12/2/11  #648
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The crystal ball glimmered with an iridescence of days of future past.  The nearby flickering candles threw shadows of  things yet to be upon the orbs crystalline matrix.  The prophet, withered and aged, breathed deeply of the smokey air and continued to gaze deeply into the heart of the crystal.   Deep within his brain, universal connections that bind us all in a web of  wholeness are stimulated by the hypnotic shapes that danced faintly in the ball. 

Time and space are one and all information contained within reality are available to those who can master their intellect and allow the stream of information to be downloaded directly into the brain -- bypassing the rational mind that would block anything received through such unconventional methods.  The prophet sighs in contentment -- because once again his crystal ball has brought him his subscription to Conspiracy Journal, the free weekly e-mail newsletter of everything weird and strange from the past present and future.

This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such bone-chilling tales as:

-
Man-Made Flu Virus Could "Kill Millions" -
-
Why Do Aliens Play Mind Games? -
- The Peruvian Giant Legends -
- Legendary Monsters of Texas -
AND: Freak Tofu Explosion Terrorizes Portland

All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of
CONSPIRACY JOURNAL!

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~


MANY OF THE BOOKS BY PUBLISHER TIM BECKLEY (DBA – CONSPIRACY JOURNAL, INNER LIGHT, GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS) ARE . . .

 

NOW AVAILABLE AS E BOOKS ON KINDLE AND NOOK -- AND ALSO ARE ACCESSIBLE ON YOUR PC

 

Looks like everyone will be buying a Kindle from Amazon or a Nook from Barns and Noble this holiday season. And as much as we lament to see the printed book go the way of the Do Do Bird, the positive end of the stick is that the books are way cheaper in electronic format and you can purchased them from Kindle to read on your computer without even buying one of their readers! The books sell for below $10 and both Amazon and Nook have easy access web sites to purchase your books from. Oh and hey, NO WAITING for the post office to deliver what your order -- the books show up on your reader in a minute or two (now that's progress).


We will of course continue to keep as many of our titles in printed form for those who desire the feel of a "real book." We will continue to put out new titles. And if your physical book normally comes with a bonus CD or DVD if you alert us we will send you this bonus material when you let us know you have purchased the book itself from Kindle or Nook.


Here are a few example of the many books we have available on Kindle and Nook. Click on "Amazon" or "Nook" below each title to buy ebook.


ADMIRAL BYRD'S SECRET JOURNEY BEYOND THE POLES by Tim R. Swartz
AMAZON      
NOOK

BIBLE SPELLS: OBTAIN YOUR EVERY DESIRE BY ACTIVATING THE SECRET MEANING OF HUNDREDS OF BIBLICAL VERSES by Wm. Oribello

AMAZON
      
NOOK

CURSE OF THE MEN IN BLACK: RETURN OF THE UFO TERRORISTS by T. Beckley
AMAZON
NOOK

COSMIC TELEPATHY: HOW TO GUIDE TO MENTAL TELEPATHY by Tuella
AMAZON
NOOK (Coming soon)

EXCLUDED BOOKS OF THE BIBLE by Sean Casteel
AMAZON
NOOK (Coming soon)

HEAVEN SENT MONEY SPELLS by Maria D' Andrea

AMAZON
NOOK

ROUND TRIP TO HELL IN A FLYING SAUCER by T. Beckley
AMAZON
NOOK


THE DULCE WARS: UNDERGROUND ALIEN BASES by Branton
AMAZON

NOOK


Check our our complete list of Ebooks available on Amazon Kindle and B/N Nook. HERE


- ANOTHER BRIGHT IDEA DEPARTMENT -

Man-Made Flu Virus Could "Kill Millions"

ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS—Locked up in the bowels of the medical faculty building here and accessible to only a handful of scientists lies a man-made flu virus that could change world history if it were ever set free.

The virus is an H5N1 avian influenza strain that has been genetically altered and is now easily transmissible between ferrets, the animals that most closely mimic the human response to flu. Scientists believe it's likely that the pathogen, if it emerged in nature or were released, would trigger an influenza pandemic, quite possibly with many millions of deaths.

In a 17th floor office in the same building, virologist Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center calmly explains why his team created what he says is "probably one of the most dangerous viruses you can make"—and why he wants to publish a paper describing how they did it. Fouchier is also bracing for a media storm. After he talked to ScienceInsider yesterday, he had an appointment with an institutional press officer to chart a communication strategy.

Fouchier's paper is one of two studies that have triggered an intense debate about the limits of scientific freedom and that could portend changes in the way U.S. researchers handle so-called dual-use research: studies that have a potential public health benefit but could also be useful for nefarious purposes like biowarfare or bioterrorism.

The other study—also on H5N1, and with comparable results—was done by a team led by virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Tokyo, several scientists told ScienceInsider. (Kawaoka did not respond to interview requests.) Both studies have been submitted for publication, and both are currently under review by the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), which on a few previous occasions has been asked by scientists or journals to review papers that caused worries.

NSABB chair Paul Keim, a microbial geneticist, says he cannot discuss specific studies but confirms that the board has "worked very hard and very intensely for several weeks on studies about H5N1 transmissibility in mammals." The group plans to issue a public statement soon, says Keim, and is likely to issue additional recommendations about this type of research. "We'll have a lot to say," he says.

"I can't think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one," adds Keim, who has worked on anthrax for many years. "I don't think anthrax is scary at all compared to this."

Some scientists say that's reason enough not to do such research. The virus could escape from the lab, or bioterrorists or rogue nations could use the published results to fashion a bioweapon with the potential for mass destruction, they say. "This work should never have been done," says Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute who has a strong interest in biosecurity issues.

The research by the Kawaoka and Fouchier teams set out to answer a question that has long puzzled scientists: Does H5N1, which rarely causes human disease, have the potential to trigger a pandemic? The virus has decimated poultry flocks on three continents but has caused fewer than 600 known cases of flu in humans since it emerged in Asia in 1997, although those rare human cases are often fatal. Because the virus spreads very inefficiently between humans it has been unable to set off a chain reaction and circle the globe.

Some scientists think the virus is probably unable to trigger a pandemic, because adapting to a human host would likely make it unable to reproduce. Some also believe the virus would need to reshuffle its genes with a human strain, a process called reassortment, that some believe is most likely to occur in pigs, which host both human and avian strains. Based on past experience, some scientists have also argued that flu pandemics can only be caused by H1, H2, and H3 viruses, which have been replaced by each other in the human population every so many decades—but not by H5.

Fouchier says his study shows all of that to be wrong.

Although he declined to discuss details of the research because the paper is still under review, Fouchier confirmed the details given in news stories in New Scientist and Scientific American about a September meeting in Malta where he first presented the study. Those stories describe how Fouchier initially tried to make the virus more transmissible by making specific changes to its genome, using a process called reverse genetics; when that failed, he passed the virus from one ferret to another multiple times, a low-tech and time-honored method of making a pathogen adapt to a new host.

