Saturday, April 25, 2015

Odd but Interesting


The archaeologist Matthew Stirling and his wife, Marion Illig, posing with a recently discovered and restored Olmec head in San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán (Veracruz, Mexico, 1945).


The archaeologist Matthew Stirling and his wife, Marion Illig, posing with a recently discovered and restored Olmec head in San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán (Veracruz, Mexico, 1945).  The Olmec civilization existed before the Incas
Robert Wadlow was the tallest person in history. He reached 8 ft 11.1 in (2.720 m) in height and weighed 439 lb (199 kg) at his death at age 22 in 1940.

The invisible twin
Invisible twin
Photo taken in early 1900's
You could see a human footprint like this today on any beach or patch of mud. But this footprint -- clearly from the anatomy of a modern human being -- is fossilized in stone estimated to be about 290 million years old.The discovery was made in New Mexico by paleontologist Jerry MacDonald in 1987.
Showmen’s Rest: Chicago’s Clown Graveyard
An elephant statue marks Showmen's Rest, a mass grave of clowns and other circus performers in Chicago.
An elephant statue marks Showmen’s Rest, a mass grave of clowns and other circus performers. The lowered trunk symbolizes mourning.
In Forest Park, Illinois, the Woodlawn Cemetery contains a large plot marked by elephant statues. Engraved at the base of one large elephant are the words Showmen’s League of America. On the gravestones, the dates of death are all marked June 22, 1918. Beneath is a mass grave containing the remains of clowns, trapeze artists, strongmen and other circus performers.
Hammond Circus Train Wreck
The Hammond circus train wreck killed 86 members of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus in 1918
On the night of June 22, 1918, members of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus were asleep in the rear cars of their train. It was 4am, and the train had stopped just outside Hammond, Indiana to cool an overheated axle box. They were en route to their next performance in Hammond, and then on to Monroe, Wisconsin. They would never make it.
A second train carrying the animals and some people was about 90 minutes ahead of them. They would not hear of the disaster until they pulled into Hammond that morning and solemnly gathered for roll call to determine who was missing.
Alonzo Sargent, an engineer for 16 years with the Michigan Central Railroad, had fallen asleep at the helm of an empty 21-car military troop train. He missed all the automatic signals and flares warning him of the stalled train, smashing into the wooden circus cars at about 35 miles per hour. Most of the dead were believed to have been killed within the first 30 seconds. As survivors scrambled to pull themselves from the splintered mess, the train’s old-fashioned kerosene-fueled lanterns ignited the wreckage.
Those who survived watched helplessly as their friends and family succumbed to the inferno.
In the hours following the crash, bodies were still being extracted from the smoldering wreck. Joe Coyle, a clown, was seen weeping beside the crushed bodies of his wife and children.
Showmen’s Rest: Heroes of the Sawdust Ring
Mass burial of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus at Showmen's Rest after the train wreck

There were 127 injured and an estimated 86 dead. A mass grave was dug in a 750-plot section of Woodlawn Cemetery recently purchased by the Showmen’s League of America. Many of the remains were unidentifiable, or known only by their stage names, so headstones at Showmen’s Rest are marked with names like “Baldy,” “Smiley,” and “Unknown Female #43.”

A photo of the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus in 1917
Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, 1917
Today, original circus wagons from the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus can be seen at Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Their winter headquarters in Peru, Indiana is now the International Circus Hall of Fame.
Tests reveal the fossilized remains of the Altamura Man are around 150,000 years old and contain the oldest Neanderthal DNA ever extracted.

The ancient Neanderthal remains of the Altamura Man stuck in stone in a cave in Italy
A recent study of the Altamura Man, an ancient skeleton embedded in a limestone cave in Italy, has yielded surprising results. The fossilized Homo neanderthalensis, which was discovered in the Grotta di Lamalunga by chance in 1993, have been difficult to study due to the rock and thick calcite layers covering it.
A research project that began in 2009, however, recently concluded through Uranium–thorium dating that the calcite most likely formed there during the Medium Pleistocene period. That means the Altamura Man lived somewhere between 128,000 and 187,000 years old.
Using a sample from the scapula, the study also revealed that the prehistoric remains may contain the oldest Neanderthal DNA ever extracted.
Fossilized remains of the Altamura Man embedded in rock in a cave in Italy
In what is surely the pinnacle of scientific achievement, scientists have created cheese using bacteria from human toes, mouths, armpits and belly buttons.

