10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (8/11/18)

RADU ALEXANDER 

 

In case you didn’t find time during the week to pay attention to all the news stories, we’ve got you covered. Click here to find out about all the major events, and read this list to learn about the unusual happenings that made the headlines.

We examine quite a few mysteries this week. Some involve priceless art, others involve animatronic sharks, and some are extraterrestrial in nature. We also look at some of the quirky ways people spend their free time, such as setting domino records, attending concerts, or lifting really, really heavy things.

10The Art Heist Mystery

In 2017, 81-year-old Rita Alter passed away at her ranch in the small community of Cliff, New Mexico. Her husband Jerry died five years prior. According to their neighbors, they were a nice couple who kept to themselves. However, they had one particularly interesting item in their collection—a stolen Willem de Kooning painting worth over $100 million.

The Alters’ nephew and executor of their estate, Ron Roseman, sold their possession to an antique shop for $2,000. People there recognized the painting was an original and contacted the FBI. As it turned out, Woman-Ochre disappeared from the University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tucson in 1985, the day after Thanksgiving.

Since the painting has been recovered, the biggest question was how the Alters obtained it. Did they buy it, did they somehow find it during their many exotic adventures, or were they the ones who stole it originally?

People who knew them were reticent to believe that a quiet, friendly couple consisting of a former teacher and a speech therapist could pull off an audacious art heist. However, a newly revealed clue suggests that was, indeed, the case. It’s an old photo of Jerry and Rita Alter having Thanksgiving dinner in 1985 with their relatives in Tucson.[1] Moreover, they resemble the sketches of the disguised thieves based off the museum guard’s description. To top it off, the thieves were seen speeding away in a red car . . . just like the one the Alters drove.

9Never Too Old To Rock


Who says that sneaking out to go to concerts is reserved for teenagers? Wacken Open Air took place last week in Germany, and tens of thousands of people came from all over the world to attend the biggest heavy metalfestival on the planet. Among them were two elderly metalheads who escaped from their nursing home to rock out among fellow headbangers.

Staff from the care center noticed the two men had disappeared last Friday. They alerted German police, who tracked them down at the music festival at around 3:00 AM. The intrepid duo traveled around 40 kilometers (25 mi) on foot and using public transport. They were described as “disoriented and dazed” when they were found by authorities but also “intrigued with the metal festival.”[2]The nursing home arranged for transport for the men, who were reluctant to go back but did so voluntarily.

8Vandalism Via Octopus


Japanese police are investigating a bizarre crime that occurred in the city of Sapporo. A person disturbed the peace by throwing an octopus against a building’s wall for over an hour.

The unidentified victim of the crime was in his home in Chuo Ward, trying to get some sleep. However, he kept hearing thumping on the other side of his condominium wall. Eventually, he called the police. When they arrived, authorities found no suspicious people around, but they did discover a dead octopus, which had been thrown against a wall repeatedly.[3]

At the moment, the suspect is still at large, and police are struggling to find a motive for his actions. If he just wanted to be noisy, a ball would have produced much better results. If vandalism is what he was after, then eggs would have been more convenient and infinitely less slimy.

7Rogue Planet Puts Aurora Borealis To Shame

Astronomers are stunned by a newly discovered rogue planetlike object with an incredibly powerful magnetic field, roughly 200 times stronger than that of Jupiter. Furthermore, it is capable of generating spectacular auroras which have been observed using radio telescopes. Scientists are hopeful that this could potentially be a new method of spotting undetected planets.

First discovered in 2016, the object is known as SIMP J01365663+0933473 and has somewhat defied classification. Originally, astronomers believed it was a giant, old brown dwarf. Also referred to as “failed stars,” brown dwarfs are larger than planets but not big enough to begin fusing hydrogen. However, this rogue planet is only 200 million years old, which is relatively young, and at roughly 12.7 times the mass of Jupiter, it’s not that gigantic, either.

The most common convention states that a brown dwarf should be at least 13 times the mass of Jupiter. Because of this, the celestial object has been described as being at the boundary between planet and brown dwarf.[4]Scientists believe this could actually be advantageous, as it could provide insight into the magnetic processes of both stars and planets.

