(Originally posted 10/11/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
Will General Woundwort’s revenge obsession be satisfied?
Image Credit: Deviant Art
(Originally posted 10/10/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
October is the perfect month for all things creepy. If you want to channel your inner historian for a clever costume idea for upcoming festivities, how about these 5 little known creepy historical facts:
1. Hotelier H.H. Holmes who designed his delightful little inn for the express purpose of committing murder and mayhem among guests. He was responsible for murdering as many as 200 people (that we know of) through various dark arts, like chopping them up, toxic gas, and starvation.
2. Victorian era folks liked to take photos of loved ones. Um, after they were dead. With poses and props and all. Just like they were still alive. And memorializing babies and children were favorite subjects of this macabre practice. Weird.
3. In 19th Century Canada, ladies drank a birth control tea, a beverage made from steeped beaver’s testicles. Yum.
4. 14 years BEFORE the Titanic sank a book entitled The Wreck Of The Titan was written and published by Morgan Robertson. Guess what it was about? An unsinkable ship that hit an iceberg and…. sank. And most of the passengers died because… there weren’t enough lifeboats. Freaky.
5. Every lover of art, history, etc. dreams of a pilgrimage to the Smithsonian Institute. But a visitor may get more than they bargain for. They might also experience the ghost of the founder of the Smithsonian, James Smithson, who is buried on the grounds and reported to haunt the museum. So intense are reports of hauntings by Smithson that in 1973 his remains and casket were inspected just to see if he was still in there.
(Originally posted 10/5/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
When the gringa was growing up in a strict Southern Baptist household, Ouija boards were banned. The gringa should feel fortunate that my mother was more lenient than her parents. My mother grew up in an even stricter religious household where a deck of cards was considered to be just as Satanic as an Ouija board. But where did the Ouija board really come from?
Did Satan design and deliver it to mortal man? Is the Ouija board a gateway to communicate with the dead? Does one risk demonic possession or an invitation for a ghostly haunting if a bit of fun is had with this device? Probably not.
The Ouija board was first marketed in America during the 1800s. But this was just a mordernized version of an ancient Chinese trinket that dates back to 1100AD. When early Americans became curious about communicating with the dead, a rash of mysticism arose.
Hypnotists came on the scene but it was really the spiritualists that commanded the era. And certainly in capitalist America there was a cunning entrepreneur who realized that, although lacking in acting skills and unable to pass self off as a medium or psychic, it would be easy to head to the woodshop and craft a device that assists anyone in talking with the dead.
You heard the gringa right. The Ouija board as we know it today is nothing more than a clever capitalist’s Shark Tank dream come true of the 1800s. Designed after the many cultures who practiced supernatural “automatic writing” practices, rather than being the spawn of Satan, the Ouija board is the offspring of centuries of ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Medieval Europeans.
What the heck was going on in America to have good Christians begin to dabble in the black arts? After the Civil War ravaged families, there were plenty of heartbroken, lonely people, as well as guilt-ridden people, who were desperate to connect with dead loved ones. And dead loved ones were in abundance after a war that decimated the American population.
Actors and actresses turned spiritualists groomed their acting skills and added parlor tricks to their repertoires. Ghostly tapping on walls, levitating tables, and smoky emissions were the skills of spiritualists that earned them a loyal following and steady income. Some even enjoyed a celebrity status, like the Fox sisters of New York. So, if you wanted to get on the ghost-talking gravy train express but couldn’t act your way out of a paper bag, you equipped yourself with an Ouija board and held seances.
So, are Ouija boards imbued with magical powers? Certainly. They make money disappear quick as a wink. Happy Halloween season, my dear readers!
Source: The Vintage News
Image Credit: Cornucopia 3D
Video Credit: Crypticc
(Originally posted 10/3/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
Lovers of horror and science-fiction are most likely big fans of the Walking Dead series as well as any movie or book that is zombie-related. A visit to New Orleans will result in any number of Voodoo and zombie trinkets being purchased and brought back home.
The first famous literary mention of zombies occurred in 1810. Robert Southey wrote of brain-eating monsters in his book History of Brazil. As the word morphed throughout the English reading world, zombies became known as once-dead humans that re-animate without intelligence or self-awareness. Their only purpose was to serve a master and survive upon human brains.
Are zombies real? Should a person have an after-death back-up plan? Should the dead be buried with emergency beacons to activate in case they inadvertently awaken? Should a trusted loved one be appointed to deliver a coup-de-grace if it turns out our brainless body recycles itself? Before venturing into any such plans, let’s see what science has to say. Zombie believers might be surprised. The gringa certainly was.
Voodoo and santeria cultures believe that zombies are real. These religions, with origins in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, take zombies seriously. Although details vary among different sects, the basics are the same. A practitioner of experience and power can re-animate the dead and sometimes control them. The purpose of creating a zombie was sometimes considered a means of punishment for the person that died. Another purpose was enslavement.
For the most part, the subject of zombies has not been taken seriously by outsiders of Voodoo or santeria. In the 1980s, this outsider perspective changed when western scientist, Wade Davis, discovered a substance that could turn a living human into a zombie.
Tetrodotoxin is a neurotoxin found in pufferfish. The good scientist found this toxin in a powder form being used by influential religious leaders in Voodoo sects throughout Haiti. This was the inspiration behind his own book that became a film, The Serpent and the Rainbow.
More recently, however, is something even more titillating. Although Davis’ zombie explanation does not actually involve re-animated corpses, only doped-up folks who were still among the living, this new discovery does, indeed, support more traditional zombie theory. And it may challenge many of today’s most popular religious beliefs about what happens after death.
Canadian medical professionals have released the findings of a recent study of the brains of critically ill patients and what happened within the brain right after death. The gringa says, “Hold on to your hats, folks.” Ya know that straight line across the machine followed by a steady whine instead of a series of rhythmic beeps that you see in movies when a patient dies? Yeah, that’s the movies. Not exactly what really happens.