Scientists create cheese using human toe bacteria
If you loved vagina yogurt, then you’re going to be really excited about the latest scientific breakthrough: Cheese made from human toe bacteria......And armpit bacteria, also belly button bacteria. Not to mention, each cheese is complete with the donor’s body odor.

Selfmade: Human Toe Bacteria Cheese

At some regrettable point in what will no doubt be referred to as a dark period in human history, microbiologist Christina Agapakis and artist Sissel Tolaas decided to make cheese using microbes growing on their own skin for an exhibit at the Science Gallery in Dublin.
After swabbing various parts of their bodies for their own personal Lactobacillus, Agapakis grew the bacteria and yeast in the lab until there was enough to add milk to. That’s when the lovely toe bacteria got to work turning the milk into curdled toe jam.
According to an article on NPR, Agapakis had this to say about her exhibit:
“People were really nervous and uncomfortable, and kind of making these grossed out faces. Then they smell the cheese, and they’ll realize that it just smells like a normal cheese.”
Comments on this article include:
What? No snot and earwax? I'll wait.
Athlete's Feta

Believed to be extinct for 80 years, the giant Lord Howe Island stick insect showed up in the most unlikely place.
Lord Howe Island stick insects at the Melbourne Zoo

When Europeans first landed on Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Ocean between Australia and New Zealand, they discovered a unique species of stick insect so large they called them “tree lobsters.” Dryococelus australis was common there, and often used by fisherman as bait.
That all changed in 1918, though, when the supply ship S.S. Makambo ran aground on the island. It was stranded there for 9 days while the crew made repairs. During that time, black rats who had stowed away on the Makambo jumped ship and discovered the stick insects were a tasty treat. The rats devoured the species, and the last one was seen in 1920.
The tree lobster was believed to be extinct.

Ball's Pyramid, where 24 Lord Howe Island stick insects were found surviving on a single plant in 2001
Ball’s Pyramid, discovered in 1788, is the tallest volcanic stack in the world at 1,844 ft

About 13 miles from Lord Howe Island is a craggy rock formation protruding from the sea. It is called Ball’s Pyramid, after Henry Lidgbird Ball who discovered it in 1788. In 1964, a team of climbers on Ball’s Pyramid found a dead Lord Howe Island stick insect. A few more were discovered over the years, but none that were alive.
It wasn’t until 2001 that two Australian scientists decided to investigate. They scaled the rock, and discovered 24 of the stick insects surviving on a single Melaleuca shrub. Two breeding pairs were later collected. One pair was sent to an private breeder, though they died two weeks later. The other pair, dubbed Adam and Eve, were taken to the Melbourne Zoo where a successful breeding program has since bred over 9,000 of the insects.
The Lord Howe Island stick insects are considered the rarest insects in the world. Scientists hope to to eradicate the rats from the island and reintroduce the insects. How they got to Ball’s Pyramid and managed to survive there on a single plant for 80 years is a mystery.

Odd but Interesting Facts...Scientists reveal embalming methods used on Lenin

Vladmir Lenin may have been dead for 90 years, but his corpse looks better than the day he passed.
This is the claim made by his embalmers, who have developed experimental techniques to maintain the look and feel of the communist revolutionary's body.
They brag that their technique has been the result of almost a century of fine-tuning, creating a science that has benefited real-world medical applications.
Vladmir Lenin may have been dead for 90 years, but his corpse looks better than the day he passed. This is the claim made by his embalmers, who have developed experimental techniques to maintain the look and feel of the communist revolutionary's body. Pictured is his body in 1997

The gruesome job is the responsibility of a team known as the 'Mausoleum group' which, at its peak, involved 200 scientists working in a lab dedicated to the former leader's corpse.
According to a detailed report by Jeremy Hsu in Scientific American, the Russians prefer to preserve the body's shape, weight, colour and flexibility, rather than biological tissue.
'They have to substitute occasional parts of skin and flesh with plastics and other materials,' Alexei Yurchak, professor of social anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley told Mr Hsu.
'That makes it dramatically different from everything in the past, such as mummification.'
Yurchak has published a paper on this project in the journal Representations, along with a book, 'Everything Was Forever, until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation.'

