Missing History

There are a lot of things missing from history. It is written by those with the best publicists. And that tended to be the wealthy. Having said that, I think we often do ourselves and our history an injustice with some of filling in the blanks. The speculation often creates a sort of mad lib out of history. Almost no where is this more evident than the theory of ancient aliens.

If you believe mankind has been aided by alien intervention, fear not, this post isn’t aimed at making fun of you. While this isn’t my own personal belief, I can see why it is a popular theory and I even have head scratching moments when I consider some of the evidence in favor of it.

First and foremost, it is true that no mummy was found in the Great Pyramid of Giza and quite frankly, the interior words and artwork, don’t actually align with other tombs that have been discovered. We suspect it was used for the burial of Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops), but we don’t know that for certain. Even looted tombs, don’t really resemble the interior of the Great Pyramid, which is why there is some doubt on it being built for that purpose. However, it had to be incredibly important, which is what lead us to believe it was a royal tomb in the first place. You don’t spend that much time, energy, and money on building something unimportant. The problem, is, if it isn’t a tomb, we have no clue what it is or why it was built. We don’t even totally understand the engineering behind it.

In the last two decades, we’ve found an account about the building of it, and learned more about the engineering of the Great Pyramid, but learning it really lead to more questions than answers. And it didn’t explain why it was built. And nowhere did it mention the pyramid was intended as the burial location of Khufu.

Therefore, is it any surprise that, some have filled in the how and why with ancient aliens? And to add to the mystery, engineering experts don’t believe we’d be able to replicate the Great Pyramid today. Not the shape, that’s been done many times over, but the actual construction. The moving of the giant stones, setting them nearly perfectly, filling in the mortar, carving the outside limestone covering that once coated it, etc, etc. Even the cutting and transport of the stones is questionable for modern engineers.

This doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been done or would have required advanced technological help, it just raises the question “if we can’t do it, how did they?” I once heard this question asked in a class and there was a humorous answer. The professor quipped “We rely on the wheel far too much, it’s our undoing.” There’s truth in that statement. Moving massive stones via wheeled carts would have been impossible in the time and location of the Great Pyramid. But as I’ve said before, sleds with runners, not wheels would make it possible to move these stones. But it’s still a feat that’s hard to wrap the mind around.

Alien intervention seems just as plausible and probable as humans doing it all themselves without the aid of technology that include stone cutting saws, compasses, awls, and other items that make modern construction easier.

Unfortunately, I feel these theories do a disservice to human ingenuity. One of the things I enjoy about history is that humans do some amazing things. Now, being the jaded person I am, I tend to think humans are best at figuring out ways to kill other humans and well, a pyramid isn’t terribly helpful for that, unless it’s part of death ray (which seems unlikely). And yet, building a pyramid is in fact probably a great way to kill other humans, when you think about it. Heat exhaustion and sun stroke (it is Egypt), giant stones, massive sleds with runners, probably pulled by oxen, and suddenly, you have a construction project capable of mass human casualties.

Now, this is likely not the explanation for the building of the Great Pyramid, but it can’t be ruled out entirely either. However, building a pyramid in order to execute lots of people isn’t any more far fetched than believing it was built to provide fuel for alien spaceships and as I said, humans are really good at devising unique ways to kill other humans.

Conspiracy Theories

My interest in conspiracy theories is academic. I believe in exactly zero of them. However, they can give you a slightly different perspective on things. For instance, I don’t buy that ancient aliens helped mankind with evolution and building of great monuments. But there have been things discovered that don’t make a lot of sense when mixed with the current thoughts on the who, what, when, and how. Here’s my thoughts on some popular ones.