Once the heart stopped beating and any sign of a pulse ceased, the Canadian doctors continued to see activity in the brain. The cerebral organ continued to produce the same kind of brain waves that occur when you sleep. So, for as long as 10 minutes after being declared dead, the dead were, evidently, still dreaming.
Now, this didn’t happen in every single individual the doctors studied. It occurred in about 25% of those who died. And the good docs don’t have a clue how to explain this. While most of their patients, 75%, had zero brain activity before their hearts even stopped beating, this 25% defies explanation according to medicine as the doctors know it.
Even after auditing the equipment, in the hopes they could attribute it to a mechanical mistake, the doctors were still left scratching their heads. Their equipment was operating perfectly.
And the mystery is heightened when it was discovered that in the first minute after the cessation of a heart beat (official death), for the 25%, there was actually a SURGE of brain activity. The gringa supposes those individuals were experiencing something like this, “Holy cow! Check this out! I’m floating! No more pain! This is amazing! Hey! Doc! Get in here! I’m cured! I’m flying! Oh, wait! I’m dead! Am I dead? Then how am I talking to myself? Do dead people still think? Maybe I’m not dead. I could just be dreaming.”
And the gringa thinks that maybe a zombie is just the pre-cursor for a ghost. And a ghost would be the consciousness of that 25% who seem to be very confused about what they are supposed to do when their heart stops beating. So, maybe the 25% are those considered rebels, those folks who never follow the rules. Maybe they are those with unfinished business. They could just be mean people who refuse to relieve the world of the pain and grief they cause. Who knows.
And, these 25%’ers are not the only ones confused. The Canadian doctors were further confused by other activity that continued after “official” death. Not only were delta brain waves active (the dream wave), but the genes of the 25%’ers were also active, doing whatever it is that genes do. Which means, while the heart is telling the body, “It’s all over”, the genes were still going about their business making the proteins necessary to regulate bodily functions. Seems like stubbornness may not be a learned trait but “in the genes”.
And, so far, no one knows why any of this is happening. So, for at least 25% of the world’s population, zombies and ghosts might be the real deal!
Happy Halloween Season!
To view a video on this discover, click the Independent’s video link here.
Image Credit: Top Form Fitness
Video Credit: Independent
(Originally posted 9/28/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
Well, the gringa’s at it again… de-bunking UFO conspiracies. Sorry to spoil everyone’s fun. But, I assure you that there is no ancient alien connection inspiring countries like the US to embark on military strategies in order to gain control of Iraq. A review of the “evidence” will prove this to be so.
We’ve all heard of the stories of how Iraq’s antiquities have been looted because of the long, on-going conflict in that country. The nation is a wealth of history and artifacts. Iraq was once the famed Babylon of old. It was the heart of education, art, religion and science.
A diverse, cosmopolitan population was comprised of the brightest minds invited to come and enrich the academic world of ancient Babylon. Artists, composers, and every other creative mind once longed for those dreamy deserts and never-ending horizons of the Middle East. But the knowledge and the scientific and cultural advancements that accompanied higher thinking is not to be credited to space alien influence.
Ancient alien theorists and UFOlogists are attributing ancient spaceship launches to a speech recently delivered by Iraq’s Transport Minister. What, exactly, did this man say? Was there something misunderstood in translation? Was he speaking in satire rather than literally? Let’s examine the words of Minister Kadhem Finjan Al-Hamami when he spoke at the opening ceremony of a new airport in Dhi Qar of southern Iraq:
“It’s a long story, maybe you don’t know about it. Maybe even people from Dhi Qar don’t know – the first airports that were built on planet Earth were built in the 5th Millenium BC in Dhi Qar. There were Sumerians who launched spaceships and headed to other worlds.”
Al-Hamami’s remarks were met with confusion by the panel behind him as well as the people in the audience. It also turns out that he has a reputation for making outrageous statements. He once claimed that he was so old that he had also ridden on Noah’s Ark. Needless to say, the gringa doubts he really believes this Sumerian spaceship nonsense. What he more likely believes is political strategy.
What would be politically strategic about making such an outrageous claim? Why risk your political integrity and credibility? Well, one reason would be to normalize a fringe belief on behalf of a benefactor that has a vested interest in normalizing something otherwise considered crazy.
The theory that Sumerians were more than scientists, architects and astronomers as well as space travelers is the work of Russian professor Samuel Kramer. Russia has a desire to gain influence in Iraq in order to protect its big oil interests more effectively. And what better way to stroke the national ego of a country than to provide historical information that proves that country had once been superior to every other country on the planet?
But why the space alien angle? Because it can neither be proven or disproven, for one thing. But Russia has been working to normalize space alien theories for decades. Why? For Russia, it would mean opportunity. In fact, many opportunities.
Who are the nations that represent the largest threat to Russian dominance? The US and allied western European nations. The discovery of space alien life would throw such nations into an existential crisis. For countries structured around Judeo-Christianity, their societies would suddenly be in cultural upheaval. Everything they believed would become falsehood. And in such chaos is opportunity to then re-form an entire society’s thinking.
And if those society’s learned that their governments had been keeping such a secret, those governments would no longer be trusted. There would be political revolution. And before that revolution stabilized into a new national version based on new knowledge, there would be years and years of factional division and chaos.
If this past year’s political chaos has not made a believer out of a person that Russia thrives when other nations are in chaos, then you have been sleeping straight through history being made. And Russia is wholly committed to the space alien angle as just one more way to keep everyone else knocked off balance and distracted from what Russia is really doing.
Over and over Russian operatives seed explosive space alien related stories. In 2010 they claimed to have discovered alien micro-organisms in comet space dust. 2014 brought an announcement from Russia’s International Space Station mission chief, Vladimir Solovyev, that space sea plankton had been found. NASA denied the reports but no such denial ever was issued from Rocosmos, Russia’s space agency. And about one month later, Germany’s space agency, The German Aerospace Center (DLR), called the material “bacterial DNA” rather than sea plankton.
