Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for May 13th, 2011

All-female sect worships Vladimir Putin as Paul the Apostle

Posted by Anonymous on May 13, 2011

All-female sect worships Vladimir Putin as Paul the ApostleVladimir Putin has become the object of veneration for a bizarre Russian all-female sect whose followers believe that the tough-talking prime minister is a reincarnation of the early Christian missionary Paul the Apostle.

Members of the sect that has sprung up in a Russian village some 250 miles southeast of Moscow believe that the 58-year-old macho Russian politician is on a special mission from God.

“According to the Bible, Paul the Apostle was a military commander at first and an evil persecutor of Christians before he started spreading the Christian gospel,” the sect’s founder, who styles herself Mother Fotina, said.

“In his days in the KGB, Putin also did some rather unrighteous things. But once he became president, he was imbued with the Holy Spirit, and just like the apostle, he started wisely leading his flock. It is hard for him now but he is fulfilling his heroic deed as an apostle.”

Reports from the sect’s headquarters close to the town of Nizhny Novgorod say that its members are all women who dress like nuns and pray for Mr Putin’s success in front of traditional Russian Orthodox Church icons that have been placed alongside a portrait of the Russian prime minister himself. …

via All-female sect worships Vladimir Putin as Paul the Apostle – Telegraph.

Posted in Politics, Religion, Strange | Leave a Comment »

Teacher killed by spooky garden ornament

Posted by Anonymous on May 13, 2011

A POPULAR teacher and Guide leader drowned in her shallow pond after being pinned underwater by a garden ornament.

In a freak accident, Ann Newton, 58, tripped and was dragged face-down by a carved tree trunk which hooked on to her blouse as she went outside to feed the birds.

An inquest heard how the pond at her home in Thirkeld Place, Penshaw, was just four feet by four feet and only one-and-a-half feet deep.

Her devastated partner, Norman Lunn, said: “It’s such a bizarre death. It has broken my heart.”

Miss Newton, a former teacher at Pelton Roseberry School, was pronounced dead after being found face-down in the back garden pond.

Grief-stricken Mr Lunn told how he struggled in vein to save her against the weight of the sculpture.

He bought the artefact – which has spooky eyes carved into it – as a souvenir in Scotland and now plans to put it back in place in his garden.

“Nobody liked it. People kept telling me to get rid of it. If I had done she might have got out of the water,” he said.

Mr Lunn had gone for a walk on the afternoon of February 3, leaving his partner at home doing a crossword.

When he returned he found an hour later he found Miss Newton gone, and was met with the horrific scene when he looked out into the garden.

“She must have gone out to fill the bird feeder and slipped,” he said. …

via Teacher died after being pinned face down in pond by spooky garden ornament – Local – Sunderland Echo.

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Stone tools found Russia’s Arctic Circle may prove Neanderthals lived 8,000 years longer than previously thought

Posted by Anonymous on May 13, 2011

Scientists have identified what may be one of the last northern refuges of Neanderthals, a spot near the Arctic Circle in Russia with artefacts dated to 31,000 to 34,000 years ago.

Experts currently believe that the Neanderthals died out between 37,000 and 40,000 years ago, so the latest stone artefacts may mean they actually lived for a further 8,000 years than previously thought.

Stone tools and flakes found there look like the work of Neanderthals, the stocky, muscular hunters who lived in Europe and western Asia until they were replaced by modern humans, researchers reported in the journal Science today.

The site lies along the Pechora River west of the Ural Mountains, about 92 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

Researchers dated it from animal bones and sand grains.

Nobody has found any human bones or DNA that could provide stronger evidence that Neanderthals lived there, report the scientists, from Russia, France and Norway.

The artefacts had been collected during various expeditions.

Neanderthals first appeared more than 200,000 years ago.

They died out sometime after modern humans arrived in Europe, which occurred some 40,000 years ago.

Richard Klein, a Stanford University professor of anthropology, said the artefacts do look like the work of Neanderthals, but that it’s also possible they were made by modern people instead.

Neanderthals were not previously known to be in that area, nor convincingly shown to be present anywhere at such a recent time, he said. Finding another site or human bones would help settle the question, he said.

Eric Delson, a palaeoanthropologist at Lehman College of the City of New York, cited a 2006 study that suggests Neanderthals occupied a cave near the southern tip of Spain at about the same time as the new work puts them in Russia.

Maybe the two locations show how Neanderthals retreated in opposite directions from the encroachment of the modern humans, he said.

via Stone tools found Russia’s Arctic Circle may prove Neanderthals lived 8,000 years longer than previously thought | Mail Online.

