12/28/14  #802
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It has been going on for centuries.  The dark, secret places have been their meeting rooms. Behind closed, locked doors they weave their plans.  Like the web from a hideous spider, their connections are complex and far-reaching.  Their nefarious activities seem disjointed and random -- effectively hiding their ultimate goal.  Those who dare oppose them are branded as "conspiracy nuts"  and  ignored.  It is all part of the grand plan. But there is one small kink in their web of deceit...CONSPIRACY JOURNAL!  Here each and every week to let you know what is really going on behind the wizards curtain.

This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such Karmic stories as:

Should Unprovable Physics Be Considered Philosophy? -
And There Were Giants In All The Earth -
Why Are You Stalling?
AND: On the Surface of it, UFOs Could Lurk

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

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~


Here is a direct link to Issue # 43

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America's Strange and Supernatural History

Find out what the "Powers That Be" Don't want you to know regarding the truly hidden - occult - history of the United States.

No one would likely dispute the fact that times are stranger in America than ever before, and indications are that things are getting weirder with each passing day. But a look at our hidden – SECRET – history alerts us to the startling fact that our country has been steeped in “high strangeness” since its founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and, provocatively, even before.

It is nevertheless apparent that our proud nation owes a great “debt of ingratitude” to the mysterious, the macabre, the downright bizarre and the unseen realm of the occult. Did the ancient Lemurians, a Pacific Ocean race similar to the fabled Atlanteans to the east, erect the mysterious walls found in the eastern part of the San Francisco Bay area? Writer Olav Phillips explores the enigma first hand.

Sean Casteel provides an overview of historical incidents of cannibalism, stories that go back as far as “The Starving Time” of the Jamestown colony in 1609, and Wm. Michael Mott offers up some of the UFO and creature sightings he has collected from the state of Mississippi.

Publisher/writer Timothy Green Beckley and his friend Circe returned to Sleepy Hollow, New York – of “Headless Horseman” fame – and discovered that paranormal activity is still rampant there, while author Tim Swartz would like suitable explanations for all the supernatural mysteries of his native Indiana.

In a Bonus Section: “The Spiritual Destiny of America” - The future of America as seen through the eyes of prophecy and the occult is revealed. You can feel the chills already, eh? Read “America’s Strange and Supernatural History” and get ready to kick those chills up a notch or two.

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Should Unprovable Physics Be Considered Philosophy?
By Michael Byrne

In some large part, science is powerful not because of ideas but because of how it treats ideas. Science asks, prove it. The distinction is what separates science from philosophy: falsifiable claims and experimentation. The Higgs boson was understood a half-century ago as a necessary component of physics, yet we spent $9 billion on a machine to observe it IRL. Until then the Higgs boson was only probably true.

Physics, cosmology in particular, is at an interesting and potentially dangerous crossroads, as argued in a recent, sharp piece in Nature by physicists Joseph Silk and George Ellis. In short, it would appear that theory, particularly neat-o ideas like string theory and the multiverse, has reached the outer limits of provability. We can't access the higher dimensions of string theory, nor can we observe (or not observe) our would-be sibling universes. Their fate is idea limbo, forever between notion and fact.

String theory and the multiverse are concepts that by definition defy experimentation, and yet a small movement within cosmology is attempting to make the case that they should be exempt. At stake, according to Ellis and Silk, is the integrity of science itself.

"This battle for the heart and soul of physics is opening up at a time when scientific results—in topics from climate change to the theory of evolution—are being questioned by some politicians and religious fundamentalists," the pair writes. "Potential damage to public confidence in science and to the nature of fundamental physics needs to be contained by deeper dialogue between scientists and philosophers."

The opposing view, popularly argued by cosmologist and writer Sean Carroll, is this: An idea might be exempt from experimentation if it's sufficiently elegant and explanatory. For example, string theory is (supposedly) the only framework that sufficiently unifies the four fundamental forces of nature (gravity, electromagnetism, the weak and strong forces), therefore it contains some grain of truth, even though that truth can never be experimentally demonstrated in its entirety. (Supersymmetry doesn't prove strings.)

Another voice within this movement is that of philosopher and theorist Richard Dawid. Dawid argues that we can use probability as a stand-in for experiment. That is, using Bayesian analysis, it's possible to determine the probability that a set of facts fits a theory. If the probability is good enough, we can chuck testability. Dawid argues that, because, "no-one has found a good alternative” and “theories without alternatives tended to be viable in the past,” string theory should be assumed legitimate.

