6/22/14  #777
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The Solstice has come and gone. It is all downhill from here. But before you despair and close your eyes, take some time to watch the clouds go by. Take some time to watch the tall grass wave in the quiet breeze of summer dreams. Take some time to listen to the laughter of children free from winter responsibilities. Take some time, for time is all we really have that we can call our own.


This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such summer-vacation stories as:
-
Ebola In West Africa Is 'Totally Out Of Control' -
- A Mysterious Sound Is Driving People Insane -
- UFO and Alien Contact in the Gnostic Scriptures -
- The 120-Year-Old Mind-Reading Machine -
AND:
Why Icelanders Are Wary of Elves Living Beneath The Rocks

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

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- ENTER THE HOT ZONE DEPARTMENT -

Ebola In West Africa Is 'Totally Out Of Control'

DAKAR, Senegal — The Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa is "totally out of control," according to a senior official for Doctors Without Borders, who says the medical group is stretched to the limit in responding.

The outbreak has caused more deaths than any other of the disease, said another official with the medical charity. Ebola has been linked to more than 330 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, according to the World Health Organization.

International organizations and the governments involved need to send in more health experts and increase public education messages about how to stop the spread of the disease, Bart Janssens, the director of operations for the medical group in Brussels, told The Associated Press on Friday.

"The reality is clear that the epidemic is now in a second wave," Janssens said. "And, for me, it is totally out of control."

The Ebola virus, which causes internal bleeding and organ failure, spreads through direct contact with infected people. There is no cure or vaccine, so containing an outbreak focuses on supportive care for the ill and isolating them to limit the spread of the virus.

The current outbreak, which began in Guinea either late last year or early this year, had appeared to slow before picking up pace again in recent weeks, including spreading to the Liberian capital for the first time.

"This is the highest outbreak on record and has the highest number of deaths, so this is unprecedented so far," said Armand Sprecher, a public health specialist with Doctors Without Borders.

According to the WHO, the highest previous death toll was in the first recorded Ebola outbreak in Congo in 1976, when 280 deaths were reported. Because Ebola often touches remote areas and the first cases sometimes go unrecognized, it is likely that there are deaths that go uncounted during outbreaks.

The multiple locations of the current outbreak and its movement across borders make it one of the "most challenging Ebola outbreaks ever," Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, said earlier in the week.

But Janssens' description of the Ebola outbreak was even more alarming, and he warned that the countries involved had not recognized the gravity of the situation. He criticized WHO for not doing enough to prod local leaders; the U.N. health agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"There needs to be a real political commitment that this is a very big emergency," he said. "Otherwise, it will continue to spread, and for sure it will spread to more countries."

But Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberia's deputy minister of health, said the highest levels of government are working to contain the outbreak, noting that Liberia had a long period with no new cases before this second wave.

Governments and international agencies are definitely struggling to keep up with the outbreak, said Unni Krishnan of Plan International, which is providing equipment to the three countries. But he noted that the disease is striking in one of the world's poorest regions, where public health systems are already fragile.

With more than 40 international staff currently on the ground and four treatment centers, Doctors Without Borders has reached its limit to respond, Janssens said. It is unclear, for instance, if the group will be able to set up a treatment center in Liberia, like the ones it is running in in Guinea and Sierra Leone, he said.

Janssens said the only way to stop the disease's spread is to persuade people to come forward when symptoms occur and to avoid touching the sick and dead.

He said this outbreak is particularly challenging because it began in an area where people are very mobile and has spread to even more densely populated areas, like the capitals of Guinea and Liberia. The disease typically strikes sparsely populated areas in central or eastern Africa, where it spreads less easily, he said.

By contrast, the epicenter of this outbreak is near a major regional transport hub, the Guinean city of Gueckedou.

Source: The Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/20/ebola-west-africa_n_5515140.html

- ATTACK OF THE HUMMADRUZ DEPARTMENT -

A Mysterious Sound Is Driving People Insane
By Jared Keller

Dr. Glen MacPherson doesn't remember the first time he heard the sound. It may have started at the beginning of 2012, a dull, steady droning like that of a diesel engine idling down the street from his house in the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. A lecturer at the University of British Columbia and high school teacher of physics, mathematics and biology, months passed before MacPherson realized that the noise, which he'd previously dismissed as some background nuisance like car traffic or an airplane passing overhead, was something abnormal.

"Once I realized that this wasn't simply the ambient noise of living in my little corner of the world, I went through the typical stages and steps to try to isolate the sources," MacPherson told Mic. "I assumed it may be an electrical problem, so I shut off the mains to the entire house. It got louder. I went driving around my neighborhood looking for the source, and I noticed it was louder at night."

Exasperated, MacPherson turned his focus to scientific literature and pored over reports of the mysterious noise before coming across an article by University of Oklahoma geophysicist David Deming in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, a peer-reviewed academic journal devoted to exploring topics outside of mainstream science. "I almost dropped my laptop," says MacPherson. "I was sure that I was hearing the Hum."

"The Hum" refers to a mysterious sound heard in places around the world by a small fraction of a local population. It's characterized by a persistent and invasive low-frequency rumbling or droning noise often accompanied by vibrations. While reports of "unidentified humming sounds" pop up in scientific literature dating back to the 1830s, modern manifestations of the contemporary hum have been widely reported by national media in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia since the early 1970s.

