Did You Hear About the…? – WIF Urban Legend

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Strange – World

As a species, human beings share a love of stories. Some are based on real events. Others are pure fiction, and in some cases the line between the two can be blurred or uncertain.

Urban legends tend to fall into the latter category, but they can be found in some form in every culture and society.

These are 10 examples of some of the stranger urban legends to be found.

10. Killer Electric Fans

South Korea is amongst the most scientifically advanced nations on the planet. Despite this it’s also home to a peculiar modern day urban legend that has little or no scientific support.

Some South Koreans believe that leaving an electric fan switched on overnight can be fatal. It’s not entirely inconceivable that an electric fan might on very rare occasions malfunction and catch fire, but this isn’t what believers are worried about. The fear is that anybody who goes to sleep in a closed room with an electric fan running might never wake up.

While this particular urban legend is almost entirely unique to South Korea, and while there’s very little evidence to back it up, it’s none the less prevalent enough that even major fan manufacturers issue warnings not to leave fans pointed at people overnight.

It seems that the roots of this particular urban legend can be traced back to 1927, when an article was published warning that electric fans circulating stale air could lead to nausea or even suffocation.

9. The Zambezi River God

In 1955 an Italian construction firm began work on the Kariba Dam on Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River. It would produce huge amounts of hydroelectric power, but at the cost of forcing thousands of locals from their homes and their land.

Some warned that the Zambezi River God would be angered into unleashing floods and dire retribution. This serpent-like creature known as Nyaminyami is said to inhabit Lake Kariba and act as protector of the Tongan people.

The Kariba Dam engineers weren’t concerned. The giant structure’s defenses were designed to withstand anything up to a once-in-a-thousand-year flood.

Despite their confidence, in 1957 the dam was hit by that thousand-year storm. Damage was extensive and several Italian construction workers were killed. Construction was delayed by several months until work could begin again.

In defiance of all their calculations a second even larger flood followed just one year later. Several more workers were killed, their bodies falling into the dam’s still-setting cement from where they could not be recovered.

Construction of the dam was finally completed, but not before 82 construction workers had lost their lives. Some believe the completed dam has cut the Zambezi River God off from his wife, and that even to this day he is working to destroy it.

If so then he seems to be making progress. Engineers warn that the Kariba Dam is now in dire need of extensive repairs and at risk of collapsing entirely, with catastrophic consequences.

8. Spring-Heeled Jack

With a population in excess of two million people, 1830s London was the most populous city in the world. It was a global hub of science, invention, and innovation, and in 1829 it introduced the first professional police force anywhere in the world.

Despite all this London was a city in the grip of fear. A mysterious figure was attacking young women across the city, and the police seemed powerless to apprehend him.

It wasn’t even clear if the menace was human. Eyewitnesses reported him as having a demonic appearance, the ability to spit flames, and even leap huge distances in one bound. He came to be known as Spring-heeled Jack.

Mass hysteria presumably played a part, but fear of Spring-heeled Jack was very real. The newspapers, who knew a juicy story when they saw it, were only too happy to run articles on this shadowy character.

In 1838 a man named Thomas Millbank, somewhat worse for wear in a London tavern, boasted that he was none other than the mysterious Spring-heeled Jack. He was promptly arrested for the attack on a victim named Jane Alsop. However, he soon had to be released. Jane Alsop remained adamant that her assailant had breathed flames. If Millbank had indeed been able to manifest this ability, he stubbornly refused to do so.

Whether there ever was a single real person behind the legend of Spring-heeled Jack is difficult to say for sure, but the legend lives on and occasional sightings continue to be reported even to this day.

7. The Black Bird of Chernobyl

The mere mention of Chernobyl is enough to conjure up feelings of unease. The name is inextricably linked to the worst nuclear accident the world has ever seen, and it’s seared into our collective consciousness as something dark and terrifying.

Most people know the story well enough. A nuclear reactor in the Soviet power plant melted down, and only good fortune and heroism prevented a far greater disaster that would have rendered much of Europe uninhabitable.

The supernatural aspect of the story is less well known. Thousands of people were evacuated after the meltdown, but many still speak of a horrifying apparition that appeared as a harbinger of disaster.

In the weeks leading up to the catastrophe they claim to have seen a terrifying humanoid creature with huge wings, and eyes that glowed like hot coal. This airborne apparition came to be known as the Black Bird of Chernobyl.

Whether this was an urban legend created after the disaster or whether it has some basis in reality is impossible to say for certain.

6. The Deadly Drop Bear

Australia is home to some of the deadliest animals in the world. If the snakes, spiders, jellyfish, and the lethal blue-ringed octopus weren’t enough, there’s also the drop bear.

The creature is said to be a relative of the koala, but considerably less appealing. Roughly the size of a leopard or a large dog, drop bears are ambush predators.

They live in the forests where they hide in the canopy waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass beneath. Dropping from the trees they use their powerful arms and venomous bite to subdue their prey, and sometimes even attack humans.

In reality the drop bear is an urban legend created to scare and amuse tourists, and occasionally play pranks on unsuspecting journalists. Curiously enough, however, during the last Ice Age Australia was home to a carnivorous marsupial that lived and hunted from the trees, similar to the mythical drop bear.

5. Bodies in Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney is one of the world’s most famous cities, and it seems to be Australia’s hot spot for urban legends. If they are all to be believed then there is a secret network of tunnels beneath the streets, a hidden lake populated by giant albino eels, escaped big cats on the loose, and even a prehistoric river monster.

Other urban legends are linked to Sydney’s architecture, such as Sydney Harbor Bridge.

The bridge opened in 1932 and became famous across the world. However, its construction came at a cost in human lives. The official figures state that sixteen people were killed in falls, construction accidents, and in one case from tetanus after suffering a crushed thumb.

Local legend has it that this is not the full tally of fatal accidents. Several workers are rumored to have fallen into the structure as it was being built. Since these dead bodies would be bad for publicity, not to mention difficult and expensive to retrieve, their grisly demise may have been covered up.

4. The Wendigo

In November 2019, Gino Meekis was hunting grouse in the forests of northwest Ontario. Whilst there he heard a wailing noise unlike anything he’d encountered in more than twelve years of hunting.

Gino was sufficiently unnerved to pull out his phone and take a recording, and that subsequently sparked an online debate as to what exactly was responsible for the eerie noise.

One suggestion was a grizzly bear, but that species had never been sighted in the region. Others speculated it may have been a wendigo.

Bumping into a grizzly in the forests is dangerous, but it would be vastly favorable to an encounter with this terrifying supernatural beast.

The Wendigo of legend is said to be fifteen feet tall with a stinking, rotting, emaciated body. Its lips are tattered and bloody, and it’s haunted by a constant hunger for human flesh. The beast is constantly hunting for victims, but no matter how much it eats it can never satisfy the craving.

This monstrous creature has made its way into modern medical parlance. The thankfully rare psychological condition of Wendigo Syndrome is characterized by a desire to consume human flesh.

3. The Rock Star’s Parakeets

There are plenty of urban legends surrounding animals or beasts whose existence is questionable at best.

This one is slightly different as it concerns tens of thousands of parakeets that have made their home in London’s parks.

The parakeets definitely exist, but they equally definitely aren’t indigenous to Britain, and nobody is entirely sure where they came from.

One popular suggestion is that Jimi Hendrix is responsible. He’s said to have released two of the birds, Adam and Eve, into the skies of London whilst stoned in 1968. The multitude of parrots now resident in England are said to be descendants of this first pair.

The idea has even been investigated by researchers at Queen Mary University. Unfortunately, whilst it’s possible that Hendrix may have added to the parakeet population, they concluded the birds are too widespread to all be descended from a single pair.

2. Aka Manto

The yokai are a group of supernatural beings and monsters that populate Japanese folklore. Varied in their appearance and temperament, some are benevolent, others are cruel, and one has an unusual predilection for women’s bathrooms.

Descriptions of Aka Manto’s appearance varies, but he is always depicted as wearing a mask and a red cape. The supernatural being is said to periodically appear in public or school toilets offering the occupier a choice between red and blue toilet paper.

Neither of these is a good option. Choosing the blue paper results in being strangled to death, but opting for the red paper is no better and leads to death by laceration.

