Category Archives: strange events

Where ‘The Jersey Devil Lurks’

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I wish I could have found a full-color image of this painting. Unfortunately, the original was lost years ago, and this black-and-white is all I could get. In the original, the prevailing color scheme is a rather sinister yellow. I saw a color photo of it many, many years ago in Life Magazine, and never forgot it. I think I must have been ten years old or less.

If you’ve never passed through the Jersey Devil’s home territory, the New Jersey Pine Barrens, I can tell you there’s no other place quite like it. Technological progress left it behind early in the 19th century, the local economy shriveled up, most of the people moved away, and their towns, homes, and factories fell into ruin. The region is known for its odd place names–Ongs Hat, Double Trouble, Speedwell–and its sandy tracks that may or may not accommodate your car and may or may not lead somewhere, or nowhere. A part of it features large vistas of stunted pines that plays tricks on your eyes. You’d swear, from your vantage point on the road, that the pines were full-size. And then a child comes walking through them, and you startle because you think you’re seeing a giant little girl.

All in all, it’s just the kind of country the Jersey Devil would choose to live in, if it lives at all. No one knows. There’s only belief or disbelief.

But when you find yourself alone on one of those deserted, feeble imitations of a road, disbelief is a little harder to come by.


What in the World is This?

https://clareflourish.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/narmer_palette.jpg?w=407&h=610

This is the Narmer Palette from ancient Egypt, dated to about 3150 B.C.–insofar as anything that old can be dated with any degree of certainty. The scholarly consensus is 3150 B.C., but consensus is not quite the same thing as solid fact.

Narmer–we think!–was the first king of a unified Egypt, and this siltstone palette, about two feet high, memorializes him and his achievement. Both sides are illustrated, but only the side shown above is our subject for today. We’re talking around 3150 B.C., and already the Egyptian hieroglyphics are in use and can be read, and certain artistic conventions, which would persist for three millenia, are already in place. There must have been a long period of learning and development in Egypt before this artifact was created. Going how far back, we do not know.

But getting down to business, check out the middle section of the palette–the two strange beasts with long necks intertwined, and wranglers controlling them with halters. Look at them closely. What are they?

The consensus (here we go again!) is that these are imaginary animals that probably meant something, once upon a time, in ancient Egyptian iconography, but whose meaning has been lost over time.

But when you took a good look at those creatures, did the word “dinosaur” pop into your head?

Oh, but that’s absurd! Those animals have external ears, and dinosaurs didn’t!

Didn’t they? Ears are soft tissue. The chances of external ears surviving as fossils are so small as to be virtually zero. If some dinosaurs had external ears, we wouldn’t know it.

Yeah, but the faces! They look much more like lion or leopard faces–not dinosaurs.

Oh? Suddenly we know what all dino faces looked like?

It occurs to me that there was a sauropod dinosaur in Africa called Vulcanodon, which was just about the same size, relative to the human wranglers, as the creatures on the palette. No skull of Vulcanodon has ever been found, so we can have no idea what its face looked like.

Consider: If elephants did not exist today, and no one had ever seen one, or even a picture of one, what would any scientist think, who found a fossilized elephant skull? Would he ever deduce the elephant’s trunk? They like to say they would, but we are at liberty not to believe them.

Ancient Egyptians routinely and realistically portrayed many animals in their art, and even in Narmer’s time, had zoos. So there are really only two choices, in regard to the long-necked beasts on the Narmer Palette.

Either they are imaginary, or they’re not.

And if they’re not… what are they?


This Is My Lucky Day!

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Well, well, well! Waddaya know, I’m gonna be rich! At least, according to an email I received last night. Here, check it out.

“My dear”–promising start! She is looking for “a trusted person who can assist me… I am Miss Zenab Warlord Ibrahim Coulibaly 24 years old female…” Hoo-hah. She is the daughter of a warlord in the Ivory Coast. She says I can call her Princess Zenab for short. Her diligent search revealed that I’m the man of her dreams.

