many, many reliable
observers have documented these events, even by camera, videotape and
The reports have entered the field of mainstream science. Though few
scientists are willing to study them, there has been some advancement
towards understanding. For example, Ikeya has determined that there is
sufficient correlation between time and location of phenomena that
shows the events are definitively related to the subsequent quake.
But how does one study these events? We can’t predict earthquakes so
how can we be prepared to study precursors? More importantly, how do
governmental and university scientists obtain funding to study
phenomena that many discount? Those scientists that do go against the
grain have suffered some professional discredit, even when their
experiments produced results. But, there results have promise.
Several theories have been mentioned with respect to the above ground
phenomena that occur in conjunction with below ground activity. Newer
theories are being formed that suggest the earth often tells us well in
advance that she is about to heave.
A theory must account for an invisible source that causes these
observations. There are scads of invisible sources that may account for
these observations. Gases, charged particles (ions), electrical fields,
magnetic fields, infra- or ultrasound, infrared or ultraviolet light –
sources that people can rarely detect without assistance of equipment.
An invisible source may be detectable to animals or everyday electronic
devices or may interact with the environment in such a way as to become
noticeable to people.
What happens prior to the quake? Rock is being strained, compressed,
heated and bent, down to the very crystals, before it finally breaks en
masse. Before the rock mass breaks and unzips, it cracks. Tiny cracks
form in the rock structure. The stress and strain placed on rock in an
active fault zone changes the properties of the rock. If it changed,
can we measure it? If we can measure it, can we use it to predict when
the quake will occur?
Coming up (when I manage to pull it together in a cohesive explanation
that I can understand), cutting edge science and research on earth
signals before a quake. They really are out there.
A MIND FOR GHOSTS DEPARTMENT -
Ghosts in the Machine
The human brain is, in surprising part, an appliance powered by
electricity. It constantly generates about 12 watts of energy, enough
to keep a flashlight glowing. It works by sending out electrical
impulses — bursts of power running along the cellular wires of the
nervous system — to stimulate muscles into motion or thought into
being. We’re mostly aware of this when the machine falters, when it
short-circuits into epilepsy or frays into the tremors of Parkinson’s
So when scientists wrote in a recent issue of the journal Nature that
they could induce phantom effects — the sensation of being haunted by a
shadowy figure — by stimulating the brain with electricity, it made
perfect neurological sense. One could even argue that the existence of
such sensations explains away the so-called supernatural. In fact, as
The Times reported, the researchers promptly concluded that ghosts are
mere “bodily delusions,” electrical misfirings and nothing more.
The report does look like a kind of proof — albeit very small proof, as
this was a study of two people — if one happens already to believe that
ghosts are no more than biological quirks. But what’s fascinating is
that it can also look like proof that ghosts are real entities, to
those inclined to believe as much. And so the findings also present a
case study in two very different perspectives.
The scientific study of the supernatural began in the late 19th
century, in synchrony with the age of energy. It’s hardly coincidental
that as traditional science began to reveal the hidden potential of
nature’s powers — magnetic fields, radiation, radio waves, electrical
currents — paranormal researchers began to suggest that the occult
operated in similar ways.
A fair number of these occult explorers were scientists who studied
nature’s highly charged circuits. Marie Curie, who did some of the
first research into radioactive elements like uranium, attended
séances to assess the powers of mediums. So did the British
physicist J. J. Thomson, who demonstrated the existence of the electron
in 1897. And so did Thomson’s colleague, John Strutt, Lord Rayleigh,
who won the 1904 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with atmospheric
Rayleigh would later become president of the British Society for
Psychical Research. And he would be joined in that organization by
other physicists, including the wireless radio pioneer Sir Oliver
Lodge, who proposed that both telepathy and ghostly appearances were
achieved through energy transmissions connecting living minds to one
another and perhaps even to the dead.
Lodge argued that the human brain could function as a kind of receiver,
picking up signals at a subconscious level. These were powered by some
undiscovered energy, traveling perhaps in waves, perhaps in currents.