6Do We Feel Empathy For Machines?

Photo credit: Aike Horstmann et al

A new study published in PLOS One looks at the relationship between humans and robots, specifically the empathy that we can feel for inanimate objects. The experiment showed that people will hesitate, even refuse, to shut off a robot when it is pleading for its life.

German researchers took 89 volunteers and had them complete a series of tasks with the help of Nao, a small humanoid robot. They mostly involved answering simple questions and were done, as far as the test subjects believed, in order to improve Nao’s learning algorithms. However, the real experiment started after the tasks were finished, and the volunteers were asked to turn off the robot. In roughly half the cases, Nao started begging not to be switched off, saying things like it was afraid of the dark or scared it will never wake up again.

Out of 43 people, 30 took, on average, twice as long to turn off Nao compared to the subjects who served as control and didn’t hear any pleas. The other 13 refused altogether.[5] The reasons given for their actions were varied and included compassion, surprise at its behavior, fear of doing it wrong, and wanting to continue the interaction.

The study is one of several that build upon “the media equation,” a communications theory formed in 1996 by two professors from Stanford University. They posited that people tend to treat computers and other media as if they were real people.

5Fire Reveals Lost Landmark

Photo credit: Irish Air Corps

A gorse fire prompted by the heat wave in Ireland uncovered a World War II-era sign that had been lost for decades.[6]

The sign, located at Bray Head, County Wicklow, consists of whitewashed letters carved into the headlands and spells out “EIRE” (Ireland). It was part of dozens placed on the Irish coast during the war to warn bombers that they were flying over neutral territory.

Other, similar signs are still in plain view and have even been restored as landmarks. This one, however, had been covered in thick shrubs and mostly forgotten about for years until the recent wildfire scorched the ground. Members of the Garda Air Support Unit spotted it as they were flying over the blaze to survey the damage.

Although Ireland remained neutral during World War II, it practiced “benevolent neutrality” toward the Allies, enacting policies in their favor. The Eire signs were given lookout post numbers, and a list was supplied to Allied airmen so that they could use them as navigational aids.

4Can Jaws Solve A Classic Murder Mystery?

In 1974, the almost decapitated, naked body of a young woman was found at the Race Point dunes near Provincetown, Massachusetts. She became known as the Lady of the Dunes. Her killer removed her teeth and hands to hinder identification. Over four decades later, we still have no idea who she was. However, we might have a bizarre lead, courtesy of horror author (and Stephen King’s son) Joe Hill. He believes the woman could have appeared as an extra in the movie Jaws.

Hill readily admits that his idea is “out there,” but he does provide a few intriguing clues. The Lady of the Dunes was found on July 26, while most of the city scenes were filmed in June, and Provincetown is relatively close to Martha’s Vineyard, where the shooting took place. Furthermore, the extra in question does resemble a composite sketch of the murder victim made in 2010, and she was wearing a blue bandana similar to one found with the body.[7]

Hill first mentioned the notion in 2015, but it recently gained attention after it was talked about on a podcast on the making of the movie. Records of the extras are “iffy,” but the added notoriety could prompt the woman or someone who knew her to come forward.

3Fly Ruins Domino Record Attempt


A pesky fly ruined an attempt at breaking a domino world record in Germany by landing on a tile and setting off the chain reaction prematurely.

A team of 20 people had two weeks, an empty gym in Nidda (near Frankfurt), and over 600,000 tiles to break as many domino records as possible. They managed to set four new records for longest domino wall, largest spiral, largest cube, and longest domino chain reaction. However, their attempt at the record for most mini-dominoes falling in one go went awry thanks to interference from a fly.[8]

The insect landed on the tiny tile, no bigger than a fingernail, and triggered the chain reaction that ruined most of the course before it was finished. There wasn’t enough time to reset, so the participants had to abandon that particular record.

