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Monday, April 14, 2014

The Ticking Tombstone of Landenberg


London Tract Meeting House, Landenberg, Chester County

If you look closely at a map of Pennsylvania, you'll see an anomalous semi-circular border at the extreme southeastern part of the state. This circle, known officially as the "Twelve Mile Circle", serves as the border between the Keystone State and Delaware. Much of the strange circle is surrounded by Chester County, one of the three original Pennsylvania counties created by William Penn in 1682. While there are many historical points of interest in Chester County, few are strange or as steeped in legend as the Ticking Tombstone.

Near the London Tract Meeting House in Landenberg is an old graveyard which contains a tombstone which is said to make eerie ticking noises, much like the ticking of a pocketwatch. Landenberg locals claim that the ticking is the result of two very famous surveyors who arrived in town during the 1760s- Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.  A young child supposedly swallowed a valuable pocketwatch owned by Mason and later died, and the boy's headstone has been ticking ever since. Some claim that Mason was so angered by the loss of his pocketwatch that he tried to hire a surgeon who could reclaim the gold watch from the boy's belly. After every medical man in Chester County refused to cut open the young lad for the sake of a pocketwatch, Mason put a curse on the child.

This legend became so well-known that it attracted the attention of Edgar Allan Poe, who visited the Landenberg graveyard in the early 1840s. Poe was so intrigued by the Ticking Tombstone that he even lodged at the Deer Park Tavern in nearby Newark, Delaware- the same establishment where Mason and Dixon stayed while surveying Landenberg. It is said that the Ticking Tombstone was the inspiration behind Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart". There is credible evidence which supports this part of the legend, such as the fact that the tombstone itself is heart-shaped.

This simple tombstone, inscribed simply with the initials "R.C.", has captured the imaginations of thousands; so-called ghost hunters and paranormal investigators claim that the ticking is otherworldly in nature, and the "haunted" Ticking Tombstone has been featured in quite a number of books. However, as it turns out, there may actually be a scientific explanation for the ticking phenomenon.

In the fall 1895 issue of Stone Magazine (a popular geological publication of the 19th century), an article explains that the ticking sound is the result of an underground stream trickling through the limestone formation which lies under Landenberg. The ticking seems to grow fainter each year, which suggests that the subterranean stream is slowly but surely creating a limestone cave deep beneath the surface of Chester County.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Australian Bigfoot Caught on Cam?

Australian Bigfoot?


Yesterday, when one of our readers sent us an email asking if we've heard about the Australian Bigfoot allegedly caught on camera in late March, our first thought was "Great. Probably another inconclusive super-grainy video capture." We reluctantly headed over to the UK's Mail Online to check out the evidence, and what did we find? You guessed it... another inconclusive super-grainy video capture of an alleged cryptid.
While there is a shortage of concrete physical evidence when it comes to the existence of Bigfoot, there seems to be no shortage whatsoever of inconclusive super-grainy video captures. Now, we're not saying that Jason Heal and Jason Dunn didn't capture Yowie- the Aussie Bigfoot- on camera in South Queensland. Perhaps they have. But we'll leave that for other "experts" to decide. Instead, we're more interested in answering the following question:

With all of the technology that is readily available, why is it that every UFO, Bigfoot, or ghost hunter seems to use low-quality cameras that are incapable of producing a clear image?

A trailcam capture from a sane person


A trailcam capture from a Bigfoot hunter


We all know that those of us in the cryptozoology community suffer credibility problems, therefore it would be in the best interest of researchers everywhere to invest in some high-quality equipment. Otherwise, we're like an astronomer trying to prove the existence of a new planet by peering into the night sky through a pair of binoculars. Every week, it seems some so-called Bigfoot hunter is raving about a video containing undeniable proof of Bigfoot's existence, but only offers the world nothing but a low-quality super-grainy trailcam capture. It's a lot like being lectured on economics and finance by someone with an overdrawn personal bank account and thousands of dollars in credit card debt. The word "credibility" does not readily come to mind.

A trailcam capture from a sane person

A trailcam capture from a Bigfoot hunter

Listen, folks. It's 2014. We have satellites that can read license plate numbers on cars from miles above the Earth's surface. We have telescopes that can gaze 13 billion light years into space. We have Keurig's that can make the perfect cup of coffee in seconds. Yet we don't have a serious Bigfoot tracker or ghost hunter who can drop more than fifty bucks on a camera?

Yeah, we get it... Bigfoot hunting is an expensive hobby. But so is golf or skiing or tennis, and yet millions of us don't think twice about dropping a few hundred bucks for a new driver or for lift tickets at a resort. How can any Bigfoot hunter have the audacity to call himself an "expert" when he's too cheap to invest a measly four hundred bucks in a 5 megapixel ScoutGuard SG580?

