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.

A Weird Facts About The Moon

The moon is a weird and mysterious thing. No other moon discovered in our solar system has as much influence on the planet it orbits as the moon does on Earth. There are lots of conspiracy theories regarding the moon and man’s trips to it. However, truth is often stranger than fiction and there’s a couple of very unusual things going on with our moon.

The orbit of the moon around Earth is nearly perfectly circular. This is interesting because it’s the only non-man-made satellite that has a nearly perfect circular orbit, not just around Earth, but around all the planets in our solar system, the moon is the only one that has an orbit that is nearly perfectly circular.

Because the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere, it is constantly being bombarded by radiation from our sun. Dust and rocks brought back from the moon are radioactive as a result. Impact craters on the moon are always uniformly circular and have the same depth. This is unusual because impact craters on Earth normally lean to one side a bit, because meteors come in at an angle, but they apparently don’t come in at an angle on the moon. And we aren’t sure why, though most speculate it’s because the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere to deflect a meteor and make it change its straight downward trajectory.

The side of the moon you see in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a different area than what is seen in Sidney, Australia, because the rotation of the moon on its axis requires nearly the exact same amount of time to complete as it does for the moon to make a complete circle around Earth. However, this also means that the spot on the moon you see in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will be nearly the exact same part of the moon you will see every night in Pittsburgh.

Solar radiation isn’t the only problem faced by the moon. Again, a lack of atmosphere means solar winds affect the moon. The moon doesn’t have tectonic plates, which is what causes earthquakes and volcanoes, but for an unknown reason the moon has moonquakes. Most moonquakes are harmless, but one type of moonquake is very shallow and can register up to a 5.5 on the Richter Scale. A 5.5 is big enough to move heavy furniture around a room. Even stranger though, these types of moonquakes cause the moon to ring like a bell.

Remember I said the moon takes a day to orbit Earth? This is incorrect. The moon doesn’t actually orbit Earth. Instead, the Earth and moon orbit a mystical point called the barycenter. The barycenter is located within the Earth’s crust, which is why it looks like the moon orbits Earth. The moon is exactly one-fourth the size of Earth. It is the largest moon to planet ratio in our solar system and if it weren’t for the barycenter located in Earth’s crust, the moon and Earth would be considered twin planets, not planet and satellite.

Part of the reason we see faces in the moon is matrixing, the brain making an image from shadows. And partly because shadows on the moon are much darker. Because there is no atmosphere to help refract the sun’s rays, everything in direct sunlight is visible, but anything in shadow disappears because the lack of refraction makes the area behind a shadow, pitch black. This means the center of craters that enter into shadow are extremely dark compared to the lighter surfaces that the sun is hitting.

Finally, a university in Switzerland has proved that people do not sleep as well on nights of the full moon as they do on other nights. Not only do we get less sleep those nights, but certain nocturnal disorders become bigger problems including nocturnal urination (wetting the bed), restless leg syndrome, sleep walking, and nightmares. It is suspected the gravitational pull that affects tides is to blame. People are very sensitive to a change in gravitational pull, because we feel such a constant and steady gravitational pull from our own planet. When the moon is full, it exerts more gravitational pull than when it is waxing, waning, or a new moon. It is thought that increase is responsible for changes in human sleeping patterns and may be where most legends about the full moon came from, they were trying to explain why we slept less and had more sleeping problems when the moon was full.

The moon is weird and vital to life on Earth. Without our moon, many physicists have theorized that life on Earth would not have started.

Herd Immunity

The measles outbreak in Washington keeps getting more distressing. Currently, there is a small selection of doctors willing to give exemptions to parents just because. I believe these doctors should be punished, because they are risking a lot of lives. There are currently 325 million people in the US. 3% of them are not immune to measles despite vaccinations. Meaning there are more than 9 million Americans that don’t get measles simply because herd immunity prevents measles.

Since 9 million is a lot of people to wrap your mind around, we’ll think about it in smaller terms. Between Facebook, Twitter, my blog, and my newsletter, I have roughly 2,000 followers. That means 60 people who follow me are not immune to measles despite being vaccinated.

And as I’ve said before, measles is one of those lovely diseases that becomes contagious before symptoms begin to show. This means a child with measles can infect people around them as early as 7 days before they start having symptoms. 7 days is a long time to spread measles without knowing you have it.

