30 October 2007

Terrifying true tales of terror

He raised alarm
"Eye witness account informed our reporter that three women had approached the man at Nwaja round-about opposite the Tantalizers restaurant Trans-Amadi, Port Harcourt, and asked him to assist them with the sum of N100 as they have run short transport fare.
According to the account, the man who told them that he had no money later started feeling a sensation inside his body.

The man who later spoke to The Weekend Tide under condition of anonymity said, “as soon as I told them that I had no money, I discovered that my penis was disappearing, so I raised alarm."
-Irate crowd strips woman naked, a terrifying true tale of terror from The Tide News Online.

Reptoid Musulman

"Villagers in a suburb of Katerini, a small city at the foot of Mount Olympus in northern Greece, claim to have seen a brown Reptoid prowling around their homes…Residents of the Katerini area are wondering if the Reptoid is a scout for an alien force. Or if he is perhaps an escaped prisoner or slave from the large alien underground base on Mount Olympus..."The clothes that the creature was wearing were similar to what Arabic people wear," i.e. a burnoose like in Algeria or a galabaa like in Iraq."
Small reptoid spotted in Northern Greece, a terrifying true tale of terror from UFOINFO.

Pissing midgets from space

"Pichaca (Peru). A farm woman saw an object land, and six dwarfs, 80 cm tall, emerged from it. They wore very shiny white clothes and "walked like ducks." She hid during the observation, and noted that they spoke in a language she could not understand. After their departure, a liquid resembling vinegar was found on the ground."
Case 703 (Sep. 20, 1965), a terrifying true tale of terror from the Magonia Database.

Mind the helm

"A merchant sailor in the coastal trade had shipped with his father since youth. After his father's retirement, he was on watch in a ship off the Humber River when his father came to him repeatedly over a period of several hours to remind him to mind the helm. His father spoke through this image, but the young sailor was shaken by it and did not respond; he had another crewmate take finish his watch; none of the other crewmen saw or heard the apparition. The sailor later learned that his father had died at home during that watch. Gurney concedes that the percipient was uneducated and that the duration of the apparition (several hours) suggests either exaggeration or insanity."
Case 300, a terrifying true tale of terror from Phantasms of the Living.

29 October 2007

Pili Mara II

Was a cow really attacked by a carnivorous tree in Padrame (or Patrame), India?1 Skeptics have repeatedly pointed out how unlikely it is a tree, which after all only has slender branches to strike with, would attack prey as large as a cow. Birds, rodents, or other small game perhaps, but a cow, the skeptics argued, would be too bulky, and honest cryptobotanists conceded they had a point.

But now, thanks to the fieldwork of intrepid reporter Melka Miyar, we have more details on the case, including a photograph of the injured bovine, a photo which changes everything. Everyone assumed the animal in question was a big fat Texas-style cow, the kind white men turn into delicious steaks and hamburgers. In reality it was a tiny jungle cow, roughly the size of a large dog, the kind men who wear towels around their waists instead of pants worship as a god. The tallest of pili maras wouldn’t dare attack the former, but even a small pili mara would have a no problem taking a bite out of the latter.

Miyar’s report also features photographs of the pili mara’s stump, eyewitness statements, and identifies the hero who chopped the hungry tree down as a local man named Vasanna.

1That Pili Mara post is far and away my most popular ever, which shows you never know.

24 October 2007

Pili mara

In the village of Padrame in the Uppinangady forest range of India cows are being attacked by carnivorous trees:
According to reports, the cow owned by Anand Gowda had been left to graze in the forests.

The cow was suddenly grabbed by the branches and pulled from the ground. The terrified cowherd ran to the village, and got Gowda and a band of villagers to the carnivorous tree.
The cow escaped after Gowda and the villagers beat the hungry tree into submission. Locals call such trees ‘pili mara’, or tiger trees, and many believe snacking pili mara are the reason so many of Padrame’s cows have been coming home at night with missing tails.

Mintern's return

“By the way, building the pyramids would not have been so difficult, if the stones were lighter at the time; they might also have been, these stones, very porous, which helps (and I say helps) explain why the Egyptians appear to be able to walk sideways, and through walls. It is as if they, the Egyptians were actually two-dimensional. Only later did the pyramids actually unfold, if you can imagine that! This reminds me of that cardboard Pirate Ship my grandmother gave me...”
- Lloyd Mintern posits an alternate Egyptology .

16 October 2007

Extraneous notification

I will be spending the rest of the week attempting to acquire adequate socks.1 (Was it Jeffrey Apern, or Apern's butler who said, “Every sock goes on one’s foot, and not another sock”?2) Despite our differences, I think we can all agree it would be nice if posting resumed Monday. And maybe it will.3

1Something which requires more drinking than you might imagine, at least for me.

2See comments to the entry of 14 October.

3Extraneous Notifications would make a good title for a blog. Feel free to use it.

14 October 2007

The poetry of reality

Why is the ocean salty? Galen McKinley, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison may finally have the answer to this age old question. According to his theory, “The saltiness of the sea comes from dissolved minerals, especially sodium,” or, to put it in layman’s terms, the ocean is salty because it has a lot of salt in it.

Where does science go from here? Look for a major breakthrough determining why BLT's are so bacony delicious.

