Getting Sphinx-y W/You – WIF Like an Egyptian

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Mysteries of Egypt’s

Great Sphinx

of Giza

When the soldiers of Rome first encountered the Sphinx they gazed upon an ancient structure which was already older than the ruins of the ancient Roman Empire are today. Staring with mouths no doubt agape in wonder, they likely formulated questions which for over two millennia have remained largely unanswered. What was it? Who built it? Why? The great head which appeared before them (the body of the Sphinx was buried in the desert sands, unseen for hundreds of years before and after the Romans visited) may have retained the colors applied by its builders, adding to the mystery which stood before them. Or they may have already been scoured away by the sands of the desert and of time.

Since its rediscovery the Sphinx has added to its mysteries, with every proposed answer and theory leading to others, yet more secretive. It has left impressions upon its visitors throughout time. Napoleon gazed upon it in awe. Archaeologists, explorers, historians, and tourists have attempted to understand and explain its purpose, its meaning to those who built it and to those who followed. Yet it remains among the most mysterious artifacts of the ancient world. Why it was built, how it was built, what it represented, and what it continues to represent remain matters of speculation, mysteries unsolved, further enshrouded by the passage of time. Here are some of the mysteries of the Sphinx, the eternal lion of the Egyptian desert, silent guardian of the Pyramids.

10. Who built it?

The short answer, and one which has changed frequently over the centuries, is nobody knows. At least not to a certainty. Theories have abounded, with differing views presented based on science, religion, and even the study of extraterrestrials. It has been called a device representing astronomical configurations. It has been called a tribute to the dead. The bulk of the evidence regarding its origin is circumstantial, and its construction has been described to support other theories regarding ancient Egypt, each of questionable accuracy on their own. Some believe the statue to predate the nearby pyramids, others posit that it was added later. Today, the consensus is that the face of the statue represents the pharaoh Khafre, though some maintain that earlier known images of Khafre bear little likeness to the face on the statue.

Khafre is regarded as the builder of the second pyramid at Giza, and the theory that he built, or rather had built, the Sphinx is supported by those who believe that a statue in his likeness was included in the Sphinx Temple, part of the overall complex which was built as a funerary. Other Egyptologists of past years disputed Khafre’s contribution to the construction, claiming it to predate his reign by centuries. Accurately dating the construction is difficult, as there are no references to the statue, at least not by name, in any contemporaneous documentation yet discovered. A causeway near the statue, generally believed to have been built during Khafre’s reign, is believed by some to have been designed with the existing statue in mind, rather than as a part of the construction of the statue itself. Who built the Sphinx remains one of its riddles, to date unanswered, and to many unanswerable given the existing evidence.

9. What is the Sphinx?

Whoever built what is now known as the Sphinx aside, it is also unknown by what name the statue was called by its creator or creators. No inscriptions have yet been discovered which describe the statue, refer to it by name, or describe the purpose for which it was intended. The great statue was not referred to as the Sphinx until over 2,000 years after it was built, if the most widely accepted date of construction is used as a point of reference. The term itself is borrowed from the Greek, referring to a mythological being with the body of a lion, wings of eagles, and the head of a woman. Other Egyptian “sphinxes” which have been discovered bear the head of a man, the body of a lion, and lack wings. Even the name Sphinx comes from Greek, meaning (loosely) to squeeze. The term refers to the beast squeezing to death those unfortunates who failed to solve the riddle she presented.

Nearly all known inscriptions connected to the statue refer to it as the “Terrifying One.” It has been linked to the sun-god Ra, as well as the god appearing in the form of a jackal, Anubis. Anubis was the god of the Necropolis, the city of the dead. Over 1,000 years after the generally accepted date of its construction it was excavated and restored for the first time, or rather attempts at such restoration were made. The pharaoh Thutmose IV directed the excavation of the statue (which had been buried in the desert sand over the preceding 1,000 years, only its head showing above ground), though his attempt managed to expose only the front paws. To mark the event, Thutmose had a granite slab placed between the paws. Thutmose inscribed the slab, known as the Dream Stele, on which he linked the statue, already approximately 1,200 years old, with Ra.

8. How was the Sphinx built?

The Sphinx, contrary to common belief, is not a construction but a carving. It was hewn out of the rock of a quarry which also provided the limestone blocks for the construction of the nearby pyramids and the temples and causeways which surround them. The rock appeared in layers, with each layer presenting differing qualities regarding resistance to erosion and the ravages of time. How it was carved is, like all else about the statue, a subject of debate. It may have been hewn by hammer and chisel, shaped with saws, or blasted with water. Water, routed through leather hoses, pressurized by decreasing the diameter of the vessels transporting it, and used to wear away the rock might have been used. But if water was used, what was its source? There are those who believe, as much because they have to believe it to support their theory as for any other reason, that the valley, now arid desert, was once fertile and well-watered.

The theory is given some support through the belief, not fully accepted by the scientific community, much of the erosion which has damaged the statue is the result of rainwater, rather than desert sands driven by the winds. The theory that extensive rainfall damaged the statue furthers the argument that it predates the time of Khafre, during whose reign the region was arid, much as it is today. Nonetheless, by the time of the reign of Thutmose IV the Sphinx was buried up to the neck in the sands of the desert, as has been seen. Climatologists believe that the last period of heavy and persistent rainfall in the region occurred over 4000 years BCE, and the level of erosion, if the theory is accepted, indicates that the statue was built as early as 6000 BCE. The dates alone lead Egyptologists to consider the theory to be a fringe idea, lacking credence and scientific evidence, especially since it conflicts with theories of their own.

7. How was the Sphinx used in Ancient Egypt?

Over time, according to the experts, the significance and use of the Sphinx changed. In ancient Egypt, the lion was symbolic of the sun, and thus it is believed that the statue was used for solar worship more than 2,500 years before Christ. One thousand years later the statue was connected to the worship of the god Harmachis, another god of the sun. The Sphinx was at least one thousand years old when a temple to the god Harmachis was built nearby by the Pharaoh Amenhotep II. Yet the massive statue meant different things to different beholders. The Canaanites, a polytheistic people of many tribes often referred to in the Old Testament of the Hebrews and modern day Christians believed the Sphinx to refer to the god Horon, one of two gods who held sway as lords of the netherworld.

Despite the beliefs of the Canaanites, covered in detail in the Old Testament which describes the many conflicts between them and the monotheistic Israelites, the massive statue is not referred to or otherwise described in the biblical narratives. How it could be overlooked, when it was a focal point of so many of the ancient tribes and cultures, is one of its enduring mysteries (particularly given the large number of Israelites held as slaves by the Egyptians, according to the narrative in Exodus). The Book of Jeremiah does refer to what it calls “…signs and wonders in the land of Egypt,” but a more specific description is lacking. If Moses, or his brother Aaron, or any of the Israelites saw the Sphinx, they evidently did not find it worthy of comment in the books of the Old Testament.

6. Why was the Sphinx vandalized in ancient times?

A fairly well-known feature of the Sphinx is that the massive head is lacking a nose.Instead there is an irregular and roughly textured area of the face where the nose once was displayed. For many centuries it was assumed that the facial feature had fallen to the ravages of the desert and time. In other words, it simply fell off the face. The same fate was assumed to have befallen the beard which once adorned the chin of the statue. A myth developed in the nineteenth century that a cannonball fired by Napoleon’s troops during the Battle of the Pyramids destroyed the nose. In fact, subsequent archaeological research revealed that the nose was deliberately removed, using either lengthy rods or other instruments designed for the purpose, sometime prior to the tenth century of the common era. The unanswered question regarding the act? Why?

