Scientists Believe They Have Solved The Mystery Of The Bermuda Triangle

Dr. Simon Boxall, an ocean and earth scientist, explained that the Bermuda Triangle is an area where storms and currents from three different directions can converge and create the perfect conditions for rogue waves to form.

“There are storms to the south and north, which come together. And if there are additional ones from Florida, it can be a potentially deadly formation of rogue waves.”

He explained that the larger the ship, the more likely it is to be destroyed by a massive wave, some of which are capable of snapping a boat in half.

Venezuela could eventually have 1 million percent inflation. 

“The situation in Venezuela is similar to that in Germany in 1923 or Zimbabwe in the late 2000s.” It’s a reminder that even a failed state such as Venezuela can still fail some more. Which it almost certainly will.”

“$333,333 worth of bolivars in 2012 would be worth $1 today.”

End of an era: Necco wafers have ceased production

“They were manufactured by the New England Confectionery Company (hence “NECCO”), the Boston candy makers who claimed they were the “oldest continuously operating candy company” in the land, even providing Civil War soldiers with Necco Wafers. And that’s just the thing you want to snack on in our age of sugary excess: a candy that even a syphilitic soldier who just saw his brother die of a musket wound would call the most disappointing thing about his day.”

Mark Zuckerberg just lost more than $15 billion in one day

In fact, in about an hour!

Zuckerberg’s personal one-hour loss was equivalent to the entire value of United Airlines, or the entire GDP of the country of Iceland.

Facebook’s market value dropped more than $100 billion (19% of its value) in a bearish day of trading. That is the largest drop in history for a single stock in a single day.

Mystery of a 2,000-year-old papyrus has finally been decoded – and it’s all about women having sex

“Specifically, it relates to a proposed medical condition called ‘hysterical apnea.’ The now-debunked idea proclaimed that women who were starved of sexual intercourse became hysterical and crazy.”

Thomas Jefferson never said any of these things!
It has long been a technique of the unethical and/or the downright stupid to add gravitas to their pronouncements by claiming an origin from an acknowledged genius. Before the internet and cable television, such misinformation was generally confined to discussions between individuals, and it was difficult back then for one person to publish or broadcast misquotations without somebody else fact-checking the claims. The self-publishing capability of the internet, however, has made it a simple matter for a person to promote a personal agenda by merely typing an opinion beneath the solemn visage of an acknowledged sage, then posting the .jpg on a social media site or a blog. Sometimes these misquotations go viral. I hate the word “viral” in this context. It’s actually more of a plague than a virus.

Here are some other examples:

Confucius never said: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” How could he? Very few people got to “choose” a profession in China 500 years before Christ. In fact, Confucius did say almost the opposite. He argued that the enlightened master should be wise in choosing our work for us! “When the person in authority makes more beneficial to the people the things from which they naturally derive benefit;– is not this being beneficent without great expenditure? When he chooses the labors which are proper, and makes them labor on them, who will repine?”

Benjamin Franklin did not say, “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither,” mainly because he was a genius, not an idiot. The very essence of “civilization” involves people banding together and surrendering absolute liberty to create mutual security. Before the dawn of civilization, our cave-dwelling ancestors discovered that absolute freedom is not such a good thing, except for the strongest and most violent among us. Franklin did say, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” With those essential qualifiers, the statement becomes indisputable. Without them, it is gibberish.

John Stuart Mill did not say “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives,” again because he was not a fool. In fact, the LEAST-educated people, high school dropouts, vote overwhelmingly for liberals. Among those with no high school diploma, President Obama beat Governor Romney 64-35. On the other hand, the MOST-educated people also vote overwhelmingly for liberals (55-42 Obama). Using educational achievement as a reasonable surrogate for intellectual capability, it can fairly be argued, at least in the context of modern American politics, that most stupid people are liberals and that most smart people are liberals. (That reality renders the liberal coalition highly fragile.) Everyone in the middle tends to be conservative. Here is what Mill actually said: “I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative.” Get it? Not “conservatives,” but “THE Conservatives” with a capital “C.” He is not referring to “conservative” with a lower-case “c” as a general political philosophy, but with an upper-case “C” as a specific political bloc in 19th century England whose members were, in Mill’s esteemed but pompous judgment, chowderheads, presumably because they often disagreed with him, thus failing to suitably acknowledge his genius to his satisfaction.