This becomes an even scarier thought when you consider how many people a child can come into contact with before showing symptoms: school, daycare, grocery stores, after-school activities, and family outings to the park.

This early exposure is why we have outbreaks of diseases like influenza every year. Once a person is sick, everyone avoids them. Until then though, they are exposing a lot of people to their germs. Influenza and viral pneumonia are usually only contagious for a day or two before symptoms show and neither is a very hearty virus, they don’t do well when exposed to the elements. Unlike measles, when exposed to the environment, influenza usually only survives a few hours. Measles can survive for a day or more on surfaces even in cold weather and rain.

However, because 89% of people in the US are vaccinated against measles, even when exposed to it, they don’t get it. Unfortunately, that percentage has been dropping since 2002. In 2002, the CDC listed measles as eradicated. Enough of the US population had been vaccinated against it that outbreaks and epidemics were unlikely. Cases still popped up, especially among unvaccinated populations, but we weren’t in fear of major spread.

But as I said, that percentage has slowly been dropping. As of 2018, we’d dropped to only 86% of the US population being vaccinated against measles. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it means 9 million children have not been fully vaccinated against measles in just 16 years. And three percent is enough to significantly weaken herd immunity.

Now, the measles outbreak in Washington might be spreading. It made the news when it was 33 cases of measles. Now the state of Washington has more than 100 cases. Oregon has 22 cases and Idaho has 15 cases. These lower numbers in Idaho and Oregon aren’t alarming by themselves, but between 2016-2018 Oregon only had a total of 31 cases of measles. Idaho had 12. And the same time period in Washington had 37 cases. In two months, Washington has seen triple the number of cases in 2019 as they saw in the three previous years combined.Not surprisingly, Washington has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. It also has a larger population than the state of Oregon and Idaho combined.

For people like me, without measles immunity, Washington might as well be a third world country. Worse, most people who don’t have immunity don’t know it. Unless you work somewhere that requires you to have a titer test for measles (some health care facilities require them) or you get measles, you may not realize you’re part of the more than 9 million people that is not immune to measles.

I know, only because I got measles and this resulted in the University of Missouri demanding new MMR vaccinations followed by a titer test when I was accepted to attend college there. The only reason I haven’t battled measles multiple times is because of herd immunity. To people like me, herd immunity is literally a life saver. The mortality rate for measles is higher in adults than children. But if you don’t know you aren’t immune, and you are exposed to measles as a result of say a vacation, then you are taking measles back to your home, where 3% of the population is not immune.

Besides, it should be terrifying anytime the prevalence of a disease triples. This is how the H1N1 pandemic started in 2009. A pandemic is a global outbreak of a disease. It isn’t just Americans that suffer from 3% of the population not having immunity. Nearly all Western countries require vaccinations. That 3% applies to the population of the UK, Germany, France, Italy, so on and so on. In countries without vaccination protocols and/or where the population doesn’t have easily accessible vaccinations like Mexico, India, China, Egypt, and tons of other countries, the chances of outbreaks for measles is much higher and worse.

Measles has an 8% serious complication risk for children. This means 8 out of every 100 children that catches measles will suffer brain damage, hearing loss, digestive issues, lung issues, and death. In adults, it’s about 20% that suffer severe side effects from measles.

Going back to my original example, this means of the 60 people that follow me that don’t have measles immunity, 12 of them will either have hearing loss, brain damage, lung damage, problems with their digestive tract, or will die as a result of catching measles. On a national scale, if measles becomes an epidemic, more than 2 million people could suffer these symptoms or die as a result of the loss of herd immunity. This is especially difficult for someone like me, I have a chronic disease that affects my immunity to every day bugs, because the nerves in my digestive tract are hyperactive due to CRPS, I don’t have a good immune system. A poor immune system battling a disease it already can’t handle, makes me very high risk for death and the other serious side effects as a result of measles.

Herd immunity is defined as 89-95% of the population being vaccinated against a disease. It is that number the prevents outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics. That 89-95% has immunity to the disease. If they catch something like measles, their bodies recognize the disease and immediately begins pumping out antibodies to kill the virus and dead viruses aren’t capable of causing illness.

Then there is something called partial immunity. Some portion of our population regardless of vaccination status is immune to measles. Most of them had a very mild case of measles previously and so when they are exposed to the virus again, their body begins to make antibodies to kill it. They usually get sick, but only have a mild case and they aren’t as contagious as those that do not have immunity.