2Lifting The Dinnie Stones

Photo credit: cascadenews.co.uk

Australian nurse Leigh Holland-Keen became the second woman to ever lift Scotland’s famous “Dinnie Stones,” which have a combined weight of 332.5 kilograms (733 lb).

The giant boulders are named in honor of one of the country’s most famous competitors, strongman Donald Dinnie. He was an all-around athlete who won medals every year at the Scottish Highland Games between 1856 and 1876. However, it was his feats of strength that earned him his greatest fame. In 1860, he carried the two stones across the Potarch Bridge in Aberdeenshire. Afterward, the rocks were forgotten about for almost 100 years. Since their rediscovery in 1953, many strongmen have taken up the challenge of lifting the Dinnie Stones.

In 1979, American powerlifter Jan Todd became the first woman to perform the feat. She remained the only one to do so for almost four decades. At this year’s Donald Dinnie Day, The Gathering II, Leigh Holland-Keen managed to lift the massive boulders.[9]

She first tried last year, when she attended the event with her mother and stepfather. Her stepfather, Lance, is one of the 90 men who have hoisted the rocks. Of course, none carried them over a bridge like Dinnie did. In fact, the record for the longest time holding the Dinnie Stones was also set earlier this year by Englishman Mark Haydock, who lifted them for 38.6 seconds.

1A Mysterious Signal From Space

Astronomers from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) announced the detection of a mysterious and unusual fast radio burst (FRB) that hit our planet from an unknown source.

FRBs are among the most puzzling phenomena in cosmology. They are incidents of extremely high energy that we pick up as transient radio pulses which only last for a few milliseconds. We observed the first one back in 2007. Since then, scientists have concluded that FRBs are not an uncommon occurrence, estimating that thousands happen every day.

That being said, we haven’t actually detected that many due to their random and extremely short-lived nature. It wasn’t until 2016 that we discerned a repeating series of FRBs, which allowed us to pinpoint the source and show that these radio signals are coming from far outside our galaxy.

This latest signal, called FRB 180725A, poses a conundrum. It is the first transmission of its kind picked up at a frequency below 700 megahertz, reaching 580 megahertz.[10] It is expected that CHIME will detect hundreds of radio signals in the future as a secondary objective, so we might have a better explanation for this bizarre phenomenon in the years to come.

So let’s get to the big question: Is it aliens? Probably not, but maybe. Leading hypotheses suggest that the origins of the signals are supernovae explosions, black holes “coughing up” material, or certain kinds of neutron stars called magnetars. The thinking is that these are the only cosmic events powerful enough to generate the energy seen in FRBs.

Some astrophysicists have proposed the idea that these radio signals are alien in nature. Specifically, they posit that FRBs could come from beams used by extragalactic civilizations to power lightsails. Lightsails are a potentially revolutionary concept still in its infancy stages (for us) that uses “photonic propulsion” to power a spacecraft.

Theta Brainwave – Free Verse by Jay Parkhe

Theta

Free verse by jay

Because I could not induct Theta Wave,
they just inducted it for me.
Theta, Theta, every where,
Yet not a brain to induct.

I cannot but help stop and look at this magnetic depolarization.
Does the depolarization make you shiver?
does it?

Do you believe  the sinusoid is regular?
sinusoid seems irregular beyond belief.
Are you upset by how unorthodox it is?
Does it tear you apart to see the sinusoid so overground?

cunning rhythmicity sings a sonic boom
Never forgetting sly and artful rhythmicity.