Einstein never said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” If he had said it, an editor would probably have re-worded it to employ a more suitable verb than “surpass” (“suppress,” perhaps?). A movie called “Powder” claimed (fictionally) that the great physicist once said, “It’s become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity.” The movie’s version at least includes proper grammatical parallelism, and may even be a wise observation, but I can’t give you a link to the real quote because the real Einstein never said that or anything like it.

Pretty much every aphorism attributed to Mark Twain is spurious.

The U.S. Presidential IQ hoax was a mid-2001 e-mail and internet hoax that purported to provide a list of estimated IQs of the U.S. Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush.

It was reprinted as if factual by the ever-gullible Guardian, and was cited in a Doonesbury cartoon as if it represented reality.

In reality, we have a good handle on only three Presidential IQs.

JFK was tested at 119 by his prep school.

President Bush the Younger scored 1206 on the pre-1974 SAT, which converts to an IQ of about 129 on the Otis scale. (There was a close correlation between SAT and IQ in those days. The correlation was dependable enough that MENSA accepted a 1250 score for membership at that time. Over the years the tests have been revised, the correlation no longer exists, and MENSA no longer accepts SAT scores in its admission process.)

Richard Nixon was one of the gifted students studied by Terman in his longtitudinal study. Nixon biographer Roger Morris says RMN tested at 143 when he was in Fullerton High School in California.


Al Gore was never elected President (or was he?), but we also have a pre-1974 SAT score for him. He scored 1355, which is equivalent to about 137-138 on the Otis scale, and would place him in the upper 1%, about in the same league as Nixon.

Abandoned States: Places In Idyllic 1960s Postcards Have Transformed Into Scenes Of Abandonment

The author did a wonderful job of morphing the old images with his own modern ones, thus truly bringing the transformation to life.

If you grew up in NY or the surrounding states, you may have spent a summer or two in the Poconos or The Catskills, particularly if your family was Jewish. The resorts there were places where entire families took long summer vacations together. They featured modern facilities, good food, top-drawer entertainment (this was the famed “Borsch Belt”), and all sorts of healthy recreation. It was that era’s version of a Caribbean cruise, with just a hint of today’s Las Vegas.

I never spent a summer at any of these places, but my family always stopped to eat some of the famed deli cuisine when we traveled from Lake Ontario to the urban caverns of The City. Route 17 was our Yellow Brick Road even if The City boasted no emerald glow.

Nobody from upstate called that city “New York” then, because we were all from New York, even the upstate rubes. One simply said “The City,” and the meaning was clear to everyone. Boston and Detroit were cities, and I lived in a city, but those in the center of the world lived in THE City. Some of my teachers were from The City, and they felt it cast them in a superior mold to that which formed us locals because their city was tougher, smarter, and more energetic than any experience we or any outsider had known. The City was coarser, yet somehow also more refined, than our humble origins. Some of those men bragged of hard childhoods in Hell’s Kitchen or comfy ones on the Upper East Side, but most of those tough, quick-tempered grandsons of Erin were forged in the fires of the Outer Boroughs.

That yellow brick road of my childhood is brown and crumbling today. The most imposing resorts were shuttered long ago, but they were glorious in their day. Grossinger’s, the most famous resort in the area, and supposedly the inspiration for “Dirty Dancing,” had its own golf course, many tennis courts, a ski area with a snow-making machine, indoor and outdoor pools, and a massive theater. Elizabeth Taylor married Eddie Fisher there; Jerry Lewis performed there; Jackie Robinson went there to relax.

Today? The reflective moments of “Dirty Dancing” accurately predicted the demise of the Catskill family resorts:

“It’s not the changes so much this time. It’s that it all seems to be ending. You think kids want to come with their parents and take fox-trot lessons? It feels like it’s all slipping away.”

And slip away it did. Like the resorts, that “way of life is fall’n into the sere.”

The Grossinger golf course is still functioning, but …

Gothamist explains:

“Today, Grossinger’s still has everything you’re looking for—if what you’re looking for is exquisite decay.

The drive there is is a beautiful, albeit sad, experience. State route 17 winds through the Catskills, past boarded up summer camps, through predominantly Orthodox Jewish communities and down near-abandoned main streets. Up a hill and past a guard shack plastered with “no trespassing” signs, Grossinger’s appears on the horizon.

Much of the resort has been demolished; what’s left has been thoroughly picked through over the years. The cabins and cottages that dot the grounds are unsafe to enter, their floors badly rotted, their roofs a deluge of splintered wood. Nobody is home at the Jennie J hotel, which has been thoroughly torn apart. Every bit of copper and steel plucked from its walls, every bathroom smashed apart.”