So, when it comes to what may seem very credible reports because they link with what seems to be a legitimate organization, the gringa says, “Beware!” Although, so far, Americans have been lucky enough to have our own NASA unblemished by political agendas and ambitions, the same is not true for Rocosmos. That being said, trace back to the source any UFO or space alien claims. If they originate from Russia, consider the political motive. Then consider the scientific credibility as dubious.
The gringa does not deny the possibility that space aliens exist. I also don’t deny the possibility of ancient Earth civilizations that were highly advanced. But, thus far, I have yet to find any confirmation through credible evidence. I simply keep an open mind and I keep reading! And I always READ SMART!
Image Credit: BECUO
Video Credit: MEMRI TV
(Originally posted 9/26/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
Recently, a website published an article about an ISIS commander who was arrested in Libya only to have his identity confirmed as an Israeli Mossad agent. In the past, this website has published very questionable conspiracy theories. The site has even had to experience the humiliation of egg on the face when it made assertions that were widely believed by the public then proven to be false. The assertion was actually a hoax that was planted by another site to test their credibility.
Once a site gets discredited in such a way, it gets labeled fake news. But does that mean everything such a site publishes is fake news? Many media sites enhance facts and details to pump up an otherwise boring story. They need fantastic headlines to generate traffic and make money. And, the sad news is that such desperate acts will inevitably lead to credibility issues. And, even sadder, there may be on staff some writers who are actually committed to journalistic integrity.
Buried in the midst of many conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods, could be some very good journalism exposing important stories. And now those stories are lost to the public because of a few bad actors. The gringa’s solution is to continue to chase an interesting headline. Read the story and try to verify any claims. Hence, the interest in the ISIS-Mossad link story.
I had already heard rumors that ISIS was actually a joint US-Israeli operation designed to keep the Middle East destabilized for the benefit of US and Israel. But such a dark op would be practically impossible to verify with hard facts. Any government document that might offer proof would be classified. De-classification would probably never occur in the gringa’s lifetime. So, I ignored any follow-up on my suspicions until this story. Can this man’s identity really be confirmed as Israeli Mossad?
Well, the gringa has found no credible means to verify the man’s identity. The only other information offered by conspiracy theorists to prop up the “Israel is ISIS” claim is the fact that no ISIS attacks have occurred on Israeli soil. But the gringa’s not so sure if that really means anything. I mean, there are plenty of nations that have not experienced a terrorist attack by ISIS. So, lack of aggression on Israeli soil to justify accusing Israel of being ISIS would also require the same measuring stick be applied to countries like Peru, Monaco, Tahiti, etc. And the gringa’s pretty sure that none of those nations are creators of ISIS despite their lack of being victimized by ISIS.
So far, ISIS has also not declared war on Israel. The group has declared war on the United States, Western Europe, Egyptian Christians, Turkey and Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
The only credible source that might contain evidence supporting the “Israel is ISIS” theory is a UN document. UN Secretary General published a 15 page report on the accounts of the UN Disengagement Observer Force that observed Israel’s role in the Syria-ISIS conflict. Did this report indicate any possibility that Israel was supporting ISIS or was, in fact, covertly operating as ISIS? Here are some of the facts:
– Israel has provided medical care to Syrian rebel groups based along the UN’s Syrian-Israeli 40-year cease-fire line.
– Israel has also provided these groups with unidentified supplies.
– Israel has possibly received intelligence on Syria from the rebel groups in exchange for the assistance.
– The Israeli government attests to its activities, stating that it provides medical aid to any in dire need, that they are not vetted as to belonging to any particular faction or whether they are civilians. Israel provides the humanitarian aid of medical service to any Syrian.
– As to supplies, the Israeli government states that they are humanitarian in nature, things like medicine, heaters, food, etc.
The gringa suspects that these facts have been “enhanced” by conspiracy theorists in order to craft a sensational headline and story to suggest that Israel is ISIS. But it just doesn’t make sense.
The ultimate goal of ISIS is to build a caliphate that is strong enough to be a global power so that it can rule the world.
Right now, it does not even hold sway over a single nation. Sooner or later, if it achieves its goals, it would get around to an attempt to wipe out Israel. So, no Israel is not ISIS.
But what about an Israeli Mossad proven to be the arrested ISIS commander? The gringa says, “So what? That doesn’t prove that Israel is ISIS.” The dear reader may ask, “Why not?”
Because that is the nature of the spy game. Becoming embedded on enemy turf as the enemy, with the hope of rising high up on the food chain, is every spy’s dream. US CIA agents do it. Russian KGB operatives do it. And so do Israeli Mossad agents. That is the spy game. When a spy gets busted, it doesn’t mean that the country represented is behind the group that spy was embedded with. It only means that one nation was infiltrated secretly by a foreign operative.
So, in the end, chase any exciting story that tickles your fancy. Keep reading. But always read smart!
Image Credit: SOTT
Video Credit: Now This World
(Originally posted 9/25/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
A fun instructional book about plant science.
Plants do strange things!
(Originally posted 9/21/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
The famous 1947 Roswell incident of a supposed crashed alien spacecraft reported curious details. Rancher W.W. “Mack” Brazel described the debris he found as: large pieces of paper covered in what looked like tinfoil. The pieces were held together by small sticks. The salvaged piece of debris resembled a child’s homemade kite. Throughout a 200 yard area surrounding the silvery kite thing were pieces of gray rubber. More kite-like objects were found on the ranch, the largest about 3 feet across.
Another, more recent, discovery has researchers scratching their heads over a mysterious aluminum object. UFOlogists claim that it could be 250,000 years old. It was originally discovered in Romania during a 1973 excavation of the Mures River.
Three strange objects were found buried about 33 feet. Archaeologists studied them and determined that two of the finds were fossils. They were bones belonging to a mammal that became extinct about 90,000 years ago.