Aka Manto is also wise to anyone who might try to trick their way past him by requesting different colored toilet paper to the ones he offered. Their fate is to be dragged off to the underworld and never seen again.

Fortunately, all is not lost. Politely declining Aka Manto’s offer of toilet paper will cause him to leave in search of another potential victim.

The legend of Aka Manto can be traced back to at least the 1930s, and he’s said to be still haunting public toilets to this day.

1. NASA’s Billion Dollar Pen

In 1957 the Soviet Union launched the first ever satellite into space. It didn’t do anything other than whizz around the planet emitting regular beeps, but it was sufficient to spark a hugely expensive space race with the United States of America.

America would claim victory by landing men on the moon in 1969, but there were a huge number of challenges to overcome before that point could be reached.

Even something as simple as writing proved to be problematic in space. It turned out that regular pens just didn’t work in zero gravity.

The American response was to begin a lengthy research project and sink billions of dollars into a solution. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union took a cheaper but far more straightforward approach and used pencils instead.

Many people are aware of this story, but it’s not actually true. It’s an example of a particularly successful urban myth, one that’s now so firmly embedded in our collective psyche it’s unlikely to ever go away.

The reality is that the American space program, just like the Soviet one, initially switched to using pencils. When a pen was developed that could be used in space, it was designed independently of the U.S. Government or military by an inventor named Paul C. Fisher.

NASA approved them for use in space and purchased a grand total of 400 of them at the modest price of $2.95 each. The Soviet space agency bought some too.


Did You Hear About the…?

WIF Urban Legends

Masquerade Merrymaking – WIF Into History

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Infamous Impostors

in History

For most of us, the idea of pretending to be someone else day in and day out sounds exhausting, if not impossible. Not for everyone, though. Some people slip into a new identity as easily as you slip into a new pair of shoes. In fact, history is full of impostors who donned new guises and successfully pretended to be someone else entirely for money, power, or, in some cases, just for fun.

8. Lord Gordon-Gordon

The real name of Lord Gordon-Gordon is lost to history, but we know that he was a 19th century British con man who was successful in impersonating a Scottish landowner. He swindled many people, most notable being one of the richest men in America, the notorious railroad magnate Jay Gould.

When the con man decided to adopt the guise of a Scottish aristocrat around 1868, he became Lord Glencairn in London. With the right look and the proper demeanor, he slowly gained the trust of others and persuaded them to grant him money loans or services on credit. When the fraud was exposed in 1870, Lord Glencairn disappeared from London and Lord Gordon-Gordon emerged in America.

There, he was even more successful as real Scottish lords were few and far between. He was aided by the fact that Gordon-Gordon was able to deposit tens of thousands of dollars in a bank. It was the money left over from his British swindles, but it instantly gave him credibility.

He settled in Minnesota and announced his intention to invest in railroads. This way, he made the acquaintance of Jay Gould and convinced him that he owned a lot of stock in the Erie Railroad. Keen to do business together, Gould gave him half a million dollars as a sign of good faith – some in money, the rest in stock. This was intended as a guarantee – Lord Gordon-Gordon was only supposed to hold onto the money, not spend it. However, when he began selling stock shares, Gould realized he had been swindled. The industrialist tried to settle matters in court, but the “lord” fled to Canada.

This almost caused an international incident as Gould’s associates crossed the border and tried to kidnap Gordon-Gordon to bring him to justice. They were caught and arrested and a U.S. militia wanted to invade Canada to secure their release.

The con man thought himself safe in Canada, but authorities eventually decided to extradite him. Not wanting to face prison, Lord Gordon-Gordon shot himself on August 1, 1874.

7. Wilhelm Voigt

On October 16, 1906, a German captain walked into an army barracks in Berlin and commandeered ten soldiers who accompanied him by train to the town of Köpenick east of the capital. There, the captain placed the mayor and the treasurer under arrest for embezzlement and confiscated over 4,000 marks from the local treasury as evidence. At first, this sounded like a typical corruption bust, but there was a catch – the “army captain” was just some guy dressed in uniform who changed in his civilian clothes and left with the money.

His name was Wilhelm Voigt. In his late 50s at that time, he had spent half his adult life in and out of prison for various crimes. In 1906, he assembled a full captain’s uniform by buying various used parts from different shops around Berlin. He looked, walked and talked like an officer and, for German soldiers, that was enough apparently. They followed his orders without question, even the sergeant who allowed his men to travel with Voigt.

The impostor was caught ten days after his impersonation and was sentenced to four years in prison. However, unlike most other con men, Voigt’s brazen actions amused the public, both in the German Empire and abroad. He became regarded more as a folk hero than a criminal and Kaiser Wilhelm II pardoned him after two years.

Voigt was keen to take advantage of his newfound popularity and began making appearances in theaters, restaurants, amusement parks, and wherever else he was welcomed. Decades later, the memorable affair even became the subject of a play called “The Captain of Köpenick.”

6. John Deydras

One day in 1318, a one-eared man walked into Beaumont Palace in Oxford and declared himself to be the true Edward II and, therefore, the rightful King of England.

This man’s name was John Deydras, sometimes recorded as John of Powderham, and all we know about his past is that he worked as a clerk and may have been the son of a tanner. According to his story, though, he was actually the son of Edward I, better known as Edward Longshanks. However, when he was an infant, a sow bit off his ear while he was playing in the castle courtyard. Fearing that she would be severely punished for her carelessness, his nanny substituted him with another boy from the village who ended up becoming Edward II of England.

Of course, Deydras had no proof for this wild story and modern historians opine that the man was likely mentally ill since making such an accusation was basically a death sentence back then. However, Edward II was said to have been amused by Deydras and, given that nobody took the story seriously, the king may have even wanted to spare the man and keep him as his court jester.

Unfortunately, Deydras really picked the wrong time for his little stunt. Edward was deeply unpopular at that time for his military failures against the Scots led by Robert the Bruce. Moreover, his wife, Queen Isabella, was “unspeakably annoyed” by Deydras and wanted him gone. Not surprisingly, though, she wasn’t nicknamed the She-Wolf of France for nothing.

As a result, Deydras was arrested and tortured. He confessed that the whole thing had been a lie, claiming that he had been put up to it by his cat who was actually a demon. Both man and feline were executed.

5. Cassie Chadwick

Elizabeth Bigley was a 19th century Canadian swindler who ran cons ever since she was a teenager. She started off with some minor forgery before moving to the United States where she pretended to be a clairvoyant in several different cities. She also married twice, each time under a different pseudonym, but neither marriage lasted long and, eventually, Bigley was sentenced to nine years in prison for forgery in 1889.

She was paroled in 1893 and went to Cleveland where she adopted the name Cassie Hoover. A few years later, she became Cassie Chadwick after marrying again, this time to a wealthy, respected doctor named Leroy Chadwick. This new relationship granted Cassie access to some of Ohio’s richest and most influential people and, with the unwitting help of one of her husband’s friends, Chadwick embarked on her most ambitious con.

In 1897, she took a trip to New York City. There, she met an aquaintance of Dr. Chadwick, a lawyer named James Dillon. Cassie asked him to accompany her on an errand and the man obliged. Together, they traveled to Fifth Avenue and stopped in front of one of the most lavish buildings in the entire city. It was the mansion of Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men in the world. Chadwick went inside while Dillon waited in the carriage, puzzled over what business she could possibly have in there.

In reality, all Chadwick did was ask to speak with the head housekeeper under the pretense of checking the references of a maid she wanted to hire. She never met Carnegie, but that was irrelevant to the con – all that mattered was that she spent some time inside his house.

When she left, Dillon obviously asked about her business. Chadwick confessed that she was the illegitimate daughter of Andrew Carnegie and even showed the lawyer some promissory notes (forged, of course) worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, also mentioning that she stood to inherit millions more. She swore Dillon to secrecy, knowing full well that the attorney would tell everyone in Ohio.

Once her story was out, Chadwick found it easy to secure massive loans from every bank she walked into. She was counting on the fact that nobody would be so bold as to ask Carnegie about an illegitimate daughter and she was right…for a while. Chadwick kept her scam going for seven years. Then, in 1904, a banker demanded she pay back a loan worth almost $200,000. She was unable so the banker asked Carnegie who said he had no idea who Cassie Chadwick was. She was convicted of fraud and died in jail a few years later.

