The strangest story of the 2006 election

inverted_jenny.jpgSomeone in Florida used the most famous rare stamp in the world to mail in their absentee ballot. To add insult to injury, the envelope had no return address so the ballot couldn’t be counted and Florida election law requires that all ballots be sealed for 22 months.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — An absentee ballot was mailed with what may have been a rare stamp worth as much as $200,000 _ the famous Inverted Jenny _ but the envelope is in a box that by law can’t be opened.

Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom discovered the stamp while reviewing absentee ballots. There was no name on the envelope, so the vote didn’t count.

What looked like a small stamp collection on one envelope caught Rodstrom’s eye about 8 p.m. Tuesday. At least one was from 1936, Rodstrom said. Then he noticed one had an upside-down World War I-era airplane _ the hallmark of an Inverted Jenny.

“I was a stamp collector when I was little,” Rodstrom told The Miami Herald. “I recognized it.”

Rodstrom discussed the stamp with other members of the canvassing board, and a stamp-collecting Broward County sheriff’s deputy overheard them talking about the possible Jenny.

He said the stamp would be very valuable if it was real. But it was too late.

“By that time we had already sealed the box. And once you seal the box, under the election law you can’t unseal it,” Broward County Court Judge Eric Beller said.

A selection of recent headlines

Make up your own “Author X meets Cultural Critic Y” combinations here, because things are just too strange…

These “Warning Signs for Tomorrow” might be a little more urgent and key now:

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Morlocks vs. Eloi

Way back in the BOFH-era of IT culture and nerd vernacular, “Eloi” and “Morlocks” were used as the shorthand reference to clueless Eloi end users and the unappreciated network sysadmin Morlocks who keep the whole works going. H.G. Wells placed the Eloi and Morlocks in the year 802,701. Guess what?

Humanity may split into two sub-species in 100,000 years’ time as predicted by HG Wells, an expert has said.

Evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics expects a genetic upper class and a dim-witted underclass to emerge.

The human race would peak in the year 3000, he said – before a decline due to dependence on technology.

People would become choosier about their sexual partners, causing humanity to divide into sub-species, he added.

The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the “underclass” humans who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.

But in the nearer future, humans will evolve in 1,000 years into giants between 6ft and 7ft tall, he predicts, while life-spans will have extended to 120 years, Dr Curry claims.

Physical appearance, driven by indicators of health, youth and fertility, will improve, he says, while men will exhibit symmetrical facial features, look athletic, and have squarer jaws, deeper voices and bigger penises.

Women, on the other hand, will develop lighter, smooth, hairless skin, large clear eyes, pert breasts, glossy hair, and even features, he adds. Racial differences will be ironed out by interbreeding, producing a uniform race of coffee-coloured people.

However, Dr Curry warns, in 10,000 years time humans may have paid a genetic price for relying on technology.

Spoiled by gadgets designed to meet their every need, they could come to resemble domesticated animals.

Social skills, such as communicating and interacting with others, could be lost, along with emotions such as love, sympathy, trust and respect. People would become less able to care for others, or perform in teams.

Physically, they would start to appear more juvenile. Chins would recede, as a result of having to chew less on processed food.

There could also be health problems caused by reliance on medicine, resulting in weak immune systems. Preventing deaths would also help to preserve the genetic defects that cause cancer.

Further into the future, sexual selection – being choosy about one’s partner – was likely to create more and more genetic inequality, said Dr Curry.

The logical outcome would be two sub-species, “gracile” and “robust” humans similar to the Eloi and Morlocks foretold by HG Wells in his 1895 novel The Time Machine.

“While science and technology have the potential to create an ideal habitat for humanity over the next millennium, there is a possibility of a monumental genetic hangover over the subsequent millennia due to an over-reliance on technology reducing our natural capacity to resist disease, or our evolved ability to get along with each other, said Dr Curry.

Time to fish out the Dougal Dixon books again. At least the unplagiarized one.

Flying Saucers over Orange County part II

Following up on the post from a couple days ago, I ran across this on UFO Reflections…

Well, might we have a solution for the Heflin photo case? According to an anonymous post to UFO Updates, the object is in fact a model train wheel, and the smoke ring in the final Heflin image is from an airshow. Let’s take a look, shall we?

First, here’s a comparison of model train wheels with two of the Heflin photos… and then a comparison of the final Heflin image and an airshow photo (including the aircraft which created the ring).

