Russia Gets Blamed For Hell


The gringa is wondering just what this world is coming to, thanks to what many call the “Trump Effect”. It seems that all sorts of hidden hostilities, that have been simmering below the surface of many in society, are now bubbling up, out in the open. And it’s making for some very ugly accusations and stereotyping. 


Now, the gringa’s dear readers may think I am going to point out the rise of Islamaphobic cruelties perpetrated by religious bigots, or alt-right racists attacking the Black Lives Matter movement. A glance at this post’s title may also cause the dear reader to assume that the gringa is going to deliver a detailed account of the Trump-Russia investigation. But I’m going to go somewhere else entirely. I’m going to take my dear readers straight to hell.

The gringa would like to ask the media several questions:

  1. Is the media using the heightened sensitivities about all things Russia to try to stereotype Russia in general as a generic boogey-man? 
  2. Is the American media hoping to stir the pot of nationalist pride even among those in liberal-land who proclaim loudly that they are, in no way, shape or form, nationalists? 
  3. Is the media pouncing on the liberal left’s blame of Russia meddling that cost them the election as an opportunity to stir up hate for all things Russian? 
  4. Is the media trying to demonize Russia for all Americans? 
  5. Could such a demonization strategy be behind the outrageous claim in the news that scientists actually discovered in Siberia the gateway to the realm of demons and devils? 
  6. Is there really an entrance into hell in Russia’s remote Siberia wilderness? 
  7. Is Russia the gatekeeper for the damned, who are spirited away to eternal torment below the frozen tundra of Siberia, or is this just opportunistic political propaganda?

The Claim: It is alleged that Finnish newspaper, Ammennusatia, ran an article that tells the tale the excavation of a 14,000-meter-deep-well that was drilled by Russian geologists in 1989. Scientists at the site claim to have heard voices emanating from the hole expressing regret and begging for mercy and water. There is supposed to be 25 seconds of audio recording of these voices before the microphone melted from the incredible heat of “hell”. 17 seconds of this audio were the horrific screams of the damned. The Russians who supposedly witnessed the discovery of “hell” claimed that Jacques Cousteau had a similar experience with deep-water ocean caves which motivated him to retire.

What We Know: 

  • The Finnish newspaper, Ammennusatia, doesn’t seem to have ever existed. That should be all the proof my dear readers need. However, for those who require a bit more de-bunking proof, please do read on.
  • There are 1,609 meters in a single mile. The radius of the Earth is 3,959 miles.The 14,000 meter hole was about 8.7 miles deep, nowhere near the center of the Earth where hell is supposed to be. The Kola Superdeep Borehole holds the world record for the deepest hole ever drilled for scientific study, 7.5 miles deep. It took more than 2 decades for Russian scientists to inch their way through the Earth on the Kola Peninsula. Although the hole produced signs of Precambrian life, the scientists didn’t say anything about finding any signs of hell.
  • The Earth’s liquid core meets the Earth’s mantle at a depth of 1,800 miles below the surface. 8.7 miles seems a bit too shallow for anyone to become overwhelmed with the heat of hell. So much for temperatures that would melt audio recording devices.
  • Jacques Cousteau was born in 1910. He was still performing oceanic research on board Calypso until it sank in 1996. This was the vessel he used to film his TV series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. In 1996 Cousteau would have been 86-years-old. The urban legend of Cousteau encountering the screams of the damned are related to a research dive of Lake Tahoe in the 1970s. 
  • For supposedly being terrified, it would seem he continued to dive for 20 more years. Also, the particular Lake Tahoe dive of the damned was not performed by Jacques himself, but by his son. The maximum depth of Lake Tahoe is 1,645 feet. Although there are plenty of underwater caves, after dozens of dives and footage from dozens of submersibles, um, no hell as of yet.

The Gringa’s Conclusion: Russia is not the gateway to hell. Neither is Lake Tahoe. Jacques Cousteau was one of the most courageous explorers to ever live. If he had encountered the gateway to hell, he would have studied it, not retired.