Regional experiences of the phenomenon vary, and the Hum is often prefixed with the region where the problem centers, like the "Windsor Hum" in Ontario, Canada, the "Taos Hum" in New Mexico, or the "Auckland Hum" for Auckland, New Zealand. Somewhere between 2 and 10% of people can hear the Hum, and inside isolation is no escape. Most sufferers find the noise to be more disturbing indoors and at night. Much to their dismay, the source of the mysterious humming is virtually untraceable.

While the uneven experience of the Hum in local populations has led some researchers to dismiss it as a "mass delusion," the nuisance and pain associated with the phenomenon make delusion a dissatisfying hypothesis. Intrigued by the mysterious noise, MacPherson launched The World Hum Map and Database in December 2012 to collect testimonies of other Hum sufferers and track its global impact (he now also moderates a decade-old Yahoo forum along with Deming).

MacPherson quickly discovered that what to him was a strange rumbling was actually having pernicious effects on hundreds of people, from headaches to irritability to sleep deprivation. There are reports that weeks of insomnia caused by the Bristol Hum drove at least three U.K. residents to suicide. "It completely drains energy, causing stress and loss of sleep," a sufferer told a British newspaper in 1992. "I have been on tranquilizers and have lost count of the number of nights I have spent holding my head in my hands, crying and crying." Thousands of people around the world have shared similar experiences of the Hum; some, like MacPherson, are devoting their time to finally uncovering its source.

Tom Moir, a professor at the Auckland University of Technology and Hum investigator, first started looking into the Hum after an Auckland resident called Moir's office at Massey University in 2002. Moir, a professor of control engineering, placed an ad in the local paper after receiving a visit from a Hum sufferer who desperately wanted to find the source of the racket. He received dozens of responses within days, all describing a mysterious droning noise matching the one described in Deming's landmark paper. Residents of Auckland's northern shore claimed that the Hum was so intense that it was preventing them from sleeping or concentrating. "When it's loud, it's like there's vibrations between your ears, that your brain is vibrating," one resident told local TV in 2011. Another Auckland resident said that the noise had been so disruptive to his life that he'd deafened himself in one ear with a chainsaw so he could sleep through the night. Many had lived a life of vibroacoustic agony, unsure if what they were hearing was real or not.

"For my entire life, I was a perfect sleeper," says Steve Kohlhase, 60, who first started to experience the Hum at night in his Brookfield, Connecticut home in September 2009. A mechanical engineer in the chemical industry, Kohlhase, like so many other Hum sufferers, has devoted his free time to searching for the source of the noise. "I immediately felt the effects in my head: It feels like your fingers are in your ears. Other people have different experiences: Sometimes the floorboards in the house have a distinct vibration to them, or they they feel it in their feet in their bedsprings. Many people find their ears ringing."

So what's behind the Hum? After nearly four decades, Hum investigators may finally have some idea. The general consensus among sufferers is that the Hum is comprised of very low frequency (or 'VLF', in the range of 3 kHz to 30 kHz and wavelengths from 10 to 100 kilometers) or extremely low frequency (or 'ELF', in the range of 3 to 30 Hz, and corresponding wavelengths from 100,000 to 10,000 kilometers) radio waves, which can penetrate buildings and travel over tremendous distances.

Both ELF and VLF waves have been shown to have potentially adverse affects on the human body. While the common refrain about ELF radiation in popular culture normally involves your cell phone giving you cancer, research by the World Health Organization and the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers has shown that external ELF magnetic fields can induce currents in the body which, at very high field strengths, cause nerve and muscle stimulation and changes in nerve cell excitability in the central nervous system. And VLF waves, like other low-frequency electromagnetic radiation, have also been shown to have a direct impact on biological functions

Finally, there's a body of empirical evidence that makes this theory more appealing. A study funded by the Canadian government and led by University of Windsor mechanical engineering professor Dr. Colin Novak spent the last year listening to the "Windsor Hum" that's been torturing residents in the Windsor area of Ontario since 2011. A previous study had confirmed the existence of the low frequency noise in the vicinity of Zug Island, a highly industrialized island located on Michigan side of the Detroit River. The researchers used specialized equipment to capture and develop a sonic "fingerprint" of the mysterious sound. The study concluded that not only does the Windsor Hum actually exist, but its likely source was a blast furnace at the U.S. Steel plant on Zug Island, which reportedly generates a high volume of VLF waves during its hours of operation. "It sounds like a large truck or a train locomotive is parked outside your house, buzzing away, causing the windows to shake," Novak, himself a Hum sufferer, told Canada's CTV News. "It can be quite uncomfortable at times."

Dr. Novak's study caps off decades of Hum theories, but given the inconsistent experience of the phenomenon around the world, cataloguers of the Hum still aren't quite sure if it has a single, definitive source. While ELF and VLF waves may cause people to experience the incessant droning, not every local Hum appears to have an easily traceable source. What about the Aukland and Taos Hums? And why does the Hum seem to appear and disappear for months at a time?