As far as Andrew Carnegie is concerned, we did an entire video about him on our sister channel, Biographics, so check the link in the description if you want to learn more about him.

4. Lambert Simnel

The death of King Edward IV of England in 1483 led to one of the most enduring mysteries in English history – the fate of his two sons, the so-called Princes in the Tower. When they were 12 and 9 years old, respectively, they were locked inside the Tower of London by their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who took the throne for himself and became King Richard III. He was killed two years later at the Battle of Bosworth Field, putting an end not only to his reign, but also to the House of York and the Wars of the Roses. After him came Henry VII, first king from the House of Tudor.

As for the two princes, it is generally accepted that the two died in the tower, but there have been people who emerged claiming to be one or the other and, therefore, the rightful heirs to the throne.

One of these people was Lambert Simnel who, curiously, was hailed as not one, but two different heirs. As a boy, Simnel was under the care of a priest named Richard Simon who became convinced that his pupil came from royalty. At first, he proclaimed that the boy was Richard of Shrewsbury, the younger of the two princes who survived his incarceration in the tower. Later, he amended his claim, saying that Simnel was actually Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick, a different member of the House of York who had been imprisoned by King Henry VII as a young boy.

Unbeknownst to most people, Simon included, the real Edward Plantagenet was still alive inside the Tower of London and it would be over a decade until he was actually executed. However, Simon’s claim was convincing enough that Lambert Simnel was taken to Ireland where he was crowned King Edward VI and an army was raised to dethrone Henry. The two sides met in 1487 at the Battle of Stoke Field where Simnel’s supporters were decisively defeated.

Fortunately for Simnel, King Henry understood that the boy was simply a puppet used by people to rally Yorkist supporters. Therefore, he pardoned Simnel and allowed him to work in the royal kitchen. When he got older, he became a falconer before disappearing from the history record.

3. Fred Demara

Known as “the Great Impostor,” Fred Demara adopted numerous identities and spent most of his lifetime pretending to be someone else. Some of his alter egos included a psychologist, a biologist, a law student, a Trappist monk, a teacher, a dean of philosophy, a prison warden, and, most shocking of all, a naval surgeon who actually performed medical procedures during the Korean War.

It won’t surprise you to learn that we don’t know a lot of accurate information about the lifelong swindler as most of the details surrounding him were provided by Demara himself after he sold his story to Life magazine. He was born Ferdinand Waldo Demara in 1921 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Allegedly, he had a very high IQ and a photographic memory which helped him take on identities that often required a higher education. His family started off rich, but lost it all during the Great Depression which convinced a teenage Demara to run away from home and embark on his life as a professional impostor.

It would seem that the two career paths that genuinely appealed to Demara were as a monk and a military man. He joined several monasteries and military branches throughout his life, but never lasted more than a few years in each before running away and starting over again.

When Demara joined a religious educational group known as the Brothers of Christian Instruction, he met a Canadian doctor named Joseph Cyr. He later adopted Cyr’s identity and secured a position as trauma surgeon aboard the Canadian destroyer HMCS Cayuga during the Korean War. Apparently, he was successful in performing sutures, minor surgery, and, on one occasion, even extracting a bullet from a chest wound.

After Demara became a minor celebrity in the late 1950s, he found it much harder to assume new identities. Instead, he tried living as Fred Demara and parlayed his newfound fame into a few TV appearances and even one movie role in the 1960 horror film The Hypnotic Eye.

2. George Psalmanazar

George Psalmanazar is the only known alias of a Frenchman who purported to be a native of Formosa who both dazzled and horrified 18th century London with tales from his homeland.

The man was born sometime around 1679 in southern France. Whilst traveling through Europe, he adopted the guise of an Irish pilgrim. However, people could often tell he was lying, so he decided he needed something more exotic. He then pretended to be a Japanese heathen, but later switched to something even more far-flung and claimed to be a native of the island of Formosa, known today as Taiwan. He even began practicing strange rituals and eating unusual food which was enough to convince most Europeans that he was from someplace far, far away. On his travels, he met a Scottish chaplain named Alexander Innes who “converted” him to Christianity, christened him George Psalmanazar and brought him to London.

The stranger’s story proved popular in England. He claimed to have been kidnapped from his native land by Jesuits who then imprisoned him for refusing to convert to Catholicism. This played well in a country where anti-Catholic sentiment was high, only enhanced by Psalmanazar’s conversion to Anglicanism.

In 1704, the Formosan wrote and published a book titled “An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island Subject to the Emperor of Japan.” It was a hit, although most of the facts were either fabricated, exaggerated or taken from travel reports of other civilizations. It contained a fake language, a fake calendar, and fake religious ceremonies performed to worship the Sun and the Moon.

Most shocking were Psalmanazar’s claims of how common cannibalism and human sacrifice were in his society. According to him, the Formosan High Priest Gnotoy Bonzo commanded 18,000 boys under the age of 9 to be killed each year so that their hearts could be offered as sacrifices. The rest of their bodies were eaten. To ensure a steady supply of children, men were allowed to take on as many wives as they wanted.

Of course, the Formosan fascination only lasted a couple of years before people moved on to the next craze. This eventually prompted Psalmanazar to confess that the whole thing was a fraud, but he suffered no serious consequences for his deception. He even had admirers, most notably the playwright Samuel Johnson, who appreciated his success as an impostor.

1. The False Dmitris

The end of the 16th century brought a succession crisis in Russia known as the Time of Troubles. It started in 1598 after Fyodor I died without heirs. This prompted the appearance of several pretenders to the throne all known as False Dmitry because they all claimed to be the same person – Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible.

The real Dmitry died in 1591 when he was only 8 years old under controversial circumstances. He was killed by a stab wound – some say he was assassinated, others that the young prince accidentally stabbed himself during a seizure. A few years later, a third story arose purporting that the alleged assassins killed a different boy while the real Dmitry was hidden away, waiting for the opportune time to return. This version opened the door for people to come forward as the rightful heir to the throne.

The first False Dmitry appeared around 1603 in Poland-Lithuania. He was the most successful of the bunch. He gained the backing of the Polish lords and found plenty of Russian supporters as well. He raised an army and intended to challenge Tsar Boris Godunov, but there was no need for this. In 1605, Godunov died of an illness. His teenage son, Fyodor II, became the new tsar, but only lasted a couple of months before being assassinated and replaced with Dmitry.

False Dmitry reigned for almost a year, but he had his own enemies who plotted against him. One of them was Vasili Shuisky. He convinced the people of Moscow that Dmitry was planning to massacre them with the help of his Polish followers. They stormed the Kremlin and killed Dmitry and, according to legend, cremated his body and shot the ashes out of a cannon towards Poland.

Shuysky became Tsar Vasili IV. In 1607 came False Dmitry II who was accepted as the real Dmitry by Tsaritsa Marina, the wife of the first False Dmitry who, presumably, would have accepted anyone to gain back her power. He actually assembled a large army and had several military successes, but was killed in 1610 while drunk by one of his own followers.

Lastly came False Dmitry III. He gained the allegiance of the Cossacks, but was betrayed by a group who kidnapped him and took him to Moscow in 1612 where he was executed. The crisis, as well as the line of False Dmitris, ended a year later when Michael I became the new Tsar of Russia, thus beginning the 300-year reign of the House of Romanov.


Masquerade Merrymaking

WIF Into History

Sick Puns #40 – WIF Wit and Humor

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Diseased (Sick) Puns

 

The flipside of contagious gum disease is an infectious smile.

 

Which illness are witches most prone to? Crone’s disease.

 

When Wally discovered he had Lyme disease he was really ticked off.

 

The mathematician did not practice safe six and ended up with a binarial disease.

 

She could only compose music in 3/4 time. She had waltz timer’s disease.

 

The retired track official has started forgetting things. He has old timer’s disease.

 

He liked to study infectious diseases. It was in his blood.

 

Don’t kiss birds or you may get an untweetable canarial disease.

 

Chronic illegal parkers suffer from parking zones disease.

 

Those who write about disease become ill-literate.



Sick Puns #40 –

WIF Wit and Humor

 

Contemplate ~ Deliberate ~ Meditate ~ Ruminate – WIF Reflection on the Human Brain

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Your Brain

is Crazier

Than You Think

The human brain is, so far as we know, the most complicated thing in the universe. It exists in the lonely darkness of the skull, but by interpreting electrical signals from the senses it’s able to build up a detailed picture of the world around it.

