Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cold War Era Mystery Satellites Set Americans On Edge

In February 1960, the North American Air Defense System picked up what seemed to be a rather large satellite in Earth orbit. But several striking features of the object became cause for concern. The unidentified object appeared to be of roughly 15 tons mass, a size too great for any known rocket to have launched. It also traveled a polar orbit, which is something no terrestrially launched object was doing at the time. The object was tracked for three weeks before it vanished.  A few months later, in September, however, a similarly strange satellite that gave off a reddish glow was uncharacteristically tracking east to west, according to Gumman Aircraft Corporation's Long Island facility. In short time, a committee was formed to investigate these matters, but their conclusions--if, indeed, there were any--never came to light.

You're reading "Cold War Era Mystery Satellites Set Americans On Edge" by Cullan Hudson on strangestate.blogspot.com. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hauntings on the High Seas

Haunted houses and forlorn forests are the domain of ghosts--for the most part. However, there exist many accounts from sailors and seafarers who have spotted spirits at sea, as well as phantom vessels and other unexplained phenomena. These aren't solely relegated to old sea yarns of pirate ghosts and their requisite treasures. Quite a number of these accounts are contemporary. There is the famous tale of merchant seamen who spotted--and photographed--the ghostly faces of two crewmen who had died in transit. And many a sailor in the Navies of the world has come back with unearthly tales from their ordeals in the various wars over the past century. With all the hazards and terror of such engagements, it isn't hard to see the anguish that would bear out ghostly sightings. But what are we to make of reports from otherwise pleasant trips? Over the years, reports have arisen from various passengers on cruise ships around the world of strange goings on. Like floating hotels, these ships shelter thousands of people daily and Death has collected more than one sea-pass. It's a wonder, really, that these ships don't have MORE of a reputation. Let's look at a few tales that have been shared over the years....

At around half past 5 on the evening of September 23, 2011, a passenger on the Carnival Conquest was dressing for dinner in her cabin (6412) while her husband was outside on the balcony. She suddenly heard a man's voice say "you look beautiful tonight." She turned around but no one was there. The TV was on, but only playing music, and she could see her husband still out on the balcony with the door closed. Thinking she had simply imagined the compliment, she shrugged it off and finished getting ready for dinner. Moments later, she heard the same voice repeat the phrase. Understandably, she was unnerved by these events and raced outside to tell her husband. To make matters worse, an hour later there was an incident on the ship involving a man going overboard.

On the same ship, but in a different cabin (2465), a woman who wasn't feeling well stayed behind in her cabin as her husband went to dinner. When he returned she asked him if he had slipped in while she was napping. He hadn't. His wife then recounted how she had felt someone touch her leg, which awakened her. Following their trip, the couple visited a medium who was hosting a seance. In an eerie coincidence, the couple learned that one of the women's aunts had died on the Carnival Conquest in room 2463.

This post by username "Wags" was on a thread over at the popular cruising site, cruisecritic.com:

"My husband and I were on a [Norwegian Dream] cruise in a balcony cabin. The second night out I woke up about 3:00 am to the sound of footsteps walking around the cabin. In the morning my husband asked me why I was walking around in the middle of the night. I said I thought it was him. I know the sounds did not come from the cabins above, below or in the hall. They were definitely in the cabin. I mentioned it to our steward and he said others had reported the same thing happening. It only happened the one night and we never found out what it was."

And "wwcruisers" posted this:

"Several years ago, we sailed on [Royal Caribbean's] Serenade of the Seas, with another couple, who are our best friends. In the beginning, we were a little jealous, because they were in a Grand Suite (and we weren't). Then, we started hearing about the weird things going on in their cabin:
-- All of their camera batteries (including back-ups) completely drained;
-- Recurring problems with their safe, as well as the cabin door locks;
-- Unexpected "cold spots" in the room (nowhere near air vents);
These were all explainable, to some degree. But, my friend said she was in the cabin one day and saw a shadow moving on the balcony. She just thought DH had gone out there for a smoke. A few minutes later, he came through the cabin door, talking about how much he'd just won in the casino. She ran to the balcony window -- nobody out there, of course!"