One theory is that Islamic peasants prayed to the Sphinx, offering it sacrifices, in the belief that the gods would intervene to ensure a better harvest, a sacrilege which Sufi Muslim leaders could not abide. The statue was thus desecrated to discourage the practice. Other sphinxes throughout the region were similarly defaced during the 13th and 14th century, for similar reasons. The desecration of the statue was also rumored to be the source of retribution, including the Crusade of Alexander in 1365. The status of the beard reputed to once have been a feature of the statue is disputed, with some scholars believing the beard was an original part of the carving. Others believe that it was a later addition, though all are in agreement that the beard is no longer a part of the face, with portions of the stone which formed it recovered from the sands between the beast’s paws.

5. Is the human portion of the statue a man or a woman?

The presence of a beard adorning the chin of the massive head of the statue would lead an observer to assume it depicts the head of a man. But beginning in the 1500s CE, and continuing well into the nineteenth century, visitors regularly described the statue as depicting a woman’s head and upper body melded with the body of a lion. The description of the statue as being that of a woman was reflected in both written form and in sketches and paintings by western artists. The Sphinx was described as having the breasts and neck of a woman, as well as a woman’s face. Traces of coloration which remain around the statue’s eyes and the lower face suggested that the statue at one time presented a garishly multi-colored visage, as that of a woman wearing heavy makeup.

George Sandys, an English poet, translator of the ancient classics, and extensive traveler who chronicled his journeys, described the Sphinx as a harlot. A noted contemporary, German writer Johannes Helferich, described the Sphinx as a “round-breasted woman.” Prior to the French Revolution, the overwhelming majority of images of the statue available in Europe depicted the Sphinx as decidedly feminine in appearance. Only after the French invasion of Egypt led by revolutionary general Napoleon Bonaparte were images of the Sphinx which were more interested in accuracy than romanticism widely available in Europe. Interestingly it was not until 1755 that European drawings of the statue presented the absent nose.

4. Who are the Anunnaki and did they build the Sphinx?

The Anunnaki were the temple gods of the Ancient Sumerians, a trading people who recorded their activities in cuneiforms, and gave to history among other things the twenty-four hour period known as one day, divided into periods of sixty minutes each. An agricultural society, they also left behind a method of preserving grain for consumption in liquid form, a beverage we know today as beer. According to a believer in ancient visitors from alien realms, Zecharia Sitchin, the Anunnaki built the Sphinx, as well as the pyramids, centered in Giza as a port for other visitors. Sitchin’s theories have been dismissed as both pseudoscience and pseudohistory, but his works have sold millions of copies around the world to followers of his beliefs.

Though it is easy to dismiss Sitchin’s work, it is not easy to deny the influence he has over those who believe in extraterrestrial visitations in the ancient world. The seeming impossibility of explaining much of the mystery which surrounds the Sphinx and the ancient peoples who saw it in the background every day, just as modern people see cell towers and giant aircraft soaring overhead, leads some to seek otherworldly explanations. Sitchin’s numerous books and interviews have inspired motion pictures, video games, religious fringe groups, and various clubs and groups who believe that there is no mystery at all to the Sphinx, it is simply evidence of alien visitation, created by the gods of the ancient Sumerians.

3. How has the Sphinx survived for so many thousands of years?

It is no secret that the part of the Sphinx which has had the most difficulty weathering the passage of time is the head and upper torso. There is a simple explanation for that seeming mystery. For most of its existence the majority of the statue has been buried beneath the sands of the desert which filled the quarry in which it was carved. Before it was submerged, evidence of erosion was present (remember the postulation that water was eroding the statue), and the carving was protected by covering the damaged areas with limestone and sandstone blocks, carved for the purpose, as a sort of laminate.

During an excavation in 2010, a wall was discovered surrounding much of the statue, built of mudbrick, which ran for more than 400 feet around the Sphinx. It was determined it was intended to act as a windbreak, erected around the same time that Thutmose installed the Dream Stele between the paws. Most of the statue was still buried in the sand at the time. Not until the 20th century, in a project which began in 1925 and took 11 years to complete, was the entire statue exposed to view, and thus also to the elements. The face on the other hand was exposed continuously throughout the millennia since its completion, as well as being the subject of vandalism, or at the very least religious censorship, since it was first completed at a time still unknown.

2. Is the Sphinx linked to the constellation known as Orion, the Hunter?

According to some theorists (Robert Bauval, Graham Hancock, et al) the Great Pyramids of Giza are aligned in the same manner as the stars which create the “belt” of the constellation Orion, and when considered along with the Sphinx and the nearby Nile River present a model of the relationship of Orion and its position with the Milky Way. According to their calculations, the positions of the stars, if established in relationship to the pyramids and the Sphinx, are depicted as they were 10,500 years ago. That would mean that the Sphinx is part of a model displaying the astronomical positions at that time, and is thus 10,500 years old. To those subscribing to the theory, Giza is a map, presumably for the use of visitors from beyond the stars.

They are undaunted by the fact that no artifacts of any kind supporting such an early appearance of the Sphinx, the Pyramids, or any other man-made structure of the kind have ever been found in the region. They are equally undaunted by the fact that their method of establishing the date has been proven to be inaccurate. While it is possible that the belt of the constellation could have been used as a guide for the layout of the Pyramids (the Sphinx is also laid out in a manner which annually measures the sun’s attitude during the solstices), that in and of itself does not necessarily indicate a link to interstellar visitation. Alien influence in the construction of the Sphinx also does not take into account one important fact about the statue. After surviving thousands of years, through earthquakes, floods, world wars, the rise and fall of empires, and all of the vagaries of human existence, the statue is rapidly crumbling into dust.

1. Can the Sphinx survive the 21st century?

Modern man is destroying the Sphinx. The greatest single culprit is the air pollution emanating from the city of Cairo, as well as high winds and humidity, both of which are increasing and for both of which climate change is a contributing factor. Since 1950 – almost three-quarters of a century – organized efforts to save the statue have been underway. They are failing. Concrete used to reinforce the statue was found to be incompatible with the original stone, and did more damage than good. Chemical injections to help the stone resist the effects of modern pollution failed to do so. Additional limestone blocks were added to reinforce the stone, but they were unable to prevent further erosion of the original structure.

By the 1980s portions of the left shoulder were crumbling, falling to the ground in pieces, and attempts to reattach them, or replace them with modern substitutes, also failed. The structure is crumbling so badly, and its decay accelerating so quickly, that further exploration of the Sphinx has been for the most part set aside in order to concentrate on saving what is left before it is too late. The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities is responsible for protecting and hopefully saving the massive structure, the oldest extant relic of the ancient world, as well as the largest. With them lies the answer to the greatest of all the mysteries of the Sphinx; can a marvel created by ancient man survive the foibles and shortsightedness of their modern successor? As with all of the mysteries of the Sphinx, the answer remains unknown.


Getting Sphinx-y W/You –

WIF Like an Egyptian

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #112

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #112

…This has been a day for the ages…

Day for the Ages-001

The crew of the River Queen lowers a rope ladder.

“Hurry now,” urges Captain Longfellow to his remaining passengers.

“Aren’t you coming?” they ask their newfound friend, forged by strife. You learn a lot about people in times like this.

“My job is the safety of my passengers.” Phileas Longfellow lives up to his name, as does Catfish Albert Wright: “And everybody knows a captain must stay with his ship!”