Quite how accurate this picture is, and how closely one person’s version of reality matches with that of another, is not known for sure. It is nonetheless an impressive trick.

There’s still a great deal we don’t understand about the human brain, and it may well be that we’re never going to be smart enough to figure it out completely.

We do know that a lot of strange and extraordinary things are going on inside our heads. These are ten reasons why your brain might be crazier than you think.

10. Your Brain’s too Complex for a Supercomputer

Japan’s K computer is one of the fastest and most powerful supercomputers in the world. Its 88,000 processors are capable of an astonishing 10.51 quadrillion computations per second, and it chews its way through roughly the same amount of electricity as a medium-sized town.

Since becoming operational in 2011, at which point it was ranked as the fastest computer in the world, the machine’s capabilities have been harnessed for medical research, disaster prevention, and modelling climate change. In 2014 it was used to create the most accurate simulation of a human brain’s activity ever attempted.

Only a mere 1% of the brain’s entire neural network was simulated, anything more would have been too much even for a machine as powerful and sophisticated as the K Computer. Even then it required some heavy lifting, and it took the Japanese machine some 40 minutes to replicate just one second of brain activity.

The K Computer is due for retirement in August 2019, having been surpassed by ever faster and more powerful machines. Even these are not yet capable of replicating the complexity of the human brain.

9. Memory Capacity

In 2007 a Canadian named Dave Farrow broke a world record when he successfully memorized a sequence of 3,068 playing cards.

While this is an extraordinary achievement, particularly for those of us who struggle to remember where we left our keys, it only scratches the surface of the human brain’s memory storage capacity.

Until recently this was believed to come in at somewhere around one and ten terabytes, but recent studies suggest the true total is several orders of magnitude greater.

Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies believe the average human brain can store over a petabyte of data. That’s the equivalent of 20 million four-drawer filing cabinets filled with text, or around 2% of the total number of written words in every language in all recorded history.

Much of this capacity is devoted to such things as ensuring you don’t wake up having forgotten how to read a book or drive. By necessity, only a fraction of the remainder is available to you at any one time. It would be enormously inconvenient if you had to trawl through your memories of everywhere you’d ever been to work out where you lived.

8. Half a Brain can be Enough

Human brains are by no means the largest brains in the world. That particular distinction belongs to the sperm whale, whose brains are around six times as heavy as our own. However, comparing brain size with body mass is a far better indication of intelligence. By this measure the humble tree shrew comes out on top, with humans placing in second.

Surprisingly, it’s possible to remove an entire hemisphere of a human brain with no negative impact on the individual’s intelligence or memory.

In rare cases surgeons have no option other than to perform a hemispherectomy in order to prevent a patient’s seizures. In an adult this would be catastrophic, but the outcomes for children who undergo the procedure at a very young age are surprisingly positive. Their brains are able to adapt in a way that an older brain could not.

A recent study found that not only are most of the children who underwent the procedure seizure free, many were thriving. One had even gone on to become a state chess champion.

7. You Might Not Have Free Will

It seems obvious that humans have free will. We make thousands of decisions every day, and every time we act on these decisions we experience free will first hand. There is, however, a strong case to be made that free will is nothing more than an illusion conjured by our brains.

While it used to be believed that mind and matter were two separate entities, we can now say with a good deal of confidence that mind does not exist independently. The brain seems to be entirely material, which suggests that it must obey the law of causality – that every effect must have a specific cause.

This leaves little or no room for free will. Any decision we make or action we take is an inevitable result of the brain state which immediately preceded it, going back to even before the moment we were born.

This sounds odd, but it’s an established fact that humans are terrible judges of their own behaviour. They can be manipulated into acting in a certain way; when asked why they have done so they will subconsciously post-rationalize the action and insist they had made a decision based on their own free will.

The question of whether free will really is an illusion is far from settled, and a new $7 million study has just been launched in an attempt to come to a definitive answer.

6. Brain Plasticity

In 2014 a Chinese man visited his doctor’s surgery in Great Britain complaining of headaches and strange smells. Scans revealed a parasitic worm burrowing its way through the unfortunate man’s brain, and doctors believed it had most likely been in there for as long as five years.

That he had been able to function for so long with such relatively manageable symptoms is testament to the brain’s remarkable ability to reorganize and rewire itself.

Whenever we learn a new skill, or even form new memories, the brains physical architecture remodels itself. The hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with spatial navigation, is significantly larger in London taxi drivers than in the average person. Differences in brain structure have also been found between musicians and non-musicians.

The brain’s 90-billion or so neurons are linked by trillions of connections. Learning a new skill forms new links, while recalling a memory strengthens existing links. Our brains are constantly changing, adapting, and forming new connections. It’s this brain plasticity that means stroke victims are often able to make a full recovery despite suffering permanent damage to parts of their brain.

5. Your Brain Might be a Secret Genius

For 31 years Jason Padgett’s existence was relatively unremarkable. He worked as a futon salesman, and his free time revolved around drinking and picking up women.

That all changed in 2002 when he became the victim of a vicious, unprovoked assault outside a nightclub. Padgett managed to stagger to a hospital across the street, where he was diagnosed as having suffered a severe concussion.

Padgett’s life would never be the same again. The violent attack had somehow unlocked a previously untapped ability in his brain.

Whereas previously he had shown no particular interest or aptitude for mathematics, the attack had transformed him into a mathematical genius. Even the way he saw the world had been profoundly changed. It looked as though it was pixelated, and everywhere he looked he saw complex mathematical shapes known as fractals.

While Padgett’s experience was extremely unusual, it wasn’t entirely unique. There are other instances of people suffering a brain injury, only to come into possession of extraordinary new abilities.

Acquired savant syndrome is rare, with only a few known cases across the world. But some scientists believe almost any human brain could potentially be rewired to unlock the genius within.

4. You Remember the Past all Wrong

Our memories are fundamental in determining our sense of self. Without them we would be both literally and figuratively lost in the world. Considering their profound importance to us, it’s surprising just how unreliable our memories are, and how little we know about how they are formed.

Conventional wisdom has it that memories are recalled through connected neurons across the brain all firing at the same moment. Other research suggests that memories physically reside within brain cells.

However it’s done, the results aren’t terribly reliable. Memories aren’t recorded perfectly ready to be retrieved with total clarity at some future date.

According to research conducted by neuroscientists such as Daniela Schiller, each time we recall an event our memory of it is brought into an unstable state within the brain. When it is stored back into memory again our recollection of that event is slightly altered.

We use our memories to tell ourselves a story of who we are, but our source material is deeply unreliable.

3. When You Go on a Diet, Your Brain Eats Itself

The human brain is made up of something in the region of 90 billion neurons. Until recently it was believed that all of these are present from birth. We now know that through a process called neurogenesis it is possible for even adult brains to create brand new neurons. This is good news as we’ll lose plenty of neurons as we navigate our way through life.

Obesity, smoking, alcohol, and cocaine have all been linked with killing off brain cells and even physically shrinking the size of the brain, and a recent study suggests that even dieting can cause the brain to cannibalize itself.

Despite only weighing about 3 pounds, the brain consumes about 20% of the body’s energy, and when there’s fewer calories than expected coming in it doesn’t seem to much like it.  The neurons start cannibalizing each other, which sends out an urgent message to the body that it needs to eat something in the very near future. This explains why losing weight can be so difficult.

2. Your Brain Doesn’t Have Pain Receptors

When our bodies suffer physical injury, pain receptors fire warning signals up the spinal column to the thalamus, which serves as the brain’s sorting house for sensory signals. The message is then passed on to the regions of the brain that deal with physical sensation, thinking, and emotion. This results in the deeply unpleasant sensation of pain.

If the brain itself is injured, this doesn’t happen. It doesn’t have any pain receptors of its own. This means it’s quite possible for surgeons or neuroscientists to poke around in somebody’s brain with them fully conscious and in no discomfort. The patient is then able to assist doctors in mapping out the brain, helping to ensure no damage is done during the operation.

One Brazilian man named Anthony Kulkamp Dias even kept himself entertained by playing guitar whilst undergoing brain surgery.