After 10 generations, the virus had become "airborne": Healthy ferrets became infected simply by being housed in a cage next to a sick one. The airborne strain had five mutations in two genes, each of which have already been found in nature, Fouchier says; just never all at once in the same strain.

Ferrets aren't humans, but in studies to date, any influenza strain that has been able to pass among ferrets has also been transmissible among humans, and vice versa, says Fouchier: "That could be different this time, but I wouldn't bet any money on it."

The specter of an H5N1 pandemic keeps flu scientists up at night because of the virus's power to kill. Of the known cases so far, more than half were fatal. The real case-fatality rate is probably lower because an unknown number of milder cases are never diagnosed and reported, but scientists agree that the virus is vicious. Based on Fouchier's talk in Malta, New Scientist reported that the strain created by the Rotterdam team is just as lethal to ferrets as the original one.

"These studies are very important," says biodefense and flu expert Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The researchers "have the full support of the influenza community," Osterholm says, because there are potential benefits for public health. For instance, the results show that those downplaying the risks of an H5N1 pandemic should think again, he says.

Knowing the exact mutations that make the virus transmissible also enables scientists to look for them in the field and take more aggressive control measures when one or more show up, adds Fouchier. The study also enables researchers to test whether H5N1 vaccines and antiviral drugs would work against the new strain.

Fouchier says he consulted widely within the Netherlands before submitting his manuscript for publication. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funded the work, has agreed to the publication, says Fouchier, including officials at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (NIH declined to answer questions for this story.) Now, Fouchier is eagerly waiting for NSABB's judgment.

Osterholm says he can't discuss details of the papers because he's an NSABB member. But he says it should be possible to omit certain key details from controversial papers and make them available to people who really need to know. "We don't want to give bad guys a road map on how to make bad bugs really bad," he says.

But some scientists say the board's debate comes far too late, because the studies have been done and the papers are written. "This is a good example of the need for a robust and independent system of PRIOR review and approval of potentially dangerous experiments," retired arms control researcher Mark Wheelis of the University of California, Davis, wrote to ScienceInsider in an e-mail. "Blocking publication may provide some small increment of safety, but it will be very modest compared to the benefits of not doing the work in the first place."

Scientists have long discussed whether to have mandatory reviews of dual-use studies before they begin, and given the global risks, some have even argued for some international risk assessment system for pandemic viruses. For instance, a proposal by four researchers from the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland would have classified Fouchier's work as an "activity of extreme concern" that would have required international pre-approval.

But NSABB advised against such mandatory systems in 2007, and most countries don't have formal mechanisms in place to review studies before they start. (In the United States, it's "recommended" that researchers ask an institutional review board for advice if they think a study raises concerns.) Fouchier's study was greenlighted in advance by the Dutch Commission on Genetic Modification (COGEM), but that only means the panel is satisfied with safety procedures at Fouchier's lab, explains chair Bastiaan Zoeteman; it's not COGEM's job to decide whether a study is desirable. NIH didn't give the funding proposal a special review either, says Fouchier.

"The creation of a pandemic virus has been the classical example of dual-use research of concern the past decade," says Ebright. "It's remarkable that the NSABB is discussing it in 2011."

Keim agrees about the need for reviews up front. "The process of identifying dual use of concern is something that should start at the very first glimmer of an experiment," he says. "You shouldn't wait until you have submitted a paper before you decide it's dangerous. Scientists and institutions and funding agencies should be looking at this. The journals and the journals' reviewers should be the last resort."

NSABB does not have the power to prevent the publication of papers, but it could ask journals not to publish. Even Ebright, however, says he's against efforts to ban the publication of the studies now that they have been done. "You cannot post hoc suppress work that was done and completed in a nonclassified context," he says. "The scientific community would not stand for that."

Source: Science
http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/11/scientists-brace-for-media-storm.html

- MESSING WITH OUR HEADS DEPARTMENT -

Why Do Aliens Play Mind Games?

Peter Dunn’s recent article, "Belief and Deception: Playing Mind Games with the Reality of Visitation" really resonated with me. This article suggests a concept on which I have tried to touch, in my various articles. I do not feel it is frivolous, foolish, or misguided to explore the possibility that aliens play mind games with us and/or stage scenarios to see our human reaction. This idea might even explain the puzzle of the "1947 Roswell crash," as Mr. Dunn suggests. The crash debris was not a weather balloon but neither was it an entire space craft with durable material. Did the aliens stage that crash to see our human reaction, and to see our military and governmental reaction?

Why do we need to explore the possibility that the aliens are playing mind games and presenting us with staged scenarios? I believe passionately that we as humans need to begin grasping alien intelligence at the aliens’ level of perception.

Ok, maybe we can’t quite do that, just as our very smart dog cannot quite grasp why we are sitting at our keyboard several hours a day when we could be out throwing the Frisbee. As Mr. Dunn reminds us, the aliens are possibly several million years ahead of us on the evolutionary scale. How can we hope to comprehend their actions?

However, there is probably a diversity of aliens from different sources and times, so some aliens may be only 200 years ahead of us. Therefore, we might be able to stretch to perceive their way of thinking and behaving. Of course there is no such thing as "time," so we might as well forge ahead. It looks like we really need to try to perceive as they perceive, because there are more and more of them in our skies.

Yes, we as a species must begin to understand alien intelligence and perspective. We can’t do it if we don’t try. We can’t do it if we are side-tracked on issues that seem important to us, but which were only a passing game to them. This doesn’t mean their passing game was for bad reasons; for instance, abducting an individual human, seeing how he or she reacts, comparing this reaction with other abducted human beings throughout the years, all of this seems cold and cruel to us (and is often, to the individual), but to the aliens, it may be part of a simple observation process: Present the human with a stressful, highly unusual situation, and see how he or she reacts. How much do humans vary in reaction? Get a medical reading on the individual while the scenario unfolds. Then let the individual go.

Yes, the individual is often traumatized afterward, partially by his or her own fear of the unknown. When we humans tag bears or lions, they are probably traumatized afterward also, but we figure, we didn’t hurt them; in the long run, it might help their species. I am not saying aliens leave tags in human abductees, they might or might not do this. I am simply saying that in this particular example, the aliens don’t act any differently than we humans do when working with species which are "beneath" us in intellect, or however one wishes to word this difference, between human and bear, alien and human.

Yes, abductees can report to the nearest doctor, as suggested in a recent comment to my "Not Getting Hung Up on Abductions" article, or they can write a new book (which I have not), which Jeff Davis suggests is the wrong thing to do if you are an abductee. I don’t think there can be rules set down for abductees as to what to do, how to handle the experience – rules set down by researchers. This kind of thinking does make abductees some kind of lab rats, caught between aliens and human researchers with their own agendas, however well-meaning.