In essence, he's arguing that theorized discoveries can be taken as evidence for fundamental theories. If we had the capability of conducting some experiment, it would probably have this outcome because the mathematics works out. Ellis and Silk argue simply that that's not good enough, for theoretical physics or any science.

The situation is similar for multiverse theories, which explain the fundamental constants of the universe (why everything is "just right" for human life) away as unspecial by claiming that in fact there are an infinite number of parallel universes composed of not just every alternative for those constants, but also any possibility for anything. Choices are never made in this reality, only new universes. There is an entire realm that exists in which I got two slices of pizza for lunch instead of three, and there is an entire realm that exists in which the strong force isn't strong enough to form atomic nuclei. Cool.

"Billions of universes—and of galaxies and copies of each of us—accumulate with no possibility of communication between them or of testing their reality," Ellis and Silk write. "But if a duplicate self exists in every multiverse domain and there are infinitely many, which is the real 'me' that I experience now? Is any version of oneself preferred over any other? How could 'I' ever know what the 'true' nature of reality is if one self favours the multiverse and another does not?" Stoners, beware.

"Post-empirical science is an oxymoron," the pair concludes. "Theories such as quantum mechanics and relativity turned out well because they made predictions that survived testing. Yet numerous historical examples point to how, in the absence of adequate data, elegant and compelling ideas led researchers in the wrong direction, from Ptolemy's geocentric theories of the cosmos to Lord Kelvin's 'vortex theory' of the atom and Fred Hoyle's perpetual steady-state Universe."

The scientific high-ground is at stake, with an ocean of pseudoscientists ready to flood the landscape, taking the public with them. The answer, according to the current paper, lies in a simple question. What observational or experimental evidence is there that would convince a theorist that their theory is wrong? If there is none, then the theory is not a scientific theory.

Source: Motherboard/Vice


And There Were Giants In All The Earth
By Joseph P. Farrell

This last week I received a bunch of articles from many people about giants, and this is a subject intriguing to me personally, since I wrote a whole book on the subject (Genes, Giants, Monsters, and Men), and have included discussions about giants in other books as well, and yes, to set the record straight and to let everyone know where I am coming from, I am one of those who does think there’s been an institutional and academic coverup of the issue, though at the time I wrote Genes, Giants, Monsters, and Men, the evidence was not to the state it is now. The evidence suggestive – though in my opinion still not compellingly so – that such a coverup exists, has grown a bit. But it has grown to the point that a coverup looks more likely, as does the possibility of deliberate suppression and even destruction, of the evidence.

First, here’s the story that caught my interest, in the many giant-related articles I received. This one in particular was shared by Mr. T.M.:

The Great Smithsonian Cover-Up: 18 Giant Skeletons Discovered in Wisconsin

Now, there’s not much new here, to those familiar with the “Smithsonian cover-up story,” except I did note this interesting set of information:

    “In the words of Vine Deloria, a Native American author and professor of law:

        “Modern day archaeology and anthropology have nearly sealed the door on our imaginations, broadly interpreting the North American past as devoid of anything unusual in the way of great cultures characterized by a people of unusual demeanor.

        “The great interloper of ancient burial grounds, the nineteenth century Smithsonian Institution, created a one-way portal, through which uncounted bones have been spirited.

        “This door and the contents of its vault are virtually sealed off to anyone, but government officials. Among these bones may lay answers not even sought by these officials concerning the deep past.”

    “Two Giant Skeletons Near Potosi, WI

    “The January 13th, 1870 edition of the Wisconsin Decatur Republican reported that two giant, well-preserved skeletons of an unknown race were discovered near Potosi, WI by workers digging the foundation of a saw mill near the bank of the Mississippi river.

    “One skeleton measured seven-and-a-half feet, the other eight feet. The skulls of each had prominent cheek bones and double rows of teeth. A large collection of arrowheads and “strange toys” were found buried with the remains.

    “Giant Skeleton Discovered in Maple Creek, WI

    “On December 20th, 1897 the New York Times reported that three large burial mounds had been discovered near Maple Creek, WI. Upon excavation, a skeleton measuring over nine feet from head to toe was discovered with finely tempered copper rods and other relics.”

Now I reported in Genes, Giants, Monsters, and Men about similar New York Times articles, and indeed this very same find. So why am I bothering you with it?