Some Hum investigators suspect that there's a global source responsible for the Hum worldwide. Deming's research, considered close to authoritative in the Hum community, suggests that evidence of the Hum corresponds with an accidental, biological consequence of the "Take Charge and Move Out" (TACAMO) system adopted by the US Navy in the 1960s as a way for military leaders to maintain communications with the nation's ballistic missile submarines, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, and long-range bombers during a nuclear war. As part of TACAMO, military aircraft use VLF radio waves to send instructions to submarines: Because of their large wavelengths, VLF can diffract around large obstacles like mountains and buildings, propagate around the globe using the Earth's ionosphere and penetrate seawater to a depth of almost 40 meters, making them ideal for one-way communication with subs. And VLF, like other low-frequency electromagnetic waves, have been shown to have a direct impact on biological functions. (Strategic Communications Wing One at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, which is responsible for the manning, training and equipping of aircraft utilized as part of the TACAMO system, did not respond to requests for comment.)

And there are other theories. While Moir agrees with MacPherson that the disturbance is occurring at a very low frequency, he's convinced that the source of the Auckland Hum is primarily acoustic rather than electromagnetic, partially because he claims his research team has managed to capture a recording of the Hum.

"It's a very, very low wavelength noise, perhaps between 50 or 56 Hz," Moir told Mic. "And it's extremely difficult to stop infrasound because it can have a wavelength of up to 10 meters, and you'd need around 2.5 meter thick walls, built with normal materials, to keep it out. It gets into our wooden houses very easily. And part of the reason people have so much trouble identifying the source of it is because of how low frequency the Hum is: It literally moves right through your head before you can figure out which ear picked it up first."

This isn't to say that an electromagnetic explanation is impossible: There could be both electromagnetic or acoustic sources that complement each other. The real difficulty is separating the two hypotheses through testing. "There haven't been tests done were you subject people to these frequencies and put them in an anechoic chamber," says Moir, referring to rooms designed to completely absorb reflections of either sound or electromagnetic waves. "But until you can actually prove that by doing tests, there's no way to firmly come to that conclusion."

These tests can't come soon enough for Steve Kohlhase, the mechanical engineer hunting for the Hum in Connecticut. Kohlhase, like Dr. Novak and the researchers who traced the Windsor Hum to Zug Island, hypothesizes that the source of the Connecticut Hum is industrial rather than military, generated by a network of nearby high volume gas pipelines. The arrival of the Hum, Kohlhase argues, coincided with increased development of natural gas pipelines in northern Fairfield County, and the increased hydraulic pressure used by the Iroquois and Algonquin interstate pipelines that run through his corner of Connecticut could result in the non-directional, extremely low frequency (ELF) humming noise previously unheard in the region.

This a pressing public health issue. It is not just some casual annoyance, claims Kohlhase. The resulting infrasonic sounds blanketing the region could result in widespread vibroacoustic disease — an occupational disease occurring from long-term exposure to large pressure amplitude and low frequency noise — the symptoms of which include those often described by Hum suffers: depression, mood swings, insomnia and other stress-induced pathologies.

State and local governments may finally be paying attention. Worried about the potential behavioral effects of the Connecticut Hum, Kohlhase dispatched concerned emails to state and local health officials laying out his research. Kohlhase was so persistent that he contacted Connecticut State Police investigators almost six weeks after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, insisting that the Hum allegedly produced by nearby gas pipelines could have had something to do with Adam Lanza's behavior leading up to the shooting. While law enforcement officials field a flood of calls from conspiracy theorists and pranksters following any major incident, investigators deemed the information Kohlhase provided "appropriate" for inclusion in the 7,000 images, audio files, videos and documents released to the public.

"The reason that it could've affected Lanza is that sound and vibrations can have extremely subtle, detrimental affects on someone who's fragile minded," explains Kohlhase. "Imagine if you're mentally ill or have a brain tumor or are just, well, fragile of mind. I am absolutely not an expert, but if sound sensitivity is such a serious issue to those on the autism spectrum, perhaps extremely low frequency sounds can result in a pernicious effect." Kohlhase points to Aaron Alexis, the defense subcontractor who battled mental health issues and scrawled "My ELF Weapon" into the stock of his shotgun before killing 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard in 2013. "He told his psychiatrist he'd been chased by vibrations. Look at a map of instances like this, in Washington, or the Gabby Giffords shooting in Arizona, and I bet you'll see that each place coincides with a Hum cluster."

Here is the fundamental problem facing Hum sufferers around the world: believability. Scientific data and anecdotal experiences of the Hum vary so much from region the world that it's still unclear whether VLF and ELF waves are the source of it, let alone a catalyst for mass murder. The idea of a mysterious noise driving people to suicide has given birth to all kinds of pseudoscientific conjecture, making the phenomenon a favorite for conspiracy junkies who suspect foul play by some malicious government scheme (or UFOs, obviously). The World Hum, a site devoted to exploring the "mysterious phenomenon being heard by thousands around the world," is riddled with byzantine entries about UFOs crashing in Siberia.

MacPherson knows how insane it sounds. "There's a terrible irony to the vision of a conspiracy nut in a tinfoil hat, trying to keep the government from beaming thoughts into their heads," laughs MacPhearson, "since aluminum does protect against some electromagnetic radiation. This is why you don't put that stuff in the microwave."

