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|•||Sovereign Citizens - a legal dissection. 11/30/2013|
|•||Well, there goes your neighbourhood 11/29/2013|
|•||Ottowa to parents: Vaccinate or else! 11/19/2013|
|•||I Know How Much Everyone Here Loves Real Pictures of Aliens 11/12/2013|
|•||Grandfather of the Year!! 11/12/2013|
|•||Happy Birthday, Boo! 11/12/2013|
|•||Awesome dad 3-D printed a prosthetic hand for his son 11/07/2013|
|•||Remember, Remember the 5th of November 11/05/2013|
|•||April Fools Day PRANKS (defined) 11/02/2013|
|•||The music that is better than itself 10/29/2013|
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Status: Psychic mumbo-jumboThis week Channel Five in the UK will begin airing a documentary about Derek Ogilvie, a guy who claims to be a "Baby Mind Reader." That's right, he can read the minds of infants and tell desperate parents why their little darlings won't sleep, or why they're fussy about eating, or why they cry all the time, etc., etc. The Scotsman has a pretty sympathetic article about him, describing him as a "respected Scottish medium." The Sunday Times, however, rakes him over the coals much more, pointing out that: Ogilvie says that he understands people are skeptical of his claims, but that he's willing to submit himself to rigorous scientific scrutiny to prove his abilities. Yeah, I've heard that before. Psychics and other charlatans say this all the time, but if they ever actually submit themselves to any tests and then fail them (as they inevitably do) they're full of all kinds of excuses: "The negative energy of the researcher blocked my powers," etc.
BadPsychics.co.uk has examined some tapes of Ogilvie in action and concludes that he's simply cold reading (i.e. throwing out random guesses in the hope that some of them will strike gold). They write that: "It is bad enough to take advantage of grieving people for your own gain, but to take advantage of children and a Mothers love for her children, both dead and alive, is a whole new level of evil." (Thanks to Kathy for the heads up about Ogilvie.)
Status: Phony GhostFor the past month villagers in West Bengal have been terrorized by a ghost that took the form of a floating skull with fiery red eyes. A number of people have suffered scratch marks when attacked by this ghost. Now police have taken a suspect into custody, "A pigeon with a miniature plastic skull dangling around its neck and with glowing red bulbs in the eye sockets." The police don't know who outfitted the pigeon in this way, but suspect that their sole motive was to create a panic. In other words, it was a random prankster. However, the cause of the scratch marks remains undetermined. Also, demonstrating how unreliable eyewitnesses can be, police noted that "people had described the ghost variously as a man and a monkey." Which recalls the Winsted Wild Man panic in Connecticut over 100 years ago, in which witnesses swore they had seen a (nonexistent) wild man sporting tusks and as large as a gorilla.
Status: ObituaryGeorge Lutz of Amityville Horror fame has given up the ghost. He died of a heart attack in Las Vegas on May 8. George and his family lived in the house in Amityville, New York for four weeks in 1975 before supposedly being driven out of it by repeated paranormal occurrences (weird sounds and voices, green slime dripping from the ceiling, etc.) They left the house in a hurry, but weren't so scared that they weren't able to return and hold a garage sale. Personally I think the Amityville Horror story is complete baloney, but reportedly George Lutz always swore what happened was real. But then, he had so much invested in the tale (both emotionally and financially) that he would swear it was real. (Thanks to Joe for the link.)
Status: Real doorsFairy Doors are popping up around Ann Arbor, Michigan. No one knows who's building them. They just mysteriously appear. The Washington Post reports:
The entryways are Thumbelina small and are so subtle and incongruent that they're easy to overlook -- or dismiss. At first glance, you might mistake one of the eight doors for an electric socket or a mismatched brick. But look closely and you'll see evidence that, yes indeed, something very little could live in there.