It’s because of this article, which many of you sent me, reported by RT (why is all the good news now being reported by RT?):

Home / News / Million mummy mystery: Egyptian cemetery with 1mn bodies stumps scientists

Now amid this high strangeness of a vast burial ground of over a million “mummies,” you’ll note three odd things:

1) One “mummy” was of a large male about seven feet tall, a largeheight given the relative “shortness” of people of the era:

    “The scientists found one mummy with a height of more than 2 meters, Muhlestein told the audience in Toronto. The mummy was discovered long before Muhlestein became the project director. “We once found a male who was over 7 feet (2.1 meters) tall, who was far too tall to fit into the shaft, so they bent him in half and tossed him in,” he said.”

2) Several of the remains were of blonde-haired or red-haired people that appear to be buried in areas specially reserved for blonde-haired or red-haired people:

    “According to Muhlestein, the researchers can use the database to “show us all of the blonde burials, and [it shows] they are clustered in one area, or all of the red-headed burials, and [it shows] they’re clustered in another area.” ‘Perhaps we have family areas or genetic groups [in certain areas], but we’re still trying to explore that,” he added.

But perhaps we have burials together for a different reason, and here comes the first part of today’s high octane speculation, for as readers here who are familiar with the “lore of giants,” these are often described are blonde- or red-haired; and hence, might these burial sites represent a burial for a population viewed by the rest of the people burying them as a cursed, or at least “quarantined” population? Of course, this is pure speculation because there is absolutely nothing in the article that suggests that these people are of above average height, though it would be interesting to find out if the male over seven feet tall was.

3) The third odd thing to be noted – and with it, the other half of our high octane speculation – is that much of the excavation is being conducted in conjunction with Brigham Young University in Utah, which is, of course, a Mormon-influenced institution. Giants are referred to in the Book of Mormon, and, if I understand Mormon doctrine correctly, Mormons view these giants as the offspring, not of fallen angels, but rather of men that achieved deification. As such, their relics would, presumably, be treated with some reverence.

So what does this have to do with the Great Smithsonian Giant Cover-up? Well, permit me to conclude my high octane speculation by sharing what I have long held as a kind of private hypothesis, which I share now. There has been a kind of love-hate relationship between Mormonism and the US government, a relationship that in the 1800s was more one of mutual hostility, that by the 1900s became more one of mutual interest. Thus, I have long suspected that if there was a quiet, covert cover-up of archaeological “difficulties” like giants, while the government continued to quietly pursue and research the matter, then this cover-up and quiet pursuit would, like other types of black projects, be shifted to cut-outs like religious groups with a natural interest in the matter… like the Mormons, who also maintain keen interest in genealogies, a huge genealogical database in Utah….

… and let’s not forget the NSA’s huge data processing center also located in that state either…

It does make you wonder…

See you on the flip side…

Read more about giants and other strange things in the new book: America's Strange and Supernatural History

Source: Giza Death Star


Cellular Memory and Organ Transplants
By Martin J. Clemens

Modern medicine is a wondrous and complex thing.  As an institution it has its beginnings in pre-history, with herbalists and shamans who treated every ailment, every illness with magic and salves and fireside dancing.  Of course, the state of medicine has advanced 1000 fold since then.  We graduated from superstition, to fledgling theories about the transmission of disease – such as the miasma theory of medicine – to germ theory, modern pharmaceuticals, genetic analysis, stem cell therapy, and of course, organ transplantation.

That last one has a longer and more storied history than you might think, and it gets kind of weird.

Organ transplantation is an incredible thing, if you think about it.  The very idea that one can remove a piece of someone’s body, put it in or on someone else’s, and that organ will become part of the second person, allowing them to heal and survive whatever trauma or disease brought them to a position of need in the first place… it’s amazing!

According to Donate Life, an American organization advocating for organ donation, there were 28,953 organ transplant procedures conducted in the US last year, and there are more than 123,000 people desperately awaiting suitable organs or tissue, just in the United States at this moment.  When scaled globally, those numbers are staggering.

So think about that for a moment.  That’s almost 30,000 people, just in the US, who got a second chance at life because someone was willing to give up their organs (either upon their death or while alive).  A little piece (or a few little pieces) of the 15,000 or so people who donated their own bodies to help those in need, live on in the surviving transplant recipients.  Those are people who have physically merged; donor and recipient – upon success of the procedure – essentially become one person.