However, it is the 89-95% that keeps the rest of the population from getting sick. Partial immunity means you probably won’t spread it to every Tom, Dick, and Harry that crosses your path, but that complete immunity population that received their immunity via vaccines are incapable of spreading the disease at all. Even if they got an extreme form of measles and got sick from them, their antibodies are killing the virus fast enough to keep them from being contagious. They are the ones that keep the 3% of us without immunity from getting sick, along with the 8% or so of Americans that are unvaccinated against measles. While 3% of children born after 2002 are not vaccinated against measles, roughly 11% of the population was not vaccinated nor had immunity to measles even with vaccinations in 2002. Only in 2014, did this 11% result in more than a hundred or so cases of measles in the US. In 2014, there were 616 cases of measles in the US, the highest number of cases in a single year since the 1980s.

But as I said, our vaccination rate has dropped from 89% in 2002 to 86% in 2018. We no longer have herd immunity to measles. Without it, every outbreak runs the risk of becoming an epidemic. This is especially disturbing given a new study coming out the UK. Between 2015 and 2018, whooping cough cases increased by 7%. The US saw a similar rise at 6%. Most of us have been vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis). However, like measles, there will always be a small portion of the population that despite vaccinations, is not immune. As immunization rates have fallen in the US and UK, pertussis cases have risen and like measles, if you have been vaccinated, there is no reason for you to suspect you aren’t immune, until you get it.

Interestingly, most anti-vaxxers don’t realize they are benefitting from herd immunity. If you don’t vaccinate your child against measles, there’s a good chance your kid will still probably never get it, because we have herd immunity. It isn’t until your child tries to travel overseas that they’ll find their lack of immunizations a serious problem. Even with my titer results, I was forced to get a completely new set of MMRs in 2006 when I decided to travel to Germany. And I was told by my doctor that he would not sign off on the special immunization form I needed if I didn’t get them. I got them. I didn’t get measles, but again, Germany enjoys herd immunity from measles. When I jokingly told my doctor I was going to move to Belize, I was told it would be inadvisable, because I’d probably get measles and at 39, my risk of serious complications was high.

The Truth About UFOs

Everyone says they want the truth when it comes to UFOs. And everyone suspects world governments are covering it up. It’s a great theory, but the truth may not be the best idea when it comes to aliens.

If intelligent aliens are visiting the Earth, I’m not sure people can handle it. Since 6,000 BCE when the Sumerians rose to build the city of Uruk, humans have been having issues with ethnicity. The Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Vikings, Vandals, Mongols, Assyrians, Russians, Germans, Americans, Indians, English, French, we have all had periods of intense racism.

Humans can’t get past genetic differences that cause skin tone differences, do we really think we are civilized enough to handle a totally different and new race? I don’t think we are.

And I’ve heard the arguments that it would bring mankind closer together, as they united against something decidedly not human. But again, I think it would highlight our differences and create more divisions. You’d have those that were pro-alien and those that were anti-alien and that division would probably continue to start wars.

Think about how Americans dealt with abolition. Decades before the Emancipation Proclamation, we human beings were fighting over whether we should or should not support slavery of other humans. Those that were pro-slavery were known to burn down the homes of abolitionists. Free blacks would be captured and taken to the plantations, even if they had never set foot in a southern state. During WWII, Americans who spoke out against the internment of Japanese-Americans were risking their necks.

Why would humans react better to aliens? And humans who wanted to extend rights to extraterrestrials?

The only way aliens unite humanity is if they are hostile, like in Independence Day. As of yet, if aliens are visiting Earth, they are doing it in the same way that Douglas Adams discussed in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, buzzing lesser developed planets and beings.

Unfortunately, this means that if I’m in a position of power and know aliens are visiting, I keep that shit as quiet as possible. And I ensure other world leaders are also keeping that shit to themselves… because the last thing I want is for journalists at the Washington Post or New York Times reporting to Americans or Brits or anyone else that reads their papers, that Kim Jong-Un just brought out a UFO, some alien bodies, and proof of extraterrestrials. That is something I would take quite seriously, like nuclear attack imminent serious. However, since aliens would create mass panic that resulted in toppled governments, if I’m Kim Jong-Un, I’m also not sharing that information for my own protection, which is a fairly good motivator to not break the agreement that says aliens do not exist.