11 October 2007

Three Dwarves From Now

Readers who’ve been following the persecution of Across Difficult Country’s legal counsel Judge Florentine Floro will be delighted to learn Judge Floro has shown up in comments and provided links to the text of all the Philippines Supreme Court decisions regarding his case, to local and international media coverage of the controversy, to his various blogs, to his Myspace and Facebook accounts, to videos of himself on YouTube, and to some other stuff. He’s also listed his email addresses and his telephone numbers (cell and land line). (If you call him, tell him I say “hi”.)

I’ve taken the liberty of forwarding this material to my Congressmen, my Senators, the White House, The White Stripes, The Tide News Online (“A commitment to truth”), Art Bell (broadcast journalist and former resident of the Phillipines), Wynne Jones (Manager of Arts, Leisure & Cultural Events for the town of Whitby, the United Kingdom), Doudou Diène (United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance), and Fedor Emelianenko (PRIDE heavyweight champion).

Which should just about take care of it, I think.

10 October 2007

If they didn't they wouldn't be plains

From a recent book review:
The plains stretch for many cold and lonely miles, but Haven Kimmel fires her bittersweet Indiana novels with a warm sensibility and a compassionate understanding of the people shaped by the chilly, conservative and remote landscape.

Kimmel was raised in Mooreland, Ind., population 300, "the dearest postage stamp of native soil a person could wish for."

Author of two coming-of-age memoirs, she has a homegrown yet unromantic tenderness for the rural towns rusting quietly away as family farms vanish, and methamphetamine labs and vigorous megachurches flourish, the latter so cavernous they include indoor basketball courts and other secular amenities.
I'm reminded of scene from my own life. I'm 16 years old, walking down a side street on an October afternoon...

“Hey, you!”

It was Jessica. She was with some friends from school: Olivia, Chad, Emily, Rocco, Hampton, Lionel, Chloe, Frijole the exchange student from Mexico, Biff, and Biff’s sister Gertrude.

“Hey, Jessica,” I said, “What are you guys up to?”

“We’re going to the cavernous megachurch.”

“The one with all the secular amenities?”

“Yeah. Want to come with?”

I looked at Jessica, and at Olivia, Chad, Emily, Rocco, Hampton, Lionel, Chloe, Frijole the exchange student from Mexico, Biff, and Biff’s sister Gertrude. We were all, with the possible exception of Frijole, about the same age, but suddenly they all seemed so young. Younger than me.

“I can’t. After the family farm vanished my dad and my uncle started up a meth lab, and I have to go help out.”

“That sucks...” she said, her voice trailing off. The silence was awkward, and everyone looked away, except Frijole the exchange student from Mexico, who didn’t really speak English well and probably had no idea what we were saying. I stood and watched them walk off, laughing, carefree. Like I used to be.

I felt as cold and lonely as the plains which stretched for miles around the rusting city. I stared out at the chilly, conservative and remote landscape, knowing things would never be the same.

“Someday,” I thought, “I’m going to write this all down in a book. Or maybe two books.”

07 October 2007

Maple bar

From Missouri comes the sad tale of a man facing a 30-year prison sentence for stealing a doughnut:
Scott A. Masters, 41, of Park Hills, Missouri, has been charged with felony second-degree robbery in the theft of a 52-cent doughut [sic] from a Country Mart in Farmington, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) south of St. Louis. Store employees said he slipped the doughnut into his sweat shirt without paying last December, then pushed away a clerk who tried to stop him as he fled the store.
But what kind of doughnut was it? Chocolate? Jelly? Those ones with the sprinkles? The story doesn’t say. How could the AP reporter omit what is the most telling detail? It must be something taught in journalism school, where being boring is considered a virtue.

For crime news done right we must turn to the Philippines. In the sordid story “Jailed cop tags mistress the killer”, notice how hard-hitting reporter Jay Dooma Balnig saves the telling detail for last, to devastating effect.

Pocket guide to UFO shapes (clip and save)

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03 October 2007

Innocent when you dream

Last night I had one of those dreams where you dream you’re chewing on a big fluffy cake and wake up to find yourself gnawing on medallions of lamb tenderloin that have been flash cooked in a small wok with hoisin, garlic, and chilies to enhance the lamb’s natural flavors.

The Senoi is a tribe living in the mountainous jungles of the Malay Peninsula which have made dreaming central to their existence. In his seminal essay “Dream Theory in Malaya” anthropologist Kilton Stewart writes:
Dream interpretation...is a feature of child education and is the common knowledge of all Senoi adults. The average Senoi layman practices the psychotherapy of dream interpretation of his family and associates as a regular feature of education and daily social intercourse. Breakfast in the Senoi house is like a dream clinic, with the father and older brothers listening to and analyzing the dreams of all the children. At the end of the family clinic the male population gathers in the council, at which the dreams of the older children and all the men in the community are reported, discussed, and analyzed.
Maybe television isn’t so bad after all.

I found this portion of Stewart’s essay illuminating:
Datu Bintung at Jelong had a dream which succeeded in breaking down the major social barriers in clothing and food habits between his group and the surrounding Chinese and Mohammedan colonies. This was accomplished chiefly through a dance which his dream prescribed. Only those who did his dance were required to change their food habits and wear the new clothing, but the dance was so good that nearly all the Senoi along the border chose to do it. In this way, the dream created social change in a democratic manner.
I finally understand what Shabadoo and Penguin were attempting to achieve.

I once dreamt I was a savage living in the jungle, an outcast for mocking the idols of the tribe. I awoke to find myself not living in a jungle.