Help save the International Cryptozoology Museum

Friend and well-known cryptozoologist Loren Coleman writes that his International Cryptozoology Museum is in dire need of financial support, else it might be closed down due to an IRS audit:

"The [IRS's] audit has gone to five or more levels of meetings and appeals, as I have attempted to explain what being a “cryptozoologist” is all about, that I do make my living this way, and that the museum is an essential part of the overall plan ... To the IRS, the museum verges on being a hobby ... and it needs more income (even if donations) to support itself ... The museum has to make money, or it ceases to exist ... I need to get donations to pay the mortgage for the house-museum where it is now, to keep it from foreclosure, and to pay for the other bills associated with the museum."

I've known about the museum for years and, altruistically, supported it in any way I can. Unbeknownst to me, I was one of the first two to contribute long ago on May 14th, 2005. Back then, Loren had some books donated that reeked of cigarette smoke and, due to allergies, needed to find them a better home. I offered to take them off his hands but, more importantly, to give him some cash to hunt up replacement copies for the museum.

This weekend, I offered my continued support:

"In the last 24 hours, the first “Museum Principal Donor / Life Member” contributed $1050.00. This individual “Morbus” challenges others to join him in donating at the $1000 level to [meet] the goal of keeping this institution open."

Please, do what you can to help the museum. The alternative is that this publicly available resource, in a field already entrenched with a lack of answers, will disappear. Even those who aren't involved or interested in cryptozoology should appreciate the need to keep this information easily available and approachable.


Killer fungus now airborne

The NewScientist reports:

A fungus that is devastating amphibian populations around the world is a relatively new disease that is spreading rapidly ... Worse, not only is the fungus being spread by infected water, it may also be transmitted in the form of spores carried on the wind or birds' feathers ... B. dendrobatidis was formally identified as a frog-killer in 1998, though it has been found on museum specimens dating back to the 1930s. It affects frogs on every continent they are found and is considered one of the three major reasons - along with habitat destruction and trade - for the decline in global amphibian populations since the early 1980s.


Japanese money grows in the sky, mailboxes

The AFP reports:

Residents of a Tokyo apartment building are baffled after a total of 1.81 million yen (15,210 dollars) was found in 18 mailboxes by Saturday, a police spokesman said ... Since June, dozens of city halls and other public buildings across the country have reported finding neatly packaged envelopes full of cash in men's restrooms ... [On July 25], bills worth 960,000 yen were inexplicably seen "falling" in front of a convenience store ... The largest single dropoff so far was in the ancient city of Kyoto on July 23, astonishing a 67-year-old woman who found an envelope containing 10 million yen of stacked bills in her mailbox.


The C.H.U.D. live under Tokyo!

The Japan Times Online reports:

Shun Akiba, a former high-level foreign reporter, has identified hundreds of kilometers of Tokyo tunnels whose purpose is unknown and whose very existence is denied ... Shun claims to have uncovered a secret code that links a complex network of tunnels unknown to the general public. "Every city with a historic subterranean transport system has secrets," he says. "In London, for example, some lines are near the surface and others very deep, for no obvious reason."

With Shun's book now in the fifth edition (though unfortunately not yet translated into English) there's been talk of these tunnels before, such as on the excellent BLDGBLOG, where one comments about the ill comparison to London:

[London's] subsurface tubes are limited to the earliest lines. It's very disruptive to build a subsurface tunnel; the District Line along the Thames, for example, was built as part of a wholesale redevelopment (the Victoria Embankment) which also included sewers and roads ... Of course, some lines are a bit deeper than others, but that's usually determined by a mix of interchanges (can't have two tubes at the same level, unless they're parallel) or geology (you want good clay, which is also the reason the Tube didn't impinge much on South London).

Another comment on a private mailing list suggests the... oddness of a country building nearly 1500 kilometers of unmapped tunnels in an earthquake-ridden city, where one would expect constant destruction and decay. (And did you lose the C.H.U.D. reference? You've missed an excellent movie, but stay away from the sequel!)