1. Synesthesia can be Learned

Synesthesia is a condition that causes two or more of a person’s senses to become mixed up. One of the most common types is to perceive numbers as having a particular color. However, it comes in a wide variety of flavors, such as tasting words or perceiving the days of the week as having specific personalities or appearances.

The condition is often associated with particularly creative people. The famous physicist Richard Feynman saw equations in colors, and this may have helped him win a Nobel Prize in physics in 1965.

Around 1-in-300 people are born with synesthesia, but it’s possible to train your brain to experience it. A study at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom had subjects read books where certain words appeared in a certain color.

After several weeks of training most of the group reported seeing those colors even when reading standard black text. However, it seems the effects were not permanent, and within a few weeks the synesthesia had worn off.


Contemplate ~ Deliberate ~ Meditate ~ Ruminate –

WIF Reflection on the Human Brain

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #128

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #128

…Caught in a lie, the manager nervously shuffles unrelated papers, “Oh my, yes, here you are… from Tallahassee, Florida, lovely area, Florida…

Pan American Mailing Card

…eth·nol·o·gy – the study of the characteristics of various peoples and the differences and relationships between them…

Ethnology

Herbert Love, with his typically calm demeanor, steps in to ask, “If President McKinley were to reserve rooms, would you ask him for a deposit?”

“Preposterous! We do not have time for this nonsense.”  

“Please answer the simple question.”

 “If he were to stay here, which is unlikely, no we would not.”

  “I recommend you check your records closely, because these rooms were reserved by the White House. If you would like, ring up the Statlers Hotel and speak to the President’s chief of staff.”

Caught in a lie, the manager nervously shuffles unrelated papers. “Oh my, yes. Here you are… from Tallahassee, Florida, lovely area, Florida. You have the entire eighth RightlyProudfloor, our best rooms. How did we miss that, O’Reilly? Please have dinner on us, uh, uh this evening for your inconvenience.”

   “No sir, we has promised to eat with the Presidint, we has,” chimes in a rightly proud and vindicated Willy Campbell.

  “Perhaps to-to-tomomorrow?” he stammers.

  “We like our grits with pork gravy,” punctuates John Ferrell, emboldened by leverage.

  “Grits, pork, yes, anything else?”

  “Yes, as a matter of fact,” says Harv, finishing what he started, “we would like Mr. O’Reilly here to serve us.”

  “But I’m not schedul–” He is cut short.

 “Yes you are. I will take over for you while you train for waiting tables,” corrects the manager.

Palace of Horticulture

The Palace of Horticulture

This is quite a study in prejudice; North and South, white and black. Suitable and that which is definitely not, is what the Pan-American Exposition is all about. In a rapidly shrinking world, the importance in understanding cultures of other countries and principalities may be the only thread that can hold a delicate weave together.

What is keeping the United States concurrent? There is a lot to be said for the greatest democracy the world has known, knowing what the alternatives are. The cries for freedom, religious and personal, as set forth in the Constitution, are reverberating from coast to coast, Canada to Mexico… with the possible exception of the Hotel Niagara lobby.

Do they live in a perfect world? No, but human beings are, with their sinful nature irrevocably in place, far from it. God created a perfect planet, giving it day and night, water and land and creatures for each. Then came man. There goes perfection.


Alpha Omega M.D.

“Put me off at Buffalo!”

Episode #128


page 117

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #73

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #73

…”Young lady, people, no matter what color,” Martha Asserts, “are not meant to be property of a fellow human being – period, and end of subject”…

Abigail-001

Back to the real world. Abigail and James manage to maintain a several-step-stagger for their stairway decent, for appearance sake at least, that they may not have been spending quality time exploring bodily nooks & crannies.

Introductions are made, though one is not needed. Herb Love is her rescuer, warmly received – kind of a stabilizing influence.

Rescue-001 Willy Campbell is another story. She is startled to see him. He immediately reverts to his subservient roots, dropping his head to avoid eye contact.

And she is bright enough to make the connection between her late father’s former slave and Herbert Love; awful recollections, previously buried beneath tons of denial. The destruction of Fort Sumter South, flood back to the present.

‘The Campbells is gone!’ are the cries she remembers hearing that fateful day, more than a year hence.

“You killed my father!” is Abbey’s cry now. “You killed my father and destroyed our lives.”

“I weren’t there, Miss Abigail, I swear!” Willy scrambles to explain.

  “Yes, I believe you are correct, Willy Campbell. You were not there and because Justice2-001you were not, the rest of our people revolted against us and burned and pillaged and killed every white man they could lay their hands on… including my own Father. Why, why… why!!!???,” she asks futilely as she beats her small hands against the chest of the obviously dismayed black man.

Herbert Love steps to Willy’s defense, pulling the distraught girl away. She is detached from reason, to the point of not responding to even her dear James’s loving touch.

“You are all in this together, aren’t you. It makes sense to me now!” Her alleged co-conspirators are guilty of nothing, excepting a deep-seated dislike of the “business as usual” in the south that they treasure. “You just happened to be passing by that day? I think not, sir. I remember seeing every one of you, just like it were yesterday!”

“We did not intend for any harm to come to your father. There was no way to know what effect the freeing of the Campbells would have on others,” Love appraises. He is not in the business of apologetics.

You had no right stealing our property!” she furthers.

“Young lady,” Martha sternly asserts, “people, no matter what color, are not meant to be property of a fellow human being – period, and end of subject.”

“You have slaves, Joseph and his helpers.” Abbey tries to make a weak connection.

“Wrong, wrong, wrong! Joseph is a paid foreman and is free to leave if he no longer likes his job or position.” Martha is fighting the girl’s preconceived notions. “Take Olla, for instance. She left out our house for different situation. She did not even bother properly explaining why she wanted to leave, but that is not the point. The point is, is that she wanted to leave, free to keep her money, in her name at the Lewis State Bank as a matter of fact

… Free is the key word. Were the Campbells or any of the others, free to leave? … I will answer for you in your mute ignorance. NO! If you would take the time, look at things long and hard you might get a clue as to why you are clinging to archaic belief system.”

Abigail Smythwick-Ferrell shrinks in the face of Martha’s human rights passion. She falls to the floor in a heap, like her legs had suddenly turned to gelatin. The shock of recurring lost memories has sapped her strength. James rushes to her side, cradling Abbey’s head, stroking her long, light brown hair.

Martha Ferrell retrieves smelling salts from her handbag, opening the tiny jar and waving it in front of the young woman’s nose. Ammonia inhalants, along with subconscious realization cause her to stir, to the great relief of all.

Sometimes pain must precede progress.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Abigail-001

Episode #73


page 67

Speeches You’ve Never Heard – For Various Reasons

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Important Speeches

Never Heard

by the Public

It’s good to be prepared. You never know for sure how a big decision will turn out, so you need to be ready for anything. This is especially true if you have to announce a victory or a tragedy to the world; you want to have a speech ready so you don’t resort to freestyle rapping your way through a declaration of war. Fate dictated that these speeches not be given, but they would have been well-remembered if they had.

10. Wamsutta James Ruins Plymouth’s Anniversary Party

Native American activist Wamsutta James was a descendant of the Wampanoags, a tribe that was living in New England when European maps were still labeling America with “Here be Dragons.” When he was asked to give a speech at a 1970 event commemorating the anniversary of the arrival of settlers at Plymouth, he saw a chance to rip apart historical myths that glossed over how natives were treated by settlers. Instead of telling the school kids and Pilgrim descendants present what they were expecting to hear — cute fictions about how buddy-buddy the Pilgrims and Natives were — he would have spent his entire speech destroying those myths, taking his audience to task for their ignorance and highlighting the many atrocities his people suffered, after which he presumably would have dropped the mic and strutted offstage.

Event organizers didn’t like his proposed text and he didn’t like their requests for a rewrite, so James never spoke. While not as historically significant as the speeches coming up on this list, James’ speech is worth mentioning because it highlights an area of American history that is woefully overlooked. It’s fittingly ironic that a speech meant to discuss an oft-suppressed historical truth was prevented from being given. Also, we have to admire the giant balls it takes to accept an invitation to speak at an event, and then spend your whole time trashing it.

Excerpt

“We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.”