That may seem to you, to be a strange way to look at it, but there’s actually more to it than you might think.

For as long as we’ve been transplanting parts of people into other people (more than 2000 years), there have been recipients of those parts who have claimed that once they started to live with the new addition to their body, they began to take on strange personality changes, often things that were completely counter to their normal demeanour.  Their preference for various foods would change drastically; something they enjoyed before becomes intolerable, or something they previously found disgusting is suddenly a constant craving.  They would suddenly feel the urge to begin smoking, or to take up a particular hobby.  Almost as if a part of the donors personality has also been grafted onto, or into their body.

For a lot of people that probably sounds pretty familiar, though it might feel like just an urban legend.  You might think it invokes some spiritual connection; a transfer of the soul of one person into another.  And while that might be something to think about, there is a basis in material fact here.

If you go looking, you’ll find a plethora of anecdotal accounts of people experiencing exactly what’s laid out above.  You’ll also find a strong skeptical argument refuting the idea as entirely impossible.  What we’re talking about is cellular memory.  It’s a fairly old concept, with connections to past life regression and reincarnation.

Cellular memory is a theory that our cells, all 37 trillion of them, actually contain copies of our memories.  You’ll note that no one really knows how or where memories are stored, but it’s long been thought that they were restricted to the brain.  This, however, is no longer the case.

Through the study of epigenetics, which is often called cellular memory, and which has long been thought pseudoscience along with cellular memory, we now know that our cells, or even our very DNA actually do contain some element of our memories.  That element can be passed on – in the case of epigenetics, it’s passed from parent to child during gestation – though it’s not like handing down a photo album from generations past.  Researchers have found that basic instincts, fears, and primal associations may be passed on this way.

It turns out that the same transfer of experience may happen with organ transplantation.

Last summer, a team of researchers from the Swedish Karolinska Institutet, announced the discovery of the mechanism for cellular memory and its transfer among cells.  Their paper, published in the scientific journal Cell, examines the interactions of proteins and DNA during cell division, isolating what’s known as transcriptions factors.

    “The DNA in human cells is translated into a multitude of proteins required for a cell to function. When, where and how proteins are expressed is determined by regulatory DNA sequences and a group of proteins, known as transcription factors, that bind to these DNA sequences. Each cell type can be distinguished based on its transcription factors, and a cell can in certain cases be directly converted from one type to another, simply by changing the expression of one or more transcription factors. It is critical that the pattern of transcription factor binding in the genome be maintained. During each cell division, the transcription factors are removed from DNA and must find their way back to the right spot after the cell has divided. Despite many years of intense research, no general mechanism has been discovered which would explain how this is achieved.”

Here’s the thing, each new cell needs to know how to order its transcription factors, and needs to understand the order of transcription factors that existed before it was created, so that it can maintain its identity.  No one really knows exactly what information is being transferred between cells in this way, and since the cells need to have the memories of the cells in previous generations, whatever information is contained in those memories gets passed on, even if that information is superfluous to its purpose.

Now, because any cell in your body can at any time be converted into any other kind of cell – i.e. a lung cell could be converted into a brain cell if needed – that means that whatever memory that cell contains will then be passed on to other cells in other systems of the body.  If there is more than just identity information being stored in those proteins, then that information is also being shared, and will eventually spread.

So here we go.

If Jane gets a kidney transplant from Bob, and Bob’s kidney cells contained information about a memory, maybe that he enjoyed sardines, then when Bob’s kidney cells begin to interact with Jane’s cells, that memory information will be passed on to other cells.  Which in short order could have Jane craving those disgusting little fish in a can.

It is the process of cellular memory that keeps you who you are over the years of your life.  All of your cells are replaced by new ones regularly, and without cellular memory, those new cells wouldn’t know how to make you be you.  We don’t yet know how far cellular memory theory goes, the extent to which information can be passed between individuals in this way is unknown.  But here’s a little something to think about:

The Theseus Paradox poses the question, if a ship sailed for one hundred years, and over those years the crew worked to maintain the ship by replacing worn boards, eventually every board on the ship will have been replaced with new wood.  At the one hundred year mark, would it still be the same ship?