  1. The JFK assassination – Oswald may not have worked alone. But there wasn’t a shooter on the grassy knoll and if he did have help, it wasn’t the US government. Oswald was a communist sympathizer and he was trying to get citizenship with the Soviet Union in the years before he shot the President. He’d won awards in the army for marksmanship, meaning he was a good shot. I can see Oswald working with the KGB to assassinate Kennedy. After all, the KGB couldn’t claim responsibility for killing an American president, that would have been an act of war. And we would have dropped nuclear bombs and contrary to the scare talk at the time, the Soviet Union didn’t want a nuclear war anymore than Americans did. Best solution, recruit an American to do the dirty work…
  2. The moon landing and the space race – So, I could see the US faking the moon landing under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, the circumstances weren’t there in 1969. If the moon landing and space race were faked, they were faked in cooperation with the Soviet Union. And that just wasn’t happening. Why do I believe the Soviet Union would have had to cooperate to fake the moon landing? Because of the space race. The Soviet Union would have had to fake their space travel as well as the US. And while that is possible, I think they would have been delighted to come out and say “Hey, we faked this footage and so did the Americans!” long before now. I think this becomes even more likely when the Soviet Union fell and was replaced by a republic who has continued to compete with the US in everything. Exposing the US as fakers would be a massive peacock feather in Vladimir Putin’s cap. And since Russian government hackers seem better at their job than our computer security people, if they had proof, it’d be out there already.
  3. The Roswell Crash – Something crashed at Roswell and it wasn’t a weather balloon. It seems equally unlikely it was an alien spaceship. Both NASA and the DoD have been hacked a half dozen times. I believe if it were an alien spaceship, the cover up would no longer hold any water, and we’d have evidence of it. Real evidence, not questionable productions like Alien Autopsy and interviews with Bob Lazard.
  4. The attacks on the World Trade Center were an inside job or the government knew about them beforehand – If the US had orchestrated the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers, all the terrorists would have been Iraqi, Iranian, or Russian. Why? Because it takes time to plan something like that and in the 1990s, the “enemies” of the US were Iraq, Iran, and Russia, not the Taliban or other Islamic extremist group. We wouldn’t have changed the plans for the nationalities of the terrorists in the year prior to the attack or even two years before. While the US wasn’t particularly friendly with the Taliban in the mid to late 1990s, we still had a working relationship with them. Even in 2000, the US still had a decent working relationship with the Taliban. It is more plausible that the US knew of the attack beforehand and did nothing. That’s happened before: we knew that Japan was planning to attack Pearl Harbor in 1941 and didn’t prepare for it, because the US government expected them to back out before it happened. And because if they didn’t change their mind before arriving in Hawaii to bomb the naval fleet, we had an excuse to join WWII. Sadly, there was a serious difference between Pearl Harbor and the World Trade Center… Very few civilians died in the attacks on Pearl Harbor and most of them were civilians working for the military. Those that died in Pearl Harbor were casualties of war and most of them were military casualties, something that is expected during war. The World Trade Center was not a military installation and it wasn’t military personnel that died in that attack. And we weren’t technically at war. Pearl Harbor was tragic, but it was still war and it was written off that way. The World Trade Center attack was worse because it wasn’t a war time act and it wasn’t a target of a military action. The effects were more immediate and drastic than those of Pearl Harbor and they will have a longer lasting impact. If, we eventually learn that the US government was aware the attack was imminent and did nothing, it will be thought of much harsher than what it was when we learned that the US knew about Pearl Harbor. And President Bush will be remembered by history as a villain in the same way that Hitler and Stalin are. It seems like an unacceptable risk for a president of the US to take.
  5. The New World Order, Illuminati or other secret cabal controlling the world – Have you ever worked with a board of directors or other governing board? They can barely agree enough to run a charity or Fortune 500 company. It seems improbable that a board made up of rich people of different nationalities could hang out in the background and control the events of the world. Furthermore, they are doing a really piss poor job. ISIS and extremists groups like them should be exterminated with extreme prejudice because they threaten the power of the wealthy. The Soviet Union should have never risen, nor the Third Reich, nor Red China, because these powers are not designed to include the old money that would control the world. Most people think this kind of cabal would include world leaders, but they would be explicitly banned. It would be old money like Vladimir Putin, the Queen of England, the Rockefellers, etc. But then there are problems with that too. Bill Gates and Richard Branson would need to be included at this point and I can’t see Richard Branson toeing a secret cabal’s party line. Same for Gates. These guys didn’t get where they were for coloring in the lines of established power structures. Hell, Gates, Branson, and Elon Musk would all need spots and frankly, I think this would crowd out the older, more established rulers. It works on a small scale like the Borgias in a province of Italy, but a large scale like the world, not so much. Old and new, several nationalities, royals and non-royals, yeah the situation becomes comical (you can bet the Saudi royal house would have a spot) very quickly.
  6. The Earth is Flat – This one is rising in popularity, which is odd in my opinion. So the main thing to support this idea is that most people perceive the world as flat. That’s actually some kind of tenant of the theory. I thought about this one long and hard, because I don’t perceive the world as flat. I’ve tried to read up on it, and it makes my brain hurt. There’s something about the fact that water can’t curve, but water does in fact, naturally curve, hence the concave meniscus that forms when you pour water into a container. Interestingly, this also relates to the idea that no country has ever gone into space and there is a cooperative to fake evidence to the contrary. Why? Because we have pictures from space of the Earth being a sphere. But if those are fake because no one has ever been to space, then the photos are fake to reinforce the idea that the Earth is a sphere. Which once again means the US and Soviet Union worked together to create a fake space race. This doesn’t explain where water goes when it goes to the edge and falls off the flat Earth or why we don’t all just float around because of a lack of gravity. I can’t really argue anything for this theory or against, because my only thoughts is “what nonsense, the Earth can’t be flat.”

