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Monday, May 18, 2015

5 Things You Need to Know About Strange Apocalypse Sounds From the Sky

A few days ago an article appeared in the UK Daily Mail concerning the mysterious noises heard by people all over the world in recent years. These strange sounds, which some say sound like trumpet blasts (while others describe the noise as a scraping or rumbling), have been heard everywhere from British Columbia to Belarus, and have led many people into believing that they are the result of everything from HAARP to Project Blue Beam. Some even insist that these sounds signify the trumpet blasts of the apocalypse.

Unfortunately, most articles dealing with this phenomena are long on hyperbole and supposition and short on factual evidence and investigative journalism. If you are one of the many people who believe these strange sounds are the result of a secret government brainwashing plan, UFOs, or the wrath of God Almighty Himself, then keep reading-- because we're about to set the record straight when it comes to these unexplained sounds. Here are five things you need to know about these weird sounds coming from the sky.

"Look over there! It's the Anti-Christ! Oh wait, it's just a raccoon."

1. This is not a recent phenomena

Many articles on the subject claim that these weird noises didn't exist until about a decade ago. Simple research proves that this is not the case. In August of 1932, the British scientific journal Nature reported on mysterious sounds described as "ton der Dove-Bai" by German explorer Alfred Wegener. Wegener described this sound as deep musical note, lasting from several seconds to a few minutes, and somewhat resembling the roaring of a foghorn. During his travels, Wegener encountered this strange sound in five different locations around the world. Wegener theorized the sound was produced by the movement of distant glacial ice. Similar noises were also heard by British explorer Augustine Courtald during his 1930-1931 Greenland expeditions.

As early as 1960, the British government tried to find the cause of the "Big Hum"- a low-pitched intermittent buzzing noise which has bothered residents of East Kent, Dublin, Cornwall, and other UK locales. Other citizens claimed that the noise was a continuous high-pitched whistle. Although the cause was never found, it appears that the "Big Hum" is heard differently by different people. Edward Hyams, a retired Royal Navy radar officer, theorized in 1960 that the hum may be caused "by two noises with different frequencies that travel underground like shock waves", and suggested that a house or building could act as a resonator at the end of a shock wave. [The Daily Telegram, "Britons Kept Awake by Mysterious Noise", May 26, 1960].

However, the first recorded mention of weird noises from the sky comes from the journals of Lewis and Clark, who reported odd buzzing and booming sounds in various points in their travels. [The Daily Interlake, March 11, 1956].

Shofar, so good.

2. Not all strange noises are the same

Acoustical mysteries have defied explanation for centuries and come in several different varieties. These strange sounds from the sky have been compared to trumpet blasts, a shofar (an instrument made from a ram's horn), the rumbling of a slow-moving train, the scraping of a metal blade on concrete, the wail of a siren, distant explosions, cannon fire, and the list goes on and on. Numerous Native American legends allude to these mysterious sounds, sometimes described as being similar to that of a harp being strummed, bells, or a swarm of bees [The Daily Interlake, March 11, 1956].

3. Many of these apocalyptic sounds have been extensively studied and explained.

If you've spent any time at all reading articles about the "apocalyptic sounds in the sky", chances are you've encountered statements like "These sounds began about a decade ago and sound like trumpets in the sky and nobody in the world can explain them". Come to think of it, the Daily Mail article headline actually proclaims: What IS this strange sound from the sky? Noise heard across the globe for nearly a DECADE- but nobody has an explanation.

(Yes, the authors of the article, John Hutchinson and Ash Tulett, actually used caps for emphasis)

This verbiage pisses me off because it's simply not true. Nobody has an explanation? Really? Did John Hutchinson and Ash Tulett even bother doing research before churning out their Daily Mail article? Or were they simply hellbent on scaring gullible folks into believing the Second Coming of Christ is just around the corner? I spent a whole five minutes on Google and saw dozens of plausible explanations by reputable experts. So statements like "nobody has an explanation" leave a foul taste in my mouth, since anyone with Internet access can find numerous explanations in less time than it takes to brush one's teeth.