One Ann Arbor resident speculates that the fairies are moving into Ann Arbor because they're being displaced from their rural homes by urban sprawl: "Searching for a new domicile, the winged ones -- who count among their relations the Tooth Fairy and Tinkerbell-- ventured into Ann Arbor... Wright surmised that, liking what they saw, they decided to uproot to specific addresses amenable to fairies." So how long before we get photographs of the Ann Arbor fairies?
Status: Paraphenalia for the superstitiousA Japanese company is selling a portable ghost detector that fits on a keychain. I can't really understand the machine-translated text, but it looks like the detector glows red in the presence of a ghost, and glows blue otherwise. It costs 2,079 Yen, which is about $18. Not too bad. Compare this to the ghost detectors sold by Abate Electronics which start at $93 (and they don't even fit on your keychain!). It goes without saying that I'm sure these things have been rigorously tested to conform to the highest scientific standards. (via OhGizmo)
Status: Publicity stunt/superstitionAn organization named witchschool.com has announced that on May 5th, 2006 an experiment in global spell casting will take place:
Hundreds of participants around the world will focus their energy to manifest love, peace, prosperity and hope for the world. With this unified act of will, they anticipate that magic energy will fill people with personal power and create events that will lead to a better world. "We need no longer wait to see if magic is real or not", according to Ed Hubbard, CEO of Witch School, "We can test it through such global experiments, but instead of looking for data, I am looking forward to hearing the experiences people will have through this day of divine manifestation. I believe it will move the way we think about the world and how it works."
I am sure that this will have about as much effect as Not One Damn Dime Day or World Jump Day.
Status: FakeI've come across two different videos on Youtube that show night scenes of roadblocks in Singapore. I don't have that much information about either video, but stylistically and thematically they're very similar (and very low quality). People are clowning around at a roadblock in the middle of the night, when suddenly (at the end of each video) they see a ghostly white figure. Screaming ensues. (Warning, in case you're watching these at work: The one on the right contains some cursing.)
The caption on the first video (on the left) identifies the ghost as the "pontianak". Wikipedia defines the pontianak as: a type of vampire in Malay folklore. The pontianak is usually a woman who died during childbirth and becomes undead, seeking revenge and terrorizing villages. She often appears as a beautiful woman, usually accompanied by the strong scent of frangipani. Men who are not wary will be killed when she morphs into a hideous vampire, she will also eat babies and harm pregnant women.
Wikipedia also links to a paper (which downloads as a word document) by Timothy White of the Dept. of Literature at the National University of Singapore that puts these kinds of movies in context. White notes that during the 1950s and 60s Singapore had a thriving film industry that churned out many horror films featuring the pontianak. However, these films "are all, by today’s standards, woefully unrealistic, especially in terms of the way they look." Evidently these short Singaporean ghost videos popping up on the internet must be inspired (even if unknowingly so) by that country's tradition of cheap horror flicks. The obvious fakeness of them is just part of the cinematic tradition.
Sep. 19, 2003: Indian Ghost Hoax
Sep. 21, 2003: Indian Ghost Hoax, Part II
Status: Almost definitely an urban legendThe Leicester Mercury has printed a spooky story that sounds very much like an urban legend. (Though I know some people say that true urban legends don't involve the supernatural, so I guess it would be a ghost legend.) Since I don't believe in ghosts, I'm assuming that the story is mostly b.s. But I'm curious if any parts of it are true.
The story goes like this: In 1950 Dr Guiseppi Stoppolino of Camerino University was testing an Italian clairvoyant named Mario Bocca to see if his powers were real. During the test Bocca picked up a message from a dead woman calling herself Rosa Spadoni, who claimed that she had been buried alive back in 1939. Stoppolino and Bocca searched for the grave of Rosa Spadoni, but couldn't find it until they realized that her tombstone bore her married name, Menichelli. They convinced a court to exhume Rosa Menichelli's coffin, and, sure enough, discovered evidence that she had been buried alive. As the Leicester Mercury tells it, "There was little more than a skeleton left in the coffin, but the spine was arched in an attempt to lift the lid, and the fingers still clawed at the woodwork."