Theory 6, actually shows one of the dangers of conspiracy theories. To believe one, a person usually has to accept others. The only way the Earth is flat is if the US and USSR conspired to make a fake space race for some reason and allowed multiple people to create fake evidence of said space exploration. Theory 1 also requires belief in multiple conspiracy theories. For the US government to be involved in the assassination of Kennedy, one has to accept that Ruby was in the employ of the US government and that Oswald was made a patsy because of his communist leanings. Those two things sort of work, but people are freaking odd and do odd things, sometimes without being able to explain them. Jack Ruby was not a friend of Oswald and he wasn’t a supporter of President Kennedy. He seems like the last person in the US to avenge the assassination of a president. He was a crook and possibly mob connected. Which throws some doubt on his working for the US government. But he still shot Oswald on national TV. Why? Who knows? My guess the 15 minutes of fame. 56 years after the assassination of the president, Jack Ruby would be forgotten to the world, we wouldn’t know or care that he was a small nightclub owner from New Orleans who had possible mob connections if he hadn’t killed Oswald. And while that mentality wasn’t common in the 1960s, we’ve learned that doing things for the infamy is just as common as doing it for fame (study school shooters).

I think people who believe in a lot of conspiracy theories are actually the same kind of people who believe everything the government tells them. There is a science behind both and I’ve read the studies and come to the conclusion that conspiracy theorists believe they are free thinkers who see what everyone else misses, but they are actually just buying into a non-mainstream party line. At any rate, conspiracy theorists are just as interesting (in an academic sense) as the theories they support. Most of the time, both are harmless, but every once in a while, they become dangerous (like Pizza Gate) .

But Something Happened

Most of the time, when someone mentions something paranormal or exterrestrial, we all roll our eyes and have a decent chuckle. We often dismiss the situation completely at that moment and put it out of our minds. However, while these explanations seem ridiculous, we often forget that something did have to happen.

Take for example the 1908 Tunguska event. In 1908, a UFO (by the strictest definition, not necessarily aliens) exploded over a remote region of Siberia. We know of the explosion because it flattened trees and drove wildlife off. The most likely explanation is a meteor. Sometimes, after entering Earth’s atmosphere meteorites do indeed explode.

It’s Siberia so there weren’t a lot of witnesses. However, something obviously happened, trees were uprooted and laid down. Plus, for most of the last 100+ years, wildlife has avoided the area and nothing has really grown there.

So, while it is unlikely that an alien spacecraft exploded, there can be no doubt that something extraordinary happened. And that the something did involve radiation, probably from space. I point this out because we know that extreme radiation poisoning of soil does drive away wildlife. We’ve seen it at both Chernobyl and Two Mile Island.

It is easy to snicker and laugh when someone says “it might have been aliens”… But the possibility is less farfetched than we might think. Since the 1950s, humans have been littering outer space with junk in the form of defunct satellites, expelled rocket jets, and even tools lost during space walks and repairs to the ISS and shuttles.

It is illogical to believe we are the only intelligent life in the universe. And it is within reason to believe that other life is just as advanced, if not more so, than us. Is it not possible then that they also have space junk floating around just outside their atmosphere? And if their space junk was caught in the tail of a passing comet, it is possible it could travel millions of miles away from their own planet. Making it possible that some meteors could indeed be space junk from other advanced civilizations on distant planets.

And while I realize a lost wrench from Sirius B is not exactly a little green alien. It is still extraterrestrial. Essentially, the point is, we dismiss this stuff immediately and politely smile. But we humans only truly know so much about our planet and the universe. There are hundreds of things that could be beyond our current explanation, that eventually we’ll understand. This includes ghosts, aliens, and strange happenings like the Tunguska Event. If you had said 300 years ago, that invisible living things caused illness, you would have been snickered at. But today, we know that is the exact cause of most illnesses. Just something to consider the next time you hear Malachi talk about cattle mutilations.