The Bolshevik leader's remains were embalmed on Stalin's orders when he died aged 53 in 1924 and kept on display in Moscow apart from a period in the Second World War 

The revolutionary's body is on public display in a mausoleum on Moscow's Red Square more than two decades after the break-up of the former USSR.
But this year Russian officials closed Red Square so that scientists could prepare the body for public display during Lenin's 145th birthday anniversary – which took place yesterday.
In his book, Yurchak describes how a mild bleach is often used to deal with occasional fungus stains on Lenin's face.
One such stain that appeared on Lenin's cheek had the embalmers worried for their lives when they were unable to remove it.
'They might have even killed us,' Ilya Zbarsky, who managed to bleach away the mould, told Jewish World Review.
'The atmosphere of fear and terror was there for us scientists, just as it was for everyone in the society.'
The skin is studied each week using precision instruments that can measure moisture, colour and contour to look for signs of dehydration.
Every two years and the body is immersed in a bath of glycerol and potassium acetate for 30 days – a technique which scientists say could make the body last for centuries.
While Lenin's blood, bodily fluids and internal organs were removed, his eyebrows, moustache and goatee are his own. A material made of paraffin, glycerin and carotene is used to replace most of Lenin's skin.

Vladmir Lenin was behind the Bolshevik take-over of power in Russia in 1917. He was also the architect and first head of the USSR. He is pictured here in 1918, six years before his death
The Bolshevik leader's remains were embalmed on Stalin's orders when he died aged 53 in 1924 and kept on display in Moscow apart from a period in the Second World War.
In 2012, Russia was edging towards a historic decision to bury the embalmed corpse of the founder of the Soviet Union.
The former culture minister Vladimir Medinsky said it was 'absurd' that Lenin had not been laid to rest 88 years after his death.
Calling for him to be buried in a normal grave, as Lenin himself had requested, Medinsky said: 'Maybe something would change for the better in our lives then.'
Putin has repeatedly postponed a decision on burial, arguing that Lenin remained an icon for many elderly Russians.

The revolutionary's body is on public display in a mausoleum on Moscow's Red Square more than two decades after the break-up of the former USSR
VLADMIR LENIN (1870-1924)                
Vladmir Lenin was behind the Bolshevik take-over of power in Russia in 1917. He was also the architect and first head of the USSR.
Born in Simbirsk, he was expelled from university for his radical policies while studying law. This prompted him to move to St Petersburg, where he became a revolutionary. 
He was arrested and exiled to Siberia. He later spent most of his time in western Europe, where he became the leader of the 'Bolshevik' faction of the Russian Social Democratic Worker's Party.
In 1917, Lenin returned to Russia where he led what was to be known as the October Revolution. Around three years of civil war followed in which millions died. 
In 1918, Lenin survived an assassination attempt, but was severely wounded. In 1922 he suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy,
I have a 13-year-old son , I admit that my husband and I are very strict with him about lots of things , including what he watches on TV and what movies he views . I learned that some of his friends routinely get to watch R-rated movies --- either because their parents are lenient or because their parents have given them no restrictions on what they watch on TV. When I learned that , I decided not to let my son go over to heir houses anymore . I want to limit what he sees at least for now . Routinely , when he asks me if he can see a movie that is rated R , I automatically say no . I'm wondering if I should amend that . I don't want him to start ignoring me , even though I do think these other parents are making it harder for me to keep up my standards .
Drawing the line , Jackson Miss.
Dear Drawing the line,
It is admirable that you care enough to want to protect your son from bad influences. But the truth is, most teens watch R-rated movies at home without their parent's knowledge, or at a friend's house, anyway. Many of the so-called adult situations that make movies R-rated are already being seen on TV, on the internet and in video games by teens: that includes sexual situations, violence, adult language, and drugs.  We live in a new age where kids are no longer as naïve as in previous generations. They are inundated with adult situations through mass media and their experiences outside the home, away from your protection. Over-protection will not prepare him for the reality he will live in when he leaves you.