What a sane person sees

What a Bigfoot hunter sees

In fact, for under 500.00 a serious Bigfoot hunter can purchase dozens of different models of trailcams, each capable of delivering high-resolution images in all kinds of weather and light conditions.

When we started the Journal of the Bizarre blog a few years ago, it was our intention to bring intelligent discussion, analysis, and research to the world of the mysterious and unexplained. A world, unfortunately, heavily populated with shysters, hucksters, frauds, and publicity-seekers. We say it's time for a call-to-action. It's time for all of us to band together and raise our standards and stop giving publicity to every redneck with a ten-dollar trailcam who calls himself an expert Bigfoot tracker. As serious investigators and researchers, our collective credibility depends upon it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

In Memory of Evelyn Paglini



We are saddened by the news of the passing of Dr. Evelyn Paglini, which happened Saturday night as a result of heart failure. As one of the world's greatest authorities on the occult and witchcraft, she was a well known and much loved figure in the paranormal community, and was a frequent guest on Coast to Coast AM and other shows.

I'll always remember the 8 hour long car trips I used to have to make between Harrisburg and upstate New York, and on more than one occasion, the friendly voice and enchanting wisdom of Ms. Paglini made the trip worthwhile as I listened to her guest appearances on Coast to Coast AM. One of my fondest memories is driving alone throughout the lonesome hours of night through the enormous wilderness expanse of upstate New York, frantically adjusting the knobs on my car radio every few miles, trying to pull in a clear AM signal so I could continue listening to the show.

Though I have never met Dr. Paglini in person, these long lonely drives made her seem like an old trusted friend and traveling companion, and I have no doubt that thousands of you also felt the same way.

Rest in peace, Evelyn, and I hope the voice of the Lord has led you home, just as your voice on the radio has done to countless midnight travelers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Florida "Mystery Booms" Explained



Over a year ago, we published a series of investigations pertaining to the "mystery boom" phenomenon, concluding that these strange tremblings and odd explosions were related to legal and illegal silica sand mining operations. We arrived at this conclusion based on the following facts:

-Virtually every location where these booms are heard occur in areas with sandstone and silica deposits.

-The timing of the booms is directly proportional to increases in demand for "frac sand" (silica).


With the United States becoming the world leader in natural gas production, the demand for silica sand-- an essential component of the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") process-- has soared to an all-time high. Quite literally, "frac sand" is worth its weight in gold, resulting in hundreds of bootleg mining operations springing up all over the country.

We have investigated these mystery booms in Rhode Island, Illinois, Kentucky, Idaho (read the results of our investigation here) and have discovered that every single one of these booms took place in areas with a history of sand and silica mining. We investigated more booms in Kansas, Utah and California and reached the very same conclusion (the results of these investigations can be read here).

And now comes word of yet another round of mystery booms, this time in Kissimmee, Florida. According to Bay News 9, these booms start around 10 p.m. each night and sound like thunder, or a bomb exploding. These mystery booms can be heard throughout western Osceola and eastern Polk counties.

If our theory about these booms is correct, as we believe it to be, the recent Florida booms should fit into the criteria we have mentioned above. And, surprise surprise, once again these "mystery" booms can be linked to extensive sand and silica mining operations. Just take a look at the Florida state D.E.P. map below, which lists the sites of mining operations.

White circle indicates location of mystery booms.


As you can see, all of those yellow dots indicate sites of silica and sand mining operations. A large concentration of these yellow dots appear near the town of Loughman, which is just 12 miles from Kissimmee. The booms have also been heard in Haines City, which is located within 10 miles of the nearest legal silica mining operation. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida ranks 15th in the nation in industrial sand production. 

Now that we have established that these so-called mystery booms are indeed taking place in an area with extensive sand mining operations, let's turn our attention to the timing of these booms. The Bay News 9 report states that these booms have been happening regularly for the past three weeks. If our theory is correct, that means the demand for silica sand should have spiked during this time period. The chart below illustrates the stock prices of US Silica- the nation's largest producer of frac sand- over the past three months. Not surprisingly, there was a marked increase in demand for silica sand during the time these mystery booms occurred.

 

There you have it, folks. Once again we have explained the unexplainable and have solved the mystery of mystery booms. So forget about the conspiracy theories and fear-mongering and end-of-the-world hullaballoo you have heard or read elsewhere; there is, we believe, a perfectly logical explanation for every mystery under the sun.