A version of the story can also be found on the World of the Strange website, where they add this ending:
"The outraged public reaction that followed rocked Italy and even threatened to bring down the government. Within months, Dr. Stoppolini succeeded in his crusade for mandatory embalming of the dead. As the story spread to other European countries, burial practices were also hastily changed."
You would think that an event like this that supposedly changed burial practices in Europe would be easy to confirm, but a google search brings up almost nothing. Just about the only part of the story I can confirm is that there really is a Camerino University in Italy. I can't confirm the existence of Dr. Guiseppi Stoppolino, Mario Bocca, or Rosa Spadoni. However, a post (in Italian) on Google Groups revealed that the Spadoni story was told in The World's Greatest Ghosts, which came out in 1984, written by Nigel Blundell and Roger Boar. I'm wondering if Blundell and Boar's account is the first published account of the story. And, if so, did they simply make it up?
Status: Photographs with blurry objects in themEdna Barrie sent me this series of images that's circulating around. It's accompanied by the caption:
If You Don't Send This to at Least ten People in the Next 2 Hours You will Forever have Bad Luck.....If You do...Something Good Will Happen to you in the Near Future!!!! Good Luck.
What I can't understand is why over-exposed and double-exposed images would cause anyone bad luck. But as it is, I'm slated for permanent bad luck because I waited over two hours to post these on the site.
Status: UnlikelyA group of anti-development activists calling themselves the Knights of Saint Edmund have hit upon an unusual way of stopping a shopping center from being built in their hometown, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. They're threatening to unleash the ancient Curse of St. Edmund upon the developers. Their website states that:
On St Edmund's day, the 20th November 2005, a formal and public cursing ceremony will take place at Bury St Edmunds to once again summon the avenging saint and dread King to punish his 21st century enemies. The ancient curse of St Edmund has not been used for over 500 years, but with the determination of developers to destroy the whole character of a town laid-out almost 1,000 years ago, leaves the good people of Bury St Edmunds with no other option. They will have to summon divine vengeance down upon those hell-bent on wrecking their town, unless Centros Miller Ltd., Miller Group and Debenhams unconditionally withdraw all their plans for redeveloping the cattle-market site by close of business on Friday 18th November 2005.
Victims of the Curse of St. Edmund have supposedly suffered some gruesome misfortunes, such as blindness, madness, syphilis, and being "eaten up inside by worms." However, the town historian of Bury St. Edmunds denies that there is any legend of a curse: "They have no historical authenticity – there is no such thing as the curse of St Edmund." Still, you've got to give them credit for trying. Maybe there's some ancient American curse that can be used to stop Wal-Mart from opening more stores.
Status: UnlikelyThe BBC has video footage, taken by a security camera at night, of a (supposed) ghost haunting a store in Gloucester, England. What you see is a blurry image in which a pile of boxes falls down followed by a scene in which a figure might be sitting in a chair. The audio interview with the manager of the store, Sue Cooper, is also worth listening to, if only for its entertainment value. Sue and the BBC reporter go into the basement of the store, whereupon Sue claims to feel the presence of the ghost and becomes extremely flustered. The reporter, on the other hand, senses nothing at all. I'm just hazarding a guess here, but it could be that the boxes fell down of their own accord, and personally, I really can't see the woman who's supposed to be sitting in the chair.
In September of 2001 four people entered the Barton Mansion, which is billed as being one of the most haunted houses in California (it's in Redlands, east of LA). What happened to them is described in great detail on the Barton Mansion website that they created a couple of years later. Included is a videoclip of their supposed encounter with a ghost (the clip looks staged to me). I'm not sure what the purpose behind the creation of the site was. They do sell a Barton Mansion dvd, but they're only asking $9 for it, so they can't make a huge amount of money from it. Maybe they're just big fans of the supernatural, or they're amateur storytellers hoping to create a Blair-Witch style mystery.