That said, I'm not saying this invalidates the need for a rating system. The line between R rated and PG-13 rated movies and programs has become very fuzzy. Some PG 13 movies have very intense situations including nudity and violence, while some movies are rated R because of a few cuss words. 

A 2-hour movie can’t ruin the years of values, morality and responsibility that you have carefully instilled in your son. Most teenagers know fantasy from reality and right from wrong and can judge what information they should accept; unless there is something fundamentally wrong with the child.

However, he should not be exposed to NC-17 rated material at that age. That rating is for extreme sexual and/or violent
 situations. Kids under seventeen are not permitted in theaters to watch those productions.

So, what do you do? First of all, lighten up a bit on the 
strictness and show him you have some faith in him. You need to tell him you trust his judgement and give him a little leeway. Forbidding him from seeing certain people or going to their homes is going to produce rebellion and isolate him socially.
The best filter is you. Watch the movies yourself, first, (keeping an open mind to the fact that he should be allowed the same privileges as his friends). That way you can judge if he will be comfortable watching them.

Dear Maxy , 
I believe in thank-you-notes . I'm having a hard time convincing my children that they are important . When they receive presents from people , I tell them that they should write a note immediately to express their gratitude . Half the time they do nothing . How can I get them to be more responsible ?
Enforcing Good Manners 
Dear Enforcing  Good  Manners ,
While  you don't  want to run the risk  of  making  good  manners  seem  like  a punishment ,  you may have to insist your children use proper etiquette . 
Another  approach  that  may  open  their  eyes  is  to  point  out that someone cared enough about them to go out and buy or  make them a gift . Ask them how they would feel if they took a lot of time and trouble to find a gift that someone liked and that person never appreciated or even acknowledged it.
If  they are more comfortable with a phone call, text, email or Facebook...that works just as well in this age of technology.

Dear Maxy ,
I went to an event that was hosted by a woman I met through a professional contact . I thought the event was horrible . It was poorly produced . People came late , primarily because it started too early --- smack in the middle of rush hour . And it seemed really disorganized . Because I came out of respect to my contact , I sat through it , but I was none too happy .

I chalked it up to not-so-great experience until the host cold-called me for feedback . I hedged around my thoughts at first , but she kept asking so I told her . What I said was measured , but I did let her know that I was not particularly pleased , I think I said it in a way that wasn't offensive . I don't tend to volunteer my thoughts , especially if they are questionable , but I actually didn't volunteer . She asked me . She seemed to take it pretty well , too, but I'm second-guessing myself now . Should I just made nice on the phone , or was it right to tell her what I thought ? 
Heads up 
Dear  Heads  up ,
Congratulations  on  your  tactful  honesty .  I agree  that it  may  not  have  been  your  place  to say anything, if  you were the one  to  bring it  up . After  all , you  said  you do not  know  this woman . But since  she  reached out  to  to  you , it  must have  been for  a reason . She, no doubt, respects your opinion. While  she  may have  been looking  for  affirmation  of  the success  of  her  event ,  she  got  what she probably needed  .... honest , constructive  feedback  that  she  can use . She, very likely, will take your advice to heart and her next event will be better because of you. There is no need to call to make it up to her in any way but continue to be friendly if you meet again.

Dear Maxy ,
I am expecting my first child . My mother is a wonderful , intelligent 68-year-old woman . She is also bipolar and seems incapable of keeping herself physically healthy and her house clean . I know her poor health almost certainly stems from the fact that her living conditions are filthy . She also has a sour smell about her that makes me worry that she is lax about her personal hygiene.

I have tried many times over the years to help her keep her house clean , but inevitable it returns to the state of extreme disarray . The only visible floor is the pathway through piles of junk . The kitchen and bathroom is moldy bio-hazards . Eventually , I can to the realization that nothing I say or do is going to make her start talking care of herself . I can't afford a caregiver to help her and I'm past the point of trying to make a dent in the perpetual filth myself .