What do doctors and psychiatrists know of an area they know nothing about, unless abducted themselves? Sure, they can help if someone thinks they were abducted but it turns out, they were abused as a child by their parents. However, an actual UFO abductee? Instead of criticizing those who do not report to the nearest doctor, we need to hear what each abductee has to say with his or her unique way of handling it and perceiving, and then we need to put together a scenario which shows us the aliens’ "game plan" partially based on the evidence abductees have given.

How do the aliens think and perceive? We need to include someone’s positive encounter experience along with another person’s bad encounter experience.

Over the years, UFOlogy has laid down certain rules or guidelines but I feel these guidelines need to be updated and possibly changed because of what is happening in our skies and on our planet.

Let’s start to consider that the aliens are often playing mind games with us and that they are setting up scenarios to see our reaction. For instance, we look at Roswell as black or white: a weather balloon or a saucer crash with alien bodies. What if it was a decoy, simply to lure us into their game? If it was this, it worked; we’ve been obsessed with Roswell for years.

Next, let’s play the aliens’ game back at them, or at least something similar, as close as we can come to it. For example, how do they feel when they skip from one area of the sky to another? There are reports of a military jets heading for a UFO, and, bam, the UFO pops up in a totally different part of the sky. This happens a few times, according to observers on the ground, with the jets turning to head in each direction of UFO re-manifestation. www.ufocasebook.com

Are the aliens at the controls robotic in their response to attacking military jets? If so, they hit the "de-manifest/re-manifest button without hesitation or any real thought.

Or are the aliens at the controls laughing? Is it fun to play cat and mouse with the macho-earth military? If so, we can relate to them with humor (gulp).

Are the aliens at the de-manifesting and re-manifesting controls, frightened and worried? Might the military jets actually hit them with weapons?

Then they can feel fear. Humor, fear, then they do have emotions? They can feel?

Yes, we knew it would come to this:

Star Trek was all about emotions, human emotions, alien emotions, and lack of alien emotions.

So while I am looking yet again to science fiction and science speculation, let me remind you of an original

Star Trek episode called "The Corbomite Maneuver," in which an alien race threatens to blow up the Enterprise and will apparently not listen to reason. A frightening, downright ugly alien on the view screen simply states that the Enterprise crew has ten minutes to make peace with their deity or deities, and then – ka blam!

I’ll spare you an account of the entire episode but Captain Kirk seemingly tricks his way out of the immediate destruction and then shows mercy to the alien ship when it gets into trouble. It turns out, the frightening ugly alien was a puppet of sorts, and the true alien was a little guy tending that quadrant of space all by himself. He has been testing human action and reaction, with no plan to blow them up at all. In the end, he offers the humans a drink of "tranya" and the two species get to know each other. There are other episodes of

Star Trek and other sci fi shows, in which aliens were staging scenarios for the humans’ benefit or perception (so aliens could know the true ways of humans).

Therefore, I think we need to bring more science fiction and speculation into our efforts to understand UFO occupants, not less science fiction and speculation. It is not a mistake to dream, to imagine, to guess—at what these alien beings are doing! Take a guess: are they laughing? Our true human intelligence lies not in black and white rules and thinking, but in all the colorful hues of dreaming and imagination. Let’s show the aliens some real intelligence!

We need to seriously consider that often, the aliens are presenting us with staged scenarios: A low-flying highly unusual craft gliding just over the treetops, shining a light onto our house and into our lives? How can we fight them? How can we stop this glaring intrusion?

Fact is, we cannot stop it, any more than the bear can stop being tagged with a microchip.

I do not know if the strange low-flying craft is real or a hologram (I think it is solid/real, but that is only my opinion), I do not know if its intent is good or bad or in between. (I do know none of these strange craft have fired on us).

However, maybe none of these questions on which we always dwell, is the most important question. Maybe it is time we humans perceived the aliens’ humor, if they have any. Maybe it is time we perceived they can be frightened (if they can be), when military jets show up. Maybe it is time we perceived their projected scenario and the reasons for it. Do they have a compassionate goal all along? It is possible but not written in stone as some new age groups would have it. Again, there are good and bad guys out there.

To begin to perceive the scenario, we do need to guess, to take into account – alien emotions and thinking. It obviously has a lot of grey area, just as we do.

Maybe it is time we yelled at them, "Hey, I know you are playing some kind of game!" Isn’t this almost the same as yelling at the sky, "I AM! I AM!"

Consciousness! Interaction of two forms of consciousness! Now there’s a start!

Our old UFOlogy rules are keeping us from progress. No science fiction? No dreaming? No speculating?

It is time to go for broke. Yell back as that low flying strange craft goes overhead, "I perceive your game!" If you get abducted, sit there as calmly as possible and ask them questions about themselves as Betty Hill did. Betty gave us valuable information on the aliens because she controlled her fear. She did not play victim in their game.

Sure, maybe the info they gave Betty on their origins, was a game too or a lie. But then we know they do lie! We know there must be reasons for their lies. Maybe they are truly our own quantum selves, odd fetuses, from a strange part of our own consciousness and they don’t want us to know this. I doubt this, but let’s start probing them! However, it is hard to do, hard to reach up to that glowing orange orb overhead.

Another way of looking at this: Let’s start being the best we can be as humans. Let’s not blow each other up. Let’s not make needless wars. Let’s not be greedy as we scratch up that stuff we call money which holds us as our own slaves. Let’s show respect and be kind to Earth’s other creatures, including those tagged bears and lions. Let’s give them save habitats for their children instead of mowing down their homes for human development, oil, and hamburgers. Let’s treat our planet with enlightenment, lest we kill her. The aliens are apparently watching – whether we like it or not.

I understand that Real Time Abductees worry about Earth’s future after their abductions. Isn’t this the same concern as many new agers have? And yet, new agers, channelers, spiritualists, are poo-pooed by UFO researchers. Actual abductees are also criticized if they write a book about loving Mother Earth before we destroy her; instead, these abductees are supposed to check in, to be researched by "researchers," and be cloistered for examination and/or debriefing.

Could it be that abductees are given the same information by the aliens as the more spiritual new agers are given? For all the alien mind games, are the aliens seriously trying to tell us that our planet is in jeopardy, mostly through our own human carelessness and aggression?

And if an abductee finds solace and meaning in a spiritual message, shouldn’t this be allowed in UFOlogy’s "rules" without kicking that abductee out of any serious consideration?

All in all, we need to let the aliens know that we can perceive mind games, too. We understand staged scenarios, we engage in these all the time ourselves, even in our bedrooms with our sex partners.

We are not victims. Also, we are not like our dear dog, not understanding at all why we sit at the computer keyboard. We can begin to understand the intricate, confusing behavior of the aliens and their decoys, their ruses, deceptions and their staged scenarios.

We will assume the aliens, at least some of them, do have a great sense of humor. This is not folly to assume, it is not irresponsible to assume, it is a step toward our own comprehension and possibly, our own survival. "The greater the mind, the more the need for child-like playing." Look at the human nerds on their computer role-playing games with their avatars!