I've been on close to a dozen cruises ranging from the Caribbean to Europe and North Africa and made many stops in cities brimming with haunted sights. But I'd never once considered the mode of transport could be haunted as well. If you have any of your own stories to add, I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, August 4, 2014

HOMETOWN HORRORS

Nothing like a good frightening local legend to both titillate and traumatize. Let's look at a few from around the country...

Fairfax County, VA -- The Bunny Man is the legend of a man in a bunny suit who traipses around with an axe. He was first reported around Halloween 1970 when a newly-engaged couple parked in a dark field off Guinea Road in Burke when the spotted movement from the rear window. Seconds later, their side window was smashed and they glimpsed a figure all in white screaming at them about trespassing. As they sped off, the couple discovered a small axe on the floor of the car. The couple's statements conflict: he insisted the man was in a rabbit suit, she insisted he was in a Klan robe. Some believe the Bunny Man was the ghost of Timothy C. Forbes, an escaped mental patient who fled his asylum in 1904. He may have been responsible for killing and skinning dozens of rabbits and hanging their carcasses from trees. However, Forbes was struck and killed by a train while eluding capture. Legend has it he was in the asylum to begin with because he killed and ate his family---on Easter Sunday!

Ojai, CA's "Char Man" stalks the Camp Comfort County Park. Legend has it, the man burned to death and now, inexplicably, runs out to frighten motorists and campers, leaving the linger stench of burnt flesh in the air.

Pittsburgh, PA's Green Man/Charlie No-Face is the creepy (somewhat true) tale of a deformed man that could be seen lurking in the roadside shadows at night. Some say he was a power company worker who had been struck by lightning or a downed power line; others claim he was doused with acid. Either way, his disfigured countenance turned to a greenish conglomeration of facial features. Some say the accident killed him, others that he lived on in isolation. One of these haunts is known as Green Man's tunnel, the site of many claimed mysterious accidents. Truth is Raymond Robinson was a regular walker along the roadside between Koppel and New Galilee and really could be spotted by locals. He did his perambulations under cover of darkness because of what happened when he was 8. On a dare, he climbed a power line and was electrocuted for his efforts. He lost both eyes and nearly his life. He subsequently wore a prosthetic nose, affixed like a novelty to a pair of dark glasses that covered his empty eye sockets. From there cruel teen taunts arose and soon legends were born, including attendant ones. The Green Man tunnel, which seemingly has nothing to do with the Green Man himself, has its own legends involving a man that killed his family and then threw himself in front of an oncoming train. The place is supposedly haunted.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tesla's 'UFO'

Among the many apocryphal tinkerings of famed inventor Nikola Tesla, the most contentious might be his flying machine, which some sources claim was an ion-propelled vehicle that would fly without use of wings, ailerons, propellers, or an onboard fuel source. This craft would be light, fast, and likely not of any familiar design. Tesla believed this craft would fly by powering itself from electrical stations on the ground but without ever having to directly connect to them, remotely recharge, as it were. Some believe the shape of the craft would have been either cylindrical or saucer-like.

While Tesla's ruminations on the concept might not be in total dispute, the notion that he got very far with the concept is highly debatable. While there do seem to be unaccounted for patents in the vast trove of documents relating to Tesla's revolutionary work, there is little to suggest from attendant documents and the general work of his at the time that he was even looking in that direction in any serious sense.

One spurious report has it that work on such a device was begun in the late 1920s, being financed by the likes of J. P. Morgan and seeing fruition in 1938. Furthermore, wild speculation attributes WW2 foo fighter and later flying saucer sightings--nay, the entire UFO phenomenon--to this invention or some similar iteration.

If we look at Tesla's patents from the late 1920s, we see he was working on an interesting flying machine. However, a quick read reveals that his revolutionary device would have less in common with the Jetsons than with such vertical take-off vehicles such as the Osprey and Harrier employed by the USAF.