Posted in Archaeology | Leave a Comment »

‘Fireballs’ reported in east Fort Worth

Posted by Anonymous on May 13, 2011

Fire and police dispatchers were busy Tuesday night answering calls about “fireballs” in the sky and on the ground in east Fort Worth.

Several transformers were struck by lightning in east Fort Worth Tuesday night, Oncor spokeswoman Jeamy Molina said.

Repair crews worked through overnight Wednesday through the afternoon after the lightning strikes “destroyed” some of the transformers, Molina said.

About 550 power outages were being reported in the Metroplex as of noon Wednesday, with most of them in the Fort Worth area, Molina said.

The number of outages have been reduced from the 4,000 outages reported late Tuesday, Molina said.

About 210 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were reported in Tarrant County between 8 and 9 p.m., said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Mosier, who said he couldn’t pinpoint the exact locations.

Some 120 more incidents of lightning striking the ground were reported from 9 to 10 p.m., Mosier said.

Mosier said he didn’t know if it had to strike the transformer directly or the ground close to it but if the lightning carries a large enough electrical charge, it can “blow” a transformer.

At 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, police officers were blocking East First Street from about Beach Street to Oakland Boulevard.

The calls began coming in about 9 p.m. in the White Lake Hills area along Interstate 30 east of Oakland and west of East Loop 820.

Star-Telegram columnist Bob Ray Sanders said that whatever it was, it was dramatic.

“I’ve seen lightning strike, and this was no lightning,” he said. “It may have been precipitated by lightning strikes.”

Sanders said he was at his home, which backs up to Randol Mill Road, when he saw “blazes up in the air.”

“I saw fire in the sky and on the ground,” he said. “I saw 10 or 12 explosions. It was like someone was dropping bombs.”

via ‘Fireballs’ reported in east Fort Worth | Fort Worth | News from Fort Worth, Dallas, Arl….

A very small sample of the big solar storm that is coming?

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World’s largest cicada brood begins hatching in the South

Posted by Anonymous on May 13, 2011

2011's cicadas will die in a month.An enormous brood of cicadas that covers parts of 16 states is beginning to wake from its 13-year slumber underground.

The inch-long insects, which are sometimes mistakenly called 17-year locusts, have been reported hatching in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Arkansas. They will appear farther north as soil temperatures reach 64 degrees.

“There are billions of them in the trees,” Greta Beekhuis says, speaking by phone from her porch in Pittsboro, N.C. The sound of the cicadas is clearly audible over the line. “When I drove from my house to the grocery store, I ran over thousands of them. They’re everywhere. The air is just thick with them.”

The cicadas don’t bite or sting and only suck liquid from tree branches, but their sheer numbers, and the din they make when the males start singing as they search for mates, can be annoying.

Enjoy them, says Gene Kritsky, editor of the journal AmericanEntomologist. “It’s like watching a nature video in your backyard.”

For those who find walking through bugs to be the ultimate gross out, there’s good news: The cicadas will die in a month, and the next generation won’t emerge until 2024. …

via World’s largest cicada brood begins hatching in the South – USATODAY.com.

Posted in Biology | 1 Comment »

Mystery boom rattles parts of Va

Posted by Anonymous on May 13, 2011

A loud boom rattled Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore but the source is a mystery.

Media outlets report that the mystery boom occurred Tuesday night. It was reported in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Suffolk.

Some residents reported that the disturbance shook their homes.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s reports show no seismic activity at the time.

A spokeswoman at Oceana Naval Air Station says a sonic boom from the base wouldn’t be heard as far away as Suffolk.

A NASA spokesman says there wasn’t any rocket activity at the Wallops Island facility that could cause such a noise.

National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Rusnak says there wasn’t any severe weather at the time.

via Mystery boom rattles parts of Va. – Post Now – The Washington Post.

A brilliant fireball in the Virginia sky on Sunday was likely a natural meteor event and not the remnants of a Russian rocket, scientists now say, a reversal from yesterday’s initial analysis.

On Monday, Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory told SPACE.com that the loud boom and flash of light seen in the skies over Norfolk and Virginia Beach was likely the second stage of the Soyuz rocket that launched Expedition 19 to the International Space Station last Thursday.

However, U.S. Strategic Command has since reported that the rocket re-entered Earth’s atmosphere near Taiwan, on the other side of the world, several hours after the reports of the fireball. So both its timing and entry location rule out the rocket as the explanation for the fireball.

“Well, we’re all entitled to a ‘mulligan’ now and then, right,” Chester wrote SPACE.com in an email, adding that he deferred Strategic Command. (A mulligan is a do-over in golf.)

“However, it is still a remarkable coincidence that a random rock would fall out of the sky along a path that is very similar to the ground-track of a decaying rocket body,” Chester added. “But this is what makes science fun!”