For a long time, humans have been trained that there is always, The Enemy; The Enemy has no positive emotions. Thus, the Germans, in World Wars One and Two, were said to have no compassion, no pity. The Japanese had no humor, and were mindless killers. The Vietcong were said to have no families in their home villages whom they loved. The Enemy is a robotic bad guy.

Let’s not apply that long-indoctrinated human mindset to the aliens. I am sure they vary as to good and bad. But there is a huge grey area, no pun intended. Humans tranquilize bears and then set them free. The humans doing this tagging have good long-range intentions and laugh or cry as they work with wildlife.

We have to build a bridge of understanding to the aliens. They cannot remain a puzzle to us forever. Maybe that is their game: "When oh when will you humans realize that you can build a bridge to us? Of course you can, you silly human. Let go of your fear and your old "rules," perceive us now as you perceive yourselves."

It is the only foundation on which we can stand.

E-mail Diane at dianetessman@hotmail.com

Diane’s web site: www.earthchangepredictions.com

- IS IT HOT IN HERE DEPARTMENT -

What Are Climate Change Skeptics Still Skeptical About?

Richard Muller used to be a global warming skeptic. A prominent physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, Muller didn't trust the level of rigor — or the results — of past climate studies. As he explained in editorials that were often cited by other skeptics, he thought the dramatic global temperature rise reported by NASA and many other groups may have stemmed from systematic measurement errors rather than an environmental catastrophe.

Instead of leaving it at that, Muller founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study in 2010 to do the job right. His team of statisticians, physicists and climate experts conducted an exhaustive analysis of 200 years of global temperature data, running 1.6 billion temperature reports from 39,000 recording stations through a complex process that filtered out questionable data and averaged the rest.

Today, Muller no longer doubts the reality of global warming.

The BEST team's rigorous analysis showed that the average global land temperature has risen by 1 degree Celsius since the 1950s. The finding exactly matches those of past studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA and others. But this time, Muller says that because his team cleaned up the data in ways no other study has, their result is rock-solid.

Earth's climate is extremely sensitive to temperature fluctuations: That one degree of rapid warming is believed to be driving major changes to weather patterns — causing, for example, drought and rapid desertification in arid regions of the globe. The effects have been felt in the United States, with the Southwestern part of the country experiencing its worst drought in centuries. Global warming is also melting the polar ice caps, which, consequently, is raising sea levels worldwide and threatening to drown hundreds of coastal cities.

Furthermore, the vast majority of climate scientists attribute global warming to deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels — coal, oil and natural gas. These activities have poured millions of tons of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), into Earth's atmosphere over the past few decades. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen from about 280 parts per million (ppm) in preindustrial times to 392 ppm today, its highest level in at least 800,000 years (as far back as the ice core record goes), and probably higher than in the past 20 million years. Like the roof of a greenhouse, the thickening layer of CO2 traps heat at the Earth's surface, and if the rate of human carbon emissions continues to increase, global warming is expected to accelerate in the near future, so that by 2100, Earth will be at its warmest in millions of years. [5 Ways the World Will Change Radically This Century]

This is the consensus view among scientists. However, a small but vocal handful of academics — some of them climatologists, others in outside fields — believe the whole thing is a case of alarmism. Some argue that global warming isn't actually happening. Others concede that Earth is warming, but believe the process is natural (and has nothing to do with us humans). If they're right, then there's no need for the fossil fuel industry to cap carbon emissions, lesser developed countries should feel free to industrialize in the cheapest way possible (i.e. with carbon-spewing coal), and the rest of us can stop worrying about the fate of future generations.

But the Berkeley study shows with a high level of confidence that global warming is real, and the overwhelming scientific consensus is that we're causing it. So what, exactly, are the skeptics' remaining arguments?

It's urban warming

Pat Michaels, a climatologist and senior research fellow for policy and economic development at the Cato Institute, has written several books arguing that the danger of global warming is overblown. Michaels believes CO2 emissions are having a warming effect on the Earth, but it's so small as to be negligible. Based on his calculations, "it amounts to about four-hundredths of a degree [Celsius] of spurious warming in a global temperature record since 1979," Michaels told Life's Little Mysteries. That's orders of magnitude less than the total warming observed by BEST, NASA and NOAA and others.

He attributes the rest of the warming detected by those groups to inaccurate temperature measurements made in "urban heat islands": cities where the temperature reads higher than in surrounding areas because of the way concrete, stone and brick building materials retain heat.

However, several past climate studies have debunked the claim that urban heat islands are so hot that they're being mistaken for global warming; the BEST study thoroughly debunked that notion again. Muller and his colleagues compared temperature data recorded at thousands of rural and urban stations around the world and found a negligible difference in the upward temperature trend exhibited by both. If anything, cities have recently heated up at an ever-so-slightly slower rate than rural areas (though the difference is not statistically significant). "The key conclusion," the researchers wrote, is that "urban warming does not unduly bias estimates of recent global temperature change."

Michaels, who has been criticized for accepting research funding from the fossil fuel industry, rebuts this by arguing that BEST's negative urban effect couldn't possibly be correct, and so the whole study should be disregarded. "Muller's study says that the effect of cities on temperatures is to cool the temperature. Well, I don't think there's a climate scientist around who believes that that could happen — unless the cities are so polluted that the haze around them keeps the sunlight from hitting the ground," he said. "In China, there is some evidence that cities are cooler because of pollution." (In short, Michaels agrees that urban cooling can and does happen, but disagrees about the degree to which it does.)

It's actually getting cooler

Still, Michaels attributes almost all of the apparent 0.16 degrees Celsius warming per decade observed by climatologists to the bias of urban heating, rather than carbon emissions from fossil fuel use. However, he also says that even that warming seems to have stopped in the past decade. Similarly, Dennis Avery, a food policy analyst at the conservative think tank the Hudson Institute, and an outspoken advocate of pesticides and industrial-scale agriculture, argues that there is scientific evidence that the Earth has now entered a period of cooling, rather than warming.

"The U.S. Solar Observatory is now projecting decades of cooling as the current sunspot minimum continues — and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation has shifted into its 30-year cool phase," Avery wrote in an email. "The outlook for Dr. Muller’s position is shaky indeed, following the cool winters since 2007." [If Global Warming Is Real, Why Is It Still Snowing?]

It is true that the U.S. Solar Observatory recently detected a decrease in sunspots, pointing to a decline in magnetic activity on the sun's surface. A drop in solar activity also occurred in the 17th century, and it partly overlapped with a period of unusually cold weather now known as the "little ice age."