Next week, I have a post about UFOs in the Soviet Union.

Oranges, Grapefruits, Lemons, & Exploration

Anyone who has ever attended a book chat with me or read my blog knows I’m a giant nerd. I’ve always been a giant nerd. I was terribly bored in junior high and high school, so my graduating GPA doesn’t show that I’m a nerd, but that’s okay. In 10th grade, a counsellor figured it out and I was put in Honors and AP classes. I did very well in these classes.

I took a class in genetics (which was awesome) and in 11th grade, I had to retake world history and was placed in AP world history with Miss Jones. I also had Miss Jones for anthropology/archaeology. Of my high school teachers, Miss Jones was one of my absolute favorites.

In AP World History we covered topics a little faster and Miss Jones was prone to give us extra information. Information that in the grand scheme of things, we’d probably never use, but which was interesting. One of my Facebook friends posted a meme the other day about oranges: are they called oranges because they are orange or was the color named after them. And that extra information Miss Jones used to give us, suddenly had a use.

The sweet orange is a hybrid fruit; crossing the bitter orange with the pomelo creates sweet oranges. The majority of us eat sweet oranges – valencias, Cuties, Halos, etc. And the fruit was named after the color. The first orange entered Europe in the late 1500s. Citrus fruits were so incredibly expensive that they were often used as decorations by the nobility. Pineapples, grapefruits, oranges, kiwi, starfruits, all of these were “new world” fruits, they came to Europe only after the age of Exploration in the 1400s and 1500s. A British explorer brought the first orange tree back to England in the late 1500s and gave it to Queen Elizabeth I. Elizabeth would pass out oranges as a sign of favor. The oranges she handed out were inedible, because they were bitter oranges.

What explorers hadn’t realized was that the sweet oranges they were eating while in the New World, weren’t the same oranges they were taking back to Europe. Simultaneously, but separately native tribes in the Americas had been cross breeding oranges and pomeloes. These sweet orange trees were kept under lock and key. The first sweet orange tree would arrive in Europe in the 1700s.

Pineapples and oranges were the most expensive of the new world fruits. Pineapples at certain times were worth their weight in gold. Europeans never really developed a taste for kiwi and it was the least valuable of the lot. Even the poor and working classes in England could afford kiwi in the late 1700s and 1800s and it gained popularity among those classes. Until just before WWI, most working people in England had never tasted an orange or a pineapple. It’s something those of us born after 1918, take for granted. We don’t think about fruit as being a high priced commodity, because it is virtually everywhere. We have access to hundreds of different kinds of fruits.

Citrus fruits like oranges and pineapples literally changed the world.

The Myth of Teen Pregnancy

I listened to someone complain recently about the high rates of teen pregnancy. I wanted to beat my head against a wall. Teen pregnancy rates are very similar in 2018 to what they were in 1948. In 70 years, the rate of teen pregnancies hasn’t increased, the social understanding of it has changed.

From 6,000 BCE to 1965, marrying girls off at ages as young as 12 was common practice. The average time between marriage and the birth of the first child is 2 years. This means from 6,000 BCE to today, 14 year old girls have commonly been pregnant all over the world.

Among the poor, the acceptable age for a girl to marry is younger than among the wealthy, making brides of 8, 9, or 10 years old “normal.” This still happens even though we in the West like to shake our fists about it.

In 1948, a girl married and stopped going to school, it didn’t matter if she was 12, 14, or 18. And a pregnant married girl certainly didn’t go to school. Hell, it was considered problematic for a female teacher to become pregnant even if she was married, because the world was convinced it would entice her students to get pregnant (baby rabies).

The difference is in 1948, we didn’t have “teenagers.” People were children and then they were adults. There was no such thing as a teenager. A married, pregnant 14 year old was a woman, not a teen, not a child, a woman, an adult in charge of her household.

We lament pregnant 14 year olds today, not because “teen pregnancy” didn’t happen in the old days, but because teen marriage was the norm.