Did you know…

Did you know…

… that today is Name Your Price Bidding Patent Day? In 1998, Jay Walker and others obtained U.S. patent #5,794,207 for name your price bidding, the basis for Priceline.com. Priceline.com is now a commercial website that helps users obtain discount rates for travel-related purchases such as airline tickets and hotel stays.

~~~

Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things.”

— Henry Miller

10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened This Week (8/10/18)

MORRIS M. 

 

Keeping up with the news is hard. So hard, in fact, that we’ve decided to save you the hassle by rounding up the most significant, unusual, or just plain old mind-blowing stories each week.

This week was marked by a real political nail-biter. Ohio’s 12th Congressional district special election went right down to the wire with only a tiny fraction of votes separating the Republican and Democratic candidates. Soothsayers took to their crystal balls to pour over what this might all mean for the November midterms, while elsewhere, disasters and international tiffs collided to create a remarkably varied news week.

10Ohio’s Special Election Went Down To The Wire

Photo credit: cleveland.com

Gosh, that was close. On Tuesday, amid a slew of other highly anticipated races, Ohio’s 12th Congressional district special election went right down to the wire. Called in the wake of Republican Pat Tiberi’s resignation from Congress, it pitted GOP candidate Troy Balderson against Democratic contender Danny O’Connor for a seat in the US House of Representatives. The results were interesting, to say the least.

Balderson squeaked through with 50.2 percent of the votes to O’Connor’s 49.3. (The missing 0.5 went to the Green candidate.) Although most media outlets had called the race at the time of this writing, it still hasn’t officially been declared. A few thousand absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted. While no one is seriously expecting O’Connor to inch ahead, it was still a breathlessly close race in a district that President Trump won by 11 points.

Nor was it the only close race of the night. In Kansas, the GOP gubernatorial primary between establishment pick Jeff Colyer and Trumpist Kris Kobach left the candidates almost neck and neck. Expect many a controversial recount before a winner is declared.[1]

9Chicago Was Paralyzed By A Wave Of Shootings

Photo credit: USA Today

Between Friday afternoon and Monday morning, Chicago suffered a dizzying spike in violence rarely seen outside a postapocalyptic movie. At least 74 people were gunned down in a spate of shootings that ultimately claimed 13 lives and led to chaos in hospital emergency rooms. Although mostly gang related, the shootings still included at least four attacks where gunmen opened fire almost at random.

Chicago has spent the last couple of years gripped by a rising tide of violence that police seem powerless to stop. While everyone has their theories about the causes (and, this being the Internet, those theories likely boil down to “we need more or fewer guns!”), the reality is that there likely isn’t a single, easy factor we can point to. Violence in America’s third-largest city is now so ingrained that it would take a heroic effort to untangle it.[2]

Perhaps the only bright spot in this decay is the brave work of Chicago’s emergency responders. Saving the lives of 61 out of 74 gunshot victims is a minor miracle and one they deserve credit for.

8Argentina Rejected Legal Abortion

Photo credit: The Guardian

Whatever happened, the historic vote in Argentina’s senate was going to dash the hopes of millions. On Wednesday, a bill proposing the legalization of abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy reached the floor as proabortion and antiabortion activists rallied outside. After a marathon 15-hour debate, senators finally voted to reject the bill by 38 to 31. For pro-choice activists, it was a deflating end to a hard-fought campaign that had gripped the nation.[3]

Currently, Argentina only allows abortion in the case of rape or if the mother’s health would be in danger. As a result, there were around 45 deaths attributed to botched illegal terminations last year. When the abortion bill unexpectedly cleared the house by a margin of just four votes in June, it catalyzed a movement across the Latin American nation as everyone scrambled to get the outcome they wanted.

While Wednesday night’s defeat was a blow to the pro-choice crowd, there is a feeling now that legalization may be inevitable down the line. Recent polls show 60 percent of Argentines favor the 14-week limit.

7Canada And Saudi Arabia Got In The Mother Of All Spats

Photo credit: cnbc.com

For all the endless attention paid to President Trump’s tweets, it may have been a tweet from Canada’s foreign policy account that sparked the biggest online diplomatic row of the year. Last Friday, the Canadian government issued a tweet imploring Saudi Arabia to release its political prisoners. It was the average sort of tweet that a dozen liberal Western governments send out a day, only with a significant difference. Someone in Riyadh read it. Boy, were they mad.