The third, however, could only be man-made since it was a metallic object, not a raw metal ore. Testing revealed 12 different metals with aluminum making up about 90% of the manufactured object.
A Romanian laboratory claimed the object was about 250,000 years old. Other experts were in disbelief so another set of tests were performed in a laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland. They confirmed that the object is, indeed, old, but not that old. Only 400-80,000 years old. But aluminum was first produced by modern man about 200 years ago.
This head scratcher centers on an object about 8 inches long, 5 inches wide and nearly 3 inches thick. It also has a circular depression and machined holes in the “arms”, suggesting hinging. This means the manufacturing process would have been very complex. So what the heck is it?
UFOlogists say it is a fragment from a UFO. Of course. Historians claim that it is really a piece of WWII German aircraft. Considering the effective debunking that has cleared up the Roswell mystery, the gringa is inclined to agree with the historian.
The US Air Force eventually explained to the public what it was that Brazel found. It wasn’t the debris of a crashed UFO. It was the debris of weather radar targets.
These targets were sent up to help target and tune ballistics of heavy gun and artillery. Regular weather balloons were acquisitioned from weather radar stations. The balloons were then customized to become targets, covered in aluminum so they would be easier to sight high in the sky.
In order for it to even be possible for aluminum debris from a crashed UFO to be found, aluminum would have to be a raw material on other planets. It would have to be mined. It would have to be processed. And it would have to be suitable for use on a spacecraft exposed to the extreme conditions of outer space: radiation, heat, cold, etc.
Aluminum is also found on Mercury, Venus and Mars. So it’s possible there are planets in the vastness of outer space that also have aluminum. We know that there are no aluminum mines and processing plants and spaceship manufacturing plants on Mercury, Venus and Mars. That would mean any UFO constructed of aluminum would have to originate outside our Solar System. Could aluminum handle such a rigorous test of its mettle (pardon the pun)?
Aluminum melts at 1,220.58 degrees Fahrenheit. It boils at 4,566 degrees Fahrenheit. Space shuttle re-entry has recorded surface temperatures of the craft as high as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say, if these bits of aluminum had originated from a crashed UFO, they wouldn’t exist. They would have melted long before they ever reached the earth’s surface.
The final answer is then: No. Space aliens are not using aluminum in their space ships and crashing them on Earth and leaving behind an aluminum bread crumb trail. Case solved.
Sources: El Paso Times
Image Credit: Pix Shark
Video Credit: Titus Rivas
(Originally posted 9/19/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
Who uses secret codes? Kids with secret hide-outs, spies, secret societies, lovers, criminals, etc. Was there a secret society during Medieval times who created a complex secret code, the size of a hefty novel, that has still not been cracked? Linguistics, cryptographic and translation experts say no. And the gringa wants to know why since they still haven’t “cracked the code” of a centuries old manuscript. How would they know what they don’t know?
The Voynich manuscript is really a book, like a huge paperback novel. Within those soft vellum covers are pages of astrological charts,
naked women bathing in mysterious green liquids,
and strange, unknown flora.
Describing all of these curiosities is a secret code that has yet to be solved.
So what kind of information is being shared? Is it dangerous? Taboo? Subject to blackmail? Why would the author go to such trouble as to pen this tome in an unreadable language? Most authors know that it is publish or perish. To publish in a tongue that can never be known by the general public is the same as not publishing at all. What in the world is this book about?
One literary expert suggests that, because of the illustrations of naked ladies taking baths, perhaps it was a health manual that challenged the medical trends of that era. The author might possibly have faced legal charges as serious as witchcraft for practicing questionable herbal remedies. Is that what is in the book? Recipes for herbal treatments of feminine ailments?
This expert’s theory has been widely rejected by the literary community at large. A community, mind you, that has already committed much time and effort to decoding the manuscript. Is their reaction just sour grapes? Has Nicholas Gibbs, a professional researcher of history and war artist, hit upon the truth and spoiled their fun and shot at glory?
In addition to his professional credentials he also has experience evaluating precious curiosities, having worked for the famed Christie’s auction house. But, even more compelling for the gringa, is his biological connection to his working theory. He is a descendant of one of England’s most famous ancient herbalists, Thomas Fromond. And it was the work of his famed ancestor that helped guide Gibbs in his theory.
So, despite the criticisms of his peers, and their claims that his theory is purely satire, their own findings actually seem to support the Gibbs’ theory. After much examination of the flora illustrations, astrological charts and naked ladies bathing depictions, Gibbs’ critics admit that these elements are health related.
These critics also accede that the Voynich manuscript is very similar to a medieval bathing guide, De Balneis Puteolanis. But their main point of criticism is his accomplishment where they otherwise failed. Gibbs actually decoded two lines of the manuscript. So what is the problem?
The critics claim that his translation into Latin is not grammatically correct. The gringa says, “Really?” I mean, dear reader, come on. When the gringa needs to keep on schedule, she might ask an English speaking friend, “What time is it?” If around Spanish speaking friends, the gringa would say, “Que hora es?” Guess what the literal translation of the Spanish is in English… What hour is. Which is NOT grammatically correct in English. So, the gringa doesn’t buy the grammatically incorrect translation complaint.
Then there’s the fact that the lines Gibbs decoded weren’t actually comprised of complete words. He was decoding characters that represented abbreviated words. Kind of like if the gringa used the “#” symbol to represent the “1/2 tbsp” abbreviation in my own secret code. The secret code was never intended to be grammatically correct. Come on, people. Stop being jealous because a rookie on the scene showed you up.
And what of the theory for why a ladies health manual would need to be written in a secret code to begin with? It is carbon-dated to a point of origin in Northern Italy around 1404-1438. What was going on that might make secret communications of controversial subjects necessary? Here are a few historical facts for perspective:
-During this time period there was no clear identity for physicians in Europe.