However, mainstream climatologists do not believe that variations in sunspot activity actually cause ice ages, little or otherwise. The 17th century cold spell is thought to have resulted from an upsurge in volcanic activity at that time that cloaked Earth in sunlight-blocking soot. Climate models show that reduced solar activity can produce no more than 0.3 degrees Celsius of cooling, and a 2010 study in Geophysical Research Letters showed that, even if we are entering another solar minimum period like the one that occurred in the 17th century, its cooling effect will be (and is being) completely dwarfed by the warming effect of greenhouse gas emissions.

In short, Avery's global cooling hypothesis is not supported by scientific research. But he makes another, more compelling argument — typically viewed as the most viable alternative to the mainstream view on climate change.

It's natural

Before he'll be convinced that humans are impacting the climate, "I would like some evidence that this modern warming is not part of the 1,500-year Dansgaard-Oeschger cycle, coming as it does at the appropriate time," Avery wrote in an email.

Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) events are natural climate fluctuations that occurred 25 times during the last ice age, approximately every 1,500 years. The events are relatively brief, but can have dramatic, lasting effects on Earth's temperature. Ice core samples taken in Greenland reveal that, when these events happened, they were marked by rapid warming of up to 8 degrees Celsius in the Northern Hemisphere in just 40 years, followed by gradual cooling.

Avery says such an event is happening now. His argument that global warming is part of this natural climate cycle was the subject of his book, "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), co-authored with atmospheric physicist Fred Singer (who has also been criticized for receiving funding from the fossil fuel industry). Theirs may be the most common argument espoused by climate change skeptics.

However, most climatologists say this scientific-sounding argument is greatly flawed. First, D-O events did not cause the same global warming patterns observed today, but rather acted to redistribute Earth's warmth. Ice cores drilled in Antarctica show that equal-and-opposite cooling in the Southern Hemisphere balanced out the warming that occurred to the Northern Hemisphere during D-O events.

Secondly, D-O events happened during the last ice age, not afterward. There is some evidence that the current interglacial period may also be experiencing 1,500-year climate cycles, called "Bond events," and that these may be related to D-O events. But Bond events have a much smaller impact on temperature than did D-O events — so small that not all scientists believe Bond events actually exist. If they do, then rather than being marked by dramatic rises in global temperature, they too cause a weak redistribution of heat around the globe.

Today, by contrast, all indicators point in only one direction: warming of the entire planet, and at a rate not seen during any past Bond event. The climatologist Gerard Bond, for whom Bond events are named, strongly disagrees with efforts by climate skeptics to use his research as proof that global warming is a natural phenomenon. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in a recent report, "The rapid warming is consistent with the scientific understanding of how the climate should respond to a rapid increase in greenhouse gases like that which has occurred over the past century, and the warming is inconsistent with the scientific understanding of how the climate should respond to natural external factors" (see graph).

It's an error

Some skeptics just don't trust the quality of global temperature data enough to believe that it can reliably show a warming trend.

All climate models rely heavily on temperature records from thousands of recording stations around the world; if the stations are inaccurate, they can skew the results. In fact, it was Muller's concern that past climate studies might rely on too much erroneous temperature data that led him to found BEST. Statisticians on his team employed complex error analysis, averaging methods, and clever data filtering to minimize uncertainty in their set of 1.6 billion temperature reports; the team also separately analyzed a subset of the data coming from only the highest quality stations.

Though they ended up finding the same 1 degree C of warming since the 1950s that past climate studies found, they reduced the statistical uncertainty in that result nearly to zero.

But Michaels has written several editorials since late October arguing that it isn't surprising that the BEST team detected the same degree of warming as other studies, because they used the same set of temperature data.

This is not the case. In their analysis, the BEST researchers used more than five times more data than prior studies; they also looked at subsets of data that excluded all data analyzed previously. "Using only these previously unused data, we find no statistically significant difference [in warming trends]," Muller wrote in an email. When Michaels' error was pointed out to him, he responded that he meant a different part of the study corresponding to temperature reports from 1800 to 1850.

Muller said that data was also new. "Our analysis from 1800 to 1855 obviously uses new data sets, since no other group has ever published results prior to 1855. From 1855 onwards, we have now done the work that I described above using the 77 percent of the stations unused by the other groups."

Muller added that the BEST study has been met with a flurry of similar false criticisms in the past several weeks. "Be aware that many people are giving their knee-jerk reactions … without careful reading of our papers. That is unfortunate, but an inevitable consequence of the great interest our work has engendered. Our goal is not to convince people in the week or two following our release, but to convince them in the months that follow as they begin to appreciate the care that we took, and the validity of our analysis methods," Muller said.

It's unknowable

Some scientists believe that climate change and global warming are real, but think that their causes are unknown. In this small camp is Freeman Dyson, a prominent physicist at Princeton University.

"Of course climate change and global warming are real," Dyson wrote in an email to Life's Little Mysteries. "I am skeptical not about the facts, but about the claims of climate experts to understand the facts. To the question whether either the causes or the consequences of climate change are understood, I answer no."

Dyson believes carbon dioxide does have a warming effect on the Earth, but questions the extent of its influence. He believes climate models that strongly link global warming to the rapid rise in atmospheric CO2 are based on false assumptions about the effects of atmospheric carbon. However, in the past, Dyson has admitted that he does not know much about the technical facts involved in climate modeling.

These are the primary arguments made against global warming. The large platform given to those who voice them — prominently by some media outlets — has had an astounding impact on public opinion in the United States. A May 2011 survey found that only 47 percent of Americans attribute global warming to human activities, while 36 percent blame it on natural causes. A staggering 95 percent of people who reported being "disengaged," "doubtful" or "dismissive" of global warming had no idea that 97 percent of publishing climate scientists believe global warming is happening and that it is caused by humans.

It seems the media has inaccurately portrayed the climate debate by paying disproportionate attention to many of the unscientific claims laid out here. Is the damage irreparable?

Source: Life's Little Mysteries
http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/climate-change-skeptics-2193/

- THERE WERE GIANTS ON THE EARTH DEPARTMENT -

The Peruvian Giant Legends


Last week, Conspiracy Journal ran an article about a strange mummy with an over-sized skull that had been uncovered in Peru. This week, the blog "Phantom and Monsters" offers up some fascinating stories about giant humans that lived (still living?) in Peru. It makes me wonder if there is any connection to the recently discovered "giant-headed" mummy and the giant legends of Peru.

For centuries there have been legends of giants in the jungles and highlands of Peru. Along with tales by the local tribes, the Incas and subsequent explorers described a variety of giant-sized beings in the region. I have posted a few interesting narratives and links:
-----
Peruvian Tales of Giant Hunchbacks

A one-eyed Indian tale of battling a band of red-haired hunchback giants has caused speculation that a tribe of stone-age aborigines may inhabit the jungles of northern Peru.

The men were described as olive-skinned, barefooted, hunched-back, more than 6 feet 6 inches tall with feet twice the normal size.

One scientist this week said he doubted their existence, but a well-known amateur anthropologist said it was well within scientific probability.