The best explanation was made all the way back in January of 2012 by renowned Azerbaijani geophysicist Elchin Khalilov, who wrote:

We have analyzed records of these sounds and found that most of their spectrum lies within the infrasound range, i.e. is not audible to humans. What people hear is only a small fraction of the actual power of these sounds. They are low-frequency acoustic emissions in the range between 20 and 100 Hz modulated by ultra-low infrasonic waves from 0.1 to 15 Hz. In geophysics, they are called acoustic-gravity waves; they are formed in the upper atmosphere, at the atmosphere-ionosphere boundary in particular. There can be quite a lot of causes why those waves are generated: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, storms, tsunamis, etc. However, the scale of the observed humming sound in terms of both the area covered and its power far exceeds those that can be generated by the above-mentioned phenomena... In our opinion, the source of such powerful and immense manifestation of acoustic-gravity waves must be very large-scale energy processes. These processes include powerful solar flares and huge energy flows generated by them, rushing towards Earth's surface and destabilizing the magnetosphere, ionosphere and upper atmosphere.

So there you have it: solar flares. Probably not as interesting as aliens or the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or as spooky as Project Blue Beam or HAARP, but it's an explanation that makes sense, as given by a scientist who's far smarter and more knowledgeable than your average conspiracy kook or end times survivalist.

4. Experts still don't know all that much about how sound works.

Believe it or not, the study of acoustics still remains a largely unexplored field. In fact, much of what we know today about infrasound wasn't discovered until the early 21st century. Not only is acoustic science still in the Dark Ages, but so is the science of how the human ear interprets sound. Add into the mix all that remains unknown about electromagnetic fields, spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (SOAE), and the like, and its little wonder why many of the world's acoustic mysteries remain unsolved.

5. Geological features can do some wacky things when it comes to sound.

About ten years ago, a hiking buddy of mine took me to a secluded spot in the mountains of Columbia County, Pennsylvania which he referred to as a "dead zone". I kept asking what he meant by that term. "I can't explain it," he said. "You'll just have to see for yourself." He led me along a mountain ridge to a rock outcropping and told me to stand between two school bus-sized boulders. When I did, I observed something very peculiar: all sound vanished. Yes, that's right, it was as if I stepped into a spot where sound did not exist; the songs of the birds overhead came to a complete halt, as if they had all disappeared. My buddy, standing about twenty feet away, appeared to be talking but, even though his mouth was moving, not a peep could be heard from my position between the boulders. We traded places numerous times, taking turns shouting to each other, only to have the "dead zone" swallow up our words. Oddly, when standing between the boulders, the only time a sound was heard was when I struck one of the boulders with a heavy rock that was on the ground nearby. When struck, the boulder emitted a high-pitched ring that lingered in the air for what seemed like an hour. It was bizarre. However, I'm more inclined to believe this anomaly had something to do with a rare geophysical phenomenon than an ultra-secret military plot to control my brain waves. Or maybe it was just a portal to another dimension. Who knows.

I observed another acoustic oddity while hiking this past weekend at World's End State Park in Sullivan County. I hiked along Shanerburg Run, a shallow stream that flows northward between two mountains, and hiked the Pole Bridge Trail to the top of the mountain which separates Shanerburg Run from Pole Bridge Run, which also flows northward between two mountains. While ascending the western side of the mountain, the babbling of Shanerburg Run ceased about a quarter of the way up. However, at the top of the mountain, I could clearly hear the deafening roar of Pole Bridge Run from the east, about 1500 feet below. In other words, while standing atop the summit, the sound from just one stream could be heard clearly, even though both streams are flanked on both sides by mountains of the same size, and the streams are of the same size, the same depth, and flow at the same rate in the same direction! The only explanation can be that the mountainside flanking Pole Bridge Run is steeper (and thus amplifies sound better) than the side flanking Shanerburg Run.

The point is that sound waves can be distorted and amplified, and even nullified, by topography and geological features. A well-known example of this took place in Utah in 1955. On the evening of April 5, hundreds of alarmed Salt Lake Valley residents called the police and newspapers reporting a strange, loud sound which one witness said sounded like "a locomotive running behind my house". It was eventually discovered that the weird noise in the sky was caused by compressed air being used to clean the water lines of the Utah Power and Light Company steam plant, several miles away. The sound bounced off the mountains and made it difficult to pinpoint the source of the "mystery noise" in the sky [Bennington Banner, April 6, 1955].
There you have it, everything you need to know about eerie sounds coming from the sky in a nutshell.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Voodoo Doctors of Washington, DC.