The federally funded investigation into the Windsor Hum and the serious examination of Kohlhase's research by Connecticut authorities may serve as a beacon of hope for Hum investigators like MacPherson, Moir, Novak and Kohlhase. State-funded tests on Hum-affected regions may yield data that could lead to a real-world solution, rather than conspiracy theories. Until then, developing a unified picture of the Hum is exactly what MacPherson wants to accomplish in British Columbia. By providing one destination for Hum data and testimony, he's hoping that professional and independent researchers will use the collected data to help develop and execute experiments that could help identify the source of their local Hum.

But until someone funds and conducts rigorous tests in an affected region, says Moir, people will continue to use the Hum as an excuse to blame modern technology, from mobile phones to telecom towers to the digital radio bands used by law enforcement. And that aura of pseudoscientific insanity surrounding the Hum has made the job of independent researchers more challenging. "In the past, I've contacted my representatives, I've contacted my governor," says Kohlhase. "There's willful ignorance going on about this problem and the real consequences it has."

But should researchers like MacPherson and Moir finally pinpoint the local sources of the pain-inducing phenomenon, the Hum may transition from unexplained mystery to unfortunate byproduct of modernity, a fixture of human geography like light pollution. In the meantime, many just want to identify some relief.

"A lot of serious researchers don't want to have their name attached to that, but I'm not a formal academic researcher, and I'm quite willing to lend some credibility to this idea if I can," says MacPherson. "This phenomenon is real and many people are suffering: I'm just trying to do the best I can to help."

Source: Mic
http://mic.com/articles/91091/a-mysterious-sound-is-driving-people-insane-and-nobody-knows-what-s-causing-it

- HIDDEN MEANINGS DEPARTMENT -

UFO and Alien Contact in the Gnostic Scriptures Part 1
By Sean Casteel

[The following are excerpts from the newly published “Forbidden Books of Heresy: Revealing the Secrets of the Gnostic Scriptures – From UFOs to Jesus’ Love of Mary,” by Sean Casteel. The two sections provide an overview of alien contact as expressed in ancient times, using scriptures from the Gnostic book “The Acts of John” and the apocryphal “The Second Book of Enoch.”]

THE CHANGING FACE OF JESUS

There is no one face or personality for the Jesus described in the Gnostic scriptures, but instead a series of incarnations and embodiments that each serve a different purpose and lead the believer from one point of revelation to another, the various “masks” of the deity.

This idea is expressed quite eloquently by the late, great scholar of comparative mythology, Joseph Campbell. Campbell is best known to the general public for his 1987 PBS television series, “The Power of Myth,” in which he was interviewed by journalist Bill Moyers. In part three of his landmark series of books, “The Masks of God,” entitled “Occidental Mythology,” Campbell relates an interesting story of Jesus in disguise from the Gnostic book called the Acts of John.

“The Messiah has just come from his desert fast of forty days,” Campbell writes, setting the scene, “and his victory there over Satan. John and James are in their boat, fishing. Christ appears on the shore. And John is supposed to be telling, now, of the occasion.”

The scripture commences.

“For when he had chosen Peter and Andrew, who were brothers, he came to me and James, my brother, saying, ‘I have need of you, come unto me.’ And my brother, hearing that, said to me, ‘John, what does that child want who is on the shore there and called to us?’ And I said, ‘What child?’ And he said again, ‘The one beckoning to us.’ And I answered, ‘Because of the long watch we have kept at sea, you are not seeing right, my brother James. But do you not see the man who is standing there, comely, fair, and of cheerful countenance?’ But he answered, ‘Him, brother, I do not see. But let us go and we shall see what he wants.’

“And so, when we had brought our boat to land, we saw him also, helping us to settle it; and when we had left, thinking to follow him, he appeared to me to be rather bald, but with a beard thick and flowing, but to James he seemed a youth whose beard had newly come. We were therefore, both of us, perplexed as to what we had seen should mean. And as we followed him, continuing, we both were, little by little, even more perplexed as we considered the matter. For in my case, there appeared this still more wonderful thing: I would try to watch him secretly, and I never at any time saw his eyes blinking, but only open. And often he would appear to me to be a little man, uncomely, but then again as one reaching up to heaven. Moreover, there was in him another marvel: when we sat to eat he would clasp me to his breast, and sometimes the breast felt to me to be smooth and tender, but sometimes hard like stone.

“Another glory, also, would I tell to you, my brethren: namely, that sometimes when I would take hold of him, I would meet with a material and solid body, but again, at other times, when I touched him, the substance was immaterial and as if it existed not at all. And if at any time he were invited by some Pharisee and accepted the invitation, we accompanied him; and there was set before each of us a loaf by those who entertained; and with us, he too received one. But his own he would bless and apportion among us. And of that little, every one was filled, and our own loaves were saved whole, so that those who had invited him were amazed. And often, when I walked with him, I desired to see the print of his foot, whether it appeared on the earth; for I saw him, as it were, sustaining himself above the earth; and I never saw it.”