The giants have only been reported in San Juan Province, an area of rain forests and wooded foothills east of the Andes. Its 200,000 residents have no telephone service or paved roads.

Rumors of giant tribesmen have circulated frequently in the past. They received fresh momentum early this month when an explorer said he had stumbled across such a tribe.

Carlos Tarrealza, discoverer of the ruins of a lost Indian city in San Martin Province said he had found the giants when he was lost for two weeks in the jungle.

He said they were clad only in animal skins with reddish hair and spoke a dialect he had never heard. He said they fled at his approach.

Days later, two Lima newspapers, Ultima Hora and La Prensa quoted an Indian guide Encarnacion Napuri as saying on April 25th, a group of about 15 giant aborigines armed with thick wooden clubs, stone-headed axes and hard wood lances attached attacked a camp of professional hunters.

La Prensa said the tribesmen had abducted three women and wounded five men in the camp before being driven off by shotgun blasts. Ultima Hora said 5 men, 3 women and 2 children had been injured, but did not mention any kidnapping.

The disparity might be explained by Ultima Hora's comment that Napuri spoke extremely poor Spanish.

The director of the regional center of Indian remains, Cristobal Cresapana said, "I don't believe in the existence of these hunch-backed men...they correspond to precisely none of the racial traits of the people seen in the Andean region so far."

But Carlos A. Silva, a policeman and amateur anthropologist who traveled widely in the Peruvian Jungles, said the indigenous Peruvian could adapt himself very easily to live in the forested areas of the Andean foothills. - St.Louis Post-Dispatch - May 23, 1976
-----
Tomb of "Giants" Unearthed in Peru

Archaeologists have unearthed a series of tombs rich with treasures of an extinct Peruvian culture. The 1,500-year-old graves held five unusually tall young men surrounded by textiles, ceramics, llama skeletons, and decorative metal works.

The remains are Moche, a culture that thrived on the desert-like coast of northern Peru between A.D. 100 and 800. A farming and fishing community, they constructed irrigation canals, pyramids, palaces, and temples.

The origins of the Moche remain unknown, according to lead archaeologist Christopher Donnan. The skeletons, found during a 1997-99 National Geographic-funded expedition, may yield clues to their culture. - Jennifer Mapes - National Geographic News - February 15, 2001
-----
Giants of the Royal Incas

Nine-and-a-half feet tall is large for a human mummy, especially when it is found among today's diminutive Peruvians, whose average stature is just five feet. Understandably, professional anthropologists find tales of ancient giants amusing, but nothing more. Physical evidence may nonetheless exist to demonstrate that an oversized race of men did indeed dominate parts of prehistoric South America.

There are petroglyphs along mountain paths and at the sites of ruins such as Tiahuanacu, but there are also petroglyphs right downtown Lima associated with the adobe pyramids. Nobody has chronicled these structures. There are several of them right in the middle of one of the major cities of the world. One would have thought that someone from the Discovery Channel would have produced a show on these structures. However, they haven't! It almost never rains in Lima and these adobe pyramid structures were built somewhere between 400 AD and 1000 AD. Even now anthropologists refuse to make any connection between the old and new worlds before the arrival of Columbus. The entire text can be found at Giants of the Royal Incas
------
Flesh Eating Giants in Peru

"As there is in Peru a story of some giants who landed on the coast at the point of Santa Elena, in the vicinity of the city of Puerto Viejo, I have resolved to mention what I was told about them, as I understood it, without taking into account the opinions of the common people and their various anecdotes, for they usually magnify events larger than life. The natives, repeating a story received from their forefathers from very remote times, say that there came from across the sea on reed rafts that were as large as big ships some men that were so big that an ordinary man of good size scarcely reached up to their knees: their members were in proportion to the size of their bodies, and it a monstrous thing to see their enormous heads and their hair hanging down about their shoulders. Their eyes were as large as small plates. They say they had no beards and that some of them were clad in the skins of animals, and others only in the dress nature gave them. There were no women with them. On reaching this point, they set up their camp like a village (and even in these times there is a memory of the site of their houses). As they found no supply of water they remedied the lack by making some very deep wells, a labor certainly worthy of record, being undertaken by such strong men as these must have been, to judge by their size. They dug these wells in the living rock until they came to the water, and afterwards they built the wells in stone from the water line upwards so that they would last for ages. In these wells the water is excellent and it is always so cold that it is very pleasant to drink.

"When these great men or giants had thus made their settlement and dug these wells or cisterns, they destroyed and ate all the supplies they could find in the neighborhood. It is said that one of them ate more than fifty of the natives of the land; and as the supply of food was not sufficient for them to maintain themselves, they caught much fish with nets and gear that they had. They lived in continuous hostility with the natives, because they slew the latter's women in order to have them, and they also slew the men for other reasons. But the Indians were not numerous enough to kill these newcomers who occupied their land and lorded it over them; and although they held great discussions about this, they never dared attack them.

"After some years the giants were still in this region, and as they had no women of their own and the Indian women of the neighborhood were too small for them, or else because the vice was habitual to them and inspired by the demon, they practised the unspeakable and horrible sin of sodomy, committing it openly and in public without fear of God or personal shame. The natives say that our Lord God, unwilling to conceal so wicked a sin, sent them a punishment suited to the beastliness of the crime, and when all the giants were together engaged in this accursed practice there came a fearful fire from heaven to the accompaniment of a great noise, in the midst of which a shining angel appeared holding a sharp, bright sword with which he slew them all at a single stroke, and the fire consumed them leaving only a few bones and skulls, which God allowed to remain unconsumed as a token of the punishment. This is the account they give of the giants, and we believe that it happened, for it is said that very large bones have been found and still are found thereabouts and I have heard Spaniards say they have seen pieces of teeth which they thought must have weighed half a pound when whole, and who had also seen a piece of a shin-bone of wonderful size, all of which bears witness to the truth of the incident. In addition to this one can see the places where the sites of their villages were, and also the wells or cisterns they made. I cannot state whence or how these giants came there.

"In the present year of 1550 when in the city of Lima, I heard that when his excellency Don Antonio de Mendoza was viceroy and governor of New Spain, certain bones of men as big as these giants, and even bigger, were found there. I have heard too that in an ancient sepulcher in the city of Mexico or somewhere else in that kingdom certain bones of giants have been found. Since so many people saw them and attest having done so, it can therefore be credited that such giants did exist and indeed they may all have been of the same race.

"At this point of Santa Elena, which is as I have said on the coast of Peru and in the district of the city of Puerto Viejo, there is a remarkable phenomenon: the existence of certain wells or seams of pitch of such excellent quality that it would be possible to tar all the ships one wished with it, since it flows from the earth. This pitch must be from some seam passing through that place: it comes out very hot,etc. - Royal Commentaries of the Incas, volume I, chapter XI - Pedro de Cieza de León

Source: Phantoms and Monsters
http://naturalplane.blogspot.com/2011/11/peruvian-giant-legends.html

- STRANGE CRITTERS FROM TIME AND SPACE DEPARTMENT -

Legendary Monsters of Texas
By Mike Cox

The time had come.