I’m always shocked when I read Pride & Prejudice because Lizzy and Jane are old!! Lizzy is 20 and unmarried! Jane is 21 and unmarried! Of course, their three younger sisters are out in society, they have got to start husband hunting, especially since Lizzy and Jane haven’t been very good at it. But oh ho, Lizzy and Jane are of the landed gentry, they are daughters of a nobleman. So perhaps they aren’t past their expiration dates, but only because they aren’t poor. If they were poor, they’d be married by 16… As a matter of fact, 4 of the 5 Bennett daughters would be married if they weren’t members of the nobility. And at 20 and 21, there would be some lamenting if children hadn’t come of either Jane nor Lizzy’s marriages by that age.

Where was I with this? Oh yes, teen pregnancy rates haven’t increased much in the last 100 years. Our perception of teen pregnancy has undergone a significant change as we understand teenagers better and no longer considering marrying off our kids at young ages.

Correlation and Causation

I used to work in public health and then I got a history degree. As a result correlation and causation are very important to me. And just like when I was 20 years old, working on cancer cluster research it boggles my mind when people don’t understand the difference between the two or confuse them.

Correlation is when two things happen simultaneously that may or may not be related. Causation is when something happens and causes something else to happen.

For example, everyone who gets cancer drinks water. Does this mean water causes cancer? No, it means people need water to live. The two correlate, water isn’t the cause. And before you argue that not every person on the planet drinks water, yes they do, it may not look like water or taste like water, but it is still water. It doesn’t matter if it’s tea, coffee, soda, beer, Kool-Aid, fruit juice, V8, Gatorade, sparkling water, tap water, or distilled water, it’s all water. Even milk and wine is primarily water.

Now, if you live somewhere like Herculaneum, Missouri, there is a very, very high chance that drinking the water will give you cancer. Because Herculaneum, Missouri is a superfund site: a location where the soil and groundwater has been contaminated with toxic chemicals due to improper disposal of hazardous materials.

But most of us don’t live near a place like Herculaneum, Missouri and the water isn’t going to cause us cancer. It’s a correlation. The two things happen simultaneously, because people need water to live and people get cancer.

Here’s another correlation, that does seem to be completely random. Nearly everyone I know with CRPS owns a dog. When I first started experiencing pain and problems with my hands and forearms, I owned a border collie named Frisky. Did Frisky cause my CRPS? No. I have two possible injuries that caused my CRPS and neither was dog related: injury one I stood up on a teeter totter and the person on the other end jumped off, I broke my wrist. Injury two I accidentally shoved a woodburner into my thumb and caused a 3rd degree burn right down to the bone. Either of these are possible causes. Burns and broken bones are the most common triggers for CRPS. Here’s the shitty part of that, they aren’t the only triggers. You can develop CRPS after spraining an ankle, breaking a nose (no bones in the nose), having a surgical procedure, or childbirth. There is a correlation between owning a dog and having CRPS, but not a causation. And plenty of people own dogs that never develop CRPS.

False and misunderstood correlation and causation is the reason there’s an outbreak of measles in the state of Washington. There is a correlation between vaccination and autism. Vaccinations became more common in the 1950s and 1960s. Autism was diagnosed for the first time in 1933. However, it did not become a “common” diagnosis until the 1980s. The diagnosis of autism, has nothing to do with vaccines and everything to do with our understanding of mental disabilities and the desire to differentiate and define them better.

I’ll give you an even clearer example of misunderstanding of the two. 1952 is the first year that heart disease was the number one killer of adult Americans. There is a definite reason for it, but not a cause. We didn’t suddenly have a massive increase in the number of people dying from heart disease. From 1870-1951 the number one killer of adult Americans was tuberculosis. In 1949, we found the first antibiotic that cured tuberculosis. In 1950 and 1951 the use of streptomycin to cure TB became widespread across the US, Canada, and UK. As a result, 1952 is the first year millions of Americans didn’t die of tuberculosis. There wasn’t an increase in cases of heart disease, there was just a decrease in the mortality rates of TB.

However, if you look at the data searching only for causation, it appears curing tuberculosis made heart disease more deadly. More confusingly, correlation can mask causation. When you start searching for a cause, a strong correlation can be misleading. For example in the 2000s violent crime in Detroit, Michigan dramatically decreased. Gun sales also decreased. The two did not cause each other. The two were caused by the same factor and correlated very strongly as a result. I remember reading a sociology paper about lower gun sales leading to less violent crime at the time. However, gun sales and violent crime decreased because the population of Detroit decreased. In 1990, Detroit had a population of 1.2 million people. In 2000, the population had dropped to 900,000. By 2010 it was down to 650,000 people. The drop in population means fewer criminals and fewer people available to legally buy guns.

