Unusual

Scoop Saturday: Homeward Bound Movie Becomes Reality

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Cleo The Dog Image
Cleo the Retriever
Photo Credit: KMBC-TV & AP News

A dog from Olathe, that went missing, showed up at her old home about 60 miles away […].

“Where did the dog come from?” said [Colton Michael’s wife].

The 4-year-old Labrador, named Cleo, feels right at home on the front porch. The only thing is, it’s not her front porch, anymore and hasn’t been for nearly two years. As it turns out, Cleo’s owners had posted on Facebook a week earlier about the missing dog. They couldn’t believe it when Michael called and said Cleo had walked home. “It’s the most bizarre story. Really, she’s everything to us and to my mother,” said Drew, Cleo’s owner. It is 57 miles door-to-door from Olathe to Lawson and neither family knows exactly how Cleo made the trip. “That’s a hike for anybody,” Michael said. “Now that we know who she belongs to, if she pops up again, we know who to call.”

Both said they may never know anything about her journey.

Alan Shope
KMBC-TV
July 16, 2020

Cleo The Dog Image Two
Photo Credit: KMBC-TV & AP News

A dog named Cleo, who disappeared from her home in Kansas earlier this month, turned up a few days later at her old home in Missouri […]. Colton Michael told television station KMBC that the 4-year-old Labrador [R]etriever-[Border Collie] mix showed up on the front porch of his family’s home in Lawson […]. “At first, she wouldn’t let anyone get near her,” said Michael, who has lived in the home for nearly two years. “She finds her way home and there’s some strangers living in it. That would be scary for anybody,” he said. Eventually, he was able to gain Cleo’s trust and to get her checked for a microchip, which showed that she belonged to the former owners of his house.

AP News
July 18, 2020

It’s a tale as old as time for any early ’90s child. An adventurous golden retriever worries that they will never see their home again, embarking on a treacherous wilderness journey to find their way back. Believe It or Not!, the plot of Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey just turned from fiction to fact. [Both] parties are at a loss trying to explain Cleo’s long journey. [She] would have had to cross a river to make it back…just like in the movie!

Sabrina
Ripley’s
July 24, 2020

Story Sunday: Vampire Slaying Kit Up For Auction

Posted on Updated on

Vampire Slaying Box Image One
Photo Credit: news.sky.com

Update:
“The hammer finally fell at £2,500 and the item was purchased by a private UK buyer.”

“The box has been valued at up to £3,000 and, includes a glass phial with unknown contents and a bottle of shark’s teeth.”

A “vampire-slaying kit”, containing a pocket-sized pistol and a 19th century copy of the New Testament, is going under the hammer. The gothic-looking container, worth between £2,000 and £3,000, also comes packed with pliers, [a] rosary and a bottle of shark’s teeth. Also inside the metal-bound box is an ivory-robed wolf carrying rosary beads, as well as a blue phial with mysterious contents, and a silver-bladed pocket knife. And inside the lid is an oval enamel painting that depicts the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There’s no record of the box’s origin but, the 1842 copy of the New Testament within does bear the inscription of an Isabella Swarbrick. The current owner from the West Midlands, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that they do not know very much about its history. “I have had it in my own collection for three years now,” they said. “I bought it from a large antiques fair in Newark-on-Trent. I loved the look of the Gothic box and, when I opened it, I just had to have it. I thought it was so interesting…a great conversation piece.”

Vampire Slaying Box Image Two
Photo Credit: news.sky.com

Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire-based Hansons Auctioneers, the firm selling the box, said: “People are fascinated by stories of vampires, hence their continued appearance in films and on TV today. They have been part of popular culture for more than 200 years. The publication of John Polidori‘s The Vampyre in 1819 had a major impact and that was followed by Bram Stoker‘s 1897 classic Dracula.”

He added: “However, a belief in vampires and strange superstitions goes back even further and persists to this day. The task of killing a vampire was extremely serious and historical accounts suggested the need for particular methods and tools. Items of religious significance, such as crucifixes and Bibles, were said to repel these monsters, hence their strong presence in the kit we have found.”