Source: Mysterous Universe


Why Are You Stalling?
By Gareth J. Medway

One day in June 1936, so the story goes, Rachel, the wife of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, was planning to drive from Rome to Ostia on the coast, about twenty miles away. Over breakfast, her husband said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a very unusual experience today.” Indeed, she and her chauffeur were only a few miles past the city limits when they encountered a traffic jam. “What’s happening here?” Madame Mussolini demanded. “It looks as if everyone is breaking down at once ....” her driver began. His own motor then coughed and died. He coasted to the edge of the road. “I can’t understand it!” Several minutes passed, but then suddenly all of the stalled motors roared back to life again. “There was a universal shrugging of shoulders as the fuming drivers got back into their vehicles and continued to Ostia.”

This story was told by John Keel (The Cosmic Question, 1976, p.35), who, however, did not specify his source – possibly it was Albert Zarca, Mussolini sans Masque, 1973, which he mentions in a footnote. It was said to be the result of secret experiments by Marconi, who had moved back to his native Italy and was employed by Mussolini. Whilst trying to develop radar, he had inadvertently hit upon a radio frequency that caused internal combustion engines to stall.

A similar story went around in Germany, where a large transmission mast had been built on the Brocken (traditionally a meeting place of witches) in the Harz mountains. “As usually reported, the phenomenon consisted of a tourist driving his car on one of the roads in the vicinity, and the engine suddenly ceasing to operate. A German Air Force sentry would then appear from the side of the road and tell him that it was no use his trying to get the car going again for the time being. The sentry would, however, return and tell him when he would be able to do so. The sentry appeared in due course, and the engine started.” (R. V. Jones, Most Secret War, 1978, p.50)

Another version came from the United States: “What about the boy in Appleton, Wisconsin, whose short-wave set hit a magnetic frequency which not only paralysed automobiles within three miles of his home, but any plane flying over his house? Chet L. Swital was sent by his paper from Chicago to cover the story and when he reached Appleton he found the place crawling with FBI men. They confiscated the boy’s short-wave set and shipped him, his family, and the mystifying radio to Washington for further study. This was in 1941.” (Frank Scully, Behind the Flying Saucers, 1950, p.201.)

An obvious question arises: if the Italians or Germans or Americans were possessed of such devices, why did they not use them during the war? In the age of the propeller airplane they would have been lethal. Though the British government they did not believe these tales, during this period they a lot of time and effort to disinformation, hence, “... we thought that it might be a good idea to start the same tale going in England to see whether it would puzzle the Germans. The story spread rapidly, and we heard of it from time to time, with ever increasing detail. The last I heard of it was a family of Quakers, who of course never lie, driving across Salisbury Plain when the engine of their car stopped. In due course a soldier appeared and told them that it would now start again, and so they were able to continue on their way.” (Jones, idem.) So perhaps the other stories had a similar origin.

Of course, the Second World War produced a number of rumours about secret inventions, some of which, such as the atomic bomb, turned out to be true. Death rays were popular, and perhaps not entirely fictional. Another story about Marconi was that he experimented with microwaves, and found that they were killing sheep on nearby farms. Some were deliberately invented. When R. V. Jones was working on infra-red as a way of detecting aircraft at night, which was abandoned when radar proved to be more effective, he told one man that they were working on a way to make ships invisible. They had so far managed to make a gunboat invisible, but the crew could still be seen. (One wonders if this has any connection with the yarn about ‘The Philadelphia Experiment’?) When radar did get working, the RAF put it about that they were able to locate the enemy at night by feeding their pilots carrots so as to improve their night vision.

These stories evidently came to the ear of Bernard Newman, author of The Flying Saucer, 1948. This was inspired by a remark of Anthony Eden, former foreign secretary (and future prime minister), that the Cold War had made enemies of nations who just before had been united against the Third Reich, and that a new common enemy would be beneficial. “What we need is an invasion from space.” In the novel, a group of scientists took him up on this and faked an invasion from space for the purpose.

Flying saucers only appeared peripherally: I get the impression that he was already at work on the book when the first UFO flap began in the summer of 1947, so he added a few pages based upon what had appeared in the press, though they did not really affect his plot. The science in it was shaky: a man who was supposed to be the world’s leading physicist stated that the atom bomb worked by “a chain reaction of electrons” (he meant neutrons). So it is not surprising that he went on to do the impossible, and next to their dummy spaceship erected a transmitter that caused engines to stop in the vicinity, so that people would think that alien technology was at work.