Leather and wood doth a prosthesis make

BBC News reports:

An artificial big toe [known as the "Cairo toe"] found on the foot of an ancient Egyptian mummy could be the world's earliest functional fake body part, UK experts believe ... Lead researcher Jacky Finch said: "The toe dates from between 1069 and 664BC, so if we can prove it was functional then we will have pushed back prosthetic medicine by as much as 700 years." Colleagues at the University of Salford will also be testing a second, even older ancient Egyptian big toe which is currently on display at the British Museum. This artefact, from between 1295 and 664BC, is made from cartonnage, a kind of papier-mâché made from linen, glue and plaster.


Mysterious Symbols in your Walls?

From the AP:

It was a 3-foot-by-10-foot section of timeworn brick wall, its predictable rows abruptly interrupted by three distinct, deliberate-looking triangular shapes ... Painstakingly preserved from a 175-year-old building in lower Manhattan, the brickwork symbol is part of a tantalizing historical whodunit.

The triangle has traditionally been used to represent the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity. Some scholars, while stressing the need for more research, think the Pearl Street symbol evokes esotericism — efforts to delve for divine meaning in numbers, geometry, nature and elsewhere. The symbol was even the subject of a presentation at an academic conference on esotericism in Amsterdam in 2005.

And, if you want to see things that aren't there:

Alec Rawls' [book] documents a long list of Islamic and terrorist memorializing features in the Flight 93 National Memorial ... The primary feature, he says, is the giant central crescent of what originally was called the "Crescent of Embrace" design. A person facing into this half-mile wide crescent – still present in the superficially altered "Bowl of Embrace" redesign – will be oriented almost exactly at Mecca.

Reminds me of my own local library in Concord, New Hampshire, which supportedly has the Nazi symbol in its stone edging. It certainly does, but evidence of foul play? A sekrit Nazi plot to corrupt American youths who no longer know what a library is?


Earth from Sagittarius Dwarf, not Milky Way?

Purportedly, "new" evidence from the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) project suggests our solar system may actually be from the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy, and that this is the cause of Earth's global warming.

... the astronomers are answering questions that have baffled scientists for decades and proving that our own Milky Way is consuming one of its neighbors in a dramatic display of ongoing galactic cannibalism. The study published in the Astrophysical Journal, is the first to map the full extent of the Sagittarius galaxy and show in visually vivid detail how its debris wraps around and passes through our Milky Way. Sagittarius ... is getting stretched out, torn apart and gobbled up by the bigger Milky Way.

The Viewzone article then goes on to state:

It has been postulated that this is the real reason for both global warming since higher energy levels of the Milky Way are almost certain to cause our Sun to burn hotter and emit higher energies. Indeed, temperatures have been seen to rise on virtually all the planets in our system. This seems quite apart from any local phenomenon like greenhouse gases etc.

Which echoes another article from June 26th, 2007: the Sun and its attendant satellites, including Earth, get consumed by the Milky Way, the higher energy levels in this much larger galaxy will cause the Sun to burn hotter, and to emit higher energy. This, scientists say, is one reason temperatures have been rising steadily in all plants in our solar system.

Both articles, however, are based on a press release issued by 2MASS back in September of 2003, and the published Astrophysical Journal article (entitled "A Two Micron All Sky Survey View of the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy") makes no mention of Earth or our solar system "actually belong[ing] to" the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy. The closest we get is that "Majewski and his colleagues [are] surprised by the Earth's proximity to a portion of the Sagittarius debris."

Are the assertions that we're from another galaxy random postulations or merely "supporting evidence" for galactic warming?