UFOs in Vietnam

I did a blog post about UFOs during WWII and WWI. However, UFOs seem attracted to conflict (how very Predator of them). And the first two world wars, weren’t the only times that UFOs plagued troops during a war. It’s happened during most major conflicts. Now, one can say that it’s because there are a lot of aircraft during times of war, they fly lower, and they are more noticeable, but that doesn’t quite cover it. Because in Vietnam, we weren’t dealing the spectral lights known as Foo Fighters, we were dealing with something that occasional shot first and asked questions later.

I know of three reported attacks on troops by UFOs during Vietnam. The first was an attack on a patrol boat in 1968 that killed several US troops and was witnessed by multiple platoons. During the Vietnam war, these UFOs were referred to simply as Enemy Helicopters or as Viet Cong helicopters. Now, the north Vietnamese did have access to some helicopters. The Soviet Union and communist China had backed the communist north Vietnamese army, however, these helicopters came with either Soviet pilots or Chinese pilots, because neither government was willing to turn over their expensive flying machines to untrained pilots. Especially, since Vietnam was the first time helicopters were used in large numbers.

Back to the reports. In 1968, a US patrol boat running the Mekong radioed that it needed assistance. A ground platoon from the US army and another patrol boat responded to the call. Shortly after the second patrol boat arrived, the ground troops and men in the second patrol boat reported that an enemy helicopter had destroyed the first patrol boat with an explosive weapon. The second patrol boat tried to rescue anyone they found in the water and reported the bodies had been badly burned and the wreckage had sank very quickly.

In 1970, a US platoon on ground patrol reported seeing a large glowing object hovering over the jungle approximately three clicks (kilometers) from their location. There was a loud buzzing noise, a flash in the jungle and then the light flew away. The following morning, the same platoon went to investigate the area that had been hit by the flash and found a dozen or so guerrilla troops dead. The bodies were badly burned as was much of the jungle foliage.

In 1971 both US troops and north Vietnamese soldiers all reported that during the night (the groups were roughly two clicks apart) they were all made sick by an enemy helicopter that made a strange warbling noise. It hovered between the two groups for nearly half an hour. Soldiers from both sides suffered nausea, vomiting, fevers, weakened muscles, trembling, and headaches. Both sides were too sick to “fight” or even “go find” the enemy and had to call for reinforcements that evacuated them from the area. All the US troops involved in this encounter were hospitalized.

A similar encounter happened in 1951 during the Korean War and was experienced by US troops as well as Soviet troops.

For whatever reason, UFO reports increase exponentially during times of conflict. Some of these are no doubt misidentified aircraft, missiles, and other benign objects. But it doesn’t explain all of them, especially considering many of those doing the reporting are trained to identify aircraft on sight.

Sometimes, I Get Things Wrong

I try very hard to be a good researcher. I’ve been formally trained in historical research, genealogical research, and scientific research. However, I have no standing within any of these communities beyond saying “Hey, I have a degree in X.” This means if it isn’t public information, I probably can’t get it without jumping through a ton of hoops and even then, I probably couldn’t get anything sensitive or confidential.

However, since I know I am limited to public information, I attempt to fulfill the requirements of due diligence. This means finding multiple sources of information considered reliable by those that do have access to the sensitive information I don’t.

This is fairly easy with history stuff. It’s not always as easy with crime stuff. For instance, I once found a website referenced on a site that was purportedly run by the son of Zodiac. Yep, you read that correctly. Bizarrely, the original site was considered very reliable, so it surprised me to end up on a site that appeared to be run by a crackpot and linked from the reliable site.

Unfortunately, this means that occasionally, I don’t get all the details correct. That is never my intention, I assure you. I love facts. And when I do get things wrong, I don’t mind having it pointed out to me.

I bring this up because I got some things wrong with the Oakland County Child Killer and a read was nice enough to point it out to me. From what I can tell, the reader may have a personal connection to the case, so I understand their frustration with my getting any part of it wrong.

I said in that post that one of the victims was seen in an AMC Gremlin right before he disappeared. I used that bit of information because I found it in newspaper accounts from Oakland County, Michigan at the time, as well as a more recent article on a national website that also said a Blue AMC Gremlin. I have been informed it was a blue Pontiac. I did find one source that said it was a Pontiac, but not a reliable source, It was a conspiracy theory site that was discussing Bob’s involvement with the case… and it was brought up because apparently the Bob who involved himself demanding to read the letter and see other evidence drove a blue Pontiac.

I also left out the piece of information that Bob drove a Pontiac at the time of the killings, because I’m not sure it’s trustworthy. Bob himself seems to have spread some of the misinformation available regarding the OCCK murders. For all I know, Bob himself started that rumor to make himself more important or raise suspicion about himself being involved. And yes, there are people out there who get a kick out of being suspected of murder, especially multiple murders in the form of serial killings.