See, she’s looking for “a long-term relationship and investment assistance”–from me, of all people–and then “I will relocate to your country and settle down with you.” That could be the tricky part. But to sweeten the deal, Poppa left her $27.5 million in the bank, and once we get that transferred to my local S&L in Metuchen, it’s smooth sailin’. I wonder what it’ll be like, settling down with a warlord’s daughter. I hope she and my wife will get along. And Poppa is dead, so I won’t have to worry about having to work for a father-in-law who’s an African warlord.

Blamed if I can see any downside to this deal!


First Grab a Barf Bag…

I have to go to the nursing home this morning–but first, here is what passes for a Christmas tree topper among liberals: Hillary Clinton as an angel.

Crikey, it looks like a decoration for a lesbian “wedding” cake.

I don’t have time, just now, to say much more about it. Only that it’s yours for a mere $80 (aaaghhh!), and it does show you what constitutes worship for leftids. Hey, let’s hear it for the chief of the Clinton White House Bimbo Eruption Team! And her (ugh) “iconic white suit.”


Did We See a Pterodactyl?

I want to tell you about an odd experience we had, some years ago. I’ve used this video of a pterodactyl model in flight because it was the closest thing I could find to what we saw.

Ten or fifteen years ago, Patty and I celebrated our anniversary with a day on the Seaside Boardwalk. It was August 8.

Coming home with plenty of daylight left, we found ourselves driving all alone on Route 34 in Holmdel Township. That in itself was quite unusual. But then we looked up at the sky.

At first we thought it was a hang-glider, because it sort of looked like one. But there’s nowhere for many miles around suitable for hang-gliding. No cliffs, no mountains, no skyscrapers. So how could he have gotten up there in the first place?

We watched it for long enough to be sure it wasn’t a hang-glider, or any kind of aircraft that we’ve ever seen, or any kind of bird. What it looked like was a pterodactyl. Unlike the model in the video, it never flapped its wings. We also had a strong impression that it was much, much bigger than any model–although with nothing to use for scale, we couldn’t be sure about its size.

It glided all the way across our field of vision, and as the car kept moving, eventually we could see no more of whatever strange thing this was. All we both can say for sure is that it sure as heck looked like a pterodactyl. As a lifelong dinosaur buff, I ought to know a pterodactyl when I see one.

Very, very strange: and we never heard that anyone else saw it.


Saudi Arabia Grants Citizenship to… a Robot

Image result for images of robot as ventriloquist dummy

If it’s your vacuum cleaner, it’s only a machine and you don’t think twice about it. But make the machine complicated enough, and next thing you know, people who are supposed to be sane, and maybe aren’t quite all there, start treating it like it’s one of the boys. Or one of the girls.

Saudi Arabia has made a robot a citizen. The UPI news report describes the glorified vacuum cleaner as “hot robot Sophia.” (https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2017/10/27/Saudi-Arabia-grants-citizenship-to-robot/5521509080746/) Hot? They’re kidding, right? And the article is peppered with the expression, “Sophia said.”

Can it be that there really are people out there who honestly don’t understand that even the best and most lifelike robot in the world can never be anything more than a simulation? And all this talk about “Artificial Intelligence”–uh, don’t they know what “artificial” means?

Crikey, we don’t even know what real intelligence is; so how are we supposed to produce it artificially?

But i think, judging by all this carrying-on over a robot–who, when all is said and done, is little more than a hi-tech souped-up ventriloquist’s dummy–we can say what it isn’t.


A Bit of Mythological Silliness

Image result for images of jason and the clashing rocks

One way to get your ship through the Clashing Rocks…

You do wonder about some of the things that go on in Greek mythology.

Jason and the Argonauts have to get through the Clashing Rocks that guard the Bosporus, without the ship getting cracked like a nutshell. In the Ray Harryhausen movie, this giant merman-thing (pictured above) comes up and holds the rocks apart for them. In other versions of the story, this doesn’t happen. Instead, for instance, they send a dove through the rocks and, after they move apart again after squashing the poor bird, the Argonauts are able to row real fast and get through, with only the Argo’s stern ornament bitten off.