The box will be sold online on [July 16] as part of a five-day-long antiques and collector’s auction.

Sky News
July 9, 2020

Flashback Friday: Death Valley Hits 134.4°F 1913

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Death Valley Record Image
Photo Credit: Ken Lund
History & Headlines
Wikimedia

This was going to be a post on the highest recorded heat level, listed in the Guinness (Book) of World Records. Supposedly, one-hundred and seven years ago, today, Death Valley got up to 134.4℉. I read Wikipedia, I read Guinness and I read History & Headlines. If it made it into Guinness, someone must have thought it was legitimate. Well, after taking a dive into Weather Underground‘s investigation of this record (this is a very long read), posted by weather historian Christopher Burt on October 24, 2016, I’m not so sure this event ever happened.

I have contacted Guinness for a challenge. We shall see how this plays out. ~Vic

Weird S*** Wednesday: Man in Joker Makeup Charged After Waving Knife

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Joker Group Image One
Image Credit: Allure Magazine

A 25-year-old man clad in “Joker” makeup “menacingly waved” a pocketknife at several teenagers as he drove past them Tuesday in Haddon Township, authorities said. Assoumou Diby was stopped a short time [after] cruising past the group on the 400 block of West Crystal Lake Avenue on Tuesday, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and Haddon Township police said in a statement Wednesday.

It’s blurry but, here’s a visual…a man in joker makeup arrested by Haddon Twp, NJ, police after allegedly waving a pocketknife at children. The arrest followed days of sightings, scares and calls to police, who say, until last night, the behavior wasn’t criminal. @FOX29philly

-jennifer joyce (@JenniJoyceTV) June 24, 2020

Man In Joker Makeup Image Two
Photo Credit: Nicholas Matyas via Jennifer Joyce

Diby, of Haddon Township, was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon following his arrest. Earlier in the week, police said they received multiple reports from people who saw a man in Joker makeup walking around town, noting it’s not a crime [to] simply do that.

Diby is due to make a first appearance in municipal court July 16.

Jeff Goldman
nj.com True Jersey
June 25, 2020

Romero & Nicholson Jokers Image Four
Photo Credit: Collider

This isn’t the first time this has happened:
Man Dressed as the Joker Arrested in Winchester, VA (The Washington Post, March 25, 2017)

Life imitates art and the bail bondsman gets rich. ~Vic

POTD: Tandy 5000

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This is clearly a newspaper clipping from back in the day. I can’t for the life of me remember where I picked this up but, I have had it for years. My, we have come a long way. ~Vic

Tandy 5000 Image
Image dated: 09-18-2001

Picture of the Day

Theodolite Thursday: Dolphins Learn Unusual Hunting Behavior

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Yes…another new heading. From Merriam-Webster:

[A] surveyor’s instrument for measuring horizontal and […] vertical angles

This is the instrument of land surveyors. In my case, I will survey other things. ~Vic

Dolphins Unsplash Image
Photo Credit: Courtnie Tosana on Unsplash

In the crystal clear waters of Shark Bay in Western Australia, scientists have noticed bottlenose dolphins engaging in an unusual behavior. They guide fish into the empty shells of giant snails, bring the shells to the surface and, then, shake them vigorously to dislodge the prey into their open mouths like a person polishing off a bag of popcorn. That extra effort, known as shelling, gets them a guaranteed meal.

Because the dolphins […] use the shells as a trap, this is the second known case of these marine mammals using tools. The first was reported in [1984] when researchers found that bottlenose dolphins wear marine sponges like protective gloves over their beaks to forage for fish on the sea floor. Now, researchers have shown that the dolphins of Shark Bay learn shelling from their friends. It’s the first time social learning involving a tool has been discovered in these mammals and a rare example of such learning in the animal kingdom.

