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 an 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, 1961, 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 an 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 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." []

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). []

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


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.