However, if you're still not convinced, read our previous articles about mystery booms:

http://journalofthebizarre.blogspot.com/2013/02/solved-mystery-booms.html
http://journalofthebizarre.blogspot.com/2013/05/more-on-mystery-booms.html
http://journalofthebizarre.blogspot.com/2013/03/further-analysis-of-mystery-booms.html
http://journalofthebizarre.blogspot.com/2013/03/update-mystery-booms.html

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Did Malaysia Airlines crash its own jet for insurance money?



While the world remains mesmerized by the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, no shortage of theories have been presented by the media. These theories range from the logical to the highly illogical, and everything in between. Earlier, we proposed one theory, suggesting the plane may have gone down intact after an emergency water landing, as the result of a sudden engine "flame-out" caused by flying through a cloud of volcanic ash (Java's Mount Kelud had violently erupted just days before). While this theory has yet to be disproved, we would like to present yet another possible explanation which has not been addressed by the so-called experts interviewed by the mainstream media.

This theory involves a plotline far more nefarious than an act of terror or pilot suicide, and poses the question: Could Malaysia Airlines have crashed its own aircraft for insurance money? 

Stock plummeted one year BEFORE the plane's disappearance.


It is a well-established fact that, for several years, Malaysia Airlines has been teetering on the brink of financial ruin. Just look at the company's stock values over the past ten years; Malaysian Airline System BHD (stock symbol: MLYAF) stock attained its all-time high of $1.50 a share in early 2008, while plummeting to just twenty-five cents a share in March of 2014... and this is before the disappearance of Flight 370. Malaysia Airlines stock now sits at just nine cents per share.




While this may sound pretty darn bad, bear in mind that there are only 27,285 shares of Malaysia Airlines stock floating around the market, which means that the demise of Flight 370 (intentional or otherwise) couldn't possibly hurt the company any more than it was already hurting. It is the financial equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot when you already have inoperable Stage Four cancer. The loss of Flight 370 resulted in a mere $0.16 drop in stock prices, or a loss of just $4,365.60.

Yes, that's right folks. A jet with a price tag of $252 million could fall off the face of the earth, and cost the airline and its stockholders less than the price of a used Dodge Neon.



In fact, if Malaysia Airlines plays its cards right, it could walk away from the loss of Flight 370 with a pretty sweet insurance payout, thanks to a policy which not only covers the cost of the lost airliner, but also compensates the families of the victims- while possibly forcing surviving family members to waive their right to sue the airline for damages. Of course, if the airline went bankrupt, it's unlikely that the victims' families would be able to recover much financial compensation at all.

And all indications show that, as a company, Malaysia Airlines had about as much stability as a narrow canoe paddled by the world's fattest man. The company posted a net loss of 1.17 billion ringgit (around $360 million) in 2013, leading many financial analysts to speculate that investing in Malaysia Airlines would be a lot like investing in a company which specializes in the manufacturing of rotary telephones.

"They have a habit of losing money. They've changed CEOs multiple times. It hasn't changed anything. It's a question of legacy issues; it's a question of shoddy management. It's a question of government interference," stated Shukor Yusof, an analyst at Standard & Poor's Capital IQ, to CNBC earlier this month. Yusof went on to speak at length about the carrier's history of "careless" financial mistakes.

Speaking of government interference, why have Malaysian authorities done such a piss-poor job in handling the case of Flight 307? Simple. The Malaysian government owns the majority of the airline. Yep, that's right, according to CNBC, Malaysia Airline System BHD is 69% owned by Khazanah Nasional, Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund.

Could it be possible that some high-ranking Malaysian government official or MAS executive "convinced" pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah to "take one for the team"?

Now that we know the financial health of Malaysia Airlines, it doesn't seem like such a stretch to believe that the pilot did everything in his power to prevent his Boeing 777 from being tracked, such as disabling the plane's transponder and ACARS and inputting a red herring waypoint into the flight plan in order to lead the rest of the world on a wild goose chase across the Indian Ocean. He could have then piloted the jet into a region of the southern ocean where he knew it would never be found, thus eliminating any incriminating evidence of foul play.

But would Zaharie Ahmad Shah ever do such a thing? Who can say. It seems, though, that he was a true "company man" who was devoted to his airline. Hell, if you have a flight simulator in your own home, you'd have to be. Perhaps his level of devotion made him the perfect choice. Perhaps the Malaysian government prodded him into it by convincing his wife to abandon him just before the ill-fated final voyage of Flight 370. If Shah had been reluctant to "take one for the team" and steer the 777 into unsearchable waters, maybe a well-orchestrated plot to disrupt his home life would be an insurance policy against the pilot chickening out at the last minute.