One might have expected that that would have been the end of the matter, but ‘car-stops’ have been reported in many UFO cases. It would be futile to attempt to list them all, but here is one of the most puzzling: on the night of 2nd November 1957 (coincidentally, or not, this was the night that the Russians launched their second satellite, Sputnik II), police in Levelland, west Texas, received phone calls from six different men who had almost identical stories. Each had seen a large glowing object near the town, usually thought to be more than 100 feet long, whereupon their motors failed and their headlights went out. After the object departed, the vehicles returned to normal. A seventh witness later reported the same thing to the Air Force. (Allen Hynek, The UFO Experience, pp.159-64.)

Dr. Donald Menzel, who initially thought that the object might have been ‘an unusually bright meteor’, later observed that at the time the area was experiencing unusual weather, rain and lightning, so that the object must have been ball lightning, which can range in size from a few inches to several feet. He did admit that there is no ‘entirely satisfactory’ explanation for ball lightning, and that ‘some scientists have doubted its reality’.

“The truck’s engine may have died for one of several reasons. The rain during the evening could have seeped under the hood and soaked the ignition or dampened the spark plugs. The feed line may have been clogged. Or the region of highly rarefied air created by the ball lightning may temporarily have deprived the engine of oxygen.” These would not explain the headlights being extinguished, however, and it is odd that it should happen to seven drivers in the same district on the same evening. Nevertheless, “Only the saucer proponents could have converted so trivial a series of events – a few stalled automobiles, balls of flame in the sky at the end of a thunderstorm – into a national mystery.” (Donald H. Menzel and Lyle G. Boyd, The World of Flying Saucers, pp.174-80.)

In 1966 a man named Mel Noel claimed to the media that he had been involved with a secret U. S. Air Force group who had investigated UFOs and made contact with them. In one talk he gave that was transcribed and printed, he made a few howlers, such as saying that one Air Force document was headed: ‘Top Secret: Destroy Before Reading’. He said that a group of scientists in South America had been building flying saucers under guidance from the space people, and that one would land on the set of the Jackie Gleason show in Florida. “He backed his tale with frayed clippings of Marconi’s alleged experiments.” Needless to say, this landing did not occur. “Mel Noel disappeared back into the cosmic woodwork.” Unfortunately, it is not clear whether these clippings referred to engine failures or something else.

The Colorado UFO Project observed that “There are many UFO reports in which it is claimed that an automobile’s ignition failed and the motor stopped, and in some cases that the headlights failed also, and that after this happened, a UFO was seen nearby. Usually such reports are discussed on the supposition that this is an indication that the UFO had been the source of strong magnetic field.” Of the people that they personally interviewed, however, there was only one such, and that “was made by a diabetic patient who had been drinking and was returning home alone from a party at 3 a.m.”. Tests showed that, to stall a car, a field greatly in excess of 20,000 gauss would be required, and that this would permanently affect the magnetisation of the car. (Dr. Edward Condon, Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, 1969, p.38.)

Occasionally stalling turns up in accounts of hauntings. Rolling Acres Road in Florida is reputedly inhabited by the ghost of a murdered woman. A group named ghostbusters “went there to check it out, and the car we were in stalled. It took better than ten minutes to get it cranked. I think it had something to do with that road.” (Charlie Carlson, Weird Florida, 2005, p.161.)

Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror has been described as a novel. But the Lutz family, who lived there, were real, and maintained that the book was at least based upon what happened to them, though amplified by Anson’s imagination. The story is that one afternoon they got so frightened by the spooks in their home that they decided to leave there and then, but their van would not start, so they had to remain. At seven o’clock the next morning they tried again, and this time “The motor turned over immediately.” (Jan Anson, The Amityville Horror, pp.167, 179.)

I do not have any personal conclusion from all this. Some of these stories, clearly, are myths, so this may or may not be true of the others. I do know a woman with a car whose engine often conks out, not due to the presence of aliens or ghosts, but because it is a clapped-out old banger.

Source: Magonia


The Safety of Objects

Amulets are popular with people who fear bad luck or possible disaster.

Before astronaut Edward White boards a spaceship to travel to the moon, he puts a medallion of St. Christopher in the right-hand pocket of his space suit.

Before getting in his taxi, a driver puts a CD around the car's rear-view mirror.

The reason? In addition to deflecting rays from radar detectors, the eye-shaped CD is thought to distract the power of the evil eye.

These objects, both amulets, are used as a form of protection. Amulets have been used for centuries and almost always have religious or spiritual origins.

For some American Indians, feathers and horse hair were considered protection because strands of them would float into the heavens.