Not conclusive, but mighty compelling justification for a re-evaluation, wouldn’t you say?

Flying Saucers over Orange County

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Along with every other ten-year-old, red-blooded sci-fi kid in the mid-1970s, I studied up on UFO sightings until I could reel off sighting details and photo analysis the way other kids tracked sports statistics. Since my crappy eyesight wasn’t going to get me a ticket off the planet via NASA, I figured that my best bet was to hitch a ride on an alien spaceship.

I was particularly fascinated by the famous set of saucer photos taken in Santa Ana in August 1965 by an O.C. highway worker. Most of the famous UFO photos were taken somewhere far away like Brazil, Spain, or Oregon (when you’re 10, everything is far away), but here was one taken a couple towns over on Myford Rd. in Santa Ana (Irvine now). Hell, I’d ridden my bike over that same patch of road. All I’d have to do was hang out a bit and stick my thumb out for a ride.

Assuming that the whole thing wasn’t a hoax of course…

I hadn’t thought about those pictures, or even UFOs in awhile until recently so I figured I’d poke around some sites and see what folks were talking about. And if you’ve been reading so far, take a wild guess…

The Society for Scientific Exploration has a 40 page report on the photos along with some details I didn’t know. After the photos got some media attention, photographer Rex Heflin was approached by some NORAD personnel who asked him for the photos and warned him to not discuss the sighting any further. Heflin obliged, and to no one’s surprise now, the photos disappeared. That is until 1993, when they mysteriously reappeared in Heflin’s mailbox.

Honestly, the whole thing smells like fish with claims of hoax, brief legitimacy, and counterhoax but I still love the photos as some local pop culture.

By the way, there’s a lot of words expended in those links on the “dust cloud” below the saucer in photo 1. It’s not a dust cloud, but a cluster of weeds growing next to a water canister used in the irrigation for that field. You used to see these canisters adjacent to the roads all over south county but they’re gone along with the fields. Hell, even Myford Rd. is gone now – it’s old alignment (as seen in the photo) is now part of the Jamboree / CA-261 interchange.

Cat army annihilates destructive rats

This is the most cheerful news item I’ve read all week…

Cat army annihilates destructive rats
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-12 09:36
A group of villagers recently prepared a sumptuous fish banquet for more than 200 cats to thank them for eradicating rats from their farmland.

Yangmei villagers in Sanjiang Township of Xinhui District in the city of Jiangmen, Guangdong Province, are expecting a good harvest this year thanks to the hard-working cats.

The village committee spent more than 12,000 yuan (US$1,500) to buy more than 200 cats, which they released onto farmland to help wipe out the rat problem.

Sanjiang Village has 86.67 hectares of rice fields and 13.33 hectares of other crops and suffered from a rat infestation after most of the snakes were caught and slaughtered by local villagers in previous years.

Modern Eschatology (Total Solar Eclipse edition)

There is a total solar eclipse over much of the world today and along with the requisite warnings about not looking directly at the sun it has become necessary to warn that an eclipse is not punishment from the gods.

More than 60 percent of Nigerians are uneducated, and eclipses in some parts of the country in the past have caused chaos in which people have been killed and property destroyed. Some Nigerians believe an eclipse is punishment from the gods for evil doing. Professor Turner Isoun of the Ministery of Science and Technology says this year’s eclipse”calls for early preparation. Fortunately, through our scientific analysis, we can predict. So we have at least two months’ notice.”

Reading between the lines on the 2001 lunar eclipse rioting, I wonder just how much of the chaos is a result of people honestly believing that an eclipse is a sign from a god(s) or if it’s just an excuse for more lethal combinations of religious-inspired violence and youth pyromania.

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) — Rampaging Muslims burned down scores of hotels and bars in a northern Nigerian city in reaction to the lunar eclipse which they blamed on sinners, residents said on Wednesday.

Paramilitary police battled gangs of Muslim youths in the streets of the largely Islamic city of Maiduguri for hours on Tuesday night.

Residents said at least 40 hotels or drinking houses were set ablaze. Similar violence was reported in Barma town 50 miles (80 kilometers) away where youths chanting Allahu Akbar (God is Great) took to the streets.

“The immoral acts committed in these places are responsible for this eclipse,” police quoted a youth leader as saying.

Police chief Uba Bala Ringim told Reuters in Maiduguri that five people had been detained and more arrests were expected.