An important point to make here: the description of Jesus as “rather bald” and “a little man, uncomely,” who never blinked and left no footprints but rather seemed to float above the earth as he walked, contains many elements of our present-day descriptions of the gray aliens of abduction literature. One is reminded that the gray aliens are universally described as bald and small in stature. Whether or not they are “uncomely,” meaning “unattractive,” is a matter of personal taste. The oval gray heads with unblinking black eyes are nowadays a ubiquitous cultural icon, and the gray aliens’ ability to float just above the ground as they “walk” is a very familiar feature of abduction accounts. Abductees are often conveyed to and from the waiting ships in this same manner.  

The Apostle John concludes by saying, “And these things I tell you, my brethren, for the encouragement of your faith in him; for we must, at present, keep silence concerning his mighty and wonderful works, in as much as they are unspeakable, and, it may be, cannot at all be uttered or be heard.”

Campbell explains that this ancient view of a chameleon-like Jesus holds that Christ’s body, as seen by men, was “a mere appearance, the reality being celestial or divine, and its appearance, furthermore, a function of the mentality of the seer, not of the reality of the seen; a mere mask that might change but not be removed.”

The face and body of Jesus could be anything, anywhere, anyone, according to Campbell. It is understandable that the orthodox hierarchy would reject such a view of Jesus. A carefully choreographed game of “Now you see him, now you don’t” is a hard and elusive thing to grasp even in this supposedly more enlightened age, and a Jesus with a perpetually changing face doesn’t exactly fit one’s notion of “that old-time religion,” does it? But it is an enthralling mystery, nevertheless, and one worthy of continued contemplation by those seeking a truth not often told in the mainstream churches of our time.

THE BOOKS OF ENOCH

The apocryphal Books of Enoch are a marvelous addendum to the Bible as we more commonly know it. We share in Enoch’s wondrous adventure as he travels to both heaven and hell, bearing witness to the innumerable mysteries and testifying always for the sake of the righteous as they battle, suffer and endure the wicked. The fall of the evil angels called The Watchers, who take earthly wives and breed a horrifying race of giants; the birth of Noah as a strange and supernatural child of the great unknown who utterly terrifies his father; the creation story told by God, which begins with God as a solitary figure creating the visible from the invisible, all combine to fascinate and enthrall the reader who takes up the Books of Enoch and joins the prophet on his fearsome ride through the cosmos. Space and time melt away, and the promise of an eventual paradise where there is no time becomes the goal of Enoch’s journey, and our own as well.

Read more from Sean Casteel at his website: www.seancasteel.com

- WAY DOWN, BENEATH THE OCEAN DEPARTMENT -

She-Devils of the Deep

Fishermen have long been renowned for tall tales but perhaps the tallest of all are those about mermaids. Mermaid legends are centuries old and have a degree of similarity, irrespective of which country they come from. All depict the creature as half-human, half-fish and sightings are generally said to be ill omens, foretelling bad storms, rough seas and even death on the waves.

With the exception of Mami Wata, the West African mermaid goddess who was said to possess healing powers, most mermaid stories are of fearsome sirens luring men to their watery graves. It's only in the last 50 years that the mermaids' reputation got a romantic makeover thanks to Hollywood and Disney, with films such as The Little Mermaid and Splash.

One night the painting came to life
Older versions of these stories say that mermaids yearn for a soul, which they can only get by marrying a human, hence their stalker-like behaviour with men. Holistic therapist Carina Coen believes she was a mermaid in a past life following an unusual experience. She says: 'I have a hand-painted picture of a dolphin and a mermaid on my wall at home. One night the painting came to life. It was as though the top part of the room became deep sea water and the mermaid floated above me, singing and talking with incredible passion.'

The mermaid told Coen that her mission on Earth was to 'return others to their inner soul life journey' and urged her to help awaken people to the ways they are destroying the seas.

While most people will think it a likely story and even Coen admits her encounter seems surreal, she is absolutely convinced her experience was as dramatic as a flesh-and- blood sighting.

The last reported mermaid sighting was in 1947 when newspaper reports told of a fisherman on the Isle of Muck in the Scottish Highlands who said he had seen a mermaid sitting on a lobster pot near the shore combing her hair. Hoaxes have also dented the idea of mermaids being real. The most famous of these was the Fiji mermaid, purportedly found by Japanese fishermen near the Fiji Islands, and brought to the New York-based American Museum in 1842. This ugly creature was found to be a composite of papier m?chŽ, a baby orangutan, a monkey head and bits of different fish. Perhaps the most recent hoax came from Chennai after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. The so-called mermaid was once again made up of primate and fish parts.

Marine biologist Dr Vicki Howe, of Cardiff University, is adamant there are no such things as mermaids.

'There are many strands of evolution, of which fish and mammals are just two,' she says. 'Both humans and fish are vertebrates. However, these are two divergent evolutionary pathways and mammals are warm-blooded whereas fish are cold-blooded. That is a good starting point for refuting the existence of a fish-human hybrid.' It has been suggested that sightings of mermaids may be dugongs, or sea cows, that swim in shallow waters.

'It's nice to think dugongs, that are huge graceful animals with soft smiling faces, could be mistaken for mermaids,' says Howe. 'Sailors on long journeys at sea, working hard with poor diets and plenty of grog, may have resorted to wishful thinking.'