And so, if you read something that you know to be false or incorrect for whatever reason, don’t think twice about pointing it out to me. We learn and discover through facts.

Falsehoods Associated With Social Media

In the last week or so, I’ve seen an infographic make its rounds on Facebook. It is perpetuating lies. After about the 17th time I saw it, I downloaded it. If you are sharing this graphic, you should seriously think about doing research before blindly following the crowd, because the crowd is apparently okay with perpetuating lies, spreading hate, and continuing to divide the US further. PS: Propaganda like this was one of the best weapons Nazi Germany had, it’s amazing how effective it still is.

Nazism was Fascist. They said called themselves Socialists. But I can say I’m a the returned Messiah, it doesn’t make it true. A fascist government requires a centralized, all powerful leader – a dictator. Which Hitler was. It is actually contrary to socialism to have a single figure at the head of the government. This is part of the reason the Soviet Union and Red China were in fact, not socialist either. They too were fascist governments. Sometimes, the control was pulled very tight like it was under Stalin and sometimes it was a bit looser like under Gorbachev.

Having guns in the hands of the public is a problem for a fascist government. Guns allow for the masses to organize to overthrow the government and dictator at the head of it.

It was President Trump that suggested we should have State Run Media, not Democrats. Also, it is the conservative party in the US that supports the banning of books and keeping certain scientific information out of our classrooms and therefore out of the hands of their children. That censorship is supported by Republicans more than Democrats.

Abortions in Nazi Germany were illegal. Now, if an undesirable became pregnant there were special Nazi doctors they could see. However, that was tricky, because while that doctor could perform an abortion on an undesirable, the woman could then be charged with a crime and sent to a work camp or concentration camp. The sentence was harsher if a woman was caught getting an abortion by a doctor who wasn’t approved by the Nazis. An aryan having an abortion was a capital punishment offense. Both the woman having the abortion and the doctor performing it could be arrested and sentenced to death for it. There was one exception. If a fetus showed signs of deformity then doctors were expected to recommend an abortion – no room for the handicapped in Hitler’s master race.

Nazis didn’t just hate Jews. They hated everyone they deemed below them; Jews, blacks, Turks, anyone who couldn’t pass as a Viking God, homosexuals, Slavs, communists, people who liked the idea of republicanism and democracy, socialists, non-Christians, etc. The whole Viking God thing was brutally important. If you couldn’t pass as a Viking (tall, blond, good skin), you were undesirable in Nazi Germany – the irony there of course is that Hitler couldn’t pass as a Viking god anymore than most Germans. Jews took the brunt of it, because they had been chased out of most Western European countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy, even France to some degree) and had congregated in large numbers in Germany and Eastern Europe at the end of the 1800s.

There was a cult of Hitler in place. Nazis were expected to worship their Fuhrer. But that’s true of all fascist governments. Stalin expected it. Mussolini expected it. Mao Zedong expected it. Divine Right kingship also expected it – Kings like Louis XIV and Henry VIII were just as likely to expect worship as their fascist counterparts of the 21st century.

If you want to compare Democrats to Nazis, that’s your prerogative, but you should at least use “real facts” in your comparison. Especially since it is very easy to look up facts on Nazism. Furthermore, before you throw too many stones that direction, you should consider the fact that Republican Steve King out of Iowa doesn’t understand why “white nationalism” is considered bad, even though the phrase was used prolifically to describe the support of Nazism in Germany.

Authors Are a Weird Lot

They say authors are a bit weird and temperamental. I won’t disagree. I’m a bit moody and I live with my head in my own fictional world a lot, even when I’m not writing. They can also act in some extraordinary ways. Ambrose Bierce the father of American science fiction disappeared from the face of the Earth while in Mexico. Douglas Preston moved his family to Italy and ended up getting kicked out of the country because of his interest in the Monster of Florence serial killer case. And on December 3, 1926 Agatha Christie left her home for a drive and disappeared for 11 days.

Christie’s car was found wrecked by a passing motorist, but the novelist was nowhere to be seen. It ended up being the largest manhunt in the history of Britain at the time. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L. Sayers got involved in looking for Christie.

Her disappearance was worthy of front page news. Her married life wasn’t entirely happy, her husband was a pilot from WWI and a womanizer. Many thought that Arthur Christie had chased her down in his car, forced her into the car accident, then killed her and hidden her body. Others thought it was a publicity stunt. However, by 1926, Christie was a best selling novelist. Her 3 Poirot novel had published earlier that year. It was her 6th novel overall and they were selling well. So while her personal life had problems her professional life was going amazingly well. There was no need for a publicity stunt.