Religious violence has been a major problem in the largely Islamic north over the past year. Hundreds of people were killed in two bouts of Muslim-Christian bloodletting in the northern city of Kaduna over plans to introduce Islamic sharia law in the area.

It’s a cheap shot to pick on the third world though, especially when the most recent case of disturbing religious violence is occurring in the next state over.

Tarby and a team of doctors from Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix and the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson began researching the disease and soon discovered that fumarase deficiency was occurring in at least two other families living in the same isolated community that practiced an unusual custom.

Nearly everyone in Colorado City, Arizona, and the adjacent town of Hildale, Utah, was a member of a fundamentalist Mormon sect that practices polygamy and had long encouraged multiple marriages between close relatives.

By the late 1990s, Tarby and his team had discovered fumarase deficiency was occurring in the greatest concentration in the world among the fundamentalist Mormon polygamists of northern Arizona and southern Utah.

Of even greater concern was the fact that the recessive gene that triggers the disease was rapidly spreading to thousands of individuals living in the community because of decades of inbreeding.

Fast-forward to the present: About half of the 8,000 people living in the towns are blood relatives of two of the founding families that settled in the 1930s on the desolate high desert plateau against the base of the Vermillion Cliffs.

Religious leaders control all marriages in the community, and many of these relatives have married or likely will marry in the future. Some of these marriages will include parents who both are carriers of the fumarase deficiency gene, making it certain that more children will be afflicted with the disease.

“We have and will have a continual output of children with this condition,” Tarby says.

In this isolated religious society north of the Grand Canyon, few secrets have been more closely guarded than the presence of fumarase deficiency. Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints elders, who control the community, have labored to keep the public from finding out why the disorder is manifesting. Many members of the fundamentalist community don’t even know it’s occurring.

The state of Arizona is contributing to the secrecy. The state Department of Health Services and the Department of Economic Security have been quietly providing services to assist the children and families of fumarase victims for more than 15 years. Both DHS and DES officials refused repeated requests from New Times to document the type and cost of services the state is providing to treat fumarase deficiency. The agencies claim that federal health laws prohibit them from releasing records or allowing their authorities to comment on the situation.

Doctors and family members interviewed by New Times say up to 20 children from families in the polygamist community are currently afflicted with the condition that requires full-time attention from caregivers. Victims suffer a range of symptoms, including severe epileptic seizures, inability to walk or even sit upright, severe speech impediments, failure to grow at a normal rate, and tragic physical deformities.

The Feds have never had a problem with sending in the FBI/BATF/Forces Of The New World Order to religious cults before, especially when there are veiled rumors of child abuse and/or endangerment. So why are they stalling here? Mainstream LDS renounced the fundamentalist strain awhile back so political ties couldn’t be involved. Or could they…

Meanwhile, apparently it’s open season on hassling SubGenii.

My del.icio.us “eschatology” tag.

Charles Fort gives up, goes home

Attention all horror and high weirdness writers. Go back and re-revise whatever it is you’re working on because it’s just not weird enough. Reality just kicked your behind twice in a week. Check these…

Worker ‘stole human brains’

Self-styled pigeon pal is arrested in Torrance

Crazy animal lover and body snatcher stories aren’t new, but what gives them that express pass to bugfuck land are the details. The brain snatcher “was also accused of keeping the nooses of suicide victims and the drip bags attached to people who died in hospitals” and the pigeon guy “walks with his pigeon Twister to get coffee at Starbucks” and used to give pigeons a shot of vodka before operating on them.

This week’s news by Roger Corman

Somewhere out there, Charles Fort is snickering…

First up: “Flesh-eating aliens were chasing me when I caused fatal car crash

A California man facing life in prison for crashing his car into a UPS truck will not dispute that his actions resulted in the death of the driver when his trial opens Monday in Nevada County Superior Court.

Instead, Scott Krause’s defense will argue that the defendant believed he was trying to escape man-eating subterranean beings when he ran into Drew Reynolds’ truck on Jan. 6, 2004.

And then

TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) — A young mother found at the scene of a car crash near Tokyo in which her husband and infant son were killed had been dead for at least a day before the accident happened, police were quoted as saying on Sunday.

Finally

Scientists have created eerie zombie dogs, reanimating the canines after several hours of clinical death in attempts to develop suspended animation for humans.

US scientists have succeeded in reviving the dogs after three hours of clinical death, paving the way for trials on humans within years.