When it comes to sensational news, dear readers, enjoy the fun but fact check so you can enjoy it the way it is meant to be enjoyed. Like a sci-fi novel. Because if you take such things at face value, you could be swallowing, hook-line-and-sinker, the early stages of political propaganda designed to make you hate Russians, or Lake Tahoe, or BLM, or whatever is politically expedient for whoever controls the media. And that, my dear readers, is why we grown up humans can’t have nice things.

Sources:

Video Credits: 

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Death By Ice Melt


When fretting over the future effects of climate change, one may be worrying about just how hot it will get, how many coastal cities and islands will be lost to rising oceans or the massive loss of life through drought and famine. But what about mystery diseases? Yep. Add one more thing to your climate change related anxiety list. Mystery diseases.

You see, frozen in the Arctic and Antarctic tundra and ice sheets are pathogens that have been imprisoned for more than a millennia. And climate change is going to bring about the big thaw that will set them free. Many of them have never before been encountered by modern man. Remember what happened when Europeans introduced strange pathogens to indigenous peoples in their invasive travels? Yeah, without natural resistance, those native populations were decimated with disease.

So what exactly is lurking in the permafrost and ice?

–   Example:   August, 2016, remote Siberian tundra region of the Yamal Peninsula, a 12-year-old boy dies and 20 other people hospitalized with anthrax infections.

Now, a conspiracy theorist would point the finger at the Russian government, accusing it of using these poor folk as guinea pigs in bio-terror weapons research. The reality is, as determined by medical researchers, that the anthrax was a 75-year-old reindeer strain.

A quarter of a century ago the dead reindeer were covered with permafrost where they died. The heatwave that occurred in the area in 2016 exposed the contaminated corpses. The soil was then contaminated, thus the grassland being currently grazed upon was contaminated as well. The pathogens also washed into natural water supplies during periods of rainfall.

Final result? About 2,000 head of local reindeer grazed on the infected grassland. They, in turn, infected their human herds-people. This is the future of mystery disease due to climate change. Especially since there are more than a million reindeer carcasses infected with anthrax in Arctic regions that are buried close to the surface because you can’t dig deep graves in frozen ground.

In addition to anthrax, scientists also suspect strange varieties of influenza will be released. In Alaska, there have been discovered intact viruses of Spanish flu dating back to 1918. What else might be buried in shallow graves in frozen ground around the world? Corpses infected with active strains of smallpox and bubonic plague.

One Siberian town has a mass grave containing about 40% of its population that died in a smallpox epidemic in the 1890s. Already the permafrost layer is melting and washing away. Not only will this lead to contamination in the old town’s immediate area but any part of civilization the waters of the nearby Kolyma River contact will also be in danger of infection.

And pathogens can live longer than a couple of hundred years. Back in 2005 NASA researchers were successful in resurrecting bacteria removed from a frozen Alaskan pond. The microbes were 32,000 years old.

In 2007 scientists brought back to life bacteria that was 8 million years old and another sample that was 100,000 years old. They retrieved them from a glacier in Antarctica.
But do they have the strength to be virulent after a period of dormancy that long? For the answer, just refer to the findings of French evolutionary biologist Jean-Michel Claverie of Aix Marseille University. In 2014 Claverie resurrected two viruses from Siberia’s permafrost that were 30,000 years old. Once alive again, they quickly took on infectious status. Claverie’s conclusion:

“… these ancient layers could be exposed… If viable virions are still there, this could spell disaster.”

The most dangerous virions are called  “giant viruses”. These are the ones that can survive being buried in ice, dormant for eons, and become active again. It’s because, unlike a regular virus, a giant virus has a tough genetic make-up that can survive outside a host cell. Think of it like the virus having a protective shield around its DNA that prevents biochemical degradation.

And it gets worse. It’s not just ice melt we modern day humans have to worry about. Crystals, as old as 50,000 years, dug out of a Mexican mine were found to harbor microbial bacteria, a bacteria that has not seen the surface of the earth for over 4 million years. Studies have determined that this particular bacteria is resistant to 70% of current commonly used antibiotics. Great. The gringa says, “Stop all that digging!”

How does a super-bacteria like that come about? Well, there’s not much for it to eat in a cave, isolated from water, light, etc. To survive, an organism has to be ruthless in competition with other organisms for whatever means are available for nutrition.