Such transmissions lay behind telepathic experiences, including shared
thoughts. Along the same lines, he thought it possible that a spirit’s
appearance was really just its specific energy signal stimulating a
response from the receiver’s brain.
The theories developed by Lodge and his colleagues dovetail rather
neatly with the electricity-produced hauntings that Olaf Blanke, a
Swiss neuroscientist, reports in Nature. For example, he used an
implanted electrode to send a current into a region of the brain called
the angular gyrus. The test was focused on language processing. But as
a side effect, one of the test subjects nervously reported sensing
another person in bed with her, silent and shadowy. Her creepy
companion came and went with the ebb and flow of current.
It would be compelling — and more convincing — if the same result could
be exhibited in a few more subjects. But Dr. Blanke believes that even
this one subject’s experience serves as an example of how we may
mistake errant signals in the brain for something more. Humans tend, he
points out, to seek explanation, to impose meaning on events that may
have none. The pure rationalists among us suggest that our need to add
meaning to a basic, biological existence easily accounts for the way we
organize religions and find evidence of otherworldly powers in the
stuff of everyday life.
The nonpurists suggest a different conclusion: willful scientific
blindness. And there’s no reason Dr. Blanke’s study can’t support their
theories of the paranormal. Perhaps his experimental electric current
simply mimics the work of an equally powerful spirit. Much of the
psychical research done today applies similar principles: brain-imaging
machines highlight parts of the brain that respond to psychic
phenomena, while other devices are used to search for infrared
radiation or increased electrical activity in haunted houses.
The American psychologist and philosopher William James, also a leader
in the Victorian paranormal research movement, remarked even then on
the culture clash: “How often has ‘Science’ killed off all spook
philosophy, and laid ghosts and raps and ‘telepathy’ underground as so
much popular delusion?” he wrote in 1909. And how often, James wondered
rhetorically, had such efforts stopped people from seeing ghosts and
believing in supernatural powers? Because in the end, of course, the
conclusion has nothing to do with science at all and everything to do
with how one sees the world.
I suspect that we’ll dwell forever in the haunted landscape of our
beliefs. To many people it’s a world more interesting — bigger,
stranger, more mysterious — than the one offered by science. Why choose
instead to be creatures of chemical impulse and electrical twitch? We
would rather gamble on even a tiny, electrical spark of a chance that
we are something more.
Deborah Blum, a professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin
who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, is the author of “Ghost Hunters:
William James and the Scientific Search for Life After Death.”
Source: NY Times
SMELL YOU LATER DEPARTMENT -
Smelly Bigfoot: The Skunk
In August, 2004, Jennifer Ward was driving on a rural road in Southern
Florida. She had just been visiting a friend and, as the sun was
setting, she was now on her way home with her two daughters asleep in
the back seat.
Something on the side of the road caught her attention. She suspected
it was an animal of some kind, but could not tell what. She slowed the
car to a crawl to get a better look. It appeared to be crouched in a
ditch on the roadside. It was something large. Something she had never
As she neared it, the creature noticed her and stood to its full height
– on two legs. It was the last thing Jennifer expected to see. “When he
saw me, he was as surprised as I was,” she told the Sun-Sentinal. “I
didn't stop because I was scared. It was almost dark, but I could see
it and get a good look.”
What Jennifer described was a mysterious creature that has been seen in
virtually every state of the Union, but has never been scientifically
It stood six to eight feet tall, she reported, and was covered in dark
hair about two inches long. The area around its eyes was whitish and
its full lips had the color and texture of the pad on a dog’s paw.
Jennifer Ward had a chance encounter with Florida’s version of Bigfoot
– the Skunk Ape, a name it earned because of its powerfully foul odor,
which is said to be a cross between a skunk, rotten eggs and cow
manure. Her highly credible sighting is one of the latest in a long
list of Skunk Ape sightings that date back more than 200 years. In the
past 20 years, there have been about 75 reported sightings. Several
photos and even videos alleged to be of the elusive creature have also
The Skunk Ape is thought to dwell in Florida’s swamps and Everglades.