9. Sarah Palin Wins

Image result for Sarah Palin Wins 2008

Near the end of the 2008 Presidential election, tensions between the McCain and Palin camps were so high that McCain’s people insisted that, win or lose, Sarah Palin would not give a speech on Election Night. Given that Palin had turned into the laughingstock of the campaign, that was probably a wise decision.

Palin was a divisive figure both during and after the election, with some voters loving her and others cringing at the thought of her being a heartbeat away from the Presidency. When the text of Palin’s proposed victory speech was revealed, it was a look into what could have been (but thankfully wasn’t). As a speech it’s decent enough, your typical gracious victory celebration. But it’s the idea behind it that’s really interesting — the 2008 election was one of the closest and most contentious in recent history, and the years that followed it would have looked awfully different had the result swung the other way. Regardless of your political beliefs, it’s a hell of a thought experiment to take a minute and wonder what America would have looked like with Sarah Palin in the White House, and her speech lets you know how that news would have been broken to you.

Excerpt

“It’s been just 68 days since that afternoon in Dayton, Ohio, when Senator McCain introduced me as his running mate. He is truly the maverick. He took a chance on me. I will always be grateful for that. It will be the honor of a lifetime to work him as vice president of the United States. And I pledge to govern with integrity, and goodwill, and clear conviction, and a servant’s heart.

My fellow Americans, tens of millions of you shared our convictions and gave us your votes. And I thank you for your confidence. We were facing tough odds and formidable opponents.”

8. Albert Lutuli Lectures South Africa

Image result for Albert Lutuli Lectures the Court.

Albert Lutuli was a key member of the African National Congress and their struggle against South Africa’s apartheid government. He was arrested in 1960 for burning his pass (an internal passport that all black South Africans were required to carry and produce on demand), shortly after 69 people were killed in a protest against the pass system.

Lutuli was found guilty, fined and given a suspended jail sentence. He had planned on giving a speech before the sentence was decided, but ultimately refrained for health reasons. While today the trial is little more than a footnote in the long story of the anti-apartheid movement, his proposed speech is an excellent piece of rhetoric that aptly highlights the many grievances blacks had with the system. If Lutuli had been able to give it, it may have well been remembered alongside other famous protest speeches of the era.

Excerpt

“There comes a time, sir, when a leader must give as practical a demonstration of his convictions and willingness to live up to the demands of the cause, as he expects of his people. I felt that was the hour in our history, and in my life, for this demonstration. I am not sorry nor ashamed of what I did. I could not have done less than I did and still live with my conscience. I would rightly lose the confidence of my people, and earn the disrespect of right-thinking people in my country and in the world, and the disdain of posterity.

In all humility, I say that I acted as was my duty in response to the highest moral law in the best interest of the people of South Africa, because I am convinced that the urgent need of our country, for the maintenance of peace and harmony amongst the various races, black and white, is the immediate and wholesale abolition of the pass. It is my firm belief that it is the duty of all right-thinking people, black and white, who have the true interest of our country at heart, to strive for this without flinching.”

7. JFK’s Dallas Speech

Image result for JFK’s Dallas Speech

As you are hopefully aware, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. If you weren’t aware, you’re probably wondering what the magic box you’re reading this list on is. What you may not know was that Kennedy was on his way to the Dallas Trade Mart, where he was scheduled to give a speech.

His speech touches on the Cold War, America’s role in the world, and the general uneasiness of the times. Ironically, parts of the speech attack speaking itself — Kennedy argues that America needs to act against Communism instead of merely criticizing it. Some of his words are ominous — promoting financial support for the Vietnam War and the oppressive Iranian Shah does not look wise in retrospect, and bragging about how the US has been able to vastly expand its nuclear arsenal is flat-out scary.

Nevertheless, it’s a stirring piece of rhetoric that would have done well in the hands of a skilled orator like Kennedy, and certainly would have been remembered as a snapshot of the times in which he governed had he lived to deliver it.

Excerpt

“We in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago, “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.””

6. A Regular FDR Speech Would Have Been An Unofficial Goodbye

Image result for FDR Speech

Speaking of Presidents and dying, FDR had a speech ready to go for Jefferson Day 1945, before a massive cerebral hemorrhage changed his plans. Had he lived to give it, it would probably be remembered as a decent but generic speech, the sort of remarks the President needs to make when there’s a war going on.

But with FDR kicking the bucket and World War II ending not long after his death, his unspoken words serve as an unintentional goodbye to the American people and the world. They have a poignancy that would be lacking had he lived to speak them, and they make a fitting eulogy for the end of both the longest Presidency in American history and a historical era of depression and war. There’s an optimism to the speech, as it looks forward to the time of peace everyone knows is slowly but surely coming, that is somehow stronger for being given from beyond the grave (not literally; a zombie FDR giving a speech would be terrifying).

Excerpt

“Today, as we move against the terrible scourge of war—as we go forward toward the greatest contribution that any generation of human beings can make in this world- the contribution of lasting peace, I ask you to keep up your faith. I measure the sound, solid achievement that can be made at this time by the straight edge of your own confidence and your resolve. And to you, and to all Americans who dedicate themselves with us to the making of an abiding peace, I say: The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”

5. The Cold War Goes Hot

Image result for jfk speech

The Cuban Missile Crisis ended about as well as anything called a “missile crisis” could be expected to — the US publicly won a game of nuclear chicken, the Soviet Union privately achieved a strategic goal by having US missiles removed from Turkey, and nobody got blown up. It’s the sort of feel good ending that was tailor-made for Hollywood.

Most alternative “solutions” to the Crisis would have ended with shots being fired, and JFK had a speech ready to go in case he felt it necessary for American boots to hit the ground in Cuba. We can’t even begin to speculate what the fallout of a military invasion of Cuba would have been. At best, American-Soviet relations would have hit an all-time low, and at worst we’d all be living in Fallout instead of dicking around on the Internet. On the plus side, it would be a lot cheaper to take vacations to Cuba.

Anytime you can make a decision where one possible result is “nuclear holocaust,” you better have a darn good speech up your sleeve, and JFK’s remarks are appropriately somber. Considering the next words out of his mouth could have been “better duck and cover, kids!” they damn well should have been.

Excerpt

“My fellow Americans, with a heavy heart, and in necessary fulfillment of my oath of office, I have ordered – and the United States Air Force has now carried out – military operations with conventional weapons only, to remove a major nuclear weapons build-up from the soil of Cuba.”

4. Nixon Doesn’t Resign

Image result for nixon resignation speech

Political super-villain Richard Nixon is famous for being the only President in American history to resign, but that was actually “Option B.” Had things gone according to plan he would have clung to power, and his Presidency would have begun to resemble the Nixon Administration from Watchmen.

Nixon’s “I’m Sticking Around, Suckers” speech is defiant, although in retrospect it’s also ignorant of the state of affairs, and a little megalomaniacal to boot. Nixon resigned after realizing the political winds were against him, so it’s hard not to imagine this speech being given from a throne of skulls with lighting and thunder crackling in the background. Had Nixon decided to fight public opinion and cling to power, the politics of the day would have become even uglier in a hurry.

Excerpt

“I firmly believe that I have not committed any act of commission or omission that justifies removing a duly elected President from office. If I did believe that I had committed such an act, I would have resigned long ago.”

3. D-Day Fails

As any video gamer can tell you, D-Day was a tough battle. History classes tend to gloss over the many ways Operation Overlord could have gone wrong — anything from a smarter German reaction to lousy weather would have made Saving Private Ryan a lot more depressing. General Eisenhower, well aware of the risk he was taking, took a moment on the evening before the battle to jot down a speech to be read in case of failure. The speech — actually little more than a brief statement — is chilling in how it describes what would have been a catastrophic loss of life with clinical detachment.

How would World War II have turned out if D-Day failed? Well, by 1944, it was just a matter of time until the Nazis were defeated, but with the American and British advance in tatters, the Red Army would have had to pick up the slack, pushing further into Europe than they did in reality. The end result would have been a much larger Soviet Union and a very different Cold War, changes that would have reverberated through history up until today. So jeez, Eisenhower, maybe you should have offered more than 10 seconds of commentary on the matter.