Speaking of insurance policies, there has long been a slang term (albeit an offensive one) which refers to when unscrupulous business owners burn down their own establishments, making it look like an accident, in order to collect insurance money. They call it "Jewish Lightning". When all is said and done, it just may be possible that the disappearance of Flight 370 was a case of Malaysian Lightning. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Nauvoo Haunting

Newspaper depiction of the Nauvoo ghost


Today, the Illinois city of Nauvoo has a population of just over a thousand but, during the 19th century, the city of Nauvoo had a population of over 12,000-- roughly the same as Chicago at the time. Nauvoo figures prominently in Mormon history; In 1839, Mormons bought the tiny village of Commerce and, in April 1840, it was renamed Nauvoo by Joseph Smith. After Smith's death in 1844, violence forced most of the city's Mormon inhabitants to leave Illinois. Led by Brigham Young, the exodus led the Mormons to Utah.

In 1888, a remarkable ghost sighting took place in Nauvoo, when a frightening phantom with no eyes and mouth, spouting rays of glowing light through the holes in his face, appeared to two boys and a prominent Nauvoo attorney. The ghost displayed a deep gash in his side and moaned something about the Danites- the shadowy Mormon secret society which served as a bloodthirsty vigilante group during the 1838 Mormon War.

The LDS Temple in Nauvoo


Here is the complete account of the Nauvoo haunting, as it appeared in the August 18, 1894, edition of the Wichita Daily Eagle:


Lawyer George A. Ritter and two little boys of Nauvoo, Ill., saw a frightful apparition in a secluded and rather picturesque spot near that town as they were on the point of driving some cows home. Ritter had been told by some of his neighbors that a peculiar apparition was seen in his pasture by passers at a late hour, but he ridiculed the idea. It remained for him to have a practical optical illusustration of the spook, for such as it has proven to be.

As Ritter entered the field he saw something white lying, or, rather, crouching, upon the ground, and at first thought it was a cow. He called to the supposed animal to get along, and instead of a cow arising to her feet a figure, dressed in long, white, flowing robes, arose slowly from the ground and stretched out its arms. The ghost was that of a man about forty years old, but the most horrible part of his appearance was in the face. The man had absolutely no eyes nor nose, only holes in the head through which gleamed a sort of sulphurous light. The form was arrayed in a shroud, yet it was white as snow. Long matted locks of hair hung down around the spook's shoulders almost to its waist. The arms were long and bony and the man's, or spook's, hands resembled more those of a beast or a great bird of prey, for they were hooked and falconlike.
As the creature rose, says the Chicago Times, the boys have a yell and fled, and Ritter says he was not feeling well himself just about that time. He did summon courage enough to speak to the ghost, and as he did so the ghost shook its head in a most mournful manner and pulled aside its white robe exposing a horrible gash in the right side, the wound evidently made by a bowie knife. The ghost kept its lips moving and the expression upon its eyeless and noseless features was simply dreadful. Ritter thinks he heard the spook hiss or moan the word "Danites!" "Danites!" or "Whittlers"; he cannot remember exactly, but the words were something like that.


It is now believed that this spook, which remained in sight some ten minutes, was at the time an anti-Mormon who in an early day paid a visit to Nauvo, and, his presence becoming objectionable, he was "whittled out of town". This, as stated, is said to be the belief of some old citizens. Ritter has no idea what the ghost is and does not give this theory. It is said that people not liked in Nauvoo in an early day were whittled out of town by a committee of three men, who would walk up to the objectionable visitor and begin whittling on a stick with a long, sharp bowie knife. Each stroke of the keen blades would come closer and closer to the breast of the visitor and he would be compelled to step backward quickly to avoid being struck by the blades. In this manner he was followed to the edge of town, as alleged, until he "caught on" to the fact that he was not wanted.


But no one is ever known to have been thus mistreated by the Mormons, and it believed that the "whittlers" were a gang of desperadoes, who, finding that a visitor had no money to lose, would get him out of the way. Nauvoo was a big city in those early days. But it is also thought that this spook might be that of an early settler who had been stabbed by one of the whittlers and had called on the famous Danite band of Nauvoo to help him. The call of "Danites, Danites, the whittlers!" would indicate that the spook was calling the attention of the Danite band to the whittlers in order that the former might save him. Of course, there is a good deal of speculation as to the appearance and origin of this ghost. Ritter says it is no creation of fancy whatever. He is not a believer in spooks and spirits, and is not anxious to have his name used freely in this connection unless his position upon the subject can be thoroughly explained. It was a most horrible apparition, and a band of men have been selected to watch for the reappearance of the spook and, if possible, to capture it.
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