As a note on the oddity of her disappearance, Doyle who was very interested in spiritualism took one of Christie’s gloves to a medium trying to find out if she was alive or dead. Sayers went to the scene of the accident looking for clues. Both produced no leads.

On December 14th, a banjo player at a hotel in Harrogate recognized her from the newspaper. She had checked into the hotel under the name Theresa Neele – which was the name of her husband’s current mistress.

Agatha said almost nothing about the incident for the majority of her life. However, whatever triggered it, seemed to spurn her into taking control of her life. She went back with Arthur Christie to their home, but by 1928, she had kicked Arthur out and filed for divorce.

Many think that she eventually explained all to Dorothy Sayers. But if she did, Sayers never spoke of it either. Several experts in psychiatry believe Christie may have had a mental break down the night of December 3. Whatever the cause, Christie only wrote a little about the adventure and never fully explained it to anyone that spoke about it after her death.

The Great Irish Famine

Famines motivate people. In multiple posts, about the Little Ice Age, The Black Death, and the ineffectiveness of walled cities, famine played a role in motivating mankind. The Black Death would have been less effective if it hadn’t been coupled with a famine, the Little Ice Age created many famines, including the Great Famine of France that lead to the French Revolution, and it motivated people in the Middle Ages to tunnel under the walls of Paris, London, and Moscow in search of food and buyers of goods. It also played a significant role in immigration to the US and Canada in the 1840s.

Some years, it rains an excessive amount in Ireland. If 1816 can be titled the “Year Without a Summer,” then 1845 can be titled the “Year it Wouldn’t Stop Raining on Ireland.” Too much rain can be as bad as too little rain and the Great Irish Famine is a prime example of why crop diversification and a little less rain can make a huge difference to survival.

Most people will know the Great Irish Famine as the Great Potato Famine. For the record, Ireland is great at growing potatoes. I mean absolutely fantastic. Potatoes grow better in Ireland than most crops. And potatoes have more vitamin C than any fruit. Potatoes were staples on ships because they prevented scurvy and as long as they aren’t exposed to too much water or sun, they last a long time.

Not only are potatoes loaded with vitamin C, they are a very hearty food. A little potato can go a long way towards daily calorie intakes and keeping up energy levels. The Irish grew a lot of potatoes. And as with most deadly situations, a perfect storm occurred to create the Great Irish Famine.

Too much rain fell in spring and early summer of 1945. Leading to a disease known as Late Blight to develop on the potato crop. Late Blight is caused by a type of mold. It destroys the leaves of the plants and infects the edible roots and tubers of the plants, causing them to rot in the ground.

Late Blight also affects sweet potatoes, onions, beets, and rutabaga, not just potatoes. Unfortunately, these are the crops that grow best in Ireland. Because it’s frustrating to put effort into crops that won’t grow in rocky soil, there wasn’t a lot of crop diversity in Ireland in the 1800s. Meaning nearly all crops were root vegetables like potatoes and onions. The rains stirred up a specific type of mold. Mold that would attack the majority of the crops planted in Ireland, wiping out almost the entire crop for 1845.

1846 would see less rain, but the mold that caused Late Blight was still alive and well within the soil and the crops of 1846 were also devastated by Late Blight. By 1847, Ireland could not import enough food to make up for the crop failures and Irish people were starting to peel the bark off trees and pull up grass by the handfuls, because you eat anything you possibly can during a famine, even if it’s tree bark and grass (which aren’t terribly nutritious for humans because we can’t digest most of it).

It also had a tremendous impact on livestock, as most livestock had supplemental diets that included the ruined crops and couldn’t stomach crops tainted by Late Blight.

This left the people of Ireland with two options; stay in Ireland and try to tough it out or immigrate. Nearly a million Irish died of starvation and starvation related diseases. Approximately 2 million Irish decided to flee Ireland and try their luck somewhere else.

In total, the population of Ireland dropped by 20 to 25% during the 2 years of blighted crops and the 5 years that followed it. Birth rates in 1847 were only a fraction of what they had been in 1843. We also mention the number that died or fled, but rarely discuss how it affected the regrowth of the population. In 1847, there was only about 1/6th the number of births in Ireland than of 1844. Meaning another couple million were lost simply because they weren’t born, because a population can only grow so fast with traditional breeding methods.