Excerpt

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

2. Apollo 11 Doesn’t Come Home

Getting men to the Moon was such a complicated endeavor that it’s easy to forget that we had to get them home, too. If something broke they couldn’t exactly call AAA for help, and considering we’re talking about travelling 384,400 km through the vacuum of space in a little ball of metal powered by rocket fuel and slide ruler calculations, it’s actually remarkable that something didn’t break. The joy and wonder felt around the world at the sight of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon would have been a bit dampened had it then been announced that their adventure had unexpectedly become a one-way trip.

Presidential speechwriter William Safire knew the White House had to be ready for anything, so he prepared a short speech entitled “In the Event of Moon Disaster.” Thankfully it never had to be given, but it’s a beautiful piece of prose that would have served as a fitting tribute to the men lying their lives down for the cause of exploration, dampened only slightly by the fact that it would have been read by Richard Nixon.

Excerpt

“For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

1. Hitler Gets Blown Up

Carl Friedrich Goerdeler as Price Commissioner

As that Tom Cruise movie (and maybe history class) taught you, in 1944 there was a failed attempt by members of the German Resistance to assassinate Hitler. Had the attempt succeeded, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, one of the conspirators and the proposed Chancellor of post-Hitler Germany, would have given a fiery radio address denouncing Hitler and his policies. Unfortunately, Hitler survived the assassination attempt with everything but his trousers intact, and Goerdeler and his fellow conspirators were quickly rounded up. Nearly 5000 people were executed in the aftermath, essentially putting an end to all organised anti-Nazi resistance within Germany.

It’s hard to say what would have happened had the plan succeeded — internal German politics were complicated, and many of the conspirators still held anti-Semitic views. But regardless of the details, it’s likely that signing a peace treaty would have been a priority, World War II would have come to an early end in Europe, and there would have been no Berlin Wall. But then David Hasselhoff wouldn’t have been able to play a concert there, so maybe it was for the best.

Excerpt

“We would not be worthy of our fathers, we would earn the contempt of our children, if we lacked the courage to do everything, everything conceivable, to avert the terrible peril and to achieve self-respect once more. Over and over, Hitler has violated the oath given to the people ten years ago. He has done so by violating the law, human and divine. Therefore no soldier, no official, not a single citizen is bound to him by oath any longer.”


Speeches You’ve Never Heard –

For Various Reasons

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 190

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 190

…Like an uncoordinated symphony conductor, the Dark One sends out his legions, for his version of midnight madness…

Unwilling to take this whole revival thing sitting down, Pentateuch has arranged for a not-so-special reward for anyone attending the Graham meetings. His has amassed every available demonic spirit for the purpose of polluting any feel-good images that they have taken home with them.

  • Traffic tie-ups for travelers w/flash freezing fog to make roadways impassable
  • Grotesque nightmares for those newly inspired dreamers, the ones able to fall asleep
  • Misbehaving pets and children to greet them – diversionary domestic derailleur(s)
  • Grumbling religious doubters at every turn, stealing the joy from their mass evangelical experience
  • Widespread machine malfunctions: fridges, stoves, laundry rebelling at every attempted use

Like an uncoordinated symphony conductor, the Dark One sends out his legions, for his version of midnight madness.

And not everyone receives the same exact mischief.

Some, like the Libbyites, are spared any logistic inconvenience on the way home that night, but not the subconscious discord.

There are the already irretrievably lost, those who have unwittingly subscribed to Satan’s temptations with no enhancement necessary.

Satans Place-001

In fact, the next day, a city wide blackout results from a balky Commonwealth Edison power grid; shared funkiness for the rest of Chicagoland.

But Pentateuch is allowed but a brief 24 hours, one day to do his best damage, allowed being the keyword.  Divine intervention will cap the harm at a mischievously low level.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 160

OCD FYI – WIF Uncontrollable Handbook

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Interesting Facts

and

Misconceptions

About OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is known in popular media as that problem that people who are really, really picky and phobic about cleanliness have. Unfortunately, this is not even close to what OCD actually is. Most people have huge misconceptions about OCD, helped by shows like Monk, which have made them think that being perfectionist, anal-retentive, or overly habitual is what being OCD is all about.

 There are multiple types of OCD, and it is certainly much more complicated and difficult to deal with than TV makes it look. For those who suffer from OCD, watching popular media depicting it is basically just one extended cringe fest. Below we will go over some of the lesser known facts about OCD and bust some of the misconceptions.

10. Adrian Monk From The Hit TV Show Is Not A Good Example Of OCD

The hit TV show Monk is famous for its depiction of a detective with severe OCD. However, the truth is that OCD is probably one of the few disorders that the character actually doesn’t have. Monk is depicted as having phobias of almost everything, which isn’t really what OCD is about at all. And he is also depicted as being very cleanly and overly picky about little things, but that isn’t really OCD either. He is a grab bag of so many different symptoms with so little congruity that it is amazing anyone can claim he has any one particular disorder at all.For many who suffer from OCD, this depiction is hurtful because it makes light of the disease without properly explaining how it works at all. It is described as wacky and he is shown to be anal retentive and extremely hard to please and work with, but this is also not representative of OCD either. While Tony Shaloub is a great actor, and does his best to provide a sensitive performance, the show falls totally flat in terms of any kind of realism.

9. Many Sufferers Of OCD Suffer In Complete Silence

Many people like to think of OCD as a very public disease. Those with OCD will constantly perform little rituals that show how “crazy” and “wacky” they are to everyone around them. These rituals, like touching a doorknob many times, are often played for laughs in popular media – while the person with actual OCD feels great shame at what they are doing. While some who suffer from OCD do things like this, many of them actually don’t. It is often depicted like that because it is easy to show that on TV, but many who suffer from OCD suffer almost entirely in their own heads.

Much of OCD actually stems from persistent bad thoughts that keep occurring, often of a sexual or violent nature and involving friends or loved ones. Normal people would simply feel disgusted by the thought and move on, but those with OCD obsess over it and feel great shame. That means many with OCD will create mental rituals they go over to push the bad thoughts away. For this reason, many who have OCD are completely invisible in their suffering, totally dealing with it within their own heads.

8. Making Light Of OCD Makes It Harder For Sufferers To Get The Help They Need

The constant jokes about OCD may be funny to those who make them, but to those with OCD, it makes it harder to get the help they need, and it can also be very hurtful. People saying “I am so OCD” because they don’t like their vegetables to touch their mashed potatoes – those people are anal-retentive – and others who make light of it by making jokes about touching doorknobs or what have you, are making things much harder for those who truly suffer.

When you are an object of ridicule, especially if you are one who mostly suffers in your own head, then you are unlikely to come out to others as needing help – this is on top of the fact that there is already a stigma behind going to see mental health professionals. Those who joke about OCD should think twice about what they are doing. OCD is a disease marked almost entirely by great feelings of shame, and the mockery only makes those with it feel even more ashamed about what they do. At the very least, if someone is going to joke about OCD, they should get a better understanding first of what it actually is.

7. OCD Is Characterized By Persistent Unwanted Thoughts That Won’t Go Away

Like we mentioned earlier, OCD isn’t really about not wanting your peas to touch your chicken, or being really obsessed with making sure your shirt is tucked in perfectly and not a lock of hair is out of place. There is a disorder for this when it is taken to an extreme, but that is not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by extremely disturbing thoughts that pop into people’s heads involving usually things of a sexual or violent nature and often involving friends and family.

While even normal people have weird thoughts like this pop into their heads now and again, the difference is that a normal person just moves on, knowing that they don’t associate with such things. However, someone with OCD feels guilty that they had the thought at all, and starts obsessing that there is something wrong with them because they had the thought. Trying not to think about something makes you think it all the harder, which makes the sufferer feel even more guilt on top of that previous guilt. Those with OCD will then do physical or mental rituals to distract themselves when the thought or thoughts try to intrude again, so they can avoid the guilty and horrible feelings. Some people will get caught up in their physical ticks to the point they hardly think about the thing they are trying to avoid thinking about anymore. Instead, they just feel a vague sense that something horrible will happen if they don’t keep the rituals up – that horrible thing generally being that the thoughts pop back up again. The best way for an OCD person to deal with this is to reassure themselves that they shouldn’t feel guilty, and not try so hard to forcibly push the thoughts away.