I’ve used simple examples, but causation can be very complex. There might be six or seven factors at work in a causation, some of which may not be obvious. The black death was one of the worst plagues to ever hit the human population. But bubonic plague isn’t actually that contagious. There were multiple factors at work to make the Black Death as formidable as it was: drought caused crop failures, crop failures lead to even higher rates of malnutrition, malnutrition causes higher susceptibility to diseases and illnesses, Bubonic Plague mutated to become communicable person to person without the parasitic vector (no fleas needed in other words), also malnutrition leads to fewer antibodies to fight a disease once you have it, making bubonic plague nearly 100% fatal. And suddenly, Bubonic Plague a common illness in the 1300s kills tens of millions across Europe and Asia.

Carrie Brown

On April 24, 1891 the body of prostitute Carrie Brown was found mutilated in a hotel room in New York City. There has been speculation since 1891 that Carrie Brown was a victim of Jack the Ripper. It’s not outside the realm of possibility, although there is no concrete evidence that she was a victim of the Ripper.

There were two main suspects in the Brown murder; Arbie La Bruckman and Almeer bin Ali. A case could not be made against either man. Although, La Bruckman better matched the description of the man who checked into the hotel with Carrie Brown.

If, la Bruckman murdered Carrie Brown, there’s a good chance he was indeed Jack the Ripper. la Bruckman was a cattle slaughterer on ocean liners making the voyage between New York and London. When he was in London, he lived in rooming houses in Whitechapel.

Perhaps most surprisingly, he is listed in the official suspect register of Scotland Yard in accordance with the Ripper murders. And he was arrested for the murders at one point, but beat the charges.

Strangely, in the case of Carrie Brown, la Bruckman had a cast iron alibi, maybe. He was supposedly with friends at a pub, but the bartender didn’t remember him, only his friends vouched for his presence there. Since, la Bruckman wasn’t the killer of Carrie Brown, the police move on to the suspect Almeer bin Ali an Algerian who had come to NYC from France.

Under pressure to solve the American Ripper case, police do some extraordinary things to prove their case against him. Police follow a blood trail from Brown’s room to bin Ali’s room. Ali had an alibi, even more cast iron than la Bruckman’s. But the blood trail was all the evidence really needed. He was sentenced to life in prison and sent to Sing Sing prison.

After his conviction, the press begins sending letters to the governor of New York demanding the release of Almeer bin Ali. They all state that when they were allowed to view the hallway a few hours after the police began investigating the murder of Carrie Brown, the blood trail didn’t exist. The press is of the opinion that the NYPD planted the blood trail, in order to get a result in the case.

Ali was eventually released 4 years after his conviction with a full pardon from the governor of New York. However, a century later, the murderer of Carrie Brown remains a mystery. And forms the basis for multiple Jack the Ripper theories.

La Bruckman was indeed in London during the times of all the Ripper murders. And HH Holmes may have been there at that time as well and he was in New York City when Carrie Brown was murdered. Furthermore, there were some similarities between la Bruckman and Holmes in looks (I personally do not believe Holmes was Jack the Ripper).

It would not surprise me in the least to learn that Scotland Yard had indeed arrested Jack the Ripper and he beat the charges. I actually believe Arbie la Bruckman is probably the best Ripper suspect to date. Bruckman just disappeared in 1891. While police were still investigating the murder of Carrie Brown. Note was sent to Scotland Yard as well as other big cities in the US trying to locate him with no success. Because of this, he isn’t talked about very often even among Ripperologists (and most Ripperologists get queasy when someone suggests Jack may have crossed the Atlantic to kill in NYC).

Catherine of Valois – Matriarch of Insanity

Catherine of Valois was the daughter of the French King Charles VI. History has mostly forgotten about her, but perhaps they shouldn’t have. The princess didn’t do much worthy of being remembered though. Charles VI and Henry V arranged for Catherine to marry the english King (Henry V). They were only married a few years, before Henry V died. During that time though, they had one son who would go on to be made king Henry VI.

I have blogged about the French King Charles VI in the past, because Charles VI was seriously mentally ill. Modern thoughts on it are he probably suffered from schizophrenia. This is rather important, because Catherine of Valois is the great grandmother of Henry VIII and the great, great, great, great, great grandmother of George I, who started the Hanoverian dynasty and gave us Mad King George III.