My main problem is that when my baby is born , I know Mom is going to want to spend time with her . I don't feel comfortable allowing my infant child to be exposed to the unhealthy conditions of her house . I am ashamed to say that I also don't feel comfortable placing my baby in the care of a woman who seems incapable of caring for herself . How can I tell my mother , the woman that raised me , how to live? This is a conversation I never wanted to have . Is there anyway I can avoid breaking her heart and embarrassing her ? 
Concern daughter and Mom-to-be 
Dear  concerned  Daughter  and Mom-to-be,
Hoarding and poor hygiene can frequently accompany mental health disorders, like depression, social anxiety, bipolar disorder, and impulse control problems.
....( )
I sympathize, but  your  child's welfare, will soon become  your  first priority . This  will make  it  easier  for  you to talk  to your  mom . Tell her  you love  her  and  understand  her level  of  cleanliness  and  hygiene  is  her  choice, but  it is  not appropriate  for  your  child . Explain that visits  with the  baby will take  place only  in your  home , under  your  supervision .
She  will  promise  to do better, but  that is  not  a guarantee.
 Tell her you  hope  this  will  motivate her to seek professional
treatment to make her life healthier and make it better for everyone  around  her .
 Helpful website.... ( )
She may be ashamed or embarrassed but if she cares enough about you and her grand-child , she may take stock of her life and hopefully, reach out for help .
 Her situation should not, under any circumstances, change  the  parameters  you have  set up  for  the  care  of  your  child .

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Geezer Day on Fun to be Bad

Geezer Planet's photo.

And remember:
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly bloated and wasted, totally exhausted and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a ride!!"
For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.
1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than North Americans.
2. The South Americans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than North Americans.
3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than North Americans.
4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than North Americans.
5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than North Americans.
CONCLUSION: Eat and drink whatever you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Geezer Planet's photo.

A woman went to the doctor's office where she was seen by one of the younger doctors. After about four minutes in the examination room, she burst out screaming as she ran down the hall. An older doctor stopped her and asked what the problem was, and she told him her story. After listening, he had her sit down and relax in another room. The older doctor marched down the hallway back to where the young doctor was writing on his clipboard.
"What's the matter with you?" the older doctor demanded.
"Mrs. Terry is 71 years old, has four grown children and seven grandchildren, and you told her she was pregnant?"
The younger doctor continued writing and without looking up asked, " But does she still have the hiccups?"

I’m getting older now and can’t tolerate the cold like I used to, so last year my wife and I replaced all the windows in our house with those fancy expensive double-panel energy efficient kind. Gotta nice tax break also. Anyway, today I got a call from the contractor who installed them. He was complaining that the work had been completed a whole year ago and we still hadn't paid for them. So, I told him just what his fast talking sales guy Harold had told me last year when he installed them, and I quote, “In one year, these windows will pay for themselves!” It's been a year now I told him. There was only silence at the other end of the line, so I finally just hung up. Don’t mess with us seniors.

A woman and a baby were in the doctor's examining room, waiting for the doctor to come in for the baby's first exam. The doctor arrived, and examined the baby, checked his weight, and being a little concerned, asked if the baby was breast-fed or bottle-fed. 'Breast-fed,' she replied. 'Well, strip down to your waist,' the doctor ordered. She did. He pinched her nipples, pressed, kneaded, and rubbed both breasts for a while in a very professional and detailed examination. Motioning to her to get dressed, the doctor said, 'No wonder this baby is underweight. You don't have any milk.' I know,' she said, 'I'm his Grandma, But I'm glad I came!"

Can you guess who they are??? It was the last known picture taken of them

Geezer Planet's photo.

A Mommy's Perception's photo.

A guy is 74 years old and loves to fish. He was sitting in his boat the other day when he heard a voice say, 'Pick me up.' He looked around and couldn't see any one. He thought he was dreaming when he heard the voice say a gain, 'Pick me up.' He looked in the water and there, floating on the top, was a frog. The man said, 'Are you talking to me?' The frog said, 'Yes, I'm talking to you. Pick me up then, kiss me and I'll turn into the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. I'...ll make sure that all your friends are envious and jealous because I will be your bride!' The man looked at the frog for a short time, reached over, picked it up carefully, and placed it in his front pocket. The frog said, 'What, are you nuts? Didn't you hear what I said? I said kiss me and I will be your beautiful bride.' He opened his pocket, looked at the frog and said, 'Nah, at my age I'd rather have a talking frog."

Geezer Planet's photo.

The guys at the barber shop asked me to name the actress I would like to be stuck with in an elevator. I told them the one who knows how to fix elevators. I'm old, I'm tired, and I have to pee a lot.