Source: Metro
http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/article.html?in_article_id=15494&in_page_id=2


- IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE DEPARTMENT -

Korendor Calling: Alien Radio Contact

"In the wee hours of the morning, when the first golden rays of the sun were probing the black veil of a cold December night for an opening through which to illuminate the world, I held my ninth radio communication with people from another planet."

Be alerted, reader: That is not the opening line from a science fiction novel, though it would probably play well in that context. Instead, those were the words with which a Berkshires man named Bob began his account of his years of personal contact with the Korendians.

It all began in July 1961, when the then 18-year-old radio buff was browsing around the short-wave bands with his equipment, "searching for something interesting to listen to," and finally selected a BBC station. It was not long before an irritating noise disturbed his listening, and as he attempted to identify its cause, a clear, feminine voice spoke out from his headphones, "Bob, we'd like you to stay on this frequency for a while."

The voice proceeded to introduce herself as Lin-Erri, a native of the planet Korendor, speaking to him from a spacecraft several miles from Earth.

By his own account, Bob was understandably dumbfounded. He notes that he had read a couple of books and some newspaper articles on the subject of flying saucers (as had quite a substantial part of the American population by 1961), but he described himself as "still somewhat skeptical of such things." Before that, in a 1958 letter to the editor that appeared in the Berkshire Evening Eagle, this same young man had stated that, based on his reading (which included notorious extraterrestrial contactee claimant George Adamski's book "Flying Saucers Have Landed"), he was "inclined to inclined to accept for fact the existence of the extraterrestrial beings and their spacecraft."

Still, there's believing in aliens, and then there's having aliens chat you up one evening.

Lin-Erri told Bob that her people had become interested in the mountains of the Berkshires, specifically in a certain unnamed material to be found there that was useful to some of their electronic devices. Lin-Erri and her companions became interested in speaking to Bob because of his interest in UFOs, as well as in "world peace and the future of mankind." She gave him instructions on how to upgrade his equipment in order to have two-way communication with him, and from that time on, Bob spoke with Lin-Erri and other Korendians frequently.

Their home planet, they said, was very similar to Earth but with a higher percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere. Korendor was the third planet in the 12-planet system orbiting the star Korena, which lay about three degrees from Arcturus in the constellation Bootes, not visible from Earth with our current telescopic technology. In appearance, the Korendians are not unlike us; although typically shorter in stature, they appear similar enough to travel and work among us without notice.

Bob described his continued contacts with the Korendians in articles that were published in UFO International between 1963 and 1969. These accounts, along with some supplemental information, were later gathered into a privately printed book "UFO Contact From Korendor," e-book versions of which are still available on the Internet.

He describes finally meeting with representatives of the Korendian race, including Lin-Erri and others, traveling in their spacecraft and visiting their underground base in the Berkshires. His accounts included detailed descriptions of their technology, diagrams of their vehicles and even photographs of alleged flying saucers, of which I was only able to obtain some murky Xeroxes.

The majority of the material he presented consisted of transcriptions of conversations, primarily messages and social diatribes from his Korendian contacts. At times, his story reads like a "100 ways Korendor is better than Earth" list.

The Korendians seem to have had a very progressive platform, even for the '60s: Besides denunciation of war, atomic weapons and racial inequality, they preached a possible salvation for humanity intertwining both greater technology and greater morality, a more conscious existence free of "dangerous emotionalism." They predicted that communism in its current tyrannous incarnation would collapse under its own weight and that the West should try to coexist peaceably with it in the meantime. Korendians were even said to have been behind the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965, in order to prompt the United States to modify and upgrade its grid system.

There's more to Bob's story - hundreds of pages of testimony recounting his encounters with the Korendians. Later, at least two other individuals, John W. Dean and Cameron Colin Boyd, also reported contacts with the kindly folk from Korendor. Dean's are described in his book "Flying Saucers Close-up," along with what he maintains are examples of Korendian writing and vocabulary. But Bob maintains to this day that he is the only Korendian contact, and that others who have made such claims are either frauds or victims of deception by forces aligned against the Korendian cause.

As to the veracity and potential significance of Bob's reports, different people have come to different conclusions. Gabriel Green, editor of UFO International, embraced and published his accounts, couching them with enthusiastic editorial notes. They were also championed by retired Air Force pilot-turned-UFO-investigator Wendelle Stevens, who had them published in book form.

Whitley Strieber notes that the name Lin-Erri phonetically translates into the Gaelic "body of light," drawing parallels between the Korendians and ancient lore of the Sidhe or Faerie beings, right down to their underground realms. UFO theorist John Keel suggests that they, along other UFO beings, fairies and so forth down through the ages, are all "ultraterrestrials" - beings of sort of semi-material, daemonic dimensional reality, bordering ours.

Generally speaking, though, even among the admittedly fringe pursuit of ufology, this type of "contactee" narrative, most famously associated with George Adamski, is treated with little credibility and rarely is seriously discussed in UFO circles today. One skeptic, though, ufologist Allan Grise, came to the Berkshires to visit Bob at his home and was intrigued by what he found.