Freighter

The Conquistador

So, as in the style of Noah, two by two the remaining couple dozen passengers of the River Queen are ferried to the foreign vessel. Speaking in a combination of three or four tongues, Catfish Al convinces the Conquistador, a colorful, aromatic freighter, loaded with coffee beans and rum, to drop its anchor and ride out the pending storm, pointing out the hail of lightning and accompanying roar of thunder.

Funnel clouds Fierce winds and torrential rains pummel the Delta once again. Barely a week has passed since the hurricane, now a squall of a different breed attacks from the northwest. Though sparing the immediate vicinity, a pair of funnel clouds can be seen, traveling in tandem to the east. For the privilege of escaping the worst, pecan sized hail rains down on them, accumulating by the inch before they begin to melt.

    Upon seeing welcome sunlight to the west, Catfish Albert Wright doffs a new Sombrero Catite, a spanish hat obtained in a fair game of chance during the storm. He bids adieu.

“If you ever come Tallahassee way, please grace us with a visit,” insists John Ferrell.

“You know, I might just do that. I have been around Old Man River for too many years now.” Al reflects on his life. “Do you have any lakes or rivers for my boat?”

“More than you can count, though I must say that you would raise a few eyebrows and spook all the livestock with that contraption.”

“Wait ‘til they see my motorized bicycle.”

riverboat    About the time the hugs and handshakes have been exchanged, a peek of the setting sun shines on the shifting silhouette of the River Queen. Considerable rainfall, collect by all the tributaries upstream, has swelled the great river above the silt line.

“Look! She’s moving!” James noticed. Cheers and applause overspread the freighter. Phileas Longfellow waves out the window of his bridge, having built up enough steam to set the huge paddle-wheeler to motion.

“What a triumphant moment!” John Ferrell embraces his children.

This has been a day for the ages.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Legends-001

Episode #112


page 103

High Sea Hijinks – WIF Haunted Travel

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Ghost Ships

That Still

Haunt the Seas

Ghost ships, or phantom ships, make up a big part of the seafaring lore that has been passed down by sailors and fisherman throughout the years. The ships are said to be spectral apparitions that materialize on the horizon before quickly disappearing, and they are believed to be a sign of bad things to come. The term is also used to describe abandoned vessels that are found adrift with no crew or passengers, often under frightening and mysterious circumstances. Whether real stories of these derelict ships or legends about phantom craft trawling the seas, the following are the ten most famous ghost ships that continue to provoke speculation and mystery in the nautical world.

10. The Caleuche

Image result for The Caleuche

One of the most well known legends of the Chilota mythology of southern Chile describes the Caleuche, a ghost ship that appears every night near the island of Chiloe. According to local legend, the ship is a kind of conscious being that sails the waters around the area, carrying with it the spirits of all the people who have drowned at sea. When spotted, the Caleuche is said to be strikingly beautiful and bright, and is always accompanied by the sounds of party music and people laughing.  After appearing for a few moments, the ship is then said to disappear or submerge itself under the water. According to Chilota mythology, the spirits of the drowned are summoned to the ship by the Sirena Chilota, the Pincoya, and the Picoy, three Chilota “water spirits” who resemble mermaids. Once aboard the phantom ship, the drowned are said to be able to resume their life as it was before they died.

9. The SS Valencia

SS Valencia in 1904.

SS Valencia in 1904.

The SS Valencia was steamer ship that sank off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia in 1906. The ship had encountered bad weather near Cape Mendocino, and after drifting off course, struck a reef and began taking on water. The crew quickly began lowering lifeboats holding the ship’s 108 passengers into the water, but several of these capsized, and one simply disappeared. The Valencia eventually sank, and only 37 of the roughly 180 people on board survived. Five months later, a fisherman claimed he had found a life raft with 8 skeletons in it in a nearby cave. A search was launched, but it found nothing. Thanks to its dramatic end, the Valencia eventually became the source of numerous ghost ship stories. Sailors would often claim they could see the specter of the steamer drifting near the reef in Pachena Point, and to this day the ship is the source of frequent wild theories and ghost ship sightings. In a bizarre twist, 27 years after the sinking of the Valencia, one of its life rafts was found floating peacefully in nearby Barkley Sound. The “ghost raft” was said to be in remarkable condition, and even still had most of its original coat of paint.

8. The Ourang Medan

Image result for Ourang Medan

The story of the Ourang Medan begins in 1947, when two American ships received a distress call while navigating the Strait of Malacca, off the coast of Malaysia. The caller identified himself as a member of the crew of the Ourang Medan, a Dutch vessel, and supposedly claimed that the ship’s captain and crew were all dead or dying. The messages became jumbled and bizarre before trailing off and ending with the words: “I die.” The ships quickly raced to the scene to help. When they arrived, they found that the Ourang Medan was undamaged, but that the entire crew—even the ship’s dog— was dead, their bodies and faces locked in terrified poses and expressions, and many pointing at something that was not there.  Before the rescuers could investigate further, the ship mysteriously caught on fire, and they had to evacuate. Soon after, the Ourang Medan is said to have exploded and then sank. While the details and the overall veracity of the Ourang Medan story are still widely debated, there have been a number of theories proposed about what might have caused the death of the crew. The most popular of these is that the ship was illegally transporting nitroglycerin or some kind of illegal nerve agent, which was not properly secured and seeped out into the air. Others, meanwhile, have claimed the ship was a victim of a UFO attack or some other kind of paranormal event.

7. The Carroll A. Deering

Carroll A. Deering as seen from the Cape Lookout lightship on January 28, 1921. (US Coast Guard) This image is a work of a United States Coast Guard employee, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Carroll A. Deering as seen from the Cape Lookout lightship on January 28, 1921. (US Coast Guard) This image is a work of a United States Coast Guard employee, taken or made during the course of an employee’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Perhaps the most famous ghost ship of the Eastern Seaboard is the Carroll A. Deering, a schooner that ran aground near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in 1921. The ship had just returned from a commercial voyage to deliver coal in South America, and had last been spotted just south of Hatteras by a lightship near Cape Lookout. It ran aground in the notorious Diamond Shoals, an area famous for causing shipwrecks, and sat there for several days before any help was able to reach it. When they did arrive, the Coast Guard found that the ship was completely abandoned. The navigation equipment and logbook were missing, as were the two lifeboats, but otherwise there were no signs of any kind of foul play.

A massive investigation by the U.S. government followed, which discovered that several other ships had disappeared under mysterious circumstances around the same time. Several theories were eventually put forth, the most popular being that the ship fell victim to pirates or rum-runners. Others suggested that mutiny might have been the cause, as the Deering’s first mate was known to bear some animosity toward its Captain, but no definitive proof has even been discovered. The mystery surrounding the ghost ship has encouraged wild speculation, and many have argued that paranormal activity might have been responsible, citing the ship’s passage through the infamous Bermuda triangle as proof that some kind of otherworldly phenomena might be to blame.

6. The Baychimo

Cargoship Baychimo somewhere in Canada.

Cargo ship Baychimo somewhere in Canada.

One of the most amazing cases of a real-life ghost ship concerns the Baychimo, a cargo steamer that was abandoned and left to drift the seas near Alaska for nearly forty years. The ship was owned by the Hudson Bay Company, and was launched in the early 1920s and used to trade pelts and furs with the Inuit in northern Canada. But in 1931, the Baychimo became trapped in pack ice near Alaska, and after many attempts to break it free, its crew were eventually airlifted out of the area to safety. After a heavy blizzard, the ship managed to break free of the ice, but it was badly damaged and was abandoned by the Hudson Bay Company, who assumed it would not last the winter.