Researchers suspect that the individual Jennifer encountered may have
been displaced by Hurricane Charley, which recently had ravaged the
Despite the number of sightings – the largest number of Bigfoot-type
sightings outside the Pacific Northwest where Sasquatch resides – the
rangers who regularly patrol the large nature preserves are skeptical
about the existence of the Skunk Ape. So far, no rangers have
officially reported any sightings.
David Shealy, a Skunk Ape researcher and lifetime resident of the
Everglades thinks otherwise. He believes he has evidence in the form of
a plaster cast of a large Skunk Ape footprint and a reddish hair sample
that was found in a broken branch seven feet above the ground. Shealy
also runs a small roadside “zoo” and a gift shop stocked with Skunk Ape
memorabilia, so he may have a vested interest in keeping the creature
alive in the minds of the public.
Skunk Ape Sightings
There was a wave of sightings in the 1970s, all consistently describing
the animal as reaching about seven feet tall, weighing about 300 pounds
or more, and to be foul-smelling. (Although Bigfoot or Sasquatch is
also said to be bad-smelling, the Skunk Ape’s odor is particularly
offensive.) Sightings became scarcer over the following 30 years and
then escalated again in the 2000s, with most sightings coming out of
the Ochopee area. A group of people taking a guided tour of a swamp
area claimed to have seen a large, hairy ape-like creature walking
along the banks of the swamp. Soon after, a local fire chief named
Vince Doerr said he saw it crossing a road near his home, and before it
disappeared into the swamp, he managed to snap a photo of it. Because
the creature is some distance away in the photo, it is considered
interesting but not conclusive evidence. In fact, Doerr himself later
stated that he suspected it was just someone in a gorilla suit.
One highly doubtful bit of lore about the Skunk Ape is that one was
captured alive by the U.S. Army and held captive (for unknown reasons)
in a secret vault at Everglades National Park. According to the story,
the powerful Skunk Ape smashed its way out of its concrete prison and
escaped back into the wild. This time it’s the story that stinks; not
even avid Skunk Ape advocates put much credence in this tale.
The best evidence for the existence of the Skunk Ape came in 2000 when
several photographs were mailed by an anonymous source to the Sarasota
County Sheriff's Office. Known as the "The Myakka Skunk Ape
photographs," they clearly show a large ape-like creature. Noted
cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, who has thoroughly analyzed the photos,
points out the details of forehead lines, yellow canines, fingernails
and hair – all clearly visible.
The photographer still has not been identified. So although the photos
are compelling and Coleman does not think they are part of a hoax, they
still are not proof positive.
Jennifer Ward’s account of her sighting is also highly compelling, and
adds yet another piece in the hairy hominid puzzle.
The Bigfoot Enigma
And what a strange puzzle it is. There have been thousands of reported
sightings of Bigfoot-like creatures over the decades, many by highly
credible witnesses. Yet virtually every one of those sightings happened
spontaneously – that is, unexpectedly – by campers, drivers, loggers,
hunters, hikers, etc. Those who go out expressly to find the creature
never see it. There are footprints, hair samples, and controversial
photos, film and video. Yet park rangers and others who routinely
patrol the areas where sightings are said to occur never encounter them.
What is the nature of this beast that it can appear (and smell) so
distinctly to so many good eyewitnesses, yet completely evade capture,
clear photography (with the possible exception of the Myakka photos)
and high-tech detection equipment?
Is Bigfoot a figment of the imagination? Or is it an intelligent
creature that has shown great skill (or luck), so far, in keeping its
identity secret from those bothersome humans out there?
Source: paranormal.about.com/Stephen Wagner
BEING THERE, DOING THAT DEPARTMENT -
The Resonance Theory of
Let me ask you to wrap your mind around the “idea” that TIME, as we
perceive it, is not linear. It does not move from the past into the
future like a highway. Nor does it begin on page one with something
like “In the beginning…” and end three hundred pages later with
something like, “and they lived happily ever after.”