Dolphins Unsplash Image Two
Photo Credit: Red Charlie on Unsplash

Though scientists noticed the shelling behavior more than 10 years ago, it became more frequent following an unusual marine heat wave (PDF) off Western Australia in 2011. The high temperatures roiled Shark Bay’s ecosystem and many gastropods, including sea snails, are believed to have died. “We think the dolphins took advantage of this die-off,” says Sonja Wild, a behavioral ecologist at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior. “The next season,” she says, “there was an incredible increase in shelling”, which made it possible for her to tease out how young adult dolphins learn to do it.

Wild says shelling starts among the adults [but], the more time a young dolphin spends around an accomplished sheller […], “the more likely it is to learn” the technique and pass it on to others later. Still, because dolphin calves spend more than 30,000 hours with their mothers, it’s possible that some learned the trick from their moms, [states] Janet Mann, a dolphin expert at Georgetown University. It’s considered more cognitively demanding to learn a skill like shelling from an unrelated individual because both learner and demonstrator must be socially tolerant, especially while hunting.

Virginia Morell
Science Magazine
June 25, 2020

Scoop Saturday: Nassau County Police Save Injured Hawk From Truck Bumper

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Injured Hawk Patch Image One
Photo Credit: Patch Website

I picked this up from UPI. Poor baby. I’m so glad they rescued him. ~ Vic

“The bird was trapped in the bumper and injured. The officers rescued it and gave it to wildlife rehabilitation experts.”

Two off-duty Nassau County police officers saved a hawk that was trapped in the front bumper of a truck in Freeport early Wednesday morning. According to police, Marine Bureau officers Schwaner and Leek were on their way to work, together, around 6:20am, when they drove by a black Dodge Ram pickup truck, parked near the intersection of Merrick Road and Buffalo Avenue, that had a bird in its front bumper. The officers stopped to investigate and found that the bird was a red-tailed hawk and, that it was still alive.

The officers were able to remove the bird from the bumper and brought it to the Nassau County Police Marine Bureau base in Bay Park where they contacted the Volunteers for Wildlife in Locust Valley. The volunteers came and took the bird from the police back to their facility where it is being treated for its injuries.

Alex Costello
Patch Website
June 17, 2020
Nassau County PD Tweets

POTD: Keyboard Humor

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Back in February of last year, I did a couple of posts with older pictures of office shenanigans with the technology. Well, I missed one. ~Vic

Companion posts:
Funny Fotos & Funny Fotos 2.0

Keyboard Thru Desk Image
I don’t remember where I got this from
nor do I know where it was taken.
Acquired 08-25-2007

Throwback Thursday: Eclipse of Thales 585 BC

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Ancient Origins Total Eclipse Image One
Image Credit: Ancient Origins

Two thousand, six hundred and five years ago, today (roughly speaking)

The eclipse of Thales was a solar eclipse that was, according to The Histories of Herodotus, accurately predicted by the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus. If Herodotus‘s account is accurate, this eclipse is the earliest recorded (per Isaac Asimov) as being known in advance of its occurrence. How, exactly, Thales predicted the eclipse remains uncertain […].

According to Herodotus, the appearance of the eclipse was interpreted as an omen and, interrupted a battle in a long-standing war between the Medes and the Lydians. The fighting immediately stopped and they agreed to a truce. Because astronomers can calculate the dates of historical eclipses, Isaac Asimov described this battle as the earliest historical event whose date is known with precision to the day and described the prediction as the birth of science.

Ancient Origins Annular Eclipse Image Two
Photo Credit: Ancient Origins

The Mechanics of a Monumentally Difficult Prediction

The reason this astronomical event is thought of as being so important is that predicting a solar eclipse, compared with a lunar eclipse, is exceptionally difficult. The astronomer must not only calculate when it will occur but, where on Earth’s surface it will be visible […]. [In] a lunar eclipse, the moon passes through the Earth’s sun shadow and the phenomena is visible on the whole side of the Earth that is in night-time […]. [They] often last longer than an hour. In solar eclipses, however, the moon’s shadow falls across the Earth in a comparatively narrow path, with a maximum duration, at any given location, of about 7 1/2 minutes.