What the heck is being done about this? Well, the gringa would like to provide some measure of relief. This all means that the diseases that riddled Neanderthals, our ancestors, may all come back to haunt us. But thanks to scientists like Claverie the diseases our ancient ancestors suffered from are being discovered and vaccines are being created.

Sources:

BBC

PNAS

Image Credit: BBC

Video Credit: Seeker

Frozen Siberian Secrets


When you think of Siberia do you think of a Russian gulag or political dissidents exiled to the frozen wastelands of the Siberian tundra? If the word “secrets” crosses your mind it may be from the perspective of the kinds of secrets political prisoners might have. It probably wouldn’t occur to the average person that Siberia would be home to some amazing historical and archeological secrets. The forbidding frozen landscape of Siberia is the perfect cryogenic environment to preserve the secrets of Russia’s ancient past. Here are some of the amazing finds archaeologists have found below the permafrost:

World’s Oldest Known Wooden Statue

Shigir is twice as old as Egypt’s Great Pyramid. He may not be much to look at but imagine the story attached to this carving thought to be about 11,000 years old! Carved from the trunk of a larch tree, the religious icon stands more than 9 feet tall, although some experts think that Shigir originally stood nearly 17 feet tall. Now what kind of tools did ancient Siberians have 11,000 years ago when they chopped down the 150-year-old tree that became Shigir? What kind of tools did they use to create this idol? Not only can a face be seen but there are decorative patterns and lines that run the length of his skinny body. No one has yet solved the mystery of what Shigir worship entailed. shigir-idol-worlds-oldest-wooden-statue_3.jpg

Siberia’s Amazons

Many cultures have their own legends of female warrior culture. None more famous than the ladies from the Isle of Lesbos, Nordic Valkyries and rainforest Amazonians. Now Russian women can join the annals of fierce females. The preserved remains of a Siberian teenager was uncovered in the Altai Mountains. She wore pig-tails and had a muscular body that experts believe reveals that she was an experienced horsewoman, which also explains why nine horses were interred with her. Needing very little interpretation was the fact that she was buried with battle axes, bows with quivers of arrows and multiple shields. A sixteen-year-old Siberian girl, possibly of the legendary elite Pazyryk warriors, received an extraordinary burial fit to honor a captain of the cavalry.

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True Love

Glazkov culture was typically comprised of Mongoloid tribes during the 18-13 centuries BC. Researchers believe they were most likely a hunting and fishing tribe since their civilization centered around the headwaters of the Angara river. Birch bark boats and sophisticated composite bows and spears have been discovered.

Despite stereotypes as a fierce warrior culture, ancient Siberians were just like humans everywhere. They fell in love. A 5,000 year-old burial site excavated by archaeologists revealed an ode to ancient love,  a couple interred holding hands.  Buried by the shores of Lake Baikal, the gringa wonders if this might have been a favorite spot for romance for the two lovers. Members of the Glazhov culture, the couple had their heads facing west, towards the sunset. This was a curious find in the burial since most Glazkov remains have been discovered to be buried in a crouched position with face orientation downriver. Perhaps, for this particular couple, their favorite thing to do was sit lakeside, hand in hand, and watch the sun go down.

Siberian-Couple.jpg

Image Credits & Sources: Realm Of History

scfh.ru

Siberian Times

Daily Mail

Climate Change, Laundry & A/C


Many people interested in climate change may think this is a new phenomena brought on by global population expansion, increased use of technology, higher agricultural demands ravaging the Earth’s ecosystems and increased usage of fossil fuels. The truth is this has been going on for about two hundred years. Yep, since the beginning of the industrial era.

When factories began firing up their furnaces in the early 1800s, long before fossil fuels had really made their mark, the continents and oceans of the Earth began warming. Scientists can detect changes that far back as they study ice samples from the Arctic. And it’s not only ice cores that reveal this tragic timeline. Australian researchers have pored over 500 years’ worth of data collected from tree rings and coral in addition to the ice core studies.

The gringa thinks it’s safe to say that scientists from 200 years ago were probably laughed at by their peers for doing such silly and useless things as recording climate temperature measurements. I’m sure they never dreamed that today they would be considered pioneering heroes. Without their foresight and dedication we would not know just how long we humans have been spitting in the face of the one and only planet we can call home.