The evidence now suggests, he said, that the loud boom and streak of light was created by a natural meteor, or bolide, burning up as it plummeted through Earth’s atmosphere.

“I’m confident that this was a meteoric event,” Bill Cooke of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama said this morning. …

via Space.com

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‘Batman’ Arrested On Michigan Rooftop

Posted by Anonymous on May 13, 2011

Batman On RoofHoly handcuffs! Police in a resort community in northwest Michigan are touting the arrest of the legendary caped crusader Batman, who was reportedly nabbed while dangling from a 30-foot-tall building.

But wait, what sorcery is this? Police now say the Dark Knight they have taken into custody is an impostor! The unmasked superhero wannabe is actually a local resident named Mark Wayne Williams.

Police in Petoskey, a small community about 200 miles northwest of Flint, MIchigan, received a call early Wednesday that Williams, 31, was on the roof of a building in the center of the town. When officers arrived on the scene, they pulled Williams, who was reportedly hanging over the side of the building, back onto the roof.

During a search of Batman, er, Williams, police discovered several “dangerous” weapons tucked away inside his utility belt, including a telescoping steel baton, lead-lined gloves and a can of chemical irritant spray.

Williams was arrested at the scene and later charged with several counts of carrying concealed weapons, one count of carrying a gas-ejecting weapon and another count of creating a disturbance, Reuters News reported.

“I realize this is a serious offense. I honestly had no idea the items I was holding are illegal,” Williams said in court during his arraignment on Wednesday. “I did not intend to harm anyone with these items. I swear that.”

According to John Calabrese, public safety chief in Petoskey, authorities have had previous run-ins with the alleged batty bad man.

“We’ve had contact with him in the past, where he’s made himself up to look like that Crow character who is also a comic book character,” Calabrese said, according to The Petoskey News-Review.

On his MySpace page, Williams, or “Crowmaster,” said he considers “anyone who stands up for what they believe in and for others. No matter the cost” as a hero.

If convicted of the crimes he is accused of committing, Williams faces a combined sentence of up to 30 years in prison — a lengthy stint that would most definitely deter any costumed crime-fighting super hero. …

via ‘Batman’ Arrested On Michigan Rooftop.

Oh come on. 30 years in prison?! That’s absurd.

Posted in Control Freaks, Crime, Strange | Leave a Comment »

Osama bin Laden ‘revenge’ attack kills 70 at Pakistan paramilitary base

Posted by Anonymous on May 13, 2011

Pakistani paramedics help injured blast victims as they arrive at a hospital in PeshawarA double bomb attack on a military training centre in north-west Pakistan has killed at least 70 people in the first militant riposte since US troops killed Osama bin Laden 12 days ago.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, which ripped through a crowd of recruits at the gates of a Frontier Corps base in Charsadda, 35 miles north of Peshawar.

“This is the retaliation for the killing of Osama bin Laden. Pakistani and US forces should be ready for more attacks,” a Taliban spokesman told CNN.

Young recruits were boarding buses at the gates of the military academy at 6am on Friday, preparing to return home after a nine-month training course, when two suspected suicide bombers struck.

Some reports said the bombers were on motorbikes, others described a car. Two giant explosions shredded the white minivans, killing their occupants and scattering luggage across the market.

“There was a big blast,” a fruit seller told the Associated Press. “I saw smoke, blood and body pieces all around.”

At least 70 people – 65 of them military recruits – were killed and more than 100 injured. The death toll is expected to rise.

It was the largest attack since a team of US Navy Seals stormed a suburban house in Abbottabad on 2 May, killing Bin Laden and four other people in a dramatic raid that has triggered political turmoil inside Pakistan and a flurry of uncomfortable questions from outside the country.

Pakistan’s army is facing unprecedented criticism while politicians in Washington, including President Barack Obama, say they want to know how the al-Qaida leader stayed on the run in Pakistan for at least six years.

via Osama bin Laden ‘revenge’ attack kills 70 at Pakistan paramilitary base | World news | guardian.co.uk.

Suicide bombers? Is there evidence of that? Another source says this was a remote controlled bomb attack:

Taliban militants have said they were behind two bomb attacks on buses in Pakistan carrying members of the country’s navy.

The explosions were detonated simultaneously in different areas of Karachi by remote control.

A junior naval officer and a civilian female doctor were among the four people killed while 56 were wounded.

A Taliban spokesman vowed they would carry out more attacks on security forces as he said, “they are killing their own people in Waziristan and elsewhere at the behest of the United States”.

It is the first attack on the military in Karachi for seven years. Pakistan’s navy is not involved in any operations against the militants though analysts are speculating these attacks could be part of a wider campaign.

via Euronews

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

Facebook exposed in Google smear campaign

Posted by Anonymous on May 13, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founderIt has been revealed that Facebook embarked on a smear campaign against rival Google.