Moon Blink Eclipse Track Image Three
Eclipse Track
Image Credit: Moon Blink

[What] makes Thales’ prediction [an] historical mystery is that historians know early Greeks, at large, didn’t have this essential lunar data and there are no other records of Greek astronomers in this period accurately predicting any other eclipses. Thus, it is thought by historians that the only place Thales’ advanced astronomical knowledge could have come from was Egypt. [It’s] known [that] Thales studied Egyptian techniques for measuring sections of land with rope […].

Returning [to] the war (mentioned above), after 15 years of fighting, on May 28, 585 BC, the armies of King Aylattes of Lydia were in battle with the forces of King Cyaxares of Medes (or, possibly, Astyages, his son), near the River Halys in what is, today, central Turkey. Chroniclers noted the heavens darkening and soldiers on both sides laying down their weapons in awe of the spectacle […]. [The] event ended both the battle and the war.

[A] Wired article says this famous astronomical event has been debated by hundreds of scholars for nearly two millennia and that some authorities believe Thales’ eclipse may have occurred 25 years earlier in 610 BC. But, the reason most agree with the 585 BC date is the record of the famous battle in Asia Minor ending when the day was suddenly turned to night.

Additional Reading & Sources:
The Battle of the Solar Eclipse (Ancient Origins)
Total Solar Eclipse of May 28, 0585 BC (Moon Blink)
Happy Birthday to Science (Web Archive)
Battle of the Eclipse (Wikipedia)
Eclipse of Thales (Wikipedia)
Predicted Solar Eclipse Stops Battle (Wired)

Story Sunday: Janus Kitten Biscuits & Gravy

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Janus Kitten Image One
Photo Credit: fox29.com

“[It can] meow out of one mouth and eat out of the other.”

Meet Biscuits & Gravy: The Two-Faced Oregon Kitten

When Kyla King got up Wednesday morning to check on her pregnant cat, she knew there was a good chance she’d find a litter of newborn kittens. She walked outside to the special crate she had put the expectant mother into overnight and noticed four tiny kittens. But, then she noticed two more hiding behind their mom. So, Kyla picked one up and set it down with the rest of the litter. She picked up the last kitten and found herself face-to-face with two tiny noses, four eyes tightly shut and two mewing mouths.

Kyla said she sent a picture to her husband, BJ King, with a text that read:
“We have 6-1/3 kitty cats now!”

Kyla reached out to their vet to learn more about the kitten’s condition, how to care for it and its odds of survival. She learned there wasn’t much to be done medically for the tiny creature. All she could do was make it comfortable and help it eat. “It doesn’t really know how to nurse properly because it has two mouths so, I’ve been trying to feed it,” Kyla said. “And, I mean, I’m gonna do the best I can but, these animals don’t usually live too long.”

Janus Kitten Image Two
Photo Credit: dailyhive.com

Cats with two faces are known as Janus cats, after the Roman god Janus, often depicted with two faces in mythology. They suffer from a rare congenital defect called diprosopus, or cranial duplication. Most Janus cats don’t live longer than a day but, one defied the odds. His name was Frank and Louie and he passed away in 2014 at the age of 15. The Guinness Book of World Records named him the world’s longest surviving Janus cat.

Cambrie Caldwell
KOIN TV CBS
Portland, OR
May 21, 2020

Sadly, Biscuits passed away last night. ~Vic

Flashback Friday: Joplin Tornado 2011

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Joplin Tornado Image One
Photo Credit: theatlantic.com

Nine years ago, today, an EF5, multi-vortex tornado slammed into Joplin, Missouri. It formed at 5:34 pm CDT and dissipated at 6:12pm CDT. I remember this one, vividly. I had just moved back to North Carolina from Texas and was, literally, still unpacking. I was shocked at the devastation. ~Vic

[This] was part of a larger, late May tornado outbreak and reached a maximum width of nearly one mile […] during its path through the southern part of the city. This particular tornado was unusual in that it intensified in strength and grew larger in size at a very fast rate. The tornado tracked eastward across the city and, then, continued eastward across Interstate 44 into rural portions of Jasper County and Newton County. It was the third tornado to strike Joplin since May 1971.