6. Being Incredibly Cleanly, Germaphobic Or Picky About Food Touching Is Not OCD

As we talked about earlier, being OCD is not the same thing as being really picky and cleanly. Those people are often called “anal-retentive”, but there is also a clinical term for people who take being super cleanly and neat and on the ball to the complete extreme. This disorder is called obsessive compulsive personality disorder, and is quite distinct from OCD. This disease, which is closer to one of the diseases that the character on Monk actually has, is characterized by someone who has to not have their food touching, always has to have perfectly pressed clothes, and combed hair, etc.

Oftentimes this person had a stricter upbringing, or had some event happen that shook their feeling of security. Those who have OCPD (obsessive compulsive personality disorder) are doing what they do to make the world continue to feel right, but their reasons tend to be much different. They aren’t really dealing with bad thoughts or specific feelings of doom if they don’t keep everything just so. Instead, they just have a really strict regime of keeping everything they way they wish, because in general, it gives them a feeling of safety and security. While both fall under anxiety disorders and both have obsession involved, that is as close as they actually get to each other. When many people say OCD, they really mean OCPD.

5. For Many People, OCD Takes On Religious Connotations

There is also a special form of OCD known as scrupulosity, which may or may not involve the trademark intrusive thoughts. Those with this issue deal with a special religious version of OCD. Essentially, they become so obsessed with following the rules of religion to the letter that it makes it very hard for them to properly live their daily lives. One sufferer spoke of how, when studying for her Bat Mitzvah, she was so worried about pork fumes that she was scrubbing her hands constantly red raw. She would say her prayers over if she had to and ignore people to make sure she said them just right.

This is something a lot of OCD sufferers who are religious deal with, and the sad thing is they are more likely to suffer alone because they are so afraid of how people will judge them if they tell them what they are dealing with. These people tend to be very afraid of making any religious mistake and being punished or being in disfavor with their God of choice. Unfortunately this can be a very tricky form of OCD to deal with, because the sufferer can even think that intrusive thoughts are actually being influenced by demons, making the whole thing even more complicated.

4. Those With OCD Are Often Suffering From A Lot Of Guilt About Their Unwanted Thoughts

The truth is that at its heart, OCD is almost entirely about guilt. Whether it is guilt at what you did that you fear a deity will punish you for, guilt about the thoughts you had, or guilt about something you did wrong, or any kind of guilt. Those with OCD have a short circuit in the brain wherein when they feel guilty about something, they will start obsessing over it constantly in order to make themselves feel better and try to reassure themselves. Unfortunately, because their reason they are seeking assurance is because of guilt, and the feeling is strong, they will invariably make themselves feel even guiltier.

Those with OCD will then go to their go to rituals when it all becomes too much, and the obsessing has started to make things worse. Now they will try to push away all thoughts about the thing that is bothering them, in an attempt to improve how they feel. Those with OCD will often also feel guilt at how poorly they manage their own symptoms, which only decreases their sense of self-worth even more. This is why it is so important that people understand what the disease is and don’t make light of it as much. It is already something that tends to wear down and batter those who suffer from it, so mocking them and making light of their suffering only makes it harder for them to cope.

3. People With OCD Are Hyper Aware Of Their Problems And Very Embarrassed By Them

Let’s be clear: while people with OCD are often a laughingstock, especially on TV, it is not funny to them at all. Those who suffer (like this author) are hyper aware of the things that they do. If it is currently a physical ritual, they try to hide the fact that they do it from others, because it is insanely embarrassing when others find out. If it is a mental ritual, it is much easier to hide, but they are still very, very aware that they are doing it, and feel shame even as they are performing their rituals in order to avoid more guilt.

So while it may be often depicted as someone who doesn’t really understand just how “crazy” they are, the truth is that many people who are mentally unhealthy, except for those with delusional disorders, are well aware of their mental problems and how crippling they are. In fact, they are probably much more aware of the issue and how it is affecting them than you, the casual observer, could ever be. The best way to deal with it is sensitivity, like any disorder, and if comedy is to be done, the comedian should at least take the time to properly understand what they are joking about so they can give it a proper treatment. If you want to help someone who you think has OCD, the best thing you can do is be someone they can talk to about anything – be their guilt free zone where you can get them talking and assure them that they don’t need to feel guilty all the time.

2. Persistent OCD Symptoms Can Lead To Depression And Other Mood Disorders

As you might imagine, having OCD can be very, very frustrating. Sufferers will go through bouts where they are doing better than other times, and sometimes worse. However, overall, it is a chronic problem that can be difficult to manage on an ongoing basis. You can be going well, and then something happens that triggers a thought from a horrible episode and you are doing terrible again. A life event happens that is extremely awful and you can find yourself relapsing when you had made a lot of progress. Constantly feeling guilty about horrible thoughts and trying to repress them is incredibly difficult to deal with on an ongoing basis and so many people who suffer from OCD end up with other mood disorders.

Roughly three out of four people with OCD end up with depression as well, because of how depressing it is to deal with the chronic issue of OCD. It is hard to feel good on an ongoing basis and feel good about yourself when you are constantly either feeling guilty or obsessing about thoughts or actions in an attempt to avoid feeling guilty, or guiltier. The worst part is, the rational part of the OCD sufferers brain knows that their feelings of guilt are completely irrational, but try as they might, they can’t just turn those thoughts off. In a way, the constant feelings of guilt are just as much an obsession as the rituals themselves.

1. People With OCD Can Get Better At Controlling The Problem But There Is No Cure

There are many ways to treat OCD, and to help those who suffer with it, but the truth is that there is no known cure. No one is sure if it has a genetic component or not, but there is some belief that it runs in families. Regardless of how it comes, once it is there, it is there to stay. Those with OCD will never completely cure their dilemma, and will have to deal with the issue to some degree or another for the rest of their lives.

However, this doesn’t mean everything is grim. While it may always be a problem lurking in the background, those with OCD, if they do the right things or seek the right treatment, can ameliorate the symptoms to some extent. Images may still pop into your head, but accepting and acknowledging that they are they, but there is no reason to feel guilty about them, and then practicing taking a breath and moving on, can help the sufferer deal better with their issue. Forcing yourself to break a ritual now and then, and then reminding yourself afterwards that nothing bad happened is another way you can help break yourself of the more debilitating symptoms.

Most of all, it is about practicing letting go instead of obsessing over things and allowing yourself to feel guilt if necessary, but then move on and force yourself to stop worrying about it. Nothing will cure someone with OCD, there is no magic bullet. But with many mental health disorders, with the right treatment, those with OCD can still at least live a relatively happy and normal life.


OCD FYI

– WIF Handbook

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 125

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 125

…Since returning to from their trans-global Beelzebub ball-busting, Constance must indoctrinate Ace in the ways of The Libby Affair…

Since returning to from their trans-global Beelzebub ball-busting, Constance must indoctrinate Ace in the ways of The Libby Affair. This means he must be taken on an introductory tour, beginning with the subject and the subject’s subject, i.e. Willard and his carbon-14, “Carbon dating doesn’t mean a Brazilian beauty named Gabriela Carbõn  doing the samba at Carnival.”

Willard Libby is both grateful and gracious in Constance’s presence and he gladly does a breakdown of his research for the newcomer. But first, “Why is your hair as white as a Chicago blizzard, Mr. Ace?”

“My bell was rung while playing rugby in Australia; been white ever since.” Simple enough

Forever Mastadon 2-001Back to the old science-aroo, he covers things that Constance could only skim through in the course of their recent travels. He lays out the cold hard facts concerning the real age of mankind and its connection to carbon dating.

“Originally, I found evidence that science could not accurately formulate the age of the universe, or even the planet; which is true but we have had to modify that, because of certain Creation facts. Currently, I am prepared to put the earliest existence of life on Earth at 20,000 B.C.”

“That’s not what I’ve been taught,” comments Ace.

“No it is not, but every day, all around the world, in 10,000 languages children are reading that mans’ ancestors began emerging a million years ago. That is hogwash.”

“Well I am not going to argue the point. All I know is what’s happened in my 30-some years,” Ace puts his arm around Constance, “too many good people support you.”

Libby, for example, grabs Martin Kamen by the shoulder, “Like this guy!” The time they have spent in sequestered isolation has created an unbreakable bond between them. If it had not been for Martin’s proactive pursuit of independent investigation, Willard Libby may well have withered into hopeless obscurity.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


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