-When universities established medical studies during the Middle Ages, women were excluded.
-Women healers were forced to go underground to practice except when filling the role of midwife.
-Most women preferred to be attended by a trusted midwife for other feminine health issues, albeit secretly.
-Women training other women as healers had to be creatively covert in the materials used to pass along and preserve knowledge.
-Women healers caught practicing or teaching medicine were acting outside the law and subject to prosecution.
-Prosecution of a woman healer usually involved the woman being charged with the crime of witchcraft.
-The crime of witchcraft was a capital offense with a death sentence attached.
Understanding the environment in which the Voynich manuscript was crafted, the gringa is convinced that it is indeed, a ladies health guide. Despite bearing the surname of the Polish man who purchased the manuscript in 1912 after its discovery in an Italian monastery, the gringa believes the manuscript was most likely authored by a woman healer working outside the law. The code was the result of this female healer fearing for her life if caught. So vital was it for this woman healer to pass on her knowledge to another generation of female healers, she created a complex secret code that has puzzled linguistic experts for centuries.
When you think about the witchcraft connection, the secret code for a ladies health manual makes perfect sense. Mystery solved. Thanks Gibbs.
Video Credit: The Science Channel
(Originally posted 9/14/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
If my dear readers are anything like the gringa, they are always wondering what the future holds. What goes through your mind? War? Peace? Natural disasters? Space alien invasion? AI revolution and hostile take-over? To know the best theories about the future, all you have to do is ask a futurist. Yeah. Futurism. That’s a thing.
Who else would be a qualified futurist when it comes to tomorrow’s technology than the Director of Engineering for Google? Although the gringa loves how Google synchronizes so many things in life, I do have to admit that sometimes it’s downright creepy. I mean, when my phone starts asking me questions, like, “Do you want your friend’s to know that you’re at the donut store,” I mean, I’m like, “Just mind your own business, phone, okay?” But I digress, Google has a lot to say about what’s in store for the general public as artificial intelligence keeps getting smarter.
Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering for Google, wants everyone to mark the year 2029. What’s so important about the year the gringa will be a dowdy, old 61-year-old gal? He expects that to be the year when AI passes a valid Turing test. But what does that mean? What is a Turing test?
In 1950 Alan Turing developed a test that would measure a machine’s ability to exercise intelligence on a level that is indistinguishable from a human. In other words, to pass a credible Turing test means technology has been developed that is so sophisticated, when we engage with another person we will be left wondering if that person is truly human or just a cunningly convincing robot.
If that’s not provocative enough of a benchmark for you, mark the year 2045 on your calendar and hold on to your hats, folks. This is when Kurzweil expects a singularity to occur. But what does that mean? Why is that significant?
Where basic semantics are concerned, a singularity is simply something that is unique, like a culture. Where space exploration and matter are concerned, it means something that has infinite value, like a black hole. But where humanity and AI are concerned, it means something hair-raising which is why the gringa advises the dear reader to hold on to your hat.
Achieving a singularity with regard to AI and humanity means technology and biology merge, becoming a singular creation, indistinguishable from one another. Now, images from those 1970s TV series about the bionic woman and her male counterpart come to mind. Is that what Kurzweil is talking about? Not exactly.
What he expects is that by 2049 AI will evolve to be smarter than human beings. They will become super-intelligent. When that happens, humans will begin transplanting technology directly into our brains. This means no more logging on or off, we will be perpetually linked with the cloud and constantly having our information updated, backed-up and optimized. Our lives will be digitally enhanced on a biological level 24/7.
In fact, Kurzweil claims that this evolution is already happening. It’s just that when the Turing event happens, things will begin to accelerate. But is there reason to be concerned? Afraid? Well, it seems pointless to fret too much. The genie is already out of the bottle. The best thing to do is to begin preparing humanity for this transition.
Instead of using scare tactics, causing people to fear the possibility of being enslaved by robots, truth should be shared to put their minds at ease. After all, billions of AIs are already hard at work right now. So far, they haven’t banded together and waged war against humanity.
Instead, AIs are helping humans improve the lives of all mankind. They are empowering humans to overcome serious medical disabilities. And when humans are able to hook-up their neocortex to the cloud, AIs will become our intellectual partners, sharing their super-intelligence with us.
What’s to fear about fellow humans who are smarter, funnier, and more creative? What’s to fear from humans that will finally be able to grasp complex science and histories that once baffled them? What’s not to love about a cybernetic cure for diseases like Parkinson’s?
So, the gringa is looking forward to the day when I can make an appointment with my doctor to fix the epilepsy that challenges my life every single day. I look forward to less pain. I eagerly anticipate more emotional stability. Being able to scuba dive or climb the Alps without the experience resulting in my death is the gringa’s idea of real freedom.
Even if I am an old lady by the time the 2030’s and 2040’s roll around and make this kind of technology available, to live epilepsy free if only for a single day is worth it. The gringa may find that adventure even more exciting than flying to Mars.
Image Credit: Artist
Video Credit: Cosmology Today
(Originally posted 9/12/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
What do you think about pyramids? A mystery? A fascinating bit of architectural engineering? Monuments to an ancient civilization? Cool place to visit? Tourist trap? Biggest tombs ever built?
If those were your answers, you might have been right on all accounts except one, maybe. There seems to be some wiggle room about whether or not the pyramids were originally constructed as the final resting places of Egypt’s ancient pharaohs. Here’s what we know:
But does that mean that these amazing structures were not tombs? The gringa says, “Not so fast.” Despite the insistence of UFOlogists and ancient alien enthusiasts who argue that, if not tombs, then power generators of celestial origins, there is still plenty of other evidence to support the traditional belief that the pyramids were burial complexes.
With regard to the 3 great pyramids of Giza, they were constructed from 2550-2490 BC. The tallest was built by Pharaoh Khufu. His pyramid is flanked by smaller ones dedicated to Pharaoh Khafre and Pharaoh Menkaure. But Khufu’s remains have never been found. Khafre’s pyramid was also empty. Menkaure’s mummy may or may not have been found.