In an unexpected move, Saudi Arabia responded to the tweet by going on the diplomatic attack. The Canadian ambassador was expelled from the kingdom. Riyadh froze all trade with Ottawa. Approximately 16,000 Saudi students were ordered to leave Canada and complete their studies elsewhere. Overseas Saudi asset managers were forced to off-load all their Canadian holdings at a loss. Saudis receiving medical treatment in Canada were even evacuated to other nations.

At the time of this writing, Saudi Arabia is threatening to take yet more actions, including potentially canceling an arms deal made with the Trudeau government in 2016. Analysts have suggested that this overreaction may be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s attempt to flex his country’s muscles on the world stage.[4]

6South Sudan Agreed To End Its Civil War

Photo credit: voanews.com

In summer 2011, South Sudan officially seceded from Sudan to become the world’s youngest country. After decades of repression at the hands of the Muslim-majority north, the mainly Christian south was supposed to be embarking on a new chapter of freedom and safety.

That illusion lasted less than two years. In December 2013, a spat between the egomaniacs heading the new nation’s various factions boiled over into civil war. For the last five years, armed groups have murdered and raped with impunity, leaving tens of thousands dead in their wake and an already poor nation in ruins.

This week, President Salva Kiir finally signed an agreement with rebel leader Riek Machar and opposition groups to lay down arms and establish a power-sharing government. If all sides manage to keep their word, it will end one of Africa’s grimmest civil wars.[5]

Sadly, that’s a big “if.” A similar agreement in 2015 collapsed amid riots that killed hundreds and forced Machar to flee the country. Hopefully, we don’t see a repeat.

5New Mexico Police Uncovered A Depraved Training Camp For School Shooters

Photo credit: ABC News

Last Friday, police searching for a missing child executed a search warrant at a New Mexico compound owned by Siraj Wahhaj. Whatever they might have been expecting to find there likely paled to what they actually saw. Wahhaj and his friend Lucas Morton were keeping 11 children in conditions so squalid that it looked like a third-world refugee camp. They also had three brainwashed women captive with them along with a sizable weapons cache.

But it wasn’t until a few days later that this already dark story took a truly awful turn. Wahhaj wasn’t just keeping these children captive. He was actively training them to become school shooters.[6]

Wahhaj seems to have been motivated by radical Islam to instruct these malnourished kids to carry out mass shootings. Worryingly, authorities in the area had been aware of both the compound and Wahhaj’s extremist leanings for some time before they finally did anything. By then, it was already too late for at least one victim. The body of missing four-year-old Abdul-Ghani was found buried on the site.

4Traffic Protests Brought Bangladesh To A Standstill

Photo credit: BBC

On July 29, a speeding bus hit and killed two schoolchildren in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. Such deaths are sadly not all that uncommon in the nation, where 4,000 pedestrians were killed by vehicles in 2017 alone. But this case seemed to trigger an outcry in the usually protest-averse country. Led by students, an army of protesters swarmed over Dhaka, bringing the entire city of 18 million to a standstill.

Last Saturday, the authorities finally responded with unexpected force. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used on the teenagers blocking the roads, resulting in scores of injuries. Foreign journalists were also targeted in what swiftly transformed into a widespread crackdown.[7]

At the time of this writing, the protests are continuing, although there seems to be much unease about the police’s use of force. For their part, the government has tried to mollify the protesters by promising the death penalty for deliberate road deaths.

3Kosovo And Serbia Floated The Idea Of A Land Swap

Photo credit: rferl.org

At the end of the Kosovo War in 1999, the cease-fire lines contained a couple of anomalies. The majority Albanian Presevo Valley remained within Serbia proper, while northern Kosovo with its 50,000 ethnic Serbs ended up under Pristina’s control.

Since then, the two enclaves have been a continuous sore spot in relations between Pristina and Belgrade, which refuses to recognize Kosovo’s independence. This week, senior officials in both governments floated an extremely controversial way of breaking their diplomatic deadlock: swapping territory. Under the proposals, Kosovo would gain the Presevo Valley, while Serbia would gain northern Kosovo above the Ibar River.[8]