In ancient Rome and in Romania, garlic was crushed against windows and doors to protect against vampires. Its pungent odor was thought to keep the creatures away.

In rural areas throughout the world, a horseshoe mounted over the door of a home or barn was a makeshift representation of the crescent moon, a fertility sign which could bless crops.

Although amulets are sometimes mounted in a home, business or car, they are often worn, carried or displayed as a piece of jewelry. Nearly every form of jewelry was originally not made as fashion. It was an amulet made to protect someone.

Amulets can be used to guard someone's home or for safety when traveling. But what do they protect against?

"Belief in amulets stems from a fear of the unknown, the unexpected and the unexplained, all aspects of life that are not understood and seem to have no logic," Paine says.

Many people who consider themselves logical or religious still believe there's something powerful about amulets, she says. Although some say they wear an amulet for security or comfort, they often feel amulets can protect against negative forces.

"Those are supernatural forces at work that cannot be confronted by logic, but perhaps by some object associated with their power," Paine says.

In some parts of the world, amulets can be something else -- a superstitious object.

"Superstition is a powerful force in many parts of the world, especially among uneducated people who do not understand the cause of disease or, for example, the sudden death of a newborn baby," Paine says. "But belief in amulets is not just among the uneducated. A lot of people have a St. Christopher medal in their car or a horseshoe over their door. And the black cat illustrated in my book came very recently from a chemist's shop in Los Angeles."

So amulets don't have a specific power. A St. Christopher medallion isn't the same as a bulletproof vest. That's different than some other objects, she points out in her book.

For example, a charm -- such as the popular charm bracelet -- is believed to bring good luck, health and happiness. And a talisman or a fetish are thought to have magical powers and are used in religious rituals.

Instead, amulets are thought to work in some unseen and unknown way against forces that can harm someone.

Sometimes amulets are worn or displayed regularly. Other times, they are just worn when confronting a crisis or when traveling.

For some Christians and Hindus, it was customary to carry a representation of a saint when making a pilgrimage. That partly explains why St. Christopher -- the patron saint of travel -- is so well-known that even non-Catholics carry a medallion of St. Christopher. Some carry one in a wallet or hang one around the rear-view mirror of their car.

"Leaving home is a situation where people feel at risk," Paine says. "If we think historically, people were vulnerable to evil sprits lurking at crossroads, highway robbers and the dangers of crossing unknown lands. Now it's train, car and plane crashes and terrorist attacks."

The use of amulets dates back to the prehistoric era, where natural objects and animal parts were used as protection. In modern times, people still use natural objects as amulets.

"People often like natural stones," says Madelon Lindner, owner of Inner Journey in Bethlehem. There's one stone that has an association with being an amulet, she adds.

"Obsidian is a black stone that is considered to be protective," she says. "Some people will put in a pouch and carry it. Other people will wear it around their neck."

An amulet with a Christian symbol that has been popular recently has variations on St. Christopher medallions.

"We've been selling a lot of them that are made for people serving in the military," says Terri O'Connell, co-owner of Abundant Graces in Bethlehem.

Although theology of the saints has changed somewhat over the centuries, thinking about a saint as a role model or on someone's side can make a person feel protected, says the Rev. David Fulton of Our Lady of Victories Roman Catholic Church in Kingwood.

"We never get the sense that we are alone if we can be in communion with saints," he says.

Another object some Catholics wear or display as an amulet is a scapular. It originated in the 13th century when a saint said the Virgin Mary made an appearance and gave him a scapular and said that "whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire."

It was originally made as two small pieces of a monk's habit stitched together in red thread and hung from the shoulder. Sometimes it was stuffed with olive leaves blessed on Palm Sunday or wax from church candles.

Another popular amulet over the centuries is an object called an evil eye. Although currently a mini-fad in America and sometimes the subject of jokes in sitcoms, the evil eye isn't viewed that way everywhere, Paine says.

"In most of the world the evil eye is no fad, but the cause of strongly held fears," she says.

The evil eye is a powerful superstition in parts of the Middle East and in some Mediterranean counties, such as Greece and Italy.

The eye is considered to be the cause of evil. To counteract it, an amulet with a bead or piece of glass was made.

For centuries, blue beads were considered powerful spiritual objects. But there was another reason the evil eye was considered to be blue. In the Mediterranean countries where people believe in the evil eye, a blue eye was rare and considered to be evil. The evil eye was also thought to hold the sky, which was why the sky was that color.