Joplin Tornado Image Two
Photo Credit: theatlantic.com

[The] tornado killed 158 people (with an additional eight indirect deaths), injured some 1,150 others and caused damages amounting to a total of $2.8 billion. It was the deadliest tornado to strike the United States since the 1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes, and the seventh-deadliest overall. Along with the Tri-State Tornado and the 1896 St. Louis–East St. Louis tornado, it ranks as one of Missouri’s and America’s deadliest tornadoes […]. It was the first F5/EF5 tornado in Missouri since May 20, 1957 [and] was only the second F5/EF5 tornado in Missouri history dating back to 1950.

It also ranks as the costliest single tornado in U.S. history.

Additional Reading & Sources:
May Tornadoes Struck Joplin Twice in the 1970s (Joplin Globe)
Joplin Tornado (National Weather Service)
F5 & EF5 Tornadoes of the US (NOAA)
Tornado Damaged Joplin From Above (The Atlantic)
Joplin Tornado (Tornado Facts Site)
2011 Joplin Tornado (Wikipedia)

Mike Bettes Has A Hard Time

Weird S*** Wednesday: The Silent People

Posted on

The Silent People Image One
Photo Credit: Timo Newton-Syms & Amusing Planet

In looking thru odd stories, this caught my attention. From Oddity Central:

A Creepy Art Installation Freaking People Out on Google Maps

By Spooky on May 15th, 2020
An eerie art installation located in a barren field in the Finnish countryside recently went viral after someone accidentally stumbled upon it while searching on Google Maps. With quarantine and isolation measures still in place in many countries around the world, people are spending a lot of time online looking for cool places to visit once they can travel again. Many are using free tools, like Google Maps, and end [up] going deeper down the rabbit hole than they originally anticipated. That’s probably how some people recently discovered The Silent People, […] creepy-looking [figures] that left them scratching their heads about why anyone would fill a field with hundreds of scarecrows and dress them as real people.

Seen from afar, The Silent People [site] looks like a perfectly still army of people all facing the same way. It’s only when you take a closer look that you realize it’s made up of wooden frames covered in human clothes and heads made of [peat], which does a surprisingly good job of emulating human hair. Even knowing that it’s an art installation, you still feel uneasy looking at the almost one thousand still [bodies] but, knowing absolutely nothing about it and [suddenly] finding it on Google Maps can really freak a person out.

The Silent People Image Two
Photo Credit: Antti T. Nissinen & Amusing Planet

From Amusing Planet:

Hiljainen Kansa: The Silent People of Suomussalmi, Finland

By Kaushik Patowary on March 28, 2015
Motorists driving along Highway 5, about 30 km north of the small town of Suomussalmi, in north-eastern Finland, are greeted by a peculiar sight. A crowd of almost a thousand figures stand silently on a field near the road. In the morning with light behind them, this motionless army appears morose, even menacing. But, when a light breeze picks up their colorful dresses and blows them around their still bodies, they appear to have sprung into life.

This army of scarecrow-like figures called “The Silent People” or “Hiljainen Kansa” in Finnish, were the creation of local artist Reijo Kela. They were first displayed in 1988 in a field in Lassila, a neighbourhood of Helsinki. Later in 1994, these were on display in the Market Place of Helsinki’s Senate Square, then on the banks of the river Jalonuoma, Ämmänsaari and finally moved to this location in 1994 itself.

Additional Reading:
The Silent People (Atlas Obscura)

Scoop Saturday: Iowa Man Receives 33 Year Old Postcard

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Elizabeth Kay Postal Box Unsplash Image One
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Kay on Unsplash

An Iowa man, who received a postcard from his sister, said he was surprised to note the card had been mailed in 1987. Paul Willis, a hog farmer in Thornton, said a postcard appeared in his mailbox, recently, from his sister, Annie Lovell […]. [H]e soon noticed the card bore a picture of Lovell on a Grand Canyon hike in 1987 and a San Francisco postmark from December of that same year.