U.S. Patent 1,655,113 - Method of Aerial Transportation - 1928 January 3 - VTOL aeroplane; Describes a method of achieved vertical take-off, transition to and from horizontal flight, and vertical landing, with a tilting rotor. Including transportation which consists in developing by the propelling device a vertical thrust in excess of the normal, causing thereby the machine to rise in an approximately vertical direction, tilting it and simultaneously increasing the power of the motor and thereby the propeller thrust, then gradually reducing the propeller thrust as forward speed is gained and the plane takes up the load, thus maintaining the lifting force sensibly constant during flight, tilting the machine back to its original position and at the same time increasing the power if the motor and thrust of the propeller and effecting a landing under the restraining action of the same.

This patent summary clearly illustrates a vehicle using largely conventional thrust in an unconventional way. This is revolutionary to be sure, but far from any ion-propulsion technology.

But much like DaVinci and other master inventors who seemed far ahead of their times, a quasi-mystical cult has arisen in the wake of Tesla's passing, filling the gaps with all sorts of spurious tales of fantastic inventions, including death rays, thought photography, force fields, and more. So, why not add UFOs to the list as well?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Roundup of the Rare: Strange (but true?) Stories From Around The World.


Roopkund is a glacial lake in India's Himalayan region full of ancient skeletons that become disturbingly visible when the snow melts. No one knows exactly why so many bodies lie at the bottom of this lake. It could have been war, disease, or ritual. Scientists at National Geographic examined 30 of the skeletons and concluded they were all Indian. Other artifacts, such as clothing, spears, and wooden implements were found as well. Approximately 300 individuals rest in the lake's icy embrace, most dating to the 9th century. It seems by DNA composition to have been a party of Konkanastha Brahmins on a pilgrimage from  Maharashtra to Tibet as part of festivities that took place once every 12 years among members of the Nanda Devi cult. But how they died remains the biggest mystery. Were they attacked or did they succumb to disease or weather?

Leave it to the Icelanders to have a Christmas monster more terrifying than the Krampus. Everyone, meet GrĂ½la, an ogress that lives in a mountain-top lair who descends at Christmas to punish naughty children--by eating them. Her favorite dish is a stew of naughty kids. When she’s not consuming children, she’s also the mother of the Yule Lads, a group of miscreants who in modern times have become the Icelandic version of Santa Claus.

The intense heat and light of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb blasts left behind ghostly silhouettes of human beings whose lives were erased in an instant. These "shadows" are permanently etched onto buildings and sidewalks throughout the two cities, though fewer remain with each passing decade.







The Guanjuato Mummies are considered to be among the strangest and most horrifying in the world. Contorted faces on some of the mummies have given rise to the belief that some of them were buried alive. After author Ray Bradbury visited the catacombs in Guanajuato he stated "The experience so wounded and terrified me, I could hardly wait to flee Mexico".

I should note that some of this writing was pulled directly from blubs on Pinterest. These disparate authors remain unkown, but I appreciate their efforts at chronicling some really weird stuff.

Monday, June 23, 2014

When Silence Falls, The Murmuring Begins...

A meme floating about the interwebs states:

"On August 29th, 1968, all the televisions in America shut down. There was a murmuring on the TV that some believe was the devil's voice. The televisions were off for about 25 seconds. No one knows what the issue was an no one knows what the sound was from the TVs."

I cannot corroborate that any such event--an inarguably remarkable one--occurred, which is surprising. There were significant power outages in both 1965 and 1968 that blacked out large portions of the country. UFO conspiricists love to mull over those. And it does remind me of the Doctor Who episode "The Impossible Astronaut" about and alien species known as The Silence that is set in 1969.

However, if the meme is real, it is interesting to note that this would have transpired one day after a famous antiwar protest at a Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The same antiwar demonstration that gave rise to the popular protest slogan: "The Whole World Is Watching."

UPDATE: It may appear that this is yet another amalgam of half-truths. On April 10, 1061, television broadcasts were suspended briefly for a civil alert test. Prior to termination of all transmissions, the following was aired:  "We interrupt our normal program to co-operate in security and civil defense, as requested by the United States government. This is a Conelrad alert. Normal broadcasting will now be discontinued for and indefinite period. Civil Defense information will be broadcast in most areas at 640 or 1240 on the AM dial..."