A professional engineer and ham-radio buff, Grise looked at Bob's equipment and found that "everything seemed to make sense. The circuits were all appropriate to extend the receiving range." He also listened to some tapes purported to be of conversations with Lin-Erri, whose voice he describes as having "a singsong, melodious quality" and whose halting speech patterns suggested someone foreign managing well in English.

Bob stayed out of the contactee scene of conventions and lecture circuits, confining his public face to his written accounts. Grise found him to be uninterested in self-promotion - volunteering little but amenable to questions. Over e-mail exchanges, I found it to be similar: He was resistant to the idea of any press coverage but was kind enough to clarify some points for me. He's not loopy-schizophrenic, megalomaniacal - anything like that - and I've dealt with "UFO nuts," believe me.

As for the UFO base in the Berkshires (vague rumor of which initially lead me to Bob's story) various Internet sites identify Mount Everett as being the site of an underground alien base, but Bob tells me he knows nothing about that. As to where exactly the base he described in his claims is located - and whether or not he still has involvement with the Korendians, Bob only jokes, "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

If his story IS a fabrication, he deserves to take his rightful place alongside Orson Welles, L. Ron Hubbard, Lovecraft and other great science-fiction crossover artists. I, like most people, might have a hard time endorsing the idea of such a vast extraterrestrial presence going so secretly among us. It's not such a bad scenario, though, should it someday turn out that Bob was right all along. These Korendians seem like nice enough blokes, provided they don't end up being rodent-eating reptiles underneath, with books on "How to Serve Man."

Source: The Advocate Weekly
http://advocateweekly.com/columns/ci_3940408
- TECHNOLOGY AT ITS BEST DEPARTMENT -

The 120-Year-Old Mind-Reading Machine
By Adrienne LaFrance

In the 1890s, when technologies like telephones and automobiles and lightbulbs were still strange and wonderful and new, inventors promised another remarkable device would soon be ubiquitous: the mind-reading machine.

Inspired by the phonoautograph—a new device that showed what sound waves looked like on paper—the scientist Julius Emmner invented a machine that he said could record thoughts. It was simple, really. If invisible sound vibrated in a ways that could be measured, Emmner figured, why wouldn't unseen thoughts do the same?

"Sound is addressed to the ear," he told The Times of Washington, D.C., in August 1895, "yet it may be made visible, a proof of which fact is found in the phono-autograph, in which the vibrations of sound are made distinctly visible." Reporters took him at his word. From that same article: "Mr. Emmner is carefully guarding his secret, but he speaks so enthusiastically of his success that he must have obtained the most satisfactory results so far from his investigations."

Reports of thought-reading machines were common in those days. "Secrets will cease to be hidden in the day when the perfected psychometer comes into general use," the Seattle Star declared in a 1908 article about Columbia University professor Frederick Peterson's lie-detector-esque "mind-reading machine."

Peterson's device was made out of a mirror, a lamp, a horizontal glass scale, and a galvanometer—a tool to measure electric current. It was designed to shine light on a person whose hands would be resting on copper-plate electrodes. That person would be instructed to say any words that came to mind, and if the beam of light shining on him moved more than 6 to 8 centimeters in response, Peterson interpreted it as a "complex" emotion.

Okaaay. So it doesn't exactly sound like the "instrument of precision" the Star claimed it to be, but coverage of Peterson's apparatus clearly highlights the era's cultural obsession with mind-reading as the next big thing in technology. By 1910, a British psychologist claimed that thoughts vibrated enough to be discernible to those "constantly attuned" to the phenomenon. Others in academia focused on the visible form a thought might take—what colors could thoughts be? And what would those different colors mean? In 1938, The New York Times called the idea of a thought-reading machine "delightfully plausible."

Decades of neuroscience research later, most of these mind-reading designs sound absurd. But you can't blame people for wanting to believe. The best real-life technology begins with marvelous, outlandish ideas. Consider the technological advances that adults of the late 1800s had just lived through: Humans could now be captured on camera (1838), there were devices that could snatch sound from the air and record it (1860), people in different houses could have real-time voice conversations by talking into machines (1876), and electric lights had just been installed in the White House (1891)!

The concept of recorded sound was still so new in the 1890s that it seemed reasonable—or at least the tiniest bit possible—to think recorded sound might be a precursor to recorded thought. Sounds had always been something you heard once, while they happened, and never again.

And if you haven't tried recording someone's thoughts, how do you know you can't do it? In the same way that if you haven't seen the surface of the moon, why shouldn't you be open to the idea of moon elephants roaming on it? When a new telescope was debuted in Paris in 1899, The Times (of Richmond, Virginia) called it the "telescope by which animals as large as an elephant can be plainly seen upon the moon" and promised it would "show us the large animals upon the moon and their movements."

It was an age of mind-reading machines, and moon elephants, and horse-powered hippocycles and video telephones.

The promise of a mind-reading machine was, in its day, a sort of shorthand for what might be technologically possible. And a willingness to believe—or at least to explore—such an idea reflects the kind of optimism that's still essential to invention. The culture of what could be is part of how we organize all kinds of ideas about the world. It's in that same spirit today that we talk about the promises of stem cell research and gene therapies, advances in cryogenics and artificial intelligence, the search for life on other planets, etc.