Willis said the postcard bore a second postmark from April 29 of this year in Des Moines so, he called the post office to see if they had any explanation for the postcard’s tardiness. [An] employee said the postcard may have been discovered while furniture and machines were being moved for cleaning. “She said, ‘Well, the post offices are all going through deep cleaning because of COVID-19…'” Willis [recounted to] the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.

An Illinois woman experienced a similar incident in July 2019, when a postcard showed up at her home that had been mailed 26 years earlier. Kim Draper said the card was addressed to the previous residents of her Springfield home and, [it] recounted the residents’ father’s travels in Hong Kong.

Ben Hooper
United Press International
May 7, 2020
No Video Clip

Short Piece on Kim Draper

Story Sunday: The Asteroid & The Mask

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Researcher Wearing Face Mask Image One
Researcher Anne Virkki comparing her mask.
Photo Credit: Arecibo Observatory & USA Today

I haven’t done a Story Sunday since 2014.

It’s funny how every news article out there these days just has to make a tie in with the virus. And, that image doesn’t look like a mask to me. It looks like something else. Just sayin’… ~Vic

An asteroid is hurtling close to the Earth, and with it, a startling reminder of the coronavirus pandemic. The space rock, known as 1998 OR2, will be nearly 4 million miles away from Earth on Wednesday at 5:59am EDT, classifying it as a “potentially hazardous” asteroid, despite the impossibility of it posing a threat to Earth anytime soon.

A newly captured image by [the] Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico brings its own surprise. As the asteroid approaches our planet, it looks as if it’s wearing its own mask and may very well be conducting its own social distancing practices. “The small-scale topographic features, such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2, are fascinating, scientifically,” Anne Virkki, head of planetary radar at Arecibo Observatory, said in a statement. “But, since we are all thinking about COVID-19, these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask.”

Asteroid 1998 OR2 Image Two
Image Credit: Arecibo Observatory & USA Today

It’s classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid because it is more than 500 feet in diameter and closer than 4,650,000 miles to Earth. “Although this asteroid is not projected to impact Earth, it is important to understand the characteristics of these types of objects to improve impact-risk mitigation technologies,” she said.

The asteroid, which is about one mile in diameter, has been traveling at nearly 20,000 mph since its discovery in 1998. Though it may not come anywhere near Earth in the coming weeks, Flaviane Venditti, a researcher at the observatory, said in a statement that, in 2079, it “will pass Earth about 3.5 times closer than it will this year.”

Joshua Bote
USA Today
April 24, 2020
Updated April 26, 2020

 

Additional Articles:
S-Band Spotlight (National Astronomy & Ionosphere Center)
Rocky Horror (The Sun)
Asteroid Visiting Earth’s Neighborhood Brings Its Own Face Mask (University of Central Florida)

Scoop Saturday: Navy Master Chief Ocean Protest

Posted on Updated on

Navy Master Chief Protest Image One
Photo Credit: Mike Conner
businessinsider.com

Yep. New heading. ~Vic

A man wearing the US Navy uniform went to the oceanfront in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, on Thursday, in an apparent protest against the town’s restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic. The man, who was identified by a witness as a retired US Navy [Master Chief], was seen photographed standing in front of a sign that read “LAND OF THE FREE.” Mike Conner, a longtime resident of Emerald Isle, and a surfer, told Insider the retired sailor stood in the waters for about 10 minutes before he was approached by law enforcement officers. Conner said the man was asked to remove himself from the area but, refused the request. “The sailor eventually left the water on his own accord, without incident”, Conner added.

Hours after the incident, the town announced it would lift the ban on access on Saturday. Surfers, and other residents, previously expressed their disapproval by staging protests throughout the area and were “fired up by the closures”, Conner said. “We’re very happy that Emerald Isle allowed access, not just to us swimmers but, to everybody that uses it as a medium for their exercise,” Connor said. “We don’t want our rights stomped all over.”