Amazingly, the Baychimo managed to stay afloat, and for the next 38 years, it remained adrift in the waters off Alaska. The ship became something of a local legend, and was frequently sighted aimlessly floating near the frozen ice packs by Eskimos and other vessels. It was boarded several times, but weather conditions always made salvaging it nearly impossible. The Baychimo was last sighted in 1969, again frozen in the ice off of Alaska, but it has since disappeared. The ship is believed to have sunk in the intervening years, but recently a number of expeditions have been launched in search of now nearly 80-year-old ghost ship.

5. The Octavius

Although it is now considered more legend than anything, the story of the Octavius remains one of the most famous of all ghost ship stories. The tale dates back to 1775, when it is said that a whaling ship called the Herald stumbled across the Octavius floating aimlessly off the coast of Greenland. Crewmembers from the Herald boarded the Octavius, where they discovered the bodies of the crew and passengers all frozen solid by the arctic cold. Most notably, the crew found the ship’s captain still sitting at his desk, midway through finishing a log entry from 1762, which meant the Octavius had been adrift for 13 years. According to the legend, it was eventually discovered that the captain had gambled on making a quick return to England from the Orient via the Northwest Passage, but that the ship had become trapped in the ice. If true, this would mean the Octavius had completed its passage to the Atlantic as a ghost ship, its crew and captain long dead from exposure to the elements.

4. The Joyita

The Joyita was a fishing and charter boat that was found abandoned in the South Pacific in 1955. The ship, along with its 25 passengers and crew, were en route to the Tokelau Islands when something happened, and it was not until hours later that the Joyita was reported overdue and a rescue attempt launched. A massive air search was undertaken, but it failed to find the missing ship, and it was not until five weeks later that a merchant ship stumbled upon the Joyita drifting some 600 miles off its original course. There was no sign of any of the passengers, crew, cargo, or life rafts, and the ship was damaged and listing quite badly to one side. Further inspection by authorities found that the ship’s radio was tuned to the universal distress signal, and a search of the deck uncovered a doctor’s bag and several bloody bandages. None of the crew or passengers was ever seen again, and the mystery of what happened has never been revealed. The most popular theory is that pirates killed the passengers and threw their bodies overboard, but other claims have included everything from mutiny and kidnapping to insurance fraud.

3. The Lady Lovibond

The UK has a long tradition of legends about ghost ships, and of these the Lady Lovibond is perhaps the most famous. As the story goes, the Lady Lovibond’s captain, Simon Peel, had just gotten married, and decided to take his ship out on a cruise to celebrate. He brought his new bride along—going against a longstanding seafaring belief that bringing a woman on board a boat is bad luck—and set sail on Feb. 13, 1748. Unfortunately for Peel, his first mate was also in love with his new wife, and after watching the celebrations, the man became overwhelmed with rage and jealousy and intentionally steered the boat into the deadly Goodwind Sands, a sand bar notorious for causing ship wrecks.

The Lady Lovibond sank, killing all those aboard. As the legend goes, ever since the wreck the Lady Lovibond can be seen sailing the waters around Kent every 50 years.  It was sighted in 1798 by a few different ship captains, as well as in 1848 and 1898, when it supposedly appeared to be so real that some boats, thinking it a vessel in distress, actually sent out life rafts to help it. The Lady Lovibond was again seen in 1948, and while there were no confirmed sightings on its most recent anniversary in 1998, it continues to be one of the most well-known ghost ship legends in Europe.

2. The Mary Celeste

Brigantine Amazon entering Marseilles in November 1861. In 1868 she was renamed Mary Celeste. She was found drifting with nobody aboard in November 1872, and is the source of many maritime "ghost ship" legends.

Brigantine Amazon entering Marseilles in November 1861. In 1868 she was renamed Mary Celeste. She was found drifting with nobody aboard in November 1872, and is the source of many maritime “ghost ship” legends.

Undoubtedly the most famous of all the real-life ghost ships, the Mary Celeste was a merchant ship that was found derelict and adrift in the Atlantic Ocean in 1872. The ship was in a seaworthy condition, with all its sails still up and a full store of food in its cargo hold, but its life boat, captain’s log book and, more importantly, the entire crew, had mysteriously vanished. There was no sign of a struggle, and the personal belongings of the crew and cargo of over 1500 barrels of alcohol were untouched, seemingly ruling out piracy as a possible explanation. In the years since its bizarre discovery, a number of theories have been proposed regarding the possible fate of the Mary Celeste’s crew. These include that those aboard were killed by a waterspout, that the crew mutinied, or even that eating flour contaminated with fungus led all the passengers to hallucinate and go mad. The most probable theory remains that a storm or some kind of technical issue led the crew to prematurely abandon the ship in the lifeboat, and that they later died at sea. Still, the mystery surrounding the Mary Celeste has led to much wild speculation, and others have proposed everything from ghosts to sea monsters and alien abduction as possible explanations.

1. The Flying Dutchman

In maritime folklore, no ghost ship is more famous than the Flying Dutchman, which has inspired numerous paintings, horror stories, films, and even an opera. The ship was first mentioned in the late 1700s in George Barrington’s seafaring book Voyage to Botany Bay, and since then its legend has continued to grow, thanks to numerous sightings of it by fisherman and sailors. As the story goes, the Flying Dutchman was a vessel out of Amsterdam that was captained by a man named Van der Decken. The ship was making its way toward the East Indies when it encountered dangerous weather near the Cape of Good Hope. Determined to make the crossing, Van der Decken supposedly went mad, murdered his first mate, and vowed that he would cross the Cape, “even if God would let me sail to Judgment Day!”

Despite his best efforts, the ship sank in the storm, and as the legend goes, Van der Decken and his ghost ship are now cursed to sail the oceans for all eternity. To this day, the Flying Dutchman continues to be one of the most-sighted of all ghost ships, and people from deep-sea fishermen to the Prince of Wales have all claimed to have spotted it making its never-ending voyage across the oceans.


High Sea Hijinks-

WIF Haunted Travel

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #108

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #108

…Tossed onto the sprawling mud like a toy, fully three hundred yards from permanent water, at a staggering 20 degree angle, the River Queen boasts many survivors…

Aftermath-001

Father Ferrell had thought he would be on his own in his search for James and Abbey, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease.

At least he will not be alone.

At least they are still alive.

Tossed onto the mud like a toy, fully three hundred yards from permanent water, at a staggering 20 degree angle, the River Queen boasts many survivors. But it is horribly out of place at its present semi-dry dock. It may take the spring flood waters to naturally return it to sufficient buoyancy.

Until then, James and Abigail wonder, how on earth rescuers will negotiate the swampy wild, especially considering the pockets of quasi-satisfied alligators; scavenging the dead fish and distressed wildlife. Those who chose a lifeboat that did not stay upright, meet the same repulsive fate. So distasteful is the scene, not even the biggest, toughest, manly man is able to stomach it. In fact, the crew has closed all exterior deck to passengers. They have food and water. A radio will be their contact with the outside world.

80 Days

“I know this isn’t how you expected your cruise on the Queen to end, but things may have turned out much worse,” relates Captain Phileas Longfellow. His foreknowledge of a spectacular rescue effort has him choosing his words carefully. He asks of already shaken cruisers, “How many of you have read the book, Around the World in Eighty Days?” About one-half of the seventy-five hands are raised. “Jules Verne is my mother’s favorite author, the inspiration for my first name. I do not consider myself an equal of Phileas Fogg, but we will soon have something in common with the fictional balloonist of globetrotting fame..”