Only 3 times in “modern” history (post Fall of Rome) do we see this significant of a population drop in a single country; during the 1300s & 1400s Black Plague Pandemic when nearly 30% of England died of plague and starvation, and the 35% population drop of the Soviet Union during WWII (the Russian Population has yet to recover, despite it being more than 70 years – the population of Russia today is less than it was in 1920 and Stalin is as much to blame as WWII). And the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1846.

By 1855, there were more Irish people born in the US, Canada, India, and Australia, than in Ireland. It would be the 1870s before the Irish population would reach the same growth it had experienced in 1844. On a side note, the Irish blamed the English for the Great Irish Famine, proving tensions between Ireland and England went back way further than the political maneuverings of the 1920s (in 1921, the majority of Ireland which had been a part of the UK succeeded from their English rulers – Ireland and England have been wrangling for control of Ireland since the early 1600s).

The Mystery of the Color Blue

When you read a lot of ancient texts (and I have for some reason), you come to realize that no civilization before the Middle Ages has a word for the color “blue.” The Ancient Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, Egyptians, Chinese, Sumerians, Phoenicians, none of them had a word for the color blue. It is one of the more strange things in human history.

Homer described the sky as bronze. The sea as white and more oddly, he described sheep as white. So for some reason, Homer believed sheep and sea water were the same color and that this color was significantly different than the color of the sky. Now, if it were only Homer who made this strange color pronunciation, we’d chalk it up to Homer having some visual color issues.

But it wasn’t just Homer. A Chinese poem dating from the late BCE era describes the sky as “red like blood” during the day. Okay, that’s an issue. And the water was green, like grass. Now, I occasionally have trouble in paintings distinguishing grass from water, it depends on the shades of green and blue used, pastels are the devil in my opinion because I have issues separating color shades and hues. However, only at dusk and dawn have I ever thought the sky and blood were the same color.

Egyptians described the noon day sun in Egypt as yellow as the sand beneath their feet. Well that’s interesting. So we have bronze, red, and tannish-yellow, and one more reference, that of the ancient Japanese who described the sky during the day as white, like sheep, and they believed the sea that surrounded them was green. To Egyptians, all water was black.

It’s not just that none of these civilizations described the sky as blue that’s weird, it’s that water and the sky weren’t the same color. The ocean has basically been the same color for eternity. The Nile can be a muddy mess during flood season, but the Mediterranean is a fairly stable and consistent color, like an ocean.

I’ve read theories that say the ancients just didn’t care about being specific in colors and I’ve read theories that say the ancient civilizations of the world couldn’t see blue. I agree more with the second theory, that for whatever reason, they couldn’t see blue. As someone that struggles with shades of color, I can see how blue might look green. Bronze, yellow, red, black, these are slightly harder for me to understand, but only because I’m a modern human who sees blue.

The reason I don’t buy the first one is because many Greek philosophers did describe rainbows, sans the color blue. And they could see purple… Many things are described as purple. Purple is one of those iffy colors for me, sometimes I see it great, but if something red or blue is nearby, the color appears to match either the red or the blue, not a shade of purple.

Perhaps, the biggest twist is that in 2,500 CE, Egyptians were making blue pigments, but they weren’t described as blue, they were described as the same color as jewelry, in Egypt this could be either gold or blue, as both metals were imported and mined in Ancient Egypt.

My inability to see shades is a problem with the eye structure (cones and rods) as well as a neurological issue about the interpretation of color in my brain. I’m not color blind, I’m shade deficient. Strong colors overpower the “shades” of lesser colors. Impressionist art is my nemesis. Those paintings are like those hidden pictures that have to be seen with relaxed eyes. Monet and Renoir are the worst in my opinion, their dependency on shading using mostly pastels makes my brain short circuit as I struggle to decipher the green and blue blobs. This deficiency is why I hate most art, just FYI.

Oh, the Middle Ages and the sudden appearance of the color blue. Medieval literature suddenly contains references to the color blue. The sky is blue during the day. Clean water is blue during the day. Several important things happened during this time, one being The Black Death. The plague that swept Europe during the early Middle Ages was a highly contagious form of bubonic plague. It killed off more than half the population of Europe. We often forget to mention that it started in Asia and killed about a third of Asia’s population.

One cannot ignore the influence this massive human bottleneck in genetics had on later populations. There were fewer genetic mutations in the human genome being spread around. So it is possible that whatever gene prohibited the ancients from seeing the color blue was eradicated by the Black Death.