As you can hear from this recording from April 28, 1961, the audio is definitely drifting into what one could construe as murmuring:



Moreover, there were articles from 1968 in various newspapers that mention strange signals from space, as picked up from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico that piqued the interest of Dr. Frank Drake (famous for his eponymous equation for the probability of extraterrestrial life).

This story may also be confusing an incident that happened at 5:10 pm on November 26, 1977 when the Hannington transmitter of the Independent Broadcasting authority in the UK was hijacked by a speaker claiming to be a representative of an "intergalactic association". The speaker who has been reported as calling himself "Vrillon" or "Gillon" or "Asteron" (depending on whom you ask) spoke with a disguised voice to warn those watching that their "weapons of evil" must be removed and there is only a "short time to lear to live together in peace." Fortean Times magazine's Winter 1977 issue (#24) has the verbiage a bit different, but the sentiment remains the same: "This is the voice of Asteron. I am an authorised representative of the Intergalactic Mission, and I have a message for the planet Earth. We are beginning to enter the period of Aquarius and there are many corrections which have to be made by Earth people. All your weapons of evil must be destroyed. You have only a short time to learn to live together in peace. You must live in peace... or leave the galaxy." The hoaxer was never identified and the incident remains a mystery.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ancient Acoustics and the Almighty

According to a report at phys.org a unique acoustic attribute within a 5,000 year old mortuary temple on the island of Malta produces two distinct resonance frequencies (at 70Hz and 114Hz). The chamber, dubbed the Oracle Room, has a history of supernatural phenomena, which science might now explain.

Among the interesting things learned about the chamber is that the timbre of a deep, male voice attenuated to these cycles creates a resonance that lasts as many as 8 seconds and can be physically felt. Those who have experienced the resonance say they felt relaxed and that it were as if the sensation was radiating from the paintings along the stone walls.

There are other neolithic sites (such as Newgrange) that demonstrate similar sonic vibrations. Scientists have come to learn these can affect the human nervous system and our sense of perception.

It is remarkable that 5,000 years ago, neolithic people were able to take note of the phenomenon and make use of it--likely to exploit the temple's supernatural aura and bring the unseen to life.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer Movies

There are just some movies that become summer favorites. Something about summer makes me want to watch them more so than other times of the year. These are a few of mine (in no particular order). What are some of yours?





Unmasking Internet Hoaxes

It never ceases to amaze me, in a digital age where facts are literally at your fingertips, how so many can still be fooled by Internet urban legends and hoaxes. Yet, almost daily, we find examples of well-known hoaxes proliferating the digital wastelands with the least bit of examination. Laziness it to blame, chiefly. Below, I hope to clear out some of the garbage you might be seeing on blogs, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Facebook....

The Astronaut On A Spanish Cathedral

"[The story] errs a bit in identifying the astronaut carving as adorning the wall of a cathedral built in 1102. The city of Salamanca in Spain is home to two adjacent cathedrals: The "Old Cathedral" (Catedral Vieja), begun in the 12th century, and the "New Cathedral" (Catedral Nueva), begun in the 16th century. The figure in question is part of latter, not the former. Still, finding this carving of an astronaut on the wall of a cathedral constructed between 1513 and 1733 would be quite remarkable, as the figure anticipates with amazing accuracy a form of technology not realized until centuries later.

Unfortunately for Chariot buffs, however, the origins of the carving are neither ancient nor mysterious. The astronaut figure dates not from the 12th century or the 16th century or even the 18th century, but from 1992, and we know both who put it there and why: The New Cathedral was undergoing restoration work during that period, and one of the artisans engaged in the project chose to engage in a bit of tradition by "signing" his work with a contemporary symbol representative of the 20th century: an astronaut." [snopes.com]

The Google Earth Dead Body Hoax


In April 2013 a meme was spread on the Internet that entering the coordinates 52.376552,5.198303 into Google Maps (a location described in that application as being the Beatrixpark in Almere, Netherlands) and zooming in on the resulting satellite view would reveal an image of a man dragging a body into a lake (leaving a bloody trail behind him), as shown above.