The man in the uniform and the Emerald Isle Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

David Choi
Business Insider
April 17, 2020

Additional Articles:
North Carolina Beach Reopens After Navy Serviceman’s Ocean Protest (National File Website)
Navy Master Chief Stands His Ground (BizPac Review)

Retired Chief Rife

Throwback Thursday: Sverdlovsk Anthrax Leak 1979

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Sverdlovsk Image One
Photo Credit: topwar.ru & weaponews.com

Forty-one years ago, today, spores of anthrax were accidentally released from a Soviet military research facility near the city of Sverdlovsk, Russia (now Yekaterinburg/Ekaterinburg).

On April 2, 1979, there was an unusual anthrax outbreak, which affected 94 people and killed at least 64 of them, in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk, roughly 850 miles east of Moscow. The first victim died after four days. [T]he last one died six weeks later. The Soviet government claimed the deaths were caused by intestinal anthrax from tainted meat, a story some influential American scientists found believable. However, officials in the Carter Administration suspected the outbreak was caused by an accidental release of anthrax spores from a suspected Soviet biological weapons facility located in the city (Military Compound 19). The US believed that the Soviet Union was violating the Biological Weapons Convention signed in 1972 and made their suspicions public. But, the Soviets denied any activities relating to biological weapons and, at numerous international conferences, tried to prove their contaminated meat story. It wasn’t until thirteen years later, in 1992, that President Boris Yeltsin admitted, without going into details, that the anthrax outbreak was the result of military activity at the facility. [Russia] allowed a team of Western scientists to go to Sverdlovsk to investigate the outbreak. The team visited Sverdlovsk in June 1992 and August 1993 […].

Military Facility Image Two
Photo Credit: topwar.ru & weaponews.com

Although the KGB had confiscated hospital and other records after the incident, the Western scientists were able to track where all the victims had been at the time of the anthrax release. Their results showed that on the day of the incident, all the victims were clustered along a straight line downwind from the military facility. Livestock in the same area also died of anthrax. After completing their investigation, the team concluded the outbreak was caused by a release of an aerosol of anthrax pathogen at the military facility. But, they were unable to determine what caused the release or what specific activities were conducted at the facility.

“Clogged filter, I removed it. Replace the filter”. [A] reminder on a piece of paper left [by a] factory worker […] to his mate when he went home on Friday evening…

Colonel Nicholas Cheryshev, shift supervisor at the plant, […] was in a hurry to go home and, for some unknown reason, was not aware of the lack of filter. In the end, the workers on the night shift, finding entries in the log window, quietly launched [the] equipment. [For] more than three hours, the plant was [throwing], into the air [of] the night sky of […] Sverdlovsk, portions [of] dried culture of anthrax. When the lack of bio-security was discovered, production was urgently stopped, […] the filter [replaced] and [they], quietly, continued working.

It was an accident at a clandestine biological weapons lab that allowed deadly anthrax spores to contaminate Sverdlovsk’s air, as evidence unearthed later would show. Over the years, as DNA sequencing technology has improved, scientists have been piecing together more and more information about the anthrax strain.

This facility has not been closed. It just went underground…literally. ~Vic

Sources & Additional Reading
Sverdlovsk Anthrax Leak (Adam Smith Institute)
1979 Anthrax Leak (PBS: Frontline)
How DNA Evidence Confirmed A Soviet Cover-Up (The Atlantic)
The Tragedy of Sverdlosk-19 (Weapon News)
Biohazard Book (Wikipedia)
Sverdlovsk Anthrax Leak (Wikipedia)

Flashback Friday: Uranus & Pluto

Posted on Updated on

It’s Friday the 13th! Eek! Everybody…RUN! Hide! Yeah, well, enough of the hysteria. We have plenty of that going on with the corona beer virus. Sugar, rice, pasta, Clorox & Lysol hand wipes, bleach, hand sanitizer and toilet paper doesn’t stand a chance. Now, we have to deal with the dreaded number 13. E-gads! The humanity!

March 13 has been a rather busy day in history. Curiously, Uranus and Pluto are involved.