And yet there's an irresistible construct about technology of the past, a way of thinking that obsesses over what we got wrong. It's that part of you that says: Of course we don't have mind-reading devices. And this is kind of funny because we tend to swing to the opposite extreme when considering possibilities for the future. A machine that does simple math isn't just a useful new tool but something that "will supplant brains."

But that "mechanical brain" didn't supplant the human brain any more than Julius Emmner's secret machine read minds. World-changing technology has never been about devices or machines, but rather people's interactions with them. Only by pushing the boundaries of what's possible can we discover what's real.

Scientists, by the way, are still designing mind-reading experiments.

Source: The Atlantic
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/06/the-120-year-old-mind-reading-machine/372838/


- DO NOT DISTURB DEPARTMENT -

Why Icelanders Are Wary of Elves Living Beneath The Rocks

Plans to build a new road in Iceland ran into trouble recently when campaigners warned that it would disturb elves living in its path. Construction work had to be stopped while a solution was found.

From his desk at the Icelandic highways department in Reykjavik, Petur Matthiasson smiles at me warmly from behind his glasses, but firmly.

"Let's get this straight before we start - I do not believe in elves," he says.

I raise my eyebrows slightly and incline my head towards his computer screen which is displaying the plans for a new road in a neighbouring town. There are two yellow circles marked on the plans, one that reads Elf Church and another that reads Elf Chapel. Petur sighs.

"Ok," he acknowledges wearily. "But it's not every day in Iceland that we divert roads for elves. It's just in this case we were warned that elves were living in some of the rocks in the path of the road - well, we have to respect that belief." He grins shyly and picks up his car keys.

"Come on, I'll show you where the elves live," he says indulgently.

Surveys suggest that more than half of Icelanders believe in, or at least entertain the possibility of the existence of, the Huldufolk - the hidden people. Just to be clear, Icelandic elves are not the small, green, pointy-eared variety that help Santa pack the toys at Christmas - they're the same size as you and I, they're just invisible to most of us.

Mainly they're a peaceable breed but if you treat them with disrespect, for example by blasting dynamite through their rock houses and churches, they're not reticent about showing their displeasure. During our car journey, Petur tells me several stories about how elves are suspected to be behind bulldozer breakdowns and a series of workmen's accidents.

As I step out of the car at the site of the elf church a vicious gust of icy wind punches me full in the face making me stagger backwards on to the black, volcanic rock.

Iceland's rugged landscape is no bucolic idyll - the very ground boils and spits irrationally, the surrounding craggy, black mountains fester menacingly and above, the sky is constantly herniated by the iron-grey clouds it strains to hold up. It's a visceral, raw and brutal beauty which makes Heathcliff's Wuthering Heights look like a prissy, pastoral watercolour.

"You can't live in this landscape and not believe in a force greater than you," explains Professor of Folklore Adalheidur Gudmundsdottir when I visit her at the university.

She looks at me imploringly. "Please don't portray Icelanders as uneducated peasants who believe in fairies, but look around you and you'll understand why the power of folklore here is so strong," she says. It is of course also strong in the tourism trade.

On the main road into town from the airport, "Elves Live Here" signs try to lure the fanciful into spending a few thousand krona (a few pounds) on a tour of an elf village, a CD of mystical music, or for the less whimsical, perhaps an "I had Sex with an Elf in Iceland" T-shirt.

There's even an elf school in the capital at which I dutifully enrolled.

Magnus Skarphedinsson, the headmaster, a rotund, ebullient chap who ate large quantities of breakfast cereal during my one-on-one lesson, had regrettably never seen an elf himself although he did own an old cooking pot that apparently had once made stews in an elf kitchen before the bottom rusted away.

His eyes twinkled so wickedly throughout the class that at the end I asked if he wasn't some kind of malevolent fairy himself.

Petur and I have now reached the 12-foot-high jagged rock that's apparently home to the elf chapel. I scour it closely but apart from an insect or two scuttling to find some shelter in its moss-encrusted crevices, I can see no signs of any life, mythological or other. Petur eyes me suspiciously.

"I could tell you about our family elf," he begins tentatively. I encourage him to tell his tale and learn that Petur's family had a protective elf in the wild north of the country who'd brought them good fortune.

When he'd gone on a camping trip to the isolated area, his father asked him to go and pay his respects to the elf and to thank her.

"But I don't believe in elves so I sort of forgot," he says. The next day, despite the overcast sky and drizzle, he woke up so badly blistered by what appeared to be sunburn that he could barely stand.

As we turn into the blustering wind we catch each other's eye. We both have one hand gripped on to the rock with the desperation of gamblers clinging to a lucky charm. We walk back towards the car in a smug complicity of being almost non-believers.

The elf chapel and the highway

Work on the highway to link the Alftanes peninsula to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer was halted when campaigners warned it would disturb elf habitat and a protected area of untouched lava.

The chapel is a 12-foot-high jagged rock.
    
The matter was resolved in part when a local lady who claims to talk to elves, mediated and they agreed to the road so long as their chapel was carefully moved and put elsewhere.
    
The highways authority will not reveal the cost of moving the rock, but says it weighs 70 tonnes and they will have to hire a crane.

Source: BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27907358

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