Considering the full context of the image makes that claim rather improbable: it's unlikely that someone would choose to dispose of a body in a public park in broad daylight, from a spot requiring that the body be lifted over a rail several feet high, while leaving an obvious trail of evidence behind him (and potentially resulting in a conspicuous large splash and floating body).

What the image actually appears to show is a couple of people accompanied by a dark brown dog (perhaps a chocolate labrador), and the supposed trail of blood is simply red-stained wood that has taken on a darker appearance due to being wetted (possibly because the dog jumped into the surrounding water and then dripped it onto the wood). [snopes.com]

Ancient Megalithic Ruins In Russia

So-called 'megalithic' ruins in Russia are nothing more than misunderstood geology. The granite boulders of Mount Shoria in southern Siberia demonstrate a common feature of granite upthrusts: cracks forming fairly straight horizontal and vertical lines. This gives the appearance of cut stones that have been put together (doubtlessly by some lost, advanced civilization--and the 'government' is keeping it from you!). Combine this misidentification with some repurposed images from other locations and you have the makings of an Internet Urban Legend.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

FRIDAY 13 GHOSTLY TALES TURNED SPOOKY

Oklahoma City-- The Spirit of Oklahoma Storytelling Festival, sponsored by the state arts organization, The
Territory Tellers, held a free ghost tales concert on the first night of the event.   It was Friday...the 13th, a fat full moon filled the sky and the summer evening was mild with just a hint of cool breeze.  Held outdoors in an open pavilion on the campus of SNU in Bethany, near 50 people huddled in and around the brick structure as storytellers Liz Parker, Barbara Jones, Marilyn A. Hudson, and Tony Hardman shared suitably spooky tales.  The battery operated sound system worked perfectly during the first story but then...

The sound system strangely malfunctioned.  The light was red, the power was on, but the sound was - dead. The equipment was selected from the personal equipment of a professional performer for its reliabilty and its quality. The power lights glowed steady and bright. The batteries were fresh and it worked perfectly right up to the  first story...

Then, despite the still bright ready lights and solid connections, the microphone and speaker ceased to function.

Being professional storytellers the performers following compensated competently as they shared their stories without a mic.  The event was successful and enjoyed by all, including the storytellers who were initiated into the "Fellowship of the Flame", a special festival event for those who share stories of the ghostly variety in this popular item on the festival schedule.

Throughly unhappy, the next day the sound equipment's owner was ready to toss out the apparently now worthless sound system  when another check of the system was made.  The "dead" equipment  was checked. The mic worked on another system.  The batteries were all registering as good.  The dials had all been set to their highest settings the previous night attempting to get any sound and, now, when the mic hooked back up to the original speaker, the whole system blared to strong and steady life.

This workhorse sound system chosen because it was dependable and capable of functioning in extreme conditions (it went to a mountain top on one occassion!) had failed on a Friday the 13th, during a full moon, and during a concert of spine-tingling ghost stories.  A coincidence?  You be the judge.

Friday, June 6, 2014

What Preys On The Predator?


As part of a project to better understand the elusive and mysterious lives of Great White Sharks, Australian scientists tagged some, set them free, and studied the telemetry. But four months into the project, one of their devices washed ashore. It appears that something larger and more ferocious attacked one of the oceans largest and most successful predators. All that could be discerned from the final readings were a temperature spike and a sudden descent of 1,900 feet into the ocean.

Could this fish have encountered another Great White shark? Do they attack each other? These are things scientists are looking at. It might also have been an orca, one of the few marine creatures known to attack Great White Sharks.

Others wonder about giant squid or the oft rumored giant octopus. Could it have been the prehistoric megalodon (a whale sized shark that presumably died out millions of years ago) or something else--something far older and far more frightening?


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Listen To The Music Of The Trees


Bartolomaus Traubeck recorded the following by taking a PlayStation Eye Camera to transcribe via a program called Ableton Live the rings of various trees into music that is strange, evocative, and sometimes rather eerie.