As early as 1830 increased greenhouse emissions were already causing the temperatures of tropical seas to creep upward. The Northern Hemisphere began to experience higher than average climate temperatures around the same time. At first, the scientists of that era thought this was a natural cycle. They believed that after a period of volatility upon Earth where volcanic ash and dust particles had caused global cooling effects that it was only natural for things to bounce back the other direction.

They had no idea that what had happened millennia ago was not the catalyst. They were clueless that they were witnessing the onset of a human induced global catastrophe that would culminate hundreds of years later. No one was sounding any alarm bell. The factories were being erected as fast as manufacturers had the cash to expand. As industry grew, individual wealth grew. It soon became every person’s dream to own a car and zip about willy-nilly just for the sake of being seen. Little has changed since 1830. Even though we know we are killing our planet (and, hence, ourselves), industry still expands and consumers are still obsessed with consuming and being seen with their latest procurement so that everyone knows they have “arrived”.

In such a state of smug self-satisfaction we humans do not like to be reminded that we should, rather, trade in that latest state-of-the-art washing machine for a non-electric hand-crank model. It is beneath an ambitious individual’s self-worth to be expected to toss out an electric dryer and opt for grandma’s tried and true method of wringing out the wet laundry and hanging it out on the line. As for surviving without air conditioning and heating, surely you jest. Oh, yeah, sure, previous generations got by but certainly such a primitive lifestyle should not be expected by an advanced civilization like this current generation of humans. After all, with global warming who can survive such temperatures? Oh, but you see, your air conditioning is also contributing to the problem that you want relief from. We seem to be caught in a catch 22. Whatever shall we do?

So, who wants to join the gringa in the slow, very ungraceful transition to an off the grid lifestyle? Are there enough people in the world for such sacrifices to even matter? The gringa can’t say. I only know that on Tuesday my non-electric hand-crank washing machine arrived and I have committed to not replacing my slowly dying electric dryer with an equivalent. The caveman thinks I’m mad but I kindly remind him that he is, after all, a caveman. Such lifestyle changes should suit him perfectly.

I still don’t know what to do about air conditioning. When I’m home alone I am quite happy with 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I can even manage to handle 85 with the right incentives, no clothes and plenty of ice water and a splash of beer. Despite living in the incredibly warm climate of the Texas Gulf Coast, I, personally, can get by with using the A/C only during the hottest parts of the afternoon in June, July and August. But whenever the caveman or one of our demanding, unruly, but adorable children or grandchildren are here, they scream, “Do you even have the air conditioner ON?!”

I implore them to embrace nudity as an alternative but so far the gringa has gotten no support for a shift toward nude living as another aspect of living off the grid. I mean, after all, it would also create less demand in the laundry area, thus providing further conservation of water and energy.

I mean, doesn’t the dear reader see the strong correlation between climate change, laundry, and air conditioning? Perhaps that is the solution. If people living in warm climates would simply go nude, or at least opt for bikinis or sheer Romanesque body drapes, think of all of the textile and clothing factories that would no longer be necessary, close down and no longer contribute to human induced climate change. Think of all of those dresses and jeans and pajamas no longer contributing to fossil fuel emissions when shipping and trucking of apparel is no longer needed.

I do believe the gringa is on to something. Nudity could very well save the world. Unless, of course, you live in Siberia. But winter wear is a subject for another post.

Source: europe.newsweek.com

Image Credit: tse4.mm.bing.net

 

 

Who Were Those Ancient Siberians?


An interesting Siberian archaeological site is the tittle-tattle of historians recently, squabbling on what ancient people get credit for the structure sitting on an island in the middle of  a lake. It’s over one thousand years old so Russians, as we know them today, are not the culture responsible for this structure. Who the heck needed a fortress in Siberia 1,300 years ago?

Experts have dated it to about 750AD. Situated in the middle of Lake Tere-Khol in Tuva, this high altitude lake location has some historians believing it could possibly indicate religious, astronomical, or imperial significance. The theories bandied about are that it is possibly a regent’s summer palace, a monastery or, perhaps, an observatory for the heavens.