(That article in Gothamist has many pictures of the former resort’s current state of decrepitude.)

A Review of Area 51: An Uncensored History

The Sane Portion of the Book:

This book about the mysterious Area 51 has been written by an L.A. Times reporter named Annie Jacobsen, based on interviews with five top insiders: a former commander of the base, a test pilot who flew experimental aircraft there, a radar specialist, an aircraft fuel specialist, and an engineer.

Area 51 actually served a fairly prosaic Cold War function as a base for testing top-secret experimental aircraft designs, but this simple truth about the area demonstrates how so many wild stories originated. There were plenty of mysterious underground tunnels and other underground facilities, and strange-looking aircraft were tested there. Using unusual designs and materials, the engineers were trying to accomplish many different things, one of which was to circumvent Soviet radar. To this end, many jets were formed in such odd shapes that they might easily be mistaken for alien spaceships, and those eccentric designs were not merely exposed once or twice in the dead of night, but soared through thousands of daytime flights into areas visible by commercial airliners, where they could have been and sometimes were spotted.

When it comes to matters involving experimental aircraft, I was convinced that Jacobsen was thorough in her interviewing and accurate in her conclusions. To the extent which I can verify her assertions, they fit well with the known facts. She also has some great photographs which illustrate her story and back up her claims.

By the way, Area 51 is no longer much of a secret. Just about nothing above the ground can be hidden from all those satellites up there. (Link)

The Crazy Stuff:

Unfortunately, Jacobsen poisoned the worthwhile aspects of her book with some truly nutty connections to the famous Roswell UFO incident. According to one of her sources, the popular Roswell stories are kinda true, but don’t involve aliens. His claim is that Stalin’s Russia created an unpiloted drone aircraft, more like a rocket, full of grotesque humans who had been the subject of horrific Nazi experiments. The Russkies shot this plane/rocket to the USA, where it crashed quite famously in Roswell, New Mexico. The point of the mission was to create a panic, ala War of the Worlds, in the assumption that gullible Americans would assume them to be space creatures.

I’m not quite sure how this panic was supposed to benefit Russia, but I guess we could allow the benefit of the doubt and assume it was a mad idea from the mad Stalin.

But some of this just doesn’t add up.

Of course, there is the fact that former Soviet officials are trying to cash in on tell-all books now that Soviet archives have been declassified. Surely one of them would have brought this kind of material to a publisher, and surely a publisher would have jumped on it.

But that’s not the big problem. There is the matter of the timeline. Area 51 could not be connected to Roswell in any way. The Roswell incident occurred in 1947, but Area 51 was completely abandoned between 1945 and 1955.

Jacobsen also said in her NPR interview, “A flying disc really did crash in New Mexico and it was transported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and then in 1951 it was transferred to Area 51, which is why the base is called Area 51.”

That claim is completely unsupportable. The base in 1951 was just as forlorn as in 1947. There was nothing at Groom Lake (aka Area 51) in 1951 except an overgrown airfield that had been abandoned after WW2. According to newly declassified documents about the origin of the site: “In April 1955, LeVier, Johnson, Bissell, and Ritland flew out to Nevada on a two-day survey of the most promising lakebeds, including Groom Lake. The abandoned airfield that Ritland had remembered was sandy, overgrown and unusable, but the three-mile-wide dry lakebed was perfect.”

The alleged 1951 transfer of Roswell artifacts cannot explain how Area 51 got its name. Perhaps those remains existed and exist still. Perhaps they may have gone somewhere near Area 51, but they did not go there because, as Gertrude Stein once famously remarked about Oakland, there was no there there.

Here’s the really weird part of it: Jacobsen would have rejected the statement she made in the NPR interview if she had just read her own book! She took much of her material from the same source I quote above, Roadrunners Internationale. She correctly identifies the origin of the Groom Lake project as 1955, and in a sane portion of her book she interviews a different source who says that the Roswell remains were taken to another area – “Area 22” – in the Nevada desert. That is possible, because Area 22 was actually part of a government testing area in 1951. The mysterious Area 51 was not. At that point it was just abandoned land adjacent to a bomb-testing area, right next to the government’s “Area 15.”

By the way, the same guy who told her about the Roswell remains being the source of Area 51’s name, and about the Nazi/Stalin collaboration, also told her that the USA was performing the same kind of Nazi medical experiments in the USA:

“We were doing the same thing,” he said. “They wanted to push science. They wanted to see how far they could go. We did things I wish I had not done. We performed medical experiments on handicapped children and prisoners.”