Newspaper depiction of "Doctor White"

At the close of the 19th century, America was in a state of disarray; the "Panic of 1893" would become the nation's worst economic downturn until the Great Depression, with unemployment rates exceeding 18% by the following year. The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania hit 25%, while New York's jobless rate peaked at 35%. Michigan was hit the hardest, with 43% unemployment. All told, more than 15,000 businesses closed their doors during this depression. Fortunes were lost, careers were ruined, marriages were strained, and the American public looked for salvation anywhere they could. Many of them, in fact, were so desperate that they sought answers to their problems by turning to the supernatural.

During the years of the depression, Washington DC was a haven for mediums, clairvoyants and witches, most of whom promised to restore lost wealth or love with the swallow of an exotic potion or a message from beyond the grave. These charlatans were so popular that city officials made it a priority to crack down on them. Judges handed out stiff sentences to fraudulent fortune-tellers and vagabond Voodoo priests while a police sergeant named John C. Daley made a concerted effort to rid the city of these "disreputable characters".

The following story, which appeared in the May 12, 1898 edition of the Washington Times, illustrates rather colorfully the proliferation of "voodoo doctors" who conducted business in our nation's capital city.

Voodoo Doctors And Their Many Dupes

The mystic confidence game known as Voodooism is so extensively practiced in Washington, despite the activity of the police, and the severe sentences imposed upon offenders by Judges Miller and Kimball. The voodoo "doctors" or charmists are nearly always shrewd, clever-talking colored men, and their victims are members of the woe-begone fraternity, "the other half".

One of the most prolific fields for the operations of these despicable confidence men is South Washington, which abounds with congested byways, lined with squalid hovels, and commons dotted liberally with the shanty homes of poverty.

Police Sergeant John C. Daley is now directing his energies to ferreting out some of these disreputable characters who infest his precinct, the Fourth, which embraces the southern section of the city. One of the men the "fighting sergeant" would like to lay his hands upon is a tall, clerical looking negro whose cards announce him as:



Diseased Cured by Magnetism, Bad Omens Destroyed, Love Affairs Remedied, Marriage Made Happy, &c.

"Dr." White has made a pretty thorough canvass of South Washington's alleys and fields and has taken from the pockets of the poor many nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars which should have been expended for provender, fuel or clothing by his poor patrons.

This foxy voodoo apparently shuns the bright sunlight of the daytime, for the police say the greater part of his work is done under cover of darkness. Like the fox he steals forth from his lair in the shadows of night and invades the home of his victims while they are sitting about their humble hearthstones enjoying a season of rest after the toils of the day.

The evening hours, too, are the best for his shady work in more senses than one. He has a better opportunity of "conning" the poor negroes into patronizing his swindling games, and there is less danger of being spotted and perhaps arrested by the police.

White's favorite scheme, and the one he can work to perfection as he expressed it, with excellent financial results, is the bringing together of lovers who are at outs, or husbands and wives who are separated. In order to be successful, "Dr." White says he plays middle and "works both ends of the game". In other words, he placates both man and woman. For instance, if John Smith has quarreled with Sally Jones, his best girl, and employed the "doctor" to bring about a reunion with Sally, he first demands a retainer, which is never less than $1. Upon receiving this he gives John Smith a small silk bag, which he says contains the hair of a black cat with nine lives, the poison sack of a rattlesnake, and a potion of love powders made from a mysterious root, which must be dug out of the ground on a moonlit night just as the clock strikes for midnight. Smith is instructed to sleep with the uncanny silk bag under his pillow for fourteen nights, and on the fifteenth his sweetheart will appear before him filled with forgiveness and love.

In the meantime the shrewd voodoo doctor calls upon Sally Jones under some pretext. After conversing with her for awhile, he tells her that he has had a "divine" dream, the purport of which is that some dreadful fate will befall her unless she does as he directs. She must, however, maintain the strictest secrecy and never inform anyone that she has ever met or conversed with him. He has previously informed John Smith that he, too, must be secretive and not let a soul know that he (the "doctor"), is trying to heal up the breach between himself and his girl.