The idea was to confront the evil eye with an eye. To avert the evil eye, amulets were made so the evil eye was so entranced with its own image that it wouldn't harm whoever was wearing it.

Evil eyes are widespread throughout the Middle East and in some Mediterranean countries. They are mounted over office buildings and entrances to homes in countries ranging from Greece to Uzbekistan. In parts of Italy and Kosovo, evil eyes are pinned to the clothes of babies. In many Middle Eastern countries, an evil eye is attached to the harness of a camel or donkey.

Although amulets can be everything from representations of eyes to stones to religious symbols, there's something they all seem to have in common.

"Their protective role meets our psychological and spiritual need to confront that appears to be illogical in life," Paine says.

Source: The Express-Times


On the Surface of it, UFOs Could Lurk

For nearly 60 years, rumors have circulated of strange flying objects emerging from the ocean off our coast and disappearing in a fantastic flash of speed and light.

Sailors, fishermen, dockworkers, police officers, coastal residents and others have reported eerie otherworldly ships emerging from and submerging into local waters.

UFOs, it seems, have established an underwater base somewhere in the deep, dark recesses between the Channel Islands and the coastline between Long Beach and Santa Barbara.

Despite a tendency to scoff at such conspiracies, I decided to do a little investigating. You know, just to be sure.

To learn more, I contacted UFO researcher Preston Bennett of Los Angeles, who appeared on the recent History Channel special "Deep Sea UFOs."

Bennett reports more than 40 documented sightings off SoCal's coast since 1947, including several in and around Long Beach-San Pedro.

"In these types of cases, UFOs are seen moving into and out of the water, floating on the surface and also traveling beneath the surface," Bennett said via e-mail. "Many of these cases are well-verified, with witnesses including police officers, lifeguards, military personnel and other professionals."

Intrigued, I contacted Lt. Chuck Engbring of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Engbring wasn't familiar with any recent UFO sightings at his agency, but recalled an incident not long ago where passengers on a commercial flight departing LAX reported seeing an unfamiliar object ascend from the sea to the sky off Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes.

That incident sounded strangely similar to a sighting in early November at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. I called LAX.

Although no one could recall the Pointe Vicente incident, I was referred to a July 22, 2002, sighting of a flying triangle off the coast.

My next inquiry was to the LBPD.

They had nothing recent to report, but there's always the famous images captured by LBPD helicopter pilots on Dec. 25, 2004.

At around 11:30 p.m. that night, the chopper's videocamera recorded a strange glowing object floating through the Long Beach sky. They forwarded the tape to local military officials, who couldn't - or wouldn't - identify it.

A copy of the tape was even given to KABC and broadcast around the world, but nobody could figure out what it was.

Maybe there was something to this UFO stuff after all?

My next inquiry was at Long Beach Airport.

Airport Spokeswoman Sharon Diggs-Jackson said that in December, a resident reported seeing unusual lights moving erratically across the night sky.

Airport officials couldn't explain it.

As I learned during my research, such sightings date back to World War II, when reports of UFOs and USOs (unidentified submarine objects) began surfacing around the area.

The mother of all sightings probably occurred on the night of Feb. 24-25, 1942, in what became known as the "Battle of Los Angeles."

Jittery from the recent attack on Pearl Harbor, military personnel manning anti-aircraft weapons along the coast were ready for action when reports spread of "unidentified aircraft" approaching from sea.

When a bright object was spotted above Santa Monica Bay, shooting began, and "the air over Los Angeles erupted like a volcano," according to press reports at the time.

No enemy plane was ever found.

Many more incidents followed in the succeeding decades, though thankfully none involved heavy weapons.

On Aug. 8, 1954, a Japanese steam ship, Aliki, was floating off the coast of Long Beach when several crew members observed an underwater UFO, Bennett reported in a February 2006 article titled "Is There an Underwater UFO Base Off the Southern California Coast?"

As the intercepted radio message from the ship reads, "Saw fireball move in and out of sea without being doused. Left wake of white smoke; course erratic; vanished from sight."

This was all getting a bit too weird.

The Press-Telegram's new offices high above downtown Long Beach provide a perfect view of the port, harbor and beyond to Catalina Island.

Despite my deep skepticism during research into this column, I found myself staring out the window across the bay, hoping to catch a glimpse of something strange emerging from beneath.

I'll let you know if anything pops into view.

Source: Press-Telegram
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