For years back in the 1800s, people living along the lower Navidad River in Lavaca County had been finding mysterious footprints and occasionally seeing a hairy, ape-like creature lurking in the dense vegetation along the stream. Most believed the critter was female.

Finally, the locals decided to solve the mystery. Whistling up their best hounds, a party of hunters set out to capture the thing that had come to be called the Wild Woman of the Navidad.

With a wagon-wheel-sized moon hanging above, the hunters arranged themselves in a classic drive-and-block formation. Men with bloodhounds and riders with lassos at the ready moved in a line toward one another to flush any “thing” that might be hiding between them. Soon, the dogs howled and took up a trail.

Suddenly, something burst from cover along the river bottom and cut across open prairie running toward a thicker stand of trees. One of the riders, an expert roper, gained on the creature, but when he got close enough to throw a loop, his horse shied and slowed down.

Zigzagging and running as fast as a deer, the creature made it to the woods. The pursuers decided they’d call it a hunt and went home. All who had seen the fleeing figure said it appeared to be a female covered with hair. She had been clutching something in her hand but dropped it as she ran, they said. Retracing her route, one of the hunters found a wooden club about 5 feet long, “polished to a wonder.”

The story became part of local folklore, passed only by word of mouth until writer Martin W. Kennedy told it in print for the first time in Legends of Texas, a Texas Folklore Society publication edited by J. Frank Dobie. The book came out in 1924.

Dating back to the late 1830s, reported sightings of the wild woman along the Navidad are the first references on record in Texas to what are now known as cryptids — unknown or mythical creatures. The field, considered by most scientists as mere pseudoscience, is called cryptozoology.

To put the matter into perspective, Texas has roughly 180 known mammals, from bats to white-tailed deer. But the state’s taxonomy of mythical animals could be counted with the digits on one long-nailed, hairy hand. The three most common Lone Star cryptids are chupacabras, Bigfoot and lechuzas.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department mammalogist John Young, with a doctorate in wildlife sciences from Texas A&M at Kingsville, says chupacabras are Texas’ No. 1 cryptid in terms of reported sightings.

Chupacabra is a combination of two Spanish words, the verb chupar, which means “to suck,” and the noun cabra, for “goat.” No one so far has suggested that chupacabras have “gone vampire” to the extent of attacking humans, but they are reputed to be mighty fond of goats, smaller animals and chickens. They are most often reported in South Texas.

“Most of the calls I get involve chupacabras,” says Young, who has been with the department for a decade, “but the number ebbs and flows. The reason it ebbs and flows is because of outbreaks of mange that ebb and flow.”

As far as Young’s concerned, chupacabras are either coyotes or foxes suffering from mange. What they are not, in his opinion, is an unknown mammal.

“So far, every single dead ‘chupacabra’ that’s been examined has proven to be either a coyote or fox with the mange,” he says. “Sometimes, when the genetic testing comes back as only 99 percent coyote, folks cling to that as proof that the animal is something different. But that other 1 percent is dog.”

Young can understand why someone might think a scary-looking dead animal is a chupacabra, but he says there’s a totally logical explanation.

“Mange drastically changes the way an animal looks,” he says. “When a coyote loses all its hair, it looks really funky. Their skin has a bluish-gray color. And the sun desiccates a hairless body very quickly, pulling the skin back to expose the teeth, making them look more prominent.”

The largest of the Texas cryptids is the ape-man known as Bigfoot, so called because of feet that are the size of a professional basketball player’s. It’s also known as Sasquatch or yeti. These bipedal primates stand 7 or so feet tall, have a short neck and can run like, well, the proverbial spotted ape.

Young says he’s had only two calls about Bigfoot sightings.

“One, several years ago, was from a gentleman who wanted to know why we would not recognize Bigfoot as a native species,” Young says. “I explained to him that there is no concrete proof that it exists anywhere in the United States, let alone Texas.”

Of course, some people are convinced they exist. A Texas organization called the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy has an extensive website (www.texasbigfoot.org), collects sighting data, holds conferences and actively hunts Bigfoot in the deep woods of East Texas. The group lists reported Bigfoot sightings in 65 of Texas’ 254 counties. Montgomery County has the most sightings, with 13, followed by Liberty (12) and Harrison (11).

Lechuzas are wide-winged, fast-flying creatures that sometimes buzz cars on lonely roadways. They are usually seen at night. They are generally reported in South Texas along the border. Folklore has it that the big birds are part bird and part bruja, or witch. They seem particularly attracted to men and women who have popped more than a few beer cans in a short period of time. The generally accepted nonmythical explanation is that they are night-feeding great horned owls.

So, are there any undiscovered large mammals lurking in the Pineywoods of East Texas or prowling the mesquite flats of South Texas? Young doesn’t think so.

“Periodically, new varieties of insects and small fish are being discovered, maybe even a new subspecies of rodent or bat, but there have been no new large mammals found in the U.S. in a long time,” he says. “And a new species would be highly unlikely to go undetected outside of Alaska, South America and some unpopulated places in Mexico. In East Texas, in most places you can’t go four miles in one direction without crossing a road.”

If Bigfoot were hanging out in East Texas, Young says, sooner or later one would have the misfortune of becoming road kill. Or someone would find a Bigfoot skeleton or even Bigfoot scat. But other than grainy photographs and similarly suspect plaster casts of big footprints, no scientifically acceptable evidence has come to light, he says.

Beyond cryptids, Young occasionally fields calls on sightings of what biologists call vagrants or accidentals — critters far from their normal range.

Periodically, someone reports having seen a wolf, even though the last confirmed wolf sighting in Texas was in 1971 when one was trapped in the Trans-Pecos.

“The closest existing population of wolves to Texas is along the New Mexico-Arizona border,” he says. “But wolves can travel long distances, so it’s possible for one to end up in Texas. Not too long ago, a wolf was discovered in Missouri that had a radio collar placed on it in Michigan.”

Two other mythical Texas creatures are at least half-real — the black panther and the black lion. The real description includes a long tail, four legs and whiskers. The unreal description is the color, or lack thereof.

“We believe that the ‘black panthers’ that have been reported historically were probably a melanistic phase of jaguar,” Young says. “It doesn’t appear that there is a melanistic phase for mountain lions.”

A possible explanation for black lions is backlighting. Most mountain lion sightings are in the evening under poor lighting conditions. A normal-colored mountain lion can look black in the twilight, and given that the average duration of a sighting is less than 60 seconds, there’s no time for intensive study.

As far as Young is concerned, until someone provides biologists with a cryptid that genetic tests prove to be a new variety of mammal, the only place they are known to exist for sure is in the imagination.