Geezer Planet's photo.

There was a bit of confusion at Ace Hardware this morning. When I was ready to pay for my purchases the cashier said, "Strip down, facing me!" Making a mental note to complain to the store owner, I reluctantly did just as she had instructed. When the hysterical shrieking had finally subsided, I found out that she was referring to my credit card. Ain't easy getting old

The Golden years are here at last.
I cannot see, I cannot pee.
I cannot chew, I cannot screw.
My memory shrinks, my hearing stinks.
No sense of smell, I look like hell....
The Golden years have come at last.
The Golden years can kiss my ass.

Miss You George

George Carlin quote

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

ET...Is that you?

Photo: Yahoo7 News/Supplied

Aliens, cosmic phenomena or humans? Astronomers are puzzled as to what the true origins are of a series of so-called Fast Radio Bursts (FSBs) detected eleven separate times over the past decade.
While media reports this month have focused on how radio astronomers have pinned down the source of one type of radio signal known as perytons emanating from lowly microwave ovens right here on Earth, the mystery and excitement over FRBs has only deepened.
“People are now largely convinced that perytons are local signals. Yet the microwave oven does not explain all,” said co-author of the new study and astronomer John Learned from the University of Hawaii in Manoa.
“This is why we put our hypothesis out there… to test it in a scientific manner.  When we see new data we will know better.”
Since 2001 radio telescopes have been picking up these rare bursts that last only a few milliseconds but are thought to be generated by some kind of source that releases as much energy as the sun and is no more than a few hundred kilometers across.  Evidence in the past has also indicated that they may have emanated way outside of our galaxy—possibly as much as three to four billion light years away.
The latest addition to the mystery is a team of scientists who have identified 11 FRBs over the years, and who say that the signals appear to fit a mathematical pattern that just doesn’t seem to be explainable by any kind of ordinary astrophysics we know of.

While theories bandied about so far have included everything from colliding neutron stars, evaporating black holes and even our own satellites mimicking a distance source, even the most provocative explanation of alien civilizations however have not been ruled out.
To determine the distance to these pulses astronomers use something called a dispersion measure, the dispersion in time it takes low and high frequencies of radio waves generated by the mysterious sources to arrive at Earth. The more time that separates the arrival of these two signals the farther away the unknown object is thought to be from our planet.
What has left astronomers scratching their heads however is that it seems the time dispersion measured in each case appears to be multiples of exactly the same number, 187.5.
The chance this line-up is pure coincidence is estimated to be 5 in 10,000, making this phenomenon quite a challenge to explain away.
There is a possibility that these FRBs are caused by some unknown natural source, but the team does conclude that it could also very well be of an artificial source. Maybe an undisclosed military satellite perhaps? Or ET technology?
Mathematically coded messages from extraterrestrials—as in encoded messages in pi or prime numbers—have long been speculated by astronomers and have even made it to Hollywood (any fans of the film Contact starring Jodie Foster out there?).
But this wouldn’t be the first such excitement over a weird radio signal received by radio telescope.
Back in 1977 the Ohio State Big Ear Telescope picked up a very strange 72 second long signal dubbed the Wow! signal by the astronomer at the time that circled the printout identifying it as such.

So are we alone in the universe, or are there other advanced civilizations out there capable of communicating?
Some leading scientists believe that life might be quite common across the universe, with some figuring as many as tens of thousands of technologically-advanced civilizations.
Thanks to ground based and space telescope surveys of the night sky, planets beyond our solar system are being discovered at an ever increasing rate and current estimates are that our Milky Way alone may be home to a billion Earth-like worlds.  We are also finding that the basic ingredients of life, such as water and organic molecules, appear to pepper our solar system.
So the odds are in favour that at least simple, microbial life might be widespread across our Milky Way. However technological civilizations, according to some radio astronomers who have been listening for decades, may be quite rare simply because if they were common, we would have probably picked up their signals by now. Or perhaps there are simply no chatterboxes out there, and everyone is too shy to speak up.
In terms of these weird fast radio busts however, while astronomers don’t rule out the possibility that they could by ET calling, it likely is a very remote outside chance only and most likely is caused by something less exotic.
“At this moment, I still would place money on an anthropogenic origin…. but not much money,” said Learned.
“If they really are cosmological objects however… then they would seem to be something new and no doubt important, but what I do not know.”