After impressing the woman with his alleged wonderful occult powers, if she is at all superstitious, and the female generally is, he proceeds to work upon her feelings and nearly always succeeds in bringing about a reconciliation. After this is affected he pays John Smith a secret visit, usually on his pay day, and collects the remained of the fee.

Voodoo White works a similar game in bringing together man and wife, who have been separated. One of his meanest schemes is to collect fees from unemployed men and women on the promise to get them employment. In these cases he tells his victim to select the position he or she desires and promises to work a charm on the employer to secure employment for his victim. By this outrageous game White has managed to filch many hard-earned pennies and dimes from poor men and women who are struggling in the cheerless embrace of grim poverty. Such work as this, the police say, should land Voodoo White high and dry in the penitentiary for a long term of years.

Dr. White's Devil Salve

"Dr." White also professes to be able to cure rheumatism of long standing, and sells what he calls "The Devil's Salve", for 50 cents a box. It is guaranteed to cure radically the worst cases of rheumatism. He informs his patrons that the salve is made from the oil of tree frogs captured during the first fall of snow, and a liquid extracted from the hearts of jet black cats.

In the practice of a voodoo doctor the black cat plays an important part. Its hair, claws, eyes, heart and other portions forming essential features of his mysterious and fraudulent materia medica. It is for these reasons that black cats are regarded with such reverence by superstitious negroes, especially in the south. A black cat in the cabin of a colored family is regarded as a veritable mascot, a panacea for all ills, real or imaginary. A feline of midnight hue is regarded with as much suspicious awe by the average plantation negro as the sacred white elephant is by the Hindus.

The police are looking high and low for voodoo "Dr." White. They have learned that he lives with the other lawless elements in a Jackson City hovel, where he spends his ill-gotten gains at policy, crap, and other gambling games. He makes predatory visits to South Washington during the candle-light hours and then sneaks back to his lair and evil companions like a thief in the night. He is described as a tall and very black man, with a smooth face, clerical collar and necktie, black clothing and a beaver hat of the vintage 1850.

"Aunt Nancy"

Aunt Nancy's Earth Juice

The South Washington police are also looking for an old colored woman known as "Aunt Nancy", who has established a sort of perambulating Keeley institute for the cure of drunkenness. By means of this scheme the old woman has succeeded in buncoing the wives and mothers of colored drinking men out of much money.
Aunt Nancy carries with her a quart bottle filled with a liquid which, she claims, will make the worst drunkard forsake his cups and devote his earnings to the legitimate uses of his family. Her instructions are to give the victim whisky freely, and in each drink to place three tablespoonfuls of the liquid. The result is that the victim is made deathly sick, and after taking several doses of the "doctored" firewater he will quickly return to sobriety.

Aunt Nancy's magic liquid is known as "Earth Juice" and is made of the slimy substance extracted from the masses of the red worms, or bait worms, which are dug out from the dark and loamy soil by anglers. The effect of "Earth Juice', when administered with whisky, is to make the victim's very sick, and to cause violent purgings. Several of Aunt Nancy's patients were made so ill by the use of the remedy it is said that it became necessary to send them to Freedman's Hospital for treatment.

This same old female voodoo does a thriving business in selling "love powders" and charms. The former, if administered in the food or drink of a subject, male or female, are warranted to bring on a most desperate case of love, which will remain as true as "the stars above". While her charm, if used as directed, will enable their possessor to control the actions, finances, etc., of the desired person, or to place them under an evil spell.

Aunt Nancy is said to live in a little shanty near Eighteenth and A streets northeast, and the king of her uncanny abode is a big Tom cat. His name is Jasper and he is as black a feline as ever trod the top of a back fence or indulged in a midnight falsetto solo. The peculiarity about Jasper is a small spot of yellow on the center of his forehead, and his eyes, one of which is green and the other blue. This animal is regarded as sacred by the superstitious colored people on the eastern commons, many of whom journey to Aunt Nancy's tumble-down little castle and pay ten cents for the privilege of stroking Jasper's back thrice, which Nancy declares will give them "gud luck an' plenty ob it".

Washington is overrun with tricky voodoos and it will be a good piece of work if the police succeed in arresting them and incarcerating the whole lot, under the vagrancy act, in the workhouse, which is their proper realm.
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