They are given a firm clue of what is in store. For folks who have never been higher than the fourth floor of a big city building, the thought of ballooning is more than a stretch.

“I can see that some of you may be afraid of heights, but I have been told that it is the only way we are going to get out of here. Those of you who know you have a problem with heights, please come forward and we will match you with people who are not. Remember it is the only way we can get back to New Orleans.”

James and Abigail look at each other. Newly wed, they have much to learn about each other. This topic is one that has eluded those celebrating their golden anniversary.

“I have jumped from the loft in our biggest barn,” Abbey says proudly, speaking of her short term role as a tomboy.

 “I have a tree fort in the tallest oak on Hillside Estate.” James describes his prowess as a boys-boy.

Captain Longfellow describes the operation further. “The Army Air Corps, stationed at Fort Pickens… that is at Pensacola… are sailing twelve balloons from their aerial observation unit. They will begin arriving here in when wind conditions allow, needing a southeast quartering direction for optimum flying. Beside the balloonist, they hold six people. The flights will be spaced fifteen minutes apart. The crew will stay with the River Queen.

Age before beauty“The only bad news is that your baggage will have to wait for salvage operations. So make sure it is labeled and at the staging area at the rear of the ballroom.

“Lastly, as close as we can do it, we are going to evacuate according to the age of the individual or the average age of a family grouping. This is at my discretion–so ladies, please refrain from exaggerating your age–opposite to what you are used to.”

‘Well I never’, is the consensus common comment of women truly over 35, secretly hoping to pass for 45 or 50.

“That would place us on the last balloon,” laments the undeniably youthful Abigail. In the meantime, they have a ringside view of one of the most amazing rescues in the history of this low-lying country.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Phileas Fogg & Passepartout

Episode #108


page 99

Utopian Follies – WIF Idealistic Travel

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Experimental Towns

and Communes

The notion of a utopia—a perfect, egalitarian, and harmonious paradise on Earth—has been a recurring theme in literature and storytelling for hundreds of years. It all started with the philosopher Plato’s book Republic, and it’s since been expressed in other books including Thomas More’s Utopia and Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, as well as in films like Lost Horizon and Things to Come. All this discussion of an ideal and peaceful society has encouraged many people to try and bring these ideas into reality through spiritual communes and new forms of community organization. Whether or not any of the following ten examples actually succeeded is definitely up for debate, but there’s no denying that they work as some interesting experiments in formulating new ways of living.

10. Arcosanti

View of Arcosanti from the southeast, showing buildings from Crafts III on the far left to the guestrooms in the right foreground

View of Arcosanti from the southeast, showing buildings from Crafts III on the far left to the guestrooms in the right foreground

In the desert 70 miles north of Phoenix lies Arcosanti, an experimental town built in 1970 that claims to be an attempt to discover the perfect fusion of architecture and ecology. As imagined by architectural mastermind Paolo Soleri, all the buildings within the city are designed so that they and the people who live in them can work in harmony with their environment. With this in mind, many buildings at the site are multi-use, and all make use of solar power for heating, cooling, and electricity. Arcosanti itself is less of a community than it is a school. Workshops are held throughout the year in order to teach people how to build in Soleri’s unique style, and it is these students—along with the 50 or so teachers who make up the town’s permanent population—who have constructed most of the buildings on the 25-acre site. image: http://www.chromasomatic.com

Community Philosophy:

At the heart of Arcosanti’s philosophy is a strong belief in teaching people to live smarter. The community is meant to serve as an example of how urban centers could run more cheaply and efficiently with just a few design adjustments. For example, many of the buildings at the site are made to reflect the changing seasons, so that a maximum amount of sunlight is allowed in during the winter and a minimum amount during the summer. Meanwhile, the planning of the city itself avoided a typical grid layout in favor of a more courtyard-oriented style, which the residents say encourages community interaction.

9. Auroville

Image result for Auroville

One of the hallmarks of these experimental communities is an emphasis on love and peace, usually as filtered through a heavy dose of new age philosophy. Auroville, a multicultural city in southern India, is a perfect example. Since its inception, the town has worked to realize what its website calls “human unity” and the “transformation of consciousness.” The colony was started in the late sixties by Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Richard, and its central philosophy is a belief that society will learn to progress forward only after people of many nations and cultures have learned to live together in harmony. The community works to act as a miniature experiment in world peace. Its over 2,000 residents hail from more than 40 different nations, and they all live and work together with a mind toward finding new and unique ways to achieve balance and harmony among people of different races, religions, and political backgrounds.

Community Philosophy:

Residents of Auroville are expected to build their own house and make donations to the community fund, but beyond this all necessities—including public school, utilities, and health care—are covered by the community, which is itself partially financed by the Indian government. There is no form of hard currency within the commune; rather, all residents use an account system that connects to a central bank. The city is designed in the shape of a circle, around which are areas containing gardens, farmland, an educational and cultural center, and a so-called “peace area” where silence is enforced at all times.

8. Findhorn Ecovillage

Scotland’s Findhorn Ecovillage is perhaps the most notable example of a community founded on principles of environmental sustainability and renewable energy. The commune was started in the 1960s, but it didn’t take on its current form until 1982, when residents made a concerted effort to show that an environmentally unobtrusive community could flourish both socially and economically. The village still exists today, and has been noted as having the smallest environmental footprint of any town in the modern world. This is thanks to an ecologically friendly building code that encourages the use of found materials—several houses are built from recycled whiskey barrels— along with wind turbines and a water treatment apparatus called the “Living Machine,” which makes use of algae, snails, and plant life to purify the community’s water supply.

Community Philosophy:

Part of Findhorn’s intended commitment to sustainability is an emphasis on autonomy. The village’s 350 residents have their own school, arts center, and businesses, which include everything from printmaking to pottery. There is even an independent currency, called the Eko, which is accepted at all community businesses. Beyond its ecological goals, the village has also gained a reputation—to some controversy—for espousing a new age philosophy of spiritualism and holistic health. Findhorn offers retreats that claim to assist in achieving sound mental health, and the organization has even put out a therapeutic board game that it claims can be “a substantial way of understanding and transforming key issues in your life.”

7. Pullman, Illinois

Greenstone Church and the Arcade park in Pullman, Chicago.

Greenstone Church and the Arcade park in Pullman, Chicago.

Though these communities are always started with the very best of intentions, sometimes the line between utopia and dystopia can get a little blurry. Such was the case with Pullman, Illinois, a company town that started as its own workers’ paradise and gradually degraded into an outright dictatorship. The town was conceived by George Pullman, a powerful industrialist who’d made his fortune building ornate and expensive sleeping cars for passenger trains. In 1880, Pullman purchased several thousand acres of land on the outskirts of Chicago with a mind toward building a new factory. Thinking that he could also satisfy his workers by giving them a nice, safe place to live, Pullman had his architect design a miniature town around the factory. The town featured elaborate Victorian architecture and included its own school, shopping centers, theatre, library, church, and even a man-made lake.