There are allegations that part of Menkaure’s mummy may be in the British Museum of London’s Egyptian artifact collection. But there is much controversy that surrounds the authenticity of the remains. Within his pyramid was found a wooden coffin inside a chamber believed to be the king’s chamber. The coffin contained mummified fragments.
So, despite the fact that mummies were not actually discovered is no reason to discount the pyramids as tombs. There have been plenty of other artifacts, burial paraphernalia and relics of Egypt’s ancient death rituals that makes it clear that these were the resting places of ancient Egyptian royalty. The following items were found in Khufu’s great pyramid when it was unsealed in 1925:
There are also those who point to how small many of the coffins and sarcophagi are. They claim that they were never meant to house a human body. But once you understand what happened to the human body during an ancient Egyptian burial ritual, you understand why the coffins are so small.
For one thing, the dehydration process performed resulted in significant shrinkage. So, no, ancient Egyptians were not small, dwarfish half-alien/half-human creatures. I mean, think about it. When adventurers encountered deep jungle tribal people, got slaughtered, and their remains cannibalized and leaving behind a shrunken head trophy made to commemorate their ill-fated visit, nobody supposes that those adventurers were diminutive space aliens traipsing about South American jungles.
So, just because no one seems to be found to be at home and receiving guests at the pyramids, that doesn’t mean they were not originally intended to reside there. Tomb raiders have had centuries to ransack these resting places. Once notorious tomb raiders made local ancient headlines, there is no doubt that many Pharaohs built their elaborate burial shrines with instructions for a burial service with all the pomp and circumstance royalty deserves. But then a secret plan to actually bury the kings and queens at an unknown address was carried out in the dead of night.
Why should such a possibility be beyond belief? After all, doesn’t that sound familiar to those dear readers with a Judeo-Christian background? Doesn’t the bibilical story go that god hid Moses’ body when he died in the wilderness? Why would such a strange detail be a part of the story? Because at that particular time in ancient history, the local cultures were rife with bad guys who would rob the burial places of famous leaders hoping to enrich themselves with a tidy stash of loot.
So, sorry to all you dear readers who are still holding out hope that ancient extra-terrestrial ancestors shared natural power generator technology with the Egyptians. That’s not what happened. The great pyramids are the result of something very common: mankind’s desire for immortality, the desire to never be forgotten, and incredible ego that demands a monument to its greatness.
But, really, when you study the real history of ancient Egyptian culture, religion and the kings and queens who led each kingdom, it’s fascinating. Why would you need to make up something else like space aliens?
(Originally posted 9/7/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
If the gringa’s dear readers are anything like herself, you have spent plenty of time watching shows like Star Trek and reading fantastic science fiction. That means you’ve heard plenty of references to plasma: plasma storms, plasma discharges, plasma cannons, etc. But what the heck is plasma? Is it good for anything? Can we harness its power? Here’s the scoop on plasma.
Plasma is an ionized gas. What that means is that atoms, molecules and all kinds of stuff are constantly being converted into ions. This happens by removing electrons from the affected substance. An ion contains an electrical charge when conversion is complete. That means plasma packs a wallop of a punch. And there is lots of plasma throughout our Universe.
The Sun’s mass makes up nearly the entire mass of our Solar System, 99.85% of it. That mass creates gravity so powerful it squishes things together, like atoms, creating a fusion reaction which makes… wait for it… PLASMA.
99.999% of the Sun is plasma. Scientists estimate that more than 99% of all matter exists in a plasma state. If so much of it is lying about, why aren’t we humans using it for electricity and power and stuff? Why are we still in the Stone Ages with coal and petroleum? Because cosmic plasma is a bit trickier than the plasma we find here on Earth, like lightning. The Sun’s plasma is not just electrified. It also has its own magnetic field. And, boy is it hot!
Because of the magnetics that are part and parcel of the Sun’s plasma, harnessing our nearest star as an energy source would prove to be highly disruptive to communications. Basically, radio frequencies would fry. You see, the Sun is a fusion nuclear reactor way up in the sky. The gringa’s not sure, then, if direct solar power would really be “green” energy.
To harness the power of cosmic plasma for terrestrial use, scientists would have to, theoretically, confine the reactor. Yep, that means putting the Sun in a box, so to speak. Despite years of research, little progress has been made to figure out how to do that and humanity survive in the end. One reason is because scientists have no idea how cosmic plasma and the resulting fusion reaction would affect any barrier they might construct as a containment field. Yeah, those invisible forcefields on Star Trek? Mm hmm. Pure fantasy.
But despite this frustration, scientists remain committed to finding a solution. They are well aware that the current energy sources of Earthlings are finite. One day all the coal will be gone. There will be no more crude to suck from the ground. And even developing more solar and wind energy supplies will only take the entire globe so far. Large industrial areas and densely populated regions will need the power of plasma if they want a constant, reliable power supply.
But why can’t scientists seem to make any progress? In order to test a theory, a scientist must conduct a controlled experiment that re-creates the conditions. Since there is no way to reproduce the 15 million degree Fahrenheit temperature of the Sun, um, yeah, progress is pretty much going nowhere.
Sure, science has come up with fun gadgets like plasma balls that are basically sold as lighting novelties. But that glass bottle is not anywhere close to being sufficient to bottle a chunk of the Sun. Scientists literally have to find a way to put a sizable piece of the Sun inside of something.
And finding a substance that can withstand temperatures in excess of the 100 million degrees produced by fusion reactions has to do more than not melt. When the plasma comes into contact with the barrier, it must remain pure and clean.