Uranus Image One
Uranus and its rings.
Image Credit: mirror.co.uk

Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun. The name of Uranus references the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus, the father of Cronus (Saturn) and grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter) […]. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in [our] solar system and, […] is the only planet whose name is derived directly from a figure of Greek mythology. Uranus is similar in composition to Neptune and, both have bulk chemical compositions which differ from that of the larger gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. Uranus’ atmosphere is similar to Jupiter’s and Saturn’s in its primary composition of hydrogen and helium but, it contains more “ices” such as water, ammonia and methane […]. It has the coldest planetary atmosphere in the solar system […]. Like the other giant planets, Uranus has a ring system, a magnetosphere and numerous moons. The Uranian system has a unique configuration because its axis of rotation is tilted sideways, nearly into the plane of its solar orbit. Its north and south poles, therefore, lie where most other planets have their equators. Voyager 2 remains the only spacecraft to visit the planet.

Like the classical planets, Uranus is visible to the naked eye but, it was never recognised as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit. [Two hundred, thirty-nine years ago, today], Sir William Herschel first observed Uranus on March 13, 1781 (from the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in Bath, Somerset, England, now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), leading to its discovery as a planet, expanding the known boundaries of the solar system for the first time in history and making Uranus the first planet classified as such with the aid of a telescope.

Pluto Image Two
Dwarf Planet Pluto
Photo Credit: forbes.com

Pluto is an icy dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune. It was the first Kuiper belt object to be discovered and is the largest known dwarf planet. Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 as the ninth planet from the Sun. After 1992, its status as a planet was questioned following the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper belt. In 2005, Eris, a dwarf planet in the scattered disc which is 27% more massive than Pluto, was discovered. This led the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term “planet”, formally, in 2006, during their 26th General Assembly. That definition excluded Pluto and reclassified it as a dwarf planet.

It is the ninth-largest and tenth-most-massive known object directly orbiting the Sun. It is the largest known trans-Neptunian object by volume but, is less massive than Eris. Like other Kuiper belt objects, Pluto is primarily made of ice and rock and, is relatively small…about one-sixth the mass of the Moon and one-third its volume. It has a moderately eccentric and inclined orbit […]. This means that Pluto periodically comes closer to the Sun than Neptune but, a stable orbital resonance with Neptune prevents them from colliding.

[Observations] of Neptune in the late 19th century led astronomers to speculate that Uranus’s orbit was being disturbed by another planet besides Neptune. In 1906, Percival Lowell, a wealthy Bostonian who had founded [the] Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1894, started an extensive project in search of a possible ninth planet, which he termed “Planet X“. Lowell and his observatory conducted his search until his death in 1916 but, to no avail. Unknown to Lowell, his surveys had captured two faint images of Pluto on March 19 and April 7, 1915 but, they were not recognized for what they were.

Percival’s widow, Constance Lowell, entered into a ten-year legal battle with the Lowell Observatory over her husband’s legacy and the search for Planet X did not resume until 1929. [23-year-old] Clyde Tombaugh, who had just arrived at the observatory, discovered a possible moving object on photographic plates on February 18, 1930. After the observatory obtained further confirmatory photographs, news of the discovery was telegraphed to the Harvard College Observatory ninety years ago, today, on March 13, 1930. Pluto has yet to complete a full orbit of the Sun since its discovery, as one Plutonian year is 247.68 years long.

The discovery made headlines around the globe. Lowell Observatory, which had the right to name the new object, received more than 1,000 suggestions from all over the world, ranging from Atlas to Zymal. Constance Lowell proposed Zeus, then Percival and finally Constance. These suggestions were disregarded. The name Pluto, after the god of the underworld, was proposed by Venetia Burney (1918–2009), an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England, who was interested in classical mythology.

Additional Reading:
Voyager 2 in the Uranium System (Zenodo site)
Uranus (NASA site)
Uranus (MIRA site)
Bath Preservation Trust
Eleven Awesome Facts About Pluto (geek.com)