Community Philosophy:

For the first few years, the town of Pullman seemed to be a remarkable success. It was used as an exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair, and it regularly won awards for being one of the best places to live in the country. But beneath its quaint exterior, Pullman was hiding a dark secret. Most troubling of all was that George Pullman ran the town like a despot. He banned certain business (like saloons) from opening nearby, forbade the town from starting an independent newspaper, and regularly had inspectors search through employees’ homes for signs of damage or lack of cleanliness. Employees often protested his baron-like behavior, but they had no recourse, since the town and all its 1400 structures were entirely owned by the company. When he lowered wages in 1894, things quickly turned violent, and a large-scale strike in Pullman had to broken up by the military. In the wake of this incident, the government looked into the legality of the town of Pullman and deemed it “un-American.” It was then broken up and later annexed by the city of Chicago.

6. The Harmony Society Communities

Religious Utopian communities were all the rage in the 1800s, and the communes started by the Harmony Society are some of the most famous examples. The society formed in Germany in the late 1700s, but their mystical take on Christianity soon drew the ire of the Lutheran Church.  A group led by Johann Georg Rapp immigrated to the Pennsylvania in 1803, and it was there that they decided to establish the first of what would eventually be three independent communes. Their Pennsylvania settlement, called Harmony, proved incredibly successful, and it eventually boasted a population of over 800 followers. The residents sold the land for a profit after ten years and started a new commune in Indiana, but they returned to Pennsylvania in 1824 and formed a third commune, which they called Economy.

Community Philosophy:

The Harmony Society’s theosophist religious convictions meant that they had very strict behavioral codes. Chief among them were strong beliefs in temperance, celibacy, and equality. Members rejected worldly possessions, eschewed sexual relationships—including marriage, to a certain extent—and practiced nonviolence. Rapp acted as the community’s resident prophet, and made several predictions about the imminent return of Jesus to the Earth. When his predictions didn’t come true, many members abandoned the community, but it managed to survive well until after Rapp’s death in 1847. Economy, PA finally dissolved in the early 1900s, both because of an ever mounting debt and because the residents’ celibacy guaranteed that there was no new generation left to take over.

5. The Federation of Damanhur

Named after an ancient Egyptian city, the Federation of Damanhur is a Utopian commune located outside of Turin, Italy. It was started in the ‘70s by Oberto Airaudi and a small group of followers, and today it counts as many as 800 citizens among its ranks. There are even offshoot centers for the group located as far away as the U.S. and Japan. The community refers to itself as a “collective dream” where “spiritual, artistic, and social research” takes place. The group prizes environmental sustainability, artistic expression, and optimism above all else, and meditation and self-knowledge are considered fundamental to personal growth.  But while this philosophy might not seem extraordinary, the way it is expressed certainly is. This was most apparent in 1992, when the group revealed a series of striking underground temples—supposedly a monument to peace and the power of human collaboration—that they had been constructing since the late ‘70s.

Community Philosophy:

Damanhur, though not sovereign from Italy, operates as though it were its own independent nation. There is a constitution, a currency called “credito,” and an independent infrastructure, and at this point there are even grown children who were born in the community and have lived there all their life. Perhaps most interesting is the community’s style of marriage, which works on a contract system. Prior to their wedding, couples decide on a period of time that the marriage will last. Once that period has elapsed, the two can either go their separate ways or agree to renew the marriage for a new span of time.

4. The Farm

Communal living experienced a renaissance with the rise of the hippie movement, when thousands of young people dropped out of society and attempted to form independent, utopian communities. The biggest and most notable of them all is certainly a town in Summerton, Tennessee known only as “The Farm.” The town was the brainchild of Stephen Gaskin, a creative writing teacher from San Francisco who led a caravan of cars and busses across the country to Tennessee, where they bought a 1,000-acre tract of land on a former cattle ranch. The Farm soon became legendary in underground culture, and as new members journeyed to Tennessee from around the country, the community soon grew into a miniature metropolis of tents and log cabins. By 1980, there were over 1,000 people living at the Farm.

Community Philosophy:

In the early days, residents of The Farm took a “vow of poverty” and swore off tobacco, alcohol, and all animal products. All possessions were communal, and residents regularly engaged in group marriages. These restrictions have since loosened, but the community still maintains a steadfast devotion to vegetarianism and environmentally friendly living, and today it works as an ecovillage where all power is generated through solar panels and biofuels. It also has an acclaimed school of midwifery, a book publishing company, and a grade school. Residents have even spearheaded a number of different charitable endeavors around the world. The community went through some tough time in the 80s, and many of the original members abandoned it, but it’s still around today, and as many as 175 people live and work there year round.

3. Israeli Kibbutzim

The term “kibbutz” doesn’t refer to one specific community, but rather to a form of experimental living that became popular in Israel in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The term itself can be translated as “gathering,” and it’s used to describe the numerous cooperative communes that were founded by Jewish immigrants in Palestine prior to the creation of Israel. Many came to the Middle East from Russia to be pioneer farmers, and they chose to live collectively because it allowed for greater safety and a more efficient way of growing crops. Most kibbutzim had about 200 members, and by 1950 there were as many as 60,000 people living in the communes all across Israel. The communities were originally started purely as Jewish farming ventures, but by the ‘30s many had taken on a socialist philosophy, and some of the kibbutzim with more Utopian goals began to allow people of all religions to join.

Community Philosophy:

A key philosophy of these kibbutzim was a devotion to equality. All major decisions were made communally in group meetings. Women were seen as equals to men, and were even required to serve as armed guards at times. There were no personal possessions—not even clothing—and even children were considered to belong to the community at large. Most grew up living with one another in their own communal house, and they spent little time with their parents outside of community activities. After the formation of Israel and the rise of capitalism, many of these values began to be replaced by more modern, individualistic tendencies. Today, most kibbutzim have become private enterprises, and farming has largely been abandoned. Despite this decline, there are still as many as 125,000 people—about 3% of the total population—currently living in kibbutz-style communes all over Israel.

2. Oneida Colony

Image result for Oneida Colony

New York’s Oneida Colony community was started in 1848 by John Humphrey Noyes, a practitioner of a sect of Christianity he called Perfectionism, which stated that Christ had already returned and it was the people who had to build paradise on Earth. The community started as a small group of about 80 people, but this number had doubled within a few years, and by 1880 there were as many as 350 people of all ages living at Oneida. The group had a small plot of land, but its primary base of operations was a 92,000 square foot mansion house, where all the members lived and worked communally.

Community Philosophy:

Oneida worked under a pseudo-socialist style wherein each member would work to the degree that they were able. Women were afforded more freedom than was common at the time, and all possessions were communal. Noyes instituted a strange program of character improvement where each member of the group was regularly brought before a committee and told their personal flaws, which they were expected to fix. As a rule, monogamy was forbidden within Oneida. Instead, the community engaged in a “complex marriage” system where each member was effectively “married” to everyone else. Strong attachments to a single person were discouraged, and members of the commune would regularly trade out sexual partners throughout the course of the week. This included young people, who were supposedly “initiated” into the program by an elder member of the opposite sex. These practices proved to be Oneida’s undoing, as Noyes was forced to flee the country in 1879 in order to escape charges of statutory rape. Without his more-than-questionable guidance, the community soon broke apart.

1. Brook Farm

Image result for Brook Farm George and Sophia Ripley

Massachusetts’s Brook Farm community only lasted for five years, and was a conclusive failure in nearly every way. But it remains one of the most notable experimental communities of the 1800s, if only because of the many famous people who were associated with it.  The town was started by George and Sophia Ripley in 1841. The couple subscribed to the transcendental philosophy espoused by poets and thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and they based their community on these ideals. The basic idea was that by pooling their labor efforts, a society could eliminate the drudgery of work and have time engage in intellectual pursuits and leisure activities. The Ripleys raised money through a joint stock company that counted Nathaniel Hawthorne among its investors, and after buying several acres of farmland outside of Boston, put their experiment into action.