Monday, April 20, 2015

Justice Arrives Frustratingly Slowly But it is Thorough....Nazi Criminal

Oskar Gröning has admitted witnessing the murder of 300,000 prisoners at the Auschwitz death camp
 Oskar Gröning has admitted witnessing the murder of 300,000 prisoners at the Auschwitz death camp

The wheels of justice for the victims of Nazi crimes move in a zig zag and at a frustratingly slow pace, even at this late date in time, when every day that passes can spell the difference between a perpetrator being convicted and punished and a case being dropped for reasons of physical or mental infirmities.

Two decisions by German courts this month reflect the status of the current efforts to bring Nazi war criminals to justice in the Federal Republic, one of the last countries in the world whose judicial authorities are still trying to hold perpetrators of Nazi crimes accountable.
In the first decison, taken a week and a half ago, a court in Cologne threw out a case against Werner C, who was accused of being a member of an execution squad which in 1944, shot 25 men in the French town of Oradour-sur-Glane, and helped blockade and set fire to a church in which dozens of the town's residents were burnt alive, in one of the biggest Nazi atrocities committed in France during World War II.

Although the defendant admitted that he was in Oradour on the day of the massacre, he claimed that he did not not shoot anybody, nor did he participate in any of the murders. The court ruled in his favor and dismissed the case on the grounds that no corroborative witness testimony or documentary proof had been presented to prove Werner C's personal participation. At the moment, the prosecution is deliberating whether to appeal the decision, but the initial verdict and a decision taken a few days ago in a second Nazi war crimes case clearly delineate the current legal situation vis-a-vis the potential chances for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals in Germany.

The latter decision, taken just this week, was the acceptance by a court in the northern German city of Lueneburg of an indictment against a former Auschwitz guard named Oskar Groening, who served in the largest of the Nazi death camps from September 1942 until October 1944. During most of this time he was involved in managing the money confiscated from the deportees.
The charges in his case relate to the period from 16 May until 11 July 1944, when 137 trains with approximately 437,000 Jews from Hungary aboard arrived in Auschwitz, of whom at least 300,000 were immediately murdered. Groening was on the ramp during the selection process and assisted in handling the deportees' belongings, a process through which the National Socialist regime gained economically, and which therefore supported the systematic murder of European Jewry being carried out by the Nazis.

The Groening case is very unusual in many respects. Years ago, he gave several interviews, among them for a BBC film and for the German news magazine Der Spiegel, in which he admitted his service in Auschwitz, although he did not confess to any physical crimes, claiming that "legally" he was innocent. He also spoke openly of the terrible crimes he had personally witnessed while at the camp and expressed his willingness to speak out against Holocaust denial.
It was only after the conviction of Sobibor death camp guard Ivan Demjanjuk in Munich in 2011, however, that a dramatic change in German prosecution policy has enabled bringing Groening to trial.
Demjanjuk was the first case in Germany in almost fifty years in which a Nazi war criminal/collaborator was charged and convicted, even though no evidence of a specific crime against a specific victim by the defendant (which for the previous almost five decades had been the basic requirement for filing such a case) was submitted to the court.
The verdict against Demjanjuk in effect meant that any person who had served either in one of the six Nazi death camps - Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor and Majdanek - or in the Einsatzgruppe A,B, C, or D (special mobile killing squads) which operated on the Eastern front, could be convicted of at least accessory to murder, the punishment for which is five years' imprisonment, based on service alone.

There no doubt will be those who wonder what use bringing middle or lower-level Nazis to justice is, when so many higher ranked Holocaust perpetrators eluded justice completely, but ignoring their crimes because of the past failures of the German and Austrian justice systems is only adding more injustice, when the opposite is required, and is an insult to their victims. One can only wonder what a difference the Demjanjuk precedent might have have had on the record of German prosecutions of Nazi war criminals had it been applied not in 2011, but many years earlier.
In the meantime, all we can do is hope that a basis for an appeal against Werner C will be found and that Groening will indeed be prosecuted successfully, and in that respect, every moment counts.