And there was Genghis Khan. We think he was born around 1162 CE and died in 1227 CE. We don’t have a firm birth date for him, just an approximation. Same with his death. Roughly, 0.5% of the world’s current male population is descended from Genghis. This doesn’t seem like much, until you start to realize that means during the 1300s, the percentage was probably much higher. It isn’t impossible that some mutation in Genghis’s genes were responsible for the sudden appearance of the color blue. And as his genes became more and more diluted by breeding with people not related to him, the genes were passed to more and more descendents. It’s nearly impossible to guess how much of the world’s female population is descended from Genghis Khan, but again, in the 1300s it would have been a significant amount. Making it not impossible that Genghis Khan’s prolific breeding played a role in the arrival of the color blue.

However, humanity has also undergone several “big bang of the brain” events during the course of human history. Since color is both a physical and mental understanding, it seems plausible that some sudden expansion of the brain’s capabilities made the color blue happen in fairly recent times (700 years ago is really the blink of an eye in historical terms). We don’t know what triggers these sudden expansions of brain capabilities, we only see it much later. I’ve heard that the last 150 years of human history, may in 500 years be another such “big bang of the brain” event as we have more than quadrupled our technological achievements in the last 150 years, compared to the slow progress made in the centuries before it. In 1869, it took 8-10 hours to travel 60 miles by horse and we can now do it in under an hour by car (in 1929 the Duesenberg Model J could travel up to 73 mph and was the fastest car of the time that wasn’t a race car, it was popular enough that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote one into the possession of Jay Gatsby in the Great Gatsby).

That last part does influence my thoughts on the color blue. If, as some suspect, we are experiencing a “big bang of the brain” event, it is possible that in 100 years, people will be asking why we didn’t write about Color X, a color that none of us have ever seen, because our brains can’t interpret the color as it stands now.

Family Tree Forensics

In 2018, law enforcement using the assistance of GEDMatch a DNA database made up of millions of volunteered DNA samples managed to use that database and the work of a DNA sleuth to capture Serial Rapist Joseph DeAngelo. At that time (The Golden State Killer), it was predicted that family tree forensics would be used even more by law enforcement. GEDMatch officially changed its terms of service to let users of the site know that GEDMatch would be available to law enforcement bureaus.

And it has solved at least 5 more cold case murders in Pennsylvania, Washington, Texas, Michigan, and Virginia, as well as helping identify a man who committed suicide at a Seattle motel just a few days after the attacks on the World Trade Center towers who checked in under a false name.

In the Washington murder case, two Canadians came down to run errands in the Sea-Tac area and were found murdered on a deserted road. The man had been strangled, the girl raped and shot in the head. The man they arrested wasn’t in the system, his DNA didn’t appear in any of the local or national forensics databases. Any crimes he committed after the murders were not crimes where DNA could be forcibly taken and put into the national forensic databases.

The case was 30+ years old with no new leads. He wouldn’t have been caught if two of his cousins had not provided samples to GEDMatch. I’m all for putting murderers in prison, but I would be horrified if the power I gave to the SCTU was wielded by any branch of law enforcement. And I’m not convinced that law enforcement having access to GEDMatch isn’t a little close to the powers outlined by the SCTU. I could actually go back and forth on this thought process for days. Sometimes, I’m okay with, sometimes I’m not and I do believe in taking responsibility for one’s own actions – if you don’t want to go to prison for murder, don’t commit murder – but should your cousins’ attempts to find out their ancestry be used against you – but again…

However, I can think of lots of exciting ways to use it. How about the Orange Socks case? Not the killer’s DNA, but hers, could it help us find out who she was and return her to her people? Or what about the family found in barrels in New Hampshire?

I mentioned a DNA sleuth earlier, it is a necessary part of Family Tree Forensics, someone who understands DNA has to work back from the available samples in the database to get to a person. Sometimes, the DNA in the database are cousins to the sample. That requires someone to fill in the blanks, how can Person X (the unknown sample) be related to Person A and Person B? For instance, one of the cases had an complication because the person they thought should have provided paternal DNA didn’t… in other words, he wasn’t the child of his father apparently. Which created a hitch.

Furthermore, sometimes “cousins” don’t share as much DNA as one would think. I know the DNA I share with my first cousins on my mom’s side is much closer in relation to each other than the DNA I share with my first cousins on my dad’s side because of divorces, re-marriages, etc.

As this continues to grow, I’ll try to keep up on it, I think it is fascinating and could be so helpful for crime fighting and identification of John and Jane Does. (I would love to see DNA work done in the Talmud Shud case, both phenotyping and family tree could be incredibly exciting).