Finding out what was going on in Siberia in the 700s is not as easy as one might think. A trip to Wikipedia (the source of all online knowledge, right?) reveals that Russia’s historical timeline inconveniently begins in 860AD with a record of the Rus’-Byzantine War. Wikipedia has let the gringa down.

Digging back a bit further, things get vague. One simply has to pick up a bit here and bob over there and put together a picture that, although still a bit hazy, can at least deliver a pretty good idea of who the heck was running the show in Siberia in the 750s.

The first stop on the collection route of ancient Siberian bits and bobs is linguistics. Author Rein Taagepera penned a book entitled “The Finno-Ugric Republics and the Russian State”. There is a single quote that sheds some light on the 750s mystery people of Siberia:

“Samic was previously considered a language with disparate dialects but is now increasingly seen as  a collection of half a dozen related languages that diverged some 1,300 years ago. They are spoken in northern Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula in the Russian Federation.”

Here, at least, Wikipedia did not let the gringa down. Wikipedia explains that the Samic language is believed to have its roots in ancient Finland dating from 1000BC-700AD. The Finnish-Samic link to this Siberian archaeology site is further strengthened by an observation made by Ludmila Koryakova and Andrej Vladimirovich Epimakhov in their book, “The Urals and Western Siberia in the Bronze and Iron Ages”:

“In the sixth-third centuries BC, their northern trade was oriented to southeastern Europe, but after the second century BC, caravans went to western Siberia, where the Sargat culture constituted the most powerful ethnic and political union.”

So, the gringa believes an actual cultural identity can now be assigned to ancient Finnish ancestors speaking the Samic language who settled in Siberia – the Sargats. Researchers identify evidence of this culture in the forested steppes of southwest Siberia near Russia’s fifth century border with northern Kazakhstan. Archaeological artifacts and burial remains show that the Sargats lived a horse herding lifestyle centered around raising sheep and cattle. A nomadic tradespeople, their wares were typically milk products, meat and textiles. Social structure, determined from burial rituals, reflect that women were regarded equally as men with regard to managing herds and local governance. Warrior status, however, was an elite status reserved for only the most wealthy and powerful males.

DNA evidence of remains also revealed a curious Iranian ancestry link as well. So, the Sargats were probably originally Finnish and eventually intermarried with other tribespeople living in Siberia, coming into contact through trade and war. Ancestry for Siberians can be traced not only to Finland and Iran but also to Turkey, Mongolia and China as well as traces of Viking influences.

Interestingly enough, the style of the controversial Siberian structure shows Chinese architectural influences. The official name of the site is “Por-Bajin” and is considered a mystery by the experts who have been studying it for decades. The name is derived from the Tuvan language and means “clay house”.  Sitting near the border of Russia and Mongolia, it is then probably no surprise to see a Chinese influence in the design.

Researchers liken the layout to resembling a typical Buddhist temple. This similarity along with its isolated location and the fact that the cultures of this time were nomadic and not organized in such ways as to see an imperial palace as something useful, causes the gringa to consider the monastery theory to be more credible than a fortress type imperial summer palace or astronomical observatory. Like Catholic missionaries who traveled to remote places all over the world and constructed missions and convents, Buddhist monks followed a similar tradition.

Another curiosity is that the structure lacks any evidence of a heating system, even one that would be basic and crude. Surely that, too, would rule out an imperial summer palace. Siberia, even in the hottest period of a summer season, would still be uncomfortably cool without any heat source within a dwelling. To try to survive a winter without heat would be a death sentence. So, even as a monastery, monks could only be in residence during the summer.

The gringa loves a good mystery and will certainly be eagerly awaiting more news and future developments regarding “Por-Bajin”. With the effects of climate change causing permafrost melt resulting in water levels rising in Lake Tere-Khol, the caveman and I better put it on our climate change related priority travel list to see it before the waters swallow it up!

Source & Image Credit:           http://siberiantimes.com/science/casestudy/features/f0009-who-built-this-siberian-summer-palace-and-why/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami_languages

http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2010/11/ancient-mtdna-from-sargat-culture.html