There has been a decent amount written about galactic warming, including evidence of global warming on Neptune's largest moon ("Triton [seems] to have heated up significantly since the Voyager space probe visited it in 1989."), Pluto (where "atmospheric pressure has tripled ... indicating a stark temperature rise"), Mars (the Mars Odyssey orbiter "has spotted seasonal changes like the advance and retreat of polar ice"), and Jupiter (which may be "in the midst of a global change that can modify temperatures by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit").

On the other hand, does The Accidental Weblog have it right?

It's since spread from there, of course, the way bullshit generally does. One Dan Eden of 'Viewzone' ... another woo-infested site, apparently, though I'm not clear on whether they're affiliated with CureZone -- has now done a story on it. His story was every bit as weirdly credulous as was Perkins Erwin's... and ends in a similarly long, fun, new agey cloud of incomprehensible fog about energy levels and so on...

Bad Astronomy spends a fair bit of time debunking the claim that our solar system is from Sagittarius Dwarf:

I talked to Steve Majewski, the lead author on the horribly maligned scientific paper about the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy. He thanks me for saving him the trouble of having to debunk the claim himself. :-) He has updated his original page about all this with a disclaimer saying the Viewzone article is wrong, too.

Said disclaimer:




Rameses II's pots: makeup, not organs

From the New Scientist:

The blue jars arrived in the Louvre in 1905. They carry the name of Rameses II, and seemed to contain embalmed organs, including a trace of what appeared to be heart tissue. Yet Rameses's actual mummy still has its heart - the one organ ancient Egyptians left inside mummies so it could be weighed in the afterlife by the god Thoth ... [Jacques Connan of the University of Strasbourg, France] concludes that the jar probably held scented ointment made by heating aromatic wood in fat, of the type Egyptians used to anoint their heads, and sacred images.


Killer frogs in San Francisco

CBS news reports:

According to KPIX-TV contributor and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Phil Mattier, the city is preparing to do something to stop the African clawed frogs. While they are just 5 inches in length, the frogs are eating everything in sight -- including turtles, fish and other frogs.

SFGate continues:

In 2003, the state Department of Fish and Game was going to drain the pond, but at the last minute, it pulled back. Fish and Game reps didn't return calls for comment, but [Richard Schulke, president of the city's Animal Control and Welfare Commission] said outrage over the department's poisoning of pike up at Lake Davis about the same time may have given the state cold feet.

Wikipedia describes the frogs as:

...up to 12 cm long with a flattened head and body but no tongue. Its name derives from its three short claws on each of its hind feet, which it probably uses to stir up mud to hide it from predators. It is found throughout much of Europe, North America, South America, and Africa.


Damn dirty apes used tools before you, bub

Primate news! The Guardian reports:

The first prehistoric evidence for a "chimpanzee stone age" has been uncovered by archaeologists working in an African rainforest. Primitive stone hammers and anvils dating from 4,300 years ago were excavated from pits at three sites in the Taï national park in Ivory Coast ... [Researchers suspect] that early tool use was not learned from humans, but may have been passed on to chimps and humans alike from a more primitive ancestor.

Heather Whipp from LiveScience continues:

Chimpanzees learned to make and use stone tools on their own, rather than copying humans, new evidence suggests ... Chimpanzees have been observed using similar tools for the past few centuries, but scientists assumed the intelligent apes were simply copying local people cutting open fruit nearby ... The technology is transmitted socially -- or taught, rather than instinctive from birth -- and can take up to seven years for a young chimp to master, many scientists have found.

It didn't take long for humans to start meeting their demands (though naturally, being inferior, we screwed up and focused on monkeys instead, not apes... remember, monkeys have tails):

The Los Angeles Zoo paid $4,500 to an expert in the ancient Chinese art of feng shui to ensure three endangered golden monkeys on loan from China can have a strong life force ... Feng shui focuses on balance in design to promote health and happiness ... "It's very experimental," [feng shui expert Simona] Mainini said. "We don't have any books on feng shui for monkeys. We just have to assume that Darwin is correct and that there is a connection and what is good for humans is good for monkeys."

BBC News also chimes in.



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