Community Philosophy:

In the beginning, Brook Farm worked around a policy of personal freedom and equality. Members were allowed to choose what kind of work they wanted to do, and special time was set aside for leisure and intellectual study. Women enjoyed much greater equality than was common at that time. Not only were they paid the same as the men, but they were considered autonomous from their husbands and were allowed to be shareholders in the community at large. The commune tried to self-sustain by farming, opening a school, and selling goods like clothing, but they were never able to fully get out of debt. These financial troubles, along with Ripley’s inability to get luminaries like Emerson or Thoreau (who visited many times) to become permanent members, eventually led to the adoption of a more rigid, socialistic philosophy. Against the wishes of many of the members, the community had soon adopted more rules and social guidelines. When a massive communal house caught fire and burned halfway through construction, Brook Farm fell into even more debt, and in 1846 it dissolved for good.


Utopian Follies

– WIF Idealistic Travel

It’s the Law! – WIF Stranger Than Fiction

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Strange

International Laws

If you’ve ever been on the internet, you have probably seen someone pass around a list of “wacky laws” from various states in the USA. These are usually laws that are still on the books from decades or even centuries ago, were never constitutional, wouldn’t be held up by any local judge worthy of their position, and were usually just passed by city councils of small towns to make a point and throw their weight around. However, around the world many truly strange laws have been passed that are either symbolically important, truly enforceable, or are judiciously enforced in creatively interesting ways. In today’s article, we will go over the top 10 strangest examples.

10. In The United States, There Are Some Exemptions to Child Labor Laws On Farms

In most developed countries, child labor has been pretty much done away with and the world is all the better for it. However, in the United States of America, a country that most would imagine got rid of that quite some time ago, there are a lot of exceptions when it comes to farm labor. See, farmers in the United States often have trouble getting enough people to work on their farms and get everything done, especially at a wage that is affordable for the farmer. For this reason, having children work on farms has been a thing for a very long time, and there are exceptions in the law to allow it.

Essentially, as long as they are still getting an education, whether by going to school or a state approved home-school program, they are allowed to be worked on a farm for no pay — even as a young child — without any real restrictions on the hours (as long as they are working for their parents own farm, regardless of how big or commercial a size it might seem). Furthermore, as wild as this may sound to people from Europe, as long as you are just driving your tractor on the farm, you may allow your kids to drive around in it without any age restrictions or training whatsoever. Of course, children die or get horribly maimed due to this sort of nonsense every year, but the pressure from the farm lobbies has so far stopped any laws with real teeth from going into effect to change things.

9. The Laws On Cruise Liners Are Complex, and Different From How Many Imagine

Legal jurisdiction can get extremely murky when it comes to trying to prosecute a cruise liner, or anyone who did anything to you while you were on one, but in general it is supposed to apply as follows: If you are within 12 miles of a country’s waters, you are subject to their laws and jurisdictions. End of story. If you are more than 12 miles out but less than 24, you are not subject to their laws, but you have to allow them to board to look for potential smuggling activity, regardless of your country of origin. After that, once you get to international waters, you do still have to follow laws — the laws of whichever country your cruise ship is officially registered in. That means if your cruise ship is registered in the United States, you still have to obey the laws of the USA.

This meant that from the 1950s to the 1990s, no United States-based cruise liner allowed gambling aboard their ship. However, in 1991, after it was pointed out to the proper regulatory authorities that there were only about three ships left that were officially registered in the United States, they passed a competitiveness act that allows US-based cruise liners to begin allowing people to gamble, in contravention of United States law, once they actually reached international waters. It’s basically a huge exemption that has been carved out so that the USA will not be entirely left out of the cruise ship game.

8. Diplomatic Immunity Has Led to a Plethora of Unpaid Parking Tickets Worldwide

Nobody likes parking tickets and, let’s face it: if we could legally get away with it without any consequences, we would curl the things up into a ball, throw them away, and move on with our lives without paying. Now, most of us simply don’t have the power to do that. We can ball the thing up, but one way or another the city is eventually going to come and somehow take their money from us. However, if you are a diplomat, you have diplomatic immunity. Now, in movies like Lethal Weapon 2, we have plots where diplomatic immunity is used in an attempt to get away with murder, but the vast majority of diplomats abuse it in a much more banal way —  they fulfill a fantasy many of us have, by simply ignoring parking rules (or congestion fees) and doing what they want anyway, as it doesn’t matter.

When you have diplomatic immunity, no one can force you in court to pay your tickets, and many from the United States have argued the congestion fee that London has, for example, is just a tax on going in and out of the city (tax being something diplomats don’t have to pay). The United States government shares this viewpoint. However, it isn’t just London, or even New York for that matter, that suffers most from this, but Canberra and many other cities around the world. If the city plays host to a lot of diplomats, they often have backlogged debts for diplomat parking tickets ranging from the hundreds of thousands to the millions. New York recently implemented a policy where they simply wouldn’t re-register a diplomatic vehicle with too high a debt, and it helped a little, but it has simply creeped back up over the years since. It seems when you give a government official full diplomatic immunity, most just use it to toss aside all the petty bureaucracy that’s part of the system they help maintain.

7. China Decrees They Must Approve Reincarnations, In An Attempt to Control Tibetan Monks

As you probably already know, China has, for a long time, been trying to control the country of Tibet, and part of that involves trying to squash the influence of the Tibetan monks. The entire situation is extremely political, as a lot of religious sensibilities are involved, and if China came down too hard on the current Dalai Lama, they could risk some kind of widespread riots, or even international involvement. However, that doesn’t mean they are just sitting around with no strategy besides occupation and repression.

See, the thing about the Dalai Lama is that he is supposed to be a reincarnation of a previous Lama, and so on.The issue is that the Tibetan monks generally get to choose their own successor, as it is supposed to be their spiritual influence that is able to tell who is actually the next reincarnation. However, in the hopes of controlling the process, China has actually decreed laws not allowing a Lama to reincarnate without going through the Chinese government to approve it first — which means they basically get to hand-pick their own Dalai Lama, which would give them ultimate control and influence over the Tibetan people and anyone who still follows Tibetan Buddhism. However, the current Dalai Lama has already fired back against this by stating the next Lama would likely be born in a free country, and that one chosen out of China, by the Chinese government, could not be trusted as the proper Dalai Lama.

6. In Russia You Can Be Fined Because of a Dirty Car (Sort Of)

Now, this isn’t exactly the law, as it’s more of a law being misinterpreted by the police. However, in a country like Russia, arguing with the police (or the local city council over your police’s corrupt behavior) is not likely to get you much of anywhere. In Moscow, and other big cities in Russia, drivers often simply stop driving for much of the winter as it gets too cold for many older vehicles to operate, and then bring them back in the spring — sometimes without washing them at all first.

Now, the law — like in many countries — simply states that a car is considered “dirty” as an actual offense if it’s dirty to the point that the license plate is not visible. However, many police are using the law and people’s ignorance of the details to fine anyone with an extremely filthy car, even if the license plate can be seen just fine. The first time city authorities started doing this back in 2006 after a harsh winter, they declared it was “clean car month” and went on a rampage of fines. While it may not have necessarily been legal, the city clearly wanted to do something to encourage people to clean up, and didn’t want to have to amend the old law to do it… so they just sort of bent it a bit.