The gringa can only wonder what the heck might happen should those walls fail. Will half the globe be scorched to infinity in a split second? Will the survivors on the other side of the globe become so radiated they die a slow, agonizing death over the course of the next few weeks or months? Or will a wave of plasma ride the ionosphere to the other side and the survivors know that death is on the way because their blue sky turns blood-red? Or will they basically be cooked alive from a sudden increase in temperature? In other words, will the entire globe become a microwave oven?
Scientists claim that plasma energy will be the cleanest energy ever. Yet, at the same time they are conducting research on the effects of radiation and plasma damage. So, the gringa remains skeptical about the “green” selling points.
Science communities around the world hope to have the first plasma reactor operational by 2018.
Nuclear science professors at MIT explain that the general public shouldn’t expect any real development of commercial plasma fusion reactors for about two more decades. The gringa will be at an age by that time where I might actually appreciate the prospect of a quick and relatively painless death. But, for the sake of my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I suppose I should keep a watchful eye on the developments of this future energy source.
Image Credit: Space.com
(Originally posted 9/5/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
The gringa’s been thinking a lot about survival skills lately. Not only do I wonder what might happen to the average person’s way of life should nuclear war break out (thanks to the bad behavior of Trump and Kim Jong Un), I personally have survived several natural disasters.
The gringa survived Hurricane Allison. There was a terrifying moment in a motor vehicle, faced with rising waters, when, as I performed a hasty 3-point turn-around to beat a quick retreat, the gringa wondered if she would be forced to choose swimming to safety with her 6-year-old son tucked under her arm and leaving behind her mother to fend for herself who couldn’t swim.
I also survived an earthquake in Los Angeles when visiting friends. It was the scariest natural disaster I have ever experienced. Tornadoes and hurricanes usually provide advance warning. You at least have a chance to get to a safe place. Not so with an earthquake. BOOM. It just happens. It’s a roll of the dice if you are in a safe place or not. No amount of planning really matters.
I was one of the many evacuees finding safe harbor with friends, family and various hotels for almost a month after Hurricane Katrina. Although Houston didn’t get the brunt of the storm, suffering like New Orleans, we got severe wind damage. This meant rolling black-outs off and on for about a month.
The gringa, a single mom at the time, lived with a mother who had high blood pressure. No A/C in the middle of a Texas summer can be deadly for older individuals with high blood pressure. So, we stayed here and there for a few days at a time over the course of a month, so as not to wear out our welcome. After all, we were a traveling troupe of an old lady, 30-something gal, a child, 4 dogs and a rabbit.
Then Hurricane Ike came along and the gringa hunkered down with the caveman and kids, watching as 30-40′ pine trees bent over horizontal to the plane of the yard as the storm blasted through our neighborhood. We were basically cut off from civilization by floodwaters with no electricity in our neighborhood for nearly 2 weeks.
We cooked out on the grill in our neighborhood from our hurricane food stores not knowing how long we might need them to last. Although we had a battery back-up pack that we used sparingly to listen to news on the radio, eventually it ran out of juice and we, along with our neighbors, new nothing about when or if to expect rescue or help.
Now, the gringa has most recently survived Hurricane Harvey. The caveman, our children and I are some of the luckiest people in the world. All we got were floodwaters hemming us into our respective apartment complexes. No loss of life or property and only about 5 hours without electricity.
As the gringa woke in the morning to a raging storm, no electricity and warming coffee water over a few candles, I wondered just how long we might be inconvenienced and if our inconvenience might become dangerous. Over the course of the next week I watched news broadcasts 24/7 to see if we might get a mandatory evacuation order, witnessed the courage and generosity of so many come to the aid of my fellow Houstonians, and battled depression as I saw the lives lost.
Needless to say, the gringa has now been mulling over survival skills. I know all about having a hurricane kit with backup necessities and supplies. However, as I talk to neighbors and hear them mention how secure they feel because they have a generator, the gringa can’t help but think how that is a false sense of security.
After all, Harvey shut down all of our refineries. The entire city and surrounding areas were out of gas within a couple of days. And there is little hope of keeping gas resources readily supplied on the scale the city needs. To really survive a disaster, one must be able to do it without gasoline. And, in case floodwaters require you to flee, a survival kit must be portable. That means no bulky stuff.
Most Americans may think that they simply can’t live without the technology that makes their current lifestyle possible. Trust me, thousands of generations of indigenous people throughout history have done it. Some are still living in such a way.
Shelter, water and fire are the first survival necessities to secure. Here are some old survival secrets modified for modern survivors:
Shelter: Think about all those indigenous North Americans who were nomadic, taking their tepee shelters with them.
A modern survival shelter needs to be waterproof yet still provide plenty of air circulation during warm weather. Keeping out insects is also a must. A tarp roof and mosquito netting walls are perfect. In colder weather additional tarps can replace mosquito netting.
Skip the bulky, heavy commercial tents that include a frame that adds weight and bulk. Instead, add lots of rope and clothespins. Then, all you need is to find a place to hang everything. Some nice shade trees are the perfect location. It’s easier than you think to create a shelter.
Water: The most common advice is for people to stock up on water. That usually means survival minded folks find themselves stashing a supply of bottled water. But bottled water has an expiration date. If you wait until a natural disaster is imminent, you usually arrive at a store to find there is no water left.
Even if you have a supply laid aside that hasn’t expired, it is rare that you have set aside enough to meet your needs for the long haul of a few weeks. For hydration, cooking, hygiene and cleaning purposes, about 3 gallons daily are needed per person. That’s a lot of water to tuck away into a closet in the event you are cut off from regular water supplies for a couple of weeks.
If municipal water is contaminated or a tap has actually run dry, what are the options? Collecting rainwater or using natural resources like rivers and streams like they did in the good ol’ days. And you need to do more than boil the water to make it suitable for use. Having a portable carbon filter is a necessity in addition to water purification tablets that kill micro-organisms. Having other options than boiling water are necessary when it is important to conserve precious resources like firewood.