I know most people don’t think of madness when thinking about Henry VIII, but there’s some evidence to suggest that Henry VIII had some issues with mental instability and his eldest daughter Mary, was known for being a hysterical, nervous type who suffered persecution mania and claimed that God spoke to her on a few occasions.

Neither Henry VIII nor Mary were as mentally ill as Charles VI of France, but modern research on the subject does suggest that mental illness might be an underlying complication that lead to Henry VIII’s hot-tempered nature and paranoia about being incapable of producing an heir to the throne with either Catherine or Anne Boleyn.

How does that tie into the Hanoverians? Catherine of Valois had two children after Henry V died with a Welshman named Owen Tudor. Henry VI grew up to be a decent man, not just a good king, but a good man. After the untimely death of his mother, Henry VI took over caring for his very young brothers. He bestowed earldoms on both boys and managed to get both of them advantageous marriages (they were technically illegitimate and Owen Tudor had served in the house of the king, but not in a high ranking position as he was a Welshmen). It was the descendents of one of these illegitimate children that eventually married into the German Royal House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which is where George I came from.

There has been much speculation about what was wrong with Charles VI of France. We don’t have good records from his times of madness. We have some records written by his brother, who served as regent when Charles VI couldn’t rule. But, his brother was murdered and his many of his papers confiscated by the nobles involved in his murder. Porphyria, which is what we are nearly certain George III had, is hereditary and it has different stages and phases. Sometimes, symptoms are incredibly bad, sometimes they aren’t. And someone can have porphyria with only mild symptoms.

What little we do know about King Charles VI’s illness could support a diagnosis of porphyria, but it could also support a diagnosis of schizophrenia, another hereditary illness. Interestingly, both conditions rarely cause the same intensity of symptoms in women, that they cause in men. Catherine of Valois was prone to hysterical fits. Meaning she may have had mild symptoms of either, but being a woman, she wasn’t given the same interest as the kings from her lineage. There is a growing school of thought that Henry VIII’s obsession with having an heir was more about mental illness than wanting to ensure the Tudors kept the throne.

The current rulers of England, Queen Elizabeth II is actually related to King Henry VIII and King George III (genetically speaking, much more closely related to George III than Henry VIII, but still related). And this may explain why many of the male heirs since the death of Queen Victoria in the 1800s have had short life spans. Even mild porphyria still causes enzyme deficiencies that can shorten a person’s life. During WWI, the King of England changed the family’s name from Sax-Coburg to Windsor because anti-German sentiment was incredibly high and the family was basically British at that point anyway.

And the interesting and somewhat bloody royal history for the last 600 years in England, is the result of Catherine of Valois.

A New View on Spiders

I know about a dozen people with arachnophobia. Which I just don’t get, but I’m terrified of wild mice and rats (I’m fine with domesticated rats though, go figure), so I don’t get to throw stones at people who are afraid of spiders. However, I do think it’s time to give spiders a little respect. Some spider species keep really cute pets.

The giant tarantula is the fifth largest spider in the world. Leg span on one of these things from leg tip to leg tip averages 28 cm long (11 inches). And they keep the world’s smallest frogs as pets. Microhylid frogs average just 1.5cm long (less than an inch). Both species are native to Central and South America.

Microhylid frogs are small enough to be eaten by Giant Tarantulas. But instead, the two have formed a mutually beneficial relationship. Scientists have speculated that microhylid frogs taste terrible to Giant Tarantulas, which is why the spiders don’t eat them. And that works out great in the end for both species…

The most common predator of giant tarantulas are ants that eat the eggs of the giant tarantula. The primary food source for microhylid frogs, are ants. And the most common predator of microhylid frogs are small birds. Which is good for the tarantulas. Giant tarantulas are big enough that many species of small birds are on the menu.

Microhylid frogs protect Giant Tarantula eggs and in return, they get to pal around with female Giant Tarantulas who are bigger than the males. And the female spiders provide protection for the microhylid frogs from predators such as birds.

As a matter of fact, the relationship is so common, that scientists have begun searching for Giant Tarantulas using microhylid frogs as indicators a female is near and vice versa – where a female giant tarantula can be found, a microhylid frog can also be found. About the only time microhylid frogs ditch their spider friend is during mating season, when the number of microhylid frogs drop because of predation.