5. In China, You Must Have Social Visits With Your Elderly Parents

China has a lot of elderly citizens. When counted in 2014, their percentage of elderly citizens was at 9%, which is higher than many countries, such as India, which was only at 5% when the same estimate was made. It’s also one of the fastest growing elderly populations in the world, with experts expecting their elderly population to roughly double by the year of 2030. For this reason, elderly people who are lonely or not particularly well cared for are becoming an increasingly serious problem. Elderly people have already even been occasionally suing their children for not visiting them enough, or taking care of them, but a law passed in 2013 in China helps give the elderly more teeth with which to sue their children.

The law states that children should make an effort to regularly visit their elderly parents; however, it isn’t really clear on how often that should be. The law is difficult to enforce because of the ambiguity, but the lawmakers have said that it wasn’t necessarily meant to be a fully functional law, but more of a way to raise awareness of the issue, and make it easier for parents to sue and get the court to order some kind of visitation schedule, if they are being truly neglected when they need physical or emotional care. We feel like it’s important to emphasize that last part, because obviously, this isn’t just your nagging mom wondering why you don’t stop by for dinner more often.

Some Chinese people are worried about the law mainly because of the ambiguity, and also because oftentimes well-intentioned children don’t always have the means, or even the time off work, to visit. The law doesn’t really fix anything, but it does serve to highlight the growing demographic problem in China and the tension between the young and the old.

4. In Much Of The Caribbean, Camouflage Clothing Is Illegal

In the United States, it’s actually fairly common to wear camo-pattern clothes, so much so that people make jokes about whether they can “actually see you there” because of your ability to “blend in.” While it isn’t exactly considered a high fashion choice, it’s certainly not something the authorities would ever worry about in most countries, and people would just assume you have an affinity for military-style garb and/or enjoy hunting.

However, in many Caribbean countries such as Barbados, Jamaica, St. Vincent and St. Lucia, several African countries, and even Saudi Arabia, wearing of camouflage patterned clothes is banned, unless you want to be fined or potentially jailed. The issue is that they don’t want any civilians being mixed up with members of the military, as most of the countries with these laws have at least one uniform with a camouflage pattern. When you think of it that way, the law actually makes perfect sense… although it’s unlikely someone wearing say, a pair of camo shorts and a beach shirt, is going to be confused for active duty military of any kind.

3. The Town of Tuszyn, Poland Banned Winnie the Pooh From Their Playground

While it wasn’t exactly a law, the town of Tuszyn, Poland made international news for a strange decision they made in 2014. They had been trying to decide a new mascot for the town playground, and were going over innocent and wholesome cartoon characters they could use that would be fun for the children. One of the names that came up was Winnie the Pooh, and at first you would think this was a suggestion that would pick up some steam; it doesn’t get much more innocent, fun, and generally banal than Winnie the Pooh. He is, in fact, a character that most people would imagine would be impossible to be offended by… unless he is already associated negatively with your dear leader, as he is in China.

However, someone recorded the town council meeting where it was discussed, and leaked the audio to the Croatian Times, who made fun of the proceedings and their inherent silliness. Apparently, the idea was shot down and Pooh was banned as the potential mascot mainly because he wasn’t wearing any clothes on his bottom half, and was actually “half-naked.” Now, some would imagine you would argue that he isn’t immodest because he has no genitals, and is just a cartoon. Oh, and also, a bear. Last time we checked, it’s more unusual for bears to be wearing red shirts than it is for them to be without pants. Unfortunately, that did come up during the debate, and some council members suggested that it made Pooh some kind of hermaphrodite, or someone with some kind of other gender identity disorder, and that it therefore made him even more inappropriate for children. We wonder what the city council of Tuszyn, Poland, thinks of Donald Duck.

2. Japan Is Policing Obesity, But They Haven’t Made It Illegal As Some People Think

In 2008, Japan passed a “Metabo Law” that left a lot of people scratching their heads and adding yet another one to the “weird Japan” file. The rumor claimed that the law literally made it illegal to be fat, and that if you were fat enough, the government could fine or even imprison you. However, while a Metabo Law was passed, it was not at all what many in the Western World thought it was.

The way the law works is that if you are in between the ages of 45 and 74, and you have a waistline of 35.4 inches or more for a man, or 31.5 inches or more for a woman, then you have to have it measured every year and seek proper medical advice from a doctor on how to shrink your waistline and improve your health. The law does not make it illegal or even attach fines to having extra weight; it just ensures that you get the medical attention you need if you go beyond what Japanese legislators have considered the line for an early intervention against dangerous levels of weight gain.

1. Turkmenbashi Was A Mad Ruler Of Turkmenistan… But They Aren’t Much Better Off Without Him

If you have ever seen the TV show Archer, you may be familiar with an episode where they visit Turkmenistan and learn that it has an insane leader named Gorbagun Gorbanguly, who has changed the words for both bread and Friday to his dog’s name: Gurpgork. Now, while this isn’t at all true, it is based on some true life events. Turkmenistan’s current leader’s name is Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, and the previous leader of the country, a man named Saparmurat Niyazov — also known as Turkmenbashi — was pretty much the undisputed dictator from 1990 until 2006. During that time he was known for being a power-mad eccentric who not only ruled with an iron fist, but made utterly insane proclamations.

He created a national melon day, after the country’s chief export, and also a national day for horses. People used to wear gold fillings in their teeth as a mark of status, but Turkmenbashi felt they were not a good thing, and soon people were tearing them out of their mouths, spending their money on expensive dental work. He banned circuses and ballet because they were “unnecessary.” He also banned beards because he didn’t trust followers of Islam. On top of that, he changed the name of January to his name, and April to his mother’s name. When he died and the new dictator for life took over, he did do away with a lot of the more eccentric laws, but it still continues to be an incredibly poor country where ethnic Muslims are distrusted, and the vast majority of the country’s oil riches are going to the elites who run it all, or just sitting in the ground not being used due to poor infrastructure and mismanagement.


It’s the Law! –

WIF Stranger Than Fiction

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #96

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 96

…Thankfully, with due respect to the dear departed Mr. Finkle, there are still a score of guests waiting in line; Edna is prompted to shuffle off to food and drink…

Meanwhile

In the receiving line after James & Abigail’s wedding

“Are you going on a wedding holiday?” asks Edna Finkle, one of the Ferrell Groceries’ first Edna Finkle-001and most loyal customers, thus deemed longtime observer of the Ferrell family saga.

“Yes, Mrs. Finkle. We are taking the train to New Orleans. It sounds like an exciting city.”

“Oh my, yes, I should say. I remember when Mr. Finkle was alive; we spent a month there one week,” as opposed to when he was dead. “It is a spicy town though, filled with people that seem to defy the conventional.”

They are kind to the eighty-something woman, if for no other reason than she is a walking billboard for their stores; gladly singing the praises, all the while during her weekly four hour assembling of her week’s worth of goods.

“We will be staying at the Vieux Carre …………”

“The Olde Square, my yes. Mr. Finkle so loved the food in that part of town. I believe we left before the yellow fever outbreak, you know, back in 1878.” The well-meaning elderly woman is doing nothing to help the Crescent City’s unhealthy reputation, but youngsters have an air of invulnerability about them, tending to ignore danger, in exchange for adventure.

Thankfully, with due respect to the dear departed Mr. Finkle, there are still a score of guests waiting in line; she is prompted to shuffle off to food and drink. “I’ll take one of those, sonny.” She is handed a glass of champagne, grabbing a back-up, claiming, “I cannot stay long— close to my bedtime, you know.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode # 96


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