Rather than stock up on bottled water, fill up your bathtubs, even your washing machine, and any suitable vessels on hand to store water. But also have some buckets for the express purpose of harvesting rainwater or toting supplies from a nearby river or stream. You may be inclined to set-up a dedicated rainwater harvesting system for your home. But, again, don’t let that create a false sense of security. Have portable buckets on hand should you need to evacuate and setup shelter in a safer place.
Fire: Fire serves to keep you warm and make it possible to cook your food when in a survival situation. Fire, in essence, is an energy source. Modern survivalists often replace the fires of old with a gas-powered generator. They use this generator to energize all their essentials that require electricity. They may rely on gas grills for cooking. Again, reliance on fuels that will become scarce in a disaster is a false sense of security.
To cook, lay aside plenty of charcoal briquettes that are safer to store than propane tanks. Charcoal also has a longer shelf life. Also have a healthy stock of firestarter sticks. Don’t forget about portability. If you have to evacuate, you will not want to be towing a barbecue grill with you. For evac purposes, pack a stainless steel pan and a lightweight stainless steel rack that can rest on top.
Instead of a generator that will become useless once there’s no gas for sale, why not put your trust in the Sun? Portable solar power generators can be packed and taken with you if you need to evacuate. Not so with a monster-size gas-powered generator. There are lightweight, fold-away solar generator kits that will keep you connected no matter where you setup camp.
Although the gringa will leave first-aid kit details up to the dear reader to decide, I will offer one tip. Don’t overlook one key first-aid kit item that is rarely mentioned on the average tip list. One thing every survivalist needs today, especially considering the banter between Trump and Kim Jong Un, is a supply of Potassium Iodide tablets that will last for a couple of weeks.
Good luck and the gringa hopes that you will never need to use your survival kit. But if you live in an area prone to natural disasters like the gringa, it is a necessity that you will likely dip into from time to time.
Video Credit: Blade HQ
(Originally posted 8/31/2017 on Read With The Gringa)
Why would an Irish ghost haunt Canadians? Is it a race thing? Is it a case of mistaken identity? Perhaps the Irish ghost has become displaced throughout history? Is there even such a thing as ghosts?
Well, first of all, the question of whether or not ghosts exist. The gringa believes in the possibility of energy-based beings that most humans call ghosts. I believe that when a person’s physical body expires the energy which animates that body does not expire. The consciousness lives on, in a different dimension, the 5th dimension that the gringa believes to be found in what science calls the Dark Matter universe. Life in this other invisible universe where matter doesn’t matter can sometimes cross-over and interact with those of us still living an existence where matter does still matter.
Being sentient beings, these dark matter beings also retain their individuality, remembering their identity from their physical matter-based existence on Earth. That would mean that an Irish ghost would remember its Irish identity and be able to identify physical humans according to nationality as well. But, chances are, moving on to a higher plane of existence, such “matters” like national identities would no longer “matter” to such a being. So, an Irish ghost haunting Canadians wouldn’t be a race thing or case of mistaken identity.
But what about displacement? Would a 5th dimension, Dark Matter universe being find itself limited to where it could interact with physical matter in our universe? Would the consciousness of a disembodied person be restricted to only areas that are most familiar or emotionally significant? The gringa says, “Perhaps.” Such a question might be answered by understanding how a consciousness is able to manifest itself in a physical world.
When residents and guests of Canada’s official ambassador residence in Dublin experience their Irish ghost, they describe events like banging noises, heavy breathing and loud footsteps in hallways. How old is this residence? Who has lived there in the past? Who might have developed such a strong connection with the place that they insist on sticking around and making their presence known?
The most powerful events connected with the building is the April 1916 Irish rebellion known as the 1916 Easter Rising. During this 6-day armed rebellion more than 450 people were killed and thousands injured. The Irish leader who crafted the master plan, Patrick Pearse, lived in Glanmire house that is now the residence of the Canadian Ambassador.
Once British rulers squashed his rebellion, Pearse was executed. Sounds to the gringa like a good reason to hang around. Pearse probably feels like he has unfinished business. And he is also emotionally charged with loyalty, bitterness, anger and determination.
The residence’s current inhabitant, Canada’s ambassador, Kevin Vickers, is not some melodramatic child keening for attention. He has faithfully served his country for almost three decades. First with the Canadian Mounted Royal Police. Then as Sergeant-At-Arms in the House of Commons. He is a cool customer, hailed as a hero for killing a rampaging gunman in Canada’s parliament building in October of 2014. Appointed the Irish ambassadorship in January, 2015, however, may be his most interesting assignment, yet.
It didn’t take long for the Irish ghost to make his presence known. Vickers reports that he hears sounds like chains being thrown down onto hardwood floors. Activity is so prevalent that his dear little maid won’t even venture upstairs.
The gringa wonders how good of a housekeeper Vickers is. Is his bureau dusty? His bed unmade on a daily basis? But, I digress. Back to how a disembodied consciousness might succeed at affecting a corporeal world.
If corporeal humans can achieve supernatural feats through highly-disciplined, deep meditative practices, the gringa believes it is possible for the opposite to be also be true. If dear Pearse reflects with great passion on the events of the past, he may just be able to produce enough energy to spill over into our universe.
Scientists have already reported tracking movements by dark matter. Wherever Pearse is in the unseen dark matter universe, his consciousness could direct itself back to the physical place where he suffered the most. His grief for lost comrades may be so great that he wishes to see how things developed after they lost their leader. His only solace and comfort may actually be found in returning and seeing the state of current events in his beloved country. It may be that he will only stop his hauntings (return trips) when Ireland is once whole again.
Source & Image Credit:
Additional Image Credit: Deviant Art
Video Credit: worcesterjonny
The gringa has had a serious event with her epilepsy. She will be in recovery for awhile. Doctor says no driving, work or computer time for now. There will be a few posts after this announcement that were already scheduled. The gringa wants me to express her great love to her dear readers & assure them that she will be back. She is stubborn like that.
Posted by her caveman