The social network has admitted that it hired a PR firm to plant anti-Google stories related to user privacy.

The details came to light when one blogger approached by PR firm Burson-Marsteller published the e-mail exchange.

Burson had been touting stories on behalf of an unnamed client about the Google service Social Circle.

Blogger Chris Soghain did not want to pursue the story and later released the e-mails he had exchanged with Burson.

When the e-mails were published there was a mass of rumours about who the client could be, with Microsoft and Apple in the frame.

It was down to US-based news website, the Daily Beast to uncover that the client was in fact Facebook.

Facebook has confirmed that it used Burson-Marsteller to expose things which Google was doing that “raised privacy concerns”, but denied that it had authorised a smear campaign.

“Instead, we wanted third parties to verify that people did not approve of the collection and use of information from their accounts on Facebook and other services for inclusion in Google Social Circles — just as Facebook did not approve of use or collection for this purpose,” the company said.

Burson told Mr Soghain, among others, that “the American people must be made aware of the now immediate intrusions into their deeply personal lives Google is cataloguing and broadcasting every minute of every day – without their permission.”

A Facebook spokesman later told the Daily Beast that it resented Google’s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social networking service.

It is a very public play-out of two net giants who have become bitter rivals as they fail to agree on ways to share data. …

via BBC News – Facebook exposed in Google smear campaign.

I hope Google wins. Facebook is an extraordinary waste of time. Facebook, IMHO, greatly reduces our national productivity, while Google has the opposite effect.

Posted in Technology | Leave a Comment »

Jupiter moon ‘holds magma ocean’

Posted by Anonymous on May 13, 2011

Io pictured by GalileoIo is the most volcanic world in the Solar System and scientists think they now have a better idea of why that is.

The moon of Jupiter erupts about 100 times more lava on to its surface each year than does Earth.

A re-assessment of data from Nasa’s Galileo probe suggests all this activity is being fed from a giant magma ocean under Io’s crust.

Researchers tell Science magazine that this blisteringly hot reservoir is probably some 50km (30 miles) thick.

And that figure is a minimum. It could be much, much thicker, says the study’s lead author, Krishan Khurana, who is affiliated to UCLA’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

“When scientists first started looking at the images of Io from the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft in the late 70s, the moon appeared so alien,” he told the BBC.

“Right away, the scientists were asking questions; and one of them questions was, ‘why are volcanoes present all over the surface?’ Well, it’s because there’s a giant aquifer of magma present right beneath the crust. That’s what our study is telling us.”

Io’s volcanism is driven by its parent planet – Jupiter. The great gas giant’s enormous bulk produces colossal tides on the moon that squeeze and pull its body, melting its rocks.

The distribution of volcanoes on Io is quite different to that on Earth, however. They are everywhere, whereas on Earth the volcanoes tend to be collected at the boundaries of tectonic plates, the huge slabs of cold rock that cover our planet’s surface.

Nasa’s Galileo probe, following up the observations of the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft, made seven close passes of the moon.

Readings from its magnetometer instrument indicated the moon was dramatically distorting Jupiter’s magnetic field – but what was going on inside Io to produce the effect was not clear.

It has taken several years to work through the problem and identify the solution, and it comes down to the nature of the rock in the moon and how it behaves when it melts.

Dr Khurana explained: “The data was available almost seven or eight years ago. However, we could not at that time explain what we were seeing.

“Later experiments in mineral physics found out that when ultramafic rocks, which are rocks very high in magnesium and iron – when those are melted, their conductivity shoots up by orders or magnitude. And it is that very high conductivity that can create the type of signature we have seen. So, we needed mineral physics to catch up with our data.”

Tests have shown that the signatures detected by Galileo are consistent with a rock like lherzolite, an igneous rock rich in silicates of magnesium and iron. You find this rock, for example, in Scandinavia.

The picture emerging of Io is of a world that apes a body considerably bigger in size.

Its magma ocean layer is at least 50km thick, and probably makes up at least 10% of the moon’s mantle by volume. Its temperature probably exceeds 1,200C.

This aquifer sits under the crust, some 50km down. The mantle – the moon’s interior mid-layer – probably extends for a further 700-800km. And at the core? Gravity measurements suggest it is made of iron and possibly liquid – much like the Earth.

“The moon in size is only about one-fortieth the volume of the Earth; in mass it’s only one-sixtieth,” said Dr Khurana.

“And yet because of the tremendous amount of heat generated by tides that Jupiter raises on this very small moon, its internal structure is very similar to the Earth or a bigger planet that has a lot of tectonics on it.” …

via BBC

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »


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