Just for sake of discussion, imagine that all “time”, everyone’s time,
everyone who you have ever been or will ever be and everything you have
ever done or ever will do, is happening right now. And that it is only
through the mechanism of your personal ego that you identify with this
particular linear spoke date stamped, 2006.
Imagine, if you will, that somehow you are able to neutralize your date
imprint and are able to traverse the entire “frequency” that is YOU.
Now here is the interesting part. To a limited degree you can do this
right now. And this is because you (Mr. or Ms. whoever) are a
“Frequency” of Mind, a frequency of…intent,, if you will, and what
happens to you in one experience resonates across the specific
frequency which is the entirety of you and you, in your current
experience. Feel the vibration!
Have you ever been sort of walking along, just being “you”, feeling
perfectly “normal” and then, for no reason at all, you suddenly feel
absolutely FANTASTIC! Nothing has changed in your current experience
but your mood has suddenly been drastically altered. Likewise you might
suddenly feel absolutely horrible, for no reason at all. Or you will
have a very near fatal accident, in an automobile or perhaps a fall.
These are all resonant effects of events which are happening to “you”
along another specific radial within your frequency. You feel
fantastic! Something incredibly wonderful has just happened to you
along this other radial of consciousness and the feeling resonates out
over your entire frequency. Of course as it moves the effect lessens
over perceived time and distance. In one life experience you may have a
fatal injury. You are dead! In another experience you simply have a
very close call and in yet another experience you suddenly come down
with a severe headache, or a bad case of the flu. These “feeling
events” are also cued into time/date stamps. You die in one life at age
17. In this life at age 17 you break a leg. You are abandoned as a
young child in one life. In this experience your parents get divorced
when you are the exact same age as in the alternative life. And so it
goes. Every thing that happens to you, every significant feeling you
get is to a greater or lessor degree stimulated by “you” experiencing
yourself in an alternate reality. And, you may ask, “Where does it
start? And where does it end?”
This is called The Resonance Theory of Simultaneous Existence. We
occupy our consciousness--all at once. What happens in one life
experience resonates across all frequencies and influences all other
life experiences. These feelings resonate across frequencies like small
waves across the surface of the ocean. Our consciousness is the ocean.
Our individuated feelings are like the waves upon the surface of that
sea. Sometimes the waves move in unison, sometimes, as in a storm, they
move in a very chaotic fashion across the surface. And sometimes,
rarely, but it happens, there can be a Tsunami type wave which moves at
astonishing speed across the surface altering everything it touches. In
recent times these have been called World Wars!
This is similar to the Butterfly theory of weather. A butterfly flaps
its wings in Tibet and a storm begins to form off the Florida Coast.
Likewise, in one life experience, seemingly limited by a specific time
and space, something happens. We think that it is done. Whatever the
"traumatic" event is, an accident, a severe illness, the winning of a
lottery, getting married, the birth of a child, whatever, we perceive
it as over. The reality is that it is not a done deal. The vibrations
from these events move across the frequencies like the waves of sound
move through the air with the ringing of a very large bell or gong. Or
like a ripple will move across the surface of a pond when a stone is
dropped into the pool. The psychological model we have been working
with, specifically the Freudian model, is extremely naïve and
What we are doing, as a species, is nothing less than co-creating a
tapestry of consciousness on a veritable cosmic loom. We are growing
our soul. We are creating this across the vast reaches of what we
naively refer to as time and space and we are not doing this alone, but
with the direct intent and cooperation of every other conscious entity.
Each generation offers up a composite design component. Some
generations offer up a metaphorical element that stands out as a focus
of interest for a hundred years or more, while other generations come
and go with scarcely a ripple, as if their intention is merely to add
to a general repetitive background pattern. But make no mistake, we are
far more than a mere assemblage of random molecules…there is far
reaching holographic intention here. We are doing more than discovering
our world and our place within it. We are actually Imagineers involved
in the act of creation and with this realization will come a subtle
"click," as from the opening of a backdoor, as from the opening of a
human mind, and with this, the rings of realization will began to
radiate in all directions across the pond of time.
Source: San Jose Chronicle
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