“But you are not a doctor,” I said.

“They wanted engineers.”

Yes, you read that right. Her source claimed that he personally committed crimes as heinous as those perpetrated by Dr. Joseph Mengele. Oh those wacky Nazis – they were really just like us! Her source was either a pathological liar or one of the biggest monsters of the 20th century, but she kept talking to him – and quoting him!

What else did he say?

Well…

  • He also claimed that the Soviets not only had mastered hover-and-fly technology in 1947, with the craft moving at incredible speeds, but could also operate the craft remotely from the USSR.
  • He also claimed that he and his team had reverse-engineered that same Russian technology and had conquered hover-and-fly technology way back in 1951. “We figured it out. We’ve had hover and fly technology all this time.”
  • He also mentions that two of the surgically-altered children in the alleged Soviet aircraft were still alive: “Two of the aviators were comatose but still alive, the men would have to transfer them into a Jell-O-like substance and stand them upright in two tubular tanks, attached to a lifesupport system. Sometimes, their mouths opened, and this gave the appearance of their trying to speak. Remember, the engineers were told, these humans are in a comatose state. They are unconscious; their bodies would never spark back to life.”

    That particular source was obviously nutty as a fruitcake, or may have been getting a kick out of pulling Jacobsen’s leg. Either way, she should have realized it, should have discredited every word out of his mouth, and should not have printed any of his demented ramblings. So why did she include his bizarre statements? Given that the sane parts of her book clearly identify 1955 as the beginning of the Groom Lake facility, why did she even include anachronistic 1951 Roswell material in a book that is supposed to be about Groom Lake?

    Well, we can speculate about the answers to those questions at length. My guess is that she thought a dry book about experimental aircraft being tested in the desert was not destined to be a best-seller, but even a little Roswell craziness would sell books, and a wacky Nazi connection would sell a LOT of books.

    But then again I am a cynic. Form your own conclusions.

    Summary:

    The Road to Area 51 is actually two works in one. Part One is a sensible piece of research about a Cold War facility used to test experimental aircraft in secrecy. Part Two is absolute nonsense – historical and scientific gibberish. The second part undoubtedly adds immeasurably to the marketability of the overall project, but it completely undermines the credibility of the first part.

    Reader comment:

    (by Kevin W)

    Enjoyed your take on the Area 51 book. I’m a History PhD student working on the early Cold War, so the NPR interview also piqued my interest. A quick Google search of Jacobsen brings up this Snopes article.

    Seems she’s a bit of an alarmist by trade.

    On the Stalin/Nazi UFO claims, her story is complete shit, as you point out. But I can’t resist offering some fascinating historical context.

    Over the course of 1947, the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Allied powers met several times to negotiate the fate of postwar Germany and other pressing postwar issues. Most historians consider the eventual collapse of these talks to be the definitive start of the Cold War.

    Consider the chronology of how things developed over that summer of 1947. On June 5, George Marshall delivered his famous speech at Harvard offering economic aid to Europe. The Marshall Plan initially included the Soviets and all of the countries they occupied in what would become the Eastern Bloc. The State Department gambled that Stalin would turn down the aid and thus cede the moral high ground to the US in negotiations. That’s exactly what happened when the Soviet delegation walked out at the beginning of the Marshall Plan Conference in Paris. The conference started on July 12,1947.

    To put that in perspective, the Roswell air base held the infamous UFO press conference on July 8, 1947. The crash itself supposedly took place some time in the previous month.

    In other words, according to Jacobsen, some time between Marshall’s speech and the Paris Conference, Stalin green-lighted a mission to send an experimental aircraft full of mutants over the continental US. He apparently developed the technology for this mission in collaboration with Nazi scientists – some of his least favorite people. And, keeping in mind this was two years prior to the Soviet development of an atomic bomb, Stalin apparently thought June 1947 would be the perfect time to provoke the world’s only nuclear power.

    But, to make it even better, don’t provoke them with the Red Army, the world’s largest and most seasoned fighting force and the reason the Allies won the war. No, let’s make some fake aliens and re-create the reaction to some pre-war radio broadcast. That’s the ticket. Never mind that 5 Enola Gays will be over Moscow a couple days later.

    Poking the US with a sharp, fancy stick – while in the middle of deciding the future of Europe – might have been Hitler’s idea of a good time, but Stalin was a bit more coldblooded than that – still a ruthless killer, but in a calculated way.

    Anyway, preaching to the choir, I realize. Sorry for the extended rant, but I feel better now.