Source: Texas Park and Wildlife Magazine
http://www.tpwmagazine.com/archive/2010/sep/legend/

- WHERE THERE'S FOO THERE'S FIRE DEPARTMENT -

Don't Play With Fire (In Scotland)!

In prehistoric times early humans – or, depending on which chronologies you follow, man’s ancestors – were not able to create fire but harvested it from natural conflagrations.

Even in more recent times – ask any scout who has ever had to start a fire without matches on a camping trip – the creation of fire was a labour. Not surprisingly then a series of beliefs and taboos built up around fire-making and, above all, fire sharing. These beliefs – that might be for all we know be Neolithic in origin – survived surprisingly late in some rural quarters.

The following three accounts all come from nineteenth-century Scotland: they relate – though precise dates are lacking – to the period c. 1850-1880. To share fire, it transpires, was a potentially risky business on the other side of the border a little over a century ago.

1) (290) At Craigmillar, near Edinburgh, a woman, not long ago, refused to give a neighbour a bit of peat to light her fire, because she was supposed to be uncanny. The old woman muttered, as she turned away, that her churlish neighbour might yet repent of her unkindness. This speech the other repeated to her husband on his return from work, whereupon he went straight to the old woman’s house, and gave her a sharp cut on the forehead, for which he was duly called to account, and pleaded his belief that scoring the witch above the breath would destroy her glamour [magic].

2) [I]n Ross-shire, an old beldame repaired to a neighbour’s house with this intent [taking fire]. There was only a child of eight years old at home, but she was thoroughly acquainted with the popular superstition, and stoutly refused the applicant tinder, match, or lighted stick. When the old woman had departed, the girl fetched two friends, who straightway followed her home, to find there a blazing fire and a boiling, pot. ‘See you’, exclaimed the lassie, ‘gin the cailliach had gotten the kindling, my father would not get a herring this year’.

3) A poor tinker’s wife walked one morning into a house in Applecross – this was as late as July, 1868 – and snatched alive peat from the hearth to kindle her own fire. Before she had gone any distance, she was observed, and the gudewife sped after her, overtook her, and snatched away her prize. To a stranger who remonstrated with her for the unkindness, the gudewife exclaimed, ‘Do you think I am to allow my cow to be dried up? If I allowed her to carry away the fire, I would not have a drop of milk to-night to wet the bairns’ mouths.’ And she flung the peat into a pail of water in order to undo the evil charm so far as possible.

Spontaneous Human Combustion and Witchcraft!

This letter appears in an English journal in 1800 relating to events on 10 April 1744. It is an interesting document because it combines two paranormal facts typically kept apart: witchcraft and spontaneous human combustion.

The following narrative will probably amuse some of your readers: though many may think it is a falsehood, it is an absolute fact and there are still living, in this town [Ipswich, Suffolk], witnesses to the truth of it… Grace Pett, about 60 years of age, the wife of a fisherman, at Ipswich was burnt, in a supernatural or miraculous manner, to ashes. When her husband was at sea, one of her daughters used to sleep with her: the mother had a custom for several years of going down stairs every night when she was half undrest, on some private occasion; and on the night preceding the above day she went down as usual, and her daughters fell asleep. When she awoke it [sic] the morning, finding her mother was not come down to bed, she ran down in a fright, and found her, about half on the hearth, and half on the deal floor: the floor was not hurt by the fire, nor were her feet and ankles burnt; neither did they appear to be hurt by the fire. Her daughter said she had no other apparel on her beside her cap, shift, a cotton gown, an upper petticoat, stockings and shoes which certainly could not be thought sufficient fuel to reduce a human body to ashes in a natural way. Mrs Pett had a daughter who came home from Gibraltar on the preceding day. They had been making merry on the occasion, drank plentifully of gin, and sat up late; which accounts for her daughter’s sleepiness.

The gin might account for more than her daughter’s failure to wake up! However, what is really extraordinary here is the way that witchcraft now threads into this already curious tale.

The poor old woman had the reputation of being a witch among some of her ignorant neighbours; and at that time a neighbouring farmer, one Garnnham, had some of his sheep taken in an odd way: they were supposed to be betwitched, and he was advised to burn one of them. The farmer was too wise to entertain such an idea; but his wife, more credulous in such matters, resolved to try the experiment. Accordingly in the very night that this woman was burnt, Mrs Garnham, afer her husband was gone to bed, made their head man bring in a diseased sheep, and make a great fire, and burn it to death.

Pretty remarkable stuff for Suffolk in the mid eighteenth-century, though in the west of Britain reports of such things carry on into the mid nineteenth century.

This circumstance gave encouragement to the report of the poor old woman’s being a witch; and they thought sufficient reason was found why her feet and ankles were not burnt, as it was reported, that the feet of the sheep were not, and that they were fixed in the ground when the animal was burnt. This was not true; for the poor creature was burned in the backhouse. Its four legs being tied together, it was laid on the hearth, and a miserable death it had; for soon after the fire began to burn fiercely about it, the bandage on its legs was burnt off, and the distressed sheep jumped up, and ran from the fire: the man than ran a pitch-fork into its body, forced it into the fire again, and held it there till it was destroyed.

Charming! A kind of sympathetic magic then between the sheep and witch burning.

Source: Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog
http://www.strangehistory.net/2011/11/29/dont-play-with-fire-in-scotland/

- WHAT'S FOR DINNER TONIGHT -

Freak Tofu Explosion Terrorizes Portland

If the creators of "Portlandia' -- the cable television show that pokes fun at us – need a sketch, they should take a look at a Sunday-night explosion that involves – of all things – tofu.

Not only is it so Portland, but the cause of the explosion is such a mystery that investigators up and down the West Coast are being contacted to see if they can help figure out what happened. He said natural gas is not suspected.

"We're scratching our heads," said Paul Corah, spokesman for the Portland Fire & Rescue. "We're all baffled."

Just after 8:15 p.m. fire crews were called to an apartment building in the 300 block of Northwest Fifth Avenue in the heart of Old Town.

"When they arrived they found a woman sitting outside crying," Corah said. "She said there'd been an explosion and she was upset. She had a slight burn on her left hand, but was otherwise not hurt."

The woman told investigators was cooking tofu and had rinsed out the pan with water when there was explosion. The blast was so powerful that it blew a 4 by 6 window out of the building and onto the street, Corah said.

"Could steam have put that much pressure on a window?" Corah wonders. "Everyone from the chief on is puzzled. The fire investigator can't figure it out. I've been here 30 years and never heard of such a thing. We're all dumfounded. Investigators are making calls today to see if other investigators have heard of something like this."

The woman was unable to help, saying she had been cooking tofu and rinsed off the pan, Corah said.

Damage is estimated at $15,000.

The case seems to fall in the gray area – equal parts CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Rachael Ray.

So amateur detectives, any ideas?

Source: Oregon Live
http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/11/northwest_portland_explosion_h.html

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