The idea was first voiced by Kosovo’s president before being picked up by Serbia’s foreign ministry. While it’s gratifying to see the two unfriendly neighbors moving toward any sort of compromise, many fear further ethnic division in the Balkans could set off a chain reaction with the potential to spiral into violence.

2Congressman Chris Collins Was Arrested For Insider Trading

Photo credit: NBC News

Early Wednesday morning, the FBI raided the home of Republican Congressman Chris Collins. They arrested Collins, his son, and the father of his son’s fiancee. Although FBI raids on political figures usually feature these days in the news alongside the word “Russia,” Collins’s arrest was a completely different kettle of fish. The federal government accused him of breaking insider trading laws to avoid nearly $800,000 in losses.

The case relates to Collins’s position as the No. 2 shareholder in an Australian biotech firm. Allegedly, Collins became aware that lab trials at the firm weren’t showing the expected results and told his son to sell off before the information became public. The son also told his fiancee’s father. Together, they managed to ditch their holdings before the firm’s stock nose-dived, losing 92 percent of its value.

If convicted, Collins and his coconspirators could face up to 20 years in prison. However, Collins is adamant that this is a political stitch-up—to the extent that he plans to remain on the ballot for the November midterm elections.[9]

1A Devastating Earthquake Hammered Indonesia

Photo credit: news.com.au

On Sunday, a powerful earthquake struck the island of Lombok in Indonesia, tearing down buildings and causing chaos. In the immediate aftermath, over 90 people were reported as dead—a significant number of fatalities in anyone’s book. But it wasn’t until much later in the week that we got a glimpse of the true total. On Thursday, authorities revised the death toll sharply upward. At the time of this writing, it stands at 319.[10]

The Lombok quake was a horror show. The island is popular with tourists and was packed with people. The buildings that survived the initial quake were severely weakened by 335 aftershocks. When a huge aftershock hit on Thursday, more structures collapsed, triggering mass panic in the streets. How many people were killed by this latest quake is not yet known.

The bad news sadly doesn’t stop there. Some 1,400 people were badly injured in the quake, and 165,000 were forced to flee the area. Approximately 20,000 people remain cut off from supplies and without water. With a humanitarian crisis looming and the death toll expected to rise, it’s thought that the Lombok quake may yet surpass 2010’s Mentawai disaster to become Indonesia’s deadliest quake of the decade.

Random Acts of Kindness

  1. Help a younger student with their work
  2. Buy someone a coffee
  3. Leave someone flowers anonymously
  4. Make your voice count – sign a petition for a good cause
  5. Help somebody with a chore they need done!
  6. Write a complimentary note for someone
  7. Someone looking lost? Help them with directions
  8. Gift someone something they complimented you for
  9. Google ‘survey for charity’ and complete one. They receive money for every one you fill out!
  10. Support a small, local business as a customer


9 stupid rules that make great people quit | Ladders

via 9 stupid rules that make great people quit | Ladders

Success and Failure

SUCCESS ~ FAILURE —-

Spiritual unfoldment takes place through experience of such opposites as pleasure and pain, success and failure, virtue and vice. Both extremes are equally necessary for the fulfillment of life although they appear to be direct opposites of each other. In fact, from a larger point of view, the opposites of experience turn out to be complementaries rather than contraries. They appear to be clashing incompatibles only for the mind that cannot transcend them.

The opposites of failure and success need each other. There can be no success unless there is failure; and it is equally true that there can be no failure unless there is success. If one has never succeeded in a particular thing, it is meaningless to style such attempts or their results as failure. In the same way, success is success only if there have been prior failures, either by that particular person or by others who tried in the same field.

Success and failure are generally measured, appreciated or suffered more in relation to what has been achieved in the same field by others, than in relation to a target which has been hit or missed. If it is usual for any person to do a particular thing, the doing of it is not to be regarded as a success, although it is success in the sense that what was planned has been achieved.

In every worldly sphere there is bad, worse and worst, as well as good, better and best. There is a conscious or unconscious racing with each other, as well as a perception of that which is beyond all racing. It is out of this racing that success or failure arises.

BEAMS FROM MEHER BABA ON THE SPIRITUAL PANORAMA, 58-62
By Meher Baba
An Avatar Meher Baba Trust eBook June 2011
Copyright : AMBPPCT
Photo: AMBPPCT