Uh, guys… why didn’t you beach the Argo and haul it overland on rollers, as ancient sailors often did with their ships, and put it back in the water when you’d passed by the Clashing Rocks? No one seems to have thought of that. One is reminded of Laurel and Hardy in The Music Box, lugging the piano up those horribly steep stairs when they could’ve just carted it around the block to the front door. Duh…

Oddly enough, in later centuries, Greek and Roman ships routinely passed through the strait without seeing hide nor hair of the Clashing Rocks. The myth says that after Jason got through, the rocks didn’t clash together anymore. Perhaps their failure to crush the Argo made them give it up. Who knew great big rocks can get down-hearted?

Ah, well, they don’t call it mythology for nothing.


Pumpkin Spice Shuts Down High School!

Image result for images of pumpkin monster

Last month it was the shocking discovery that pumpkin spice latte is racist. Now pumpkin spice is in the news again. And this time it’s worse!

A high school in Baltimore had to be evacuated this afternoon. The fire department was called in, and then a hazmat team, and finally two students and three adults had to be taken to the hospital “with unknown injuries.” (http://www.wbaltv.com/article/cristo-rey-jesuit-hs-evacuated-in-baltimore/12788221)

Why?

Because somebody plugged in a pumpkin spice air freshener and it kinda smelt funny and, well, I guess everybody panicked. We do not know how five people got injured so badly that they had to be taken to the hospital. Running heedlessly down the stairs, maybe, fleeing the dreadful menace of the pumpkin spice?

We dare not imagine what will be pumpkin spice’s next caper. Today a hazmat team; tomorrow, the Navy SEALs?

P.S.–“Hazmat” is short for “hazardous materials.” It does not denote a nomadic Central Asian people with hairy hats.

 


The Killer Cats of Britain

Image result for images of monster cat

Well, scarier than that!

In the early Middle Ages it was “Palug’s Cat,” a giant cat that lived on the island of Angelsey and knocked off some 180 warriors before Sir Gawain finally killed it: so says Welsh and French lore of the 12th century.

You’d think that would’ve been the end of it–but no! There are still stories today. The Beast of Buchan haunts Scotland, and has been reported there since the 1930s. The Beast of Bodmin has haunted Cornwall since 1983, scaring hikers and mauling livestock, despite a British newspaper’s “investigation” that supposedly revealed it to be an ordinary cat (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/beast-bodmin-moor-mystery-solved-4812877).

Over here we’ve got Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil, and Chupacapra. Over there they’ve got giant wild cats–and there are no zoo or circus cats missing. Indeed, there are similar “big cat” stories from Australia–lots and lots of them. Australia has no native cats at all, and only small wildcats are native to Britain.

Why do people keep on saying they’ve seen big cats in places where there are no big cats? Who thought up the old, old story of Palug’s Cat, and what inspired it?

God made the world a bit more complicated than we like to think sometimes.


Mr. Nature: Behold the Mighty Stegosaur

Image result for images of miller toy stegosaurus

Of all the Miller Co. wax dinosaurs I had in my childhood, only a couple of these Stegosaurs survive, a big one and a little one. For some reason, these were much less apt to be broken than the others.

And speaking of Stegosaur survival, there are persistent rumors that in the largely unexplored Likouala Swamps of the Republic of the Congo, a creature very like a Stegosaur still lives. The few people who live there call it mbielu-mbielu-mbielu, which means, I think, “What the hell was that?”

In western North America are found the best and biggest fossil Stegosaurs, Stegosaurus ungulatus and S. Stenops. Other species have been discovered in Europe, Tanzania, China, India, and, most recently, Australia (just footprints there, so far). So they must have been quite a successful group of animals.

There’s only so much we can learn from bones, though. Still puzzling are the exact arrangement of the armored plates along the Stegosaurus’ back and the seemingly inadequate size of its brain, indicative of a belief in socialism.

But we will learn much more when somebody finally captures a live mbielu-mbielu-mbielu.

And no, it’s not a fake fact I made up on the spot!

P.S.: Edgar Rice Burroughs, in his “Pellucidar” (prehistoric world inside the hollow earth) novels presented the Stegosaur as being able to glide through the air by lowering its back-plates, but he never found many takers for that theory.


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